The partnership with our mysterious friend has been falling into place a little slower than we wished, but things are still on track. The lawyer is dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s, making sure all the loose ends are neatly tied up and everyone involved is happy!
Even though we can’t wait to make the official announcement just yet, the delay has given us extra time to set up a solid foundation for a healthy work relationship with our new friend.
The good news is that this hasn’t stopped us from planning a bright future for our games and tools. Since we last updated you guys, Pink has finally taken the Blender 2.8 plunge and the time to do the research and development on deeper body customisation she has been itching to do for so long!
What is dressing room 2.0, you ask?
Strap yourselves in because this post is rather lengthy!
As you may already know, our current workflow and character system needs to evolve! Having recently started development on the sex module, we’ve had the opportunity to stress test our current rig and topology in a number of different scenarios. Unfortunately, the current version of Estelle doesn’t quite meet our expectations.
Some poses are left feeling unnatural and lacking definition. Her limbs and fingers don’t always deform perfectly, and her genitals are just not up to the task when it comes to all the hardcore action that she is going to be taking part in. Overall she could just use more flexibility, definition and refinement.
This is okay though! Since Estelle was initially created as a placeholder character to test ideas on, we feel that now is a good time to revisit her design and update it accordingly. Seeing as we are still early in development, we would prefer to take the time to create something with long term sustainability and quality in mind.
Since we decided to redo her topology, we began looking at other aspects of our system that could benefit from change and that would need to be redone simultaneously anyways.
While looking at the feasibility of outsourcing some of our clothing content creation to speed up production, we decided to re-evaluate our in-house development tools and artwork creation pipeline. We came to the realization that our current system is far from being user friendly even for us; despite knowing our own system inside and out.
Basically, introducing new talent to our pipeline would have been too complicated, and require too much of our own dev time; and this would apply doubly to the learning curve for community modders.
Merge our own pipeline with a preexisting, well known and well supported character system! We stumbled across an amazing framework in the Asset Store back when we were just getting started with our character system. Unfortunately it didn’t meet our needs, and to be quite frank. we found the examples rather ugly; so we discarded the idea of using it and rolled our own.
Fast forward to today, it has evolved into a much more capable and production ready system with a number of features that can raise our current system to new heights! In hindsight, we probably shouldn’t have judged this book by its cover.
Why is this exciting?
Well for starters, the new framework is going to make content creation much more streamlined and less time consuming. With the recipe system, adding new items won’t often require additional code and integration time on my part, as Pinkalie will be able to drop new items in and set them up herself with much less dependence on me.
This also means that anyone else tackling item creation or modding will have a much more straightforward experience. Creators will also be able to draw from the fact that this system has been around for a while and is very well documented.
Additionally, converting our rig to the new system opens the door to a whole slew of new body customization possibilities! The new system will allow us to effortlessly add all the shiny bells and whistles that we’ve become accustomed to in modern character generators, such as the ability to adjust leg and arm length, resize and reposition just about any body part, and adjust each character’s height dynamically. We’d even like to account for customizable genitals in the future as well! The list goes on and on.
The change will also greatly ease the process of adding new morphs over time. After implementing the butt size slider, which was merely our second morph after breast size; we noticed that for every new morph and sizing option we added in our current system, the time required to update existing pieces of clothing, as well as add all of the possible morphs to each piece of new clothing was growing exponentially.
This will no longer be the case, since the majority of body changes will be bone based instead of morph based, so clothing old and new will follow automagically! For those special cases where morphs are required, we’ve found a way to copy morph targets from the characters to clothing items automatically as well.
Now thirdly, as if all of this wasn’t already awesome enough; we now get to take advantage of all the amazing optimizations going on under the hood of this character system! Our characters will now be able to have their individual meshes merged, and their textures atlased; resulting in fewer draw calls and better game performance!
We’ll also now be able to use smaller, more optimized textures for tiny details such as tattoos and scars etc; hell, we don’t even have to use square textures anymore.
Another feature worth mentioning is mesh occlusion. Flesh will almost never poke through clothing anymore! We can now specify any polygons a given piece of clothing will cover, and those polygons will be hidden from render. This means better visual fidelity, with less back and forth fiddling around with each piece of clothing during modeling and integration; and lets not forget tighter fitting outfits!
One other thing, and this one is a biggy: Swappable body parts!!! Now keep in mind that until we actually get to test this, it remains purely theoretical, but our initial research looks very promising.
Since these characters are split into individual smaller meshes and then merged into the final result, we can take advantage of this by allowing for hot swappable vaginas, penises, breasts, tails etc. All of your intimate parts could now come in multiple shapes, sizes and flavors!
By using an already well established system, we’ll be able to concentrate more on creating high quality content and spend less time developing our tools and pipeline.
These changes will not diminish the uniqueness and charm of our characters in any way. We’re still going to be using our own custom bone hierarchy and rigs, custom shaders and all the other small touches that made the original version of Estelle special. You can think of this as “Estelle 2.0”
2020 is shaping up to be very exciting and we cannot wait to show you the fruits of our labor!
Pink and Robo