MODELING AND UVS
Adventure and history have always been interests in my life and that’s why I decided to create a mysterious Egyptian tomb which was in the process of being looted, until something I imagine horrible happened. The concepts I found are from the Warhammer tabletop game and photos from things like Indiana Jones. Other historical items such as tools and equipment were looked at closely so that I could model them precisely and accurately. All modeling was done inside Maya and created modularly. Basically like Lego pieces so I could have different wall sections snap together to quickly create a level. I used centimeters as my scale and made sure that all objects in were to scale.
All models in the end were exported in the Cryengine 3 game engine where the level was created. I had to make sure that my triangle count was low and reduce in areas where the player would most likely not look. I also created proxy meshes of all my objects so that they have collision in game. Some objects such as bricks were created with physics so that they actually fall into place to create more of a realistic look.
The UV’s were all done inside Headus UV Layout. I chose this program because it’s quick and easy to organize my UV’s in a neat fashion so that later in the texturing phase, I would have fewer headaches. I also made sure that I utilized as much texture space as possible to make it more efficient for the game engine to run smoother. Sometimes I stacked the UV’s onto one another so that I would only have to texture one bolt instead of thirty. I also kept all the different materials close to each other, such as wood and metal, just to keep things organized.
The thing that I spent the most time on in this scene was sculpting. A ruined thousand year old tomb is not going to look clean or fresh. It is going to be broken and falling apart due to time. Additionally some jerks just came storming in with the intention to loot it so that is not cool, so I had to replicate this by using Zbrush. I would sculpt in broken chunks, cracks, erosion marks and even marks left over from when the statue was first sculpted. The tricky part was trying to replicate what I was seeing in the reference, into the sculpt. I would say most of my time was spent in breaking up my models this way and trying to make the objects look like certain materials like gold or sandstone, but aged and worn.
Cryengine 3 comes with basically 2 different types of lights. Destructible lights and point lights. Destructible lights are lights you can shoot that will blow up. So really you only have one light to play with. However, you can do lots of tricks with this one light to make your scene look really amazing. I have a number of ambient lights in the scene which are creating the cold green color which is in contrast with the rest of the scene’s hot reds and oranges. For the lamps in the scene, I applied a texture I created which turned the point light into a spot light. This helped create some really nice shadows. Finally, for some of the light sources such as fire or lamps, I activated a light animation for them so that they flicker to help create a more realistic effect.
Environment probes and cube maps were used to create simple HDRI’s for reflection on objects, bounce light and global illumination. The cube maps were used as negative lights which work in the opposite way lights do. I would place these in areas where I would want it darker.
When lighting my scene, I took on the mindset of a person playing the game. I am trying to guide them with the light and telling them where to go. Animated light swings in the direction the player is supposed to go. It shows them the areas of interest where they might find clues and finally where the next objective is. This in my scene is up stairs that lead into the final chamber.
I textured mostly in Photoshop and touched up any seams in Mudbox. Anything that I sculpted that had a normal map was baked out in 3DS Max. I then created cavity maps in Xnormal using those normal maps. I start out by painting my diffuse map. I would support this by using either a cavity map, AO map or the green channel of the normal to create dust in cracks. I would paint in smaller cracks or patterns here instead of sculpting them to save time. Once the diffuse map is completed, I create a spec and gloss map from my diffuse. Usually this is done by converting a copy of the document to black and white and playing with the levels of each layer.
Once the Normal map, diffuse, spec and gloss are finished, I would either create or use a detail map for fine detail of the object. This helps to represent what the material is made out of. Overall I would say that the texturing process is one of the most important steps, as a bad texture will make everything else look bad. So I spent a good portion of my time making sure these textures were good. Sometimes even going back and updating them to look better later on.
In game, I have the ability to adjust the Fresnel of the material, opacity or even create parallax occlusion. In some situations I would paint the vertex colors of my models in Maya and apply two different sets of diffuse, spec and gloss to objects to give it some variation. Some examples being, moss on a brick wall or sand on rock.
Because everything has been tweaked in the game engine, I had little to no need to change anything via nuke. Everything seen is as a player would see it playing in game which is important.