Sotkinetic - Developer - Research and Development/User Experience/Technical Artist

So, after working for about a year at Softkinetic and developing several demos, I've finally decided to post the most interesting in my point of view, most of them are result of research I did for user experience and all implementation was done in Unity/C# using Iisu's SDK for data input in Unity and most recently the so called  Intel's perceptual computing SDK.

Intel IDF ControlDeck from Carlos Sousa on Vimeo.

Squeegie from Carlos Sousa on Vimeo.

TwoHands from Carlos Sousa on Vimeo.



This last video I developed the application and concept for intereacting with the virtual blocks. Controller design by Gilles Pinault.




iisuStick-objectBuilding from Carlos Sousa on Vimeo.











Master's Thesis - Immersion and Presence in FPS Games: A Qualitative Approach

So, finally it has been finished... But... I still need to translate it (it's in Portuguese). I had great help from many people when writing this and I am very pleased with the outcome.

An analysis on FPS (First-Person Shooters/First-Person View) genre covering from possible platform configurations to content issues, this study is a approach to try to understand what it means to be immersed and present in FPS games. It is strongly based on VR and digital game academic literatures with considerations for next paradigm shifts.

I will have the pdf available ASAP, for now, just the cover, back cover and the abstract, if you are interested in reading it in Portuguese anyways, hit me an email.






Abstract

This research aims to investigate immersion and presence in FPS as qualitative
approach. This investigation is done by taking in account the two decades of
successes on the FPS genre in the games industry in which has been observed
paradigm transformations that include control mappings, depth of interaction,
graphic realism, considerable expansion in multi-user environments etc. The
methodology has been an heuristic one with such an ontological focus situated
between the relations of the specific FPS genre and virtual reality done by an
organization of bibliographic references and a discussion with professionals from
the international industry. From the selected survey which has been organized and
selected as a qualitative approach within the academic literature in both virtual
reality and digital games to establish a synthesis of factors to be observed in case
studies and evaluated by invited developers from the FPS games industry. This way,
it relates the concepts, situating immersion in the field of the convincing experience
of the game and that of “being in the game”. In parallel, the term virtual reality (as a
support), by which multi-form definitions emplaces it between device configurations
or setups related to sensorial perception and of psychological experiences provided
by this medium, the extra-sensorial reach, reflects the development of a projected
immersive reproduction by which users of this medium describe the sense of
presence, of being in another place or another world. It is believed that the result
of this work should contribute to fulfill of studies in the specific FPS genre field,
within the own virtual reality studies and possibly in the aiding of design for the
development of the FPS games.

Keywords: Immersion, Presence, Virtual Reality, First-person Shooters, Games,
Topophilosophy.


FPS Prototyping


So before getting involved with the theory about immersion on FPS games, I was actually trying something else, developing my own demo. I would safely say that this project is on "pause" for the moment, it's a work in progress and I definitely intend to get back to it as soon as possible, maybe putting a lot of the findings from my thesis on a bigger project.


For the moment, I would say I have learned a lot from this initial experimentation. I made just one character for the moment, I decided to push a bit more for the visuals of the character for inspiration instead of just using a placeholder.



It was done Unity. I wrote all the scripts for character navigation, animation, gun fire, recoil etc. and I actually got some initial networking success, where I could have at the server several friends at the same time, each displaying the correct animations being played for their movements as well as a nice precision on where each would shoot (by checking the decals from bullet holes on the walls), we actually did this test by shooting at the decals and confirming on each client side the correct positioning. Naturally I know there are way more complex problems for networking and that I haven't even scratched the surface, but, then again, it's already useful to know these initial steps.

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Anyways, I could of course push a lot more on the animations, especially the transitions but I'm actually quite happy with this initial experimentation, when getting back to this project I would probably implement again all the scripts for animation, making it more smooth, more refined cycles etc.




This project is in my heart and I will get back to it whenever I can.






Here is a high res. mesh done in Mudbox.



This is the actual in-game mesh.



Game Development: Head Advergame

A web advergame for Head brand called Desafie Seus Medos (Challenge Your Fears). The concept of the game, as you will notice is a little different from an original tennis game mechanics and rules. The idea here is something different, you must HIT your opponents with tennis balls!



Unfortunately the game is not available anymore to play, but, sometime, as soon as I have my oficial website running, I'll have a version so people can play online.




This was a hard one, from game concept/design to texture creation, 3D modeling, animation and programming/scripting, AI to testing and deployment. This has been by far my most challenging project, considering it a real commercial project/demand. I´m very happy that I actually finished this project. I cannot thank enough Dassault Systéms´3DVia for their responsive support (Virgile Delporte and Martin St-Germain! \0/).

I and just can´t put in words how wonderful Virtools IS. I hope they can get back to it someday.


It would be meaningless to speak of this project and not talk about audio. Everything was done by an excelent professional game audio fx, sound track composer, audio editor, and musician Abreu Leandro.



The Levels:

These are the game levels... From training, following a progressive dificulty curve to the championship levels.

The average of each scene in polys is about 4.5k. There was also the use of baked shadows, specially for the court.








This is a quick video preview...



Characters:


For the animation, I tried to get more fluid and realistic movements, so I used video rotoscopy for reference...






NPCs (Non-Playable Characters):


Two monsters were available for the Head campaign, so they both were insered in the game as being the "enemies". Both of these were also modeled in high resolution to get good texture aspect and more realism despite the low poly count and low texture resolution, again, this is a web game, so "less is more"...


"Red Monster"

The Reference:





The Modeling:








The Animation:




"Blue Monster"

The Reference:






The Modeling:




The Whole Making Of: Modeling, High Res Modeling, UV Mapping, Texture Painting, Rigging, Animation...Can be watched with the series of accelerated videos. I hope you enjoy...


The Base Modeling video:




The High Resolution Modeling Video




The UV Mapping Video



The Texturing Video



The Rigging Video



The Animation Cycles Video

Next-Gen Character Development: "Marine"

This character has been developed for both high-end animation and also real-time application use. Two meshes were built out of one whole process. From the initial design concept to modeling, high resolution mesh modeling, uv mapping, texturing, rigging, animation and exportation. This character was used for demo at the SBGames 2007 Independent Games Festival under XNA catagory and contributed to get the third place. It was also used for the book published in 2008 "XNA 2.0 Game Programming".












Character´s head:

Character Marine Head from Carlos Sousa on Vimeo.





This is a little video animation done with the high resolution character... Skin shader was used for the head and displacement maps were used for the suit...








This is a playblast video of the character done before the render of the animation...


Game Development: Floatbox´s Off-Road Challenge

This was the first 3D game demo I´ve developed. It´s fully functional (no menus yet) and not just a prototype. It took me about 9 months to get this finished and I did everything from modeling to programmning to testing... The level was built uppon research of local vegetation and landscape in the region I live in Brazil (cerrado). This is a web game so you might tell that no fancy graphics or lots of details... On the other hand, special attention was given to have good playability, so many hours of testing and tuning were made... My friends said they had fun while playing, so this is the most important and satisfying to me...

You can play it here: http://www.floatbox.com.br/off_road/





Here are some screenshots of the level. The whole scene including props, objects, obstacles does not pass 20k polys and it is divided into four pieces for scene graph and clipping opitimzation. The idea here is perfomance, the game is intended for web and low end computers...






Character Animation: Live-Action + Camera Match

This animation was a school project while I studied at EBA-UFMG, (Fine Arts School from Federal University of Minas Gerais) in Brazil. It is called Homage to Escher. I used live-action for camera match and added the animation, lighting etc.










This is the animation... No Audio... :(

CG Character - The Old Man

I decided to put this here because it was my first CG chacter developed back in 2002. I think it has something special and I like it. Hope you like it...









CG Animation - Royal Ascott

This was a short animation I made for a friend. He´s an automotive designer and asked me if I could do something with his concept car model made in nurbs. Hope you like it.


CG Animation - Lumiart Opening

This is an animation made with Maya´s hardware rendering and particles basically.