Correct Environment Construction.

polycounter lvl 2
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Kid.in.the.Dark polycounter lvl 2
Hey everyone,

I'm having an absolute nightmare right now.

So I've been heavily avoiding creating environments for a very very long time... the few I've done recently have been so lucky because it's somewhat avoided the issues I'm about to state but I've reached an impasse and desperately need reassurance/reeducating on how to go about creating an environment...

This is my problem and my questions to it.

I've built an entire level in 3dsmax, the floors/walls/ceiling are not built modular, they are one big fat piece exported together with UV's tiling to no end using a UVW Mapping modifier and I'm having issues with my light map baking phase even using auto generate lightmaps in UE4... I'm already fully aware that this approach is wrong, or at least it seems wrong.

Can someone tell me how they would go about building an interior environment, the floors/walls/ceiling?

I've read so much about how modular building pieces have issues with lighting when you bake them, it requires you to hide seams using parts that break up each segment, etc correct me if I'm wrong.
What is the correct method with least risk when it comes to building an interior level like I have right now?

Should I be building a modular piece and reusing it? or was my previous idea where I used a UVW Map to map my texture to the correct scale that I like and then uniquely unwrap it for the 2nd Map channel for lightmap purposes and going about it like that?

I've been overthinking a lot on how to go about things and it's only raising more questions right now.

It's gotten to the point where I've questioned the use of tiling textures, like if i'm building everything for modular use and there's still going to be seams and lighting errors then it defeats the point of a procedural texture other than the use on terrain, etc... how would I apply it with the methods to build an environment?

I may be extremely exhausted and overworked right now and things may not be clicking but this has rattled my brain for the entirety of this evening and I'm actually flat out confused/uncertain with my pipeline right now.

This is how I've gone about building my level.
- I export every category as a separate group and reimport it into UE4 afterwards
- I populate the scene within 3dsmax, export everything together as one group which I then reset back to 0,0,0 in UE4 so everything sits back in its rightful place e.g. all the windows in my scene are exported together as one .FBX as a big group.






Should I not be over scaling my model's UV's outside it's UV grid just to get the scale I like? or should I be relying on correcting tiling texture scales within the engine itself? I have no clue if anyone gets what I'm asking for because it was actually really hard to just write this out because it keeps leading to more questions.

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  • Steppenwolf
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    Steppenwolf polycounter lvl 9
    Thiago Klafkes tutorial series would be a good investment for you: https://gumroad.com/unreal4environments#
    You are stressing yourself out too much about the lightmaps. If you do mostly squarish modular things like your floors and walls the automatic lightmap creation in UE4 works good enough for the most part. If some issues arise then you can try to either hide the particular seam behind a prop, play around with overriding the lightmap resolution on the specific prop where it happens or handcraft the lightmap uv yourself if nothing else works.
    One thing you should avoid is having parts that stick into other parts, say an inner wall that reaches up into the ceiling. This can cause either the corners to be too dark or light bleeding into it from above. Make it end where the ceiling begins so you have no lightmap pixel that is half in shadow and half in light.
  • Kid.in.the.Dark
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    Kid.in.the.Dark polycounter lvl 2
    Thank you @Steppenwolf

    I actually considered this one before since I saw he was posting updates and some samples etc not that long ago, I'll likely invest in it soon then. I just wasn't quite sure about what the correct method for any level design would have been... I guess last night I was in an absolute mess so I wasn't thinking entirely straight and couldn't ask this a little more simpler but ideally I guess the correct question I wanted to know is whether any level, not just this style... is every level built meant to be modular? Should I be avoiding importing meshes of massive scale such as the entire level's floor as one mesh?

    Thank you for the information so far :)
  • Steppenwolf
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    Steppenwolf polycounter lvl 9
    There is no simple answer for it. It depends. Too small modular pieces can be problematic with draw calls and usability but so can be too large pieces. I come from a level design background and so is Thiago. For guys like us it's important that the pieces are not only well optimized but also fit well, are easy to work with (pivots at the right spots, not too much fiddling with tiny pieces) and leave room for creativity/iterating after they've been imported into the engine. To achieve this is a constant battle with compromises for example with the dimensions. It takes some practice and experience but if you watch his videos they should point you in the right direction. He's very good at this and my number one guy if i have questions about this stuff myself.
  • Kid.in.the.Dark
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    Kid.in.the.Dark polycounter lvl 2
    Thanks Steppen,

    I actually gave it a try last night after some extensive research... I'm pretty sure I was really overworked and wasn't thinking straight, ideally the workflow I was using before with a UVW mapping modifier on my models was half right... I also tried the modular wall by wall method as well, it does create seams from place to place but the places that tend to have really bad seaming I weld together within 3dsmax and completely uniquely generate Lightmap co-ordinates for them with loads of room for bleeding etc to fix them... seems to be a stable way of going about it. The info on the level design side, thank you for that brief insight... I can understand everything you stated ever since I turned this environment into something modular, rebuilding it in UE4 without proper snapping co-ordinates and pivots would be an absolute nightmare haha.

    I was never sure about how to go about long hallway levels that didn't have the architectural luxuries of pillars, etc to separate them but I have a decent insight to it now.

    Thank you!
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