Recreating a Gaming Enviroment
A four week assignment was given to reproduce a gaming environment.
The following is how we as a group, divided assignments and progressed throughout the assignment. The following are written per individual.
As we gathered together and decided on the environment from Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, I began to gather reference images and videos that would allow us to get an overall sense of the scene. My task, thus forward, was to create the hull of the ship. This included multiple decks, doorways, and detailed railings. In addition, I modeled multiple assets to set dress the scene using a solid modeling method in Rhino. After all the modeling of structures were completed, I textured them to resemble that of the original game reference. As the project came closer to finalizing, I contributed to exporting all models to the Unreal Game Engine, causing edits in UVs, light mapping, and overall geometry. After all edits were done, construction of the scene and set dressing finalized my tasks.
Modeling the ship and it's assets was done by using actual game references to closely mimic the originals.
Texturing each asset was rather difficult as my original take resulted in harsh UV mapping. I then went back, and carefully adjusted UV's so that that the would run accordingly to the individual meshes.
After all meshes were finalized and ready for import, I assisted in set dressing and staging the final game project to be packaged in Unreal.
My job for this project was to model/texture the ropes seen on the ship deck and around the ship.
My Rope Assets included, 3 different types of ropes to be placed throughout the deck of the ship, Ropes that are on hanging posts, the ropes at the Front of the ship, ropes that go around the wheel, the ropes that are on the side of the ship that connect to the masts, and the ropes that are hung on the cannons. I also modeled and textured the bucket, Flour sacks, and Masts.
Process: modeled the ropes, UV unwrapped them in Maya, placed the textures according to the UVs, assigned normal maps to the textures. To create LOD 1 I went back into the files and made them low poly and reapplied low resolution textures and normal maps to them.
I then exported all the FBXs, organized them by LOD, then they were ready to be imported into Unreal.
Below are pictures of the assets modeled and textured:
After Alex, another member of our team, dropped out of the class, I had to remodel everything he did which included the Masts, because the UVs on them were crazy.
Troubleshooted issues and fixed UV mapping while Cody was putting together the Final Unreal File.
We divided up modeling tasks at the start of the project, and I decided that I would like to attempt solid modeling.
My first two models were created in Rhino, which I was completely unfamiliar with. I modeled the large cannon first, and then the ship's steering wheel. Modeling in Rhino was relatively intuitive once I got the hang of the interface. To create the cannon, for example, I drew a curve, revolved it around a slanted axis, and then differenced out the hollow area. Building the cannon's base was as easy as unioning scaled cubes. Also, Rhino has a nice fillet edge tool that allowed for precise curved surfaces.
Looking back, I realize that I slightly misunderstood how solid models needed to be generated. When I was modeling, I would union together geometry, but when it came time to export as an .obj, all that combined geometry lent itself to unruly polygon topology.
This made texturing a pretty painful process. But it got done.
I also modeled a rail cannon in Maya, and the bow railing and figurehead in Zbrush, as well as a coil of ropes for the deck.
The next step was bringing everything into Unreal. Our biggest challenge going forward was baking lights. Because so much of our topology had overlapping UVs, we kept getting errors. The best solution was creating a second set of UVs for the bad geometry, and then laying them out so that there were no intersections. That being said, Unreal seemed to keep finding overlaps, when we were pretty sure there weren't any.
We also had to make sure we had enough lower level of detail models, with corresponding scaled textures.
The majority of my time in the last 48 hours was spent creating and altering models, troubleshooting, and overall fine tuning our environment.
While folks were modeling, my assignment was to start looking into Unreal, as our project would require both Cloth/Wind simulations for the sails, as well as dynamic water for the ocean waves.
I started with cloth, anticipating it would take a long time to get right.
The process was actually surprisingly straightforward. All cloth was made using Nvidia's Apex cloth plug in for Maya. The sails are folded over plane objects, with the parts that are directly affixed to the ship set to 0 movement and the rest allowed to ripple along the shape of the sail. Some issues with exporting units caused delays, but otherwise the project went fine.
Water simulation also turned out to be simple, using minor tweaks to the water plane learning asset in Unreal 4. I also gave the first tests for importing our assets into Unreal, and thus started our process of working out the kinks in the models and materials.
With the assembly process begun, we all began to fix the UVs of our imported models, until a different process for importing negated the need for most of the work. I moved on to set dressing and minor modeling, and will be finishing the project with the Matinee animation of the ship rocking in the waves.
An Ultra Dynamic Sky system was used to create natural cloud motion and realistic sun lighting. The system and all of it's rights belong to Everett Gunther.
Special Thanks to Benjamin House and Andre Thomas for their input throughout the production's stages.