Dr. Finn Krewer – Founder / Head of Dev at 9th Impact
Finn Krewer is a founder and head of development at 9th Impact with responsibility for the development of Big Brother: The Game. Finn has been developing games since he was 14 starting on Xbox 360 and has developed on consoles, desktops, web and mobile for over 15 years.
He has worked as technical lead on franchise projects including Biker Mice, Danger Mouse and now leads the multi-disciplinary team dedicated to Big Brother: The Game. Finn received his bachelor and doctorate of computer engineering from National University of Ireland, Galway for his work on FP7 funded AI project SI-Elegans and his work Neural Network FPGA design and ultra-wideband medical radar applications.
Game development studio 9th Impact uses Character Creator to generator over 1 million character variations for hit reality TV show game: Big Brother.
” Character Creator is a very fast workflow where conforming and skinning is immediate and without designer intervention except in some edge cases. The availability of a large clothing library for Character Creator also allows us to use and customize stock outfits.”Dr. Finn Krewer | Head of Development, 9th Impact
Q: Hello Finn, and welcome to our Reallusion feature stories. Kindly introduce 9th Impact Studios, and the game development that your studios specializes.
9th Impact is a game development studio who partners with TV studios to make the official games of TV shows. We design games that fans of the TV show will love, so we don’t focus on any one particular genre of game. We are a small team but carry out game design, development, art production, testing and publishing in-house, which gives us tight co-ordination across disciplines and the ability to undertake complex and technically challenging projects.
Many of our games are cross-playable on different devices and we develop for mobile, PC, Facebook and Switch. Typically our games are localised into many languages. 9th Impact have created the official games of Biker Mice from Mars, Danger Mouse, Sunny Bunnies and Big Brother and have 2 new TV titles in development.
Q: Your team is currently working on Big Brother: The Game, based on the hit television series. Could you share with us the vision behind creating the game? How do the mechanics emulate what happens in the show, how do contestants participant in this experience?
Big Brother is the most watched TV show in history – 500 series have aired across 69 markets, producing over 28,000 episodes. So we knew that a large proportion of the global population would have watched Houseguests on TV competing in Big Brother.
The vision of the game was to create an official season of Big Brother where the TV audience could become the Big Brother Houseguests, using their mobile phone or PC as their portal into a virtual Big Brother House. The game is played in real-time, so the experience is slower than what you might expect from a mobile game, but becomes very immersive. A player is place in a House with 7 other real players. They get to know their Housemates and communicate via chat, voice messaging and private messaging. The latter is important for making secret alliances and plots!
Each day players compete in a mini-game to become Head of House. The Head of House chooses the nominees for eviction. There is Power of Veto competition that allows the winner to take one of the nominees “off the block” and force the Head of House to select another Housemate. At the end of the day, the Houseguests all vote on which nominee to evict.
The last remaining Houseguest is the winner of the House and continues to the next Tier. There are 7 Tiers in total and the winner of the Tier 7 House wins the grand prize. The prize fund increases with the number of players up to $1,000,000 with a guaranteed minimum of $50,000.
Q: With the Character Creator ecosystem, your team was able to create high quality avatars for the game. How were you characters originally made, and what made you decide to use Character Creator? What advantages does this application bring to game development studios?
Originally we would develop one base character that we would then create clothing for using tools like Marvellous Designer, Blender and Maya. The biggest effort in this path is the iterative conforming and skinning of clothing and accessories onto the base character.
In Reallusion Character Creator this is a very fast workflow where conforming and skinning is immediate and without designer intervention except in some edge cases. The ability to autohide elements of the base character which are hidden by clothing also decreases vert count and decreases clipping, in turn this decreases the need to conform and reskin multiple times.
The availability of a large clothing library for Character Creator also allows us to use and customize stock outfits to the Character Creator base character. Once conformed and skinned the clothing can then be directly used by the game engine.
Q: Season 2 of Big Brother will include over a million character variations. Typically what is your creation process like and how long does it take to create characters for the game?
The individual character variations are broken into slots which are available in the game such as Hair and Outfits. Each variation is prepared in Character Creator on a standard body which does not change. This allows the character to be built from multiple sections such as Hair, Outfit, Feet. Very basically the process includes selection of variation, application to the base character, conforming, skinning, skinning correction and pose testing in Character Creator.
The export pipeline then takes the required mesh and textures out to the engine. Finally, during engine import the Character Creator plugin is used to set up standard options and the UMA plugin is used to set up the options for the imported slot with all metadata and textures. Changing to Reallusion as our core character art toolset for season 2, reduced our production time by half and improved the quality of the output.
Q: When does Big Brother Season 2 begin, and how can the community join in on the fun?
Big Brother: The Game is available right now and players can join the competition by getting the game on App Store, Google Play, PC download and it is coming to Steam soon.
App Store: http://bit.ly/bbtg-app
Google Play: http://bit.ly/bbtg-gp
PC (Windows): www.bigbrother.game/download
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