Bit Egg is an indie game developer based out of Chiang Mai, founded by a small group of friends. We are passionate about making good games and contributing to a brighter future for game development in Thailand.
Phase I: High Concept
Our concept is a sci-fi Buddhist temple.
At the core of Buddhism are the “Four Noble Truths”, which describe how human beings can rise above the suffering caused by their earthly desires to attain enlightenment and break free from the otherwise endless cycle of rebirth.
Neon is a “noble gas”, so called because its outer shell of electrons is full, making it unreactive to other elements. Like the Buddhist ideal, neon is free of attachments.
Neon is the 4th most common element in the known universe, yet it is extremely rare on earth, because it is lighter than air and tends to eventually float up and break free from our world.
This short film combines the themes of Neon and Buddhism. As player follows the noble path through the temple, they eventually transcend the tethers of earthly desire.
Phase II: Research
For most projects, we start off by hitting books and the internet. For this project we hit the road and went straight to the source!
There are over 300 temples in Chiang Mai, but there was one in particular that we felt would be perfect for this project: Wat Palad.
Wat Palad is a beautiful temple nestled atop a waterfall in a mountain forest. It originated as a stopping point along a path that leads further up to Doi Suthep, the most famous temple in all of Chiang Mai. While Doi Suthep exudes an opulent, grandiose beauty, Wat Palad has a serene and humble charm to it.
We approached the site as if we were location scouting for a live action film, planning out shots that we would use in our final short:
Also, we 3d scanned this sleepy little guy, and ended up finding a shot for him in the final product:
(Additional reference photos, including 360 environment photos, are on our Facebook page)
There is absolutely no substitute for being on location. It’s one thing to have reference images and footage, but it’s something else entirely to be able to hang those on actual memories and experiences. This was crucial to our project. We wanted to go beyond just capturing the look of a Thai temple. We want to make you feel like you are there!
Phase III: Concept and Preproduction
We decided on several key set pieces for Neon Temple: cyborg monks, singhs, nagas, chedi, and a statue of the Buddha.
Phase IV: Production
This project definitely had a different feel than our normal game production process. Due to various other projects going on at the same time, the time that we had to spend on this project was scattered, and we only had a fully available team in the final week.
We knew that we would have to have multiple people jumping in and out of the project, then working in parallel on the same scene in Unity near the end, which is very different from our normal game flow, so we had to set up some new conventions and process.
We ended up with this process:
Create a base layout scene
Every contributor copies their own scene from the base scene, then created a personal GameObject (e.g. rich_1) to contain objects they placed on the scene
At regular intervals (anywhere from 2-5 hours), we re-integrate everything into a new base scene. This usually consists of just dropping everyone’s personal GameObject into the new merged base scene
Everyone uses the merged scene as their new base, overwriting their previous scene
This worked pretty well! There may be more efficient ways to work, and we’re very open to better methods here, but this matched well up with the timing of our production cycle.
Phase V: Crunch Time
I'm writing this part 3 hours before the deadline, the team hasn't slept for 30 hours, and here's our final checklist:
Final camera [Nat, Ting, Rich]
- Realtime lights
- Dust particles for volume
- Reflection probe baking
- Fix cloud volumes distance if needed
- Post Processing
- Final shot
Final sounds and music [Ting] - include gong
Update and integrate sleeping dog, holograms, animations
- Add technical notes
- 3 screenshots final assets section, incl. pullout shot
- Gif cover
- Post cover photo
- Update comparison shots
Thailand is 15 hours ahead, so the deadline is 3pm Tuesday for us. Since midnight, we've survived a system breaking down, connectivity issues, and multiple team members out sick. There's objectively still a lot of stuff to do.
And yet it feels like we have plenty of time. Assets are still flowing and getting integrated into the main scene, the final shots are really coming together, and we have some really good momentum.
It feels like this is where our workflow, combined with the Unity toolset, is really paying off.
Timeline + Cinemachine - very easy to iterate, change angle. Can change sharpness of shot, adjust and play. Can replace the old animation timeline in Unity. Like a movie editor, instead of having to trigger. Can control animation, activate/inactivate objects, add sounds, blend sounds.
Post Processing - we used bloom, color grading, vignette, ambient occlusion, and point of view to compose the final scene.
Lighting - We were really inspired by an earlier trip to southern Thailand earlier this year. Grading controlled bouncing light to be orange, pink, and bounce light to be blue to match image, keep intesity of light low
Team Members and Roles
Panithan Chartamphai (Boom) - 3d artist
Supakarn Wongtanakarn (Knack) - concept artist
Thanawarat Krueasri (Bank) - 3d animator, 3d artist
Aekkathip Chaisiri (Rich) - project coordinator, 3d artist, documentation
Natachanan Lumpikanon (Nat) - technical support
Atthawut Praditngam (Ting) - storyboards, concept artist, camera work
Parit Kunlamart - Texture support, music and sound effects
Unity Asset Store Assets Used
Post Processing Stack
Amplify Shader Editor
Vertex Tools Pro
Modular Scifi Pack
Tropical Forest Pack
Museum VR Asset Pack Vol. III
PBR Pack: Sci-Fi Pumping Station
Dogs Dane (SV) Single
LB Hologram Shaders
R.A.M - River Auto Material
Fog Volume 3
Music by ERH - "atmosphere ae o1 76lo.WAV" - Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC 3.0) (changes made)
Gong by psuess
Electronics hum by jakobhandersen
Broom sweeping by higginsdj
Jungle ambient sound by kyles
Monks chanting by RTB45 - "Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat -Thailand.wav" - Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) (changes made)
Naga growl by StephenSaldanha - "Motorcycle_Startup_Driveaway.wav" - Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) (changes made)
Earthquake 1 by SoundsExciting
Earthquake 2 by uagadugu
Wind by Divinux
Buddha robot moving 1 by nuckan
Buddha robot moving 2 by parabolix
Galaxy Image by Jeremy Thomas (License)
Space background 1 from NASA.gov (License)
Space background 2 from NASA.gov (License)
Textures from Substance Painter
As a small game studio, we never would have considered using traditional high end 3D to do cinematics for media, such as Maya or Renderman - it's just too expensive in terms of time and expense, with too much time waiting for renders.
Timeline is nice because we can make movies the way we make games. It's very easy to be collaborative, by working separately and combining later.
Unity super easy to pick up and make changes as needed. Even our more junior artists who had never used Unity before were able to contribute - it was quick to pick up Timeline, camera, and the dolly track.
We feel confident about our ability to do cinematics and high end 3D now.