It’s Wednesday today, and at the weekend I ‘finished’ my final diorama; the Fool’s Tent. ‘Finished’ meaning I reached the end of the time I’m supposed to spend on it, however there is still much polish work to do.
I’m going to talk briefly about how I feel about this diorama so far, and also what I am doing with my 3-4 weeks of ‘polish’ time.
Overall I’m relatively happy with the appearance of the diorama. I quite like the colours and the composition, and I’ve definitely improved at sculpting rocks for a scene. However, the scene doesn’t hold up as well as The Fool’s Room as a single image- the snow and stars on the background are a little confusing, and high-resolution screenshots bring out all the weird and nasty noisiness of the rocks and snow. You can also see faults such as the snow pile meshes on the lower diorama standing out oddly.
The diorama, as I’ve mentioned before, is also a little underwhelming at face value as a lot is going on inside the tent and is not visible externally. To combat this I’ve tried to go a little over-the-top with atmosphere to compensate and create a more stylised feel. This makes it look a little more interesting and better matches the stylisation of the Fool’s Room. Adding very smooth, clean snow will also add more to the stylisation and match the cleanness of the Fool’s Room. I’ve also got some plans for assets outside the tent itself, as mentioned last week. Adding a climbing rope and lantern at the bottom of the diorama will create a triangular composition to lead the eye around the piece, and the sledge will make the scene appear more lived-in and populated;
The main things I intend on fixing during polish time for this diorama are;
- The snow, which currently does not look like snow and is unpleasantly noisy and dirty looking.
- The tent interior, which I am generally quite unhappy with the atmosphere of.
- The lack of assets.
The biggest task for the Fool’s Tent will be creating a fair few new assets to improve the atmosphere and composition. Unlike the Fool’s Room and the Dragon Garden, where I am doing a lot of modifying things and re-doing things, for the Tent it’s very much adding to what I already have. I want to tell a bit of a story with the assets in the diorama, since the diorama itself has little to offer. I’m also hoping the atmosphere will become more believable with the addition of better, smoother snow and improved lighting.
Lighting is a very big problem at the moment, because I’m finding that I have to use a lot of lights to get a nice feel to the diorama, but optimisation is also becoming a real concern, with some awful framerates. Using the ProfileGPU console command to show what the cause of the problem is – lighting and translucency -, is very useful, but there’s only so much I can do before the quality really begins to drop. I’m hoping I’ll be able to fix it up without making further compromises. It’s frustrating, knowing that there are huge open-world games out there which run fine, and I can’t even get this tiny diorama to run properly.
In addition to my other concerns, I’m disappointed with the appearance of the tent because it’s very rigid- looking; all the edged are perfectly straight, and only the fabric moves in the wind. I’d like it if I could make the tent itself blow in the wind, but I don’t think I’ll be able to do it, which is frustrating.
This diorama is definitely the one I have the most regrets for. It especially occurred to me the other day that I should have made this diorama and the Dragon Garden much smaller and more intimate. I could achieve this by using cutaways, such as for the tent front. Then I would be able to have the dioramas as all the same scale as the Fool’s Room, and they would appear as more of a set. Unfortunately it’s too late to do any of this, but I’ll be bearing it in mind for future projects.
I’m hesitant to say much more about how I feel about this diorama, because I’m quite heavily relying on my polish-time to pull it through from mediocre to great. I really hope I can work through its faults and improve it to a satisfactory level, or it’s going to look very disappointing alongside the Fool’s Room in particular.
In my initial project brief, I set 3 paintings as a stretch goal for my project. I wasn’t sure from the beginning if I’d ever do them, but thought it could have been a nice addition if I had the time. I’ve decided I’ll not be doing them, instead using that time to very extensively polish up my project to the best it can be.
Naturally the first thing I did on Sunday/Monday before I began my polish/fixing time was to make an exhaustive list of everything that needs doing for hand-in. I collated ideas from critique I had received, things that were unfinished, and things that I wasn’t feeling too great about.
I created a final section for my Excel spreadsheet outlining my week-by-week plans. I intend on spending a week on each diorama, roughly at least. I haven’t rigidly broken up my time like I have for during the making-of my dioramas, because I have no idea how long each task will last. For instance, I’ve worked through my tasks for the Fool’s Room much faster than I had expected, but now I’ll be working on more difficult tasks such as adding sound and texturing which will probably fill the rest of the week.
If I get ahead of schedule, I’ll simply move onto the next diorama sooner- I have a feeling I could use the extra time.
The final week- hand in week- I have left blank for any last-minute panic adjustments, making sure housekeeping is done properly, building the ‘game’, and putting it up on the K-drive, testing, etc. I’d like to have my work on K-drive, all sorted, by about Wednesday so I’m not scrabbling to get everything done on the Friday.
After all that’s done I’ll deal with making a flythrough video. Voila.
I’m feeling good about how I’ve distributed my time and I’m confident that I’ll get everything done. The only things I’m feeling a little apprehensive about are tasks that I’ve never done before, namely adding music and sound, and building the final game. I’m not sure if things that are working fine in-editor will just break, or if all will go smoothly.
I’ll continue to post weekly with updates on my project over the next 4 weeks.