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Legendary ‘Mechs & MechWarriors Funded! Check Out This In-Engine Visual Exploration! And a Peek Behind the Curtain with Artist Maury Weiss

Posted by Harebrained Schemes LLC (Creator)
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Huzzah! The Global BattleTech Community has achieved our penultimate funding goal of Legendary ‘Mechs and MechWarriors - putting Stage 4 PVP Multiplayer within sight! (We'll have a bit more to say about Solaris 7 and multiplayer in our next update.)

If you missed Wednesday's Kickstarter update, take a look - we’ve put together several new ways to help us spread the word in these final days of the campaign, such as taking and sharing our "Which 'Mech Are You?" Quiz and signing up to support our Final 48 Hours social media push on Thunderclap

Y'all have made some impressive progress on those extra Backer missions already!)
Y'all have made some impressive progress on those extra Backer missions already!)

EARLY In-Engine Visual Exploration

As we’ve said before, we’re still early in prototyping and pre-production on this project. Over the last couple of weeks, one of the pre-production tasks our art team’s been working on is a 3D test-scene in Unity (our game engine). This is an important internal pre-production goal, because it lets us explore how our 2D concept art translates to real-time 3D, uncovering some of the challenges we’ll be faced with during production, and allows us to start setting a target for the final look of the game. Explorations like this get the whole team on the same page, defining a vision that our artists, engineers and designers can all understand and evaluate. It also lets us iterate quickly to make sure our visual goals mesh well with our engineering and design goals. 

A couple days ago, this test scene started to really come together. We showed it to the rest of the team, and everyone got really excited seeing what this game could look like. So, while it’s still early work-in-progress, not final… we decided it was just too cool not to show you guys, too!

(Please note, our ‘Mechs themselves aren’t fully animation-rigged or posed yet!)

As with most endeavors here at Harebrained, developing a scene like this is a highly iterative and collaborative process. Below you can see how the scene shaped up as we passed it back and forth between 3D and paintovers in Photoshop.

We had several goals going into this exploration: How do we achieve the overall mood, light, atmosphere and sense of scale that we’re looking for in the game? How do we give our ‘Mechs a clear visual "read" and make them feel large and powerful? What’s the right amount of detail to include in a scene?

We decided to start with a snowy landscape because this would be a particularly atmospheric environment and would allow us to focus more on these effects and less so on the specific modeling and texturing of individual assets. In general, we’re looking for opportunities to push dramatic mood wherever we can!

Here's a breakdown showing some of the different elements that combine to create the final image.
Here's a breakdown showing some of the different elements that combine to create the final image.

Atmosphere also plays an important role in emphasizing the scale of ‘Mechs and in adding depth to the scene. You can see that we have a layer of fog moving along the ground that begins to fade out the bottom half of the ‘Mechs. This gradient reinforces scale because it makes the ‘Mechs appear so large that they are standing far above the fog, too tall to be completely covered. It also helps to ground the ‘Mechs in the environment and to increase their readability.

This effect is further enforced by additional animated effects such as fog and dust at the ground level. Right now, the effect is simulating snow blown up by the wind, but in a lot of cases it could be caused by the ‘Mechs’ effects on the environment. Whether it’s a desert, snow, or jungle map, we want to always have a variety of atmospheric effects present in the game to reinforce scale and readability.

Another important piece of the puzzle is a 3D pipeline called Physical Based Rendering (PBR). This pipeline has been used to make computer graphics for films for a long time but it’s relatively new to the gaming industry and is a new feature in Unity 5. Essentially, it’s a workflow that allows us to more accurately simulate real-world materials and lighting conditions by using image-based lighting, global illumination (reflected light) and physically-based materials that behave more naturally and predictably. One of the biggest advantages of PBR is that our 3D assets will look good in any lighting scenario.

We’re also utilizing post-processing effects like screen space ambient occlusion, bloom, color grading and tonemapping. These tools give us tons of control over the overall color, mood and contrast of the final game image.

Once again, this is just an early starting point for us here as we start to hone in on the visual style of the game and plan our art production pipeline. There’s plenty more to explore still but we wanted to give you guys a quick look at where we’re at with all this stuff!

A Peek Behind the Curtain With Artist Maury Weiss

Hello! My name is Maury Weiss and I have been working on BATTLETECH as both a concept and 3D artist.

I was hired on here at HBS as a 3D character artist right after the first Shadowrun Returns Kickstarter. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of almost every project since then. I had a large role as a 3D artist on Shadowrun Returns, though I had a smaller part to play on Shadowrun: Dragonfall since I was sculpting lots of figures for Golem Arcana at the time. Most recently I worked on Shadowrun: Hong Kong as the lead 3D artist.

So far on BATTLETECH, I’ve worked as a concept artist establishing the look and feel of the world, more specifically what the actual in-game world could look like. In recent weeks I’ve moved back into 3D and have been creating the real-time scene shown above.

I’m really excited to work on BATTLETECH because it’s a whole new world for me. I’m pretty new to the series and it’s been a breath of fresh air that has inspired my creativity and has made me want to push myself as an artist. The more I learn about this fallen, gritty world, with its feudal feel and politics, the more excited I get. It’s really unique and interesting and the sort of game I joined the industry to work on - from ‘Mechs, to landscapes, to the pilots themselves. I hope to make a visually appealing, immersive world that is true to the series and that both new and old fans can enjoy.

P.S. Shadowrun Series Sale on Steam This Weekend!

Lastly: this weekend only, all of our Shadowrun games are on sale as part of Steam’s Halloween Sale. If you haven’t played Shadowrun: Dragonfall or Shadowrun: Hong Kong yet, this is a great opportunity to check out the world of Shadowrun!

Forar, Stefan Fransson, and 116 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Jeffery Rackliff on

      Suh-weet! Here's hoping we can get the Solaris module funded!

    2. Krazus on

      INCOMING!!!!

      I am a Thunderbolt!!!

    3. Missing avatar

      Troy L. Cowell on

      Personally, I LOVE the amount of details in the scenery! Its the "Fiddly bits" that help make a Great game even better!

    4. dnevill on

      Wow, can't believe this is just an early test exploration, that scene looks wonderful. Really instills a feeling of scale

    5. Paul Emerson on

      I like the 'feel' of the scene, where there are multiple levels to mess with... it feels like a world, much like MechCommander was, but it seems, somehow, bigger here.

    6. Banjo on

      Keep it up guys. Can't wait to see the mechs moving and exploding and shooting stuff!!

    7. Missing avatar

      Daniel Hale on

      The exploration video looks amazing. And if this is just the early work you've done, I can't wait to see what you guys will have achieved by the time the game is published. Keep up the great work.

      @ everyone else talking about the PVP:
      Guys, keep in mind that this is just the first game.

      One thing I've really liked about HBS is that they stick to goals they can acheive. If this first game does well (and I see no reason why it wouldn't), you can expect additional games in the future that build and expand futher upon what they've already done.

      So whilst we might only get a single lance or 1vs1 PVP in this first game, an expansion could have players fielding up to a company in single player and battalion or heck even regiment sized PVP games. And on the off chance that PVP doesn't make it into this game, I'm sure it would show up in the future.

    8. Jason Korwes on

      @Tim Gebauer That looks like to be the griffin in the back like in the concept art with the mechs and combined arms coming out of fog picture.

    9. Geomancer on

      Ouch, by the look of those final backer mission goals it looks like you guys are worried about your beards!

      I'm pretty confident they're safe though, even if they all were obtainable which is too bad. I'd love to watch a match (even if your beards weren't on the betting table).

    10. Geomancer on

      @Andrew

      Actually, under $2.5M there is no PvP at all.
      After $2.5M there is 1v1 PvP.

      If there is enough extra money beyond $2.5M they said they'll look into a co-op vs AI mode of PvP skirmish battles (not campaign).

    11. Missing avatar

      Andrew Phillip Moore
      Superbacker
      on

      I'm guessing that there will be a basic 1vs1 PVP, but the stretch goal is Multi-player PvP.

      By that I think they mean Company (3 lance - players each side) fights or greater. Remember that 'your' Mercenary unit is only 4 'mechs in a Lance (unless they mentioned something different somewhere).

    12. Missing avatar

      Tennex on

      Putting into consideration real life relative measurements of these trucks, humans, towers, etc.

    13. Missing avatar

      Tennex on

      Glad theres finally a Battletech game that cares about scale. But these look pacific rim big to me. Well as long as they scale them to ingame humans.

    14. Adam Williams on

      Thanks for the Update HBS. It is greatly appreciated. Hope we get lots more between here and Beta :-)

    15. Fredric Roth V on

      Thanks for all the info. And props to Maury on what has become several years of REALLY great 3D work!
      TIL Unity can do SSAO.

    16. Jason on

      I was NOT expecting something that pretty, haha. Loving the art direction and atmospheric detail!

    17. Peter Petermann on

      i just hope its not drying out short of the PVP content - i mean whats battletech without your buddies?

    18. Missing avatar

      Robert Quackenbush on

      Love the good start you have on the game.. Just one suggestion though, HURRY UP!!!!

      8)

      Keep up the great work. Let me know if you need any Alpha testing done. I'm great at finding bugs!

    19. Missing avatar

      Marco Tritschler on

      of course not, but its at least a bit the direction you want to move towards, isnt it? ^^ you already said in the Q/A that we wont have "levels" of hills like the tabletop has and stuff..

      well sorry if i always sound critical.. i am sure you will make a great game :P i am just feeling like a 10 year old again waiting for christmas which i dont do often anymore for a game

    20. Harebrained Schemes LLC 4-time creator on

      @Marco
      As we write in the video, this doesn't represent gameplay, LOS, or cover. It's purely a graphics exercise.

      Mitch

    21. Jussi-Pekka Jokinen
      Superbacker
      on

      That looks beautiful! I was expecting something with green placeholder bubbles and clunky animations. :D

    22. Missing avatar

      Marco Tritschler on

      when you said prototyping i thought it would be stickmen in orange maps or so x_X

      but thats looks beautiful.. and also very very confusing in terms of what is cover and who sees who :X

    23. Missing avatar

      Sean Sanders on

      Wow! - looks better then I thought. Love the lighting effects (especially on the mechs themselves).

    24. Missing avatar

      Nethraniel on

      @HBS
      If you guys manage to stay with that kind of graphics and atmosphere in that trial here, this game will get the "sexiest RTS out there" award. Just stunning.

      Oh, and some request: If that is a Centurion model in that scene, remember to scale it properly in comparison to that Catapult over there... the poor little Catapult looks a bit hungry, if you ask me... ;) :)

    25. Spartakus on

      Wow, just Wow!
      Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    26. Matt on

      "Know quite a few people who won't commit to pledging before they know that's in."

      Well, one way to help get there is to, uh, back it?

    27. Harebrained Schemes LLC 4-time creator on

      Maury smokes the cigars Mitch buys him. :)

      In this case, Arturo Fuente Hemingway, I believe.

    28. Dan McCauley on

      So cool to see fellow cigar lovers involved with this project - I'm with Benjamin and am curious about what cigar you're smoking?

    29. Kindulas on

      I watched the end of the DOS2 kickstarter, we needed some 2-300k in those last two or three days and it looked bleek, but lo the last 48 hour spike was no myth, I think we'll be fine here

    30. Missing avatar

      Patrick Conroy on

      I want both...will be fine with Single player Campaign if that's what we end up with. Doubt we are going to get the PvP with $300,000 to go and 4 days but maybe....:)

    31. Lonely Tower Games on

      Maury Weiss - what kind of cigar are you smoking? I'd love to send you a few to thank you for the gorgeous artwork you've done!

    32. Eck on

      I love the shadow the Atlas is casting. So cool.

    33. Jason Carney on

      Just my opinion, but aren't they a bit larger than what they should be? Look about 2x larger than I'd expect.

    34. Missing avatar

      cmdrnmartin on

      This looks great, I'm not a fan of multi-player, so as long as I get my single player experience I'm happy. MP goal achieved will make me happy though, since HBS then gets more money and players, and we maybe get expansions and sequels. But in the end, as long as I get my mercenary single player campaign sandbox, I'll be as happy as a Clanner on Terra.

    35. Smaug on

      That is awesome! I want to like that video eleventy billion times.

    36. Karlen on

      Y'know, I did not expect the in game visuals to look that good, but those are gorgeous. Hopefully not too gorgeous for my current rig but either way I'm happy to support HBS.

    37. Zoeff on

      What Karl Malm said. I myself have heard several say that they're only interested in PvP.

    38. Missing avatar

      Karl Malm on

      Awesome stuff, so glad we're near the final goal at last. Know quite a few people who won't commit to pledging before they know that's in.