Valhalla Recreated in UE4

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Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
Hey polycounters,
I decided to remake my personal favorite Halo 3 map (Valhalla) in the Unreal Engine 4 to balance out my portfolio (http://www.jackmckelvie.com/). I'm super excited about this one, and I'm shooting really high. I'm largely using the original for reference, but I'm still observing how 343 did their design for Valhalla. My goal is to remake the original with the graphical fidelity of 343's version some wild overgrowth seen in post apocalyptic games such as the last of us.

I created a mood board with a mixture of the original and 343's version. I also added several screens from the last of us to represent the overgrowth.

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I also did a basic breakdown of basic assets (red) and large bounding assets.

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My goal is to be finished with this map in three weeks (December 30th), and I'll be updating the thread in the next day or two with a whitebox.

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  • Computron
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    Computron sublime tool
    You mean UE3, right?
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    No, I mean UE4. I plan to make a damn good environment with it too.
  • Sythen
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    Sythen polycounter lvl 6
    UE4 that's in beta right? Is there not an NDA that prohibits showcasing until release? Or do you own a UE4 license?
  • iniside
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    iniside polycounter lvl 6
    No. You can show whatever you produce with it.
  • Neox
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    Neox greentooth
    Sythen wrote: »
    UE4 that's in beta right? Is there not an NDA that prohibits showcasing until release? Or do you own a UE4 license?

    since nov 15th it is permitted to show screens and talk about using UE4, the tools are not to be shown
  • Mik2121
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    Mik2121 polycounter lvl 6
    Using some UE4 license at work or something? I assumed those licenses would be quite strict when it comes to what you can show using that engine.
  • Sythen
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    Sythen polycounter lvl 6
    I've had vertification from another source, but Neox is correct, it's permitted to show screens of the work, :)
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    Yeah, sorry for not replying sooner. I can post screens of work, gameplay footage, etc. as @Sython @inside and @Neox has mentioned. Under the current NDA I simply cannot talk or show anything about the toolset.

    On another note I'm hoping to have some WIP images up tonight. Yay :)
  • Computron
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    Computron sublime tool
    Well then, this is a particular combination of tech and subject matter that has my interest piqued. So, I take it you have access to UE4 for work?
  • Xendance
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    Xendance polycounter lvl 7
    Computron wrote: »
    Well then, this is a particular combination of tech and subject matter that has my interest piqued. So, I take it you have access to UE4 for work?

    Actually Epic gave the tools to select teams/individuals. Or something along those lines.

    http://forums.epicgames.com/threads/977368-Unreal-Engine-4-Video-Collection
  • CarelessMonday
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    CarelessMonday polycounter lvl 6
    Get these WIP's up asap my cat is killing curiosities.
  • Computron
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    Computron sublime tool
    Xendance wrote: »
    Actually Epic gave the tools to select teams/individuals. Or something along those lines.

    http://forums.epicgames.com/threads/977368-Unreal-Engine-4-Video-Collection

    damn...
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    Well I'm almost finished with finals and then I'm on a month long Christmas break, so I will feed your guy's curiosity a little bit with a little practice sculpt I did today between finals. Just trying to pin down the rock style I want to go with.

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    I myself like the sculpt, but the thing I noticed immediately is the secondary rocks need to be bigger... I think rather than sheet rock I should be making something more in the vein of cliff rock.

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    Done with finals tonight and I'm somewhat of a late night person so I'm hoping to get in full motion on this project tonight.
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    Alright, so I'm getting pretty close to having a presentable blockout. I will either post it later tonight or sometime tomorrow.

    On another note, I have never actually modeled sci-fi before. I love it and have no idea why I haven't done it in the past, but here I am about to tackle some pretty sweet sci-fi stuff. If anyone has tips, tricks, zbrush hardsurface tips, or just some common mistakes to avoid please let me know. It will help me create a better environment more quickly.

    Thanks everybody, and I hope to be updating very soon!
  • Computron
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    Computron sublime tool
    The answer would depend on the specifics of what you are modeling. Its also difficult to get an idea of your skill level and what you already know.

    That said, if you are remaking Valhalla, there isn't a whole lot of uniquely unwrapped and modeled sub-d hard-surface assets to be made for that environment. What little there is (the bases and the metal wall) would be most easily made with tiling textures and some detailed blend shaders, at least with the traditional environment workflows. The ability to model and bake seamless tillable textures would be pretty important in that case, and IMO, it is far easier and more controllable to do this with a traditional sub-d poly pushing method than with just zBrush.
  • AlexCatMasterSupreme
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    AlexCatMasterSupreme polycounter lvl 5
    I have UE4 as well and excited to see what people are going to do with it, I also love Halo so keep it up and make it awesome;)
  • Computron
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    Computron sublime tool
    Damnit, how do I get my hands on this!? :-D
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    @Computron - Despite the fact that you answered most of my questions, I should have been more specific with that last post. What I was wondering was, is there anything particularly different about modeling sci-fi vs organic and other conventional hard surfaces. Hopefully that's a little less vague. Thanks for your answer though, I think that's what I needed to get started on the bases (maybe tomorrow though).

    @ AlexCatMasterSupreme - I hope to please

    @Computron - I feel for you man. Hopefully this environment can further tickle your interests in UE4.
  • Computron
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    Computron sublime tool
    Jack M. wrote: »
    @Computron - Despite the fact that you answered most of my questions, I should have been more specific with that last post. What I was wondering was, is there anything particularly different about modeling sci-fi vs organic and other conventional hard surfaces. Hopefully that's a little less vague. Thanks for your answer though, I think that's what I needed to get started on the bases (maybe tomorrow though).

    In terms of organic sub-d vs. hardsurface there are many differences, but perhaps the more important workflow difference with this specific enviro is the one that arises out of your choice to use unique-prop/modular-instances or tiled texture sets and trims, because that will determine most of your workflow and how much actual work you can get away with.

    If you are doing everything with tiled textures, you can use things like nDo/dDo and avoid modeling sub-d/hardsurface alltogether. This way you can avoid having to deal with a lot of the technical stuff and focus on the designs for the textures/patterns and materials, as well as making the low polygon models and cleverly wrapping the textures and trims onto them. That is the method used to create most of the environments for the Halo games, especially in the later 360 games, Reach and 4.

    If you are thinking of doing things with the uniquely modeled mesh approach you might have to deal with a lot of the idiosyncrasies of modeling for normal map baking and rendering which can be very tough for beginners to deal with. Again, i'm not sure how much of this applies to you. There also isn't much that a modular environment set would do for this map for the obvious reason that there just isn't much hardsurface.

    In either case, for Valhalla, I would recommend getting comfortable with tiling texture sets, trims, blend shaders and the like, at least to keep this project manageable and because its seems to be a better fit.

    Perhaps your question was more geared toward the stylistic and design differences of Halo sci-fi style hardsurface. In that case, there are several well known halo mapping communities out there which have some very long and detailed posts deconstructing the aesthetic styles of forerunner and human architecture and scenery that might be interesting to read over. Its been a while since I was last on any of these sites, so you might just have to google for them.
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    @Computron - wow. Thanks for all of the information. I was thinking of using nDo and dDo myself because they do have some really nice results that I like for hard-surface stuff. Skill wise I could do either methods as I'm more familiar with the workflow of high poly > low poly > baking method. I like the idea of using nDo and dDo for most of the workflow... it sounds a lot more flexible and easier to make changes than regular sub-d modeling or sculpting.
  • foredea
    How about using more modular assets?
    Perhaps, using modular assets would save time and it would make better quality rocks.

    I have a nice tutorial website which could be helpful for you.
    http://www.philipk.net/tutorials/modular_rocks/modular_rocks.html
  • sargentcrunch
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    sargentcrunch polycounter lvl 5
    Something that should help is, forerunner architecture from the halo series uses mostly 45 degree and 90 degree angles, there are a few exceptions here and there though.
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    @foredea - Thank you for your tutorials... they have long given me guidance and I appreciate your input. In fact that's pretty much the same method that I was planning on doing for the main cliff-side areas to save some time.

    @sargentcrunch - Thanks man, I'm starting to think about how to break down the forerunner structures and I think you're right. There are only a few exceptions I can think of, but the 45 and 90 degree turns really makes things easier.
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    Hey everybody,
    I now have the basic layout finished. I have a simple creek and ocean. I still need to add reflections and refractions to it but I can do that later. I have all of the base assets in the right places, and now I'm going to work on the verticality of the map as the depth is nonexistent as of yet. I've been playtesting it regularly and so far it feels good.

    Following that I think I will make the four or five terrain textures to blend throughout the map.

    After that i think I'm going to work on the giant forerunner wall as that will be an easier asset to make than the bases and I can do some learning on that one.

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    All crits and questions welcome... by the way the material on the ground is a top down view of valhalla I found online from an old official game guide. That combined with a bunch of reference images really helped to get things in the right places with the right scale pretty quickly.
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    Small Update - This is a small update that will probably transition into an update to the improvements I've made to the verticality of the map in the next day or two. I made a couple relatively simple snow shaders for the rocks I've made in order to place snow on the top-lying faces of the rock. Relatively simple, but I also added a lot of functionality to it (adjusting amount, normal influence, mesh deformation, etc.). I also made it in so I can use the same material for drawing out dirt and/or moss in the same fashion.

    Sorry about the low res images. I can't get them any higher.

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  • Mik2121
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    Mik2121 polycounter lvl 6
    It seems to be missing some verticality. Perhaps it'd be better if you added some bigger hills and whatnot. It will also help with the overall picture, I think.
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    @Mik2121 - Absolutely. Hopefully I'll be adding an update tomorrow or the day after with a much better verticality about it. I'm also going to try and get some textures painted on the terrain to get a better feel for the environment. I also need to do it to make sure my refracting water is working properly, but that's somewhat of a side thing right now.
  • MichaelElphick
    Regarding the resolution size, take a look at the play in editor options.. That's all I can say in public, PM me if you get stuck and I'll explain!
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    @MichaelElphick - Thanks man. With that and something else I did, I can now take hi res screenshots.
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    Alright so I've got some better verticality and I think the blockout is looking pretty nice. It still needs adjustments, but I'm having a hard time seeing things in the correct perspective because I don't have the ground properly textured... so that's what I'm going to do next. Make some awesome textures in zbrush and make some depth based material blending for the terrain.

    It's also worth noting that I have realtime reflections for the water, but it's still not looking great.

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  • gsokol
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    gsokol Polycount Sponsor
    Looks interesting.


    In your first post you mention that you want to mix in some overgrowth....but I haven't seen much of that come through yet. What kind of things are you looking to do to get that across? I think it might be cool to leave some remnants of a past battle here, maybe some derelict warthogs/ghosts, something to add a little more story.


    While I realize its early on, nothing I see supports the idea of an overgrowth version of valhalla...just looks like your doing an exact copy of it.


    So far for the rock piece you showed, the sculpt looked a little blobby, your missing a lot of form. Notice especially in the halo4 version of valhalla, how the rocks have some nice, crispy edges and clearly defined forms, and the textured one you have doesn't really support the forms either...just looks like a tiled texture thrown onto it (maybe it is?)

    The snow material is cool, I'm a sucker for the fancy vector blending stuff :)

    For your blockout, I don't see any images that depict scale. Maybe drop a human sized object in here, or a vehicle sized one...I think it will help you get a better sense of space overall.

    One more thing I just wanted to throw out there. Have you considered just doing a small portion of the map instead of the whole thing? I can see how the map wouldn't be too difficult to make, as you can reuse assets and such, but it might be easier and better for portfolio purposes to pick a spot, and really focus on nailing it and getting it to a high level, instead of kinda doing an ok job with a really large area. Especially with the overgrowth aspect. Then when you get that down, go back and reassess if you really want to do the whole thing.

    Anyways, It looks like your still pretty early into the project, so well see how this goes. Good luck!
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    @gsokol - Let me first say that making a past battle having taken place in the area is a superb idea! I'm doing it.

    In regards to your second point I'm very glad it looks exactly like it. My plan is to recreate the overall map as a foundation to age it (which as of now I'm somewhat satisfied with the blockout)... if that makes sense. My thinking is that recreating the map will in the long run help make it feel aged, but still familiar. Ultimately this is just the blockout, and I'm planning on starting some foliage pretty soon (first I'm going to get the rocks right).

    Looking more at the rocks, you're indeed right. I'm going to go back and make sure there is some real form in there. As it goes for the texture, it was all sculpted and baked down. I think a lot of the detail was lost simply because I made it all look the same in the sculpt. It was definitely the wrong way to go about making a mesh (however for a tiling texture it would work well I think). I'm still working on the crispness of the rocks, but I'm having somewhat of a hard time really getting those nice edges to come out in a texture. If you have any tips or tricks to getting those real crisp edges I'd love to know.

    I think for the scale I'll work up a quick basemesh warthog to reference several areas of the map.

    I think that's a great idea. I was thinking along those lines of working on the far side of the map (the base nearest the waterfall as both bases are centerpieces) to completion. It might be more interesting for you guys too as the progress for an entire map is kind of slow.

    Thanks for the feedback, it was very helpful. If you or anyone else has tips, suggestions, crits, etc. Please, feel free to jump in. I can always use the advice.
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    I also found these two excellent threads that will help me greatly through this creation process. I don't know if others have seen these, but they are great reads!

    http://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?t=119041&page=2

    http://www.polycount.com/2012/11/20/the-environment-art-of-halo-4/#start-reading
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    Alright, so this might be more suited for another thread, but I'm going to post here since it's directly related to my current project. I've been trying to really hit the style of the Halo 4 rocks and I've gone through a good dozen sculpts to no avail. I'm not sure If I'm using the wrong brushes, not doing enough in making a base mesh, etc...

    I did find this tutorial today: https://vimeo.com/54356327 So hopefully I'll be able to do something like that to replicate the style from Halo 4.

    I also found one of the environment artists from Halo 4 and it appears that he uses a different technique than the one in the previous tutorial link I just posted (http://www.bosoldworld.net/BW_Halo4.html). I'm just a little befuddled on how to do the Halo 4 granite like rocks.

    Any help would be great for hitting these rocks right, because I've been really racking my brain trying to figure this out with little to show for it.
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    AHA! I finally found the secret (I think so anyways). Trim smooth border + a square alpha really does the trick for some nice granite faces. The search is over. Prepare yourselves for amazing rocks. Here is a quick 5 minute workup just to show what the effect is sort of like.

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  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    Alright, so here's a rock that I sculpted with the "new" technique. Crits are welcome. I think I'm going to texture it using polypaint (first time) and get it in engine to replace some of my current stuff.

    After that I'm going to give myself a break from the rocks and I'm going to model the base. Can't wait to give it a shot!

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  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    Alright, so I think my texturing has improved drastically for making rocks that look realistic. Please give me some crits, comments, suggestions, etc. Because any improvement I can make I will do my best to make.

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    For now I'm taking a break with the rocks and I'm going to make the forerunner base. This one's going to be really fun. I went ahead and did a basic breakdown just to start planning out the base.

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  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    Alright, small update. I did a blockout for base. I sort of mixed the original design with a few of the newer ones that I liked. Other than that I just have a few more things to blockout before I take this thing into nDo to work some magic.

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  • Higuy
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    Higuy polycounter lvl 3
    The top spire is really lacking some detail and is pretty bland. The base is okay...

    Forerunner stuff is generaly pretty clean, but can still be complex, especially those spires. It seems like the angles are pretty off too, I'd try going with a more 45 degree angle on the top area, and also have something at the bottom for a base.

    I'd personally also not open up the middle like that and keep them pretty flat, also can we get a angle from the back as well? I'd like to be able to see whats going on with those sides + the back of the spire as well.

    The natural stuff you have going is pretty slick and nice looking so far, keep up the great work!
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    Hey there. Thanks for the quick feedback. I'm still tinkering with the spire bit and not sure where I'm going with it yet.

    The back still needs a lot of work (talking mainly about the middle spire connecting to the two outer ones).

    I'm going to get to work on getting those 45 degree angles right, shrinking up the middle, and adding some more detail.

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  • snake85027
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    snake85027 polycounter lvl 11
    Id advise you to block out the scene first with basic shapes, your spending to much time on small details..get it planned out with basic shapes, then go into each one and replace it with the actual finished model.

    Also you can do a basic layout and then do a quick paint over with ideas of what you want the environment to look like.

    a little preplanning will go a long way.
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    Thanks snake85027. Most of the major geometry is set in place. I will definitely block things in with simple geometry for the surrounding rock face, forerunner wall, and the mountains in the various outlying areas. This is an area where I have had quite a bit of difficulty forming and I think it's for the same reason you stated. I'm spending too much time on the details and not enough on the major forms/big picture.

    Once I'm done with this base I'm going to block out the rest of the map before I begin any other sort of models to refocus my direction. It will improve direction and keep me focused.

    Thanks again snake for the feedback.
  • sltrOlsson
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    sltrOlsson polycounter lvl 7
    Jack M. wrote: »
    Alright, so here's a rock that I sculpted with the "new" technique. Crits are welcome. I think I'm going to texture it using polypaint (first time) and get it in engine to replace some of my current stuff.

    After that I'm going to give myself a break from the rocks and I'm going to model the base. Can't wait to give it a shot!

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    As always it's hard to tell if this is a joke that no one got or if you have no clue what a rock actually looks like.

    trimBorder with a square is what I use for granite to, it pretty awesome even though it takes time. I can recommend you playing with crumble when you've got your bigger clean shapes down with the trimBorder. Also, use trimBorder at different strengths.

    If this actually is your final sculpt, you really need to go back and look at your reference. I'm not pointing out anything specific cause pretty much everything is off in your sculpt.

    Keep it up!
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. polycounter lvl 4
    @sltrOlsson - Thanks for your honesty. This was more of an experiment with the trimsmooth border brush with the square alpha. It was by no means meant to be a final (I don't think I ever mentioned that), but more so something to practice a new brush on and to figure out why my textures were coming out so crappy.

    I've got an entire library of references to come back to once I'm done with the base, but I just needed a break from the rocks.

    Again thanks for the crit. If not for your crit I may have used the asset in scene Based on the lack of form, realism, and flow that would have been a mistake.

    Also thanks for the encouragement :)
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