Experiences with Environments: Part 3 Unity

Result from Previous Article

Result from Previous Article

Creating the scene in Epic’s Unreal Development Kit was fun and interesting. The next step was to create the same scene, shown at the beginning of the article, in Unity.

Welcome to the final part of the Experiences with Environments series. This article will go through importing assets into Unity, creation of Shaders in Acegikmo’s Shader Forge, lighting using Lightmapping Extended, and post-processing using Image Effects.

Like with UDK, I wanted to begin with creating the same composition as the previous two scenes. Before I started importing assets, however, I needed to first create an organizational menu to place all of my new assets in. You can create a menu any way you would like, but this is how I created it:

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Experiences with Environments: Part 1 Creation

Concept Used for Creation. Arted by Jeremy Love

At the beginning of Term 3, I decided to start on a journey and I never would have expected to have learned so much. I wanted to create a whole environment from scratch, while keeping up with my schoolwork. At first, I believed that the mixture of the two would be easy, but I soon figured out that my skills and drive would be tested.

Welcome to the three part series of Experiences with Environments. These articles explain my process, problems and successes that I found during my progress of creating a full scene. The series will cover my ideology from concept, creation in Autodesk Maya and Pixologic Zbrush, creation of textures, then finally, transferring to and creating materials in Epic’s Unreal Development Kit and Unity 3D. This part covers concept, creation of Maya and Zbrush elements, and textures.

The first step to my quest was finding a good piece of concept art. I wanted to find a piece that would challenge my skills, but keep within my skill level. Therefore, I picked the picture featured at the beginning of the article. What caught my eye the most was the reflections and the emissive lights within the environment. I did not previously know how to create these effects, so I sought out to make this picture a virtual reality. Thank you to Jeremy Love from JeremyLove.com for inspiring me with this picture.

The next step was creating the environment in Maya. After three attempts, I finally modelled everything:

Everything Modelled

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Environmental Art: Concept to Execution Part 1

The whole idea about creating a level from scratch, is to always gather reference, design on paper and begin white boxing.  So let’s say you are a level designer that wants their vision fully fleshed out once it gets passed onto the world art team.  It’s really up to you to lead them to ensure that all the ideas you had from the beginning come across in the game.

What I’m going to show you is my progression in creating a scene in UDK (the image above).  Before set dressing an entire world, it’s wise to create a “visual target.”  In this case I will be using a small section of what would be part of a larger world and fully build it from the ground up with custom models, textures, lighting and finishing things off with a touch of post-fx and screen overlays, to get the unique look I am going for.

I had this idea that I wanted the player to traverse through a roman castle hidden up in the mountain tops.  I am a big fan of Cecil Kim and his work on the God of War series, and I really wanted to capture the feeling of being in an epic environment, after all, level designers want players to feel immersed as if they are part of a living world that extends the gameplay space.  Other than that I did not really have any solid ideas for the level, so it was really up to me to experiment and try different things with size, scale and lighting to convey what I wanted the player to feel.

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Level Design, Game Programming, or Game Art?

It’s about time to choose streams now.

The time flies so fast. 4 months passed, since I have studied here.
Term 2 is going end. Term 3 with more specialized courses is coming.
To become more specialized in each game development’s field, VFS let us choose 2 major streams in term 3.
We still have other Game Design courses, but these ones allow us to go deeper in areas we are interested in.

We have to choose 2 from the following available 3 streams

1. Level Design: More level design on UDK and also game environment design in Unity. We are going to get our hands on these tools and level design tips!

   

 2. Game Programming: Advance programming in c# with more complex topics such as AI, network, etc. And a course for HTML5.

       

3. Game Art: More on 3D modelling and lighting techniques. The most artistic courses!

 

In Team management class, teacher Rick Davidson (GD02) reminded everyone about “specializing”. This course really clicks everyone’s passion and also motivates us.

He told us to think about and write down what we really want to do, and what we want to be, and MAKE THIS STICK! DO IT! GO FOR IT!

For me, I choose level design and Game Art, because they are the top two things I love to do. I have found out that I enjoy doing the assignments of both Level Design and Game Art courses.

In conclusion,

“Choose what you are passionate about”

You have to work hard on the assignments in your chosen stream. You are going to make your portfolio and go to work in these fields.

May the passion be with you! :D


Nicha Jaijadesuk is Game Design student at VFS, and a winner of the Women in Games Scholarship

The Game Design Summer Intensive Experience 2013

During the week of July 8 to 12, 2013, the Game Design program at Vancouver Film School, located in Vancouver’s Chinatown district, welcomed 15 brave explorers to its Game Design Summer Intensive experience. These explorers may have come from different lands and backgrounds, but they had one thing in common – a passion for creating video games. It is thanks to this passion that they found themselves enrolled in a week-long intensive experience of All Things Video Game Design.

DAY I

The students’ initiation began with a welcome from the Head of the Game Design program Dave Warfield, after which they were off to their first class of Game Theory taught by Instructor Chris Mitchell and Senior Instructor Andrew Laing. During the course of the day students became immersed in the roles of the game designer and analyzed the basic rules and mechanics of gaming.

One of the hardest things to do is to come up with an idea… and by idea, I mean a ‘good’ idea.  There is a fine art to making a game challenging yet entertaining – the motto: if a segment of the game or level is not fun to play, then it needs to be cut, no matter how much you love it. Chris and Andrew shared useful advice, suggestions, techniques and approaches on how to keep the creative process fresh and flourishing, as well where to find inspiration.

Right off the bat, students were divided into teams and asked to brainstorm unique game ideas, keeping in mind 5 essential questions:
1. What is the game?
2. What is the core mechanic?
3. What is the core challenge?
4. Why make the game?
5. Why would you enjoy making the game?

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Level Up: Flat is boring!

Level Up with Victor Kam — Banner

As the title suggests, flat is booooring!  A game level with little to no elevation will bore the player as the constant threat is completely visible;  the player always knows what’s coming ahead of them.  So what we need to do is add slight undulations in our paths to create tension and reveals in our levels.

In this day in age we have superb game engines and level editors that let us develop 3d worlds at the touch of our finger tips.  It would be a shame to not take advantage of this.  I remember making maps for Doom and Duke Nukem 3D, it was nearly impossible to create overhangs and vertical gameplay due to the technical limitations.

Let’s take a look at our first example, oh the dreaded UDK hallway.  Being a player, traversing through this area requires you to press the “forward” button to get through.  This is fine, especially if it’s in a downbeat in our game level and we just want the player to absorb their surroundings after an intense battle.  But we can make this calm section much more interesting, not by changing what the player is doing on their controller, but by creating the illusion that the player is doing “something” in a flat travel section.

This is done here by adding a ramp up or down.  Keep in mind that all the player is doing is still pressing the “forward” button on the controller.

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Level Up: Showcasing your UDK maps

Well it’s that time of the year, you’re done presenting on industry night and finished classes.  What a perfect time to dust off the ol’ UDK maps and start screen grabbing those hard worked on levels for your portfolio!

When it comes to in game shots, presentation and quality matters.  Surely we can go into fullscreen mode, hit PrintScreen and paste directly into Photoshop.  But let’s make the most of our game engine and get a beauty shot that captures your hard work without the loss of detail.

Here’s how we do it in UDK:

Step 1: Get into the level

Jump into your level like you normally would through the editor.

Step 2: Bring up the console

Bring up the console (press Tab).

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The Oarering

Pfffff. KC Irvine of Big Jet has put on his maximum trollololol face and made us the gorgeous poster you see below. The Oarering… Really?

The Oarering

Well, joke’s on him. The Horroring is not gonna take this lying down. I’m already planning a meeting where we’re gonna go over how to get him back. Stay tuned!

In other news I’ve been struggling with Unity lighting. Unfortunately, I was not in the art stream and missed out on the amazing lighting class, apart from a few sessions I sat in on. Therefore, I am trying to learn as I go. I have a relative amount of experience creating decent lighting in UDK but Unity is very different, so it’s a bit of an adjustment.

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Game Design’s Industry Night Event : Pitch And Play

Announcing Game Design Industry Night Pitch N' Play

Tonight - January 31, 2013 - the 26th class of VFS Game Design students will be presenting the final games that they have spent the last 4 months designing and developing at our Industry event night Pitch And Play.

The students are excited to share their hard work and look forward to having experienced game industry people review, play, and provide feedback on what they have created. This feedback is invaluable to help them prepare their portfolios, for their graduation on February 21st.

This group of students will be presenting three games; one using the UDK engine, and two created using the Unity Game Engine. They are:
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Week 2 – Term 3 : Level Design

Women in Games 2012 Winner Kristina Soltvedt

Week 2 of term 3 is picking up a little bit now. The Level Design stream has a pretty heavy work load, but it’s all been very very fun. Currently, we are finishing up a Capture the Flag map in UDK and a decorating assignment in Environmental Level Design.

The due date for the Capture the Flag map is tomorrow, so I’ll try to get some screen shots up as soon as me and my team mate finish what we’ve been doing. The level so far, I don’t mind saying, is siiiiick. We’ll see how it turns out in the end.
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