Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The level so far...

Here is a video of the level so far. I have been playing around with the height fog actor, and I have also added in some ground fog. I need to remove the gun and the interface at some point, I know there's a way to do this within kismet.

Here are the settings for the fog material at the moment. I think I'll try to implement a moving cloud texture to give the fog more life. I like how it wraps around the plants and grass. I have placed several of these fog planes in any areas that are in shade and also lower down in the level, where I think fog/mist will naturally accumulate.

At the moment it is just static and I'm still tweaking the settings. It would be interesting if I could hide some creatures within it. Once I have the leaves and grass moving, I will need to add in the sounds of the wind in the level, it should definitely give it a whole new dynamic feel.

Don't forget to water the plants!

Continued on with the large yellow plant I concepted. I used the branch tool learned earlier in the project to create the roots here. I then pelt unwrapped them to get the texture to flow correctly. It would be interesting to have the roots move, so I'll keep that in mind as something to go back to, rigging the roots etc. 
Here it is in the level, I played around with the material, and increased the specular map to give a better glossy effect. 

 Then started modelling and texturing the other two plants I had in the last concept. The red one is designed to catch insects crawling along the ground. I think this one can also do with some increased specularity. I used planes for the root like parts, as modelling each small tentacle would be wasteful of triangles.

 Creating the blue plant. I've found that I am able to make the planes and alphas for the plants a lot quicker now, almost second nature. I'm definitely benefiting from those first tutorials I followed. Since these are bigger, I think they should probably have a foliage interaction actor, so that they move when you walk into them.
Blue plant in the level, but oops, missing the fur type grass below the heads... possibly missed out one of the material IDs, need to re-add that in UDK. 
 Also made a simple bush/shrub mesh from the original tree branches, I'll use this to help populate the ground level. It should also still have the vertex painting which will be used when I set up the wind effects. So once the trees are moving, the bush mesh should also move the same way.
 I really wanted to add in a planet visible through the atmosphere. It took a while for me to think of a way to do this. I thought that adding it to the actual skybox would create a very distorted planet. So I decided that I would make it a static mesh and use an alpha channel to mask out the areas unneeded and where it fades from view. So I painted the planet in photoshop, it took a few attempts to properly fade out the alpha channel to match with the actual planet.
Also took a while to figure out how to make the planet show up correctly in UDK. Originally it wouldn't accept the fading in the alpha channel, it was showing either full opacity or none. I played around with the material settings until I got what I wanted. At the moment it is a very simple material, I'll do some more research to see if I can improve on it. 
 I then added the water to my level. I looked at several tutorials and checked some packages that  someone had made so I could see the structure of their shader/material of their water. It was hard to find one that worked for me, since every place I looked seemed to have a different way of making water, so I have a blend of several. I was quite surprised with how it turned out.
Currently though there is a slight problem with the water. I have added a water volume so you can swim in it, as well as a post process volume that makes it blurry under the surface, but as soon as I touch the water or shoot it, a strange pale sheen appears over it. I don't know what's causing it, possibly something to do with the reflection actor, so I'm going to have to play around with the settings to see if that can be fixed.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

More Developments. Skydome, plants and new tree.

I've now added the grass throughout the level using the foliage editor in UDK. I was able to paint in the 3 grass clump meshes and played around with the settings. I liked how it looked when the density was set really high, but I knew that this would be a problem with resources and I didn't want to push the level too far, since there's a lot more things to be added yet.
Originally it was too high when I played through the level, so I made changes to it so it was more waist height than head height.

I have now painted a sky dome texture and set it all up in the level. I might edit the position of the colours later, as I haven't decided yet if the orange/yellow colour is too high or too low yet. I really do like the way the suns rays shine through the trees.
I also added all the rocks to the level and spread them out, changing their scale and rotation. I love the way light mass has reflected the colours of the grass onto the rocks, I think it gives a really eerie and alien effect.

This was the set up for the sky dome material. I followed a tutorial for adding the sun. I may move the sun/directional light lower, but the lower the angle the more shadows produced on the surrounding mountains, and some of them look unnatural. So I may have to edit some of the terrain or position the sun at a slight different angle in the sky.

These are some sketches of plant designs that would be within the level. These would be vary between shrub and fern size.

Concepts of the previous plants. I wanted to add some variation of colour in the level rather than have everything a shade of blue. These would create points of interest, and perhaps serve the purpose of leading the player around the area.

This is the progress so far of the large plant, I'll be making the roots next using the branch tool I learned earlier.

These are some tree ideas. I have built the first one sketched and added it to the level. The second one that has glowing blue veins visible that run through its core will be the next one I make. I'll be using an emissive map to get the glowing effects.

This tree was made using the same textures as the first one, but with a differently shaped trunk. Changing only the trunk shape meant that I could put in a new species of tree very quickly.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Arranging and testing! Rock creation

This is a small entry just to show how I was starting to add the grass and tree to the level.
I followed the tutorial which showed how to make a master foliage material where I could tweak every detail of the textures, the contrasts and alphas, as well as the hue of all the maps related to the tree foliage and grass. The material has an extensive array of nodes, and I'm playing around with all of the settings to see the interesting effects.

Realised that there's a problem with my light maps, so I'm going to be editing those to get the correct shadows and then reimport the model.

Also made some high poly boulders that I'll place randomly around the cliffs and certain parts of the level. Going to bake them down onto some low poly versions next. I made these by starting off with basic box shapes that I pushed into the shape I wanted each rock to have. I then used the noise, displace and mesh smooth modifiers several times to get the interesting effects.

Definitely need to make the skydome at this point, you can see that it would really help with this shot here, and also show me how the colours of the grass and trees will look against an actual sky.