Monday, July 30, 2012

TDK Batman What-If Video: Behind the Scenes

Okay! Welcome to the Batman TDK Video Behind the Scenes! For the sake of my sanity, I won't be explaining the terms "modeling", "texturing", etc. so please go to this link for the post where I explain them.

Okay, so first on my agenda was creating Batman's enemies, the Joker Goons!

The New Characters


I wasn't working off the Dark Knight movie this time, I was afraid that by typing in "Joker clowns" into Google I would get some frightening images, so I just imported the usual character body, modified it, modeled a face with a mask on it, modeled the hands and rigged the whole thing.

Rigging, (I'm not sure if I explained this before), is a process where you bind a "skeleton" to the model. By moving "joints" on the "skeleton", you make the model move, for animation. In the above picture, those white lines on the model are the skeleton.



For when the clowns get knocked around by Batman, I painted another face that I could swap with the other one. Cheetah3D is a bit tricky in terms of swapping textures. What I actually did was hide one texture, which showed the alternate one beneath it.

The Environment


To create the "mission stage" in the video was way trickier then it looks onscreen. First of all, I had to create all of the environment from scratch, since there is no "Gotham City" mission.
I also had to create my own textures. 


I experimented with many different ways to make the stone texture.

An experiment I conducted to find out how to create the texture of the stones.

Many details were put into the video that would never be noticed. For instance, the Jokerized Batman statue in the spirit of Loki painting mustaches on Thor...


I spent an unfortunate amount of time on making a bumpmap, (an illusion on a texture that makes it look like certain areas of the texture are raised), for the eyes, but opted against it in the end because they were barely noticeable.

Animation

The entire scene was both an animator's delight and nightmare. It was a relatively fun battle scene, but at the same time it was full of reactions, (Batman leaping, the Batpod crashing into a goon, etc.), and tricky poses. The way I animate is a three step process. First, I move the characters folder the way I want the character to move. Red Hood will demonstrate.


Then, I animate the legs, making sure they are timed correctly with walking speed, that they crouch before they jump, etc. This is the hardest part of animation.


Finally comes the fun part, animating the rest of the model, making sure all that the hands, arms, torso, waist, neck head and shoulders are all in sync.


In-Game Interface


Now, when you're playing the real Super Hero Squad Online, when you click on a target, a blue targeting icon appears under it. You can't imagine what a nightmare this was. First of all, it's a plane with a transparency keyed texture, (a texture where some parts of it are invisible, and others are visible),  which created some problems with shadows in Cheetah3D when I first tried to get it to work. Second, there's a darker colored second target underneath the first one, which, again caused a few shadow problems. In the end, I figured out how to get the render settings to work and it was fine.

HUD


The Heads-Up Display are all the elements of the game that are on a separate layer from the gameplay. Things like stats, buttons, or Hero Up! icons.

In the missions, there is an HUD that shows your health, how many stars you currently have, the medal, the Hero Up icon, and the intro to the missions. I had to recreate most of them, (except the Hero Up icon, which doesn't need to be seen in the video). Whenever I could, I tried to copy and paste from the actual game. This of course, required a great amount of tweaking to get everything perfectly placed on a bluescreen background. Some elements I traced, like the stars or the health bar. It's not completely perfect, but I figured nobody would have another window open in their browser with a picture of the real HUD elements, checking my work. Another factor was in that the video wasn't going to be too high quality. One element that was outstandingly tricky to recreate was the medal. I think I ended up having to trace it and then use the stroke tool in Photoshop to make a white line around it, like in it was in the game. For my name up in the top left corner, I actually just copied it over from the image I was working off of. 

By the way, sorry about the watermark, but the amount of time it took for me to replicate all the elements was too great to let somebody snag them and take all the credit. :P

The Final Shot


I was using the Red Hulk video vignette as my template. At the end of each vignette, the character is shown striking a pose. I ended up painting out Red Hulk in a screenshot of the video I took.


After I painted out Rulk, it was a simple matter of animating Batman. You'll notice, (if you look closely at the gigantic image of Batman about to throw his batarang above the image above this text), that I paid such attention to detail that the Hero token in the background has Batman's face on it.

Again, apologies for the watermark.

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Ahem! So that ends my Behind the Scenes of my TDK Batman What-If video! See the final video below!


AND... vote on whether you want to see a Behind the Scenes video for this!

The video would show a wireframe version of the video, then a breakdown of the textures on the environment, and a close up view of the animation, rendered without the anti-aliasing, (the anti-aliasing is what gives the models those rough edges you see in video games)!

As for the old poll, you guys were mostly correct, the most traffic to this site comes from the TDK Batman video and the Time Hound Times link! In fact, if you type "SHSO Batman" into Google Images, you come up with images of the TDK Batman post!

Anyway, the next What-If, Playable Villains, (which is so awesome I can't wait), is in the works.

The post will feature...

• The Spiderman villain Hobgoblin in the game!
• The Spiderman villain Carnage in the game!

Expect more villains to show up in-game soon! :D
-- SHSOFan.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What's Up with the 'Bots?


Something is different about Villainville! The robots are no longer clickable, and they look like they are searching for something... Hmm...

In other news, I finally got around to fighting as Monkey King. I was impressed by his quick attacks and powerful Hero Up! I can't wait to try it on max level when I reach Level 10 on him!



And of course there's the new Drawing Contest, which I hope you will consider entering. I just submitted my entry yesterday, and I'm looking forward to the results. When the contest is over I will post my drawing up here for you to look at. :)

-- SHSOFan.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Bought Monkey King!


Yesterday, I decided that my measly zero gold coins weren't going to pay for new heroes anytime soon, so I opted for $9.95 and $19.95 gold packs. Why two? They weren't offering a 3,000 gold package, and I figured I'd want at least five heroes. ANYWAY, so I bought Monkey King, the first of the five!


Monkey King's double jump is awesome and it makes it more fun to run around as him in the levels!


I also leveled up Monkey King by collecting all of his tokens.


Monkey King's first power attack is weird, but cool. He plucks something from his head and then blows a cloud of monkeys at the enemy! Well, it's nothing if not unique.


Monkey King has an interesting "5" emote where he uses his pole to scout ahead!

Anyway, I haven't tried out his attacks yet, but so far Monkey King has been worth the 600 gold coins!

So what do you think is coming next week? I'm guessing Iron Spider, but they may have a different kind of surprise in store!

Until then, 
-- SHSOFan.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Spidey Stuff!



Monkey King and Spiderman 2099 were released today! I've been looking forward to Monkey King ever since I first heard they were going to do him, and, while I'm not that familiar with Spidey 2099, I'm glad they released him, too.


They also released a Lizard mission!



I bought it for the usual 200 gold, and played it through with Ultimate Comics Spiderman.


It's set in the sewers, (like the movie!), and is filled with an odd assortment of henchmen. I mean, I get the lizards, but magical zombies and moloids just don't fit the Lizard at all.

Why was this the only screenshot I took of the Lizard!? Ugh!
The boss fight was cool, though, and with the Lizard going down on all fours in the second stage of the battle. All-in-all, if you're a fan of easy missions and don't care about the weird assortment of enemies and sewer location, go ahead and spend the cash.

-- SHSOFan.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Avengers Black Widow


Yesterday came a new update, and with it a new loading screen, Black Widow and a new version of Spiderman's clone Ben Reilly. While it is refreshing to have a new loading screen on the other hand it looks rather unorganized with all the faceless Dormammu drones and Moloids, (neither of which are from Spiderman), plus a bunch of old images of characters that were already released. Nonetheless, I take it that these characters will be on sale at some time this month, as well as the Lizard's long awaited mission release.

What I don't understand is why they won't release Iron Spider or Mysterio. We already know they're more or less ready. I am also disappointed that there isn't an Amazing Spiderman costume variant. On the other hand, they may release another Spiderman month after this, so here's hoping.
I suspect that the reason this came so late is because the guys at Gazillion are also working on the newer game, Marvel Heroes, and I suspect that the SHSO team has experienced a drop in members as priorities shift to getting the new game out the door.

And now for Black Widow's review!

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EXPLORATION


Black Widow is pretty fun to jump around the environments in, (she has a double jump, just like her non-movie version!). However, one issue I have with her is that her first emote not only doesn't include the Avengers logo, but it renders her invisible, which is not movie accurate.

I give her EXPLORATION a 3.9/5!


FIGHTING


Black Widow's first emote is low damage, but thankfully short.


Black Widow's Hero Up works better with a damage boost, but it's still pretty cool and is useful for large groups of enemies.


Black Widow's main attack combo features a midair guns-a-blazin' leap, and...


an awesome bomb toss, which, despite glitches, is still pretty cool.

I give her FIGHTING a 4.1/5!

COOL FACTOR


Black Widow's awesome costume and fingerless gloves scream cool. 

I give her COOL FACTOR a 4.8/5!

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In other news, I have decided on what the next What-If will consist of!
Prepare yourself for SHSO What-If: Playable Villains!

-- SHSOFan.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Black Widow and Ben Reilly's Release!

Today, at last, Black Widow, along with Spider clone Ben Reilly, we're released along with an awesome new loading screen background! Now, ordinarily this is where I would write a review of Black Widow, (unless I'm mistaken, she isn't members only!), but in fact I cannot, because I am currently on vacation. However, tomorrow I will be sure to give a review of Black Widow, along with Ben, (if he is cheap and non-members only, that is). So, until then, log in and check out the new stuff! :D

 -- SHSOFan

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Release Postponed -- Again

With the release of a sale today my first thought was that they were yet again waiting another week for the Spiderman month, (if it only lasts a month, that is). However, if I remember correctly, they released a sale on THURSDAY last week. Come to think of it, they introduced the Avengers month on a Thursday as well. I'm willing to bet that they'll release it on Thursday or next Thursday, definitely. It does kind of feel right to release it in the middle of the month, though.

Hopefully tomorrow, more likely next week. Now the only thing we can do is wait.

In other news...


My poll is over and it looks like I'll be doing a behind the scenes. Sorry, Mr. It Was Boring.

-- SHSOFan.

Friday, July 6, 2012

What I Got Right

Over the past few months I have released a few labor-intensive projective reports that stated my predictions for release dates of certain heroes. Let's see what I got right.

"...When I logged on today, I didn't see Black Widow and Hawkeye in the store. And I just realized why. In July, as dedicated Marvel fans know already, The Amazing Spiderman movie is coming out. SHSO is trying to water things down far enough so that they can work on the Spiderman-themed month coming up. This means releasing Black Widow, Hawkeye and Nick Fury in June. The best we can hope for, I think, is that they will release one of them at the beginning of the month..."

I predicted a June release for Nick, Clint and Natasha and that they would be released in the beginning of the month. Did I predict correctly? YES!

I predicted RIGHT!


"...The contest ends on the 12th. Which is a bit too close to a maybe release date for me. On the other hand, SHSO Avengers will still be on people's minds, and it might be a good way to promote the game by ending the contest with a release. However, I'd say there's a 59% chance that they aren't going to release them that week..."

Even early on, I predicted that they would end the contest in a release. Was I right? YES!

I predicted RIGHT... again.




"...The reason they did this contest early, is, I suspect, to tide people over during their "sale week" period. Now, because it's early, they couldn't have Hawkeye and Black Widow in the contest. If they released either one NOW, while the contest is still going on, it wouldn't be fair to people who had sent in photos with only four Avengers. I believe that is why Nick Fury was released first..."

I strongly predicted that Hawkeye would be released on Wednesday, June 13th or the following day after the contest. I also predicted that that was the reason why Nick Fury was released early. Was I right? Well, seeing as the previous prediction was right and it was the same one, with Hawkeye's June 13th release date, I was RIGHT AGAIN!

This thumb is getting tired.


So, now for the big question... did I predict right in my post yesterday about BW's release date and the Spider-themed month? Find out next week!

-- SHSOFan.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Spiderman Month Coming Next Week?

After weeks of waiting for Black Widow and the new Spider-themed month, I eagerly logged in to the game to see... the exact same thing. BUT, new evidence suggests that not all is in vain! In fact, Spider month is most likely less then a week away!


First, there's this. It's kind of obvious what this suggests, my guess is that they'll release one of these every day for the next seven days leading up to the release, meaning the release date is Thursday, next week.

Here is my basic analysis of why BW wasn't released before.

Fig.1


Fig.1: In this arrangement of the month, Black Widow's late release means they can carefully fit everything else in the following weeks, releasing the Amazing Spiderman hero the week after, and then either a Lizard or Mysterio mission the next week, (To me, the Lizard seems more likely, seeing as he is the main villain in the new movie), and then finally the remaining mission the week after. These releases can be moved around as one pleases, but I think this looks like the most likely order of release.

OR...


Fig.2

Fig.2: In THIS arrangement, a second character is added to the mix, Iron Spider, which was revealed to be a proposed character a while ago. Now would be a good time for release, given that A, the Spidey movie's out! B, the current Spiderman series, Ultimate Spiderman, debuted the character in an episode, admittedly, not a recent one, but recent enough for it to have a recognizable factor with the target audience, (i.e. kids, who will, hopefully, watch the show and play this game) and finally C, we already know the character was revealed a while back, maybe this means they are a playable character already and there is no need to animate and code a new character that was just waiting for the right month to get dusted off and put into the public version of the game. 
Now, there is also a possibility of a month bleed, (my new term for when they extend a month into the next one to buy themselves time and increase suspense), in which case a sale will be thrown in or, more likely, that the Lizard and Mysterio missions will be released separately, probably with Iron Spider's release thrown in between them.

Once again, these releases can be mixed, as seen in Fig.3!



OR...

Something entirely surprising happens, like Gwen Stacy as a playable character, or the Noir version of Spiderman, or Armored Spiderman, or a mission based on the movie, with a more movie based Lizard or... There are just too many to list!

Here's what I think what will happen in the very least:
1. Both the Mysterio and Lizard mission's release.
2. A new Amazing Spiderman hero based on the movie's title character.

More unlikely, but possible:
1. Another Spidey-based character, maybe Spider-girl's new costume, or more likely Iron Spider or Armored Spiderman.
2. A movie based mission.
3. A hero that's Spiderman before he made his costume, like it the movie.

Whatever happens, it's nothing but a win for us, the players! :D

-- SHSOFan.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

About the Rewards

Apparently, they still haven't reset the rewards and unfortunately soloing will never be the same.
When I thought they were lowering ALL rewards, I didn't notice that if you play a group mission, they are the same as before. This is incredibly annoying. It practically destroys soloing, which was one of my favorite parts in the game. Now my only choice is to find players who don't get K.Oed, (harder then it sounds), and try to get Adamantium on a mission with them. Why is this so annoying?

Well, here's what was great about soloing:

1): It was easier. One guy, less baddies.
2): Greater chance of a high medal. If its just you, you can go as fast as you want.
3): Nobody gets K.Oed but you, so instead of saying, "Arrrgh! Why?" you can say... well, still "Arrrgh! Why?" but at least this time you know it's your fault.
4): Want to play a mission? Go ahead. There's nobody you have to wait for, or try to find so that you can get a high medal.

Sigh. I remember when I played Home Invasion again and again, and I kept on getting Adamantium.
I could rack up enough tickets by the end of the day that I felt I could properly spin the wheel the next day. If I got Adamantium three times, I would have fifty-four tickets!

Here's a question. Why limit the number of tickets to practically six a day? (I can't stand playing again and again with people who die and get a silver medal, so I usually only play one mission a day). Do you guys at Gazillion WANT people to not be able to get gold? Sure seems so. The only way I see around this is by having someone who is ALWAYS online, ALWAYS gets Adamantium, and NEVER lags! That's practically impossible, given the limited and clumsy chat feature.

Well, here's hoping they change it back someday, but I somehow know already that they aren't going to.

-- SHSOFan.

Monday, July 2, 2012

SHSO What-If -- TDK Batman Video!



Watch the new video!
Also, vote on the new poll on whether I should make another behind the scenes post for the video or not! :D

-- SHSOFan.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

SHSO What-If Video Teaser


Here's a teaser for the upcoming SHSO Batman video! I decided to make it like the vignettes they made for each new character release. As you can see, I've modeled Joker's goons. In theory there would be at least two different goons, but since I don't really need to model them I've elected not to. I had to build my own HUD from basically the ground up, as well as all the textures for Gotham. It'll look awesome when it's completed. Now I'm going to animate Batman taking these guys out and I'll see how that goes!

-- SHSOFan.