Something I don’t think I’ve shared much is that a core hobby of mine outside of gaming is 3D modelling. It is something that is fun, a little relaxing, gives me a skill to develop, and is artistic in a way I don’t get to be often enough – and provides a secondary excuse for overspending on my gaming PCs!
It started simply enough – I learned how to use Google (at the time) Sketchup when participating in a pro wrestling e-federation (imagine roleplaying, but wrestling, and someone writes the matches out). I learned how to build really basic models to show what an arena might look like, and while no one in the group really took to using them, it was fun enough for my own sake that I kept at it anyways.
My early attempts, despite the ease of the software, were…rough.
I was slowly getting better, using the weird mid-aughts Photoshop graphics the e-fed put up and running with them to build things, amassing a stable of components and slowly getting better. Once the group stopped in 2008, I saved what I could of the assets and kept going on my own, just to see how decent I could get at the hobby.
Over time, I was pretty happy with how my work was turning out – enough to show it to people I actually knew instead of strangers!
However, I was running into problems in the later years. Sketchup as a tool is designed primarily for architects and real estate developers – it’s made to be an easy professional tool for showing off a 3D space or a quick concept, so while it is fairly well-made for that, it lacks a lot of options – proper lighting, creating more detailed renders, decent alpha textures, etc.
My later work used the best versions of the assets I had built over the years – wrestling rings, stage components, and a mix of various models taken from real-life stage components – and focused more on creating a rough idea of the vision in my head, instead of an actual fully assembled show. I’ve used fewer graphics and more general designs, like these:
Why share these now? Well, I think it is just a fun fluff post, but it also segues into something I am thinking about a lot.
With these newer models, I’ve wanted to see what they look like lit up (the lights you see above in a few shots are alpha textures colored to look like light beams, and do nothing other than sometimes complicate navigation through the model), and at the same time, I’ve been thinking a lot about making some simple indie games on my own, which would require me to step out of architectural designs and wrestling shows and into terrain and nature modeling.
So I’ve started learning Blender.
My early efforts are pretty cool, but mainly because I’ve been playing with exports from Sketchup, using my existing models to play with lighting and features.
This is about a week of experimenting nightly with various lighting features, adding more models, learning a really basic shader implementation, and thinking about how to artistically represent my vision in a way that works on screen like it does in my head.
Admittedly, I’m not much of an artist, and I think I’ll be leaning on material packs and some assets for stuff that is a bit out of my reach. But in 2020, one thing I do want to do is figure out, hell or high water, how to make a really basic game and get one running on my own.
So far, at least, I think I can figure out how to use Blender to do something I didn’t think I’d be able to do even just a week ago!