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Any info about Way of The Hunter environment asset creation?

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Alex_J godlike master sticky

Is anybody aware of any info about how things were made from the recently released unreal game Way of the Hunter, published by THQ?

I'm specifically interested in foliage and billboard shaders most of all. I just took some look on artstation but can't find much. Perhaps somebody here knows something more?

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  • Benjammin
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    Benjammin polycounter lvl 5

    I was about to explain that trees in AAA are almost always SpeedTree, but then I realised who was asking. 😋

    So instead I'll ask: Do you have reason to suspect its not SpeedTree?

  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J godlike master sticky

    @Benjammin

    Not the trees (models) specifically - but the shader.

    It is definitely not the standard speed tree shader. I should probably make a video to show them in action but something is being done with the normals or something like that such that they really look a cut above anything else i've seen. And the billboards too are fantastic.

    It seems like there is some calculation for if the branch in facing player, and also depth too. I am not a real shader guy though so I can only make infantile guesses.

    I try to get a video soon - probably some people here might know enough to be able to reverse engineer. At some point in future I might be willing to hire somebody to help with that if i cant figure it out. It's the first time i seen trees in a game and wasnt dissappointed.

  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J godlike master sticky

    Near the end of this video I do some slow panning around some trees to get a better sense of whats going on:


    i think the main thing is that there just isn't any hard lighting at all which gives away the cards. Very soft lighting, whichever cards are facing you always seem to be a little bright sort of?

    The billboards are honestly hard to pickout. I cannot differentiate where billboards begin. They all have a nice wind animation and the billboards get some nice lighting as well.

    I think that is hte biggest thing. Most trees that you see in games are billboards. So far, my billboards (and most every game I've seen) always look very distinctly like billboards.

    No doubt the artist in this game probably manually created each billboard which is why the silhouettes are so fantastic, but also the way they receive lighting seems really high quality. It feels like individual branches are still calculated into the lighting as if though it wasnt a billboard at all. It's more than just a normal map, although i think perhaps the calculation is just based on normals but it exaggerates things somehow?

    I am familiar with editing the normals by transphering from a sphere - i suppose osmething like that may be happening here but it is still a cut above anything I've seen. Perhaps it is the sphere normals + a good depth calculation to get the soft ambient occlusion? But i think the lighting calculations must be tweaked a little bit because it is hard to not get some cards to jump out due to bad lighting.


    I am most interested in the billboards because for my next project i might use a hybrid 2d style where all the trees are just billboards. But these are so convincing it is hard for me to tell they are 2d even when studying them closely.

    I've found one modeler who worked for the game but he was a freelancer and didnt seem to know anybody in the material/shader department. I havent been able to find anybody else. And they might not wanna share secrets anyway. But if I could get a similar effect for my trees, man what a difference that makes in how the game feels. Immersion x1000.


    (one thing they havent done well is get rid of the ghosting - it's pretty heavy in this game. If any developers working on the game read this, I can show you how to get rid of the ghosting :) just a few tweaks and i dont think it cost much more performance, at least not for pc)

  • Benjammin
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    Benjammin polycounter lvl 5

    SpeedTree shaders in Unreal are pretty good, and it does a good job of generating billboards for you with good normals. I suspect there's nothing revolutionary about what they're doing, they've just spent a lot of time and resource on getting them as good as possible.

  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J godlike master sticky

    @Benjammin , yeah the speedtree standard stuff is not bad at all. I have been perfectly happy with it. Until I saw this game :).

    I am convinced that they have done a little extra with the shaders. It may just be a few simple tweaks but it is very different looking from the vanilla look you get.

    Well, it dawned on me to actually look at the credits of the game. It's a studio from Slovakia - I've sent them some message. If I am lucky maybe they share some info.

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