Bollwerk

gameplay screenshot

Bollwerk is the title of the Coop Tower Defense game that was created by me and four collegues, as the semester project in the third semester at University of Applied Sciences Hagenberg.
It was a request from TAB Austria who build the Fun4Four Multitouch table, and want young developers to hop onto their platform.

We planned to create a game in the third semester anyway, so we were super excited that our teachers approached us with the opportunity to create a game for the Fun4Four table.

moodboard

Early on we decided that we wanted they player to feel powerful and in charge of an army but still pressured by the armies he has to battle. So we started prototyping early on and from the ideas that emerged we picked the best features to build in a final game.
Also in this stage we gathered reference for the look we wanted to have.
Since this was a game people will need to understand the first time they played it, we wanted the objects the player can interact with to be easily distinguishable from the environment. So for the environment we went with a slightly textured lowPoly look and the characters and buildings were cartoony 3D. Later we rendered out the animations of the characters onto spritesheets for performance reasons.

character creation

So after this first stage was done we pretty soon had a game design document and started creating concepts and assets. We knew our game would be top-down and the player still has to know which are his units. For this reason we made the heads extra big so they would differentiate from the enemies and also introduced a color scheme.

My workflow for creating character game assets starts off with a rough sketch, where I really try to establish a good shape. Up next I block out the shape in 3D and start sculpting on top of it. This step is really important for me because you see really soon what doesn't work in 3D and and can freely move the shape around without having to worry about polygons.
When I am satisfied with the model I start retopology to bring it down to an animateable level. This stage also involves laying out the UV's. For texturing we kept it really simple and with little detail. The characters were so small on the screen and in so large numbers, any unnecessary detail would just have been distracting.

Rigging and animation

The most interesting part for me in this project was character rigging and animation. Since this is a process that can take really long, I aimed for a workflow where I can reuse rigs and animations. I built two template biped rigs, that were used as a base on which I built character specific features. This meant, that copying animation between rigs was easy. Especially for the different levels of the player units reusing animation was easily possible because of their similar model.
As for animating the character I was in a pretty lucky position for a video game animator because we had a locked camera, which meant that the animations had only to look good from one angle. Furthermore the models are never seen really big, which allowed for a lot of cheating and fast progress as not a lot of detail had to be in the animations.

I definitely learned a lot during this project and it was a lot of fun even though very time consuming. We plan to expand the game in Summer 2015, to give it a bit more content, and plan to release it fall 2015.
If you happen to have further questions regarding this project, feel free to write me an email.