Blog: Air Kingdoms

Air Kingdoms New Game Trailer

Posted by BubbleZap on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 | Tags: Trailer
Posted Under: Studio News

Open Beta is live!

Posted by BubbleZap on Friday, December 18, 2015 | Tags:
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We’re excited to announce that Air Kingdoms is now in open beta! We’d like to invite anyone interested to visit
https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.bubblezap.airkingdoms

and sign up today. Currently Air Kingdoms is only supported on Android devices, but we hope to have more information regarding an iOS beta soon.

We’re excited to hear all of your feedback, and we’ll keep working to develop new and exciting content to be released soon.

As a sneak peek, things may be cooling down in the Kingdoms...

Feature graphic preview

Posted by BubbleZap on Wednesday, November 18, 2015 | Tags:
Posted Under: Studio News

Preview of our new feature graphic showcasing the three different races. Play the Humans, Elves and Golomites.

Air Kingdoms Progression Trailer

Posted by BubbleZap on Wednesday, September 23, 2015 | Tags: Trailer, Development
Posted Under: Development

PAX Interview

Posted by BubbleZap on Saturday, August 29, 2015 | Tags: Interview, PAX
Posted Under: Studio News

Rocking out with the Golemites!

Posted by BubbleZap on Friday, July 10, 2015 | Tags:
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Hello and welcome to another behind the scenes look at the development of Air Kingdoms! Today we are talking about the third race in the game, the Golemites. We'll just talk a little about the creation of the process from concept to implementation. Let's get started!


As with all characters in development we start off with concept art. We knew we wanted a big hulking race of touch characters, we just didn't know what they looked like. So our concept artist started working on hundreds of concepts. We saw all shapes and sizes, different rock formations, types, colors and some with and without lava and fire attachments. 

 


During development we thought it would be a good idea to add some sort of magic to the rock creatures. Sort of adding a bit of nature elemental magic. So we came up with the idea of having a creature made from different rocks held together by magic. So our artist started changing up the design and we began to see an amazing range of characters we could use which represented the vision we were looking for. We settled on a piece of concept which showed the elemental portion of the character why still keeping it's tough and ferocious demeanor. 

 


Next we had our 3D artist sculpt and model the 3D version of the concept art for using in game. Starting off with a Z-Brush sculpt and brining it into Maya for the low poly version. Working on the mobile and tablet space we need characters to be as low poly as possible due to the fact that we are putting a large amount of them on screen at once. Once the 3D model was within the limitations of our engine the artist textured the model and finalized it before sending it over to our animation team.

 


The next step in implementing our Golemite character was to rig and animate him. Rigging this character in particular was tougher than the others due to the amount of movement that needed to be happening. The elemental magic that keeps the different parts of his body together needed to be moving at all times but we wanted the main portion of the character to move like a humanoid should. So our animation team needed to get a free floating bone set up while still having control over it. Think of it like a child attached to a parent with one of those kid "leashes". The child is able to run around and act however they want, but when the parent moves the child moves with it. So the rig had to be very custom fit for this particular Golemite. 

 


After the rig was complete the animation team animated the Golemite set and implemented it into our engine for testing. Once the testing was complete the animation team was given the green light and the Golemite character was ready to go! Implementing a character is a very arduous process but is very rewarding once the team sees their work working in game. 


That was just a taste of the process the team went through when creating and implementing the Golemite race. And like all the races in our game we have multiple characters, we can't wait to show you them in our upcoming posts so stay tuned for more!

Today We Celebrate Our Independence Day!

Posted by BubbleZap on Saturday, July 04, 2015 | Tags:
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Happy Independence Day everyone! We'll all be out of the office celebrating with our friends and family. However you celebrate whether is be shooting off hundreds of dollars of fireworks, grilling a juicy burger, hanging out with family, attending parades or whatever matter of celebration you choose be sure to stay safe and enjoy it to the fullest. Have a happy July 4th weekend and we'll see you back here next week!


Animation Domination!

Posted by BubbleZap on Friday, June 26, 2015 | Tags:
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     Hello and welcome to another developer blog post from BubbleZap Games! Today we'll be exploring some of the behind the scenes of the animation process for Air Kingdoms. We'll go over the thought process and explain the steps we take when creating assets for the game. Then finally we'll show off some of the playblasts we've created for a finalized look at the animations. So sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

     When creating animation assets for Air Kingdoms we took sort of a different approach than a traditional game using the Unity engine. Every studio has their own process for creating animation assets for their titles and there is usually a general way of going about it. But since we are developing a game on the mobile platform we needed to keep an extremely low overhead to keep the game running smoothly. For this we decided to bake our animations and export them in pieces. We'd then take the exported FBX files and assemble them in Unity and add them to the game. Since we have so many units on screen we have to do this to keep the draw calls low and keep the game running smoothly. Taking those factors into consideration we kicked off our character pipeline. When implementing a character we took a very common route, after the 3D artist modeled and textured the character they handed it off to the animator. The animator then takes the model and creates what is called a rig. The purpose of the rig is to act like a skeletal structure for the model. The bones of the rig go inside the model and are used to control the movement of the geometry that the player can see in game. Here is an example of a model without and with a rig attached. 

     Next the controls are created for the rig. Controls are just visual objects/curves the animator can see to select and move parts of the characters body. Creating controls can be a lot of work, but having really good and customizable controls is a valuable asset when animating a character. Here is an updated rig with controls attached.

     So after the character rig is complete we move on to animating the character. Usually in the animation portion we break it down into phases. The first phase is usually the blocking phase, after we have an idea of what we want the animation to look like we simply pose the character into different poses we'll use later on in the final animation.

     The next phase if very similar to the first except we break down the blocking phase into smaller steps which creates a better look at the animation we are looking for. This phase starts to give a final motion to the poses and lets us get our timing down a little better.

     After a few iterations of the break down phase we come to the final stage of taking the animation curves and setting them from stepped to linear. After completing this step we polish the entire animation. Usually the final polish stage will have little tweaks here or there but mostly our animation is complete and we're ready to show our team. 

And adding some polish.

     After we finalize the animation and the director signs off on it we move onto the exporting process. Since we're baking animations the exporting process to Unity is a bit involved, nothing too extreme but small steps that need to be followed in order to get a good working export in the engine. We first need to bake the animation by selecting all the bones and the geometry and hitting the "Bake Animation" button in our 3D program. After baking the animation we need to delete the IK handles from the rig. IK handles are just a smaller tool used to help the rig move how we want. Once those are deleted from the rig we simply delete any non-deformer history he had on the geometry. This is done by simply selecting the geometry and hitting the "Delete Non-Deformer History" button located again in our 3D program. Once all these smaller steps are complete we then select the portion of the character (depending on either the upper or lower portion) we'd like to export. We also select the base of the rig than export to an FBX file. This character in particular has three portions that needs to be exported then unified to work in game, his upper, his lower and his weapon.

     And that's about it. We hand off the parts to the engineers and they get it working in our game with their programmer magic! The animation portion is a fun and rewarding part of the development process and it's always amazing to see you game come together a little more with moving characters on screen. Thanks again for taking the time to check out our development blog and stay tuned for more from the world of Air Kingdoms!

Playing with Power!

Posted by BubbleZap on Friday, June 19, 2015 | Tags:
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Back in May the BubbleZap team attended the annual Power of Play conference in Bellevue, Washington. With close to 500 attendees and 65 exhibitors it was a great place to show off Air Kingdoms to the masses. We received a great overall response and fantastic amounts of feedback.

 

Presenters at trade shows tend to have a booth of sorts for presentation purposes. We decided to make our own booth and it turned out great! The booth was made up of pvc pipe, electrical tape, zip ties, black curtains and elbow grease. We also added our extremely large TV to showcase one of the tablet screens. Then to top it off we covered the table top with promotional postcards.
Here is the BubbleZap team in front of our booth.
 

 

 We'd like to thank all that attended and stopped by our booth to play our game.  It was great to see all the other game development studios in attendance and can't wait for next years conference.

Also be sure to check out all the talks that took place at the conference: Power of Play Conference

Elven Kingdom

Posted by BubbleZap on Friday, June 12, 2015 | Tags:
Posted Under: Development

Elven Castle Concept 1

Letter found in the ruins of Kal’Tor -- recipient and sender unknown

The humans think to take what is ours! We, the chosen ones! Do you not yet see why we fight? These flat-eared usurpers invade our sacred groves, level the hills and pollute the sky! And we proud Elves, who saw their race grow from mere savages, who are set above all else as the protectors of the land and sky, must face the indignity of defeat! Only we are wise and knowledgeable enough to wield the Sacred Ore responsibly.

Today we take back what they have taken from us! We stand for the land, and speak for the land, and on these fields the humans will transgress against us no longer! Our mages stand ready, our bows are strung! We are the Elves and on this day we cannot lose! I will see you soon, dear one, and on that day we will celebrate victory!

Elven Castle Concept 2

The Elves are one of the races that the player must overcome in order to save the Kingdoms. Fast, powerful and in perfect balance with nature they have been at war with the humans for centuries. They are fiercely territorial and loathe to accept change, even more so now that the world has been blasted apart. The Elves are unable to deal with the new world, and rather than working with the humans only lash out, protecting their Kingdom at all costs.

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