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[WIP] Star Wars KOTOR Taris Apartment

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Hey guys, this is my first time posting on this website!

As of tomorrow, I'm going to start posting to this thread once a week, looking for feedback and critique to try and push my environment as far as I possibly can.

This idea of the project is to 'remaster' an environment from my favourite game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - specifically, the Abandoned Apartment you hide out in on the planet Taris.

My goal is to match the quality benchmark (perhaps even exceed) of Battlefront II and Jedi Fallen Order, and I've been using them both for sources of reference for the scene, as well as all the other Star Wars media I can get my hands on (perfect excuse to binge the franchise).

I have a few early screengrabs of the project as it stands currently that I'll post below where I've just played with different wall designs and rough placement of the larger props.

Looking forward to hearing from everyone!

Original Environment:



Apeiron Mod:



Current Block-out:



Replies

  • ThisisVictoriaZ
    Strong start, good luck!
  • aestus1167
    I made an account just to follow this project. KOTOR’s Taris is home away from home. 
  • Kobejk
    Wait, is this apeiron mod? I thought the project was scrapped. If it is the Apeiron mod than I'll be super happy!
  • JamesWard3D
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    JamesWard3D triangle
    Kobejk said:
    Wait, is this apeiron mod? I thought the project was scrapped. If it is the Apeiron mod than I'll be super happy!
    Hey Kobejk,

    This isn't the mod, no - just using them as a point of reference for my own little project :)
  • Kobejk
    Kobejk said:
    Wait, is this apeiron mod? I thought the project was scrapped. If it is the Apeiron mod than I'll be super happy!
    Hey Kobejk,

    This isn't the mod, no - just using them as a point of reference for my own little project :)
    Cewl, does that mean that you're going to try to match/surpass Apeiron? Regardless I think that it will turn out great so keep up the good work

    Also are you planning on expanding the project to the rest of Taris and beyond after you finish the apartment? Or is it just a one and done?
  • JamesWard3D
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    JamesWard3D triangle
    Kobejk said:
    Kobejk said:
    Wait, is this apeiron mod? I thought the project was scrapped. If it is the Apeiron mod than I'll be super happy!
    Hey Kobejk,

    This isn't the mod, no - just using them as a point of reference for my own little project :)
    Cewl, does that mean that you're going to try to match/surpass Apeiron? Regardless I think that it will turn out great so keep up the good work

    Also are you planning on expanding the project to the rest of Taris and beyond after you finish the apartment? Or is it just a one and done?
    My goal is to match or surpass Battlefront 2 and Jedi Fallen Order primarily. I always try to set myself a recently released AAA game in terms of quality, as that was pretty much the mindset I was taught at University.

    I'll be doing some elements to create the city-scape and to make it feel like the Middle/Upper City a little, but making the whole of Taris is a bit much, I think haha. I've got an Audio guy and an Animator working on this project with me so they can showcase some of their own work, so I've got to try and keep it scoped - otherwise it could look great on a Macro scale, but the Micro quality will suffer.

    The perk of this apartment though, is I'll get a chance to deep dive into things I've not had a chance to in the past. For example, I'll be modelling some weapons, diving into Painter (more than I have in the past), Marvellous (if I can get it working on my PC - the installation seems to break for some reason) etc. :)
  • JamesWard3D
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    JamesWard3D triangle
    Progress Update 01:

    Well, this week has been wild. I've spent this week converting the main environment assets (the walls and floor) into the first iterations of the game-ready assets. It's been a lot of me looking at reference and going back and forth between Maya and UE4, most of said reference coming from Jedi Fallen Order and Battlefront 2's campaign.

    I'm still working out just how I'm going to go about applying materials, and exactly what kind of materials I'm going to go for, but I made a quick Trimsheet for floating Decals, which you can see on most of the assets to some degree that I've done. Over the course of the next week, I want to settle on a plan for my Tiling Master Material, get a few basic materials on the assets and get a small library of smaller wall assets I can start slapping on the walls to break them up and make them look interesting. I'm also going to look into creating a dirt and grunge Trimsheet to apply to corners of geometry to break it up and make it distinct from its background. Oh, I also plan on adding the doors back in! 

    Any ideas, feedback or critique is more than welcomed!

    Shots:


  • JamesWard3D
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    Progress Update 02:

    Okay, so there's a few more materials in the scene as a whole and I played with the lighting a little to try and get an idea of where I'm heading with it.

    A lot of the progress this week has been things behind the scenes like material creation, shaders and making sure I know where I'm heading from here. You could almost say this week was an experimental week for the project.

    I have an idea of where I'm going to go from here and how I'm going to adapt my workflow to suit it. Originally, I was making one wall at a time due to the apartment blueprint I found online (just a luxury apartment blueprint I stumbled across that I thought was interesting), though after consideration this week, I'm going to fix a few of the sizes of the walls and make them much more consistent so I can re-use as much as I possibly can, which in hindsight, I should have considered far before this. Working hard, not smart, evidently.

    Below are a few screenshots as it stands this week :).


  • JamesWard3D
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    Progress Update 03:

    Hey, it's me again!

    So, this week saw me strip a lot of the scene out and down to the bare bones. I found myself, as I mentioned last week, over-complicating a lot of the construction of the scene, to the detriment of the quality. As a result, I went back and made some changes to my overall workflow and how I plan to go forward.

    First, the models. Before, I was making one wall at a time, and I found myself going back and forth between Maya and UE4 far more than I should have been. The quality wasn't there, and the fine details that I personally appreciate on a lot of art, just weren't there. So, I made the conscious decision to break things down as much as I can. For now, I have flat planes with the relevant materials applied to them, and I plan on 'building' each wall up with the details that I plan to use as separate meshes. This will allow me maximum re-usability while having nice, high fidelity assets.

    Speaking of the bare-bones assets - this week, I've done the walls, floor and ceiling modular sets (if I see another ceiling piece on my asset list this week I'm going to scream). The downside of this method, is that for each 'set' of assets, they require their own Material Instance so that the correct Normal, AO and Mask map can be applied using a third UV channel (Channel 0: Tiling Material, Channel 1: Lightmap, Channel 2: Unique Unwrap with other assets in set). It's tedious work, but I believe it really improves the quality when combined with a Trimsheet. All the Normal and AO maps do, really, is just bake down a few edges. So far nothing has been taken through Zbrush, as I'm mostly just generating my High's through Smooth Mesh Preview To Polygons.

    The Master Material I've made uses the Masks made in Painter, and separates out 4 different stages. The first, is damage. This allows for things like paint to be chipped off of some paint to reveal the material underneath etc. The second is Dirt, the third is Dust, and finally the fourth is some roughness variation, which when combined with the tiling material is quite effective for now. I have plans to go through and refine the Master Material some more, but for now it serves its purpose.

    As soon as I model the door's I plan to use (which should be tomorrow), I'll be right back where I was as of this time last week. Once that's done, I can start creating the larger assets to break the walls and silhouette up. I already have plans for the hard corners of the base walls, and I can't wait to see what it all starts to look like by this time next week. Hopefully by then I can also start taking some renders for you guys with the camera angles I have set up!

    I've received some feedback from the brilliant Timothy Dries over on his Discord earlier today, and I plan to act on that this week as well, such as material readability, the corners of the walls, building up areas etc. As always, any and all feedback is welcomed! :) 

    Here's a few screen-grabs of it so far!


  • JamesWard3D
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    Progress Update 04:

    Hey, only really got one or two things to say this week. I've been working on the door pretty consistently - often changing the design as a whole pretty drastically. Originally, I was going for a design similar to what is in the above images, as it's heavily based off of the games as a whole - for the last few days however, I've been leaning more towards a more angular design, which you'll see in the GIF that I link.

    I've also addressed the feedback I got about the sharpness of the corners (originally, I was going to layer meshes over them that had a slight curve, but thinking about it, it'd just be easier to have the small bevel on the walls from the get-go). I've also reduced the contrast on the floor panels ever so slightly.

    The rest of the week has been spent laying out the rest of the apartment based off of my blockout, planning the future assets a little more as I came across more reference (predominantly the concept art for the new Star Wars hotel at Disney Land). I've also had a few days of experimenting with overall shape language as well, so we'll see some more of that over the next week or two as some of the more obvious assets get placed in and I can start building the walls up. It's slow going at the moment, because I'm iterating on my designs a lot, trying to nail the style that I'm aiming for, but it should all be worth it.

    Anyway, here's some GIF'y goodness of the doors opening:

    https://gyazo.com/a96aa523855a97dd13d39f9e1ba706bc
  • JamesWard3D
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    Progress Update 05:

    Oh boy - it's been one of those months, I'm afraid. With the outbreak of Corona, and finding myself in the group of 'at risk', myself and my family have been scrambling to make sure everyone is safe and we have the preventative measures we need. As it stands, myself and my family are all safe, and we're getting on as best as we can.

    When I've not been going this way and that, or finding myself too stressed out with 'What If's', I've managed to get some work done. It's not the most amount of work I could've been able to get done if I really put my mind to it, but seeing the project inch closer and closer to my own milestones helps. I've gotten a handful of things done, and I'm focusing on the larger aspects at the moment. For example, having the large shapes of the rooms done first, before I start layering Medium and Small assets on top of them to break them up and look less repetitive.

    As I'm sure I've mentioned previously, I've often struggled to find a good design that I'm happy with as I've gone through the design process of each asset - particularly the larger assets. How does the shape language feel? Is it interesting? Is it the correct blend of industrial and luxury you find in Star Wars? It's been a tricky one for sure.

    I'm coming to the end of the larger modular assets now, with really only a handful left to do before I can start on the multitude of medium ones. I should mention, assets like the sofa and such I consider unique props, which will get done further down the line. I'm re-debating the floor and the ceiling (I still really don't know a whole lot about what I want to do with it, if I'm honest - chances are, both are going to get replaced at some point). I feel the floor is far too distracting from the walls, and the ceiling to me just doesn't make me think of Star Wars - it feels more like Mass Effect, or something along those lines.

    In any case, I have a few screenshots of what I have planned to do next, including a section of floor that unfortunately needs to be unique, and a bit of design work to surround the doors. Once those are done, I can see about windows and the like.

    A few screenshots of the last few weeks progress will be below! If I don't post this Sunday, I'll definitely be posting the week after to get into the flow of it all again! Hope everyone is doing alright and staying safe!



  • Pirax
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    As it stands the droid you have gives it the star wars identity, i think if you can add a few more homages to the films in the other shots (you might already have this planned to be fair!) - then it will be in no doubt where it belongs. 

    Early on you added splashes of colour and corresponded the lights to that colour, your original reference did with the dark blue patterns and purple lighting which catches the eye so i'd bring that back as its a bit grey overall at the minute :) It's also a bit uniform so adjusting the light should allow you to set your focus on the assets you believe strongest in the scene.

    I think the shape language is fine so you can let your upcoming materials do the talking -  good luck man and take care!

    Excited to see where this ends up, i'll keep an eye on it!
  • JamesWard3D
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    Pirax said:
    As it stands the droid you have gives it the star wars identity, i think if you can add a few more homages to the films in the other shots (you might already have this planned to be fair!) - then it will be in no doubt where it belongs. 

    Early on you added splashes of colour and corresponded the lights to that colour, your original reference did with the dark blue patterns and purple lighting which catches the eye so i'd bring that back as its a bit grey overall at the minute :) It's also a bit uniform so adjusting the light should allow you to set your focus on the assets you believe strongest in the scene.

    I think the shape language is fine so you can let your upcoming materials do the talking -  good luck man and take care!

    Excited to see where this ends up, i'll keep an eye on it!
    Thanks for the comment bud! You're right, I plan on including a few things from the various characters in the game (lightsabers, weapons, jackets etc).

    I'll definitely have a play with the lights! I've got a lot of experimenting to do, and I keep going back and forth on how I want to tackle the interior lightsources.

    Thanks for the pointers my dude! I'll get working on them ASAP! :)
  • JamesWard3D
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    Progress Update 06:

    Sorry for the late update - I was ill yesterday, and sitting at a PC was the last thing I needed. Anyway, I'm fine today and I've got another update. It's nothing too fancy, just confirming that I've done what I mentioned in the last post, and I've done a few extra things on my list too :).

    First of all, I've cleaned up a number of the materials, and outright re-done a few. The floor is now a dark reflective painted metal, which can be seen all throughout the franchise. The contrast between the floor and the lighter walls I think works much better now, and it'll be easier to add a bit of colour to the walls when I add the break-up meshes!

    Besides that, I got the large window one. I took some inspiration from the original windows in the 2001(ish) game, particularly for the shape. I still need to add a trim or two, but I'm leaving that until I have some extra meshes on there so I don't make it too busy.

    The giant gaping pit in the floor is no more! I went with a bit more of an industrial look on this unique floor piece as I've split the area up into 'zones'. This particular zone would be where the player would go any upgrade weapons and armour on a workbench I've yet to build.

    Looking forward to hearing what you guys have to say! As always, feedback and Crit is always appreciated!



  • Benjammin
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    Benjammin polycounter lvl 2
    Hey James, really cool to see your progress and development of this idea - thanks for sharing.

    I feel like (and absolutely correct me if I'm wrong) that you're struggling to find the right theme for this, and bouncing back and forth between ideas. It feels like its caught between being an industrial workshop type space, and an apartment. Star Wars environments tend to have singular flavors, ie: planets with one biome/climate. City planets can have the upper and lower levels, but both are very distinctive, and make you feel like they're different 'worlds'. 

    Your early block-outs felt very upper-class, but as you've progressed it seems like its shifted to the lower-levels - which is fine - just be conscious of it :) I would also pull back on some of the industrial type materials if this is an apartment, and instead sell areas like workbenches with clutter and set-dressing. Maybe less crates, too. If its lower-class apartment, then grunge it up, because the poor people can't afford cleaning droids. :)

    The green and red lighting is a bit too extreme IMO. The accent lights are too intense, and maybe the overall ambient light is too bright as well. You've picked the two shades that human visual systems are immediately drawn to, and having them both so close together is quite jarring.

    What can help with lighting  is to strip your base color textures out of the materials and just use flat color (vector3) nodes to work out the tones you want.

    For some reference suggestions, I'd say look at the SWTOR mmo - that explores all the different kinds of environment you'll find in the Old Republic era.
  • JamesWard3D
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    Benjammin said:
    Hey James, really cool to see your progress and development of this idea - thanks for sharing.

    I feel like (and absolutely correct me if I'm wrong) that you're struggling to find the right theme for this, and bouncing back and forth between ideas. It feels like its caught between being an industrial workshop type space, and an apartment. Star Wars environments tend to have singular flavors, ie: planets with one biome/climate. City planets can have the upper and lower levels, but both are very distinctive, and make you feel like they're different 'worlds'. 

    Your early block-outs felt very upper-class, but as you've progressed it seems like its shifted to the lower-levels - which is fine - just be conscious of it :) I would also pull back on some of the industrial type materials if this is an apartment, and instead sell areas like workbenches with clutter and set-dressing. Maybe less crates, too. If its lower-class apartment, then grunge it up, because the poor people can't afford cleaning droids. :)

    The green and red lighting is a bit too extreme IMO. The accent lights are too intense, and maybe the overall ambient light is too bright as well. You've picked the two shades that human visual systems are immediately drawn to, and having them both so close together is quite jarring.

    What can help with lighting  is to strip your base color textures out of the materials and just use flat color (vector3) nodes to work out the tones you want.

    For some reference suggestions, I'd say look at the SWTOR mmo - that explores all the different kinds of environment you'll find in the Old Republic era.
    Ah thanks!

    Yeah, it's been a tricky journey. I've been looking at a lot of the comics as a point of reference for the planet itself (some fantastic series by the way!) and a lot of Fallen Order for the interior assets, which I noticed is a combination of that luxury, smooth-lined aesthetic and industrial. You're absolutely right, I definitely intend to grunge it up - I just haven't created that part of my Master Material currently. I might do that tomorrow, now that you mention it!

    I've definitely found the environment itself tricky to pin-point exactly how I should have it. According to the Wikipedia entry on the Star Wars sights, the apartment itself is situated in the Lower-Upper City and has been abandoned for some time, though it's lightly maintained by a local Janitor, so finding that middle ground has been tricky for sure. I'll definitely have a play with what you suggested in time for the next post in regards to the lighting. If I'm honest, I haven't touched a lot of it since I initially jammed it together, so I'm glad you pointed it out!

    As for the layout itself, I definitely plan on doing all the props haha. I'm trying to build it as a game-ready environment, that you could imagine having just lifted out of a game. To that effect, I've had a look at a lot of 'Party Camps' from RPG games - KOTOR, SWTOR, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Fallen Order etc. Most seemed to be split into certain sections to designate specific sections, though I suppose that at this early stage it may appear I'm going back and forth on aesthetic. With that context, is that design choice more obvious/clear now, or would you say it's still an issue? I only ask to see if I need to re-think some things or if I may be able to make it more obvious with the medium and small asset libraries I plan to create for the walls. Not dismissing anything that you've said at all - just trying to get a better understanding is all, so apologies if it comes across that way! :)

    Yes! The crates are definitely getting stripped back! As with the lights, I've mostly just moved them out of the way and not given them much thought while I've been working on them to be honest. I should probably put all the block-outs of the props I have back into the scene to give a better idea of how it's all going to be laid out - I'll spend some time this week doing just that!

    I really appreciate your feedback! Got a nice little list to be working on - looking forward to seeing what you think this time next week! :)
  • Benjammin
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    Benjammin polycounter lvl 2
    It sounds like you know where you're going, then - looking forward to seeing how it develops :)
  • JamesWard3D
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    Progress Update 07:

    It's been a month! I can honestly say that I've avoided sitting down at my PC as much as I possibly could. It's been a tough one. I've made some changes based off of the feedback previously and thrown in a few more block-outs to give a better idea. I need to populate the walls for sure with the various panels and such that I plan to dress them with.

    Over the last week, on and off I've been working on re-doing the ceiling pieces, because I really wasn't happy with what I had. I'll also have ceiling lights again! Wahey! It's just refining the designs and seeing what I'm happy with, for the most part.


    A few screenshots below shows you what I've got in-engine currently. Once I have the lights in-engine, I plan on refining the lighting a lot more for sure.


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