After these past 10 weeks I have learnt a great deal about the Unreal engine and what it is capable of within its level design capabilities allowing me to create a level design which I am proud of. The final product has turned out much better than I first anticipated once I saw the initial ICA. Reflecting on my overall work I feel like I initially rushed into creating the level design in Unreal without taking the correct actions such as researching more about Unreal and how people can create level designs. This made me make a critical error later on within my creation forcing me to restart, however, I am happy that it forced me to restart and take a step back to review what I am making and take more caution with each step I did to create the final product. I now understand more how to shape an environment to the way I want it to look along with a greater understanding within the level blueprints of Unreal. I will use what I have learned in the past 10 weeks in my future modules along with my place of work.
I made the video using Unreal’s video capturing feature which allows users to record what they have created using cameras within the placement tool. This is commonly used for cut scenes within games and short animations however, for this module I can use it to capture my artefact.
Before I started with the sequencer, I first changed my interface to make it easier to create the video making process. This included placing the sequencer track on my second monitor and splitting my main monitor into two parts as shown below.
The two sections on the left screen are what the camera sees and where my camera will be, this makes each shot which the camera takes much easier to handle.
Once I had the sequencer set up, I then made the limit to the video which is 2 minutes maximum but since the sequencer works with frames per second rather than seconds the maximum is 7200 frames which equals 2 minutes. Now I have my start and end point for my sequencer, next I placed a camera into the level and placed this within the sequencer.
The red dots are the changes in location, rotation and size of the camera. The software automatically fills in the missing parts of the track for the camera. For example two points (point A and point B) 100 metres apart and each point is the red dot (if location is selected) the software makes the camera move from point A to point B within the selected time.
To create a camera cut between two cameras I made a transition using the ‘fade’ tool which makes the video fade to black. I also used this technique at the end of the video.
As shown here I have used a total of 4 different cameras within the entire video with 3 transitions and a final fade.
Finally, I rendered the final video that I will submit which shows off my entire artefact. The video can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69PO-Bcr_FA
Now, I have completed the level design I am adding some smaller details that make the final product look more professional such as water, day and night cycle and fog.
To create the day and night cycle I had to use the level blueprints. Using the light source I made it so it would rotate around the level to create the day and night appeal. However, the sun within the sky did not move since this is not where the light was coming from, to create the illusion that the light was coming from the sun I made the sun direction moveable this moved in time to the day and night cycle.
To create the water I outsourced the water pack from the Unreal market place. I placed the asset into my level design and changed the base opacity to allow the rocks underneath to be seen.
I created a lake behind the mountain to add a background to the level design rather than a plane background to my level design.
Finally, I added a light fog from the Unreal engine to add to the final design of the level.
Due to Unreal being such a powerful engine it takes a decent computer to run. With the settings and the amount of assets my level design took too long to save and crashed when building the light. To overcome this issue I tried to find solutions to the building light problem and why it was crashing, I came to the conclusion that is was the amount of CPU and memory it was using on my computer to process the lighting causing it to crash. I eventually found out that my level design was much bigger than I expected which was causing the CPU and memory to overwork when it did not need to. I eventually exported the entire level to a new level map and started from scratch. This proved to be more useful than frustrating since I have learnt much more about the tools within Unreal than I did before such as the smooth, sculpt, flatten and ramp tools within the Landscape Editor. I also learnt how to create a material texture which can be painted onto the landscape to create a more realistic level design rather than the whole level being one material, such as this cliff. Before, I started with creating the landscape I created a flat landscape at the right scale which is 8 by 8 components with a 63×63 quads in each section. This allowed me to create all the assets with 1 as the size so I did not have to resize anything to fit within the level design like I did previously.
I used the Landscape Editor tools to create a hill look then I added the materials which were from the starter pack (Ground Gravel, Rock Basalt and Ground Grass). I repeated this process to create the mountains and hills across the level. However, I still needed a mud like texture for the mud patches within the design for my level, so I outsourced this texture from the internet. To create these materials so they can be used with the Landscape Editor paint tool I had to create a material blueprint.
This blueprint allows me to paint the material onto any landscape I want however, rocks, dirt and grass has texture within it so it is not a flat colour onto the landscape to do this I had to add the normal map within this blueprint. By adding the normal map, I was able to change the shine onto the different textures which I turned off since dirt, grass and rocks do not have shine in real life. The blueprint also allowed me to change the size of the texture that was being painted so each square of the texture was not tiny since a texture is the same image placed over and over again to create the illusion that is it painted on.
Once I completed the landscape once again, I moved onto making the castle walls again. This time the proportions are correct, so they do not look ridiculous. I lined up all of the walls and tower’s so the level makes more sense rather than placing them in where ever. By placing them carefully you can see where the troops would go in rather than them disappearing into the tower’s walls.
The overall level design has changed slightly to make more sense for the player such as the mountain behind the castle now has a lake behind it rather than dropping into a flat plane.
Next, I added the houses once again however, with a different design this time to create a more realistic community type rather than what was optimal for spacing within the walls.
With the new house layout, I added a dirt path to show a road system within the castle walls where people would tend to walk around. Along with the roads I added two farms within the castle walls, I made this using the mud texture which is on the outskirts of the castle walls. After, I made the farms I used the foliage tool to create a brush which allowed me to paint grass, trees, flowers and bushes onto the level design. This is much easier compared to what I did before which was import each asset one by one onto the level design which made me have over 2000 assets within the level (Which could of been another issue with the lighting crashing). However, the bush I used was too dense and making the performance of the engine worse to ensure that the engine would run smoother while still achieving what I wanted I made the density of the bush 10, this included the grass, trees and rocks due to the amount of each asset I am using. Rather than adding mass amounts of each I placed a few of each which made the level look good while still maintaining the performance I need for the level to function properly.
The roads were also made to make it look like people have been walking on them so I used the sculpting tool to create a ditch within all of the paths to add a more realistic look to the overall level design. This can be seen throughout the castle paths.
Once the trees, paths and grass was added I used the foliage tool once again to create rocks within the pool of water near the castle walls, using the foliage tool this took me seconds to find which density I wanted to create this look compared to placing hundreds of individual rocks which I previously done.
I am now ahead of where I was previously with the other level design. Personally, I think this design is much better and shows more skills within the Unreal engine next time I will make final touches to make the level feel more realistic along with making it look better. After that, I will start making the 2 minute video using tools from Unreal such as the Matinee and Sequencer.
The second part of the asset implementation, was to add all of the foliage which includes the grass and trees. I used a pre-made foliage pack called vegetation Pack; this included trees, bushes, grass and flowers all which came with different variations.
Once the vegetation was added, I decided to create a more realistic mountain background to the level design allowing me to create a running river later on.
Next week, I will create a paint brush allowing me to create mud, grass and rock textures rather than the whole level design being on standard grass look. Along with adding a running river into the mountain on the right. The water asset will also be used within the rocks next to the castle walls.
To start the asset implementation I had to import each asset to unreal which I previously checked to make sure each asset works as intended. Once the assets were ready I started with the main gate, then expanding outward to the rest of the castle walls with the towers around the castle.
After the front of the castle was implemented, I moved onto the rocks where water will be placed which means attacking troops will not be able to scale this wall with any siege machines or ladders.
Once the rocks were in place the, lighting was wrong, to fix this I used the ‘build’ tool and repaired the lighting. However, this made the castle walls and gatehouse all black to fix this issue I over righted the map resolution to 512 from 60. This made the original textures reappear.
After the rocks and lighting was completed I moved onto the rest of the castle walls and towers. I had to change the final design due to the assets being too large of a scale compared to what I was expecting. This caused me to add the extra tower in a triangle shape rather than a straight line; this allowed for more space within the castle walls.
Next, I added the lower houses most of them were placed in pairs to make the city more civilised rather than randomly placed. There is also a clear path between the houses where a road or path will be added at a later date.
Finally, I added the rest of the houses on the top of the hill and some going alongside the ramp upwards.
Next blog will include the trees, foliage and water within the rocks along with a possible river behind the mountain depending on the water physics within unreal engine.
Now I have finished the blockout which is the plan for the final level design I can move onto making the final product. The next steps will include adding the finals assets into the level, making a background landscape and adding mud, water and dirt textures to show paths in the land.
I created the blockout for the trees and where the rocks with water will be placed. I followed the schematics of my level design plan which can be seen here.
Once the final assets are within the level design, I will polish the landscape to make it look better so it could fit within the game. This includes adding texture to the mountain, grass and foliage around the city.
Before I can start my final level design, I have to create a blockout design which is the level design, with white cubes and blocks to show where each asset will be placed. This proved to be more challenging than I thought it would be with Unreal Engine 4 having issues with some files which were the background for the entire level design. To fix this issue, I have saved the current map which is the blockout onto another unreal project by transferring the file.
To start the blockout, I first created a rough layout of the mountains and cliffs that are in the plan of the level design using the landscape tool in unreal.
The ditches within the land is were water and mud will be placed. The water will not be able to be passed through. The mud would slow the troops, in the actual game, along with the water applying debuffs which would apply negative affects to each troop.
After I created the foreground landscape, I started to add the blocks where the buildings and walls will be placed; this includes the houses, towers, walls and the gatehouse within the fortress. The Next step for my level design will be finishing the blockout which will include trees and rocks. Once the blockout is completed, I can move onto making the final product which will include the assets from the previous blog post.
For my level design I need a house, castle, castle gatehouse and rocks assets. I out sourced these from the internet from various websites. Once I found a few different versions of each I decided to narrow each asset to find the one that best suits my level design. The website I used the most with finding the assets was ‘Turbosquid.com’ which is a professional website that sells 3D models at a price however some are free. Within the legal section of the website all assets are ‘royalty free unless otherwise noted’ meaning I am allowed to use these within my project.
The options for the houses were:
‘https://professorhephaestus.wixsite.com/professorhephaestus/download’. The creator of this is Samuel Richardson who posted it on their person website for anyone to download and use royalty free. The only issue with this model is that it is individual pieces which means to create the house I need to place each piece perfectly, I would need to repeat this process many times for my level design and it is not time efficient.
Another option is:
Which is from ‘https://www.turbosquid.com/3d-models/3d-terrain-vue-deserts-model-1601115’
This model came in a pack of houses however, the other houses did not fit the theme of the game therefore I chose this asset only.
The model I have chosen for my final level design is the second one from Turbosquid due to it being only one asset and easier to duplicate and has less polygons which would affect the framerate of the engine.
The options for the castle were:
This is from Turbosquid however, it is too low poly meaning the detail and overall look of the model doesn’t fit within my level design and the rest of the assets.
The other castle model I chose was also from Turbosquid. This time it was a full castle rather than just the front gates. This model was too detailed and I did not want a full castle however, this came in sections so I took each section I needed for my level design and exported them to unreal to see if they worked. I also took the walls of the castle along with the outer towers.
The other option is:
The final 3D asset I am going to use for my level design is a rock which will make cliffs and larger rock foundations throughout the level design.
The final asset I will use is a foliage pack which includes trees, grass, flowers and other types of foliage.
The research I did was through historical websites such as history.com for the factual information however, to understand the basic story of the Trojan War I watched the film Troy even though some parts of the film was made up the basic story of the Trojan War was explained. For example how it started and what happened to each key character such as Achilles and Agamemnon. The final part of research I did was playing the game Troy: Total War, to understand what a level was like to play as the player, after assessing many levels I created my own map design. My level will be based on this was created with the use of mood boards using real images from ruins, the game and the movie adaptation of the Trojan War.
When playing the game, Troy: Total War, I found the most interesting part of the game was attacking and defending provinces with their unique design which changes the outcome of the battle with positioning of troops and using the land as a advantage to either side.