Finally, it’s time to add some finishing touches to the scene. It’s been about 8 months since I began this scene (yes, I started the original white box way back in January 2013, finished around September). So you can imagine how good it feels to wrap this project up after such a long time.
Today we are going to add a few elements to provide even more depth to our composition. The first is fog, and no we are not using fog in a Silent Hill kind of way where we are trying to get back framerate, we are using fog here to simulate atmosphere that would naturally occur outdoors (have a look at the mountains, the further they are the more they are in haze.)
When it comes to building an environment, lighting is one of those aspects that can make or break a scene. You can have the best looking assets, but poor lighting can destroy all the time and effort you put into your props. On the other hand, a scene composed of mediocre assets can look great with proper lighting. This is because lighting will create the overall impression of your scene to the viewers’ eye at a quick glance. Because of this you want to push your lighting to define the shapes and silhouettes as much as possible, using light and dark to give the illusion of depth.
Now that most of the immediate play space is decorated, we can finally have a step back and look at the background elements. Keep in mind that the player will never reach that area so we are going to stay fairly loose and try several layouts. The background’s main purpose in this case is to immerse the player to make them feel as if they are part of something larger. As a level designer you always want the player to look in the distance to reveal other parts of the world and make them want to go there.
Vistas and backgrounds should have strong silhouettes and be readable from afar. If you squint at the backdrop you should still be able to make out the shapes. Each of the following images has a depth pass accompanying it. This is to show that you want to build your background in layers to give a good sense of depth and parallax.
Last week we had a look at whiteboxing out the major details of our level. We then brought that mesh into a 3d package and started to refine the meshes. Today we’ll look at bringing them back into the game engine and replace all the primitives with some refined models. I’d call this the medium detailing portion of the level, so things like structural supports and landmarks should all be placed with first pass meshes and materials.
The modeling process at this point is nothing too complicated. Simple shapes and basic texture sheet for a majority of the assets. As you can see on the prop screenshot I try to keep things modular as possible, this way I can try different looks out by piecing parts together.