Monster Hunter on PC.

Friggin’ took them long enough! 😛

So, my experience with Monster Hunter is fairly long, and… very rocky. 😛 There are a fair few posts in here detailing my frustration with the series, actually (this one’s okay, but plz don’t look at the other posts, some of them are so pathetically whiny and often very wrong 😛 ). I “get” the game, the idea really works for me, so I should enjoy it… right? But nope. With the exception of Monster Hunter 4 which resolved a few killer issues I had with previous games, I’ve hated every Monster Hunter game I’ve played. After playing the game, hell, even with MH4, I always come out of the other end of it thinking “for fuck’s sake, why the hell (insert complaint here)”. Let me throw out a few examples…

1: “For fuck’s sake, why the hell did they make these monsters so goddamn cheap?”

Most of my negative memories come from Monster Hunter games on the PSP, specifically Monster Hunter Freedom: Unite (MHFU). The “difficulty” of MHFU was just painful. Notice the quotes, indicating sarcasm. 😛 Personally, I prefer difficult games. I find them more fun, they give a better sense of accomplishment, and they generally feel much better to play. However, there’s a fine line between “difficult” and “cheap”, and when that line is crossed, I get a burning desire to dump a tanker of wallpaper paste into the studio of the developers responsible. 😛 I remember two monsters in MHFU that crossed that line so blatantly that it blew my mind that they actually got away with it, to the point where I actually still can’t believe it was for real. For example, Kushala Daora, a dragon that can generate a wind shield, was effectively broken. The wind shield instantly interrupts anything you do when you get close, so you basically can’t land any hits, and the thing you need to break to remove the shield is protected by the shield. Allegedly, the shield could be disabled temporarily by poisoning the monster, but… you can’t even try to inflict poison because of the shield, meaning that the only option is to use a bow/bowgun… which is next to impossible solo, because Kushala Daora is one of the fastest Large Monsters in the game. Another monster, Plesioth, a giant fish thing, spent the vast majority of its time in the water (effectively making it invincible), the items you can use to get it out of the water are very limited and sometimes don’t work, and the bottom line was that it took so long to beat it that I ran out of time. What was the time limit? Oh, just an hour. -.-

This catastrophically cheap bullshit never appeared in Monster Hunter 4. I never felt angry at the difficulty, and never felt like I was struggling. In fact, at times, it actually felt a bit too easy. Although that might have been because of my main weapon, a weapon new to MH4 called the Insect Glaive. It feels so overpowered that it’s actually a bit embarrassing to admit that I use it. 😛

2: “For fuck’s sake, why the hell is the collision detection so god-awful?”

Seriously, MHFU, and all other MH games on PSP, had some of the worst collision detection I’ve ever seen. 😛 Plesioth was one of the main culprits here too, and the one that sticks in my mind the most. When doing its tail swipe attack, the tail is so high up that it just never looks like it hits you, but oh, of course it hits you. Rolling underneath it is impossible because the game considers its tail as a huge box which extends all the way to the ground. And don’t get me started on its body check attack.

Again, I never felt like I experienced this in Monster Hunter 4. When things clearly didn’t hit me… they didn’t hit me. 😛 Plesioth wasn’t really in Monster Hunter 4, though. He was relegated to a fish you catch in a mini-game. 😛

3: “For fuck’s sake, why the hell did they put it on this stupid console?”

Seriously, Capcom must do this on purpose.

The last time Monster Hunter was on a console that made sense was at the very beginning. The original Monster Hunter, and Monster Hunter 2 (Japan only) were on PS2, which is a perfectly reasonable choice of console. However, from then on, Capcom just stopped making sense entirely.

They began releasing Monster Hunter on PSP, which, aside from the DS, was the worst possible console for this game. It had less power than a PS2 so the graphics and framerate were worse, the screen was tiny, and the controls… holy crap. The PSP only had one tiny analog stick for God’s sake. There was no right analog stick, so you had to rotate the camera using the D-Pad above the stick. You had to develop a stupid technique which (quite affectionately) became known as The Claw, where you bend your index finger in such a way where you could move the character and the camera simultaneously. I can’t actually fathom why they put it on the PSP, and then continued to do so for years afterwards.

Well, they continued to do so until Monster Hunter 3. But instead of staying loyal to Sony and putting it on the $599 US dollar PS3, they decided to change allegiance to Nintendo and dumped it on the Wii, completely ignoring the clearly successful Xbox 360. WHY did they put it on the Wii, a console with vastly below-average power and driven by a stupid controller with only one analog stick?! ARGH! And then, for Monster Hunter 4 and Generations, they continued to ignore those tasty, popular, powerful home consoles, instead choosing to release it for the 3DS! Yes it was somewhat popular and somewhat tasty, but it wasn’t powerful! I mean, it was probably good for them that they didn’t release it on the Vita since that thing tanked harder than anything I’ve ever seen, but come on, why did you choose the 3DS over every other option? They must have been targeting the weaker consoles on purpose.

I mean, this goes without saying, but the true stars of Monster Hunter are, of course, the monsters. They can be awesome, beautiful, creepy, weird, or even stupid, but I love pretty much all of them, and they often contribute towards Monster Hunter’s weird sense of humour, like Yian Kut-Ku’s run that makes him look like a chicken, Tigrex’s ice breath which can turn you into a snowman, or Congalala’s attack where he literally throws shit at you. 😛 But I’ve never really been able to see the monsters in all their glory, because Capcom keep choosing the weakest possible console to release their games on! I’m pretty sure they did this so that they could keep re-using assets over and over again. Like, I swear, Rathalos uses exactly the same textures in Monster Hunter 4 as he does in the original Monster Hunter.

This has been my biggest gripe with the series all this time. Why can’t they just release it on a console that makes sense for once?! I JUST WANNA SEE PRETTY MONSTERS AND CONTROL THE CAMERA WITH MY RIGHT HAND!!! IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK?! 😛

So… when they announced Monster Hunter: World for PS4 and Xbox One… I was both extremely irritated and very excited at the same time. Excited because the series had finally made it back to consoles that made sense… annoyed because they were stupid consoles that I didn’t want to buy for just one friggin’ game. But then they announced a PC version, and you can probably imagine how high I jumped for joy. 😛

And today? Finally… finally, Monster Hunter has made it to the console of the Master Race: the PC. 😀

Have I played it? No… not yet. 😛 I was planning to jump on it as soon as I got home, but I was so tired when I got in from work that I didn’t feel like it was a good idea. But hey, no worries. I’ve got all day to play it tomorrow, because I’ve booked tomorrow off. 😛 Hehe, that’s the first time I’ve booked a day off work to play a game. It’s also the first time I’ve pre-ordered a game in a very long time. So yeah… I’m a bit hyped for it, which doesn’t happen often with me, so it’s quite a special moment. 😀

Ahh, yeah! I got so into ranting and blabbing all that crap that I forgot the other half of the reason for this post. I made a little render to celebrate Monster Hunter: World’s PC release. 😀

This render was probably the reason why I felt so tired today. 😛 I stayed up way too late, trying to get the render to a point where I was happy to share something. I wasn’t sure if I’d have anything at all when I first started, but it ended up going surprisingly well!

Anyway, it’s still a work in progress, but here, check out this monster hunter:

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He’s not a monster hunter, but he is a monster hunter. Because he’s a monster, and he’s a hunter, but not hunting monsters, he’s just hunting? And Monster Hunter was released today? Yeah?! Get it?! YA GET IT?! HEH 😛

Man, this one… seriously, I’m so happy with how this came out, even if it is unfinished. 😀 It’s probably the most mature-looking render I’ve made, but because of the underlying pun, it’s still got that hint of humour that I like to portray. 😀 It’s a bit unusual for me too, because it’s not very often I render a dragon standing on their hind legs like this. I prefer to put dragons in a more bestial or feral pose. Sure, the black dragon in Ghost Stories is on his hind legs, but he’s doing it for dramatic effect, whereas this dragon looks like he naturally walks on his hind legs. I should try this a bit more often, because I love how it came out! 🙂

Jesus, listen to this pleb trying to sound like an artist. 😛

Anyway, even though it’s just a work in progress, I hope it pleases your eyes! 😀 I’ll probably be back tomorrow to update this post with my thoughts about Monster Hunter: World after I’ve actually played it. 😛 And of course, I’ll be back with the final version of that render, too, along with some bigger versions that you can stick on your desktop! If you want. 😛

Right, I’m pretty hungry right now, so I’d better go cook some Well-Done Steak*. Cue the music!

(*i lie, i have no steak 😦 )

UPDATE!!
Monster Hunter: World follow-up

So, I’ve been playing Monster Hunter: World for 3 days now. Apparently there’ve been loads of complaints in the Steam reviews about not being able to play online or something. And that’s quite funny, because the first complaint I had with the game was that it doesn’t give you a “play offline” option. 😛 Sure, I’d like to play multiplayer, I’ve never really done it before and it’s probably even more fun. But I don’t want to risk going into a game and getting carried by someone with overpowered equipment. That’s not fun. Besides, I just can’t bring myself to play co-op with random people. Not sure why.

Anyway, whatever, who cares, because the game is glorious from the moment it starts. It has an introduction that wipes the floor with every other game in the series. Also, like Monster Hunter 4, there’s a story, thank fuck, because MH4’s story, regardless of how balls it was, was a huge driving force for me, and made the game more enjoyable. No, so far, World’s story isn’t much better. Come on, it’s a game about hitting giant monsters with sticks and bagpipes, there isn’t much you can do with that. 😛 However, World’s story is told much better. Because Capcom have added something that is so state-of-the-art it actually blew my mind. Voice acting. I mean WHOOOOAOAHAHHAHAAH voice acting in 2018?! NO, surely not! 😛 But yes, finally they bothered with voice acting so that you can hear the characters, rather than having to read them all the time. 😛 Of course, not everything has voice acting. Just cutscenes, tutorials, and other important bits of the game.

Oh, speaking of tutorials, World kicks the living arse out of every other game in the series on that front, too. The game doesn’t freeze solid and perform information overload on you now; it’s much friendlier than that. Like, in MH4, when doing weapons training, you were dumped in a room, forced to read a ton of text about your weapon and how it worked (which couldn’t be viewed again without exiting and restarting the training), before finally being given control so you could try remembering and doing everything the guy just said. In World, you get a brief voiced description about the weapon you choose, before being given a bunch of on-screen controls and useful combos to try. When you’re done with trying one weapon, you can pick a different weapon from the box and try that without having to reload the mission. It’s a shame you don’t get a live target to practice on, though, you just get some boxes and shit. 😛 I found it really useful in MH4, because it’s how I discovered just how overpowered the Insect Glaive was (on my first try with it, I took out a Great Jaggi in half the time it took me to take it down with a Long Sword, a less complex weapon that I already knew how to use).

Thankfully, as far as I’m aware, it isn’t overpowered in World. Hard to tell, though, because I haven’t done a proper test of all the weapons yet. The weapon set consists of the same 14 weapons from MH4, nothing new. Some weapons appear to have new moves or tweaked move sets, though.

As for the controls, well. When I finished my first proper hunt, I just sat there, staring at the game with a smug “I told you so” grin on my face. That was the first time in the whole history of Monster Hunter where I’ve been able to move the camera smoothly and freely, and it’s a ridiculously huge improvement. And there’s more, too, because they’ve added… a lock-on camera, called the Focus Camera. And this seems to be Capcom proving that the lock-on camera is a stupid idea, because it is. I tried to like it, but it just ended up annoying me, because I found it really hard to hit the part of the monster I was trying to aim for. But don’t worry, because they’ve also added the option to use the Target Camera from MH4, where you can press LB to make the camera face the monster. They also added an option so you can use these cameras on all monsters, not just Large Monsters, but laugh my arse off NO. Just no. 😛

Difficulty? Yep, there’s some difficulty here, but I don’t think it’s horrific. I reckon the perceived difficulty is totally dependent on experience, both with Monster Hunter and with games in general, but personally, I’d say it starts off fairly mild and slowly gets harder. Overall it’s challenging, sometimes difficult. I haven’t fainted yet, but I’ve had some close calls. That just makes things exciting, though! 😛 Fainting isn’t really a huge deal in World, anyway. Since gathering is so much faster and easier, and since they added a feature where you can set certain items to auto-craft, it’s easy to restock critical items like Mega Potions, so you don’t really need to worry about wasting money on them. Also, unlike previous games, you have all the information you could ever reasonably need about monsters in the game itself, like weak points, elemental weaknesses, drops, and even vague drop rates. And the Palico (a Felyne sidekick who helps you in battle) is very helpful this time around. Right off the bat, he has a skill which can restore a sizeable chunk of your health, and he uses it intelligently. This has genuinely saved my ass at least twice, so he’s probably a gigantic help for new players. But if you do struggle, again, unlike previous games on the dumb consoles, co-op is actually a feasible option this time around. 😛

What else… oh, yeah, graphics. Well, uh… when I first saw my Palico in a cutscene I was like “OMG :3”:

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Then when I encountered my first Jagras I was like “SO PRETTY :O”:

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Then when Anjanath first officially said “hello” I was like “SO AWESOME :O”:

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Then when I got to see the legendary Rathalos finally in high-resolution glory before he proceeded to kick the shit out of an Anjanath he didn’t like, I was like “SO EPIC :O”:

vlcsnap-2018-08-13-20h16m53s315.png

Then when he kicked most of the shit out of me afterwards I was like “💩, uncool bro, that nearly killed me, but I forgive you because OMG YOU’RE SO BEAUTIFUL :O”:

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The graphics you see there are “max graphics where it matters”. 😛 By that, I mean I’m using the top LOD models, no resolution scaling and full texture quality, but everything else is knocked down to compensate. Because realistically, I can’t run this at truly max graphics. Not sure why people are going “WAAAAH IT NEEDS SO MUCH CPU POWER” because it just… doesn’t. It uses less than half of what Forza Horizon 3 does, and I know that game canes a recent-generation i5, because a friend of mine played it and always complained about the CPU usage (rightfully so). GPU power, though, well, ha haaaa… you’re gonna need that. And you’ll need to get that power from just one GPU, because World joins the ever-increasing (and annoying) list of games that don’t support SLI. -.- I run two GTX 970s (so, just one), and with my settings, I get about 40-45FPS average at 2K (2560×1440). I’m not locked by GPU memory. Here’re my settings, along with NVIDIA’s hilarously stupid “optimal” settings:

NVIDIA GeForce Experience_2018-08-13_20-34-34.png

I’ve since turned off anti-aliasing since Temporal Anti-Aliasing costs 4 FPS for something I probably won’t notice. But the gains for dropping any of the other settings are so low that there’s no point. I mean, subsurface scattering sounds pretty expensive, but it actually only costs me 2 FPS and really makes a difference in some situations (see Rathalos encounter above). And lmfao, that “optimal” texture quality of 256. Dropping from Full to 256 has no effect on FPS, you fucks! I’m bored of Monster Hunter’s traditional PS2-quality textures! I wanna admire Rathian’s pretty face for once in my life!

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It’s in the eye of the beholder, okay?! 😛

So yeah, the graphics are absolutely gorgeous if you have a good GPU, and if you have a modern 1000-series NVIDIA GPU or AMD equivalent, I’d be surprised if you didn’t hit 60 FPS at 2K. Maybe a 1070 is enough, or maybe even a 1060 if you run at 1080p. This is just me guessing, though. 😛 I’m planning on upgrading to a 1080 or 1080Ti soonish, both for rendering and for gaming. I’d get one sooner, but I’m holding out for the 1100 series. Sure would be nice if they’d just tell us roughly when it’s coming out… -.-

Complaints? Well, yes, I have a few. The first and most irritating thing about the game so far? Scoutflies. These green things:

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MY FUCKING EYES.

They’re supposed to act as the game’s GPS, because the maps are now so large and so complicated that I find it ridiculously hard to figure out how to get to places. But they also highlight things for you, like gathering points. All of this, especially early on, is just… total information overload. 😛 But even after you get used to it, they’re so bright and so distracting that I actually feel relieved when I find a Large Monster that wants to kill me, just because the flies go away when that happens. 😛 There have been so many times where I’ve thought “right, yeah, I know where the monster is, no I don’t want to look at any more footprints because I know where it is and I’ve maxed out the tracking level, no I don’t want any blue mushrooms, I just want to make my way to the monster with no guidance or distractions now, please go away…” but no, green particles everywhere, and no, you can’t turn them off. And then, when you do want guidance, they’re not only blinding, but they’re also sluggish, often very unclear, and in situations when you’re carrying an egg and have access to the Scoutflies because nothing’s trying to kill you, the route they choose is usually impossible, trying to taking you through small gaps and other areas that you can’t access while carrying an egg. In fact, the idiot Scoutflies and the sheer complexity of the maps is why I simply can’t be fucked with the mission where you need to deliver two Wyvern Eggs.

Those missions are my second complaint, actually, the egg carrying missions. Were they even tested? They’re absolute balls. There’s no way you can do them solo without being a cheap little bitch. Delivering two Herbivore Eggs was difficult enough, because the nests are right next to where the herbivores endlessly spawn no matter how many you kill, and they’re faster than you, and there ends up being about six of them before you eventually get headbutted by one of them and drop the egg. At one point after dropping said egg, they surrounded me and pretty much gang raped me, which was somehow both hilarious and insanely annoying. So how did I finish it? I used the Ghillie Mantle, an item which effectively makes me invisible. As I said, “cheap little bitch”. 😛 And that one I mentioned earlier where you have to deliver two Wyvern Eggs? Fuck that shit. The moment you pick up an egg from the nest where she never is, Rathian senses a disturbance in the Force and immediately heads for your exact location, even if you’re wearing the Ghillie Mantle. Of course, she can’t actually see you, so she doesn’t chase you, but this doesn’t stop her from following you at a distance, waiting for the moment when the Ghillie Mantle wears off. It’s just so mind-numbingly broken. Because the route is so complicated and the distance you have to travel to secure the egg is so long, longer than the Ghillie Mantle can ever last, the only way I can imagine doing it, even in co-op, is by being a cheap little bitch and killing Rathian before trying to transport the eggs. And I don’t know about you, but that seems slightly outside the scope of the quest. 😛 And hell, even if you did do that, you’d still have to figure out how to get back to a camp without using the Scoutflies, because they’re dumb and try to take you through inaccessible areas. 😛

And my third complaint… audio. It’s a pretty minor one, but for me, the game is oddly quiet. The audio settings are all at max volume, but even with my headphones at full blast, the game’s still a bit quiet. I got around this problem by routing the game’s audio through a virtual audio cable and amplifying it before routing it back to my headset, but this is a faff, it kind of affects the audio quality and adds a bit of latency, which isn’t cool. Hopefully it’ll be fixed in a patch or something.

And that’s it. Scoutflies, egg missions and quiet audio are the only problems I’ve found. Not sure what all this screaming about broken servers is, because it works for me…? 😛 I’ve not actually played with others, sure, but I can connect to online sessions just fine, and I’ve collected my daily shit with no problem. Maybe the problem is when you’re in an actual hunt? Whatever, doesn’t really affect me, no-one I know will ever get this anyway. It’s probably a bit difficult for them, and they wouldn’t have any time for it. 😛 I’ll play online eventually, when I’m ready. Just don’t want to rush through the game or get carried by someone overpowered, that’s all. 😛 Uhhh, nope. Someone I know was interested in getting it but was put off by the alleged server issues, so I tried responding to an SOS flare and testing some multiplayer. Didn’t have a single problem. The only thing I noticed was that holy hell, the session filled up fast! The SOS flare was sent by a solo player who hadn’t had a response when I tried to join, and by the time I made it into the game about 30 seconds later, I was the last player to set off from the camp.

UPDATE 6!!: Since then, much to my surprise, my friend actually ended up getting the game, and we’ve played some co-op. And now I can say with confidence: I have literally no idea why people are complaining about the online play being broken. However, I can understand complaints about the online system, because it it were any more obtuse it’d be a straight line. Angles? Obtuse? No? 😛 Anyway, the online system is insane. You have sessions which can consist of 16 players, and within these sessions you can have hunts which consist of up to 4 players. This is all totally understandable and quite cool so far, but when it comes to making a session for just you and your mates, things get shit very quickly.

First off, the game doesn’t prevent you from trying to join the sessions of people who are in an offline session. If you try, the game just sits there for a while before saying it failed to connect. So, my friend tried creating a private online session, and sent me an invite through the Steam overlay. That didn’t work either. Some amount of time after that, I noticed that the in-game invite option was greyed out, so I tried making a normal, non-private session. That made the invite option light up, and my friend was able to join the session. After this, I changed the session options so that it was private, and that worked; no-one random joined after that. Basically, you can’t join private sessions even if you’re invited; you have to make a non-private session, do your invites, then make the session private, or use passcodes on the quests you post.

But that’s not all, because Monster Hunter: World has laughably bad multiplayer story support. When you post a quest that contains cutscenes, you have to start it single-player. After all the cutscenes have played, the quest opens to other players. So this means… if a group of friends want to play a story quest together, they all have to start the quest individually, get to the point where the SOS flare can be fired, return to HQ, and then one player has to post the quest again and have the others join it. That’s just retarded. 😛 Oh, and you know I said that the quest opens up to other players after all the cutscenes have played? Yes, but every attempt I made to join those quests ended up failing immediately. That’s probably a bug. 😛

And Expeditions? One does not simply join an Expedition. No, you can’t just join a friend’s Expedition, which is a ridiculously stupid oversight, because it’s not like multiplayer Expeditions aren’t supported. There’re only two ways that it can be done. The first way is for everyone to join a quest and complete it, and during the end-game timer, leave the option as “return to camp”. This puts you in an Expedition in that area. That’s a faff because you have to complete a quest, so the other option is to enter an Expedition alone, fire an SOS flare and have the others join you through the SOS menu. You can cancel the flare when everyone’s joined. This is much less of a faff but it opens up the Expedition to EVERYONE, so there’s a chance of someone random joining, which is annoying.

I highly doubt Capcom’s gonna address any of this. It’s probably been like this on consoles up until now, so the chances of them fixing the issues now is probably next to zero. But in summary, yes, multiplayer works, flawlessly, and as far as I can tell, everyone who is crying about broken servers is just talking crap. However, the multiplayer system is ridiculously obtuse, confusing as hell and has awful story support.  UPDATE 7!!: Gotta take back that “flawlessly” statement, because we’ve since had a couple of annoying connection issues. Sometimes, one of us has randomly lost connection to the session, and that puts the session in a weird state where the player who dropped can’t re-join. This has only happened at the very beginning or end of a hunt, though, not midway through. There’s been one instance where a posted quest just stopped appearing on the board, too. But as I said, annoying issues. Not crippling. I wouldn’t say the servers are broken, they just have a few teething problems.

Waiting for Monster Hunter to finally land on the PC was worth the wait, though. I’m not disappointed. It’s the best game I’ve played in a long time, and I can see myself continuing to play it for a long time to come. 😀 It wasn’t long ago that I loathed the series, so this is quite the epic turnaround they’ve managed!

Now, let’s move onto the subject of “Monster. Hunter.”. The celebratory render. Guh, this is gonna get confusing, isn’t it? 😛

Monster. Hunter. render follow-up

I was really surprised with the first draft of the render. It took about five hours to put together. But after that, when the environment was in and needed to stay active because it was making a critical contribution to the final lighting… the PAIN BEGAN.

DAZ Studio can’t handle scenes like this when using Iray. It babs itself when things get even remotely complicated, sometimes taking minutes to recalculate, making it impossible to tweak the scene while the interactive Iray render is running, therefore making it extremely difficult to tweak things such as materials. In fact, not long after I produced the draft render, this scene became so heavy that it wouldn’t fit in GPU memory, so only the CPU could render it. This isn’t a realistic option. In fact, I’m not sure why DAZ offers the option. Because it’s a stupid thing to do. From experience, I think it’s about 20x slower than GPU rendering. Ain’t got that kind of time, brah.

And with this render, ohh, I’ve never seen DAZ Studio bab itself quite as much. The first problem was when the scene became too heavy for the GPU. I really wasn’t happy with the grass density, or the quality of the ground texture, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and added a lot more higher-quality grass. This pushed the scene over the edge and became too complex to fit in GPU memory… not to mention that it was getting very difficult to do anything with the interactive render running.

To cut down on memory usage, I used a tool which can reduce the size of texture maps of objects you select. After halving the size of everything in the background, the scene was able to fit in GPU memory again, which was great. Wasn’t any faster at rendering, though, and this was a problem, because I needed to tweak the lighting. After this, it just descended into a whirlpool of fuckshit which connected directly to Satan’s testes. Yes, it was that bad.

First, it started leaking memory, so I couldn’t do more than one Iray render without restarting DS. Then, for no reason at all, it began to crash after turning on the interactive renderer, if not before rendering the first time, then always before rendering the second time. And then, it began to do this really weird shit when rendering, where the top half of the render would begin after the bottom half, making the top half look darker. I imagine that was some insanity with double-GPU rendering, but who cares, it was annoying. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, bang, it stops rendering with the GPUs. Had to reduce texture quality again just to get it to stop whining. Oh, and then, I discovered a problem where the Dragon 3’s left eye would render black, even though both of his eyes are one material and the right eye rendered just fine!

Monster. Hunter. 3 (Head Fail).jpg

I eventually discovered that this was caused because of a render setting that I’d changed, “Instancing Optimization” under the “Optimization” category. I changed it from Speed to Memory, because of the multitude of aforementioned memory issues I’d been having. But why the hell. His eyes aren’t instanced objects! The only instanced objects in the scene are the grass objects! Why would this option break the eyes?! And what does it even mean?! It’s not fucking documented! Look, this is the documentation of the whole Optimization category! (Backup screenshot here in the hilariously unlikely event that they update it.) OOOH SO USEFUL!!

And then, when I finally manage to get DAZ Studio to start a goddamn render, BAM, I was bitten once again by the IDIOT default settings of a two-hour maximum render time. Just as a final “fuck you”.

Haaah… so yeah… I wasn’t particularly calm. 😛 I even resorted to singing out my anger over a track from Disgaea 5 after it started playing as part of my “every piece of music on the PC” shuffle playlist. It helped a tiny bit. 😛

To be honest, though… the pain was worth it. Because look at THIS:

Monster. Hunter. (Character Focused)
(Available in these flavours: 2560×3072 “Character Focused” Version, 1080p, 2K, 4K)

MORE PLANTS! MORE GRASS! MORE FORESTY! 😀

Yes, it’s still a work in progress. UPDATE 2!!: I replaced the WIP version with the final version. I increased the texture resolution on the tree and added something that went missing in the last WIP render. 🙂

I… don’t really know what else to say. I mean, I’ve really surprised myself with this one. It was only gonna be a quick celebratory render, so I never imagined it would turn out as good as it has! 😀

Oh, wait, of course, I do know what to say: RENDER STAAATS! 😀 And oh, it’s a biggie. My longest render ever. That render, at 2560×3072, quality level 2 and 94.5% convergence (because I needed to kick off the desktop renders before going to bed and couldn’t wait another hour for the last 0.5% convergence 😛 ) took 20 hours 57 minutes 45.31 seconds. BOOM, R-R-R-R-RECORD BREAKER! Holy CRAP that’s a long time. But there’s a reason. The scene, despite all my efforts, flat out would not fit in my primary GPU’s memory, because DAZ Studio needs 2 GB just to show it in the viewport, the render needs about 3GB extra, and my GPUs only have 4GB of memory each. So I had to render it with the secondary GPU only, because that didn’t have anything in memory.

UPDATE 3!!

Heyyy, as you might have seen from the updated links under the image, I’ve added some desktop versions, the traditional 4K, 2K and 1080p trio. The 4K version took 11 hours 46 minutes 29.91 seconds to render… which is odd, since it’s about 400k pixels larger than the character focused render. There’s one very good (and equally confusing) reason for this, though: I was able to use both GPUs to render it. Not sure how… because again, larger image. They require more memory to render, right? 😛 It was basically a miracle, because the scene was 49MB off not fitting in GPU1’s memory. Look!

MSIAfterburner_2018-08-15_09-27-01.png

4047MB peak usage! The GPU only has 4096MB of memory! I didn’t even want to sneeze on the computer just in case it went over the edge. 😛

Anyhoo… normally I render all three resolutions individually, but this time I just rendered the 4K version and scaled it down. The main reason is because of Iray’s irritating grainy renders. Basically, any areas of the image that are even slightly dark, reflective or translucent turn out grainy, regardless of the convergence ratio or render quality settings. To counteract this, I apply blur manually to especially bad areas by converting the image to a Smart Object, applying a Gaussian blur as a Smart Filter, and airbrushing the mask white wherever I want to reduce the grain. This helps with the 4K image, but then I have to repeat the blurring process twice more with the 2K and 1080p images, and that’s really boring. 😛 So instead, I apply the blur to the 4K image, then downscale it. This not only saves time, but it reduces the grain massively at lower resolutions, and actually looks better than if I’d just rendered it at those resolutions.

And since we’re on the subject of postwork, I’ll mention what else I did in that area. 🙂 Apart from the signature and the blurring, I also added a vignette and a slight levels tweak to the desktop versions. But that’s all. 🙂

That’s all from me for now, but I hope you like the pic! Laterz. 🙂

UPDATE 4!!
(obsolete, see update 5)

I don’t believe it. After posting the final version here, after creating those desktop versions, after posting it to DeviantArt, after posting a follow-up comment on my Bookface post with the “finished” version and a link here for the desktop versions… I’ve noticed a huge mistake in the pose.

He’s NOT DRAWING THE ARROW CORRECTLY, oh my GOD I’m such a MORON!

Just… yeah. Just look carefully, and you won’t un-see it. The bow string is tensing against… what, exactly? It’s supposed to tense against the back of the arrow, you absolute dumbfuck MongMaster, what are you smoking?! This was my number one focus when posing. I looked at a lot of pictures of people drawing bows, and spent a lot of time making sure it looked just right, because I’ve only ever drawn a bow once before and was afraid of getting the pose wrong. And now look. I got it wrong. For fuck’s sake.

Not happy at all. I’ll fix it, but it’ll take a couple of days. -.-

UPDATE 5!!

Okay, I’ve replaced the renders with a new version where the dragon is drawing the arrow correctly, and all is good again. 😛 But hey, even though I had to spend another evening rendering both versions of this picture again, I found another silver lining! I learned another DAZ Studio dumbfuckery! 😛

As I said before, the character-focused version of the render wouldn’t fit in my primary GPU’s memory, so I couldn’t render it with both of my GPUs; I had to use my secondary GPU by itself. The knock-on of this was that it basically doubled the render time to nearly 21 hours. When it came to rendering the scene this time, I was wondering if there was any way to squeeze the scene size down just enough so it could fit in GPU memory without any major quality sacrifices. I tried some dumb things like closing DAZ Studio viewports and panels to try and save memory. Of course, this did nothing, so as a last-ditch, blue-sky thinking, really-clutching-at-straws-here attempt, I tried shrinking the DAZ Studio window down so that it was really small. Lo and behold, doing this actually freed up 100MB of GPU memory. Absolute top lel. Maximum lel. Lel overload. 😛 If you don’t believe me, here’s a demonstration.

That 100MB saving was enough to do the character-focused render with both GPUs. This saved about 11 hours, which means I can actually play Monster Hunter again tonight instead of using my PC to re-render this scene constantly, yay! 😛

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wow

Ni hao! How’s your 2018 been so far? If it’s been poopy, never mind, because now it’s a NEW New Year! The Chinese one! And this time, it’s the turn of the DOGE! And of course, a new Lunar New Year means a new Lunar New Year render! 😀

It’s quite funny, actually. In last year’s post, I ended by saying “Next year’s pic should be much easier to get a model for”. In fact, I decided to procrastinate until I got home from work yesterday, because I thought it was gonna be an easy win. I mean, it’s a dog. Y’know, one of the most common pets in the world, “man’s best friend”, there are about 9001 breeds of them, c’mon, obviously there’s gonna be loads of dog models to choose from.

Heh, nope! 😛

When I looked around at first, I could only find the DAZ Millenium Dog, and, well… that’s what, 18 years old? But that was the only reasonable result. Sure, there was a cartoon-style dog, a low-res dog which is designed to be in the background, supermorphs to create furry-esque humanoid dogs, dog tags, and “sea dogs”, but they’re… just not what I was hoping to find. I mean come ON, why was a product containing dog tags the first friggin’ result over an actual dog, sheeeesh… 😛

So I was kind of shiteing bricks thinking I couldn’t find anything good, but then I tried searching for a wolf instead. My chain of logic was like “well, if there’s a wolf, maybe I can get an add-on or do something to make it look more like a dog”. And that’s exactly what happened. 😀 I found a wolf, and then found that it had two add-ons, both of which changed the textures to make it look like a breed of dog. Boosh. 😀

After that slight panic, I thought the rest would be easy, but again, heh, nope! The model itself was good, but it had awful morphs. I had to break several morph limits to get even vaguely close to the expression I was hoping for. Then there was a plugin called Look At My Hair (LAMH for short), which is probably the best plugin available for DAZ Studio. Uh, don’t take that the wrong way, though, because being better than all the other DS plugins I’ve had the displeasure to use is not hard. 😛

I already used LAMH when making Year of the Monkey, and it was pretty, but terrible. It crashed all the time, the hair preview destroyed the viewport framerate and made it impossible to pose, you couldn’t hide the hair preview without clicking on a million things… yeah. This time, though, it was even worse. I’d decided to use Iray for Year of the Dog; the first time I’ve used it in my Chinese Zodiac renders. I decided that because I’m much better with it now that I was when it first came out, and it does tend to produce nicer results. But hey, guess what doesn’t support Iray?! -.-

Well, no, I lie. LAMH does support it… sort of. There’s a function you can use to export the hair into an OBJ. The idea is that you pose first, apply the hair, then press a button in LAMH and it will export the hair as geometry before importing it back into your scene for you. Sounds easy! It should be! Yet it isn’t! It’s borderline broken!

It started out by generating files which were 0 bytes. A file of nothing, great. -.- Then, as I was trying to figure out why this was, it started generating files of nothing, then crashing! Then it started crashing before trying to generate the files of nothing!

It took me hours to figure out just how idiotic the plugin really was. When you press the “to OBJ” button, a dialog pops up confirming a path to where it will save the geometry. If that path doesn’t exist, it will pop up a browse window, starting in the directory where DAZ Studio is installed; a directory which the application has no write access to. No matter what location you choose in this window, LAMH will sit there churning for several minutes before, for some reason, dumping a zero-byte OBJ file in that directory and/or crashing. Oh, by the way, if you press cancel in the browse window, the plugin will Do Stuff(tm) for a few seconds before popping up the browse window again. Hurrr. 😛 The solution? You have to manually create the exact path that pops up in the dialog box when you press the export button. Most likely this dumbass plugin has that path hard-coded into it somewhere, doesn’t bother to create the directory if it doesn’t exist (probably doesn’t even friggin’ check!) and doesn’t properly handle asking the user for a directory (obviously, because it goes in a loop when you press cancel). I just… grrrrrh! As a programmer myself, this retarded bug just pisses me off way more than usual. I mean, I wouldn’t get away with that! In the places I’ve worked, it’d be classed as a critical bug, and we’d have to do an urgent hotfix release to sort it out ASAP!

Anyway, in summary, if you’re having that issue, create the exact path that shows up in the dialog when you press the “to OBJ” button. Should be “C:/Users/<your username/Documents/DAZ 3D/Studio/lookatmyhairAM/geometry/”. Create that directory and try exporting and it should work properly. You have to sit with the computer while it does the conversion though, because you have to press OK on every “hey I’ve done this bit of the work” dialog box that comes up, since the plugin is shit.

Aaaaand breathe. 😛

So yeah, long story short, I made a render with a dog in it! 😛 I really wanted a Shiba Inu, but I couldn’t get one of those, so I chose a Siberian Husky! BOOM:

2018 - Year of the Dog (1080p).jpg
(Available in these flavours: 1080p, 1080p Dark, 2K, 2K Dark, 4K, 4K Dark, lol5K, lol5K Dark)

After all that crap with LAMH and finding a model in the first place, I gotta say, I think this one turned out great! 😀 This was the first time I (knowingly) used proper three-point lighting… uh, well, sort of. There’re actually four lights; I added a light underneath. But the first three use the basic principles! 😛

Anyway, here’re the traditional render stats: At 4K with DoF, Render Quality 2 at a 97% convergence ratio… oh. I’ve just realised that the render hit the default 2-hour time limit. So it took 2 hours 14.83 seconds and reached a convergence of 74%, god, damn it, fuck. -.- 2K reached 93.5% convergence before it hit the iteration limit of 5000 in just under 2 hours. And 1080p did the same but only took 56 minutes 26.65 seconds. And now I’m suddenly glad I write down the render stats because it made me realise these renders aren’t at the best quality! You see, when using Iray, the render can be, or rather has to be (because there’s no way of disabling it) configured to stop if they take too long or iterate too many times, and the defaults are STUPID!

Welp, I’m gonna have to re-render these later on, but for now, I hope you enjoy them as they are! Check back later for some higher quality versions (although the differences may turn out to be minute 😛 ). Now, though, I am going to go cook a stir fry, because I haven’t had anything to eat since getting back from work and I am HAAANGRYYYY. Hungry like the wolf. Hehe. That song sucks. 😛

Bye for nao! 🙂

UPDATE!!

Okay seriously, the developer(s) of LAMH can go and suck a dick. How much dumbfuckery can one possibly cram into a plugin?! I’ve just found out that when you load a scene that is supposed to contain exported LAMH hair objects, it doesn’t! So, let’s look at this logically: when I save a scene that contains exported LAMH hair objects, it clearly does save the objects because it takes an age for the scene to save and it ends up being around 300MB instead of 4MB. And then when you load the scene, it also clearly loads the objects because it takes an age to load. So the only possible explanation as to why the hair objects are not in the scene when it finishes loading is that LAMH fucking removes them for no reason!! And because those objects disappear, the material settings also disappear! So now I don’t know what settings I used! So now I have to fag around taking ages to do test renders and tweaking settings that were completely fine until this idiot plugin deleted my shit!

You don’t believe me? Well, because I do tend to doubt myself sometimes even when I know I’m right, I did think that I was wrong for a few seconds. But then I tried pretending to be the plugin developers: I applied dumb logic to reverse-engineer their code in my brain, and guessed that they did something like: “if (there are geometry objects under LAMH group) then {remove those geometry objects //hahah twats}”, even though that makes ZERO sense. So I tried unparenting those objects in the LAMH group (and it crashed the first time because LAMH is broken), then saved the scene and reloaded it. And guess what?! YES! I was RIGHT! The hair objects remained in the scene! And that’s the proof: LAMH deletes parts of your scene for no reason! Seriously, give me ONE good reason why it would go “nah ya don’t need dem jometry objects under dat group even do I genertarded dem, no sirree”.

God damn, if software keeps going like this, they’re gonna have to put me on blood pressure tablets. 😛

Anyway, I’m re-rendering the scene in its various resolutions now. I’ll even throw in a bonus 5K version for people with those idiotic 5K Macs. Such as me! 😛 Yes, I have one. At work. I’m forced to use it. I hate it so so much. 😛

UPDATE 2!!

Theeere we go. I’ve re-rendered all the resolutions of the image at best quality and updated all the links. As promised, I also added a 5K version. For some reason, the 5K render took a full five HOURS longer to render than 4K. It was probably DAZ Studio thinking “wtf mate why is it so big what kind of dumb monitor are you displaying this on”. 😛

LAMH continued being fun. I found out that when it exports the hair objects, for some reason, it’s non-deterministic. In other words, it can come up with something different every time it’s exported. So the fur looks different now than in my original renders. Urrgrgh. I mean come ON the hair data is exactly the same as it was a week ago so how can the output be different seriousllyyyyyyyy…

Anyway, here’re some proper render stats! 5K took 9 hours 25 minutes 25.80 seconds, while 4K took 4 hours 24 minutes 17.64 seconds. As for the sensible resolutions, 2K took 2 hours 6 minutes 29.24 seconds and 1080p was 1 hour 32 minutes 22.80 seconds.

Ghosts in the sky…

Heyaaa. How was everyone’s Halloween? Yeah… it’s not really one of those things that people do any more. Well, not me, anyway. When I was a kid, sure. But to be honest, I don’t really get it. It’s supposed to be a religious thing, and I ain’t, but people went ahead and commercialised it and now it’s not really a religious thing any more. In some parts of the world, sure, but not ‘ere. 😛

Anyway, it’s the day of scary shit, right? That, and it’s the only time it’s okay for children to go around and get strangers to give them sweets. 😛 Thankfully I don’t get any kids buzzing my flat. Not like I ever answer my buzzer unless I’m expecting someone, anyway, but still. It’s nice.

I had an idea for a Halloween render about a couple of months before, and I wrote it down in OneNote, ending the description with “Halloween’s on October 31st so we got about 3000 years to get this done. Give or take.” When Halloween came around, I opened up OneNote, not to read what I’d written down in August, but to keep track of how many meals and stuff were in my grocery shop as I was doing it. 😛 After finishing the shop, my brain seemed to autopilot me into the Render Scene Ideas section and I went “OH SHI CRAP DAMN ARGH I FORGOT”, leaving me with 6 hours until Halloween ended, and if I posted a Halloween render after then I would look stupid. I mean jeez it’s not even Halloween any more how dumb would that look for someone to post something for Halloween after it was over.

So without further ado, here is a Halloween render!

Ghost Stories - DracoIndomita
(Available in these flavours: 1080pQHD/2K, UHD/4K)

Hahah! Honestly, I… loved this idea. 😀 It was my first genuinely decent idea since Dueling Dragons. My vision was a bit different from the result, but I think this is way better than what I envisioned.

I used Iray again, if you didn’t already know. 🙂 I’ve been trying to battle past the total idiocy of it, because I really really like it. Er, what it can come up with, that is. Don’t like much else about it. 😛 I used a combination of emissive lighting and standard lighting, the latter of which I never really used because I didn’t think it worked with Iray. I thought that all Iray lighting had to have some kind of physical presence in the scene, but nope, you can use standard lights. I just never tried giving the standard lights unrealistic values like Iray seems to want. 😛 Finding that out was pretty much a godsend. The spotlight of the torch wasn’t possible with emissive lighting, and the light from the campfire wasn’t lighting the correct side of the younger dragons on the left. I fixed that with another spotlight. 🙂

And hey, as a nice pat-myself-on-the-head-and-give-myself-a-peanut bonus, this is actually my first ever good quality render containing three subjects! My good renders have only ever contained a maximum of two before. Sure, some test renders I’ve done contained up to four, but they… weren’t good. 😛

Now, render statz! This was a LONG render, probably the longest I’ve done so far. In 2K at quality 2 with a target convergence of 98%, it took 5 hours 51 minutes 3.68 seconds. I’m expecting the 4K render to take around 13 hours. D: Looks like I am an estimation winner! It took 13 hours 14 minutes 54.38 seconds. Yikes. 😛 Postwork consists of a slight bloom effect, grain reduction, a levels adjustment and manual removal of some background distractions. There was a thin layer of light along the ground, and it looked really weird.

The post title is a reference to one of the songs I listened to while making this: a cover of a song called Aaveratsastajat, by Hevisaurus. That link goes to Spotify; I can’t seem to find it on YouTube. Anyway, it’s a repeated lyric in the chorus: “Aaveet taivahan”, which means “ghosts in the sky”. Maybe. I used Google Translate, of course. I can’t speak Finnish. 😛 If you remove the capital “A” it becomes “ghosts to heaven”. So I have no idea. 😛

Anyway, hope you like the image! If you’d like it in a different resolution, don’t be afraid to ask. 🙂 Well, as long as it’s not much higher than 8K. DS can’t render images with either dimension exceeding 10,000px. 😛

UPDATE!!
Wow! This sure got some love; WordPress tells me that it was my best day for likes! Thanks so much, everyone! 🙂

There were a couple of little things that bugged me about the render, so I made some changes. Namely, I thought the blue dragon’s neck looked weird and distracting, so I adjusted it. I did a couple of tweaks to the black dragon’s eyes, too: they’re a bit more open to make him look scarier, and his gaze is more focused on the other dragons.

Also, I’ve added a link to the UHD/4K version of the render. 🙂 Funny story: before I went to bed, I started the render with the hopes that it’d be at least nearly done overnight. When I woke up and checked the PC, it turned out that DAZ Studio had decided to ask the CPU to do the render, instead of using my two GPUs like I asked. So it burned the hell out of my CPU for about nine hours, just to reach an iteration count of about 900-odd, something that my GPUs can reach in ONE hour. Thanks, DAZ. -.- I cancelled it, restarted DAZ Studio and tried rendering again, and it started using the GPUs. Probably a dumb memory leak. Jeeesus, I mean, if the scene doesn’t fit in GPU memory, why can’t it do something intelligent for once? Like, if “CPU” isn’t checked in the Advanced tab of Render settings, throw up a dialog saying “oh there’s not enough GPU memory to do this with the GPUs”, then STOP rendering? I think that’s better than silently attempting to complete a render that will take the CPU about 143 hours. Not exaggerating. 😛

UPDATE 2!!
I’ve added a link to the 1080p version. For some reason, it still took more than five hours to render, even though it’s a fair bit smaller than 2K. Shrug. 😛

UPDATE 3!!
MAN, I wish I’d spend more time looking into stuff that inspires me.

Nearly half a year after this render, I learned after literally two minutes of research that Aaveratsastajat is effectively a translation. It’s probably not a direct translation, but Aaveratsastajat is the Finnish version of a seemingly ridiculously well-known country and western song from 1948 called “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend”. “Aaveet taivahan” is where “Ghost riders in the sky” appears in the original song, so I assume that’s what it’s supposed to mean. Or maybe the Finnish swapped it for ghosts?

Well, whether it’s ghost riders or just ghosts, BOOM! The post title turned out to be at least mostly accurate, despite the fact I don’t understand a word of Finnish. 😀

Temporarily not working is niiiice!

Hiyaaaaa! How’s it going? 😀 Ooh, what’s this featured image thingy? Ah, I see. That’s kinda fun. 🙂 It probably only has an effect if you click on the post title, though.

Anyway ya, it’s been a li’l while since I last sharted tons of words onto this website. Although, well… I have some drafts somewhere around here. Yes, I did it again, I wrote loads of crap that I didn’t get around to posting. 😛 Partially because the posts got a bit long, partially because they happened quite a while ago and therefore it’s kinda late to post them, but mainly because I am a lazy shite. 😛 As I’ve been demonstrating over the past two weeks by not working!

Yes, I booked some time off because I was going to die otherwise. 😛 I haven’t actually had time off for myself in over a year. I’ve had time off, sure, but that’s because I had to take it off to go visit/have people visit me. Fun, but not really relaxing. I was going to spend some of my holiday doing productive things, but I pretty much just ended up sleeping a lot and playing games a lot, with a bit of eating and washing up in-between. So yes, lazy shite. 😛

I think the main cause of the lack of productivity was RimWorld. I won’t explain it too much, but it’s a colony simulation game kinda like Dwarf Fortress, not that I’d know cuz I “played” about 30 seconds of Dwarf Fortress before saying “fuck this, I literally can’t play”. 😛 Someone I know’s been playing RimWorld, so I thought I’d give it a try. And… well, I think the best word to describe it is “dangerous”. It’s insanely addictive. Like really insanely. I don’t think I’ve played a game that’s been this addictive before. But the annoying thing is, regardless of its addictiveness, I don’t actually think it’s that good. It’s frustratingly luck-based. I mean, Jesus, the friggin’ hit chances. I’m pretty damn sure what it says is total bullshit, because when some guy with a 4% hit chance hits you 3 times in 9 shots when your guy with a 10% hit chance hits ZERO times in 9 shots, that’s totally unbelievable. If I’d been playing it normally and didn’t reload when I felt bullshitted, I would’ve probably lost half my colony in one pathetic raid where the only reason I was struggling was cuz no-one on my team could fucking hit anything because of luck, then I would’ve probably lost the rest to stupid mental breakdowns where people usually end up wandering around doing nothing for about a day before complaining that they’re half-dead from starvation when they suddenly get over everything.

And it’s not only the luck-based crap, but the more you play it, the more idiocy you see. The AI is fucking stupid for one thing; you have to micromanage until you’re on the brink of an aneurysm. Then there’s some really dumbass design choices, like… by default you can only have one colony (multiple colonies work absolutely fine, they make the game more interesting and there is no real reason why this is disabled by default), the dumbass AI doesn’t give a shit about friendly fire and they can shoot friendlies directly next to them even though the learning helper effectively says that they can’t, everyone hates anyone who slaughters colony animals even though it was my direct order and they would have all died if they didn’t have the food it gave them, and if you capture a downed enemy who attacked you but failed to land a single hit on anyone, they’re not classed as guilty for some reason, so if they die through any means (such as “oh shit I didn’t realise that guy was going to die in two hours and it takes an hour and a half to get them to a bed because these fucks are so slow”), your whole colony gets a massive mood penalty because “omg a harmless prisoner died that’s so barbaric”. Oh, and you can’t harvest the organs of a dead person, but you can harvest organs from a live person (but you get mood and social penalties if you do so there’s no point). The fuck?

And I said I wouldn’t explain it too much and now look at that, for God’s sake damn it stop. 😛

Anyway, I got around to doing something kinda productive today. I made a RENDAR! Yez. 😀 It’s related to this game I’ve been slaving over for the past two years or so, although it feels more like three or even four. Not any of my games, no no no, that wouldn’t be “slaving over” it because I want to make ULSG V14, but I just never have the time. And when I do, I’m too friggin’ focused on sleeping and being lazy. 😛

It’s a game called “Race Kings”, sexist, which we made for another company. Another company who then has the audacity to say it was developed by them when it really wasn’t. I guess they paid the company I work for to do it, so maybe legally that’s correct, but… logically, it just isn’t. 😛 It’s probably best if I try not to say exactly what I think about it. But I’d like to encourage you not to play it at all, please, k thx! 😀

Anyway, the render. It was just a quick, simple-ish idea based upon one of the game’s completely idiotic understandable if you’re fucking stupid design choices. A design choice so dumb it annoys the designers that some people in the office complained about endlessly a few times. If you set off between two and zero seconds before the light goes green, you immediately lose, and forfeit all the money you wagered on the race. but if you don’t start within about a frame of the light going green you’ll lose because that’s basically the whole point of the game and 95% of the time you’ll finish last if you start last unless you pay to win

So, now that the rant explanation is out of the way, here is a dragon getting a false start!

False Start (1080p)(Available in these great flavours: 1080p, WUXGAQHDUHD)

Taken a few moments before he gets a bit more violent. No, he doesn’t break his HLE Infinity smartphone; he likes it way too much to damage it over this. He just burns a very specific part of London down instead. 😛

Anyhoo, I used Iray for this render again! I’ve been practicing a li’l bit, and I’ve gotten more used to it now, sort of. You just need to ignore the fact that it’s trying to be realistic and use whatever numbers make things look nice. When it asks for things like the candle wattage/lumen of a light, just smile, pat it on the head and input a value about 200,000x more than what is realistic. 😛

I don’t really understand light, but I know Iray is full of crap when it comes to it. 😛 The lights in this scene came with the environment, and they already had unrealistic values. By default, Iray uses candelas/m² to measure luminance, and it was set to 250,000cd/m². I had no idea what I was doing, but I did some rough measurements and found that the lights had a surface area of about 0.812m², meaning their luminance was about 203,000cd, and apparently 1cd = 1 lumen. That’s makes the light twice as powerful as full daylight, and there’s seven of the damn things! And guess what? That’s NOT ENOUGH!! I had to increase their luminance to 17,500,000cd/m², which is about 14 MILLION LUMEN! PER LIGHT! WHAT!

If I turn off the Sun-Sky lighting and just use the already insane default values, the render looks like this:

Iray

COOL, HUH?!? (Oh, ignore the noise, I only let it render for about two minutes. :P)

I tested to see if I wasn’t going crazy by switching the material’s luminance units to lumen and entering 14,000,000, and amazingly, it looks like I’m actually right. The light is pretty similar to when I enter 17,500,000cd/m²; it looks just a little bit brighter. So… yeah! I rest my case! This renderer is trippin’ balls and needs ridiculously inflated values! Maybe not quite 200,000 times more. Just 20,000 times more. 😛

Also, Iray doesn’t seem to be able to produce a render which isn’t grainy as fuck, no matter how high you put the render quality (pro tip: no higher than 4 because that’s about as good as you’re gonna get 😛 ). But I have found that you can get rid of most of it (most of the time) with a couple of quick Photoshop filters. Just add a 0.6-radius Gaussian Blur followed by a 0.6-radius Smart Sharpen. Tends to do the trick, kinda. YMMV. 🙂

So, for the 1080p version at rendering quality 3, it took… 1 hour 56 minutes 48.7 seconds, and it only reached 91% convergence before hitting the iteration limit. That was on two GTX 970s, so… speedy, Iray is not. 😛 I guess it can be prettier and more realistic, though. As for posing, that actually took about the same amount of time, but might’ve taken less if I wasn’t such a moronic perfectionist. I posed his feet and tail, even though you can’t see them. 😛

I listened to the Daytona USA soundtrack while posing, because this game kinda reminds me of it, apart from that it’s not NASCAR, or touring cars, and the courses only have 1-2 laps and last 30-60 seconds and is generally nothing like Daytona USA. 😛 and there’s next to no skill involved and it doesn’t have an awesome soundtrack and it isn’t fun or cool Maybe it’s because you go around in circles. Or maybe it’s just because the second half of Pounding Pavement cracks me right up, and Mitsuyoshi-san is a legend. 😀

Anyway, hope you like the render. 😀 I’ll get the QHD and 4K versions done overnight. QHD and 4K versions are doooone. 🙂 I’ll also go through those drafts I did and see if I can fix them up enough to post them. And by “fix up” I mean “holy crap cut them down that one’s about 10,000 words long”. 😛

Buh-bye! 😀

(Also LMFAO)

 

UPDATE!!

Added the QHD and 4K versions. 4K would’ve taken more than 6 hours to reach the 95% convergence target… if it didn’t run out of time. 😛 QHD took 3 hours 56 minutes 5.8 seconds. THE SPEEEEEEEED! 😛

UPDATE 2!!

I found out that my work monitor, like my work SpackBook, also has a stupid uncommon resolution, 1920×1200, also known as WUXGA, Wide Ultra eXtended Graphics Array! It’s like 1080p, but with 120 more pixels of height, and I didn’t even notice. Literally the only reason this resolution seems to exist is because someone said they could use it to fit two full pages of text on-screen at once. I wonder if they realised that instead of making an entirely new resolution and entirely new class of monitor they could just… zoom out to 80%? 😛

Anyway who cares. I re-rendered it in WUXGA so it fits my work monitor, so I figured I’d add it here, too. 🙂

This post contains a BIG COCK!

Ohayo gozaimasu! Or konnichiwa! Or konbanwa! Depending on your current time zone and the current rotation of the Earth! Monmasuta no Warudo shacho no Monmasuta desu! Dunno why I’m using Japanese words and a broken Japanese sentence in a post about a Chinese celebration, but hey, that’s just how I ROLL! Just like BOWLING! BOOM, STRIKE! TUBE STRIKE! SOUTHERN RAIL STRIKE!

ANYHOO, Happy Lunar New Year! 😀 Feels like it happened kinda early this year. I mean, the last few’ve happened in February, although I think Year of the Dragon was in January too but I CAN’T REMEMBER STUFF LIKE THAT FROM FIVE YEARS AGO! 😛 On that note, sheesh, five years… it feels way longer than that since I started my Chinese Zodiac series of renders. I’m kinda surprised I’ve managed to keep it going this long. I mean, the first two, Dragon and Snake, went really well, even though I remember being rather ill when doing Snake. Every year after those, though, I’ve been worried about whether the render was doable or not. Horse wasn’t so bad apart from the model featured le foal-creation toolset, which wasn’t detailed or anything, but it was still awkwardly visible. Thankfully, I discovered the Mare morph. 😛 Goat was difficult, because it wasn’t easy to get hold of a decent goat model. That, and it took several re-poses before I had something that looked alright. And DAZ Studio was crashing the PC during renders. And it was being completely insane, as I demonstrated. As for Monkey last year, I didn’t even realise what day the Lunar New Year was happening that year, and the only decent monkey models I could find were all supermorphs for Genesis figures, so they looked way too human-like. And it took me ages to get my friggin’ act together and make a good pose. And DAZ Studio was crashing the PC during renders. 😛

So what about this year? What about Rooster?!

It went pretty smoothly, actually. Heheh. 😛 Way smoother than I was expecting.

My main worry was the model. There were like… two models to choose from. One of them was an extremely low-poly chicken which almost certainly had no morphs, but luckily, the other was a somewhat detailed cockerel with more morphs than I was expecting. 2K textures, too, which was… eh, not bad, really, could’ve been worse… although about 40% of the pixels of the textures are just friggin’ unused because the UVs are crazy. 😛 But yeah, through some miracle, the model hunt turned out fairly well!

Posing wasn’t too difficult, either, nor was adjusting the texture settings. Creating the background was simple-ish too, thanks to my past self leaving detailed notes. And DAZ Studio didn’t crash! At all! Kinda expected that, though, since I’ve already fixed the cause of the crashing. 😛

Right anyway yeah yeah yeah yeay yeay, yeay heay hey, I said hey what’s going on. Prepare your anus, for here is A BIG COCK FOR YOU TO ENJOY, WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT:

2017: Year of the Rooster - DracoIndomita
(Available in these flavours: 1080p, 1080p Dark, QHD, QHD Dark, UHD, UHD Dark)

Wahey! I mean, he’s not as fat or as fluffy as I was expecting him to be, but I think it turned out fairly well; way better than I was expecting! I just wish the texture quality was more better. And like hell can I texture a model, let alone retexture someone else’s model. 😛

Anyway, who wants render stats?! No-one? Well, I don’t care, here they are anyway. 😛 In 4K with DoF, UberEnvironment on High, a shading rate of 0.2 and 32 pixel samples, the render time was 32 minutes 37.1 seconds. Not Bad. Postwork includes the background, touching up the highlights on the eyes and adding a bit of Epic Motion Blur(tm) behind the turkey. Uh, rooster. 😛

So, this is the halfway point for the Chinese Zodiac series; just six renders to go until I’ve made the set! YEAH! 😀 Next year’s pic should be much easier to get a model for, too. But for nao, I’m off. Catch ya laterz!

Post Deliveryyyyy!

Phwoaack, it’s been a li’l while since I last posted. The last time was back when I PERFECTED MATRYOSHKA ON SUPER HARD LOOK LOOK LOOK:

Matryoshka (Button, SH) Perfect, 443,207

WOW! LOOK AGAIN!

Matryoshka (Button, SH) Perfect, 443,207

Ahem. So, how’re thingz? 🙂

What’ve I done since I last posted? Well, I’ve mainly been working, aaand it’s basically making me lose the will to live. 😛 Our previous project was good, I mean, I didn’t really like the game as a whole, but it was interesting to work on, and the features we were implementing were well designed and interesting to play, even if the core game was pretty dull. That was about 2 years ago. Since then, we’ve been working on a new project. It was fairly decent when we began, but as it progressed and other people got involved, I slowly began to realise that this game we were making… I didn’t like it. Like, REALLY didn’t like it. I also slowly began to dislike the other people who were getting involved. Since then, it’s escalated into a huge tornado of fuckshit. The lack of communication is ultra-annoying, the organisation is so bad I actually think the teams I worked with at university did a better job, people have meetings when I’m pretty sure they don’t need one and they overrun literally every single time, and some of the decisions made by the project leader are so stupid they go beyond what I can comprehend… for example, our game is free-to-play with in-app purchases (IAPs) like 99% of mobile junk, but the difference between all that junk and this junk was that our IAP shop was constantly pushed back in favour of much less critical tasks… so our game cannot make money. When we go for a meeting to determine our next set of tasks, the project leader always seems to have picked more tasks than we can all possibly do, insisting all of them are critical for the next build, and then it usually turns out he’s actually just picked stuff he wants instead of stuff we need. And it’s not just him; a lot of the other people I have to work with are so stupid I can’t help but wonder how the hell they got into this industry, and I can’t believe some of them have been making games for way longer than I have. Several of them don’t even care about gaming! I worked my ass off and racked up a massive debt to get here and do what I love doing, and there are people like this?! ARGHH! AND it’s summer, my least favourite season, and there’s no goddamn air conditioning and the wind speed is less than 10 mph, and conveniently all of the fans in the room appear to be situated near the lead staff, but they were saying they were going to order more, maybe, at some point, or not, probably needs a meeting. Two weeks after they mentioned getting more fans, they still haven’t, so they obviously don’t care.

The result of all this pain? A game I really really hate which I would uninstall in less than five minutes. I actually hope it bombs harder than anything has ever bombed before. I hide my opinion of the game from the other staff because it doesn’t help anyone to complain and there’s nothing that can be done about it now, but also because I’ve recently found out the project leader has this fucked up mentality that anyone who has made negative comments about the game is an asshole and 100% wrong. I hate people who can’t take criticism.

Anyway, that’s FAR too much whining, sorry. This post wasn’t supposed to be about ruining your day by mimicking the average Facebook feed. 😛 So, other more better stuff I’ve done… well, I’ve been playing a few games, of course. 🙂 I quite enjoyed the Overwatch Beta, so I ended up getting it, but after about 20 hours of game time I realised it was getting pretty boring. Slowly, it stopped being fun and became more annoying, then I questioned why I was playing it, and then I stopped. I probably won’t play it again until they… I dunno, add a new map, or a more interesting mode, or something. It’s quite annoying and doesn’t fully make sense why I’m bored of it, because I’m still up for playing Rocket League now and again, but that’s even more repetitive, and I’m worse at it than Overwatch. I guess Rocket League is just more fun. 😛

I’ve also been playing Disgaea PC, a port of the first Disgaea, a crazy tactical RPG with hilarious dialogue and mechanics. I’ve played it before on PSP, but never finished it. This time, though, I finally completed it after 60 hours, but didn’t get the good ending. The condition for getting that is to get through the story without killing a unit on your team… which is pretty easy, and I actually don’t remember killing one of my own units. Must’ve been a badly targeted skill. 😛 Anyways, I want to go through the story again to get it. Then I need to play the bonus episodes and extra stages, and get most of the achievements. Lel, it cost a third of what Overwatch cost and I’ve played it at least twice as much, and it’s made me laugh a hell of a lot more. I never liked buying multiplayer-only games, and after this, I’m probably never gonna buy another one again. Unless… I dunno, unless it’s Quake that plays like Quake III and doesn’t suck, or something. Man, I’d love to play that again; I had so much friggin’ fun with Quake Live. AND I was getting pretty good at it. 😛

Speaking of tactical RPGs, I also got Project X Zone 2 for 3DS, which is massive fun. The story is crazy and almost throwaway, but it’s funny. The dialogue is hilarious, too, full of insanity, references, weird Japanese humour and just plain funny shit. 😀 Here, have some screenshots I saved to Miiverse:

Ooh WordPress decided to make them into a gallery for me. How nice. Probably doesn’t work, though. 😛

Strangely, the game itself is kinda meh. The tactical part of it is just laughably not tactical at all. Enemy attacks tend to do a negligible amount of damage; the only real threats are swarms of enemies (say, about 6 units), enemies that attack multiple units, or bosses when they have enough EP. That’s “Enemy Points”, shown like a super ability gauge. The player has one too, called XP, which is “Cross Points”, not eXperience Points. Experience is EXP in this game. 😛 Anyway, when the enemy team’s EP is at 100% or more, their boss-class units can spend it on special attacks which do some real damage. You basically only have three options to counter this: defend to reduce the damage by half, spend some XP and use Full Defend to reduce damage to zero, or take out the boss before they have a chance to use their special. Getting out of their movement range is kinda pointless because you have so many units that the enemy’s probably gonna get one of them, and enemy bosses tend to have a movement range equal or greater than all of your units, so… yeah, all I’ve been doing for the entire game is attacking and not really giving a toss about defensive play, and I’ve only ever had two units go down. 😛 Another reason why it’s not a very tactical TRPG is because of the sheer freedom you have with items and skills. Items can be used by any of your team mates on any other team mate, no matter how far away they are, and you can use basically as many as you want until you run out. It doesn’t even cost a unit its turn or anything. Same thing with skills; any unit that hasn’t already taken its turn can use as many skills as they can afford without losing a turn. Quite a lot of units have healing abilities, too. I mean, off the top of my head, I know Felicia has one which restores 100% of a unit’s HP. 100%. It’s like “oh no, that unit just got beat on by about half the enemy team and it’s pretty low on health… Felicia, Feline Grooming, problem solved.” No SP? Use an SP restoring item, because I have about 90 of them that I picked up along the way, then use Feline Grooming. Or just use someone else’s healing skill. Problem always solved. 😛

The way you attack is pretty fun, though. You go into a side-on battle screen where you can use three normal attacks, a “solo” attack, sometimes a “support” attack, and if you have 100% XP, you can finish with a special attack. The aim is to juggle the enemy and hit them as many times as possible to do as much damage as you can. Hitting them with a new attack when they’re about to touch the floor gives a Critical, which increases damage for all the hits in that attack. At the end of your attacks, you’re given bonus gold for every 10 successive hits and bonus EXP for every Critical you get. It’s a really cool idea, and it feels great when you time everything right and pull off a massive combo. 😀 It’s not often that you do, either. My max combo is 106, and I think that was the only time I exceeded 100. I’ll probably get stupidly and pointlessly excited if I manage to beat it. 😛

Probably the most notable thing about Project X Zone 2 is that the characters are all from a bunch of different things by Sega, Capcom, Bandai Namco and Nintendo. I’ve never seen anything like it. You’ve got characters from Resident Evil, Yakuza, Tekken, Darkstalkers, Ace Attorney, Shinobi, Space Channel 5, Street Fighter, Streets of Rage, Devil May Cry, Megaman X, .hack//, God Eater, Shenmue… and there’s original characters, and I’ve definitely missed some. Christ, it’s like… the biggest crossover game in the history of ever. No wonder the story is insane. Must’ve been super-difficult to think of something.

The soundtrack is so good, too. There’s music from each of the games involved, and a different one plays depending on the character you’re currently controlling. It’s awesome when the game plays a track for the first time and you recognise it… like for me, the “Objection!” and “Investigation: Cornered” tracks from the original Ace Attorney, Jin’s theme from Tekken, and “Go Straight” from Streets of Rage 2, for example. (On a side note, I can’t help but giggle every time the fully-voiced Axel does his attack and says “GRAND UPPAH” and “ARRRRRRGH” :P) The song that totally got stuck in my head, though, was a track from Yakuza that sometimes plays when Kiryu & Majima are selected, and always plays during their special attack… this one, “Funk Goes On”. That’s the original track; the one played in X Zone is slightly different. I’ve never played Yakuza, but that track is just epic. Makes me want to do special attacks with Kiryu & Majima just for that music, even though their special doesn’t feel as powerful as other pairs’ specials. 😀

Even though the “tactical” part of it is questionable, I’d totally recommend it for the humour, characters and the battle system. It’s a pretty big fan-service game, though, so it might not be as fun if you don’t know or like any of the characters. 😛 It’s long, though; I’m at 30-something hours and I feel like I’m only just getting close to the end.

Ah. Crap. I did it again, sorry. This post wasn’t supposed to be about Project X Zone 2, either; I went into yammering mode again. 😛 I don’t think there’s anything else that I’ve played, game-wise, anyhoo. Oh yeah, Starbound, the “finished” version, but it’s okay cuz I’m already bored of talking about it. So let’s move on! 😛

Now, back to the topic of whiney Facebook feeds. Why? Well, gizza minute, will ya?! 😛

My sister was slightly-but-not-really whining about me not posting for a while on Bookface. The last post I made there was about two months ago when I posted a picture of a OnePlus 3 that I’d just received, along with Pro Wrestler, the best action figure ever. 😛 I don’t post there much any more because Facebook’s just become the world’s biggest advertisement and a place where people just post photos of themselves and other things I just don’t give a shit about, and I’m pretty sure only 10% of my friends list actually has me unblocked because I’m sure they feel the same way about my posts. 😛 Oh, and every other post recently has just been about Pokémon Go and no I’m not saying ANYTHING about it other than I’ve started blocking everything from anyone who posts about it. 😛 It’s like the zombie sheep apocalypse made real.

Ooooooh, the actual intended topic of the post is approaching fast!! 😛 So, in response to my sister’s complaint that I haven’t posted in a while, and because I haven’t posted here in a while either, I decided to cook up a little render all about POSTING! BAM:

Maw Mail (2K)

A post of a dragon postie delivering some post that you COULD print and use as a poster, for posterity! Letter me tell ya, it’d be a postitively unique poster. Hm, what’s mailing you? Am I not getting your stamp of approval OKAY ENOUGH good GOD that’s enough, that was a near-toxic level of crap puns just now. 😛

So, whaddya think? 🙂 This is my first proper attempt at using Iray, a renderer by NVIDIA which’s been in DAZ Studio since 4.8. I didn’t have much of a desire to use it until now because I never really understood it. And I still don’t. 😛

There’re a couple of flaws, methinks… Iray has a built-in bloom filter, which is great if you just bin the default settings first. 😛 It’s worked well, but it’s gone a bit rogue on his horns. It’s because the light is hitting his horns at an angle which makes them shine basically pure white. And no matter how high I put the bloom threshold, it probably won’t disappear from his horns, and even if it did, the effect would probably disappear from the sky, the place I actually want the bloom. Maybe it’s best to do bloom myself in post-processing after all… 😛 Also, that white stucco around the green door… the texture is friggin’ awful. 😛 I tried to tweak the material settings and improve it as much as possible, but there’s only so much you can do before you have to mess with the texture, and I’m not an artist. 😛 Kinda weird, though. That’s a 4096×4096 texture, which is pretty standard, so… I’m not sure why it looks so stretched and poopy. :S Ah well.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how it came out, especially since I didn’t actually spend much time on it; the scene only took about 2 hours to assemble. I also didn’t need to make many tweaks; I only rendered the full scene three times before I was satisfied. For comparison, I have 25 preliminary renders stored for Dueling Dragons. Some of those were because my PC was being a dick, but still… 😛

So, Iray’s great? Neh. Not really. It’s a bit rough. It friggin’ loooooves to leave grainy bullshite in your renders in weird areas, usually outside of focus. I had to do some noise removal on that brass letterbox because it was absolutely ridiculous. Dark areas also tend to come out crappy. I also feel like I have no control over lighting. You can use a HDRI, basically a 360° image which the render engine looks at and magically generates scene lighting from that using MAFFS. “Maths”. Not an acronym. 😛 HDRIs are cool, but that requires that I have an HDRI image that roughly matches my scene. And it gives no control. You can go to the next level of control and use the built-in generic Sun-Sky environment mode, but the complexity is just OTT, and despite the stupid complexity, I really don’t feel like it’s that accurate. I mean, you can specify a latitude, longitude, time of day, date and UTC offset. The first time I used it, I gave it a test by putting in the latitude and longitude of my location, setting the UTC offset to 1 because daylight savings, setting the date to today and setting the time to about 6pm. Apparently NVIDIA thinks that England at 7pm UTC in summer is PITCH BLACK! 😛 So, all this complexity is wasted because I just don’t bother to touch the date, latitude or longitude any more; I just change the time of day, then rotate the dome to get the correct direction. As for custom lighting, like what I do easily in DAZ’s default renderer, 3Delight? Hahaha, forget it. Lights need completely dumbass settings like 50 THOUSAND lumen just for a dim light, AND it looks terrible.

But it’s fast, right? Well, no, actually. It’s really speedy at getting something rough you can use to gauge how the final render will look, but that final render took two GTX 970s… 3 hours 41 minutes 20.95 seconds to finish, and it’s not even that complex. And when I say it’s speedy at getting something rough… sure, setting a viewport to the Iray mode is useful because it gives you a live preview of your render, but eventually it starts making DAZ Studio pretty much unusable. It uses all of your GPU’s power and leaves nothing for anything else, including DAZ Studio. It also re-calculates every time anything changes. “Did you just move your perspective camera one inch to the left? Ooop, gotta recalculate! Whaddya mean the perspective camera’s position is irrelevant since I’m not rendering it or even using it to render?!” And if you change the scene enough while enduring the workspace slowdown with every change? Boom! DAZ Studio crashes either by itself or by crashing your graphics driver. Probably a memory leak! Oh, oh, speaking of memory? Iray EATS the HELL out of it. I can’t even render some scenes in Iray because it obliterates ALL 12GB of my unused memory before going “uhgh don’t have nuff memory bye now”.

I’ll probably end up going back to 3Delight with this scene to see if I can make it look better using my traditional methods. Iray seems to make stuff that looks more realistic, sure, but realism doesn’t always make things prettier, right? 😛 I’ll update this post with a 3Delight render at some point. 🙂 Even if it’s worse. 😛

Anyway… I guess I’d better post this on Bookface for my sister now, then get to bedz. 😛 Nighty night!

UPDATE!!

Someone on Facebook responded in an entertaining manner with a picture of his own, and I thought I’d share it with you here:

Maw Mail Response.jpg

😀

Also, I added a link to a video of my best match in Quake Live around the part where I mention it, because why not. 😛 The quality’s terrible because I was testing out settings for streaming and didn’t realise I’d set the bitrate way too low, but man, I was having loads of fun, calling out “DOUBLE KILL” in stupid ways, nodding my character’s head when something ace happens, and yelling “QUAD” when getting kills with Quad Damage. 😀 And a net of +34, awwwwww yiss. 😀

UPDATE 2!!

Basically nothing at all to do with the rest of this article but OH MY GOD I JUST GOT A PERFECT ON ROMEO & CINDERELLA ON SUPER HARD

HNI_0014.JPG

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

A render NOT done en passant!

Well, t’ other day… and by “t’ other day” I mean “more than a month ago”, DAZ was running one of its insanely convoluted sales, as per usual. 😛 They’re normally something like “buy an item in Group A and get anything from Group B for X% off, but buy two or more items from Group A and get all the things you chose in Group B for Y% off and get Z% off gift cards! (excluding new releases)”. Yes really. Also, several types of sale tend to be running at once, making it even MORE complicated. 😛 Even though they have so many of these sales, they’re never good, they sometimes lie, and I tend to have literally no interest in any of the items they have on offer.

Aha, but the one that caught my eye was interesting. Sure, the offer was totally idiotic: “buy one of these 6 new (they definitely weren’t new because I’d seen them before, heh) special effects items for 40% off and get 80% off everything in these two groups of assets, and 50% off this other group of assets.” Sounded like another overcomplicated yawnfest, but one of the groups of assets for 80% off was themed very nicely. It was all about, yes, of course: dragons! Specifically, the Dragon 3! 😀

Y’see, I didn’t own Dragon 3 legitimately, even though it’s an awesome figure. That’s because, for me, the asking price was way too high, especially for the amount I actually use DAZ Studio. Besides, I never really liked the thought of buying assets for DS. Kinda difficult to explain why… maybe it’s my lack of appreciation for art. 😛 I mean, all you can do with DS assets is pose them and render something out that someone may or may not look at for a maximum of 60 seconds. The renders can be pretty, but it’s not as if they demonstrate real skill. 😛 Sure, designing the scene takes some imagination, and the posing, lighting and camera setup takes a good amount of effort, but you’d never get the same level of respect as someone who actually made the models, or painted the same scene in Photoshop from scratch. Real artists would probably laugh at the stuff that I do, and not in the way I intended. 😛 I think of it in this way: DAZ Studio is like Multimedia Fusion. MMF can help you create games and applications with almost no technical skill, whereas DS can help you create nice artwork with almost no artistic skill… apart from that gamers generally don’t judge a game on the engine it’s built with, whereas artists would judge art based on how you create it… but then again, normal viewers of said art probably wouldn’t… maybe. 😛

Okay, now I don’t even know what I’m talking about. 😛 Skipping over my dumbass logic, another reason why I never really buy assets is because DAZ Studio is not a particularly stable piece of software, yes, even after finding out my BSODs weren’t actually caused by it. And just like I won’t buy broken vidya gamez, I just can’t bring myself to buy figures for a piece of rendering software which doesn’t work properly. 😛 Because of the immensity of this sale, though, and because the Dragon 3 is epic, I thought I’d put things right, and decided to get a legit version of the Dragon 3 Pro Bundle along with a lot of additional mods and an effects pack called DragonFire. Many of the things I got weren’t available anywhere else, anyway. Man, it was like the storefront was made for me, because they even had a different sale on at the same time which featured a crapton of other monster-related items, including armour and attachments for the Dragon 3, a supermorph that turns Dragon 3 into a Wyvern, the awesome-looking Reptilian 6 supermorph for Genesis 2, and a gargoyle mod that required Reptilian 6. Unfortunately, that mod required another mod which was illogically expensive, and this is where I had to stop myself. 😛 Lizardmen and gargoyles are awesome, but I can’t really think of a scene where I can use them… well, not off the top of my head, anyway.

After checking out my haul, I found out you could install these items directly within the fairly new DAZ Studio 4.9 instead of using the DAZ Install Manager or doing it manually. Intrigued by this and whether 4.9 was any more stable than 4.8 when rendering, I decided to open up the DAZ Install Manager (DIM) to install it. Unfortunately, DIM is… dim. 😛 Installing a new version of DS removes old versions automatically, without permission. That, and you can’t install old versions. They don’t show up in DIM and I can’t find DS 4.8 on my account. So… now I’m forced to use DAZ Studio 4.9. Thanks! Thanks a lot. >.<

Doesn’t matter, really. DS 4.9 is pretty much identical to DS 4.8. 😛

Well, okay. There’s a new splash screen. 😛 There’s also “DAZ Connect” and “Smart Content”, which lets you connect to your account, download products and install them from within DS, which is slightly easier than using DIM. Uh… the installation process is slightly easier, that is. Everything afterwards is way harder. 😛 Y’see, Smart Content uses its own content library, so anything you download with it doesn’t go with your other content. That, and it doesn’t… actually contain all the content on your account. I mean, the Dragon 3 Pro Bundle comes with additional textures, and I’ve scrolled through my list about five times now… and they’re just… not here. 😛 So, Smart Content is… not smart. It’s stupid and pointless. Using DIM is better because that does show all your owned content, but after installing content from DIM, if you rearrange your content directories to make them neater because you have mild OCD like me, the metadata breaks. So, doing it manually is the best way, as per bloody usual! 😛

What else is new… er… hmmm… well. It’s er… yeah, there… isn’t anything else I can see. I mean, I thought they’d have fixed that one bug where moving or rotating the camera sometimes makes it teleport 8 billion miles from where you were or rotate 3000 degrees instantly, or that other bug where attempting to adjust a property increases or decreases it by several thousand units instantly, and that other bug where clicking on something in the Scene hierarchy makes it select everything from what you had selected down to what you just clicked on for no reason. I also thought they’d make their interface to the NVIDIA Iray renderer more understandable and less impossible to configure so that I’d actually want to use it, but y’know, they must’ve been really busy with all those other invisible features that they forgot to fix these infuriating issues. 😛 It’s no more performant, renders look the same and take the same amount of time, and it’s just as UNstable as 4.8. Brilliant. GG DAZ.

Anyway, phuck that, let’s get to the point. 😛 In the sale, I snagged a couple of new supermorphs for the Dragon 3, the Hellborn Dragon and Spectral Dragon. I noticed they almost look like polar opposites, and because of this, I thought I’d make a little render with both of them together. A render depicting a conflict between the forces of heaven and hell, good and evil, black and white. A render showing the Spectral and Hellborn dragons locked in fierce combat on a famous battleground. A battle where they must protect their weak points, think before every move they make… a battle that will strain their minds to the limit, where only one dragon will walk away victorious… unless they both agree to cease the fighting, or if STALEMATE OCCURS.

Or if THREEFOLD REPETITION OCCURS!

OR THE 50 MOVE RULE!

You got it?!

YES, it’s TWO DRAGONS FUCKING PLAYING CHESS!! CHECK it out, MATE:

Dueling Dragons (1080p)
Available in: (1080p) (QHD) (UHD)

The Light Dragon slid his Queen across the board, claiming yet another black pawn. A low, quiet growl of frustration rumbled from the Hell Dragon’s throat as his opponent placed the black piece among his ever-growing collection. The Hell Dragon’s skin glowed as he scratched the back of his neck, pondering his next move, trying not to take notice of the white dragon’s calm, complacent gaze, or the gentle sound of his talons clicking against the marble floor.
“Rrr… if we were playing Monopoly, you wouldn’t be so smug.” He snarled.

“check it out mate”, oh god that pun made me feel a bit sick

I… just… yes. I believe this scene is all very yes. 😀  But it took FOREVER!

The environment I used came with a preset lightrig which was… well. It was heh. The default settings were retardedly bright, and all the lights were Uber Area Lights which I hate, because although the lights show up as lights in the scene, changing the light settings of the lights don’t change the light settings, because the light settings are actually part of the material. How wonderfully user-friendly and not-at-all impossible to comprehend! 😛

After dimming the lights down a bit, it looked great. The main problem was what happened when you try to render a scene containing UberEnvironment, a ton of Uber Area Lights, a chess set with refraction and reflection and two dragon figures both using Subsurface Scattering. Heheheh… draft renders took about an hour, and that was with the render quality at a crazy-low level! Because the draft renders were so lengthy, I couldn’t easily preview changes I made to the scene, and there’s only so much you can determine by looking at the viewport. There were those problems with BSODs while I was creating this scene too, hence why I totally flipped out and made a massive effort to figure out why the frig the PC was crashing all the time. If I hadn’t fixed it, this scene would have never been finished.

Anyhoo, render stats! At 4K with Depth of Field enabled, UberEnvironment 2 on the XHi preset, 17 Uber Area Lights, a shading rate of 0.25 and 32 pixel samples, the render time was 5 HOURS 32 minutes 6.73 seconds; the longest render I’ve ever done by far. Thanks to the stupid render times and the nice bluescreens I had at first, it’s also been the longest amount of time I’ve ever worked on a scene. 😛

What else… ah, yes, a li’l trivia. 😀 To get the layout of that board, yes, I played chess with myself, purposefully playing Black like a bit of a spanner. 😛 I was originally gonna place the pieces somewhat randomly, but that would’ve probably made the board look weird. I thought about copying a board layout (since there’re a crazy number of diagrams of chess games in the different chess-related sections of Wikipedia 😛 ), but that would’ve been boring and uninspired. I like to add some authenticity. 😀

Also, as you might’ve noticed in the image, I decided to change my artist pseudonym. 😛 There’re two reasons for this, the main one being that my old name, “DracoAurarius”, didn’t really mean anything. Well, sure, it means “Golden Dragon”, but I only chose that name because, I quote: “dragons are the most kickass creatures ever, gold is shiny and the most kickass material ever, gold dragons are crazy-kickass, and when written down at the bottom of artwork, it looks better than say, “MongMaster”. Or “Carl”.” 😛 Now, though, I really want my pseudonym to reflect my wild, out-of-the-box style, and explain that I love making crazy shit with dragons. Hence the change to DracoIndomita, meaning “Wild Dragon” or “Untamed Dragon”. 😀

The second reason for the change is actually a really dumb one. 😛 A long time ago, I had a DeviantArt account under the name of DracoAurarius. I used it to post the first chapter of Dragon Tail; a novel I started writing years ago. I posted the whole first version on this blog, actually, chapter by chapter, but I later removed it for the same reasons I wanted to remove it from DeviantArt. It was an awful, awful piece of writing that was in dire need of a revision, but at the same time I was so proud and so attached to it that there was no way I wanted it to be stolen. 😛 Instead of just deleting the submission from DeviantArt, though, I trashed the entire account. I didn’t really have any use for it, I mean, it didn’t really get any views. Besides, writing isn’t even art! 😛 Back then I had no idea I’d get into DAZ Studio and become good at using it, though.

When I finished Dragon.Init(), I was really happy with it, and since recently I’m only getting 3 views per day here across all 624 posts, I thought I thought I’d make an account on Deviant Art again with the intention of sharing my better stuff so that more people might enjoy it. Doubt anyone would look cuz almost no-one ever looks at my stuff regardless of where I post it, whine whine whine, but hey, I might as well try, right? I tried to create an account with the same name as before, DracoAurarius, but it said the name was claimed. I figured that was impossible because it’s so obscure, so I tried logging in, aaaand it let me in. I was kinda confused since I was sure I’d deleted the account, but it turns out that when you delete an account, DeviantArt doesn’t actually delete it, it just disables it with no way of reactivating it. DURRRR, why the fuck?! Because of that, I couldn’t use DracoAurarius, and that’s what caused me to think about a new name. 😛 With this image, I finally decided to change to DracoIndomita. Took me friggin’ ages to settle on it. 😛

Anyway, sorry for blabbering on about that crap! Here, have a bonus render of the Spectral Dragon:

Serene Spectral Dragon

Hahaha, I love that pose so much. It’s probably the best pose I’ve created; it came out better than I visualised. 😀 He just looks so friggin’ relaxed and smug. Don’t worry, I haven’t left the Hellborn Dragon out; here’s a bonus render of him too:

Serene Spectral Dragon

The subsurface on this one is amazing. 😀 Takes about 20 minutes to calculate then another 40 minutes to render, but still… 😛

Anyhoo, I hope you liek da epic chess match! Time for beddy byes for me. 😛

 

(UPDATEs are below; the main post content was last modified after UPDATE 6. 🙂 )

UPDATE!!
Hrrrgrhhhhaagahhhh! After fixing the DoF issue, I’ve now noticed something else I’m not happy with! I don’t know why, but I’ve lost some of the reflectivity of the chess board. It’s supposed to be a wooden chess board with some glass over it, and it used to be nicely reflective, but the effect’s just disappeared into POOP! That, and the black pieces are way too black with almost no specular highlights, even though I’ve done about 10 test renders and was really happy with the state of the chess pieces! Where’s it all gone?! 😦

Christ, THIS SCENE IS NEVER GONNA EENNNNDD!! It takes about ten hours to render final versions of all the resolutions I want, and I keep seeing minor details that I’m not happy with! It’s all very very annoying. 😛 Yes, of course, I could just render in 4K and downscale to 2K and 1080p, but then you get crappy blurry reduction artefacts, and that SUCKS! I’m not doing it in a half-arsed way. 😛

Welp, here we go with some more tweaking! WHOOOOO

 

UPDATE 2!!
Phuuuuuck… well, it turns out there was already reflection on the chess board. About 80%, actually, which is too high, yet I could see no reflection. That could only mean one thing: DAZ Studio’s default shader was being SHIIIIIIIT!

I switched it to an UberSurface shader and dropped the reflection strength and boosh, it looked pretty much like I remember it being… a bit better actually, since I tweaked the colour of the black pieces and black squares. But then there was ANOTHER problem. Inexplicably, this increased the render time EVEN FURTHER. A 4K render took friggin’ 5 hours 27 minutes, almost an HOUR more than it used to! And then, I noticed the reflection was still too strong! Gnyyyyyyaaaah!

After dropping the reflection strength, I did some calculations and estimated that the three renders would take about 12 hours, which was way too long, so I decided to do the 4K render and the 1080p render for today and do the 2K render overnight. The Pwnage-O-Matic is still blazing away on the 4K render (about 81% done, whoooo!), and by tonight I should have that and the 1080p render, so I’ll post ’em both then. 🙂

 

UPDATE 3!!
FUCK MY LIFE

I got home to what I believed was going to be the final render. And then noticed that the underside of the Spectral Dragon’s wings were not gold. And that’s because I didn’t re-enable the object after doing my render tests for the chess set, because DAZ Studio is a piece of shit and makes it so child objects don’t inherit visibility from their parents, the exact opposite of what Unity does, which I use every day at work. HEADDESK HEADDESK HEADKEYBOARD ARGHHHH

So, that’s ANOTHER 12 hours of rendering to do, but there is NO WAY it can go wrong this time because everything else is fine except for the wings. Graah, why is everything going so shittily recently?!

 

UPDATE 4!!
Finally. FINALLY! YYYYESH! YYYYESH!

I’ve rendered out the 1080p version of it and I’m pretty much as happy as a clam that isn’t in a restaurant. 😀 I’ve updated the post with the new image; I’ll add the higher resolution versions soon. 🙂

 

UPDATE 5!!
4K version is FINITO, and the 2K version is 84% COMPLETEZ0RD. Should be done in about 15-20 minutes, and in that time I am going to eat a burger, wait for the gas man to complete the inspection of the boiler and not submit the update to this post… 20 minutes later, good burger but worst gas man ever who attempted to arrive 30 minutes earlier than I scheduled, then was unbelievably unfriendly while doing the job.

But it’s okay because the 2K version is FINIIIIIIIIIIISH! I’ve added both that and the 4K version to the post, and that is all. OH WAIT, there’s the bonus render of the Hellborn Dragon. I’ll get that started now. 😀

 

UPDATE 6!!
There; added the bonus render of the Hellborn Dragon to the post, and now it’s time to give the PC a break from rendering. Good job, Pwnage-O-Matic. 😀

But hey, if you want this render in a different resolution, I’d be happy to kick off another render for ya! Unless it’s something dumb like QQUHD, which is… 15360×8640. Actually, DAZ Studio can’t render at that resolution, so nyaaaa. 😛 (The highest it could do is 8K. 😉 )