Besides professional (and very sweet!) looking game characters, Multivaders also has a very impressive game level editor. What are the main strengths of your framework and this interactive level editor?
Our editor contains some unique features that have proved really advantageous during our development of the game. All the editing tools are completely in-game and can be accessed at any time. We can be playing through a mission and with a tap of a button we’ll have jumped into the level editor to instantly tweak the placement of a room, the state of a door, the inventory of a cupboard or the positioning of an object. The tool suite also allows editors to collaborate over a network (or the internet) – up to 16 people can simultaneously work on the same user-generated-content. As an example, you can have someone building a space station and placing mission-critical objects around it while someone else is designing a ship filled with traps and enemies, while a third person is planning and placing the goals and objectives. The level editing tool is just the tip of the iceberg – we also have in-game tools to create galaxies, solar systems, cinematic cutscenes, characters and actors and missions; the possibilities for the end-user are almost limitless.
The special look & feel of the game also comes from the excellent texturing and lighting of the game environment. Paradum Games uses baked textures and lighting to achieve these results. Can you tell more about the advantages of these techniques?
One of our goals has been to try not to rely exclusively on high-end hardware and techniques. With baked lightmaps we can create a unique visual style without sacrificing the framerate through an expensive rendering path. Our environments feature complex lighting setups with GI/AO that can be precalculated and stored at multiple levels of detail on a single texture sheet. The method does have it’s disadvantages, however. Because most of the lighting is baked, we can’t allow the user to extensively edit the environment within the game. The environments are treated like a jigsaw puzzle with prefab rooms and scenes that players can clip together to form their levels. For dynamic objects such as characters and props we also had to develop our own method of ‘faking’ this lighting in real-time. Ultimately, I think with the target audience, our visual style and our intended ‘simple’ editing, baked textures and lighting have proven to be more of an advantage than a disadvantage.
What software are you using for the production?
Because of the indie-nature of our development team, our artists have had to use what they can get their hands on. Luckily all of us currently work in the industry and have access to some of the top software packages available. We largely rely on 3D Studio Max and Photoshop to create the art of Multivaders. We’ve developed several shaders which allow our artists to see assets in the viewports exactly as they’re seen in-game. We then use a mixture of 3rd party and proprietry plugins to export our content into a format the game can use.Software has been one of the biggest problems we have experienced being a hobbyist game developer. We’ve encountered a range of issues from not having access to SDK’s and APIs to support other art packages to problems related to our artists all using different versions of 3D Studio Max. There have also been instances where we’d love to have access to other professional software but just don’t have the budget to do so. In these cases we’ve had to resort to free or inexpensive tools or write out own.