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Building an environment - Evil Genius hidden forest base

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  • ImSlightlyBored
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Haha, then you won't mind if I do it!
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Wait.. you won't mind if I do it, would you? There's some good nuggets of info in there that'd be a shame not to share :(
  • ImSlightlyBored
    I was only trolling.

    DISCLAIMER THIS IS CRAZY EXPENSIVE
    For simplicitys sake here is the UPK for UDK March 2010, I always found it easier to open up shaders and work from there rather than blurry screenshots.

    http://medicinal-waste.co.uk/ppblur.zipppblur.jpg
    It's basically a brute-force blur which is masked by zbuffer, so things that are closer are blurred alot more. I added in a custom smoothstep node so you can affect the falloff between foreground and background
    it uses 10 scene samples, not good for production but fine for portfolios. My test in the screenshot isn't great, or too valid, but I think it should do what you need.

    It's all paramaterized
    DebugDepth just lets you visualize what the depth mask is doing, blurbase1 is the blur for scenedepth mask, which drives blurbase, which is amount of visible blur. Could be nice to work with it in matinee.

    EDIT
    So there we have it
    not cheap
    not perfect
    but its a start. Cheers
  • MaD
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    MaD polycounter lvl 7
    Thats to the .
  • JasonLavoie
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    JasonLavoie polycounter lvl 12
    I was actually going to suggest playing around with zbuffering, but I didn't have a CLUE how to go about it, but mr Alex here fackin shows up to the rescue.

    Would you apply this to a custom post processor volume?
  • Seaseme
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    Seaseme polycounter lvl 8
    Adam, you are the fucking man. Please keep going, we're all really enjoying the progress here.
  • Tom Ellis
    Adam this thread is incredible. Firstly, thank you for going into such detail and keeping us all informed as to the way you've done each little bit. Not only is this an amazing looking environment piece, it's one huge learning tool for everyone.

    Just a couple of quick questions, I know 1432 people have asked about the rocks already, and I understand how you did them, but one thing I couldn't see (I may have missed it) is what you've got in the normal and spec channels on the material for the rocks. Did you create those based off of the diffuse or did you bake something out to use?

    Also, with regards to the ground clutter foliage, how did you place them? Using the mesh paint scatter thing? And are the textures for the ground foliage photosourced?

    Apologies if you did mention this already.

    Thanks
  • Skillmister
    Wow this is just brilliant.

    Making a level in UT3 for university (all standard assets) and some of the stuff you've got on here is really helpful. This has probably been said but i don't have time to read everything right now :$ but how many different materials have you used on the terrain?
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Thanks everyone :) I'll reply to your questions in more detail some time this week.

    Skillmister - Right now, only 3.
  • Skillmister
    adam wrote: »
    Thanks everyone :) I'll reply to your questions in more detail some time this week.

    Skillmister - Right now, only 3.


    Hmm sweet. I've got a forest to make in mine so far only blocked out the terrain and some of the trees with just one material. Cant believe how good yours looks.
  • Tom Ellis
    Ok Adam Sensei I'm gonna add to my list of questions, and number them for ease of replying!

    1. Did you use a normal map on your rocks, and if so was this baked or generated from the diffuse?

    2. How did you scatter your ground foliage, not the trees, just the grass/plants/reeds etc. I've tried using DecoLayers but I'm clearly doing it wrong as I can't get them looking dense enough.

    3. Where did you get / How did you create your maps for the foliage, they look awesome and while I can get mine to look ok on crossed/alpha'd planes, the diffuse textures I've managed to come up with looks pretty crappy.

    4. How have you done your sky? I know you said it's not final but it still looks damn good.

    5. How in the world did you get the awesomely atmospheric fog that seems to be thick in the distance but less visible closer to the player. EDIT - I'm being dumb, I knew about distance fog already, goodness knows why I forgot that.
    Muchos Gracias!
  • Skillmister
    @creation, can you answer your own question 5 please :)
  • Tom Ellis
    lol, I was just staring at one of Adams recent images and making a mental checklist of what I wanted to ask, and because everything looks so much more awesome in his environment, I expect there to be some secret ninja technique behind it all and without even thinking about it I go asking dumb questions.

    Obviously I have no idea of the settings used on his fog but I will play around with the properties.
  • Skillmister
    I dont even know how to get fog, is it possible in UT3 editor? :(
  • iansmithartist
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    iansmithartist polycounter lvl 10
    Skillmister, its called height fog in UT3, check here for a bit of a tutorial and some extra information. Be sure to check the rest of the site to. Lots of useful information.

    EDIT: Bit more information about height fog here also. :)
  • Tom Ellis
    Ok Adam you'll be pleased to know I got off my ass and searched around (pestered other people in TT) for the answers to the generic UDK questions that didn't relate to your environment.

    I still have a few to ask though.

    You mentioned a couple pages back that you were gonna swap out the UE3 terrain for a staticmesh. Did you do this in the end? I've been playing around with terrain in UDK for my environment, but I'm having two major issues with it. Firstly, everything looks like a slopey (not sloppy), blobby mess and secondly, it's pretty damn hard to get a sense of scale when there's nothing much in the map other than the terrain.

    I've found that I need to compromise between stretched textures with hard edges on terrain, or softer height variations with less texture stretching. There's no 'middle ground' (ahem) since even upping the tessellation just results in softer hills/valleys. So I'm considering using a SM too.

    With regards to the foliage, as well as wanting to know where you got your textures from, how did you end up placing them? I know you talked about mesh placement but again, not sure what you actually did in the end.
  • mkandersson
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    mkandersson polycounter lvl 7
    @ creationtwentytwo

    You can go into the assets browser in UDK and go to the chars folder. In there you can find skeletal meshes of the UT3 characters and get a sense of scale from them.
  • Tom Ellis
    Ah nice one MKAnderson, that's a good tip! Much appreciated thanks.
  • Seaseme
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    Seaseme polycounter lvl 8
    adam wrote: »
    I've been getting some answers over in my TT thread: http://boards.polycount.net/showthread.php?t=70746

    1 - I'm going to replace my terrain with a static mesh, for better results
    2 - Going to look in to changing my tree foliage
    3 - Going to use the mesh placement tool to replace my grass once I've swapped my terrain out for statich mesh.

    Also! Super Pro-tip: I started launching Photoshop, Mudbox and UDK from STEAM! This way I can log my hours I'm putting in each week. Woot!


    Hey Adam,

    Can you please elaborate on #1? Why the change? What are the benefits of doing it this way?
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    MEGA REPLY POST
    Ok Adam Sensei I'm gonna add to my list of questions, and number them for ease of replying!

    1. Did you use a normal map on your rocks, and if so was this baked or generated from the diffuse?

    Generated for the diffuse on these ones.
    2. How did you scatter your ground foliage, not the trees, just the grass/plants/reeds etc. I've tried using DecoLayers but I'm clearly doing it wrong as I can't get them looking dense enough.

    DecoLayer in the terrain tool, with the density increased to my liking. I found the information I needed on Hourences site, which is linked in my OP on page 1.
    3. Where did you get / How did you create your maps for the foliage, they look awesome and while I can get mine to look ok on crossed/alpha'd planes, the diffuse textures I've managed to come up with looks pretty crappy.

    Same way I created the terrain textures. I found ones I liked online (CGTextures.com), painted colours in to my liking then did the process I used on my tiling textures, which is mentioned a few pages back.
    4. How have you done your sky? I know you said it's not final but it still looks damn good.

    Up until my very last update, there was no sky at all. All the colour was coming from the height fog resting on a black void/background. The temp sky I do have now, I ripped from my UC 2009 entry and placed it in this scene until I have the time or interest to do a new one.
    5. How in the world did you get the awesomely atmospheric fog that seems to be thick in the distance but less visible closer to the player. EDIT - I'm being dumb, I knew about distance fog already, goodness knows why I forgot that.
    Muchos Gracias!

    HeightFog ;) But I think you answered that one already yourself.
    You mentioned a couple pages back that you were gonna swap out the UE3 terrain for a staticmesh. Did you do this in the end? I've been playing around with terrain in UDK for my environment, but I'm having two major issues with it. Firstly, everything looks like a slopey (not sloppy), blobby mess and secondly, it's pretty damn hard to get a sense of scale when there's nothing much in the map other than the terrain.

    I tried it out but it made the scene run even shittier. And with each new iteration on the environment, which required a new export each time, the iteration time just came to a hault as exporting took forever. I've increased the density of my terrain mesh to get what i've wanted.
    Seaseme wrote: »
    Hey Adam,<br />
    <br />
    Can you please elaborate on #1? Why the change? What are the benefits of doing it this way?

    I was hoping for a denser mesh and to utilize modulated texture blending, since the Terrain cannot do that in Unreal. The end the increase in iteration time was NOT worth the effort of a terrain mesh IMO. So increased the density of my Terrain in UDK and found that the modulated stuff wouldn't matter with the amount of flora I'll have going on.
    STRIKER wrote: »
    Hey adam, i have question for ya, how you go about the water?<br />
    <br />
    ps. everything looks stunning

    Pretty standard at the moment: Panning textures at low speeds with a depthbias to soften the intersections of water to land. Check out the water that the UDK comes with as a reference to these ideas.
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Did the highpoly for the camera this afternoon as I try and motivate myself to get back on the saddle.

    I ended up elongated its design a bit so that when its in the scene and tilted downward, toward the ground, there's better shape holding up on any low shots I may do with it.

    forestbase_asset_camerahighpoly01.png
  • ZacD
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    ZacD polycounter
    Really nice silhouette. I think it needs those little bolts on the outside like in the concept art, the "cover" is too clean and flat.
  • JasonLavoie
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    JasonLavoie polycounter lvl 12
    Very nice adam, and I agree with Zac on the bolts, even though you may not see them, I think it still helps breakup that piece.
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Yea I think I'm going to add in a seam along the edge of the cover and put some bolts there, to look like their purpose is to hold the inner and outter shell of the cover together, otherwise they'd serve no purpose.
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    *Updated with seams and bolts ;)
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    I'm not so sure the lid needs more detail, to be honest. It's roll is to protect the lens from the sun and any falling debris from the tree's above it. This is one of the few things Dr. Q hasn't spent the time to blend in to the environment.
  • Vrav
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    Vrav polycounter lvl 11
    Very cool and functional-looking little camera. I am certainly looking forward to seeing how you break it down in the low. One thing that strikes me as somewhat fantastical (which is fine, but still) is the weak appearance of the neck. For some reason I think it might benefit from some sort of supportive tendon or spring set, like in a desk lamp, but that could be going a bit far for what will presumably be only seen from far away, up in the trees.
  • Spitfire
    I really love your attention to details on all the small things in the scene, awesome work.

    A small suggestion is to give the rocky areas a higher resolution texture, they stick out from underneath the nice foliage you got ontop of it!

    Btw i love your trees, awesome stuff, did you zbrush those or did you stick to your main 3d app?
  • Joao Sapiro
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    Joao Sapiro polycounter
    i would exagerate the size of the lenses and the small pieces since this will be seen far away i suppose :D looking good !
  • Asteric
    Sorry for the noob question, but for the lens , how did you model it? Because i always get bad smoothing because i cant seem to work out how to di it without using n-gons or tri's
  • r_fletch_r
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    r_fletch_r polycounter lvl 9
    Asteric wrote: »
    Sorry for the noob question, but for the lens , how did you model it? Because i always get bad smoothing because i cant seem to work out how to di it without using n-gons or tri's

    spherify a subdivided cube, heres a pic of the stack


    This is looking awesome Adam.
  • Tom Ellis
    Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my list of questions Adam that's a great help and much appreciated!

    Camera is looking good, I'm looking forward to seeing it integrated into the scene.

    I agree with Johny, it could maybe be exaggerated to help it's visibility, or textured in a 'supposed to be painted with woodland camouflage but failed miserably' way.
  • haiddasalami
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    haiddasalami polycounter lvl 10
    Adam, was recently listening to game mentor podcasts and listened to the environmental art podcast. Didnt know you from Ontario :) Some nice info in there and was a good listen on the train back home.
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Thanks everyone :)

    Spitfire, the texture itself is highres, quite highres in fact!, but looks less detailed due to how I've done up the normal maps I reckon. A quick check in Unreal shows that pretty well everything, except for the 3D grass, are of the same pixel density so far.

    Johny, good idea!

    Everything else has already been answered by another member or somewhere else in this thread ;)
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Great call on the scale! I've updated the old image I posted on the last page, but here's a comparison. The differences are minor but the impact is quite noticeable. Good idea!
    forestbase_asset_camerahighpoly_comparison.jpg
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    I'm going to be adding in some wires running from the branch clasp that runs to each join in the arm and eventually back in to the body of the camera. I won't do this in the highpoly though as I'll do it after I've positioned the camera to be in a more natural position.
  • Joao Sapiro
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    Joao Sapiro polycounter
    i would increase the size also by 100% of the joints of the folding part ( the arm ) , the same for the bolts it might seem weird up close, but when looked at by far will be much better imo :D
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Just to be clear on what you're suggesting: Double the size of all the bolts AND the circular joints on the arm of the camera. If this is correct, cool I will give this a whirl when I get home after work and see how she looks! I'll then post distance shots to explore this one together!
  • MaD
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    MaD polycounter lvl 7
    Nice looking camara, you have got there, really dig the design. Only thing that bothers my a tiny little bit is the lens itself. Feels a bit to bulgy.

    http://www.swordlaw.com/camera%20lens.jpg
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Yeah I popped it out quite bit with the new iteration and felt the same. I ran out of time over lunch though to make an update.
  • Will Faucher
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    Will Faucher polycounter lvl 10
    Quick question, are you going to make a high poly for all your assets? It just seems like sometimes it is unnecessary. For example, was it necessary to high poly your barbed wire? I'm sure there are some things that could get away with a simple heightmap generated normal map from Crazybump.
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Not everything needs a highpoly, thats for sure.. I did the wires so that A.) I could generate a clean alpha map and B.) general a clean normal map from it. To me, it was easier going this route then fiddling with an image from the net until I got all that I wanted.
  • 3DLee
    I recently went the image based route for some barbed wire, and I agree that doing a high poly would have probably been faster and most certainly produced better results. I'm going to remember that for next time. :)
  • Oniram
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    Oniram polycounter lvl 12
    interesting take on the camera.. i like how u curved it up a bit.

    http://securitybargains.com/images/security-camera.jpg
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    That particular camera design was certainly the one with the biggest influence on my original concept thumb. :)

    For shits & giggles, I've uploaded all of my collected references so far over here. I've also updated my OP with the link.
  • bbob
    Great, solid, progress on this, cant wait to see where it goes :D
  • Quack!
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    Quack! polycounter lvl 13
    Just poppin in to say I have been following this from the beginning and is of great inspiration. It's nice to see a project evolve as this has. Looking forward to more!
  • Tom Ellis
    Just been staring in awe at the pics again and I have a suggestion...

    Have you considered adding some flying insects or something, fireflies/butterflies/dragonflies etc?

    I know you're planning to do videos for the final presentation piece and it might look awesome to have some of them flying around.

    Having said that, I haven't got the first clue about how you could implement that, particles maybe? Rigging and animating them might be a bit much but if it could be done with particles it might not be too difficult.

    Falling leaves could be an option too maybe! Just thought it might help add a greater sense of a living environment.

    Just a thought!
  • haiddasalami
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    haiddasalami polycounter lvl 10
    @creation could you not just do that through sprites
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