Reflections

week 1-

This is the first week of my final major project as such I need to do some research for the presentation I need to give before I can proceed with my development of the game. the presentation that I need to give is to my tutors so they can see what my idea is and see what I can change to make it the best I can make within the time frame and help me come up with another alternative if my current idea is either unachievable within the time frame or if the idea was too simplistic. I started the presentation off with moodboards so I could work on my ideas for the game and take into consideration factors like the game art, theme and even whether it’ll be an interactive environment or functioning game.

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once I had completed my first mindmap I realised for the themes that there was far more I could go into for each theme so I created a second mindmap this time focusing on the four themes that I listed in my previous mindmap and listing potential designs for each theme for example within the horror theme I could base the level in an abandoned mental asylum or in a graveyard. below is the theme mindmap that I created.

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I created both mindmaps to clearly show that I had thought about the different aspects of my game and the different possibility within each aspect of the aspect. it also means that I can create a survey to get other people opinion on each separate aspect and alter my game around the feedback to create a level that as many people as possible will enjoy.

Week 2-

This week I continued the work I was doing on my presentation in preparation for me showing it to my tutors as part of my project. continuing from last week I further established possible locations for each theme by creating a moodboard for each of the four themes.

 

As well as showing off potential designs for the level that I’m creating, it also shows some possible art styles that i could use for my level, for example, if I was to create a fantasy game I could use a cartoon art style to make the level feel that much more magical and unique than the real world, whereas if I was to create a post-apocalyptic game then realistic art style would work better at creating a desolate and hopeless atmosphere.

now that I’ve done my research on different themes as well as other aspects important to the level like art style and type of game, I can finally come to a decision on what my final project will be. I came to the conclusion that my final major project should be an interactive environment set on a floating city with a realistic art style.

Week 3-

This is the week that I finally give my presentation to my tutors and see if they believe that my idea will work for my final presentation. however, before I can give the presentation there are still some elements that I need to add. the first of which is the games that were the inspiration for my decision, there are  games that I’m using for inspiration with two of them being for the same reason. that reason being that I the level idea that I’ve got is of a floating city as such I should look at another game set on a floating city as a reference, Bioshock Infinite is the perfect game for this apart from the city is much more 1950s dystopian than modern that’s where my second game, Marvel Spider-man, comes in as that game is set within a realistic modern city.

 

the final game I’m using for my inspiration is not for the same reason as the other two games. the other two games I’m using for a reference with the design and layout of my level whereas my final inspirational game is for its art style. I believe the art style used for Everybody gone to the rapture will be a perfect fit for my game cause as you can below the art style helps to emphasise the realistic look I’m going.

Image result for everybody gone to the rapture

this art style helps to make my game feel that much more alive and realistic even if it is set on a floating island. I want to have my level to be covered in plants to add colour and variety to my level rather than it simply just being another bland city.

the reason that I have included inspirational game within my presentation is to help me to visualise what my level could possibly look like as well as be used as visual aid for my tutors as a group of pictures will work much better at showing what my level is meant to look like then simply describing it with words.

Now that I have included my inspirational game levels within the presentation I can also include a bit more research concerning my inspirational levels and how else they can affect the design process of my level. After doing some research on everybody gone to the rapture, the game that is the most similar in art style and gameplay as that game is a walking sim with my game also being a walking sim with interactive elements.

the final element that I am going to add to my presentation before it is shown to my tutors how I’m going to build it and what software ill be using to do it. due to my previous experience regarding build levels, I have decided to use 3DS Max to create my assets and use the unreal engine to build the level. I have chosen this two software’s to build my level as I have previous experience with these for a similar project in the past and these are the software’s that I can get the most consistent results with. for the assets 3ds, max was the only real option as I haven’t used another software that allows me to create 3d assets, however, when it comes to building the level I could have chosen from unreal engine or unity. the reason that I chose to use unreal over unity is because that’s the software is better for creating environments due to fact that you can easily build your block out by simply placing geometry in the level, whereas unity is much more centred around coding making it the preferred choice if I was building a game with different mechanics.

now that all that is done and I can give my presentation to my tutors to get their opinion on my idea and see if they believe it will be worth the grade I’m aiming for and how could I alter it to get my target grade. after seeing all the research that I included in my presentation, my tutors have a decent understanding of what I am aiming to create and agree that it could get me the grade that I am aiming for, however, to ensure that I get the higher grades I need to think about adding more interactive elements with one suggestion being made it so the grass acts more realistic with it moving under your feet rather than being a flat texture. I will look into being able to do that as well as other possible interactions apart from the basic doors and lights.

Week 4-

Now that my presentation has finally been completed and given to my tutors I can proceed to actually build my game and doing all the research and design that needs to go with the final build to get my overall grade. due to the fact that I had already done some research for my presentation as such, I decided to get straight into actually building my level. For the level I decided that third-person perspective would work better rather than the first person perspective, this is because with my level being a small city it is going to have a lot of doors and hallways which a first-person camera can get stuck on and glitch out. so that and the fact that its much easier to show off more of the area with the third person camera is the reason that I chose that camera perspective.

When you create a new unreal level it already has a few objects already placed in it like the floor, walls, character with a camera attached and a small obstacle course, I deleted all of that apart from the floor and the character. Because my level is set as a floating city I raised the floor into the air and increased its own could finally start building my blockout. I need to create a blockout for my level because it can be used as a place holder so once my assets have been created I can simply place them over the blocks I used saving me time so I can use it on other aspects of the project.

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I was originally going to get straight into my block out but I came to the realisation that I couldn’t build my blockout without first drawing a rough and final level map to use as a reference during the process. I know the basic outline of my level so I did multiple rough ideas of how the level could possibly turn out like which I have shown below.

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out of these designs I feel that the second image best represent my vision for the game as such that is the design I have decided to work on further and use as my final idea. while I was drawing my final idea I decided that I should add a small river through the city and have bridges connecting different parts of the city together. I chose to add these features as I thought it would add a variety to the level making it stand out more, another reason I chose to include the river is due to the coding aspects of it, as that will show I have an understanding of the coding aspect. I’m only considering adding a waterfall to help show that the island is floating but at this current moment I still unsure whether or not to add the waterfall, I’ll have to see if I have time once the other aspects are completed. Due to the fact that I want my city to have a river going through it and different parts of the city to be connected by a bridge when it comes to doing some more research ill look into Venice and observe their architecture and how they live there everyday life.

Week 5-

The final design for my level is now complete and I can continue with my blockout of the level. using the final design as a reference I started by adding 4 boxes onto the corners of the level which will be used as the floor for my level, the areas in between the four different floors will be used as the river. below is how my level is laid out with the four boxes being elevated above the main floor. the pink boxes that can be seen all around are invisible blocks that limit the player to the four sections of the city. I did this so that the player couldn’t jump into the river for two reasons, the first is that I don’t have time to learn how to code water physics and swimming in the water but the second reason is that as I previously mentioned Venice is a real-life inspiration for my game. in Venice, it’s illegal to swim in the river as such there are railings and walls to prevent people from jumping. so ill add boxes around of all the edges to use as a place holder until I have created the assets for it.

unreal 1

now that I have my basic shape for my level I have decided to add fog into the level that surrounds the level.  I did this for multiple reasons, the main reason is to help with the appearance of the island floating as well as it also acts as a sort of an outer texture so if the play looks out over the border they see clouds surrounding the island rather than just an open blank background that would feel out of place and ruin the immersion. I did this by adding a (name) and altering different aspects like the drop off distance and density to where I think it looks natural and visualising appealing.

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Before Fog

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After Fog

I also came to the realisation that I have a lot of different aspects and areas of my level that I need to complete to finish the project. with so many different aspects all being completed at different times it will be easy to get lost and end up missing important parts of the level. To prevent this from happening I’m going to use a website called Trello to create a checklist of what I need to do for each aspect of my game then move it into done when completed. This allows me to easily keep track of what I’m doing, what I have done and what is left to do, using this I can plan my time out ensuring that I’m able to complete all my work on time. below is the image of the Trello that I had created.

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week 6-

continuing on from last week I carried on with building my blockout including adding the blocks that will be used for the railings to prevent the player from getting in the river like I had mentioned in the previous weekly reflection as well as put railings around the entire level to act as my game borders preventing the player from escaping the game level. In the current build I could visualise just how the map would work for my idea as such I decided the best course of action was for to create an asset for my floating island and add it into unreal to help me visualise how the map should look.

To build the island I used 3ds max and added a box and move different faces of the box to create the rugged natural look that you would see on a mountain.  I made sure to leave the bottom of the peak relatively straight apart from a few bumps, this is because that section ill use to put my city onto so it needed to be straighter than the rest of the asset but not too much that it looks unnatural and take away from the realistic atmosphere that I am trying to create. once I had designed the asset I placed a simple mountain texture from www.textures.com.

I added the texture just to use as a place holder to help me with the visualising process and would add a better-looking texture and properly wrap it closer to the deadline. Now that I’ve got my asset created I can export it from 3DS Max and add it into unreal, to export it I simply have to select import from the file tab at the top left screen which will ask where I want to save my level and then brings up a screen that can be found below.

3ds max 1

All I have to do on this screen is make sure the “embed media” part is ticked so that the texture that I had added to asset will also be exported into unreal, apart from that all I have to is press okay and then find it in the folder I had saved it too and drag and drop the asset into unreal. now that my asset is in unreal I can start to add resize the asset until it fits correctly around the block that I was using for the floor making sure to have it just slightly above that block so it’s hidden within the asset. I am glad that I took the time to create the asset and use it in unreal as now I have a better vision on where I need to add the rest of the block and the different depths I need to make my environment look real, however like I mentioned the asset is only a rough design and couldn’t be used in the final product so I will have to create a better, more organic looking floating island further in the project but at this current movement time I am happy that it has done its job allowing me to focus on more important aspects that need doing before the asset final design.

Week 7-

Continuing on from last week and creating an asset for a floating island I came to the realization that I need to create other objects to help with the visual of a floating island. like I had previously mentioned I was planning on using a waterfall to help with that from the beginning however I believe I need other objects to make my environment look better as such ill include other floating island to make the concept feel more natural in that world and not stand out and seem as weird. most of these will be in the distance meaning I won’t have to do much texturing as the fog will make it so you can only see the outline this will save me time and allow me to focus on other aspects. I decided to create a few more other floating islands that I could place around the environment, this is to make the concept of a floating island feel natural and common within the game world. most will be off in the distance within the fog however I did want to have an island relatively close to the main playable island. I have decided to have the island for one reason so that I could build a lighthouse with a working flashing light, the reason that I have done this is for the fact that its another aspect to my level that could help with my grade as it shows that I have the knowledge on how to do more in unreal that simple blockout and texturing.

As well as other floating islands I have also designed floating rocks that can be placed all over my around the environment to add to the visual appeal. just like with the floating island I created the rocks in 3ds max where I placed a cylinder and grabbed different faces of the object and moved them to create a jagged, natural looking rock. once the asset was created I then exported them into unreal the same way as I had previously and started to place them all over the level.

3ds max 2

The current state of the rocks aren’t what I was hoping for but at this current moment I haven’t got time to fix it, however I have two ways that could help fix it, uvw mapping it could help once the texture has been added, if not then id simply have to create a new asset. but as previously mentioned I don’t have time to try any of these fixes currently so in my Trello ill keep the floating rocks in doing so that I know that I need to come back to try these fixes at a later date. below is how my Trello is currently looking.

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week 8-  

This is the week where I actually start to properly start to build my game level. I’ve got the basic layout done, with the different blocks being a different part of the island with the middle being a river, but this is when I’ll start adding the building and other details of the map like trees, benches, light posts, etc. the first step was to add three boxes on different parts of the island that I will use for the buildings. I was originally going to have it so that the three boxes were going to be three shops but as I was placing the boxes I decided that it would work better if the three buildings were completely different to make it feel like a small floating city. as such the three boxes that I have placed into the level will be used as a house, a shop and an apartment, and a restaurant.

the building that I have decided to start building the shop and apartment due to the fact that would be the easiest out of the three buildings to do the blockout for the shop imparticular as it just a few boxes that I will use to lay out the shop floor and where the aisles, freezers and the till will go. the shop that I am creating is based around a typical corner shop in Britain which often have an apartment above it. because I’m wanting a shop on the bottom floor and an apartment above it I copy and pasted the block that I was using for the building and altered the height to 5 and placed it in the centre of the original box. the reason for me copying and pasting the box and only changing the size is due to the fact that because it’s being used as the second floor I need the floor to be the exact same size and position as the building, that’s why I only changed the height as the rest was the exact position I needed.

I then placed stairs in the corner of the building that will be Used to get to the second floor and then used two boxes that I made subtractive to use as a door and a hole in the second floor where the stairs are allowing access to the second floor.

Week 9-

Continuing on from last week and the work I had done for my blockout, moving onto building my house in the other corner of the island that will be one of the three building that will be on the island creating the illusion of an isolated little city on a floating island.

To create the blockout for the house I used a similar technique as I had used for the shop/apartment, that being adding a box that will be used as the basic outline of the house and adding a short second box in the middle of the height to create a second floor. however unlike the shop/apartment, I’m wanting there to be separate rooms within the downstairs area so I added three other thin walls to separate the downstairs into three rooms and a corridor. the corridor leads from the front door to the stairs leading to upstairs. on either side of the corridor, there are doors one leading to a large room that will be used as the living room and the other door leads to a room half the size that will be used as the dining room. there are another door and wall that splits off the other half of the room into the kitchen. the reason that I have decided to include a house within the level is to make the island feel habituated and home to the main character. it is also where the game start as when you first start the level it’ll begin with you in the characters bedroom letting you explore the rest of the house before allowing you to explore the rest of the floating city.

Because I had moved straight onto building my blockout for my level rather than continuing my research I believe that before I continue with any more of my blockout I should finish the written aspect of my project before I move on and finish the rest of assets and level for the rest of the interactive environment. the first thing i did when i continued my research section of the project was take the moodboards that I had created for the presentation and added it into my blog so that I could go into further detail of why I have created each of the moodboard and how it will help me with the rest of my project and influence the design process of the project.

week 10-

continuing on from last week and doing my research for the assignment, to save time I’m using the mindmaps that I have created for my presentation at the beginning of the project. I added the mindmaps into my WordPress and like I did for the moodboards went into further details of what the mindmaps are for and why I created them. the reason that I have done this is to show that I have a clear understanding of my work and the reason that I do what I am doing. this shows the marker that I am doing more than I’ve been told to do and will help me to get a higher grade.

now that I have done the mind maps and moodboards for my research I can move onto other aspects of my research. I decided that the next part of the research that I would conduct is my inspirational game levels. the reason that I am doing inspirational levels next is to look at two levels for each of the themes that I choose to see what has worked previously and design my level around that to ensure that my game is appealing to as many people as possible. the levels that I choose are Mad Max desert and metro exodus underground for the post-apocalyptic theme, for the Sci-Fi I chose to use the USG Ishimura from dead space and the level Silent Cartographer from Halo 3,  when it came to the fantasy theme I chose dark souls 3 Catacombs of Carthus and kingdom hearts 2 world that never was were the two games I choose to be my inspirational level. the final theme that I choose inspirational levels was for the horror theme and the two levels that I choose are the Spencer Mansion from the original Resident Evil and outlast 2 school levels. I, however, didn’t have a chance to finish all of the inspirational levels so I will have to complete the next week before I move onto other aspects of my research and the project.

week 11-

continuing the research that I had started last week, I finished the inspirational levels that I didn’t have the chance to finish the week prior before I could move onto the next aspect of my project. now that is done I can carry on with my research and this time I will research level types and see what level types work best with a certain type of game to see what level would work best with my idea and design. the level types I am researching are an alley, maze, island and hub. each of these levels types offer advantages and disadvantages for a different game as such I need to way my options and decide what level type would work best for my idea.

now that has been done and I have seen what level types work best for what levels, I have finally come to a decision on what level type I will be designing my project around. the level type that I will be designing my entire level around will be island level type.

week 12-

This week I had started the design section of my project which includes the concept art for my assets and level map to get a better idea of how I want my level to look and when I’ve got the final design of all the concept art use it as a blueprint while building my level and designing my assets in 3DS Max.

Below is the concept art below is for all the assets that I will need to use to make my level feel more unique and lived in rather than having completely barren buildings and outside. the assets come in a variety of sizes, from a can to a lamp post, this makes the assets feel more real as in real life not everything is the same time helping with the realistic atmosphere I’m trying to give my level even if its set on a floating island.

Now that my asset concept art is done I can move onto designing a map for my level, I will be doing a basic map design to get the main elements into the level than a final level design where I finalise my ideas and incorporate them into my level. the reason that I am doing this is to get an idea of how I want to look and alter before I start building the blockout and struggling a lot more to make any necessary changes at that point. the map below is the basic starter map, it’s not too detailed but it incorporates my main ideas like the three buildings, a park and it is set on a floating island.

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Now that I have a basic design for my level I can keep aspects that worked and either improved or remove aspects that don’t work.

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This is the final design that I had created, this would have been used a template if I had done the project in the correct order. As I’ve gone through the weeks of the project I have realised I should have done my research and design before I started my blockout, this has thrown off my time plan a little but its nothing too severe and I’ll remember for the next project. The major difference that I had added to the level is the inclusion of a river and a waterfall, I have included these to add more of a variety to the level and make it feel more unique. I had to change the level around to incorporate the river like having the park being the front garden of the building that will be used as a home.

week 13-

Now that my concept art for my assets has been completed I can start to build my assets using 3DS Max. I have already created the floating island and floating rocks assets to get a better idea of how it would look while creating the blockout. Now that I have started designing my 3D assets again I decided to go with one of the easiest that being the fence, unlike most of my other assets fence already has a pre-built object within 3DS max called railing. the railing object allows me to quickly and easily build my fence as it is as simple as clicking on the railing object and putting in the size you want as well as the sizes of each of the rails on the fence. doing it this way saves me loads of time that can be used for other aspects of the game and at this late stage of the project that is a massive positive.

fence

Now that I’ve got used to using 3DS max again and can now go onto creating more of the more difficult assets that I will need for my level. The next step for me is to build more of my assets and the next that I have decided to create is the lamp post that I will place all around the outside area of my level. To start off the asset I placed a cylinder within the 3DS Max and began by adding edit poly onto the cylinder and began to extrude the top face of my cylinder about half the length of the cylinder itself to before I grab the outside line of that face and chamfered it so that it creates a curve and ends a smaller circle. using the face of the smaller circle I extruded it up high over about double the original length of the cylinder. once that was done the all I had to do was extrude a single face outward and create a box on the end of it. on the box, I pushed the bottom of it in slightly to act as the place where the light will be placed when it gets added into unreal.

lamp post

week 14- 

Continuing on from last week and the assets that I have been creating by starting this week off with the creation of another of my assets, this time the asset will be the lighthouse. the reason that I am creating a lighthouse as one of my assets is due to the fact that I thought it be more interesting to include a lighthouse with a fully functioning flashing lights onto an adjacent floating island, it also makes sense to have it within the level due to the fact that its an island and most real-world islands will have a lighthouse to indicate that the island is their preventing accidents from happening.

just like with the lamppost the first step was to add a cylinder into the 3DS Max and add an editable poly onto the cylinder, however, unlike the lamppost, this cylinder will be much larger than the previous asset as the lighthouse will be larger than the lamppost. the process of starting the asset was very similar to the previous asset, that being starting by grabbing the top lines of the cylinder and shrinking it slightly so that it slowly gets smaller the higher it gets just like a real-life lighthouse. once that was done I had to drag it back out to create a walkway and just extruding it and either pulling it out or pushing it in to get my desired shape.

lighthouse

week 15-

this week I’m returning to do some research as its getting close to the end of the project and I don’t believe that my current amount is enough to get me the grade that I am wanting. I already have inspirational levels so I thought that it would be best to next look at possible levels type that I could use for my game, the levels types that I choose to look at are Alley, Maze, Island and Hub. I went into details for each of the level types, explaining there strengths and weaknesses as well as a game set in that level type as a reference. For Alley level types I explained that they work well for cinematic set pieces as its all set on a straight path with only a few detours. a game franchise that is good at doing this is Call of Duty as they seamlessly combine set pieces and gameplay to create a level that the player wants to return to multiple times. however, the linearity can be a disadvantage to the game if the set pieces are interesting enough to keep the player engaged, an infamous example of this is The Order 1886 as that had bland gameplay, pointless exploration with nothing to find and set pieces that didn’t excite or keep the player invested.

the maze level type has two genres that it works well with that being the horror genre and the puzzle genre, the puzzle genre works well for the maze level type for obvious reasons but the horror genre work as the player is forced to explore an area they don’t know finding the route to go and can also incorporate puzzles that need to be solved to progress, combining this with having to deal with enemies and manage resources it can create a tense, uneasy atmosphere that works perfectly for a horror game. if the maze is either too complicated or too easy however the player can easily get bored and stop playing. one of the most popular horror game using this level type is the original resident evil.

Island level type is basically the opposite of the Alley level types as this level type drops you into an island-like environment and lets the player explore as they please whereas the alley has a set path for you to travel through. this also means that the opposite of advantages and disadvantages as they need to have either interesting gameplay or interesting maps to explore to keep the player engaged. this can either work for an open-world game or for a battle-royale game like apex legends.

the final level type that I have researched is the hub level type that is commonly used with 3D platformers and isn’t as prevalent as it was back in the early days of 3D games. the hub level type allows the game developers to create unique and memorable without having to worry about having consistency between levels. however, the lack of consistency can also be a detriment to the game as if it doesn’t be done right then it can end up hurting the game overall. one of the games that manage to use the hub level type to there advantage is one of the most popular games in existence, Super Mario 64. 

week 16-

as its getting close to the final week, its time to start building my game and placing all my assets and texture into the unreal project. my first job is to add the lampposts in the place of the blockouts I was using as a bookmark. once the bookmarks have been removed and I have the lamppost at the correct size and position I can rearrange the lights so that they fit correctly into the lamppost asset. once that was done and was to my liking I could move onto other aspects of the level like putting the fences that I also created in 3DS Max to be moved into the unreal project and use it on the bridges that I have added to my level.

week 17-

Now that the final week for the project is finally upon us it’s now time that I begin to finalise my game as well as start writing my final evaluation for the entire project, this gives me the opportunity to reflect on the project, what went well, what went wrong and how I can improve it for my next project.

throughout the past 17 weeks, I have been working on researching and designing environments that I can use as inspiration as I build my own environment that will be used as my final major project. I’ve been documenting the processes of the project, this includes the research, design, game assets and building the game overall, all this will be documented within my blog and now that my final week is here ill relook through all of the work I have done and evaluated it so I can see what went wrong, what went right and how I can improve it for my next project.

Research-

The very first thing that I had to do for the project before I could continue with any of the rest of it is the proposal. For the proposal, I researched different aspects of game development such as art styles, possible game genres and game types the easiest way to display this information within the presentation I decided to put it into a mindmap.

mindmap 1

the reason that I included this information within a mindmap is due to the fact that ill have to give the presentation to a tutor and due to this fact mindmaps will work best in relaying the information I need to give in the correct time frame. using the game genres that I listed in the previous mindmap I created mindmaps for each of the game genres, that being Horror, Sci-Fi, Post-apocalyptic and fantasy. in each of the mindmaps for each genre, I’ve included different possible locations that the level could be set in using that genre.

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Along with the Mindmaps I also created moodboards for each of the themes and filled them with images of locations that I have previously mentioned in the mindmaps. to finish off the presentation I explained how this research has helped me to come to a decision on what I will be designing for my final major project, that being an interactive environment set on a floating city in a realistic art style. to help represent how I’m expecting to turn out I used already published games as a reference, I described my idea as being like Bioshock Infinite with the city of Spider-man while having the art style of everybody gone to the rapture.

To save me time on the Project I’ve taken all the research that I have done for the presentation and added it onto my WordPress to be marked. I explained what I did and why I had done it for each of the research while adding it into the blog so that I could get a higher grade. as well as the research for the presentation that I had done I also had to do a bit more research to get my desired grade as such I went into greater detail on levels by finding two inspirational for each of the themes that I could use as references when it comes to designing my level further on in the project. as well as that I also looked into different level types that I could use while designing my levels, the level types that I researched are Alley, Maze, Island and Hub, once I had explained the pros and cons of each level types I finally made a decision on what level type I’ll design my level around, the level type that I decided to use is the Island type as that the best-suited level type than the others.

Design-

Now that all my research has been done and completed I can move onto other aspects of my project, I thought it is best if the next part would be the design aspect of my project before completing my environment. The first step for my design aspect of the project was thinking about all the assets that I will need to build my level and to create an asset list so that I can keep track of what assets that I have created and what is still left to be created. Once the assets lists were done I could then start drawing the concept art for all the assets, the reason that I am doing concept art for all of my assets is due to the fact that it’ll be a good idea to have those in the early stage of the project to use as a blueprint when I finally start creating the assets within 3DS Max.

because they were created in the early stages of the project it also means that if I change the mind of the design I can simply change the design without having to create a new asset for it as well helping with the time management of the project. While I was creating concept art for all the assets I also created a rough draft of the level layout that was just a simple drawing of the main elements that I wanted within my level that being the floating islands, 3 buildings and a park. below is my initial rough sketch of what my level layout would be.

basic map - Copy

Once I had a rough level design to work with I could start to improve the design and layout to the point where it could be my final design for my level. I took inspiration from a real-life city while improving the layout with the city being Venice, using Venice as inspiration I decided to have a river running throughout the level for multiple reasons. The main reason that I have decided to include a river throughout my level is to show that I can code as well as create the art for the level as I will need to create a code to make the water have realistic physics, another reason that I had decided to include a river it to make my level feel more distinctive than any other simple city levels. Below is the final design that I have done for my level, This design is the layout that I used while creating my blockout.

final map

As you can see I still kept the core elements of the level that I had previously mentioned in my rough draft, I did, however, change the three buildings from just three random buildings to three separate building with one being a house, one being a corner shop with an apartment on top and the final being a restaurant. I also incorporated the park into the house as its garden because that made more sense for the change in layout. I included the river that I had previously talked about adding and also decided on including a waterfall to the level, it made sense to have a waterfall with having a river on a floating city and it also another aspect of the level that stands out and makes the level more interesting.

because the concept art for my assets have already been done I can move straight onto making the 3D assets for them within 3DS Max, the reason that I am making them in 3DS max rather than any other 3D software is due to the fact that I’ve used 3DS max in the pass as such I have experience using it and don’t have to waste time learning how to use the software effectively. Below are some of the assets that I had created within 3DS max that will be placed all over my level.

The fence asset that can be seen above was the easiest to build as there’s already a prefab object within 3DS Max called railing. This meant that I simply had to select it and enter the sizes I want and that was all I had to do. The other two, however, was slightly harder as I had to start with a cylinder and add an editable poly onto it so that I can extrude and move the different parts of the cylinder to get the required shape for the asset that I wanted.

Making my environment-

The final part of my Project that I had left to do was the actual building of my level which includes the blockout, adding textures and placing the assets that I had created into the unreal project. The first step was to create my blockout as that will allow me to simply place my assets over it when I need too. I used the third-person premade level as a start for my level and deleted everything in it apart from the character and camera, the floor and the lighting. once that’s was all that was left I resized the floor to my desired size and raised it up slightly to create the illusion that it was floating, I also changed the sky texture from day to night and made it so that the stars are brighter and stand out more. The reason that I choose to have my level set at night rather than through the day is that I thought it would create a better atmosphere for the player as well as the fact that I’ve created lamppost and I am going to attach a light to them so they’ll stand out more at night time. I then added four boxes of varying sizes to each corner of the floor that will be used as the areas of the level and the gap between will be used as the river. To connect the different areas of the level together I’ve also built a bridge over the river that’s connecting the four sections together. the next step was to place the next three block that will be added into my level to be used as the three buildings for the level, I made sure that the blocks were hollow so that they can be explored inside. The next step was to add the subtractive blocks that I can use for both the doors of the buildings and also the windows. now that the player can enter the buildings I can build the different rooms and floors of the buildings, the way that this was done was by getting thin boxes and using them as walls. then I simply add more subtractive blocks were needed as well as stairs if they’re needed. then all that was left to do was add the assets that I created in 3DS Max and add them into the project and place them in the correct spot before I added the textures onto all the blockouts and that was the game completed.

Conclusion-

In conclusion, I feel that the assignment overall went well, I feel that I’ve created an interesting and unique environment and fits well within the theme of that I had set for myself. I believe that I have created a unique level that stands out and distinguish itself against any of my fellow students. if I was to redo the project again i would definitely manage my times better so that I can complete every aspect of the level within the given time frame.

Gameplay-

below is the video that I had created that shows off my game as I explore the level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Design

Asset list-

below is the asset list that I created to use through the development of my game, listing all the assets that I will need to design and create so that I can place them around the level to flesh out my level and make the environment more visually pleasing. the reason for me doing my assets list before I proceed with any more of my environment is so I know exactly what I need to design for my game and start the drawings for the assets to use as a reference for when I start my 3D modelling.

  • dumpster
  • bed
  • store shelves
  • freezers
  • desk
  • cash register
  • sofa
  • kitchen counter
  • trees
  • floating island
  • floating rocks
  • TV
  • bridge
  • bench
  • lamp post
  • lighthouse
  • robot
  • cans
  • bottle
  • table
  • chair
  • cup

Concept Assets-

Now that I have created an asset list and listed all the assets that I will need for my game, I can start to create the concept art for my assets to use as a reference while building them in 3DS Max.

asset list 3

The first concept asset list that I created for my game can be seen above. I followed the asset list that I had created before so that I know that I’m not going to miss out any of the assets that I need for my level. the first six that I did the drawings for was for Dumpster, Bed, Freezer, Store shelves, Desk and a cash register. these assets will mainly be used in the house and the shop for a variety of areas of the building. asset-list-2.jpg

the next asset list that I created included the designs for the Bench, lamppost, lighthouse, Can, Bottle, Table, Chair and Robot assets. these assets will be used all around the level including all the buildings and even the outside of the level.

image_6546160.jpg

Level maps-

Now that my asset concept art is done I can move onto designing a map for my level, I will be doing a basic map design to get the main elements into the level than a final level design where I finalise my ideas and incorporate them into my level. the reason that I am doing this is to get an idea of how I want to look and alter before I start building the blockout and struggling a lot more to make any necessary changes at that point. the map below is the basic starter map, it’s not too detailed but it incorporates my main ideas like the three buildings, a park and it being set on a floating island.

basic map - Copy

Now that I have a basic design for my level I can keep aspects that worked and either improved or remove aspects that don’t work.

final map

the image above is for the final design that I had created to show what I want my level to look like and that can be used as a reference when it comes to my block out. as you can see it has elements that I’ve been wanting from my presentation, the most obvious being the fact that it’s on a floating island and that it has a couple of buildings. However, I was originally planning on having the three buildings just simply being stores, but while designing the map layout I decided that it would feel much more like a city if there was a variety to the buildings that’s why I added a house and a restaurant was as well to make the island feel lived in and more realistic. the major difference between my basic original layout and my final design is the inclusion of a river, without it, I feel as the level looks too generic and doesn’t stand out however thanks to the river I’ve had to create a more unique map with different sections being separated by the body of water and being connected by bridges. the architecture is very similar to real life Venice, as such ill be including images of Venice within my research so the marker can see what I was going for as well as using it as inspiration.

3ds max-

now that I have concept arts for all of the assets that I will be using within my level I can start to build the assets within 3DS Max so that I can export them and put them into my unreal level.

I have already created the assets that will be used for my floating city and the floating rocks, but now that I have begun designing my assets again I thought that it be best to go for one of the easiest assets as a way to get back into asset creation. the asset that I decided to create is the lamp post as that’s quite simple to do and they stand out as well.

lamp post

The lamp post simply started as a cylinder where I extruded and shrunk the ring to create that curved look before extruding it again to create that long neck, once it was the correct size I needed to add more lines at the top of it so I can extrude it out to create the lightbox where I can add the light into in unreal. To make the lamp post look more realistic and also to have a part to place the light source on the underside of the lightbox I push it in slightly like a lamp post would look in real life.

Now that I’ve done the asset for my lamp post I can carry on creating assets that will be used within my game level. Continuing with doing my simple assets first I decided that a fence will be the next best thing to build.

fence

this asset was a lot simpler to design in 3ds max as there is already an object saved into 3ds max called railing which gives you a shape that you can alter to your preference. the reason that I have decided to use this object rather than building it from scratch is simple, its the same time as its getting close to the end of the project and the time that I have saved on this object can be put to better use in other aspects of the project.

unreal 1

Because I have a final level design I can now start to work on the blockout for my level. the reason that I have a blockout for my level is so that it’ll save me time later on in the project as ill simply have to place my assets over the blocks saving me time and effort.

Capture.PNG

this is my completed level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research

 Inspirational game levels 

As I mentioned in the mind map of my presentation that can be found below, I have chosen four themes that I could build my game around, that being Post-apocalyptic, Sci-Fi, horror or horror. however, there are radically different designs that I could within each of the themes as such I have chosen 2 game levels set within each theme to show what environment I could create for the theme as well help me to come to a conclusion on what theme I will choose to build my environment around.

mindmap2

  • Post-Apocalyptic

the first level that inspires me from the Post-Apocalyptic theme is from the game Metro: Exodus.

inspirational level- metro

This level is set in an old underground subway where surviving humans have built a city protected from the radiation and mutants that linger above them. because of the fact that the city is built from debris and wreckage, it creates a really grungy and imperfect look which I think is perfect for a post-apocalyptic themed style environment. with the level being set underground there is no natural light as such the entire level is light using lanterns and fire adding to the almost primitive atmosphere. this level feels like it could be real if we ever had an apocalypse making the level feel more realistic which I find really intriguing in a level where it feels realistic and plausible.

the second inspiration for the post-apocalyptic theme isn’t a level but instead the world for the game, mad max.

 

inspirational level- mad max.jpg

  • Sci-Fi

Halo 3 Silent Cartographer

dead space USG Ishimura

  • Fantasy 

Dark Souls 3 Catacombs of Carthus

Kingdom Hearts 2 world that never was

  • Horror

Resident Evil Spencer Mansion

Outlast 2 School

Moodboard 

I also created moodboards for my presentation so my tutors and I could see possible designs and location for a theme as well as show the variety of levels that a single theme could host.

The first moodboard that is being shown is the moodboard that I had created was for the theme, sci-fi. in the moodboard, I created obvious choices for sci-fi, that being a spaceship or futuristic alien city, but I also included more unique locations for a sci-fi based level like an underwater city inspired by steampunk and a floating city with 1950s architecture. The reason that I had decided to include those two designs into my moodboard as I believe that sci-fi themed levels too often rely on space and aliens for there level allowing the theme to feel stale and overused, whereas these two designs that I found from games are creative, unique and still fits into the sci-fi theme. Allowing the game developer to create a unique design and lore for the level as they use real-life science to explain their city which creates a more interesting atmosphere. if I choose to build my game in the sci-fi theme I consider either building the level as an underwater city or a floating city due to the reason that I listed above.

moodboard 3

The second moodboard I have included below is for the post-apocalyptic theme. unlike the previous moodboard, the locations I have included don’t really change with most being set within a ruined city, instead of being set in different locations the images are all of the different aesthetic. For example, two levels set in the same location can be altered to make the area unique and stand out from each other. one of the major ways they do that is by either have it desolate and completely destroyed with the street lined with rubble and destroyed cars, whereas the other has the same destroyed buildings but instead of being desolate with a mainly brown colour pallet, this level has been taken over by nature and the ruins have overgrown plants surrounding them adding much-needed colour and visual variety to the theme. if I was to choose the post-apocalyptic theme to design my level around I would consider going for the overgrown appearance for the reasons that I have already mentioned like the colour and visual diversity but also for the fact that it gives me the opportunity to create a much more unique level by giving me the ability to use any plant making my level much more diverse than a simple wasteland.

moodboard 2

The next moodboard was for the theme that has the most possible location to build my level in. with the theme being fantasy, there is seemingly no limits on a possible location to set my level, I could build my level in a swamp, forest, castle, dungeon and those are just the common locations with more unusual locations like worlds inside a painting being possible. Another aspect that is unique to fantasy is most art style can work in a fantasy theme, whether that be realistic or cartoony, cel-shaded or exaggerated. All these art styles and more works well with a fantasy level whereas for the rest of the themes you’re much more limited with the art style you can use, any art style can be used for any game, for example, a horror game doesn’t always need to be gritty and realistic there are popular pixel art horror games like the lone survivor which manages to be scary and engaging using pixel art. It just means that certain themes work better with certain art styles, where fantasy doesn’t have this issue because of the extensive possibility for the theme, it could work as a realistic castle or for a cartoony forest and neither feels out of place.

If I was to choose fantasy as my theme then I would choose to build a dungeon/catacomb style of the area with a realistic art style. The reason I came to the decision to build a dungeon/catacomb area if my theme was fantasy was due to the fact that it’s not too common so I can create a level that feels unique and my own but also has enough examples in other games to use as reference and inspiration. I also chose to do the art style of realistic for a simple reason, that being the realistic art style will work well for the more catacomb area that I was thinking as it will help to create a dungier and gloomy atmosphere.

moodboard 1

The final moodboard, unlike the rest, was not recommended to me instead I chose to look into this theme myself as I knew this has the possibility of creating a very unique level that stands out between any of the others in my class, this moodboard is for the theme horror.

Horror is another theme that has an abundance of possible locations for me to set my level in, with popular being choices an abandoned mental institute or a haunted mansion. another good location to set a horror theme level is in a prison due to a hopeless atmosphere already being established. like I previously mentioned any art style can be used for any theme, however, although art styles like pixel art can capture the feeling of dread and unease a realistic art style works best as the player feels more immerse if it looks realistic because it helps the player to imagine its real.

if I was was to choose horror as my theme for the level then I would design my level around a mental institute due to the fact that it allows me to create different cells filled with different aesthetics to show off the psychology of the different deranged inmates. to make the level more interesting I could also look into having some of the inmates locked in a cell and have the player be able to the inmates or at the very least hear them which will add a more interesting element into my level. if I was to add the inmates into the level then I would use a realistic art style to really show off how deranged and dangerous they are.

moodboard 4

Now that I looked further into the different themes and have a good understanding of the possible designs and art styles that can be used for each theme I can finally make a decision on what my level design will be. The theme I have chosen to use is the sci-fi theme due to the fact that it lets me creates a variety of possible locations, I was also planning on including a shop where when you enter so when the player enters there’s a line is spoken that says “welcome” and “thank you”, I thought to have these lines spoken by a robot to add a little more variety to the level and also shows more of my knowledge of unreal which will help me to get a higher grade. I have also decided to go for an interactive environment over an actual game for one reason, that being that my coding skills leave much to be desired and considering this is my final major project I have decided to play to my strengths, that being environments and the art side of game development. because I am doing an interactive environment the software ill be using is unreal over unity due to the fact that Unreal is much more tailored to building levels whereas unity is for coding features into your game, ill also be using 3DS Max to create all my assets. The art style that I decided to use for my level is a realistic art style, I was originally planning on doing a cartoony almost comic book style for the game to make it stand out even more and create a unique visual style to my city. however, I have no previous experience with this art style and for my final major project their more risk than reward for using the art style. this is why I have chosen to use a realistic style for the city because I have previous experience with the art style and I know that I can create a good looking city for this project.

level design types

Now that I know what my idea for my level is going to be, I now need to decide what type of level would work best for my level idea. I chose four possible level types that I believe could work with my level idea to research further to find out what would create the most interesting level to explore. the four levels that I have chosen are Alley, Maze, Island and Hub.

  • Alley

This level type can be the most basic to create a level for as the main objective to get from one spot to the next with little to none distractions for the player to explore. However, if hidden and optional routes are used right then it could add to the experience as the developer could hide easter eggs and secret hidden collectables or weapons giving the player incentive to explore an otherwise linear level. A good example of this being used to the game’s advantage is with the Halo series which regularly has alley level design but has hidden weapon cache and even hidden weapons that can’t be collected any other way.

However, this doesn’t always work and can actually be a decrement to the game, there’s no better example of this than from the game, The Order 1886. this is another shooter with a majority of levels being an alley level type however there’s only a small amount of diversions through the levels and those have nothing to offer to the game experience so they feel more like distractions than extensions of the level. due to the fact that the was so linear with little reason to explore the map making the game feel repetitive and boring.

alley way map

Because the alley type can be so basic when it comes to level layout the developer normally includes big set pieces or interesting mechanics into the level to distinguish itself from other competitors as well as keep the player engaged with the game and stop the player from wanting to quit before the story has concluded. This is why the shooter genre works well with this style of levels, whether it be due to the basic point A to point B level design they don’t have to spend as much time designing the level and can instead focus on creating bigger and flasher set pieces to make it stand out. A great example of this is from the Call of Duty which is known for its flashy over the top sequence while using the alley level type, with the most popular moment in the franchise is when you have to fight through a slum following a set path till you reach a helicopter and you think the level is over a nuke is set off in the background knocking you’re helicopter out of the sky and gives you back control for you to slowly crawl out of the wreckage to succumb to your wounds. This allows for the game to stand out due to its memorable moments but in a more relaxing game like a walking sim, it doesn’t really work.

  • Maze

this type of level is often used for puzzles games for obvious reason is that the player needs to figure a way out whether that simply finding the correct way to go or even incorporating some riddles and puzzles into the maze to make the game more varied and interesting to complete. apart from puzzles games there is one other game genre that thrives with the maze level design and that is the horror genre with 2 of the most famous horror games using the maze level design, them being resident evil and silent hill 2. the reason that horror games work so well with this level type is due to the fact that, using resident evil spencer mansion as a reference, you’re trapped in a building that you do not know the layout of so you have to find your way around the mansion while collecting puzzles to unlock more of the map to explore all while avoiding the enemies which allow you to face them head on or simply avoid them.

maze map

the horror genre adds much more of an uneasy, panicked feel to the game than the much more relaxed atmosphere than a puzzle game normally portrays. this appeals to a much wider demographic as although they are some players that would like to just relax, a majority will play it for the action and the feeling of accomplishment and ease that they would get from beating a puzzle and move onto the next area in a horror game.

although a maze layout could be used for an interactive environment it may feel a bit basic and if it’s not designed well could be infuriating for the player to navigate. whereas if it was designed with the purpose of being a game that has actual puzzles and riddles incorporated into the maze, even if it wasn’t designed all that well, it could still be interesting for the player to explore and try to complete.

  • Island

the island level type is the most common level that game developers use when creating a game in recent times. island level types are also known as open world, which most of the game now use, especially RPGs and recently battle royale games. the whole point of an Island level design is allowing the player to be dropped in a vast open land and letting the player explore it at their own pace.

due to the lack of urgency that often comes with open world games often have its harder for game developers to create a coherent story with action pieces that standouts and make the game memorable for players.

one of the most popular games that currently use the island level type is apex legends, its a battle royale game where you can drop anywhere on the map and the goal is to survive as long as you can. the premise of a battle royale works well with island level type as the game consists of you literally having the choice to go anywhere you want on an island.

apex legends map.jpg

  • Hub

The final level type that I am considering for my game is the Hub level type, this level type is slightly different from the rest of the level types as the rest of the level types are all general set in one area whereas the hub level is split into different sections. you have the main section also known as the Hub, is a small explorable area that has different portals that take you to other levels.

due to the fact that the player is teleported to the levels from the hub, this allows the level designer to create a variety of levels to travel too that can vary widely with one level consisting of a snow level and the next level is a lava level. this is because they are less worried about creating a coherent world and can create more unique levels. the level types work best when it comes to 3d platformers due to the fact that you can create a lot better platforming challenges when you’re not having to worry about consistency.

one of the most popular games in the world to use the hub level type is super Mario 64. this game sees you explore a castle and proceed through different levels collecting stars to move onto other levels. giving the player more choice on what they can do when.

Mario-64-Hub-920x647

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Evaluation

Over the last 12 weeks, I have been researching and designing environments so I can build my own environment. I have been documenting the processes that I have been doing from research, design, game assets and actually making the game all within this blog and now that’s its coming to the end I’m going to do one final evaluation to look through the entirety of my project to explain what I’ve done, what went well, what went wrong and how I overcame that as well as what I would do if I was to do the assignment again.

Research-

Before I could even start thinking of how I wanted to design my game I first needed to do my research on what an environment artist is that can be found in the project rationale post. I did this to get a better idea of what an environment artist does and his role within a game dev team. once that was completed and I was given the three themes that I could choose to build my environment around, that being Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Post-Apocalyptic, I could start looking for two inspirational games for each of the themes to help me decide which I would believe I could create the most unique and interesting environment with. I tried to get different game levels for a theme as I could to show the variety that a single theme could have. a good example of this was the two games that I choose for the fantasy game levels, one was for the legend of Zelda that level is set on a giant mechanical bird which sounds to be more Sci-Fi than fantasy but the fact that its built from stone and powered by magic crystals that make it fantasy. because its made from stone its covered in moss making the game look a lot more colourful and vibrant. whereas the second game I choose is a lot more of a traditional fantasy game level with it being set in a massive castle looking cathedral infested with undead knights and evil monsters. the colour and brightness from the first game are nowhere to be seen and instead of being replaced with darkness and a cold atmosphere surrounding the building.

Next, I created a mindmap for each theme so I could write down games within that specific theme and list different environments or aspects that they included within their game to use as inspiration for when it comes to designing my game. The next aspect that I needed to do was to create a moodboard for all three of the game themes that I previously mentioned, I collected multiple different pics for each theme showing the variety you could design within in a single theme, for example, the theme that I ended up choosing Post-Apocalyptic you could either have it where the environment id desolate and destroyed or you could have it where the plants have grown over man-made stuff.

because all the previous research is completed and I was able to see the possibility for an environment designed around each theme I could finally come to the decision that the Post-Apocalyptic theme would be the best theme for me to build my game around as that’s the one that I believe that I could create a more interesting environment than any of the other themes.

the image above is the game that is the most inspiring to me as I love the idea of plants taking over buildings and other man-made objects. it also allows for more detailed and unique looks rather than a simple destroyed building.it also allows you add more colour into the game as over post-apocalyptic games that don’t have nature taking over are just mainly brown and dirty looking, a perfect example is the Fallout series especially new Vegas which consist of mainly a brown pallet as illustrated with the image below.

Image result for fallout new vegas

once my theme was chosen I then had to decide what level design I was wanting for my game as there were multiple different ways I could design my level, out of five different level types, that being Alley, maze, Hub, Island or path. I choose to go with the island because the rest of the level designs where too linear especially alley as that would only have one way to go and because I was designing my game to be built in a destroyed area of a city it wouldn’t feel right if I had to build a set path to follow. whereas because I’ve built the game in an island level design the area is much more open and players can freely explore the area with the only restriction being a locked door that they must explore the level to find a key to open the door. the fact that they have to explore the ruined city looking for something important replicates what would happen if someone was exploring a real life ruined city adding to the realistic atmosphere that I am trying to build for my level.

To ensure that I built my level to be built so that I can get as many people as possible to enjoy it I created a survey and asked my fellow classmates to answer the questions to help me get a better understanding. If you want to see the full survey then it can be found within the Research section of my blog. The main points to take away is that they agree with the idea of having a post-apocalyptic level based in a destroyed area of a city with a realistic art style which means I could continue with my original idea for my level and not have to redo all the previous work which allows me to quickly move onto the next part of my research.

The last part of my research I had to do before I could start building the game was to do with assets for my game as I needed to create an asset list so I know what assets I would need when it came to creating my assets. I choose to create the assets list early into the design so I would have an idea of the amount of work I had to do concerning my assets and plan my time out around it. Next, I had to create another moodboard this time focusing on the assets, this was used as a reference when I started making my assets making them feel more authentic with the realistic look I’m going for.

Design-

Once all my research was completed I could start designing my level as I knew what theme and style the level would be in, as well as the area that I will be designing the area in. because my theme is post-apocalyptic and I’ve decided to create it in a realistic style I thought the best thing to design my level around was a real-life area that I could alter to make look like its been through an apocalypse, because I know this area well ill be able to transfer it into unreal well and it’ll help to add to the realistic atmosphere that I was trying to create.

environment

above is a bird eyes view of what sort of shape my level will be as well as some pictures I took myself to use as a reference while creating my game. the garden area is the main part of my game with most of the buildings being used to stop the player from leaving the intended area. all the roads that could be used to escape the area will be blocked off by debris as I needed some way to stop the player from exiting the playable area and debris made sense for the theme as buildings would be destroyed in an apocalypse. I didn’t just want players to explore the outside however as I believed it wouldn’t be as interesting and I also couldn’t think how I could implement a puzzle element to make the level interactive if it was simply outside. as such, I decided to make that building in the top left of the first image so that you can go inside and explore inside the building if you find the key hidden within a secret area of the level to unlock the door. adding this simple addition greatly improves my level as it now has a puzzle element to make it more interesting and interactive, a reason to explore the area and look at it more closely and also adds diversity to my level design as I have to design the outside as well as an inside of an office building.

drawing

using the google maps image as a reference I created the first idea of what my level layout could look like. it was a good rough idea but after drawing it I noticed that it was too simplistic and would be boring to traverse. it was too confined not giving the player a clear way to go and almost impossible to add a puzzle element in as the level design was too basic.

level design

after a few more rough sketches I came to the decision that this design above would be the best as the level would be more open giving the player more area to explore, making the level more interesting. I was going to have it where you started in the bottom left and you had to explore to find a key that would let you get into the two buildings on the right. this worked in concept but when I started building the blockout for the level I realized that I wouldn’t be able to finish the level within the given time frame. not wanting to lose all of the element I previously added, however, I drew one more layout for the level which can be seen below. as you can see I made it more spherical but made it wider so the player still had room to explore as well as keeping an explorable building on the right like I mentioned earlier on rather than two to save time. I believe this is a good compromise as it’s not as basic as the original design but still achievable within the time period I’ve been given.

drawung

Capture 4

I created the blockout for the garden section of my level as that’s the center of my level and once I had done that to the correct size I could start to build the levels borders as well as the interactive building. I built the blockout and then ran around using the character to get a feel for the level and test if its big enough. the garden was too small as the player could run across it in 3 seconds which would be too quick for the game and its also not that realistic and as I’m trying to make the game as realistic as possible it wouldn’t look right and take away from the atmosphere.

blockout.PNG

this is a bird’s eye view of my block out as you can see I made the garden bigger than it was in the previous screenshot like I said I would and because I did that I could also add the building around the level. any part that wasn’t covered by buildings and was just left open I decided to put debris over. I could have it completely surrounded building as that would look unrealistic but I couldn’t have something like trees blocking the way as that wouldn’t make sense. in the end, I settled with debris blocking the exits as it does it job of blocking the player within the intended level area but it also makes sense why they’d be debris blocking the way.

Game assets-

this is the section where I show you all the assets that I have created and used within my game as well as a description of how I created them, why I created them and what issues I ran into during the process.

 

above are the assets that I created within 3DS Max so I could simply export them with the embed media (the texture I add to them while still in 3DS Max) and drag them into unreal where I could alter the size so they fit correctly into my level. most was as simple as adding an editable poly and extruding certain faces to get the required look. the best example was the table as I only had to do was add a square shape into 3ds and change the sizes so that it looks like a real tabletop, once that was done I add more segments onto the shape which allowed for more faces to use to create the table. I selected the four faces at either corner of the table that I needed and extruded them to create the legs. to make the table look more realistic I grabbed the all the lines on the corners of the table and chamfer which give the table them more looking smoother edges as they would never at a perfect 90 degrees angle in real life as they would be too sharp yet again ruining the realistic atmosphere. they weren’t all as easy as that however as some wasn’t simple straight shapes, the best example of these sorts of shapes are the candle and bolder as they needed to look a lot more random in its design. to create that random design I used a cylinder for the candle and a sphere for the bolder, added segments onto and randomly grabbed and pulled different faces to make it look like a rough bolder or a melted candle with uneven wax. the asset that I thought was going to be the easiest was the wall as I thought with a simple case of grabbing enough faces to create a door and do the same to create a window and that would be it. that couldn’t be further from the truth as I had to add segments, remove certain lines, bridge areas together so there weren’t holes in the wall. I managed to get it to look like a wall but even now I’m still unsure on how to fix the door completely, as you can see in the picture of the wall above they’re two random lines on the door that didn’t need to be there and I couldn’t get rid of. I tried deleting the lines but that deleted the whole door but while trying to figure out a way I realized I didn’t have too. I was planning on having the door blocked anyway so I didn’t have to texture all the insides saving time, so I created a wooden board that I can put in front of the door blocking the player from entering as well as hiding the lines for the door solving two problems with one solution.

Making my Environment-

this the final part of the game that I needed to do before I could start this final evaluation and complete the assignment. because I had already built my blockout in the design aspect of the final evaluation so I could move straight onto adding my assets to the level and adding the textures getting it ready for the assignment end. this aspect has been the most time consuming as due to the fact that it was the first time that I’ve properly used unreal I made a few little mistakes, nowt that ruined the level just ones that slowed down the process. the best example of this is the brick texture as the texture that I used was too big and looked completely unrealistic when added to the wall asset that I created. the best solution I could find at that point was to add it to a new geometry block and add it to that block before resizing the block till it looks realistic. then I had to copy and paste the block lining them up like a jigsaw creating the wall. once it was completed and I had time to research a solution I found that if I uvw wrapped the texture while it was still in 3DS max I could change it till it was the correct size, so in the future when I create other environments within unreal I can use the more effective solution saving time allowing me to focus on other areas. because I want the level to be covered with nature and plants I decided to have the floor completely grass rather than roads, I did this by adding the grass texture onto the plain I was using as the floor. it was originally grey and didn’t look as vibrant as I wanted but while trying to figure out I found the texture options where I had to change it from emissive colour to base colour which fixed the colour returning it to the green I was wanting. I also added the trees into the environment and poppies around the monument to further add into the atmosphere that nature is taking back what is its, that I’ve been trying to build through the entire assignment. any area that need a hole adding into the geometry like a door or a gate instead of wasting time using two separate geometry and trying to line it up I added a geometry box and turned it from an additive to a subtractive  which turned the box invisible and any other geometry that came in contact with it to have that section cut out. combine that with a box being hollow means you can create a building with a hole for you to add a door into later. I was previously a bit worried about how I was going to make it look like my level was part of a city as I didn’t have time to build buildings outside of the level to simulate a real city but I didn’t want to leave it as it wouldn’t look realistic, while looking through the included object in unreal however I came across an object called ExponentialHeightFog which basically adds fog into your game and you can choose the density of it. this turned out to be very helpful as it didn’t matter what outside my level looked like as the player couldn’t see the outside anyway keeping the realistic atmosphere that I created.

Conclusion-

In conclusion, I feel that the assignment overall went well, I feel that I’ve created an interesting and unique environment and fits well within the theme of post-apocalyptic. I feel that the strongest element of the assignment is the creating the assets as I’ve tried new techniques that I’ve never used before to good effect and as such been able to create assets in detail that I’ve never been able too before. however, this assignment isn’t without negative as I believe my designs could have been stronger and that my weekly reflection should have been done in stronger detail. as such for my next assignment ill make sure to focus just as much on my blog as well as my level to ensure that I have the best assignment possible.

Gameplay-

below are the two videos that I had created that show off my games and its design. it would have been a single video but I was experiencing issues with my capture software.

 

 

 

 

 

Reflection Journal

Week 1- as this is my first week on the project there isn’t much that I have done apart from creating a moodboard for the three themes that I was given the choice of choosing as well as writing about the research I had done for “what is an environment artist?” which can be found in my project rationale blog post on this WordPress. I also had my first test of unreal this week by creating a basic level of a central hub, 2 rooms, and four corridors to practice for when I build my real environment.

unreal.PNG

to finish off the week I had created an automatic door that opens when you within a certain range. I am new to unreal so I’m slow to learn what I need to do but I’ve completed every task given for it so far and it starts to make sense to me.

door

Week 2- now that I have decided on a theme that I will create my environment around i have been thinking of possible locations that it could be with so once I had an idea of what my environment would be set and what it would look like I consulted with my tutor, Charlotte, to ensure that she believed it was possible and worth doing it. I told her I was planning to have a post-apocalyptic game set in a destroyed section of a city that has been taken back over by nature. she suggested that it could be too hard to keep it contained to one area so I thought of the solution of closing off the area by having fallen debris blocking the ways out, she says that could work so that how I will design my environment. because of I now know what I need to build my environment I’ve been able to create the asset list for the environment which lists every part of my environment, listed what how I’ll be using each of the assets listed as well as created a moodboard so I have inspiration for each of the asset. I have also added new assets into my games including a door that you have to press a button to open then a door that needs a key collecting to open the door, I did run into an issue with this door at first as the door wouldn’t open at all but after checking my blueprints and seeing that I haven’t properly compiled all of the assets I fixed this issue and the door started to work.

Week 3-  as this is the final week for my research to be completed that’s mainly what I have been doing. I have had a look through my blog and either added something in that I had previously missed out or I have redone something that wasn’t quite right. an example of this was my “What is an environment artist?” that I had written in my project rationale. although I had included all the important information I was meant to, it was how I wrote it that made it confusing so I’ve re-written it so I can get higher than a pass. apart from the research I also learned how to animate in 3DS Max. my tutor showed us how to get a ball to roll from one side of the screen to the next using keyframes. once that was done he gave us the chance to try out 3DS max and see what we could create, I added a new sphere and have them collide together and then fly around and collide again over and over to create a very basic looking fight scene.

wordpress

Week 4- this was the week where I first started on building my environment and the first thing I need to do for my building is to build the blockout so later on in the development I can simply add the final assets onto the blockout. the first object that I had created a blockout for is the memorial as that in the center of the level as such I can scale everything around it to ensure that’s my level looks the right size to be a realistic looking section of a city. it also one of the more simpler objects within my level, as it only needs a few boxes, cylinders and one cone that I changed to be four-sided, so while building the object I was getting use to unreal as this was the first time using it create a blockout.

monument

the image above shows the memorial that I had created within unreal, I managed to create the risen areas by using two cylinders one larger than the other. I centered the smaller cylinder inside the other before changing the smaller brush type from additive (a visible shape) to subtractive which makes the shape invisible and cuts out other parts of the objects as seen above. I believe that for my first attempt at blocking out that I have done, however as previously mentioned it is a quite basic shape as such I am unsure how well I will do with other more complicated objects of my level.

Week 5- continuing on from last week, I’m carrying on with building the blockout for my level. last week I had built the memorial for my environment so this week I am going to build the rest of the garden around the memorial. I am going to do this by using boxes to create a path and outlines of the garden and use landscapes sculpt tool to create the more bumpy and curvy land as the grass wouldn’t look realistic if I had simply used straight boxes. I also started to add some buildings around the environment using them to block off the level to stop the player from getting out of the intended playable area.Capture 4

once I had finished the garden I ran it in game so I could run around it and make sure it was all to size. I realized that I had done it all too short as it didn’t look realistic so to fix this issue I simply selected all the geometry that I had used for the garden and stretched it to save me from having to repeat the whole process again wasting a massive amount of time. I also started to learn how to build lighting within unreal, I tested all the different lights to see which one would work for the best for my game and found that the point light was the best for what I had in mind. I originally didn’t think about lighting within the game but after consideration decided to add in lighting by using candles, what I mean is use a point light that has been tinted orange to create a glow of a candle. I decided to go with candles over a traditional light because I feel like it matches the post-apocalyptic theme better. although I have to include a lot more candles into the level than if I had used a normal light, this shouldn’t be a problem as long as I remember to add the candle asset to every single light or it will unnatural.

Week 6- I wanted to complete as much of my blockout as possible this week so I can start my assets next week to ensure that I have enough time to complete every aspect of my environment. I continued adding in boxes that will be my buildings into unreal using the google maps below as reference, any area that isn’t blocked off with buildings, mainly the roads, I am going to block off with debris from fallen building as its the easiest way to prevent the player from exiting the level that also fits with the theme. I am also using that tall building in the top left of the map so that the player can explore it once they have found the hidden key within the level, this will be used as my puzzle element for the level as well another area of the level to add diversity and more interesting.

environment

week 7- now that This week I have started creating the assets that will be used over the blockout of the environment. I designed a modular wall and a tree so far that will be placed into my environment once the rest of my assets are done. I did this by using 3ds max by placing a tall thin wall into 3ds max, add some editable polys onto it and extruded two segments to create the door and window of the shop front. as you can see in the pic below they’re two lines that you can see across the door. this is because I did something wrong while bridging the two segments together causing the lines to appear, I don’t know how to get rid of the lines but luckily enough for the shops I am going too bored the winds and door so players know that they are not to be entered, so I can create a separate board and simply place it over the window and door to create a more abandoned look.

Capture 5

Week 8- there hasn’t been anything that I have specifically focused on this week instead I have reviewed all of my previous work that has been written onto my blog to make sure it’s correct and up to a high standard for progress week next week. most of the work was there from what I could see the only aspect that was missing was the survey results that I had collected about my game. I had included them in the blog but for whatever reason had forgotten to annotate them. I finished annotating the survey results and now feel confident for progress week.

Week 9- this is the week that I was preparing for in my last reflection. I sat down with my tutor and looked through my blog to ensure that I was working at my target grade and wasn’t missing any essential work for the blog. he informed me that I had missed out a few aspects of my blog mainly the design elements like my blueprints which I had forgotten about because I have been focusing on my research. he has said however that my current work is a high pass to a merit so I only have to include a little bit more detail to my research before I can shift my focus on to the design aspect ensuring that every aspect of my assignment will be to a high standard.

week 10- now that my blog is up to date to my current point I only have these weekly reflections and my final evaluation at the last week of the assignment left to do as such I can focus on finishing building my game. this was the week where I started adding most of the textures to my game by simply dragging and dropping the texture I wanted onto the surface I wanted as well as adding my assets like trees and poppies into my level. I did have trouble trying to texture the floor as I thought it was drag and drop like all the other textures but I had to select the plane through the settings but even when I added it the colour was black instead of the green grass I wanted. after some tinkering, I found that this was because it automatically made it so that the texture was an emissive colour whereas I needed it to be base colour so I went into the texture setting and changed it fixing the problem.

week 11- carrying on from last week I started adding the rest of my assets and texture into the environment getting ready for the recording I’m going to do for it showing off my level. I have done this so I can include the video on my blog and people can see my level without having to play it.

week 12- this is the final week of the project as such its the week where I’ve looked back through all of the assignment and written my final evaluation talking about the four aspects of my assignment what went well and what didn’t go to plan within them and what ill do to avoid the problems for my next assignment as well as a conclusion.

 

 

Practice Journal

b This section of my wordpress is dedicated to the making of my level and all the relevant information to do with that aspect of the environment. Below is the Block out for the level which shows the rough look of the level and where all my assets will be going when they’re completed.

monument

the image above is the first part of my level that i have blocked out as that monument is in the centre of my level so it makes sense to do that area first so i can get a scale of how big the rest of my level should be. the image is a block out of a monument that is based off the one opposite the college as see in the pic below. another reason that i choose to create the monument at first because its one of the easiest parts of my blockouts as it only needs 2 cubes and a cone that i added 4 edges on to so it would fit on one of the boxes and create the monument. because i have done the block out for the monument i can simply place my asset over the block out once they are completed at a later state. i will be doing this for all the rest of my blockouts.

monument

Capture 4

Above is the garden area of my environment which is the first area that you can explore when you start the game. i placed lights around the edges of the garden as I am going to place candles in them spots along with the rest of my assets. i am going to hide a key in the garden that will need to be found to proceed on with the level as the puzzle element for my level. to create the garden i used basic geometry like Box that i made thin and long to use as a path and two cylinder for two areas. the reason i need two cylinders for each of the area is i need one to be half the size of the other so i can subtract it allowing for the sides to be raised around the edge as seen below.  Capture 6

Capture

To create the main building i hollowed out a tall wide building and put a square hole at the bottom which will be used as a door. i used a subtract cube to get rid of the roof making it look like its been destroyed during the Apocalypse. i made it so the building has 4 floors with desk, chairs and computers thrown all over to create a even more realistic apocalyptic appearance. the door will be locked and to access the building the player will have to locate a key within the previous area which will be my puzzle element making the level more interesting while simultaneously giving the player to look in detail around my level.

Capture 2

Above is the inside of the building that i have previously mentioned. as you can see i have created rows of desks to simulate the look and feel of a real life office. the image is of the bottom floor of the office and I’m going to have it as the further you go up the office the more destroyed it gets. for example the first floor is going to remain relevantly untouched, then the next floors are going to have Monitors and computer thrown all over and so on and so fourth.