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unreal 3 environment

Hello all, I've been recently learning to use unreal ed and put together this death-match level. I've already got some good feedback about it and wanted to see if anyone around had any good advice/criticism/commentary for me to use as I move ahead with this. The static meshes used are those included in the pack though I did modify a material or two. Anyway, feedback of any sort would be most appreciated. Much thanks!



  • AndyLittleton
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    AndyLittleton polycounter lvl 10
    well if your going to be an environemnt artist you gota use all your own custom art assets b/c if you don't you will lose all creditability

    If ur going to be a level designer then no need to make art just make some badass fun levels to play.

    So which route you going? designer or artist?
  • Jesse Moody
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    Jesse Moody polycounter lvl 15
    Um Andy isn't really that right in what he says. Sorry to call you out but just because you are an environment artist doesn't mean you have to use your own work or you will lose all respect.

    When you work in a studio do you think you will be making 100% of the entire level and building it?

    I model and build environments.

    Anyways back to whats at hand. Stuff looks good. Would like to be able to play through the map if you have it somewhere for download. If not let me know and I can host it for ya and let some people play through.

    Oh yeah and Welcome to Polycount... :)
  • IronHawk
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    IronHawk polycounter lvl 10
    If you post it up I'll take a look as well.
  • Flewda
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    Flewda polycounter lvl 10
    Jesse: I don't know if I would agree with that. If someone claims to be an environment artist, and shows a bunch of assets that isn't theirs, that's going to look really poorly on them, and really could hurt them. Sure, on a project you'll be using other people's art, but would you take credit for their work? Of course not. If he was posting images of a collaborative project and pointed out specifically the work he did, that's different. But if he uses a bunch of art work in an environment and doesn't specify he did the layout, not the artwork, and his title is "Environment Artist" that's pretty misleading imo.

    Neo: What I said above is not a slam by any means. However if the art assets in your scene are not yours, then what you're showing us is more towards level design (like Andy said). That said, it's looking to be off to a nice start. Kind of hard to make a lot of critiques on design without playing it, but layout seems to be pretty good. Keep it up.
  • JDinges
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    JDinges polycounter lvl 14
    He didn't take credit for anyone's work. FYI

    "Hello all, I've been recently learning to use unreal ed and put together this death-match level."


    "The static meshes used are those included in the pack though I did modify a material or two. "

    Not all evironment artists just make assets. Some just make -environments- look good...
  • Flewda
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    Flewda polycounter lvl 10
    I know he didn't take credit, I was just rolling off the discussion Jesse & Andy were having.

    I know sometimes artists will just go into the editor and position things, light, tweak the shaders, etc. to make art look a little more polished, but what I was saying is that if you label yourself an Environment Artist (speaking in general here, not directed towards Neo's case) and your images showcase art assets, but you did the design/layout only, then it's right away misleading, and people may assume those are your assets. If you say "Level Designer" and explain that the assets aren't yours, you just laid out the level, you'll be on the safe side of things.

    Level Artist and Level Designer can be a fine line, but there is a significant difference. All I was merely saying is that posting images containing other people's work, without explanation of what's what, could potentially give you a nasty mark.
  • JDinges
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    JDinges polycounter lvl 14
    So basicaly just make sure you specify what you did in your portfolio. That's usualy a given.

    It's only misleading if you don't give full credit to the source of the art being used. If someone creates a kickass scene using pre-made art, does the placement, lighting, effects, etc. then gives full credit to the artists - that, in my books is an environment artist not a level designer.

    I do agree that ultimately it is best to create your own stuff, but that's not always practical.
  • Spark
    To me, an environment artist creates the art, while the level designer then designs worlds with those peices. At least that has been my experience with the houses that I have worked in. Would be good Neo to maybe show a top down view or your level design, and show where you were wanting flow and bottlenecks and other design elements happen. To help show your thought process ( much like silhoette sketches for concept artists ) Maybe this just comes down to definition of job titles within different houses, but always list who you can of artists that were involved with anything. As being black balled for a mistake is never a good step into our industry.

  • NeoProfZ
    Much thanks for all the feedback given. I'm going to try to get a copy of it online and when I do I'll be more than happy to get a link posted here so people can play it.

    It goes without saying that I never intended to mislead anyone with regards to the work I may or may not have done. As I said initially, this is just me learning the unreal editor and trying to make a small, fun, attractive level with the stock assets provided.

    Above all I really appreciate you guys being willing to take a look at it and I'm sure it'll end up better as a result.
  • EarthQuake
    Hello nick, these internets suck. Redo them please.
  • almighty_gir
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    almighty_gir ngon master
    i'd shoot people there.
  • Slum
    Spark: Yeah, i think job titles are a major reason why things are confusing.

    Here , a 'level designer' is somebody establishes the flow of a level and then builds the basic forms and structures in the editor. We use the term "environment artist" interchangeably with "set dresser", which amounts to somebody who takes all existing assets and creates a believable world with them, as well as lighting and detailing. Then there are some people who entirely just build models, never actually placing them in a scene.

    They are all very important disciplines. It takes somebody with a certain kind of eye and mind to take a few bits and bobs of geometry and arrange them so that they tell a miniature story and make a room feel alive. Some people can do all of these things, others may specifically focus on just one.

    It's obvious there is a demand for such roles, so I think it's unfair to say somebody is wrong for wanting/choosing to focus on one aspect. Moreover, it's especially silly to say that they will lose credibility for it.
  • steady
    Sup Nick! Glad to see you posting on polycount finally. The level looks well laid out and fun to play, how about some screenshots for the inside of the big building? looking forward to playing this one.
  • ryanH
    hey i like this.

    one of the first environments i created contained only meshes/textures from an unreal pack. i think it is a good way to just play with layout design quickly and try out nice compositions. Without having to worry about making every stone and leaf you are free to just explore.

    as far as a crit goes.

    the ground could use a lot more work. its fun to just focus on the architecture and overall look of a piece, but when you are playing the ground is the closest thing to the character. it needs to look good. the grass in the second picture is lined up in rows, as if it were a cabbage farm or something, try to mix that up so it is more chaotic, and less planned.

    other details are important like in the last picture where the grass is shooting up through the rock, that kind of stuff is jarring to the eye.

    just think of ways to make the ground more intriguing, since you spend a lot of time running on it.

    another way to look at it is this. if you aren't making the assets yourself, just assembling, you have no excuse to overlook minor details, since you have so much more free time to polish.

    other than that, keep going! start making your own models and textures as well, just because it is something you will need to do at some point.

  • gamedev
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    gamedev polycounter lvl 12
    Hey Neo,

    In general I think you've got a good start, however a whole lot more detail needs to be laid down, but above all, the lighting needs the most work. The scene looks flat (even lighting tones across the board). A post process pass to bring textures and theme together is also needed.

    Keep at it!


  • Hourences
    The industry has absolutely no clue what the term "level designer" really means, nor what all the derived job titles (env artist, level artist, etc) really mean. What people with those titles do is different for every studio.

    Looking at the level, I think the threadstarter is moving more towards level design that is focused on editor+gameplay work rather than modeling and texturing.
    I think the placement and use of the meshes is fairly good, but two main points of critic are:
    -The level kind of stops outside the playable area, have the world expand a bit more beyond that area, add more trees and things around the level.
    -Your lighting is incredibly dull and boring. If you want to focus on editor work, you should really master lighting. Get a lighting composition going, shadows, highlights, colors, set the mood, and so on. Make it shine, guide the players eyes around using the lighting.

    Also, your grass seems to be on a grid, decolayer grass perhaps? Try foliagelayer grass if so.

    And it is UT3 or UE3 but not Unreal 3 btw:)
    You dont say Shop CS3 photo, or Photo CS3 or whatever either.
  • PeterK
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    PeterK greentooth
    I've worked with Nick for years now and I can honestly say he's come a long way in his design capabilities. He's worked at pro studios before , yet manages to maintain the refreshing air of a constant student.

    As for the level itself, the structures are interesting and follow a nice style layout. I would suggest an improvement in the lighting by adding various values to accentuate the surrounding level bits. Consider cool/warm colors, and try to convey mood through the lighting. Also, don't forget to add dramatic depth with the use of light and dark areas.

    consider color theory as it applies to light interacting with your level textures and geometry:

  • NeoProfZ
    Much thanks for the additional feedback from everyone

    After staring at some of these shots for awhile and running around the level, I can definitely see all the little things that need to get knocked out before I can call it done (i.e. grass in a row or sticking out of rocks, more variety in terrain texture, so on and so forth). As for the grass itself, yep...decolayer :) I'm assuming what with the name a foliage layer would be more appropriate (thnx Hourences, btw, your tutorials rock).

    Beyond that I can definitely understand the comments about the lighting and honestly I've been tinkering with an idea to turn it into a night-time environment instead:


    Since I think that would give me much more in the way of interesting lighting options such as the lamps along the wall and the windows of the building.

    In any case if any of you guys want to actually play the level Peter was kind enough to host it for me. Just send me a PM and I'll go ahead and respond with a link to download the level.

  • Talbot
    That looks really nice! Did you import anything from somewhere besides UnrealEd? Like 3ds max?
  • NeoProfZ
    So, after a bit more work I thought I'd show some progress shots. I think going to a night time setting gave me much more license to blend hot and cold lighting as well as use much darker shadows. In addition I've started to build up the surrounding mountain ranges by placing more castles and features out there in case the player is inclined to take a look over the wall. Still, there are a few more things I'd like to figure out such as the nifty tricks that can be done with volumetric fog and whatnot. In any case, enjoy.


  • Ninjas
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    Ninjas polycounter lvl 14
    Nice work Nick! The nighttime shots are looking cool.
  • NeoProfZ
    Well, at this point I think I may be about finished. Granted theres probably a bit more that I could do with this level but at this point I really want to start fresh and apply what I've picked up to a clean slate. Overall I'm most happy about switching over to a night-time environment as it really brought this place alive for me. Here are some final shots that I've taken (I even got a bit ambitious and put in a "firefly" particle effect, it doesn't look like much in the stills but its a nice subtle touch when playing the level).

    I happened to pick up gears of war for the PC so I think my next project (if I'm not too busy) will probably be a gears single player level, which should be fun.

    In the meantime here are some pics:

    As before, if you'd like a copy of the level to play, just send me a PM and ill send you a URL. Also, I remember way back in the day there were nice websites that hosted user created content for things like quake and whatnot. Any recommendations on where this level might find a permanent public home on the internet?
  • Mark Dygert
    Awesome stuff!

    - It might be a touch dark for TV/CRT's. If this was a level for the 360/PS3 you'd probably be told to lighten it up a bit. Probably just changing the color of your ambient light to a lighter shade of blue would work.

    - If you really wanted to dig back into the lighting (sounds like not, and I don't blame ya) you should work in some off-white/yellow moon light as a secondary key light. If its there already, it might need to be pushed up a bit.

    - I'm not sure how you did the moon, but its kind of sharp (no glow), and not really blending in like some of the other lights in the scene. It looks like its part of the sky map? You might want to take it out and place a physical object with light properties? But it depends on how the level was constructed and it might be too much to change this late.

    Awesome stuff, can't wait for the next one =)
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