Hello everyone! I’d like to apologise in advance, because I’m going to be asking for support on a very advanced topic while having very little prior in-engine experience. I do however have fairly extensive experience with Autodesk Maya, and I’m well versed in game modeling techniques and practices, as well as the full workflow for creating game characters from start to finish (exlcuding engine implementation of course…). NOW, on to the topic at hand:
I’m currently working as a 3D artist on a game project for school. We just began working on it this week, and are in the process of laying out our large scale planning, core goals, and strech goals for the project as a whole. We aim to have 7-8 weeks of full-scale production time at our disposal. Our main visual inspiration are Firewatch for the overall visual aesthetic, and Journey for the character design. Our core design philosophy revolves around defying player expectations in terms of both narrative and mechanics: minimal UI, no dialogue-based NPC interactions, etc.
One of the core features we want implemented is the ability to seamlessly shapeshift from a humanoid into two different forms: one flying form and one swimming form. We’d love for this transformation to feel extremely organic, and thus we’d like to avoid the classic “puff of smoke” route were we simply switch out the character models and hide the transformation sequence with some kind of particle effect. Our animator and I have been spitballing about how we could achieve this goal, and while I know from some very basic art tests that it’s possible to import basic Blendshapes from Maya, we’re kind of stumped as to how to proceed from here.
A couple questions of the top of my head that may or may not be relevant:
Is it possible to blend between skinning weights in the same way you can blend between meshes using Morph Targets?
Is it possible to blend between UV sets for a character model? If not, should we perhaps take this in consideration for our character design, and make sure to be extra careful when laying out our UV splits? Make sure we limit our colour palette to basic color fills for each UV island, or at the most basic gradients? The reasoning behind this being that while the texture may technically be horribly stretched after deformation, it wouldn’t actually be visibly noticable in-game.
Is it possible to seamlessly switch back and forth between character rigs? If so, you should be able to simply create unique rigs for each transformation and switch between them during transformation.
Here’s the concept trailer our Art Director and a couple other team members put together:https://youtu.be/SB-OUYskOuc It’s also a good representation of our target resolution for our 3D art: we’re aiming for a fairly low-poly aesthetic.
Hope you guys can help out, any feedback at all is greatly appreciated