12 Dancing Princesses, or One Mystical Elderly Woman

Final Video

Going about creating this story was no simple feat. I definitely underestimated the complexity of the plot, and as a result, am presenting a far simplified version of the original story. My medium of choice to showcase my struggles was snapchat, so I apologize for the vertical videos and terrible looking comments. In my sheer sleep deprived state, I forgot to document in a normal, high quality fashion. Some of them have vanished into the void, as snapchats do, but included in this post are some that were saved before eternal damnation into the blackhole of data disappearance:

I first began with fuse and creating my characters. I started with thinking that my story might be in VR, or possibly in 3D. I envisioned my user as a third person character, looking on from a distance.

Internal Plot Strife:

As I thought more about the plot of the story, the more I felt uncomfortable with the original man telling the story of the 12 princesses to their father. I knew that this was something I was not fond of from the beginning, but after a while I just thought I had no choice and would have to change that part. I didn’t like that he reveals their secret, even though it is not his secret to reveal. He doesn’t address why they go out, or acknowledge the fact that their nearly harmless fun is now ruined by his tattling. In addition, he is just granted one of the daughters. What if the daughter doesn’t want to get married to him? I wouldn’t want to marry someone who just revealed my secrets to my father. I then decided that I wanted the person who discovered the secret to decide not to tell it. I imagined a scene where the son of the woman comes in the next day to ask the nurse if she has found out why his mother is always covered in sugar and cinnamon, and the nurse looks over at the old woman, sees how happy she is, and tells him that she has not found out any information. I was much more content with this ending, and it made me happy to think that the women/singular woman would continue on with her own magical fun without interruption.

3rd Person vs. 1st Person: (and how many people)

I then thought more and more about the story, and how it would be much more interesting if the user was the person who was granted the task of figuring out the mystery. Then, it would be more of a challenge. Restrained by my limited (aka no) knowledge of Unreal, or other game engines that would make an actual mystery/adventure game come to life, I knew that it had to be a guided challenge where the user was ushered into the correct spaces for the plot to proceed. This made one of my characters in fuse useless. Initially, the nurse at the nursing home would be the one who the user portrayed, as well as the one who takes on the mystery. After deciding that the user would be involved as first person in the story, I had to lose her. Having to integrate this idea with my new ending was one of the more difficult parts of the storytelling aspect of this project. I loved the new ending I created, but if my user was in third person, I had no way of controlling their decision-making process. Instead, I had to force them not to tell, probably by destroying the evidence they collected. Originally, I wanted the user to gather items from the forest (like the original story did), but I decided to go 21st century and have her take a picture instead. I also imagined a scene where she goes to tell the son and show him the pictures, but the pictures are all blurry and indiscernible. I was not as happy with this ending, but I knew I would have to settle.

Texture Troubles

A lot of my future decisions were dictated by what I had time for, and what I was capable of given my experience. For example, in the original story, the man must act kind to the old lady in order to receive his tidbit of knowledge that helps him succeed. My idea was for the nurse/user to help the old man to facetime his daughter, and then for him to indicate how she could follow the woman. Unfortunately, I had an ipad model but no textures for it. With limited time (and enough difficulty texturing my humans), I had to omit the ipad. I also cut down all of the women to one, because I knew that even though the animations would be the same for all of them, I had extreme problems with importing textures and therefore had minimal time to spend on making extra characters.

When it came down to it, I eventually also had to scrap the scene where the user tells the son. For the sake of time, it solved my problem about texturing technology, and the internal strife that I felt towards the revealing of the secret. Making the third person never have the opportunity to tell the secret, (since that scene never appears), made it much easier.

Technical Woes

It was my first time using Unreal Engine, and I was surprised at how unintuitive I found it to be. I’ve used Unity before and everything from the movements to the properties, to the unexpected keyframes I kept finding, confused me to no end. Walls would randomly disappear, I could never tell what in an imported group of objects was selected, and importing textures from blender was an immense obstacle. Turns out, blender does not package textures within their fbx imports, no matter how hard you try. I also used the curve editor much more than I ever had in the past (and much more than I originally thought I would need to), just because unexpected harsh transitions would pop up, or keyframes that wouldn’t show up in the regular sequence editor would be hidden. I would plan out the path of the camera, and somehow, I would render and the path would be totally different. I also am still unsure why my people do not have eyes. If anyone could help with that, it would be much appreciated. Things I did discover included:

Tidbits of knowledge that might help someone, someday:

  • when rotating an object and it rotates the wrong way (like if you’re moving from 30 degrees to 0 degrees and instead of going towards the negative numbers, your object goes towards the positive numbers, you have to take the z value, subtract it from 360, and take the inverse (+/-) of it, and input that value. Sometimes, this doesn’t work and you have to go in the curve editor and go to the z keyframe point of that moment, and manually input it yourself.
  • Unreal’s curve editor is cool and all until you’re used to working in illustrator and suddenly you have much less control over the direction of individual handles on curves. (Maybe I couldn’t find the setting for it, but this became pretty frustrating when I couldn’t extend the size of the handle manually or move it independently of its pair on the other side)
  • When you export scenes as .AVIs in unreal and they’re not compressed, THEY WONT OPEN OR CONVERT! I tried many a free conversion software only to find that no program would even open my file and try to convert it, so that I could use my file in premiere. Don’t go for high quality, unless you know you can handle it. Pictured here: my converted files!
  • Unreal files are huge (obviously), but if you move from one computer to another, make sure that your drive that you’re storing things on are writeable for both macs and pc’s! Or else you’ll end up trying to upload files to google drive like:
  •  
  • When you go through the pipeline of fuse to mixamo to unreal, the textures somehow get transformed along the way, optimizing for unreal. If you download the textures from mixamo in a package, and then try to apply them directly in unreal, this will not work. Somehow, the UV coordinates get scrambled and you end up with something that looks like this: (if you’re into glitch art, would definitely recommend!!

 

Discovering scale is very important! Make sure to import models at a reasonable scale or else you’ll lose them like I did with this poor man!

Some pictures of me not knowing what I’m doing in unreal but it looking very nice:

Updates Since Thursday:

Knowing how little time I had, I wanted to add another scene at the end to build on the plot more, but I was afraid of messing up what I had more, by adding more. I already had so much difficulty with assigning the correct textures, making sure the environment had the correct lighting, and transferring gigantic files between computers, that I knew that if I started to add something to the scene I already had, it was very possible that my whole scene would come crumbling down like dominoes. I originally had another scene in the beginning that I thought set the scene up nicely, but for Thursday, I didn’t have time to render it out and present it. In the newest version, the opening scene is included. If I were to really have time to flush out all of my ideas, I would like to start from scratch, just because the knowledge that I have in unreal right now is so much more than I did when I started, and I would have made changes so that the whole process was much more efficient and like I wanted it to be. I also considered having a closing scene where the elderly woman can be seen dancing through a window of the castle, but even with the extension, I did not have ample time to execute my idea.

Model Attributions: 

green couch – t4k1k on blend swap

Coffee Table is available under the “CC-BY” Creative Commons License.

folding – Com Folding Chair(https://sketchfab.com/models/e131c04422254656be4470080c4add2f) by Game Props(https://sketchfab.com/eliteforcevn) is licensed under CC Attribution(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Lamp(https://sketchfab.com/models/4ee1dc936c4543f6b957a8b11a1e940a) by SchoolAcount(https://sketchfab.com/SchoolAcount) is licensed under CC Attribution(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

painting: Birds in a pound – painting(https://sketchfab.com/models/8b20654925f941e48a2bafca4851a953) by Guido Salimbeni(https://sketchfab.com/3dsmithery) is licensed under CC Attribution(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) 

Radiator(https://sketchfab.com/models/72155df93d3047eba195671aa9092dbd) by GraceE(https://sketchfab.com/GraceE) is licensed under CC Attribution(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) 

recling chair; Old Recliner Chair(https://sketchfab.com/models/da2bc78892974e2fa085740b9cc1fbb8) by vegu(https://sketchfab.com/iamvegu) is licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Power Outlet is available under the “CC-BY” Creative Commons License.

Simple Persian Style Rug is available under the “CC-0″Creative Commons License.

Small Lamp(https://sketchfab.com/models/05a29f6467034451997570860aa296c4) by bvoz(https://sketchfab.com/bvoz) is licensed under CC Attribution(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

vertical piano with material is available under the “CC-BY”Creative Commons License.

Venetian blinds is available under the “CC-BY” Creative Commons License.

 

 

 

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