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A jam submission

Tiki ExplosionView project page

Submitted by Will — 3 hours, 26 minutes before the deadline
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Tiki Explosion's page


CriteriaRankScore*Raw Score
Research + Development#83.5003.500

Ranked from 8 ratings. Score is adjusted from raw score by the median number of ratings per game in the jam.

Judge feedback

Judge feedback is anonymous and shown in a random order.

  • I like the vibe you are going for and your concept but your effects need more work. My overall main problem is that we can see the looping motion with most of your effects. The sparks with the torches and the top of the tiki head clearly have a looping motion that is pretty visible. This problem also continues with your smoke texture you are using on the tiki head right before the explosion. Focus on the loops a lot because if someone sees a clearly visible loop on an effect, an environment texture or anything in the game world the magic is gone super fast. Second of all, your explosion and smoke textures lack detail. On the explosion you have decent shapes but when the smoke comes in, it is a flat grey look. You need to have more detail in your smoke. Try looking into this great tutorial if you can to get you started with the houdini to unreal workflow: It can be daunting to get a good looking sim to work in a game engine, this is a great starting point. Lastly I think the ocean looks pretty flat. It is really hard to get a good looking ocean without things going haywire. I would suggest that you get rid of the ocean and fully focus on the fire, explosion elements and when you get them to a great look add back the ocean. It seems like most of the software you were using were new to you. I appreciate you learning new tools in making your arsenal bigger. They are all different beasts at their own lane. Keep working I am confident you will get there in no time. Cheers.
  • Hello , is a nice research and pre production work. As a feedback i can say: Be careful when you look for references in films each one of pixar has a different kind of smoke, fire, etc. -I would say that the smoke of the explosion es too bright compared to the idle one . -You can try to make it simpler next time i recomend use a Unreal sequence instead of blueprint, VFX artist can animate stuff as well and that give us more control over the scene. -Well done! next time try to stick more to the concept , the final timing and anticipation looks disconnected from the concept animation
  • You have a thorough and well documented piece on how you came about creating your effect. You have talked about style and what you are aiming for with some sources listed in your mood board. Perhaps some more images looking at some of the finer details of stylisation or fire shapes might have helped with your mood board and studies. Something that others have done is to brand their documentation to make it feel a part of a whole package. Logo, colours, fonts that kind of thing. Your idea is really creative and certainly unique, this cant be under-sold and will certainly get the attention of people looking at your work and selling your creativity in future. You have learnt new tools and explored the power of houdini. It can be hard sometimes to get other elements to blend and sit well with houdini because of the accuracy of the simulations, and depending how you create your effects, they can be very bespoke. Your fire in the mouth is a little bit over bright and as a result is losing some of the detail of the simulation, becoming over exposed and white. I would suggest the light in the Tiki could have started more orange and dim, slowly increasing in intensity as would the height of the flames. You could add some bounciness to the flames to give them a more stylised feel by scaling up and down the particle sizes a little. It would be nice if the external torches also scaled in intensity alongside the tiki head. Remember to add forces to ground your effects, gravity and wind really sell an effect in the world and are very important for grounding your effect also. Adding some directionality and stopping the effect from being symmetrical too. You have some nice subtle noise and movement on the sparks which is good, this helps to make them feel alive. Ideally you want all materials and shaders to feel a part of the same world also, you have a very large difference with the colours of your smoke. The initial smoke is very dark, perhaps a little too dark as it is hard to read any details and shape in it, however when the effect increased in intensity the smoke is brighter and white. It would be good to get some yellow / orange into some of the smoke from the fire. You have some nice timing on the final explosion with the top coming out slightly delayed from the sides, this really helps to stop the effect feeling boring and as though everything is in sync. Nothing in the world truely happens at the same time, there is always a cause and effect or a cascade and building up of forces, even if this happens within fractions of a second. Perhaps a distortion ring or shockwave coming out from the explosion would help to add more force. Some explosive sparks emitting outwardly perhaps also. You can also change the colour of the effect from a more warm red/orange at the start and as the intensity builds change the tone of the fire, adding perhaps more blues to the base to add a contrast to the flames and colours. This will help push the aesthetic of the effect.
  • Overall Thoughts: I love the theme and tone, an exploding Tiki head is a great concept! I love the concept pieces themselves as well. They did a great job of portraying your vision and you gave some character to the pyro itself; a nice touch. There's some really nice subtle motion in the concepts themselves which I think you struggled to capture in the end, this being more so lack of experience and/or time. Overall however for the most part I think you stayed true to your initial vision. I think you undertook quite a large task and as such had a lot to deal with. It was an ambitious project and because of this a few areas suffered. It's best to try and stick to a simple, clear vision to avoid getting lost in details that are irrelevant or aren't part of the main body of work. All in all however, as a complete package it's a nice, solid piece of work. Something you should be proud! Areas of Improvement: For a game ready asset I think the textures you used (some as large as 7,200px) are unrealistic for live game development. There's a lot of unused texture space if you look at the effect in the wire-frame shading mode, leaving quite a lot of unnecessary alpha on screen. It would be nice to limit yourself to just a couple of 2k textures and see what can be accomplished with them. I think you'd be surprised what you can achieve with a little practice, some clever texture packing and smart use of shaders. Utilizing Motion vectors as you briefly touched on in your report would also help to strip down you texture sizes, as you'd be able to time dilate your frames; doing a lot more with much smaller texture sheet. Using a Black-body shader would allow you to over saturate and push the colours of your pyro (fire) getting it to Bloom and glow without 'blowing out' and over-saturating your smoke colours; as heat and density are able to be controlled separately from within the shader. @Klemen Lozar and @Andreas Glad are great resources for both of these techniques. The texture sheet itself is lacking a lot of the detail in the smoke that I would expect from a size so large. In order to stop the effect from falling 'flat' you want to try and capture as much depth as you can in your initial texture sheets; Having the main body of smoke being comprised of lots of smaller clusters of clouds and volumes would help to achieve this. Though you touched upon recently learning Houdini via an online tutorial and as such I wouldn't expect you to have perfected these things just yet, but please do keep practicing! Houdini has quickly become a staple tool for a lot of studios and getting to grips with it would certainly benefit you on your future VFX endeavors. It would also be worth adding in some generic smoke clouds to the main explosion distributed with a ''Vrand' to help give some body to your texture sheets, helping to sell the illusion of perceived depth. Just make sure to match the lighting on both effects to avoid visual noise and help mitigate any sorting issues you might have. Being what we would call a 'Hero' asset (the sole focus of the scene at hand), I feel you could have played with the post-processing and camera effects more. Add in some camera shake shortly after the explosion, maybe a bit of blur and quickly ramp the contrast / saturation of the camera; to help give it a little 'pop'. A shock-wave traveling across the water towards the camera or some visual distortion / refraction would've been a nice touch. Blending the last few frames of your texture into the first few (Timeshift and Blend Nodes in Houdini) will help to remove the visible loop in your texture and make the whole effect feel more seamless. Watch out for any volume clipping issues when you simulate in Houdini before baking to avoid intersection lines in your texture, as noticeable in the top left of your main explosion. Quick side note: You added in (by accident I'm sure) all of the Unreal Starter Content into your project which made your project file size much larger than it needed to be. This would also help to reduce loading times and shader compiling for assessors and peers. Thank you for your submission, time and effort. I wish you all the best for your future studies and career. VFX Artist @Sony Playstation
  • Hi Will, Nice work, good documentation. Keep in mind you need to optimise your VFX : Overdraw is pretty bad here. You use houdini for making spritesheet and it's good point, but when you start a new simulation for a game, think about lighting (your sprite here is very bright). Keep working ! Lowys Clément, VFX artist ubisoft MONTREAL

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Explosive! Realy packs a punch! Good job!


thanks KRONOS,

really appreciate your kind words.


The flame looks amazing, and the way you have it flowing out of the tiki head looks really effective, no jankiness from the looks, really nicely polished effect!


aww thank you. Houdini flipbooks are super effective :p its a shame i only found out you can export vector maps and normal maps the day before the hand in :s thank you for your kind words and i wish you the best of luck in the contest :D


Really unique concept - I think you did a great job with the lighting (Nailed the cover image too!)


Cheers bud. really appreciate that comment as i spent alot of my time trying to get the lighting working :)