Click a thumbnail below to view a character from this game:

        


Materia is a player vs. player game of tower defense.

Unlike most other games in the genre, there is no AI to fight against. Players engage in head to head combat, attempting to destroy each other’s Nucleus using a variety of specialized units. Each player is also responsible for defending their own base using a combination of manipulating the path of enemy units through constructing a maze and destroying them with equally specialized towers.

Materia’s gameplay does not focus on typical “wave-by-wave” style tower defense. Since there is no AI to control the opposing units, players are racing to balance the construction of their defending tower maze with the formulation of their offense strategy through spawning units, attempting to create more powerful compound creatures.

Towers and units are based off the 8 main groupings of the periodic tablealkali metals, alkaline earth metals, transition metals, poor metals, metalloids/semimetals, organic gases, halogens, and noble gases. Rather than creating a unit for each of the hundreds of elements, each of the groupings is represented by a unique creature that has aesthetic and personality characteristics representative of that grouping. Real chemical bonds can be created between the groupings to create stronger, more powerful compound creatures. Materia has a huge potential to be a learning tool in the chemistry classroom as well as an entertaining game. Similar to the phenomena of Pokémon, students will begin to memorize which compounds can be created by combining elements from groups of the periodic table, as well as learn characteristics of each group through gameplay mechanics (such as the Noble Gas’ inability to bond with others).


I am responsible for character design and production of the game, as well as managing the technical pipeline between the character artists, animators, and programmers. Creating the characters that embody each of the 8 element groups has presented me with continual practice in designing characters with predetermined constraints.

The concept art above was created by Connie Tran.

Gameplay trailer



Explanation of mechanics



Dowload link for game

METALLOID UNIT

Character sheet



This unit represents the Metalloid group of the periodic table. Since many of the metalloid elements are used in production of computer chips, I designed this character to be covered in capacitors and RAM chips. His face/brain is an AMD processor as well.


 Rendered BPR in ZBrush
 Retopologized in Topogun
 Sculpted in ZBrush
 Cleaned in Modo
 AO and Normal mapped in XNormal

Back view of the character

Front view of the character

Detailed view of the processor



The processor was built from several repeating shapes, offset using the deformation tools available in ZBrush. ZSpheres and Dynamesh made the tubing and cooling assembly possible.

Low poly version with the maps applied



This is what the character looks like in realtime inside Modo. Full renders from Marmoset Toolbag coming soon! Note, this is a first step in retopology. I still have yet to retopo his CPU face and several other parts of the character.

NOBLE GAS UNIT

Beauty shot



This unit represents the Noble Gas group of the periodic table. When designing him, I wanted a mixture of hard and soft surfaces, as to convey a sense of both solid nobility and gaseousness. To achieve this, I created several armour plates on the creature. In order to make him feel gaseous, I sculpted sacks of air on his back.


 Rendered BPR in ZBrush
 Retopologized in Topogun
 Sculpted in ZBrush
 Cleaned in Modo
 AO and Normal mapped in XNormal

Detailed view of the armour



The hard surface effect is a result of creating UV groups in Modo, using GoZ to bring the mesh into ZBrush, and then creasing along UVs as polygroups. I detailed them with Flemish-style Lions and curves that I made in Adobe Illustrator and then applied to the character as alphas.

Low poly version with the maps applied



This is what the character looks like in realtime inside Modo. Full renders from Marmoset Toolbag coming soon!

Process Diagram



This diagram represents my current pipeline. I start with a paper sketch, then replicate the basic forms of the sketch using ZSpheres/ZSketch inside ZBrush. Once I'm satisfied with the shape, I create an adaptive skin and begin sculpting the anatomy and silhouette at 128 resolution Dynamesh, steadily increasing to 1024 resolution as needed. I then Retopologize in Topogun, as well as do some cleanup work in Modo to create UV islands of the different parts of the character. I then GoZ back into ZBrush, using UVMaster to unwrap the character using the UV islands from Modo. Finally, I project the detail from the Dynamesh onto the retopologized model and begin sculpting the fine detail, using the UV set polygroups as selection sets.

Texture maps



This is a compilation of the 2K maps created in XNormal for the low poly version of the model and armour. I still need to clean up the artifacts in them, as well as paint the texture and spec map for the character in Mudbox.

HALOGEN GAS UNIT

Beauty shot



This unit represents the Halogen Gas group of the periodic table. The personality of the Halogen is similar to the characteristics of the elements he represents - he is corrosive, filled with gas, and destructive.


 Rendered BPR in ZBrush
 Retopologized in ZBrush
 Textured in ZBrush
 Sculpted in ZBrush
 Cleaned in Modo
 AO and Normal mapped in XNormal

Detailed view of the character's back



I created several brushes for this character, mainly some vein and blood vessel ones in order to make the gas bubbles more convincing.

Low poly version with the maps applied



This is what the character looks like in realtime inside Modo. Full renders from Marmoset Toolbag coming soon!

Process Diagram



This is an older pipeline that I have refined now. As this was my first character created in ZBrush, I used the program for all aspects of the concepting, retopologizing, unwrapping, sculpting, and texturing. I've learned now that introducing specialized programs like Topogun for retopologizing and Mudbox for texture painting creates a better end result.



By the time I've made it to the UV mapping stage, I typically pass the model off to the animator, as the silhouette and geometry will not drastically change past this point. My friend David Mills rigged and animated this character.





Texture maps



This is a compilation of the 2K maps created in XNormal for the low poly version of the model. I still need to clean up the artifacts in them, as well as finish painting the texture and spec map.

ORGANIC GAS UNIT

Beauty shot



This unit represents the Organic Gas group of the periodic table, including elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous, and carbon. The character is meant to be a representation of the nitrogen, carbon, and oxygen life gas cycles. His more humanoid characteristics would require oxygen, his tree appendages feed off carbon dioxide, and his fugal feet return the nitrogen back to the earth he walks on.


 Rendered BPR in ZBrush
 Retopologized in ZBrush
 Textured in ZBrush
 Sculpted in ZBrush
 Cleaned in Modo
 AO and Normal mapped in XNormal

Detailed view of the character's face



I spent a good amount of time sculpting the character's face. I wanted something weathered and ancient looking, while maintaining both human and tree characteristics.

Low poly version with the maps applied



This is what the character looks like in realtime inside Modo. Full renders from Marmoset Toolbag coming soon!

Process Diagram



I used a pipeline similar to the Halogen monster for the character. The entire character process has taken place in ZBrush so far, but I plan on taking the character into Mudbox to finish the texturing and paint the spec map.



David Mills rigged and animated this character as well.



Texture maps



This is a compilation of the 2K maps created in XNormal for the low poly version of the model. I still need to clean up the artifacts in them, as well as finish painting the texture and spec map.

Description

The beta version of the game should be available by early May 2012. The download link will be posted here.

Materia is built on Unity and will run on PC, Mac, and XBox 360.

Type
Game Design, Character Art, Digital Sculpting