My name is Deanna Giovinazzo. I’m a 4th year student in the 3D Digital Graphics program at Rochester Institute of Technology, and this is my production blog for my senior thesis, tentatively titled Morphscape.
Morphscape will be a real-time 3D project built in Unreal Engine 4. In this world, reality has been invaded by an alternate metaphysical dreamscape, which is responsible for causing dreams. This will be structured in an exploratory, interactive “playground” gameplay style, featuring a system that enables the player to explore, interact with their environment, and experience this world transform seamlessly and fluidly around them.
I am hesitant to call my thesis project a game, since stretching myself thin across the entire pipeline of what is required to make a game is not what I feel will enable me to effectively output the level of visual quality I would like to see in this project in a deceivingly long (but actually very short) timeline.
As a 3D designer, my focus is on creating visuals to convey a mood that invokes a visceral reaction in the player. I don’t consider myself to be a gameplay designer, and so I am not necessarily going to be focusing on developing hard objectives that fuel the player to reach a finish line.
That being said, I fully intend for this to be a playable demonstration of my work, a contained demonstration showcasing the potential of the underlying technical system to realize a dynamic visual experience.
Working on the visual end of real-time 3D, I am primarily concerned with the look and feel of an environment. The impression it gives through its spatial quality, attention to detail in its construction, purposeful set dressing, and how light interacts with the material definition of surfaces is a lot of what inspires me.
Atmosphere and light with a hazy, ethereal quality, as well as a very neutral color palette are what I envision for this project. When I think of my dreams, they are very solitary. They remind me of early morning, a quiet feeling like you are the only one in the world. This, mixed with that hint of unsettling, surreal, something-is-not-quite right, is a mood I’m looking to express.
Additionally, a sense of aesthetic stylization is a goal of mine. I’d like to use my thesis project as an opportunity to explore my love for an illustrative quality. This is something that I can identify in many paintings, but I haven’t seen achieved successfully in real-time 3D yet. I find what I enjoy in a painting is an evident hand of the artist, the quality of brush stokes with contrasting soft and hard edges, lost edges and implied detail through deliberate strokes and careful brush economy. When this is attempted in 3D, I often see it done with very flat hand-painted textures that don’t feel well integrated into the form of the model. Although this in itself is a look that is sometimes appealing, it often looks more toony and doesn’t have the material definition needed to make something feel realistic. This is an area I’d be excited to make progress in.
Erring on the end of technical as well, I’d like to develop a living world that functions in a surprising or exciting way and isn’t just static — something that peaks your curiosity as you move throughout. I envision things happening as you look at them, morphing or transitioning in front of you.
QUALITY BENCHMARKS & INSPIRATION
Here are some paintings with expressive brush strokes I am looking to for defining my style.