This week I spent a few evenings working on the car 3D model. I already knew I wanted the car to be a Chevrolet Caprice from 1987. This would be an accurate car for a detective in New York in the year 1991. It also was the NYPD patrol car during that era so with a simple material mod I get a free cop car!
The hero car in the game I want to make look beat up. The hood and the trunk will clank loose too. The front bumper will be torn loose from the right side and I also want to add some dents to the car metal. The loose parts are already in, but I have not yet added the damage to the car mesh.
For reference I simply use Google image search, I think I have about 20 pictures from all around the car. Luckily his was a pretty easy car to find reference of!
I found some bugs in the way the car maintains it’s speed. I rewrote those bits from the code and the car now moves a tad faster. I have yet to redo the speed settings for each path so the car is a bit recless now 😀.
I set the car suspension to be very loose. I was going for the classic super soft suspension. I wanted the car to lean over from the slightest of turns. I also added a bunch of hinge joints so that parts of the car flap loose when it is driving.
As I tested the car model detail density and overall shape in the game view, I could not help but also work on the other car features as well. I used my ship smog particles as a base for the car exhaust. The car only emits exhaust when accelerating.
I also added dust particle emitters for all of the wheels of the car and the wheel drift friction controls the individual emitters. All of the wheels emit dust also when braking. If the friction grows big enoigh, the car starts to emit skidmarks as well and at the highest level of friction a tire screeching sound is played.
On the audio side the car engine sound is still super annoying. I need to record my own and I really want to have the authentic big block engine sounds with correct tire sounds based on the surface that is being driven on. Also a lot of clanking and banging then the beat up car drives along.
For the door sounds I found passable audio from the internet. I will eventually redo them to match the car better, but these are fine for now.
I had already created the animation for the opening and closing of the door, so there was not much to add. But then I modeled the interior of the car so when the doors open the player gets to see the nice details. I meant to keep the windows opaque as the player character is not actually inside the car when it is moving around, I am just teleporting the player. But after feeling bad for the interior being hidden all of the time, I made the windows transparent and started to figure out how to get the player to be sitting in the car while it is driving around.
I ended up with a solution where there is a separate driver character sitting in the car at all times. It is only shown when the player has finished it’s entry animation and is teleported off screen. The driver dude has a separate animator that is being controlled by the car. I have separate animations for driving forwards, turning left, right and reverse and reversing left and right and then layered on top are the feet either accelerating or pushing the brakes. Adding the animation controls on top of the car was easy as I was already operating the car lights based on the driving.
I am very happy with how it turned out! I love looking at the little dude driving around like a maniac!
The style I am going with has very realistic proportions. Also there is quite a lot of detailing after all, even though I try to keep the shapes simple. I found out that for all assets I have created so far I have started with pretty true to life scale. I have only added the slight stylization on top of that realistic object. The story I have been thinking of is pretty grim, so over the top cartoon look would not be a great fit I think.
I am pretty happy with where I managed to get the car to. I got most of it modeled. I am still missing some of the finer details like the door handles, all the instruments from within the car, the engine and the grille. The rear lights do not yet not turn emissive either, I decided to model the car completely, meaning that you will be able to open the trunk, the hood and every door could be opened if need be. I will be revisiting the overall shape of the car still I think. I maybe want it to be a bit wider, so that it matches the feeling of the car better.
The overarching theme for the project seems to be that I do things the ”hard way” . Meaning that if I am about to take a shortcut (like hiding the car interior so I do not need to show the drived because it is hard) I reconcider and just huddle in and do the difficult version. Naturally the whole art style (low polygon look) is a bit of a shortcut, but I am doing this alone and modeling the open world location will take months as is!
I still do not have a clear idea of the final look the game is going to have, but I am figuring it out piece by piece. I already know what water looks like, and smoke and now a car. The design will evolve asset by asset as I chuck along. As I get a better idea of the visuals I may have to revisit old stuff I have done to make the style uniform troughout.