Chain of Command Dev Blog #3: Modelling The Combat Units

Speaking exclusively to the enlisted Commanders, 3D Artist Thomas Dogger answered several questions about his part in the ongoing development process of Chain of Command WWII RTS Game. Thomas is currently working non-stop on modelling the combat units in Chain of Command, from supply trucks to battle tanks that will be all featured in Operation Early Access. Here’s what he had to say about his work for BitBunch and the main challenges in translating the idea of Chain of Command into a 3D space.

Is there a World War 2 unit you are particularly looking forward to recreate? One you can consider as your favorite?
I generally enjoy the process of researching and translating reference material to a 3D model and it’s the variation that’s great. Right now I’m working on ground vehicles, but I’m looking forward to switch things up with some airplanes or a big battleship. Maybe someday I get to work on something crazy like the Schwerer Gustav. But every model has its challenges and it’s always enjoyable to see its progress. Come to think of it, there’s a M4 Sherman from the Polar Bear division located at my hometown, a monument commemorating the town’s liberation. I used to climb and play on top of it as a kid, so it has a special meaning to me plus it gives me a nice reason to go outside and do some field research.

Can you talk about the modelling process from the scratch? Where do you start and how do you know you are finished?
We look at historical documentation of the battles we want to depict. We start with the most common units, and try to find out which exact version was most common in the battle. We plan to add more vehicles and different versions in the future. I then start researching and gathering reference material. At that point the actual modelling starts. This is done in 3D modelling software, the program I use is called Blender. It’s a process of creating and modifying points in a 3D space. These points are connected to each other to form polygons. A whole bunch of polygons together eventually form the final model. If you check wireframe shots you get a sense of what I’m talking about here. After the modelling a texture needs to be applied to the model. Before this can be done the 3D model has to be projected on a 2D plane, this is called unwrapping the model. Think of it as a paper model, but instead of cutting it out and assembling it in 3D, you work in the opposite direction. I continue to export an image that displays all the polygons in their flattened state to a graphics editor. In there I can easily draw details that will end up on the model when I apply the texture on the 3D model. Because we aim to have a lot of units on the screen I’m a bit limited in how many polygons I can use per model. So instead of modelling for instance a pickaxe on the side of a tank, I draw it into the texture map.

What do you like the most about working on Chain of Command?
I enjoy a lot of things. Obviously, I enjoy the process of making 3D models, from the research phase all the way to seeing it end up inside the game. Next to that we have a great team of motivated individuals. Working together on a project like this and seeing it come to life when every person fills in their piece of the puzzle is great. I learn a lot from seeing the other guys do their thing and hearing and discussing their perspectives on the game is a very rewarding experience. It’s great that everyone gets a say and we’re all working on a common goal.

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