Nov 28, 2012

Did you play Desktop Dungeons?

Hey there everybody,

Over a year ago now, I stumbled upon Desktop Dungeons.
It's a free indie game in which you play a character (you choose a race and a class), who's put in a dungeon at level 1, and now you have to find an effective way to fight your way through that dungeon. You defeat a level 10 boss to finish a match.

I like to refer to this game as a "hardcore casual game". It's casual in the way that each match will never last more than a few minutes, 10 minutes would be average, with very little above or below it. But it's also hardcore in that the game is one heck of a complex puzzle.
Alpha


Since then, a lot has happened for the trio from south africa (who developed the game) - and today, for the past year or so, they are developing a "fuller" version of that old free-to-play version of Desktop Dungeons.
This version is available to you in beta version if you prepurchase the full game in their site:
http://www.desktopdungeons.net/

Beta


If you look around, you will see that the old alpha version is also still available, for free, for whoever wants to see what all the fuss is about.

This game is an amazing feat of game design. The original game was extremely refreshing and reminded me of what gaming is all about, and the beta version of the newer game keeps surprising me with awesome ideas, awesome balance, awesome implementation, and endless originality.

I strongly recommend you to try it out, especially you game makers out there, with a bigger finger pointed at game designers. Take a look at what our profession is all about. if you liked the alpha, even a little bit, you should seriously consider buying the official game - and support indie game makers. Especially of this incredibly talented type.

Beta Art


-Alon Tako.

Oct 22, 2012

3D Caricature

Decided to try out some 3D caricature. Started this for Caricaturama Showdown, didn't finish on time, so decided to push it further tonight and publish here.


-Alon Tako.

Oct 8, 2012

Back to action!

It's been a while since my last update.

Our short film Glued has been a success beyond anything we ever imagined, close to 800,000 views and counting! 

I'm very humbled since this is my first attempt at anything of this magnitude, and it was a learning experience above anything else. The fact it became so popular was a big surprise (can't say we didn't hope for it but still). I gotta thank my team mates for everything they've done to push this thing to where it is!

But since it's release, besides being flooded with all kinds of attention, there's been a holiday season and a job hunt, and I had to think about my next project, which will be my graduation project!

So right now I'm indecisive about whether I'll make another short film, this time alone, or maybe pursue my true passion all the way - character design, modeling, texturing, lighting... and take it to a whole new level, creating the best showreel I can make of only these specific skills.

So while I make this sort of big decision, I started refining my anatomy skills. 
I took my old model (formerly named Bronn) and fixed the mistakes I've made on it, pushing it to the next level. This is still a work in progress, but I do believe it's been improved a lot.



There's still a lot of work since he's still pretty much flayed, symmetrical, and also the arms need work (they're the part I worked on least on this remake and the part in the body I know least about anatomically). I plan on doing some ancient greek art studies soon, and as part of that I might give him some spartan gear, trying to avoid making him too 300-ish.

I plan on getting back to action, this year sharing much more of my projects than last year.

Thanks for visiting!

-Alon Tako.

Aug 13, 2012

GLUED again :)

I'm too excited that it's finally out.
It's been such a crazy year making this film...

You can watch it here:
https://vimeo.com/47337258

I hope you enjoy it, and if you do please share it around!

-Alon Tako.

Aug 10, 2012

Finally done! GLUED

Hey everyone!

It's been a LONG time since I got to update this blog, and that's because of two main reasons:
1. Life's been hard cuz I'm a student in Israel, and Israel is kinda a financial shithole right now.

2. I've been dedicating ALL of my time, literally ALL of it, to finishing our 3rd year project - Glued. Well, not in the past month or so, but until a month ago, ALL of my time. Seriously. For the last month we've actually been waiting for the short to complete it's rendering, and then this past week we did some post work, and now, at LAST, it's done.

I posted a few frames from our Color Script which I did a good long while ago. 

Over the next weekend and the beginning of next week, we will be posting our short on Vimeo and eventually YouTube as well, and of course once it's all uploaded and set up - I'll have the link posted here.

It's been a tough year, this film took 10 full months to complete, and we are very, very, VERY happy we're done. 

:)

-Alon Tako.

Apr 15, 2012

Diablo 3!

So everyone who's anyone at least HEARD that Diablo 3 is coming out in a month.

I'm one of those weirdos who have been waiting for the past 11 years for it to come out, most of that time was spent doubting it will ever come out at all.

A few months ago when the beta began, I was running around trolling everyone I know from our local gaming community. I did manage to get a hold of the beta on a friend's account, he's a reporter so he had it, and I got to play it. It was, well, awesome. But it was a short-lived experience since I only had access to it for a couple of days. Meh, well.

Then another reporter friend, who runs a successful local gaming blog, mentioned HE got it, and I nagged him and nagged him until he shared his account with me. At this point I had full access and could really put some time into it, trying to see as much as possible. I saw some of the changes, many of them very good ones, some of them less. But the game was still awesome.

And then I won a local competition, the prize was a beta CD-Key, and then I had my own.
This time, since it's my own account, I really could get into it and look for every single piece of content the beta has to offer.

I must say, it was a BLAST, but it was very, very short.
In just a few ours (total) I managed to max out all characters, and get all achievements possible in the beta. And my completionist days are certainly over, and have been for years.

So yeah, for someone like me to be able to share this image:


Can mean one of two things.
Either Diablo 3 is a game so good, it takes me back to my completionist days,
or the beta is too damn short.

I think both of them are true. The beta IS short, otherwise I wouldn't have the time to complete it. But at the same time, Blizzard's design team have done such a WONDERFUL job at refining the game since the beta started, that today it not only feels more Diablo, it plays more Diablo, and it's fun, in fact even more fun than any previous Diablo game. And that says a lot.

Diablo 3 beta was an amazing experience over the past few months, and although the game is lacking some mood (the beta does, anyway), the game looks very promising. I hope the story ends up mature and deep, I hope I get to feel that old Diablo-scare once or twice over the course of the game, like I did just before entering Duriel's lair or when I first met The Smith or when I first saw the words "Kill Diablo." in the quest log of Diablo 2, act 4.

But even if I don't, I can tell you this game is going to be a TON of fun, and it's definitely, at least from what I saw in the beta, a worthy sequel. It's been 12 years of waiting, and 4 years of hype, and I feel like Blizzard actually delivered, and proved once again that making quality games is the top priority of this great company.

See you all in hell, on May 15th.

UPDATE AUG10th:
D3 released, I got the collector's as I usually do with Blizzard games.
It's full of goodies and the art book is a feast for your eyes.

Sadly I cannot say the same about the game, which was a big hit in the stomach for me as a hardcore Blizzard fan.

They promise to keep tweaking it and be committed to it for a long time. I do hope so, but things have been going very slow since the release, and it feels like there are very few people working on it... sadly.

The game is fun, at it's core. It plays amazingly well and it does feel like a Diablo game, gameplay wise.
The problem starts when you dig deeper and find nothing. Which happens way too quickly, when it shouldn't happen at all. And that's without mentioning the story, which was very childish, and unlike any other Diablo game, or any Blizzard game, for that matter.

I wish I didn't have to say that, but I have to stay loyal to myself - Diablo 3 is not the game I expected it to be, and it's not the game I was led to believe it would be after my expectations were broken, and different ones were put in their place. In a way, to this fan, it was a failure.

-Alon Tako.

Mar 22, 2012

ZV Radial Blend Shape

I wanted to tell you all about a wonderful tool I heard of, and used to rig our main character in Glued (our short).

It's called ZV Radial Blend Shape.
It's developed by Paolo Dominici, and you can find it here:
http://www.creativecrash.com/maya/downloads/scripts-plugins/modeling/poly-tools/c/zv-radial-blend-shape

Anyone who's ever rigged a character in Maya knows how annoying it can be to make eyelid deformations, especially for an amateur rigger like myself...
There are problems with blendshapes transitioning in a linear way, making any non-linear deformations seem weird (eyelid motion is curved, it rotates around the eyeball. It's non-linear).

So Blendshapes are sometimes impossible to use in eyelids, since we need something that will slide around the eyeball in a nice way.

Painting weights is usually possible, but again, in some case (like our main character's rig), where the eyelid has to curve a very long way until it's bottom position, it's also very problematic.

This is where this awesome plug-in comes in. (a plug-in, not a script, big difference which I'll explain soon).
What it does is basically create a new, separate blendshape system in maya. This system works quite a bit like the standard Maya blendshape system, but with one big important difference. The transition between one shape and the other is not linear, it actually has a pivot around which it is rotating. This makes eyelid deformation as simple as hell.

I said earlier that it's a plug-in, and not a script, which is a big deal here. And here's why:
In order for any animator to work with any character you use radial blendshapes on, he will HAVE to have the plugin (the .mll file) placed in his plug-in directory (maya root/bin/plug-ins), and he'll have to make sure to load and auto load it from the Maya plugin manager.

Now here's where things got messy for us. Some of the computers we have to use to work on our project could not load the plug-in! The script editor gave out this message:


// Error: Unable to dynamically load : C:/Users/maya/Documents/maya/plug-ins/radialBlendShape.mll
The specified module could not be found.
 // 
// Error: The specified module could not be found.
 // 
// Error: The specified module could not be found.
 (radialBlendShape) // 


Only not in red, of course. :)

We've been at it for the past two days, until we finally solved it today. And since it was so hard to find a solution, we thought it was a good idea to post it here.

It's very simple - you just have to make sure you have Visual C++ 2010 installed on your computer. This is a pack of things which I don't really understand, but this pack helps fill your computers with goodies that are required by some programs you might stumble upon.
Get it here for 32bit systems
Get it here for 64bit systems

This should solve the problem, if you got here because of it.
This is an amazing plugin, which we should all know and love.
Thanks Paolo Dominici!



Mar 21, 2012

Sneak Peak...

It's been over two months since my last update, and that's because we're working too damn hard on our project!

I constantly wanted to post some new stuff here... but nothing's been brought to a high enough finish to show. I hope that by july we'll have an actual film to show! but one step at a time.

In the meanwhile, I'm gonna post a couple of color script pieces I've done for our short, with the cooperation of my two main men in the project, Guy Elnathan (who's running THIS blog you should check) and Daniel Lichter, who's an awesome dude as well(And he runs THIS blog).



So these are just color guidelines, and the film is going to be all 3D.
We're hoping it'll be finished but honestly, this is a learning experience, and as long as we're coming out of it with more experience and knowledge than when we entered - we're happy as pigs in...

More to come.

-Alon Tako.

Jan 14, 2012

Whoo! That's intense.

Lately I've had one of the biggest, if not THE biggest workloads I've ever had.

Between the school project (which I'm very close to sharing work from with everyone here!), a couple of small jobs I've taken on to ease my financial worries, and trying to maintain decent grades at school classes that don't relate to my school project... And trying to run a decent personal life among it all... It's been crazy.

I'm getting big satisfaction from it all but it's really hard to keep it up. I'm not built for this kind of life. I need my space. :O

See you soon with some materials from our yearly project which is shaping up to be something AWESOME! Hopefully we'll have enough time and skill to complete it.

P.S - Since I didn't jump the happy-new-year-blog-post wagon, I'll use this opportunity to wish everyone a happy new year! Make sure you use it better than the last!

-Alon Tako.

Dec 20, 2011

Bezalel Campaign

Hey all,

My art school's going to go through a publicity campaign, which should be pretty unique.
Basically they're gonna take some of the best student work from the past year and put it on billboards all over the country.

My application for their consideration is this:

While not exactly a school project, I owe a lot of where I am today to my school and this is something that shows considerable progress compared to other sculpture work that I did.

The QR code is leading here, so that maybe a few more people will join you readers that take interest in me.  And thank you for doing so! :)

EDIT:
I've been receiving comments about the painfully obvious symmetry on the model.
I do wish I had the time to break symmetry and bring this presentation to a higher level, but sadly I had to render it pretty quickly and give it out to the management. I do plan on finishing this guy up eventually... and the next step is without a doubt to break symmetry!

Oh, and yes, he's barefoot and he loves it. That's just how he roles.

-Alon Tako.