Age Concepts: Maho

Admittedly I’ve been a bit too ambitious when it comes to my Age projects. I had dreams of making my own expansion pack for Uru and so the projects I grouped together for the Beneath storyline ended up at around 9 Ages.

Thus far I have completed 4 of those Ages and the others are in various states of development. Central to this storyline was an Age called Maho which was Written by a character who goes by the name of ‘Lore’.

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Deconstructing Ages: Introduction

I’ve been meaning to pen a series of articles regarding content development for some time. The goal of these articles is to explain in part the process I go through myself in content development as well as offer advice for your own content.

Before I get started I would like to ask you a question. Why do you want to build content for Uru?

It is a relatively simple question but it gives one an understanding of how far they are prepared to go. Are you building content just for a lark? Then you may not be interested in long term skill development. Are you building content because you want to contribute to Uru? Well then that opens up possibilities. From where we could ask do you want to to build something for people to enjoy? Or perhaps do you want to build something that will one day be on par with Cyan content? Simply put the more serious a content builder is about their content the more likely they would be interested in developing their skills and pushing their talents further.

This image you see here, is of a D’ni area I built called Fehnir’s House.

You may be familiar with the location already, you may not be. This is what I am building at the moment of writing this article, indeed this image is of a build of the location I have not released yet. Looks nice right? But what if I told you that the first ever Age I built and exported was two bowl shaped masses made of a UV sphere that looks like a giant bra (not the intention). Furthermore it had no lighting and was not texture mapped correctly.
A considerable amount of my early models were similar in how, quite frankly, terrible they looked. But at the start of this I asked myself this question, why do I want to build content for Uru?

My answer was this…
I was introduced to Myst back in 1998, it has been a huge influence in my life and continues to be. In 1998 I was just starting at a school for Art and Design and my artwork was unsurprisingly inspired by Myst. I built worlds up through my paintings drawing on influences like Roger Dean to flesh them out. So when content building for Uru developed it was the perfect venture for my interests. I wanted to actually build a world where people could walk through it, I wanted to share in the feeling Cyan set down of actually feeling like you were there. In order to do this I knew I needed to keep practicing and build content that was as good as Cyans.

I have come a long way since, and I still have a lot to learn. Is my content as good as Cyans? I guess it really depends who you ask there are some that would say it’s up there. Do I think my content is as good as Cyans? No, I do not. But one day it will be if I keep working at it.

Now I am lucky, I come from a background in art and design. The things I learned at college and university I apply to my Ages, even basic things like colour theory. But I learned these skills over time, thus it is possible for others to learn these skills.

The articles will be a series that will look at different things like initial age ideas, lighting, texturing/texture making, and other aspects. I hope to give interested parties a glimpse into the kind of processes I go through in the development of my own content in the hopes that perhaps you can take ideas away from it that will benefit you.

Vaal’lin Concept: Linking Scrolls

Vaal’lin Concept: Ib

Ib Concept

Vaal’lin Concept: Lone Guardian

Vaal’lin Concept: Rune Stones

Vaal'lin Concept - Rune Stones

A grand tree once stood upon the center of Vaal’lin. It was from this tree that the Vaal’lin got their name after King Jihl inscribed cryptic runes upon the tree’s trunk.

Unfortunately the tree was burned down during one of the many conflicts that Vaal’lin witnessed. In its place 7 vast slabs of white stone each carved from a single block were put up in the tree’s place one against adorned with the runes of Jihl.

Project Updates: Fahets, Kehrahn, Fehnir’s House

So a little more free time has opened up lately which has allowed me to continue working on my various Age projects.

So I figured I’d post an update of sorts about what is going on with the 3 projects I am currently focusing on.

Fahets

Fahets has been completely overhauled at this point, there are surviving elements (Norapods, Rusteart plants) but a lot of new stuff too.

  • Age Size – The Age is probably 4 times bigger than it used to be at this point. It is now more open instead of an enclosed basin location.
  • Textures – Most textures have been updated or switched out for better versions, most obvious of these is the rock textures which now have more depth to them.
  • Wildlife – More wildlife has been added to give the Age more depth.
  • Sound/Music – No music but ambient sounds have been added to again add more depth. Main complaint about Fahets (after the “it’s too small” was about lack of sound).
  • Interaction – Still working on this. Interaction is small in this Age because it simply doesn’t require a lot. It isn’t a puzzle location. But there are a few things to interact with aside from Journals and Linking Books. Unfortunately having interactive things added is difficult as animation triggers seem to be bugged in my version of PYPRP and no one can figure out why.

Kehrahn

For those who aren’t aware of the concept of Kehrahn. The Age started as a birthday present for my wife. Each year on her birthday I add something to the Age or expand the Age. She has given me permission to release it publicly but there there are some things I need to sort out before doing so.

  • Models – Looking to update some of the models like the trees so they are better suited for the expansion of the area.
  • Textures – Some texture updates have been made to various items in a bid to improve the look. These are mostly minimal though as the focus is on improving the models.
  • Animation – The animation of the fishes is very basic with a lot of room to improve.
  • Expansion – The Age has already been expanded but the expanded area is not working for me. As a result it will be completely overhauled to encompass the new concepts drawn up for beyond the lake area.

Fehnir’s House

An interim update for Fehnir’s place a 1.5 if you will. With the next main update (2.0 lets say) including the Linking Books for Ahryahn and Lehns.

  • Textures – Some updates to textures mainly the walls of the room.
  • Models – Made changes to the models that make up the room structure to allow for better lighting and shows (using vertex painting more than secondary meshes with lightmaps) as well as incorporating the changes to the stairs for better collision.
  • Collision – The stairs were a mess with the collision being the wrong angle. This has now been rectified but has resulted in a slight change in geometry for the room (expansion and shortening of certain walls).
  • Camera Regions – The camera region bug for the Book podium area for the Ahryahn Book has now been fixed and update which should help with removing the clipping of the ceiling in that area.
  • Story Changes – Slight update to the story in that area and the inclusion of Sophie’s journal giving more story for the Third Path’s history has been added.

I have no idea when these updates will actually see the light of day. Fahets will most likely be first because work is almost finished there. Fehnir will likely be out before Kehrahn as Kehrahn has a lot of work to do on it.

Vaal’lin Concept: Temple of the Falling Star

The Temple of the Falling Star is a small temple within the Vaal’lin city and sister to the Temple of the Rising Star which resides in another Age. The two temples are linked together by a thread that goes beyond space and time.

Vaal’lin Concept: Personal Link Stone

PLS

Books are still the core to the Vaal’lin Linking technology, but they also took it a step further. Each inhabitant of Vaal’lin is equipped with a personal Linking stone that is worn on the chest. Such an item is so common place within society that fashion has evolved to include said stones within the design.

At the core of the device is an extremely small linking book that is connected to the rock interface allowing for a Link to be made upon contact. Similar technology was used with the Vaal’lin Public Link Service.

Vaal’lin Concept: The Four Gods

So I finished the other three images for the temple of the Four Gods for the Vaal’lin project.
I also figured I would post a little more information for those who are interested regarding who they are and so forth.

Azal

Azal the God of Creation and is represented by the day. He created the universe with Ib, Hameta and Ophen. It was said he looked upon Ashel with favoritism. When Ib corrupted the people of Ashel Azal turned his back on them, refusing to help them rise up again. Feeling that they should do it on their own merit.

Ib

Once considered a brother to Azal due to similar personalities and looks as Azal. Ib lead the corruption of Ashel and as a result was cast down and imprisoned in the darkness he helped spread. He is said to be the night.

Ophen

Ophen is often represented as either a bird or as time and is both male and female. Due to their free spirited nature and that Ophen once saw both the past and the present at the same time. Ophen was partially blinded in one eye and so their view of what came before is obscured.
When Azal turned his back on the people of Ashel, Ophen stepped forward and offered them guidance.

Hameta

Hameta is often depicted as the Goddess of the oceans/water. She inadvertently helped the God Ib in the corruption of the people of Ashel when she turned Azal’s gaze from the world.

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