Sub Goals n’ Sweet Stylization – Oct 23, 2023

[ SubscribeStar Post Mirror ]

We recently surpassed our $500 goal! I could never have imagined we’d reach this milestone so quickly. Once again, I can’t thank you enough for all your support! I’ll do my utmost to keep this project rolling~

I’d like to showcase what I’ve been cooking up this last month and get your thoughts and feedback.

Project Arkavite – New Character Creator

After much experimentation, this is where we are with character creation development. Our new player base is modeled and shaded in all her glory, and we have a mock up of the new UI to boot. With this new UI I’m aiming to resolve the visual clutter issue which pervaded the original character creator.

In the top left, we’ll have a series of options which allow you to navigate between sections of the character creator. The sections themselves will be displayed in the left pane. From left to right you have race, hair, eyes, clothing, general sliders, boons and banes. Boon and bane details will be displayed in the right pane on hover.

In the top right, we’ll have the name edit button, which I imagine could also double as a button to display the character description. At the bottom we’ll have our lighting options, and our fate counter. A lot of this is subject to change, but the general gist stands.

The Style

So as you can see, I’ve leaned quite heavily into 3D. This is definitely a more anime/manga-inspired style… and quite the leap in detail if you compare it to what we had before.

Just added a few more pixels… nothing major…

This stylistic look is largely thanks to the shader I’ve developed, which implements cel shading, rim lighting, and specular highlights.


I did do some experimenting with pixel shaders to see if we could recreate the old aesthetic, but it didn’t look that great compared to cel shading. In a similar vein, I also tested whether a pixel fantasy style UI would mesh with our current style of model, and that didn’t work out so well either. Surprisingly, the issue had more to do with pixel fonts being too big to work with rather than the styles themselves clashing. I did try forcing a regular style font upon a pixel style UI, but that does create a huge clash as it completely breaks the internal consistency of the UI. Which brings us to where we are now.

I’ve taken some of the old, and brought in some new. It needs more work, but it’s a decent framework.

Model Madness

Here’s the current base model, I lovingly forged in blender. I need to touch up the arms, finish the crotch and feet, but it’s in a good enough state to start working with in game.

Project Arkavite – Female base model

My modelling background is actually engineering/architecture based. This is my first time modelling a humanoid entity and I can’t really be mad with the result. Topology around the pelvic region was the hardest to figure out and hair is also surprisingly difficult to master. I’m sure I’ll have plenty opportunity to practice when modelling all the various hairstyles I want to implement.  

A Look Back

Many hours have gone into modelling this thing. Here’s a quick look at some of the goofy/cursed/mildly-interesting snapshots I took along the way.

This early sculpt I landed on had a really familiar feeling to it, and I’m not sure why. Have you seen this person in your dreams?

Who is she?

For a brief time, I did play around with this flat shading look where the faces of the model are made visible. I thought it made for an interesting look.

Pixel Doll

I then went onto testing cel shading in the game engine.

Early Cel Shader test

I eventually grew tired of having flat hair and started experimenting with various hair modelling workflows. I still need some practice in this department, but I have the general process down.

Around this time I also experimented with outlines, and adding that rim lighting to the player. I am on the fence when it comes to outlines. It looks fine in some stills, but there are some issues with dynamically modulating thickness based on distance. I’ll need to take a second look once our player character is clothed. For now, I’m satisfied with how it looks even without the linework. 

The rim lighting is a fairly subtle effect which most will probably overlook, but I feel it does add a lot to the end result. I’m glad I was able to implement it. It did require a little sneaky trickery, but that’s a story for another time.

After retoplogizing the body, I brought everything into the main project and made a mock up of the character creator. There were some pretty glaring issues with the characters face which bothered me, so I went ahead and fixed that. Lowered the eyes, fixed the textures, added some new brows and lashes, tweaked the hair, added ears, and the metamorphosis is complete.

The Metamorphosis

A Look Forward

All she really needs now are some clothes, which I’ll be working on next, along with all that UI functionality. So, what do you think? Do you like the direction we’re going in? Do you hate it? Let me know your thoughts!

Project Arkavite – Decency Restored

4 thoughts on “Sub Goals n’ Sweet Stylization – Oct 23, 2023

  1. I really liked the pixel art style and I hoped it’d stay. do you plan to make the entire world and game 3d going further too?

    1. Yes, unfortunately working with 2D in Unreal is a bit of a pain, and I’ve found that no matter the engine I go with, the 2D mediums limitations would make it difficult to implement the level of customization I desire within an acceptable timeframe.
      I won’t completely rule out the possibility of there being some pixel style art here and there, but I of course need to avoid stylistic clashes where possible. As I was testing various looks in Unreal, I did try making pixel style work with 3D graphics via shaders, but in the end I found the cel shaded approach to look and feel much better. With respect to the in-game UI, I don’t foresee there being much differences aside from a resolution bump.

      If you’ve seen the this months log, you can probably tell the style is definitely still evolving and what’s shown above is by no means indicative of the final product. I don’t want to settle for anything that’s worse than what we had before so I will keep pressing on. Hopefully I can arrive at something new which people still find visually enticing 😅

      1. part of it is also just that my pc isn’t that fast. how cpu intensive would you say this is turning out to be?

        1. Not too intensive. The character creator is only a little more demanding than the previous version as far as CPU is concerned (230FPS~ on my rig when the FPS limit is set to 300). It’s actually less demanding in menus than the previous version (300FPS+ on my rig so somewhere beyond the FPS cap). That being said, the character creator is inherently lightweight. I’ll have to get deeper into sandbox dev before I can really stress test. I expect world sim and world gen to eat into our CPU budget. That’s something I have to reckon with regardless of style. I don’t see the game getting to be that graphically intense as we’re not going for Unreal realism. The character creator release is now due so be sure to try it out when it comes out, let me know how it performs for you + what kind of specs you’re rocking. I only have my dev rig to test on atm so any data you’d be willing to share would be a great help in figuring out the minimum system requirements and what may require more optimization.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *