Game Development for Gamers #3 – The Tedious Part

Maps are amazing things. For years, developers having been tricking our eyes using maps. Bump maps, normal maps, opacity maps, para-awesome-llax maps, and so on. The basic idea is that by adding these maps, an artist can make an object appear to have more geometric detail than it actually does. Generally speaking a lower polygon count makes a smoother-running game.

Before I can move on to explain maps in detail, however, an object needs to be unwrapped. I find unwrapping objects about as fun and stress-free as being killed in Diablo 2, and returning to frantically run around naked amongst a hoard of monsters while trying to find all my gear again. It isn’t nice. For me, this is easily the most tedious part. It’s worse than testing. Worse than photographing walls in public and getting dodgy looks.

Imagine your model had to be unfolded piece by piece and placed in a flat square area, with each polygon facing upwards straight at you, providing a flat image that can be textured. An unwrapped box made of six polygons would look something like this:

Cube Unwrap

Notice how each polygon is an even size, placed within the blue square. In contrast, the exterior of my parent’s house looks like this:

House Unwrap

You’ve got a headache just looking at it, right? Because I have. All of the shapes outside the square I have unwrapped, the mass of green lines within the square, however, need me to select them individually, tell them which way to face, then resize each part so it’s small enough to pack within the box. Is this aspect of game development fun? No. No it isn’t. But as I’ve mentioned before, if strange, strange people are happy to photograph lamp posts and tarmac for a living, there must be someone out there with a passion for painstakingly moving lines around a screen until they fit into a little box.

Next time, at last, I promise you, the interesting and pretty part… MAPS!








6 responses to “Game Development for Gamers #3 – The Tedious Part”

  1. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    So totally over my head, but it does like you are building The Matrix.

    I’m sure other developers are looking at this and nodding their heads in agreement, I will just read through the blog, look at the pictures and scratch my head.

  2. Snozzeltoff avatar

    I find it depends on what your modeling and Un-Wrapping. It is pretty tedious but one it’s done and you begin to paint up a texture, you really start to enjoy it and seeing the final result.

    I’m more of a modeller and can sit there for hours perfectly happy patch modelling away… i try to avoid characters, skinning, rigging and all that, can’t stand it.

  3. Del Torro El Sorrow avatar
    Del Torro El Sorrow

    Maybe you’ll think I’m insane, but this is really interesting!

  4. Michael avatar

    So EVERY object has to be unwrapped? Wow… if I’m following you right, that gives me a bit more appreciation for the very detailed environments in games these days! Hmm… so the model is made, unwrapped and then, um, textured? It may seem like I find that exciting. I don’t, it does sound tedious (as a process) but I’m intrigued anyway! : 😀

    Must make your eyes go a bit funny…

  5. Emily avatar

    @Rook – Emily fails! I wanted everyone to understand it. Imagine recieving a cheesecake, that’s been wrapped up. Take off the wrapping paper, and lay it out on a flat surface. That’s unwrapping!

  6. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    No fail Emily. I understood the unwrapping, but how you know how to do this, understand the unwrapped image and detail each part is mind boggling.

    Trying to use cheesecake logic with me I see. The last word of your comment should be replaced with breakfast, lunch or dinner. 😀

Leave a Reply