Archive for August, 2016

DHMC Dev Diary 8/25/16

Max gaming has been steadily improving its weapons over time, because we know how much you love customization. A big part of any mech game are the weapons and we want to make it right.

Scott is the one responsible for creating unique and functional weapon designs. In 2007, he downloaded 3DS Max and taught himself how to create models, he started modeling stuff for Max Gaming soon after. While modeling Scott became frustrated with the limits of Photoshop and decided to learn Substance Designer and Painter.

I use Substance Painter and Substance designer exclusively for all the DHMC weapons models. Substance Designer lets me create completely custom PBR materials that I can then import into Substance Painter and with its ondestructive workflow and its ability topaint full materials in real time greatly reduces the time that the texturing process takes. I begin by importing the model a setting the project size to 4k. Then I will paint in details just in the height channel with the symmetry mode on. Once I have the height information painted on I will export the data with a custom configuration that exports as Normal DirectX (RGB). I’ll then bring the exported texture into painter, use it as my normal map, and disable the height map. Next I’ll bake the ambient occlusion, curvature, world space normal, position and thickness textures using the normal texture. I’ll then begin painting across the color, metal and roughness channels at the same time using full materials I created in Substance Designer and imported into Painter as part of a custom DHMC smart material. Finally, I add in and paint the emissions, increase the level of the ambient occlusion slightly, paint in small details like burns or added wear with a particle brush, and export the textures using the Unity PBR metal configuration at 1k.-scott

DK50 Plasma

Scott has always liked weapons, ever since he was a kid, he really cares about the function of the weapons. Scott doesn’t want to be influenced by other games, like mech warrior online, and tries not to look at google images for various weapons. He wants to be innovative with his weapon design, trying to create an original look and feel for each one.

Types of questions he asks himself as he works on a piece:
– Would you face it in battle?
– How would it mechanically work?
– How would it animate?
– What parts does it have? Nuts, bolts, access plates, switches etc.

Dark Horizons takes place in a dystopian future, where nuclear war has ravaged the land and greatly disturbed our way of life. This means that Scott is not designing weaponry of an alien species, and instead of designing over-detailed glamorous animations or weaponry with lots of particle effects and moving parts. Dark horizons is more focused on a western vision of what mechs would be like with most of our inspiration coming from modern day real military hardware.

Scott’s process for designing weaponry:

Scott brainstorms and comes up with a concept that he wants to pursue, he begins work and settles on a basic design.
Scott will take it to the rest of the team to get design feedback, he works closely with the artists trying to give the weapons and other art continuity. Scott will discuss the concept and function of the weapon with the lead artist. Scott will use the feedback from his colleagues to refine the design and eventually create a final product.

The process may seem simple but it can be quite complex and require many iterations before the everyone is happy with the final product. For example, The lead artist and Scott had to design versions of the port turret, requiring a great deal of interaction before they came to a decision on the look and animation.

port turretturret animation

As far back as I can remember I have always being obsessed with weapons. How the function and what their role on the battle field is. As I got older my passion for weapons turned to the future of weapons and mechs and let’s face it, that’s the way the we are heading. Being in and around military families and playing games like MW2 and Chrome Hounds just to name a few fueled the fire. Add in my experience of drafting, mechanical design, and being a former architectural model maker and it is a perfect fit for DHMC. Being on the DHMC design team lets me fulfill a passion of creating futuristic weapons as well as using them to wreak havoc on the battlefield.

Check out some of the side-by-side comparisons!

weapons comparison2weapons comparison1

To join the conversation hit the forums:

To keep up to date join the official game group:

DHMC @ GDX Edmonton

This year we have had the opportunity to show DHMC off at local game development conferences (such as COSI – Game Masters Series, and GDX Edmonton), as well as trade shows and games events such as K Days and ReplayFX. The benefit of demoing DHMC at these events are immense. Not only does it allow us to show DHMC to new sets of eyes who might not be aware of it (after all Indie teams such as ourselves do not have much in the way of marketing budgets to promote our games), but we are also able to show off “in development” content that we haven’t put live, and most importantly we can gather feedback first hand as we witness and interact with totally new players trying it out the game for the first time.

While we totally appreciate all of the great feedback that our community does for us here on Steam, there is something uniquely special about being able to watch people play a game that you have made and see the immense smile on their faces from the enjoyment that they get from playing DHMC. Some of the best examples of this that we witness are when parents and their children sit down and play DHMC together at these shows and get to experience the game together (sometimes at the same screen if the child is very young, but often they would play at different stations at a networked setup we have had at these shows).



Obviously having hundreds of people a day check out DHMC and potentially creating new fans is a huge boon for us, however what is most valuable towards the future development of DHMC comes through our observations and interactions with these players (either online through forums like Steam, or in person at these shows). This, combined with analytics data, allows us to get a clearer idea of where our “pain points” are and what we need to do more of to craft DHMC to be a better experience right out of the box.

Some of you might be curious what type of information a casual player shares with us. Here are some snippets of the data that we collected from the last event we were at.




As you can guess people really want customization in DHMC with the majority wanting at bare minimum what we have now in the game, and many asking for even more levels of customization beyond that. This is something that we have talked about at internal meetings, but we feel is certainly worth more discussion from the community as a whole.


We were a bit surprised by this level of feedback, as we would have expected players to want more unique controllers. But it looks to be that keyboard and mouse are still the dominant input controls that people want.


Not a lot of hatred here for the 3rd person controls, although interestingly enough we didn’t get any feedback on whether the cameras were too close to the mechs (something that we have sometimes internally discussed at our meetings).


In this question sample, we were somewhat surprised to find out that people at these shows didn’t even bother to look to see if there was a 1st person camera option, but that is likely the difference between a “casual” player who just picked up the game, and a hard core stompy bot mech fan.


So what does this all mean? Well it means these live events are important for us to attend (obviously) but it also tells us that we have been going the right direction with DHMC, and that we also have to go further in that direction to deliver more of the experience that players want to see in DHMC.

If you have an opportunity to see DHMC at an event near you (or really any other independently created game), please stop by and let us know what you think. If you don’t get the chance to see us live that is okay too. What is important to us is that we interact with players and learn your thoughts and feelings (both positive and negative) about the game so that we can craft better experiences. We are also appreciative of your input and thank you for being fans of DHMC.



Logan “Lfoz”

Art director

Max Gaming Studios

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