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Halo Reach - Environment Dump - Anthony Vaccaro

polycounter lvl 13
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Autocon polycounter lvl 13
Hey guys just thought I would post some of the work I did for Halo Reach while at Bungie. Since Environments and 3D were handled very diffrently at Bungie I made my own thread so you can see whats diffrent and since I think I am the only active person who worked on Environments that posts on PC. Unlike 3D I cant claim full ownership of 100% of whats in the screen shots as many textures/assets were shared among all artists but the areas bellow are areas that are done almost entirely by myself unless stated otherwise.

Boardwalk - This is a multiplayer space I worked on with fellow artists Matt Bennier. The majority of the level was split between the two of us and areas worked on were constantly overlapped by each other. Matt also worked on the initial architecting of the level, and I handled the final polish.


Sword Base Kivas - This campaign space was worked on by myself, Rob Adams, and Matt Turner. I worked on the more unique and mission driven areas in this space. Such as the comm Tower/Comm control pad, generator room, electrical pole, modular stairs/railings and broken wood pieces among others.



  • Fuse
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    Fuse polycounter lvl 14
    Most excellent.

    You guys have done a bang up job. I enjoy the clean and crisp look of the environments.
  • xk0be
    I got a killing frenzy on boardwalk my 3rd game, I guess I should thank you lol its a really good map. Amazing work!
  • luke
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    luke polycounter lvl 12
    nice man! how long was you working on reach for, didnt you join up with bungie quite late?
    would be great to see some break downs also of some assets :)
  • VidGameDude
    Well i must say, even though i never got a chance to play reach(and probably never will) Bungie has truly stepped up their game, not only in design but the concepts of fps and 3rdperson ship battles have never looked better(saw on the trailers).

    i applaud you for your hard work and hope to be at your level in the future!
    o and welcome to polycount if your new here.
  • IronHawk
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    IronHawk polycounter lvl 10
    Good stuff Anthony!
  • gibson543
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    gibson543 polycounter lvl 11
    I <3 the game, I <3 these enviros and I <3 you
  • maze
    I like your stuff, great work man!
  • Loren Broach
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    Loren Broach polycounter lvl 10
    Right on Anthony!
  • Rens
    Great work man!

    Good times playing through those,
    Must have been one hell of a ride,
  • XenoKratios
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    XenoKratios polycounter lvl 8
    Hey man awesome work, would love to appreciate it more if I had a XBOX..

    Can I haz?
  • Kevin Johnstone
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    Kevin Johnstone polycounter lvl 16
    Nice, I love the clean brittle open style of it.
  • marq4porsche
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    marq4porsche polycounter lvl 9
    Amazing work guys, I'm amazed, this game is seriously inspirational. I would love to see a breakdown of the scenes though... *notebook and pen in hand* I need to learn!!
  • breakneck
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    breakneck polycounter lvl 13
    hey, looked like lots of fun stuff to work on. good job!!
  • StealthSilver
    I really enjoyed Reach. I'd be interested to see how much of that is BSP and how much is model-based.
  • Thegodzero
    Nice, not a big fan of the lighting but the art still looks good.
  • Purplepaint
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    Purplepaint polycounter lvl 8
    let the fapping continue!
  • Klumpmeister
    You guys at Bungie out did yourselves once again. I applaud your success at making the best halo game you could imagine.
  • Ben Apuna
    That's a really impressive mass of work you have there. Thanks for sharing.

    Did you work off of any concept art? if so, can you show it?
  • Barnstable
    Man that's just amazing work... Mad props

    I hope to be at your level some day in the far far future.

    Please share any wires and texture sheets you can. I just want to see what the construction looked like.
  • Mistry10
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    Mistry10 polycounter lvl 8
    great work !
    i hope you plan on most more amazing stuff soon !
  • Jungsik
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    Jungsik polycounter lvl 6
  • SouthpawSid
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    SouthpawSid polycounter lvl 7
    thank you for the awesome. :)
  • Spitfire
    Im so happy for all of these artdumps, any highpoly/lowpoly pics outside the environment?
  • DOG-GY
    Boardwalk is one of my favorite maps to navigate. There's tons of fun little spots to hide in, especially near the edges. I've also got myself a nice spot among the foliage for swat. Good work. I'd love to see wires/lighting/etc.
  • Grey
    These look great Auto! Congrats, you guys all did an amazing job :D
  • Andreas
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    Andreas polycounter lvl 11
    Wow Auto, they sure kept you busy! Great work. Such a big volume for the time you were there too!
  • raul
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    raul polycounter lvl 11
    awesome!!! Nice work!
  • onionhead_o
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    onionhead_o polycounter lvl 13
    loving these halo reach art dumps. keep it comin
  • Minos
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    Minos polycounter lvl 13
    Damn that's hot! Makes me want to buy the game for the environments alone. :)
  • Shogun3d
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    Shogun3d polycounter lvl 12
    Nice work Anthony! Sick!
  • Autocon
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    Autocon polycounter lvl 13
    Thanks for all the kind words everyone, sorry its been a while but been very busy.

    As for break downs and wireframes sadly I do not have any to show for a few reasons. One was I forgot how long it takes to take screen shots and tried to do all of that on my last day at work and just didnt have time to get nice breakdown shots of things. Second since the environments are very large it started to look like black blobs of wireframe lines all over the place. Finally I had to try and decied what was most important to take screen shots of as you dont want to try and show everything you worked on, just the best of the best and things that stand out. Only about 75% of what I worked on is show which is always hard to cut screen shots out of the folio but you have to manage between a good amount of screen shots and too many.

    As for Boardwalk the majority structure is made up out of BSP chunks. This was done as it made prepping things for light mapping a lot easier and reduce the amount of light mapping seams while still keeping the large swafts of white panels.

    Lighting in outdoor areas was done by the sun system and was set beforehand. We also had 2 contract artists work for the most part just on lighting and the only area I was able to work on lighting in the screen shots above was New Alexandreas condo area and condo basement area.

    So no break downs but if you have any specific questions just let me know and I will answer it to the best of my ability.
  • eyo
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    eyo polycounter lvl 9
    Thanks so much for the post really nice stuff :-) Best Halo since the first! Thoroughly enojyed it. I was actually really curious workflow wise @ Bungie. how are environment textures handled? Are they created as need by the Enviro Artists or are there specific Texture Artists for environment stuff?
  • DOG-GY
    In my opinion New Alexandria had a great style that I loved. Then again, I love white with colour thrown in. I love Sword Base but it feels weird coming back to a space and having it be wrecked. Still cool though. Can't decide whether or not I liked it better pristine
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    NAIMA polycounter lvl 12
    Hello :) I am loving those environments and personally I felt after playing HAlo reach campaign that this is the BEST HAlo title to date , I loved the Epic feel of the campaign and I especially loved the environments ....

    New Alexandria is one of my favourite levels I love all the skyscrapers look and shapes and Designs they look Faboulose , Looking great the feel , the style and the imersion ....

    I am particularly interested in all those rocks and stones and cliffs , did you work on those too ? If not who did and where can I see its portfolio ?
    I really like how those where all done and I am wondering how where modeled or textured those rocks and clifs to look so cood either from close and so also when u go far ... Or how does that engine works ? the rocks look so good from distant , I can't see any tile repetition ,( I loved also Red Dead Redemption Rocks , but there I could spot tiles ) , and hows that they look so good by close with such detail ...

    Also the terrain and all rest is great ....

    My only complain would be about water shaders but that I guess is another field didn't look much updated since Halo 3 ...

    Thanks for any answer :) ... and again congrats to have worked on such a great title ....
  • Autocon
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    Autocon polycounter lvl 13
    eyo wrote: »
    how are environment textures handled? Are they created as need by the Enviro Artists or are there specific Texture Artists for environment stuff?

    For textures Bungie didnt have any one person as a dedicated Texture Artist. Textures were generally created by the environment artists as needed. We of course shared textures/assets throughout the entire game as most studios do. For Reach environment use of textures had to be controlled a lot more then before. From Halo 3 to Reach everyone's budget got bigger expect for environment artists, which actually was smaller then Halo 3.

    Main reason for this was all the armor permutations to customize your Spartan. All those helmets, chest plates, shoulder pads and other odds and ends you can use had there own unique texture map. The big problem with this is that EVERY armor permutation, every weapon, every enemy and every vehicle is loaded for every level you play. It never loaded just what your Spartan had on, it loaded all possible permutations. So it adversely effects how many textures you can use for environments.

    For New Alexandria (not sure if others did this) but we made a bunch of tmp textures near the start to hit our allotment of textures so we would always know what kind of performance hits we were getting early on. We then would replace those tmp textures with newly created tiling textures that we needed say for the industrial part, or textures we borrowed from other levels that also fit ours.

    NAIMA wrote: »
    I am particularly interested in all those rocks and stones and cliffs , did you work on those too ? If not who did and where can I see its portfolio ?

    As for the rocks I cant say with any kind of certainty but I believe half of those were outsourced (could be totally wrong on this) and the others were done by the other full time guys working on the level when they needed a rock. As for the folios of the full time guys it doesn't seem they have updated them in a few years.

    The Terrain was handled by the use of a RGB blend shader. This basically gave the ability to blend 3 diffrent shaders (ie grass shader, dirt shader, rock shader) together by the use of a unique map. A unique map was used to blend the terrain as the RGB would correspond to a different shader. So if you use Red for your grass and Green as your Dirt and paint those on the unique 1 to 1 unwrapped map you will get grass everywhere that is Red and Dirt everywhere that is Green. Then when you blend those colors together it blends between dirt and grass.

    Very powerful as depending on how much time you put into the blend map you can pretty much remove almost all looks of tiling.
    What about concept art?
    So I get this question a lot so I figued I would answer it here. For concepts I unfortunately didnt have any environment concepts to work off while at Bungie. By the time I got to Bungie the concept artists were transitioning from Reach to the new project and most of the conecpting work they did while I was there were for some more unique 3D assets or a couple of paint overs for areas to better establish trim ideas and such.

    For New Alexandria we had a lot of different concepts for the city. The problem was that there was no one concept that was like ok this is what the city is going to look like. So for a lot of the city we created the style as we were creating the levels. There were macro ideas that were set from the concepts that we already had established like the large skyscrapers, large wafts of white panels and glass, chromed frame work with wood and green glassed accents here and there. But for most things they were designed as they were created with keeping those design ideas in mind.

    We of course took parts that we liked from various concepts and incorporated them and there was some back and forth early on but we were lucky and seemed to click pretty quickly on the style we wanted and were able to spread it throughout the rest of the city. The two levels that were first worked on that really helped set the style of the city was Beach Head (fire fight space/last level of the city) and Boardwalk (multiplayer space/first level). This were done first as they are multiplayer spaces and would see the most action. Beach Head was done first as it was the "pre-vis" level but a lot of what we did on Boardwalk and the rest of the city influenced a lot of changes to Beach Head right before E3.

    Boardwalk did receive a paintover sometime after E3 as Boardwalk is a large bridge and was originally going to be more or less a park on a bridge. So we had a lot of grass and plants all over the place but it was deiced to change it as it looked too much Beach Head with it being mostly green with some whites of the buildings here and then to being more white with bits of green here and there.

    Anyway TLDR
  • CNecron518a
    Solid, Solid, Solid work here. I finished the game on Legendary two weeks ago; I found myself wanting to go back and play through the levels just to soak in the details and colors.. a great reference for everything sci fi and brilliant work of art of a game..best Halo yet IMO. :D
  • Rurouni Strife
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    Rurouni Strife polycounter lvl 10
    Outstanding work. I also greatly appreciate the breakdown/QnA post. Any slice of information into the development of a game, especially something as grand as a Halo game is something I try to learn from.
  • jimmypopali
    Hey, just letting you know, on your Halo world piece, about 3/4 of the way down there is a little bit of text explaining what you did etc. You misspelled 'unique'.

    Bloody great work btw
  • Lord Ned
    Really dug Swordbase Kivas as I played through, though I thought the snow felt out of place, not that it ever directly looked out of place. Wasn't ever really aware of the snow in-game except in a couple situations where you can get up against a snow-bank. Boardwalk's campaign component was a bit disappointing (I'm aware it's not something you did), just because after a certain extent it felt like there was only one way to play it to get to the final objective on it which was a bit weird. I really dig most of the levels and environments in Reach, though some of the gameplay decisions caused them to be quite frustrating. :(
  • [HP]
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    [HP] polycounter lvl 13
    I'm not a fan of Halo's art direction but that's not your fault! :)

    Great execution in the environment art here, you kept true to the whole universe and shapes that we all recognize from the franchise.

    Great stuff!
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