Oh Brave New Dimension, That Has Such Lighting In It

Such Cubes

Along with failing to write blog posts this week or so I’ve been building my first Unity project, The Stolen Art Gallery. The general idea was to choose something really simple that I could maybe handle as a first go at 3D, so I went with: a room with some stuff in it. Doesn’t get much more simple than that, right?


In fact just making that room was quite a lot of effort for me. Stepping into the third dimension has been a strange experience. I’m not quite up to writing something coherent about it, though, so here are some quotes from my ongoing development notes while I made the game, skewed toward “life with 3D”.

“Just a small dealer gallery in Unity with labels indicated stolen artworks on the walls and that’s about it.”

“General rookie architecture stuff which has been really quite satisfying. So I’m happy with how it’s going. It’s conceivable I could finish it tomorrow”

“I had to tint the labels greenish blue in order to be able to see them on the walls because of the behaviour of light in the world and specifically the concept of materials. That is, because the labels were the same as the wall (white “material”) they lit in exactly the same way and thus were exactly the same colour. The things we take for granted in day to day life, that things are of different materials and so reflect light in different ways (even if they’re the same “colour”). The literal-mindedness of a computer is so weird here… it’s both “fair” and insane to have to think about things like this.”

“Oh my GOD I am annoyed with this game by now. Having huge difficulties in lighting the scene to be legible and not a complete and utter mess. It looks like I might have to slowly rebuild everything from scratch.”

“Now it’s the next morning and I MIGHT have got a working version by restarting the entire process? I’m not clear on what has changed though and it feels tenuous, like the whole thing could just collapse at a moment’s notice.”

“It’s surreal how some things that should be hard are easy: I can raise a wall in a moment, I can spin the world on its axis, examine it from afar or up close, install a pane of glass instantly, “wire up lights” with a click, etc. But then things that should be easy are hard: finding a decent bulb for those lights, getting it to cast light “nicely”, getting my art labels to stick to the wall, knowing in advance what colour those walls are going to be.”

“Just had a problem where I was constantly getting weird fucking shadows. After much fiddling it turned out that if I rotated the specific label object it kind of fixed it? It only affected a select few of the labels and seemed to correspond to when I’d been rotating the labels around the gallery. But I did that in SketchUp. Weird. Then I changed some lighting stuff and it went haywire yet again (on every label) which I then “fixed” with a more high quality bake? I don’t really get it. Maybe I’ll understand light a bit more next time.”

Maybe I’ll understand light a bit more next time. Yeah, maybe.


9 May 2015
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