Creating the first floor material for Codename Dungeon has been a hair pulling experience. I went into making the material with the thought that I could cheat a little. Some photo material could be used to help construct the shapes of the stones. Basically, I would find a photo, one that I could convert into a convincing normals map, and then I would make all the other maps. I wouldn't use the original photo for the color map, because that rarely looks good since the lighting in the photo often fights the lighting of the scene.
So I went forward with that plan. Unfortunately, it didn't work out the way I wanted. I just couldn't get the normal map to look good enough. Two days of work went straight into the trash.
So, a little dejected, I decided to take a more complicated approach to the material. I would model high polygon stones and bake the normals on to a plane. This workflow would take far longer, and had it's fair share of complications, not to mention I wasn't too excited about modeling high polygon rocks since I had recently modeled a ridiculous number of stone blocks.
Here are the results thus far rendered in the Unreal Engine.
So far, so good! Finally I have something to work with!
The material uses the baked normals map and also a greyscale height map to create the parallax bump effect. A color and roughness map are also included.
In the end, the colors may change a little, but at this point, I'm pretty happy with the results. I plan on making a dirt material that has the same consistency as the dirt between the rocks. Then, I'll blend the two materials together using a vertex blend or some other fancy mapping. This will add some variety and a really cool worn out look.
So what's next, you ask? The ceiling material. That should be a relatively easy endeavor, and then I'll put a full testing room together!
This will be a quick update today. In the last post, I discussed my desire to get more appropriate lighting for a dungeon type setting, This will come in handy when I test models for Codename Dungeon.
So today I set out to learn how lighting works in the Unreal Engine. I'm relatively familiar with lighting in other engines, so how hard can it be? Turns out, it is incredibly easy. Despite the tutorial found in the documentation being a bit wooden and more of a step by step versus actually explanatory, I quickly put the scene below together.
Pretty good for such a small amount of work, right? I want to make a quick note that all the assets from the scene came with the engine.
Now I need a room for my dungeon so that I can test my new found lighting knowledge. I've got the walls done, so I think I will move on to the dungeon floor. Hopefully it won't be as tedious as the dungeon wall was. And hopefully it will turn out as good!
As promised, I have completed the first wall for codename dungeon, and I built it brick by brick!
As I expected, it was an incredibly tedious process where I made multiple high polygon block models. The normals from these were baked onto low polygon blocks. Next, was the color. I decided on a forest temple style, like something found in caverns beneath a jungle. The rocks are kept relatively bare, with some hints of dirt and moss, but overall I wanted it to be a greyish color.
Okay, enough talk. Here it is running in Unreal Engine. The material is composed of color, normal, roughness, and ambient occlusion maps.
It might not look like much now, but this wall is the basis for the entire dungeon, and vastly important. Doors, windows, archways, and more will be carved into it. Vines and moss will cover it, and torches will flank it. In the future I plan to use additional materials and mix them together to add more detail and variety, but for now, I'm done with rocks. The hard part is over.
So what's next? Now that I have a solid foundation, I'm going to start building more, but first I need to set up a better environment to test in. Up until now, I have been using the default environment in Unreal 4 in order to test the scene. I'd rather be testing things out in lighting more appropriate to a dungeon.
So next on the agenda is basic lighting.
So here we are at the ground floor. The absolute start of my newest project. I have come to the realization that it will be impossible for me alone to create a game like the enormous development studios produce every few years, so I have to be realistic. My main goal is to make very high quality art that can all fit together and be reusable. This will save me time in the future. I do not want to sacrifice quality for quantity.
Enter Codename Dungeon!
Yes, I know it's not very original, but it's just a codename. I'll come up with something much better in the future.
And dun da da dun! Here's the fist art! It's a block... running in Unreal 4... With no color no less.
Everything has to start somewhere, right? And this, to me, was actually really exciting.
When I started to come up with ideas for games that I could make, I thought back to those old corridor RPGs like Bard's Tale and Wizardry, you know, the ones with those dark dungeons that stretched deep down. Well, many of those dungeons were made with block/brick walls. So, using the knowledge of 3D Art that I have accumulated over the years, I immediately started to model a high polygon rock wall texture in Mudbox. But the results were unsatisfying. As good as parallax and bump mapping is, things start to fall apart when a wall is to the side of you.
Hence the block. My idea, and I'm sure this is not original, is to model out all the blocks in a section of dungeon wall that I can repeat over and over. A high poly version will be baked onto a low poly version, as seen above. Many games these days use a block wall texture and a few blocks sticking through it to add some depth. I'm going to make the entire wall from individual blocks. and it is going to be incredibly tedious.
So, I will see you next time when, hopefully, I have a full wall, and maybe some color this time.
I am Jacob Lubinski.