The Crafting of Novia Overworld

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by Abe, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. Abe

    Abe SotA Dev SOTA Developer

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    [Reposted from the Dev+ Forums]

    Hello everyone, today I wanted to take a moment to share a bit of the organic process behind the construction of the Novia Overworld map.

    Before I get into that I just wanted to quickly and informally introduce myself. I've been with Portalarium for about 5 months. My game career has historically been focused in level design and systems design for multiplayer shooters, but I also have an art background (which I haven't been able to leverage as often). I love working here because traditional job titles are blurred heavily, and I'm a jack of all trades by nature so I fit right in.

    One of the first tasks I was assigned when I started here was to do a polish pass to Hidden Vale. Unfortunately, the time window was fairly short and I was still learning the ropes so I didn't have a chance to take it as far as I wanted to, as is often the case in game development. In the case of Novia, much more time was allocated, so I was able to work in some R&D to improve on all the areas I'd felt Hidden Vale was lacking in. I've broken it out into specific topics for your convenience.

    Trees
    The original Overworld trees were constructed with efficiency and brevity in mind, but were lacking in style and visual cohesion with the rest of the scene. I reconstructed these from scratch to match with the terrain texture palette, with a bit more of a stylized silhouette and colorful look. Interestingly, the texture resolution on the new trees is half that of the old ones.
    [​IMG]
    Additionally, I constructed several new objects to add variety to the scene, including tree stumps, bushes, and tree size variants to break up the repetition.

    Hex Visuals
    This was an experiment I did in the first week of production on the Novia Overworld. It ultimately ended up being scrapped in favor of a more organic look, but interesting nonetheless.
    [​IMG]


    Lighting / Color Correction
    I felt that there were a couple points in the day/night cycle in Hidden Vale that looked visually plain, so in Novia I increased the sun color saturation so that there's always a warm yellow-orange during the day, and adjusted the shadows with a tinge of lavender blue.
    [​IMG]
    Even with fancy new meshes and lighting, the scene looked a little flat to me. My goal was to make the level really visually pop in every lighting situation, which required a global palette change. Instead of manually adjusting every single asset in the scene, we can apply a global color correction filter that will affect everything. I utilized the filter to bring out the greens more, leaving the reds and blues mostly unaffected.
    [​IMG]


    Terrain Mountains vs Meshes
    Note: This was completely unplanned but is proving to be a huge yield to visual fidelity as well as a logistical benefit to building time -

    I was having a discussion with our art lead about the lower visual quality and slow process of terrain sculpting in Unity. The main problem is that it's a major time sink to sculpt geometry and then manually texture-paint it to match the geometric contour, and the results are usually not great. He suggested trying to integrate the background mountain meshes we use in some of our other scenes, and this worked out beautifully after a color adjustment (to match the terrain).

    An added benefit of using meshes is that the collision is built into them; before we would have to construct a blocker mesh around our terrain mountains, and this is no longer the case, which saves a lot of time, and they look great to boot!
    [​IMG]


    Landmarking
    One aspect of the Overworld map I really wanted to play up was landmarking. We hadn't explored this in depth with Hidden Vale, so I decided to use the Grundvald Shardfall as an opportunity to really try to push the level of detail. Here's what I came up with:
    [​IMG]


    Unity 5 Improvements
    This is very recent, however we're already seeing huge yields from the port to Unity 5. Along with a noticeable lighting and performance improvement, Unity 5 opens up a ton of possibilities in texture material creation.
    [​IMG]

    Sample Screenshots
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Cheers
    Abe
     
  2. Akrondar

    Akrondar Avatar

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    Nice topic! Thanks!
     
  3. rune_74

    rune_74 Avatar

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    Can we get the posts from the dev+ area merged with here? Lots of good discussion in it.
     
  4. Akrondar

    Akrondar Avatar

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    I would like to see the dev+ Avatars comments too!
     
  5. tekkamansoul

    tekkamansoul Avatar

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  6. komitrocks

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  7. WeirDave

    WeirDave Avatar

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    Sweet! Thanks for sharing. I dig everything but I do feel there is a bit too much purple in the Terrain Mountains vs Meshes rendering. Perhaps that's just me though....
     
  8. mikeaw1101

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    Can we get a clicker for these huge pictures please? Not everybody has a T1 browser.
     
  9. Drake Aedus

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    Simply gorgeous...
     
  10. Lord_Darkmoon

    Lord_Darkmoon Avatar

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    Wow, thanks for these insights in creating and improving the map!

    A few questions:
    Will we have animals on the map besides roving encounters? Deer, wolves (ok, those could qualify as roving encounters, too), foxes, rabbits... Maybe whales in the sea... Some birds flying by occasionally... I think animals would add a lot to make the overland map look alive.

    Will we see low hanging clouds drifting by occasionally casting cloud shadows on the ground or will those be integrated with the weather system?
     
  11. Alan Waltaffa

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    I absolutely agree !

    Fascinating insights ... :)

    Greetings
    Alan
     
  12. Chatele

    Chatele Avatar

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    Well done, a huge improvement. Love it ;)
     
  13. Sir Poulet d'Angleterre

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    Wow, these look simply stunning!
     
  14. Retro

    Retro Avatar

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    Wow....I'm blown away, this is amazing!
     
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  15. Montaigne

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    Fantastic! It's graphics improvements like this that are going to make the game even better.
     
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  16. SmokerKGB

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    Whoohoo... Great job, well done...
     
  17. angegardien

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    fantastico complimenti
     
  18. Lord_Darkmoon

    Lord_Darkmoon Avatar

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    What happened to this warm and vibrant coloring of the overland map in the last release?
     
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  19. Nepenthor

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    Beautiful artwork...the textures and colors really bounce off the page! I especially enjoyed the before and after views. Thanks for providing your talent to this game.

    Nepenthor
    Pax et Veritas

    "How snug is your Hobbit Hole?"
     
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