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[CE3] Bioshock Environment Homage

Howdy everyone,

Just thought id start a thread for a project I've been working on recently. I am feeling fairly committed to getting this project finished as I feel like I'm over the initial "hurdles" and am reasonably happy that its going in a direction that I am happy with. I'm not able to work on it constantly, as "work work" is my priority. So I guess ill post as often as I physically can, and work on the scene as much as possible.

As a bit of a Bioshock Fanatic, I wanted to create a homage to the game by creating my own environment in the Bioshock style, incorporating elements of the story/fiction into this. I will of course make everything from scratch, inspired by the original game however ill try and add my own personal touches/spin on as much of the fiction as possible.

Where I am currently at:


Some rough ideas of the parts of Bioshock that have inspired me (elements of each image are appropriate to the scene)

Elements of the "real" world that have inspired me:

The "ambient story"-
I would like to convey a sense of action already having happened, the protagonist has passed through the area and it lies somewhat desolate. The Big Daddies and the Little sisters still roam the area giving the sense that their existence is eternal. I think this is what really captured my imagination originally in Bioshock, the sense that regardless of whether the civil war had happened or not, the duties of the Big daddy and Little sisters is constant throughout. I'd like to show some symbols of this bond between the Big Daddies and the Little sisters, and mainly tell the story through the general ambience of the level.

Rapture is falling into disrepair and from here we can see rapture from a worms eye perspective. Buildings are collapsing into the ocean and the water is seeping into the environment by any possible means. The area is one of the many entrances to the Atlantic Express, an underwater train line that takes people from one area of Rapture to another. We can still see the trains operating, however it's clear that they are somewhat damaged and the all is not well.

What I would like to get out of? -
A 30 second video, full of ambient story. I hope (fingers crossed + with your help) that it will at least look "cool" to people that both have and haven't played Bioshock before.

Make more people that haven't played it, play it! It's awesome. :)

I also hope to learn as much as possible about Art Deco and try and at least feel like I have a good grasp of the style and am able to replicate it.

Some High-Poly stuff to look at (for all those that are bored of my waffling on)

Little sister "Hidey Hole"

Art Deco style glass ceiling high poly

Doorway to the Atlantic Express

Some more shots of the area (showing how much work is left to be done..gulp)


A really (I mean really) rough doodle of what I have yet to add to the scene. (I'm not even going to embed this, click here)

So yeah, there it is! Crit away, I want to hopefully showcase everything I have learned over the last year or so, but also would like to spot any areas that I am weak in (other than doodling!) and patch up those areas of my skill-set.

Thank you for looking & thank you to everyone that has helped me get this far :D


  • gsokol
    Oh man, great start so far.

    Definitely looks like it fits in their style already...and the lighting creates a nice mood. Are you going to be putting a sign up on that empty area above the door? I would love to see some sharp flourescent lighting in here, similar to the Hephaestus Core sign in your image ref. That would help give a good focal point near the entrance there.

    Looking forward to seeing this progress!
  • Lucas Annunziata
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    Lucas Annunziata polycounter lvl 13
    Looking great Scott! I'm glad you started a thread for this. The scene is coming along quite nicely. Maybe you can bump up the spec a bit on the door? The material is pretty flat at the moment.

    One thing that stands out to me is the scissoring curved ceiling girder. It doesn't mesh very well and I feel like you could do something to "art deco-ify" a piece like that.
  • [HP]
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    [HP] polycounter lvl 13
  • ParoXum
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    ParoXum polycounter lvl 9
    Looking cool. Obviously will be able to follow this closer from work but it seems like you're off a good start on this one.

    Keep the motivation meter up!

    Crit: you should place an object in the light behind the door or human feet to better explain it's a door, look a bit like a neon light at the moment, very powerful that is.
  • Jeff Parrott
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    Jeff Parrott polycounter lvl 18
    Loking great man. The little sister cubby hole thing is really interesting cause it actually gives a sense of scale.
  • scotthomer
    Cheers for the replies fellas! Ill try and answer everyone (if possible) so bare with me :D

    @gsokol - Yeah, my initial idea was to have a sign like that above the door as I kinda started off backwards, I created the door first and designed the environment around it when I decided that I wanted to go further with it. The problem was that I wanted to make the half open door the focal point (and still do) and it just detracted your eye straight away. I also planned to have a gatherers garden where the Little Sister's Hole was, but because it was glowing pink it just pulled the eye away from everything else in the scene. Id like (LOVE) to get alot of the neon stuff into the vista (rapture) extending above the scene. Hopefully the depth fog and DOF will make it blur out into a mash of different interesting tones as the city dissapears into the ocean.

    @darbeenbo - Yeah I see what you mean, ill fix that with my next update, its likely that its going to have to be an iterative process of constantly fine tuning the specular as the rest of the scene comes in. I think you're right tho, seeing as the door is the focal point I could really do with ensuring that it POPS. I initially based the gurder/metal work on 100422-louisville-to-greenville-008.jpg, Ill leave it for the time being and if it becomes too noisy (which it may do, especially with a whole city in the background) and then ill go back and look at the design.

    @[HP] :santa: <3

    @Parox..vince - Cheers dude! You'll have to swing by tomorrow, gimme your critical eye :D. Its never really been a case of motivation to do 3d, more motivation to finish projects I start :D Hence why I never put them on polycount! Hopefully ive gotten past the difficult part now and its just fun stuff from here on. :D

    That was the plan, I was hoping to put the legs of the Big Daddy with the little sister next to him behind the door, just giving the silhoette of the characters, with the door opening in slow motion. Hopefully the scale difference between the big daddy and the little sister will mean that its really obvious who it is :D

    @Jeffro, Thanks man! that leads me nicely onto tonight's "work"

    Didnt really have time to do anything major tonight but stole half an hour or so to do some doodling with my girlfriend. I picked up some chalk today and though it would be cool to do some Little Sister style drawings to litter around the scene (particularly around the Hidey Hole).

    Great fun! I think the more rough the better really, so ill scan some of them in and use them as decals. Quick and dirty (the way I like it!)

    Ill make a note of the critique ive had so far and Ill make sure I take a look at each bit in order. :D
  • KennyTies
    This is really awesome stuff and it really does convey that its set in the bioshock universe. How much of the Atlantic Express doorway is sculpted? Keep up the great work!
  • scotthomer
    KennyTies wrote: »
    This is really awesome stuff and it really does convey that its set in the bioshock universe. How much of the Atlantic Express doorway is sculpted? Keep up the great work!

    Cheers dude!

    I made pretty much everything in 3dsmax first, making sure sure that it was evenly divided and then did alot of the damage/detailing using Zbrush using a mixture of the Trim Dynamic, Dam Standard and the Fast Mallet brushes. This was then baked out flat and extruded in 3dsmax to give the door some more volume.

    I typically (actually, RELIGIOUSLY) always make my meshes in 3dsmax first, then use zbrush for the detailing afterwards. Although, I sometimes will "build" an object from multiple subtools in zbrush.
  • TheGoozah
    Awesome models! They indeed match the style and mood! Keep it up!!!
  • Donavonyoung
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    Donavonyoung polycounter lvl 6
    It is looking really good.
  • SaferDan
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    SaferDan polycounter lvl 13
    This is beautiful! When I saw you post that door in waywo I have been waiting for the thread ever since! Really looking forward to this one!
  • KennyTies
    Tbanks for the reply back! Thats really impressive that you did most of your work in 3ds max for the door. Follow up question how did you go about creating the text?
  • ZeroBigSis
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    ZeroBigSis polycounter lvl 10
    Yay, Bioshock! Subbed
    Loving the scribbles btw, great idea
  • desktoppirate
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    desktoppirate polycounter lvl 11
    Working on a similar art deco inspired ocean liner scene ATM, this puts it to shame! Awesome work, can't wait to see it finished.
  • PHaynes888
    Good stuff Scott, subbed :)
  • scotthomer
    Thank you everyone for the replies! Ive got some tutorials to post up, but ill do that separately to this.

    @PHaynes888 - Cheers dude! loving the progress on your Jurassic Park truck, cant wait to see it in the engine man!

    @desktoppirate - Thanks dude, I cant wait to see your ocean liner, are you planning to use CE3 (the oceans in Cryengine kick so much ass). There are a few really good videos on youtube about Art Deco that might help you out, I know ive been really struggling at times to get the art style down.

    ZeroBigSis - Thanks man! Bigsis? bioshock reference there maybe?

    KennyTies - Ive made a tutorial just for you man, ill post it up after this post. KNOWLEDGE TIME! (or hacky shortcut time :D)

    SaferDan - Thanks dude! Glad you like the progress man.

    @Donavonyoung- Thank you :D

    @TheGoozah - Cheers bro! its so hard to get the style right, plus how'd you compete with perfection?! Bioshock nailed it so well, doing as good of a job is going to be a hard one!
  • scotthomer
    Double post time! I thought id post this separately so my replies and these quick tuts are on separate posts.

    56K WARNING!

    So KennyTies commented ^ up there, asking how I went about making the text, so Im going to show a controversial technique that I occasionally use for high poly text:
    ^ I can feel that one is going to start a war. Booleans are dirty.

    Also in the WAYWO thread a while ago, someone asked how I went about making the grate on the Atlantic Express door, so I put together a tutorial for you guys to show how I went about it.

    I hope it all makes sense.
  • theonebutcher
    This is looking awesome scott, its cool to see how you go about working on some of this stuff. Im looking forward to seeing more man! Good Luck with this!
  • fearian
    Wow! That proboolean trick is hacky... and totally awesome! Cheers!
  • KennyTies
    Dude thanks for the awesome tutorial, it really cleared up how to go about creating text for me and thank you for the grate tutorial as well. Cant wait to see more updates.
  • Computron
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    Computron polycounter lvl 7
    Probolean? Why not use dynamesh if your going into zbrush anyway?

    Sir, this means war. I'mma go thermonuclear on yo' ass.
  • WarrenM
    fearian wrote: »
    Wow! That proboolean trick is hacky... and totally awesome! Cheers!

    Seriously, never would have thought of that. Thanks for kicking my brain in a new direction!
  • Danielmn
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    Danielmn polycounter lvl 13
    great tip
  • R00
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    R00 polycounter lvl 12
    Great work Scott and thanls for the tut! Subscribed =)
  • SanderDL
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    SanderDL polycounter lvl 7
    You could also use the quadify mesh modifier in 3ds Max.
  • Silix
    yea definately quadify mesh is excellent, also try the turn to poly modifier with keep polygons convex and limit to 4 sides.

    oo and the generate topology tools under the graphite modeling tools -> polygon modeling -> generate topology has an option to create cross hatch topology and keep a square outline :)

  • Alberto Rdrgz
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    Alberto Rdrgz polycounter lvl 9
    Cool way to make text, but i think now with Dynamesh you can just export the text itself and dynamesh will remesh for you! (saving you some time).

    loving what you have on this scene so far man!
  • [HP]
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    [HP] polycounter lvl 13
    That's an awesome way to do text, wow I can't believe I didn't figure that out before, ahah. Thanks.
  • Fomori
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    Fomori polycounter lvl 12
    With all those techniques (except the purely Z Brush one) I still seem to get nasty artefacts on most fonts. I have to go in and manually edit the polys, which can take 1-5 minutes per letter, but gives you more control in the end anyway. But if you're only going to see the letters from quite far away then these methods can work.

    Very nice detailed work scotthomer!
  • scotthomer
    Ive been pretty busy at work, as we've finally announced Crysis 3, so im upto my elbows in work which is great fun.
    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PdGUZauShA&quot;]EA Crysis 3 | Official Announce Gameplay Trailer (HD) - YouTube[/ame]

    But yeah, I managed to steal some time to myself over the last couple of weekends to do some more work on the scene. Still kinda slow progress but Im really enjoying it (i just hope that none of you are holding your breath!).


    Still super wippy. My current change list (art a length discussion with the art director at work) looks something like this.
    - work on the leaves (they suck "massive balls") :D
    - the UV's on the planters are squashed on the corners (i never noticed before) which is making them look really noisy.
    - Rework the gurders, they look pants.
    - move the camera so the composition is more evenly spaced onto thirds
    - Move the hanging lights (when they're done) away from the center of the composition and possible have 2 lots (either side) to frame the shot better.

    Bare in mind that the lights, the glass walkway above the door and the stairs at the bottoma re completely un touched as of yet, so its just greybox :)

    The lit areas the left and right over the door are going to feature some bioshock style adverts that ive been concepting up recently. Framed with something like this:

    and Im currently working up the highpoly for the hanging lights in this kidna style:

    + Any critique you fellas have.

    Now, to reply to everyone that I rudely didnt reply to before.
    @theonebutcher - Cheers James!
    @ Fearian - Hacky is the best, im like morpheus up in this shit! Hope it helps.
    @Kenny Ties - You're welcome man! Always happy to help.
    @ Computron - This is going to be war like the end of terminator 3. Well Dynamesh has only recently come into Zbrush (am-i-rite?) so this method would work with anyone that has 3dsmax 8 onwards (id hope most of the planet at this stage). But yeah, valid point man.
    @ WarrenMarshall - Im hoping that ive started a trend and everyone is going to just use this method for everything.. some people just want to see the world burn.
    @ Danielmn - You're welcome man!
    @Chris - Keep checking back every full moon and you may see some updates :D
    @ SanderDL - Checkmate my friend.. ahah thanks man, i actually used this method for something else today, I had no idea that the modifier existed.
    @Silix - Thanks man!
    @Alberto - Yeah, Ive not actually used Dynamesh yet, im still on 3.5 but ive heard its the best thing since sliced bread for this kinda thing. Loved the stuff you did in your 1984 style scene man, great work. :)
    @ HP - <3 you're welcome homeboy!
    @Fomori - :S ahh man, It seems like its pretty much foolproof for me but i think you have to be kinda selective/cautious of what fonts you use otherwise it does cause issues with letters dissapearing or getting wierd artifacts. I find that lowering the interpolations does help.

    Thanks for checking this stuff out fellas, hit me up with some critique, im dying to hear what you guys think. :)
  • fearian
    Looking good!

    I'm not so sure the girders suck total massive balls. (I just saw you're blue edit so take this with a grain of salt) I think that they're just let down by a lack of surrounding geometry and support.

    Obviously you need a mesh for the glass canopy, but also some more support brackets and beams would add a bit of visual interest and compliment the girders which at the moment is the only non-decorative metal in the scene.

    eg: these iron cross bars
  • scotthomer
    fearian wrote: »
    Looking good!

    I'm not so sure the girders suck total massive balls. (I just saw you're blue edit so take this with a grain of salt) I think that they're just let down by a lack of surrounding geometry and support.

    Obviously you need a mesh for the glass canopy, but also some more support brackets and beams would add a bit of visual interest and compliment the girders which at the moment is the only non-decorative metal in the scene.

    eg: these iron cross bars

    I think you're right, It does feel like it needs anchor points into the columns too. Im going to explore doing something like this over the weekend, hopefulyl I can find a way that is going to frame rapture as well as possible too. The scissoring of the gurders atm is really distracting (which isnt great). I might try and do something alittle less simplistic and alittle more ornate whilst still being functional. Thanks for the help man!
  • SniperStealth
    Loving it, keep up the great work!
  • Stromberg90
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    Stromberg90 polycounter lvl 11
    Nice job!
    I can't come up with anything that has not been touched on yet, just want to give my support :)

    Know this is still a super wip, but one thing that caught me eye at the last second before posting this, is the lack of ao/shadows on this object that seems to touch the back.
  • Quickel
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    Quickel polycounter lvl 12
    Great work! I love Bioshock art. You hidey hole is really cool. And the boolean text trick is really a cool technique for an issue most of us have probably run into.
  • Ex-Ray
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    Ex-Ray polycounter lvl 12
    Looking good Scott! I'm glad somebody mentioned repositioning the central hanging lights to the side as that's what jumped out for me.

    Since the room is so tall and grand have you thought about framing the scene portrait rather than landscape so you get that over bearing sense of scale across?
  • scotthomer
    @sniper - Thanks dude! Glad you're liking it.
    @Stromberg90 - Well usually I try and wait until the end of an interior before I start baking and AO into the v-colors. This is mainly because it doesn't give an accurate representation of your textures. I promise that once the architecture is finished ill bake the AO in. :)
    @Quickel - Thanks man! Im glad you're digging it, i just hope I can live up to the original, I know bioshock is damn near perfect.
    @Ex-Ray - Heya man! (I remember you from way back when on Games-artist!) It seems so obvious, im kinda kicking myself that i didnt notice the lights thing from the off. + the portfait format.. that's a great idea, im going to give it a try and see how it looks, Im imagining that the portrait format will look pretty epic! Ill get some screenshots up tomorrow night :)

    Thanks for the help everyone.
  • Computron
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    Computron polycounter lvl 7
    All the surfaces look pretty diffuse. Are you going to keep it in the pre-flood stage? I think you could make a much more interesting scene if you add some puddles and dripping water and raise the glossiness on your surfaces, get some SSR going, use some more of the awesome shader goodness that only Cryengine offers. Do you have an environment probe set up in the scene?
  • duncan
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    duncan polycounter lvl 11
    WOW. This looks pretty killer. I would like to see a bit more blue/green colour throughout though. Perhaps in the foreground and stairs. I think that would really help bring in the focus on the middle ground.

    AWESOME work :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
  • michaelmilette
    Dude wicket stuff going on definitely following this cant wait for the next update XD
  • Fomori
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    Fomori polycounter lvl 12
    Great stuff. Don't change the composition too much - I love it!
  • JamieRIOT
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    JamieRIOT polycounter lvl 6
    I love the scene already, even if it is in its wippy state. I have read everyone elses critique and that has covered most things I can see that need working on. I have seen your other works though, so I know this will turn out to be awesome too.
  • scotthomer
    @Computron - Thanks for the critique man. I dont know If id agree with you there entirely, I think its more important to define the materials realistically then trying to use the features of the engine (and shoehorning them in) I think what makes believable art is economy of detail and part of that is subtle use of things like reflection. If everything is reflective, the puddles of water etc arent going to pop the way I want them to, if you see what Im saying.

    I definately considered the idea of making the scene flooded, but it doesn't really work with the end goal of the environment (im hoping to make a short "story" out of the environment about 30 seconds long. :D Thanks for the input dude, im not saying you're wrong, (I actually tried it, and didnt like the idea of having lots of super reflective surfaces in the scene!)

    @duncan - Yeah dude, definately, ive tried to push that alittle with this update, but I think i may need to get even more blue light in further down the line. Thanks for the critique dude!

    @michaelmilette - Thanks man :D

    @Fomori - Cheers dude!

    @JamieRIOT - Glad you're liking the progress man.

    UPDATEZ - Got a quick update for tonight, worked on the lights, floor and started on the railings this weekend. The railings are still greybox (just to test that I dont hate them) I feel like they push the composition towards the doorway and hopefully will exaggerate the focal point (when I make it! We're talking BIG things (hint hint) :D

    Any critique is as always welcomed and I usually atleast try everything. Im about half way though my list of critique, so if something has already been mentioned and not fixed its likely that i havent gotten around to it yet.

    Anyway, Pictures!
    And some WIP on the floor, still needs work to get it believable, and all of the wall-floor joins need work to make them look convincing. (ive got some ideas tucked away..)

    Anyway, work in the morning, must get some beauty sleep!
  • System
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    System admin
    That floor is super sexy!
  • fearian
    Even the bots have to stop and compliment this piece!
  • whw
    Great piece you have here, Scott. The doodles are a nice touch.

    I realise a lot of the elements are placeholder though the blue feels more like clouds and I find the slate grey walls doesn't match the opulance of the Bioshock universe - it's rather Gothic atm which could be your intention. It's somewhat like walking into the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern :)

    Looking forward to more updates.
  • myles
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    myles polycounter lvl 13
    Oh man I just want to eat this up. Great work man <3
    The tiled floor material looks great, but the AO on the little chips are way too strong, and having them the same colour as the tile underneath makes them blend in a little too much.
    I'd also say the concrete cracks need a little more depth/ angle information around them - but that's only really obvious around the areas close to the camera.
  • scotthomer
    ChrisPerr - Thanks dude, its kinda getting there. Its the 3rd or 4th version of the same floor ive done now. Originally i made the tiles really deep and as such the floor kinda looked out of scale, and ive tried to add too much detail in a couple of the versions that ive made aswell. Finally I decided to go super low detail and try and match some reference perfectly) I was struggling to find the kinda thing that I wanted to try and achieve and then finally I managed to find this:

    As you can see the tiles are pretty much flush with each other, so I tried to achieve this effect instead!

    fearian - Thanks man! I noticed that, I was like "hmm, wise words...". Skynet are taking over.

    whw - I do see what you mean, I dont know if I would say it doesnt fit within the bioshock universe (simply because it is so richly diverse, it pretty much encompasses everything!) I was trying to go for the same kind of feel as this area, Bioshock_2009-01-09_04-43-59-78.jpg
    But yeah, i do see what you mean. I think when I address the front area (the greybox part above the door) It would be good to focus on making something that pulls away from the gothic feel, just to try and balance the area out. Really good input dude, thanks man. (I honestly hadnt noticed before. Doh!)

    myles - Yeah, you're right! Im not done with the floor, so ill go back and take a look at that (now you've mentioned it, I cant "not" notice it! Id ideally like to add alittle more noise into the cracks in the concrete, as they almost look alittle bit *too* zbrushy. Ill try and get that fixed for the next update. :D

    Thanks for the critique fellas, lots of food for thought here.
  • BertR
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    BertR polycounter lvl 7
    Looking very nice! Good luck with Crysis 3 ^^
  • whats_true
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    whats_true polycounter lvl 15
    I havent read through most of the criteques, but I belive your world needs more color. Even in the mostly monotone levels, their was a strong sence of mood with strong colors. Nothing completely very desaturated. Start by getting away from those white lights. Looks good man.
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