ZBrushCentral

Project Nova (nsfw)

Hi there! This is a repost of my Polycount Sketchbook. I thought you guys might be interested as well. This project started in 2022, so previous work shown is available there. For some context, as I know this is kind of out of the blue; Project Nova is a video game, and I’m currently making the highpoly sculpts of the playable races.

After getting a bit of industry experience, I thought I’d like to make the transition & expand my skillset from an artist to that of a more well-rounded game developer; to both fill gaps in my skillset and to help turn this industry around for the better.

I’d like to try to update this thread once every Wednesday with my progress. If you have questions, comments or critique, feel free to post them in this thread or send me a message, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

There is some nudity and there will likely be some gore or similar themes in this thread, so be forewarned!

If you’d like to see more than just the weekly updates posted here, you can watch me work live on Youtube or join the Project Nova Discord.

Project Nova Overview

The Players, persons of unknown races and origins, arrive in chains, packed like cattle in the cramped, cold & plague-ridden confines of leviathan slave ships. Destined to foreign masters in a foreign land, and when deemed useless - destined to die.

The stacked hovels and congested alleys of the cities in Project Nova are overcrowded with those affluent or influential enough to live under protection. Those incapable of affording rising living expenses are exiled or mercilessly exploited. Obtaining residency as an outsider is nigh impossible.

Outside, the inhospitable expanses between strongholds and outposts ruled by warlords are treacherous; colonies of flesh-eating termites, poisonous briars, tar pits, lava flows and roaming packs of deranged cannibals are among the lesser of dangers.

The lands change with the time of day, season, and weather, influencing gameplay from animal migrations, availability of food, diseases and suitable attire. Players will want to construct their mech and band together for any hope of survival in the lawless wilds and wastelands.

Genre

Third-person MechBuilding/Survival/Shooter/MMO. If a MMO is truly out of reach, Project Nova will use peer-to-peer connections & lobby matchmaking.

Artstyle

Standard PBR, taking inspiration from Elden Ring, Monster Hunter World, Warhammer 40k, Destiny 2, Morrowind, Howl’s Moving Castle, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Dune, Star Wars, Conan the Barbarian, The Dark Elf Trilogy, Final Fantasy, and much, much more.

Gameplay

Project Nova’s gameplay will be quite similar to many other games; kill things, get loot, use that loot to get stronger, all while immersed in a sizable, handcrafted and detailed - but not needlessly massive island.

Platform & Other Details

Project Nova will be for PC, developed in Unreal Engine and published to Steam. Cross-platform support is desirable. These details may change over time with advancements in technology or other unforeseen circumstances.

Current priorities, in no particular order

  • races assets & character customization system

  • basic gameplay systems, including; equipment, combat, inventories, crafting, mech building

  • learn C++, build rudimentary MMO functionality; (account creation, payment systems, ticketing & gamemaster systems). translate gameplay systems to server-authoritative multiplayer

  • network & multiplayer gameplay tests

  • AI systems for testing and bugfixing

  • DDoS mitigation & network security, server hardening, robust & extensive goldselling, aimhack & botting preventative designs and measures

  • website, auction house / trading integration

Developer Notes

My goal is to create a genuinely fun MMO that respects a player’s time commitment, while learning from the successes and mistakes I’ve seen from the studios that make the games I’ve played over the years. To this end, I am maintaining a living doctrine to which I will adhere, as outlined below:

  • Project Nova will not use predatory monetization strategies. This includes, but is not limited to the following; Lootboxes & gacha (gambling), removal or ‘vaulting’ of paid-for content / FOMO (fear of missing out; exclusivity & artificial scarcity), dark patterns (e.g; having to click an unsubscribe button twice), paid early access, P2W (pay to win). Project Nova will either be F2P (free to play) with an ethical cash shop and battle passes similar to Path of Exile or Warframe, or a full-priced game with subscription and paid expansion packs.

  • I will not use crowdfunding or donations to fund the development of Project Nova, or accept offers of volunteer or unpaid work, revenue share, or partner with a publisher. Any work done up to version 1.0 will be by myself, or appropriately compensated for.

  • I am aware of game industry problems that hold us back from our true potential; ranging from ‘softer’ issues like how stubbornness, fear, ignorance, egotism and nepotism affects decision-making and creates chilling effects, to much more serious issues such as workplace sexual harassment & pay discrepancies. I will use both passive & active measures to deter the bad and foster the good in all of us. This extends to any potential outsourced talent working with me.

  • Great games are built with patience, understanding, nuance, deliberation, and, when possible, clear communication with the player base. This will apply to every aspect of the development of Project Nova, from art to balance patches.

  • If I hire artists, the art tests will be paid or nonexistent, as I value people’s time. Applications I receive will receive a timely response, and will not be ‘ghosted’. The same level of basic courtesy will be extended to the other fields of game development.

  • If the game is successful to the point where I am able to form a company and employ others, it will never become public. I will maintain majority ownership until I am physically or mentally incapable of doing so, and I will not transfer ownership of my intellectual property or any future company I may own to a party that does not care for the well-being of the games industry, its workers & its customers.

  • The best kind of leader for a game development company is a benevolent king; one that rules with assertion and absolute authority, but with compassion, empathy, and an open mind. E.g; not threatening to have an employee killed, staying grounded and alert to consumer demands and opinions, and having the confidence to do what’s right.

  • Over-promising and under-delivering is a hallmark of half-baked games. I will not market or ‘hype’ the development of this game. Marketing, if any, will be worked on when the game is ready for players. In this respect, there is no deadline for version 1.0. However, there is also no fail state for this project excluding physical and/or mental inability.

  • Any art generated by AI or assisted by AI will be noted. No substantially unaltered AI generations will be present in any public versions of Project Nova.

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Here is last week’s progress. I decided against 3d ‘hair’ in favor of normal hair cards. Sharpened details, polypaint, added more details.




Have a great week!

vampire race




abyssal ‘lobster’ race


human race


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The abyssals need more work, and I want to do more with the human face. There will be male variants.

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More polish work, tidying up, proportions work as well as adjusted the sculpt for rigging, as I want the ‘wings’ to be able to hang down like a cloak as well as go up. With this range of motion, I have decided on the classic T-pose instead of an A-pose for the ‘wings’. They’ll be important in conveying emotion, as well as combat capabilities. Some interesting details were lost, but I’ll bring them back like I did with the vampire sculpt.

I imagine a lowpoly + first bake will be possible by next Wednesday. The last 10% is always the most tedious, but is 100% worth it and we’ll get there.



Have a great week!

Once again more polish work, did some retopo as well. Didn’t make it to the test bake, but got a fair amount done.




Have a great week!

The first and largest of the ‘wing’ limbs are done, and the rest are smaller. Honestly not a lot of work done last week due to the release of Shadow of the Erdtree, and market research is something I take seriously. I’m back on my usual schedule however, so hopefully we’ll see more work done next week.

Have a great week!

Last week was productive, there is just the body left to do. The rest of the wing limbs and accessory meshes for the face are done.



Have a great week!

Yay! it’s done (at least for now) and in UE5. Next up is finishing the lobster race and getting her in engine as well. Once all races & male counterparts are in UE5, I’ll fix up baking errors, improve texture maps and optimize UVs (probably at the same time as animations, so I can fix or improve troublesome lowpoly geometry for anims).

Have a great week!