In the sixth developer diary for our upcoming iOS-adventure Galaxy on Fire 2 – Supernova we gave you some additional insight into the conception of the most dangerous and destructive gunship in the universe – the legendary Bloodstar. Today we’d like to put that massive ‘n menacing battleship in the centre of the attention once again and tell you a bit more about how the 3D model of the Bloodstar was created. In the GOF universe this powerful vessel was constructed by the skilful craftsmen of a long-forgotten faction. In reality, however, it was brought to life by our Senior 3D Artist Matthias Kummer, who has not only supplied us with a lot of kick-ass “making of” footage of the Bloodstar, but also provided us with some very interesting information on how that ship has actually been created.[full] If you always wondered which stages and phases a spaceship in Galaxy on Fire 2 had to go through before it was finally ready to burst from one star system to another on the display of your iPhone or iPad, here’s your ultimate step-by-step guide to designing a heavily armed gunship in 3D Studio Max! Enjoy!
According to Matthias, the earliest incarnation of the Bloodstar is nothing more than a simple, four-sided box. In accordance with the concept artwork, this box will then get more and more split-up into sections until the general outlines of the vessel’s hull are formed. Once this state is reached, the wings and weapons racks will be added in order to complete the so-called basic mesh. Next up, the more detailed parts – such as antennae or air shafts – will be designed and added to that mesh. If the basic form and shape of the object in the making are symmetric like the Bloodstar’s, the graphics artist working on it will not create the whole object at once, but only mould one half of it. Once that half is done, it can simply be mirrored in order to create the object as a whole. This procedure does not only save the graphics artist a lot of time, but it also helps him not to lose his head – at least for the time being.
The next step after the creation of the 3D model is the so-called mapping, which is used in order to add two-dimensional images – the so-called textures – to the surfaces of a three-dimensional structure. In the course of this process, each part of the 3D model’s surface will be assigned to a respective part of the 2D texture set. Once this has been done, the texturing itself is the next thing to be done. The first step of this phase is the calculation of certain kinds of soft shadows, the so-called ambient occlusions (AO), by 3D Studio Max on the basis of the 3D model. This procedure leads to the creation of the so-called AO texture, which will later on be multiplied with the colour texture. The colour texture, on the other hand, consists of several layers, which are added to one another in Photoshop. Those layers include, among others, metallic structures and gaps ‘n scrapes, as well as different colours, shades and minor details. Once the AO textures and colour textures have been added to the basic mesh, the object of our desire – in this case the Bloodstar – is finished and ready to be integrated into the game!
For the HD version of the Bloodstar, the same 3D model has been used as for the SD version. However, in order to make the ship look even more impressive on the iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and new iPad, additional normal and specular textures have been added. While the normal texture enhances the richness of detail of the vessel’s surface without splitting up the 3D model any further, the specular texture defines the parts of the object that are characterised by a distinctive metallic glow. How big a difference these additional two textures make, can be seen in the comparison above, which contrasts the SD version of the Bloodstar with its HD version.
If you’re not a graphics designer yourself and hence have a little difficulty imagining the sequence of events illustrated in the course of this little essay on 3D modelling, feel free to check out the video aboveto see with your own eyes, how a simple, four-sided box is turned into the most feared and dreaded battleship in the GOF universe step by step. Pretty cool, isn’t it?
Well, fellow space pilots, we’ve come to the end of our seventh developer diary for Galaxy on Fire 2 – Supernova now. We hope you enjoyed the read and we would love to read your comments and find out what you think of the Bloodstar in general and its High Definition version in particular. Are you already looking forward to see it set the display of your latest-generation smartphone or tablet ablaze with its unrivalled firepower and unprecedented destructiveness? Keep your comments coming!