Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Stonehenge Restored

This is our first video showing the restored Stonehenge environment.  We've worked hard to reach this milestone and are now working on our second map.

Everything is much bigger in scale than in real-life, so being able to use 3D objects for the grass meant we were able to reinforce how small the player character will be.  We're also happy with how it looks in motion, with grass and flowers moving in the wind.

There scene itself is not completely finished, so the final game's version will most likely have a few new additions.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Grass & Flowers

To make the map look pretty and match the concept as much as possible we decided to make assets that would ordinarily be sprites into 3D objects (this was briefly mentioned in the previous post).

(pretty flowers and other bits of vegetation)

Closer inspection  of the scene shows the chosen art style in action, with it looking almost like an illustration from a children's story book.

(close up view showing the art style)

There will be a few more later on in production, mainly to populate the second map we have planned.

Assets and Level of Detail

I've fallen a bit behind in with all this blogging, so I've decided the next couple of entries will bring everything up-to-date.  Starting with assets.

(the stones with added normal maps)

The stones that make up Stonehenge are the most obvious assets in our first map, so they needed to look good.  In saying that, the amount of detail that could be added to them was limited because we wanted to re-use the same models (one model for the stones that make up the outside ring, one for the inside etc).  Any obvious changes in detail would look a bit silly if it was repeated on all of the stones.

As a result we used a standard stone effect, which was achieved using Mudbox.  Normal maps were produced from the high poly models and baked onto the low poly versions.  A diffuse texture has been produced for these assets since.

The UV maps for all of the assets produced so far have been made with as few separate islands as possible.  The stones mentioned above are made of a single piece, as well as the grass also seen in the image.

The reason we are being so careful with the UV's on the grass is because they are 3D models rather than just sprites, meaning they will have a high number drawcalls,as well as having a high poly count on screen.  We want them run smoothly in engine, as well as look good.

(using debug mode to view LOD's and poly count)

To ensure that we can use higher poly models, we have been making use of LOD's (level of detail), so that assets being shown further away are less taxing on the scene.  We have worked hard to ensure that the transition between each LOD is smooth with no obvious popping.  Using the debug mode in CryEngine we were able to view when LOD's changed in the editor.

All of this is for one of the maps.  Thankfully we can use some of them in the other maps too, so production should speed up a little bit now.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Choosing Styles

(example of art style tests for the grass assets)

Before we could produce any finished textures, we needed to confirm our in-game art style.  To achieve this we decided to create a selection of textures for a couple of the models and see which ones looked best in engine.

We were surprised how good even the simplest of textures looked in engine.  The whole process really emphasised  the benefits of real-time changes to lighting that CryEngine 3 delivers.  The image above shows a selection of the grass assets using some of the different textures.  The one on the far right is just a single colour, the two in the middle are the same texture with different colour levels, whereas the one on the left used a storybook painterly style.

To fit in with the theme of the game and achieve the desired atmosphere, we decided on the storybook style.

Friday, 7 June 2013


(Whitebox of reconstructed Stonehenge)

To help get a feel for the scale of the world, as well as test any assets, we created a whitebox version of the map in CryEngine.  We set up the file structure ready for the assets and created some basic placeholders to populate the scene.  These were named appropriately with the real assets in mind.

(Concept / Reference Art)

The whitebox was created using a piece of reference art.  The measurements shown are those from the British Library map we chose.

(Whitebox image of Stonehenge game level)

We decided rather than making the player character smaller, we would make the world bigger.  This meant that the version of Stonehenge we've made in CryEngine is in fact twelve times bigger, as this is how many time bigger the standard character in the engine is in comparison to the faerie.  The reason for this is so we can easily implement changes to the design if we need to at a future point.

(Construction of the whitebox level using a reference image)

The whitebox was created using the map as a reference image in engine. We used the solids tools to create box to the size the diameter needed to be and scaled the map image to match.  This meant we could place the stones in the level accurately.

The next step in the production process is to test the art styles we are currently thinking of using before replacing the placeholders with more detailed finished assets.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


Unfortunately we haven't had the opportunity to visit locations to get primary research for the stones.  However we have been using internet sources to get the imagery we need.  Also we can photograph similar stones in the local area for texture references.

In regards to the other aspects like grass and environmental obstacles, we have taken huge number of photos of various bits of vegetation etc, both at the park and in gardens.

Not only have we been looking at content for the project itself but also on the technical side side of things.  With the project taking a unique approach to perspective we've needed to learn a lot about the CryEngine SDK.  The documentation on the Crydev site has been very useful for pointing us in the right direction.

Our next step is to create a whitebox with some 'place holder' assets to set the world scale and help with further asset creation.