Male Model Upgrade
Being a superhero aboard the FHS Justice isn’t easy. Underneath all the eye lasers and fancy capes, the best heroes are on a constant quest to improve themselves, physically and mentally. Sometimes that means finding a new day job to learn new skills. More often, it’s a matter of hard work and simple determination to get stronger in the face of a new challenge or foe
Even 500 years in the future, heroes still lift weights.
Those heroes who prove capable of taking down the galaxy’s biggest threats are understandably proud of their abilities, and work all the harder to be ready for next time. The Justice Corps takes this ideal even further; more than a few of their members could pass for bodybuilders or fitness experts, if they weren’t so busy saving lives.
“It’s the Robert Brown workout” is the line among our developers. Robert Brown is contributing his world-class artistic skills to upgrading our male models’ musculature. We thought you’d enjoy the workout gif as an explanation for the new, buffer appearance of our characters. These alterations are more than just skin-deep; we’ve changed the models’ shape geometry, and baked new details into their normal maps.
The old and new versions of the standard male model, posed for another tongue-in-cheek recruitment poster. We like the new version a lot better.
Our models were already customized, but now they’ve received a second round of customization to better reflect the intended art style of Ship of Heroes. We’re planning to show a significant set of improvements to our character creator (CCT) in August, and upgrading the male models is an early step in that process. The new eye options, the male model upgrades, power and power set selections, and new hero costumes (coming soon) are just some of the changes we’ll be showing.
The two new models, a fit man and a really big guy. The model on the left is just over 6 feet tall here, though height is adjustable for both of them in the character creator.
Why bother? We have a large collection of morphs, so couldn’t we have accomplished the same increase in muscularity simply with morphs? The answer is no. The morphs take what the model has and adjust it. We want to start with a more muscular appearance that fits with both heroes and the futuristic setting. In effect, we get both a reset to the middle of the morph range with this upgrade, and a quality improvement across the entire possible range of character appearances.
In technical terms, once a set of models is established, if the dev team is actually placing real clothing and costume items onto the models as we are, then the clothing has to morph with the model… So changing the models means changing the clothing to match. All of the clothing. As a result, we need to adjust the morphs on everything we already have, which is a really big task, requiring advanced skills in Maya as well as in Unreal 4 for both morph target and rigging optimization.
Here we see the new models in a boxing pose. Notice how the animation blends seamlessly with their different body shapes.
Still, our team knows that some things need to be done as early in the development cycle as possible, so we decided to go for it. By the time we’re ready to launch the game, an upgrade to the base models would be completely impractical – if we put it off, it would never get done.
For those eagerly waiting to play Ship of Heroes, don’t worry; there’s no impact on servers, no lag created by these changes. The new models only enhance the game, making it even more immersive than before.
In the development of an MMO, it is critical to have a working prototype to show to supporters, and then to upgrade it over time. We revealed our fully-functional character creator almost eight months ago, and next month we will showcase these models in the latest upgraded version of it. Continuous improvement is the key to our process of building Ship of Heroes.