Adam wrote us and asked some insights of how we design and create our dungeon environments. I thought this would be a nice opportunity to demonstrate our asset creation methods.
First we of course need an idea of what we want to depict. In this case it’s some old mossy brick wall dungeons. At this point I search for reference material and maybe scribble something on paper like how the bricks are divided or the pillar silhouette. Color palette is also thought out to get the right mood and feel.
Next I sculpt some basic building blocks in ZBrush. They are pretty generic so I can reuse them in other pieces too. I sculpt all the sides to be unique so rotating the block in 90 degree increments gives me 6 different stone cubes. That way repetition is hardly noticeable and you don’t have to sculpt all the bricks one by one.
When all blocks are sculpted I start to build them in Modo as they are pretty much built in real life. In our case this way of building the high resolution geometry gives better results than for example fully sculpting wall or pillar fully in ZBrush and it’s also much easier to build things into grid if needed.
When the high resolution assets are done I build low resolution game models on top of them and unwrap the uv layout to be as economical as possible. One wall piece uses 1024×1024 map and rest of the pieces are roughly matched to have same resolution. We use diffuse, specular and normal maps and we can tweak the glossiness in our material editor. I build all the moss and dirt in Photoshop on layers on top of the maps baked from high resolution models. Xnormal is an awesome tool that has helped me a lot. Check it out in here.
We build our assets in 3 meter grid, so the floor and wall “panels” are 3m x 3m and pillars are 3m tall. Our levels are created by “drawing” the tunnels in our cool map editor (which is actually a simple text file ) places everything automatically in it’s correct place. It also randomizes the rotation and possible variations of the model.
I hope this has shed some light of our asset “pipeline”. Let me know if you have any questions.