Articles Written By: Henrik Englund

How I got tangled up in The Journey Down

A long, long time ago, in a little village at the edge of a forest, there lived a kid randomly surfing the web. I guess that the kid was me, 16 years old, frustrated at the slow-motion 56K modem. This particular day I was surfing Theo’s homepage and waiting for a JPG download of a 3D shoe. It was the freaking coolest shoe I had ever seen in my foolish young life. To tell the truth though, it was just a random leather boot.

This might sound a little bit strange but it made me send Theo an email and explain to him that I loved his shoe and I asked for his ICQ number. (To this day I haven’t asked a girl for her number because of her nice shoes!) hehe.

We lived far apart but it didn’t stop us from being really good friends. At weekends we used to have speed-painting competitions. Theo used to say stuff like, “Draw the coolest spaceship before midnight”. It was fun but I can admit that painting starships has never been my strongest side.

After some years playing around on Icq, I had just finished my animation course, Theo asked me if i wanted to start a company with him and some other dudes and move to Gothenburg. I never really hesitated to leave my little village at the edge of a forest when the question came.

Thats my little story about how Theo and I became friends and started to build games together.

Normally when we are working at SLX Games we do more or less the same tasks. Only difference is that I usually end up doing more animation work and Theo ends up doing more illustrations. If either of us need help with our current tasks to reach deadline, we usually share the burden. What we do specifically though, depends on the game we are working on for the moment.

In the case of Journey Down I will work mostly on the animations but I will also be doing some of the character and other cinematic 3d models and will be spending a lot of time working on creating a nice pipeline to give the characters a nice cartoony feel to fit into the JD universe. Ohhh, I almost forgot to mention all the time I will spend in this project rendering and drinking coffee.

In case you wonder why I (the guy to the left) have my shiny beard, its a God cop, Bad cop thing!
We will try it out when hunting publishers.

Setting up Bozi for Action

Something i have learned form earlier middle-size game projects consisting of few team members is that its impotent to find a fast and solid pipeline. It is easy to stumble on making every part too advanced or too time-consuming. Or just spending to much time on loved details that never end up in the final product. After analyzing how much work it will be just setting up our characters for animation I decided to buy an Auto Rig tool. Hopefully I can save around two days on every character this way.

After digging around the net for a good solution i found Rapid Rig. It’s an Auto rig tool made by Dustin. The price tag for this small but awesome tool is 40 USD. The rig is far more advanced than the ones I regularly build on my own(for better or worse), after spending some time with it though, I’m beginning to understand it’s inner workings. It’s always good to know how the rig works in case it breaks a later stage. I have also implemented blendshapes to the rig so we hopefully will get some nice facial animation.

Now it’s time for me to grab another cup of black magic!

Shader experiments

Today we have been working on translating our 2D low-res characters into 3D. In the prototype of JD there are roughly 18 characters, so it may take some time before all the models are polished and ready for animation. The second part of the day we spent doing shader experiments. Everything is still work in progress but this first test confirms that we are on the right path and that a little bit of polish should be all that’s needed to take it all the way.