Welcome to "WoLD Insider" newsletter issue #5.
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Since beginning of February I have been working on a brand new premium tutorial series.
UE4/Maya LT: Custom Static Mesh Formula - this video tutorial series will feature the pipeline for how to take your custom Static Meshes from Maya LT/Maya, export them and import them into Unreal Engine 4 - covering all the steps, problems and solutions along the way that you will encounter during the process.
Estimated release date is early summer 2017.
Below are the latest 7 new and updated tutorials released.
Updated "Maya vs Maya LT: Why I Decided to Switch to Maya LT for Game Environment Art"
I have been using Maya LT as my main game environment modeling/uving software. This is after almost a decade of being a regular Maya user. I had to go back and update this post 6 months later with some additional info about Maya LT vs Maya. (Continue to the Full Tutorial...)
Updated: "26 Ways to Have Your Best Level Design and Game Environment Art Year"
Steve Jobs once said that "You can't connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards."
Looking back, I now know what I should have done.
I needed to develop daily discipline to work, to maintain focus on one project at a time, to assign a project to work on for every goal I set, focus on small projects first that I could do before attempting to work on larger goals, don't multi-task, focus on hourly work sessions without interruption and a lot more which I will share with you in this post. (Continue to the Full Tutorial...)
"Abandoned House" Workflow (Part 1/5) - BSP Block In Tutorial
A lot of topics are covered in this first tutorial including planning/preproduction, scale, layout, essential entities to compile/test, developer textures and blocking in the entire house environment using BSP brushes. (Continue to the Full Tutorial...)
"Abandoned House" Workflow (Part 2/5) – Texturing Tutorial
Topics covered in this tutorial are using nodraw textures to start with and why, replacing textures, texturing the "Abandoned House" environment, texture alignment and scale, texturing shortcuts, re-using textures and importance of maintaining same theme and color texture saturation. (Continue to the Full Tutorial...)
"Abandoned House" Workflow (Part 3/5) – Detailing Tutorial
Topics covered in this tutorial are adding props, refining BSP brush work. We'll create stairs, porch, overhang porch roof and add decals. (Continue to the Full Tutorial...)
"Abandoned House" Workflow (Part 4/5) – Displacement/Terrain and Foliage Tutorial
Topics covered in this tutorial are adding and modifying displacement (terrain), texturing the terrain, blending between terrain textures, working with displacement patches and making sure everything is aligned, placing foliage, adding displacement decals and creating additional terrain detail. (Continue to the Full Tutorial...)
"Abandoned House" Workflow (Part 5/5) – Beyond the House, Lighting and Final Compile Tutorial
Topics in this tutorial include adding additional props to build up believable non-playable areas, tree cards, additional foliage, updating the sky, updating lighting and fog, tonemap and color correction, bugs and fixes, cubemaps, final compile and screenshots. (Continue to the Full Tutorial...)
Every time there is a new version of UE4, I'm presented with various options to download. I have to remember which options I chose on previous install. I wrote them down, here is what I install Core Components, Starter Content, Templates and Feature Packs, Engine Source and Art Tools.
I do not install "Editor symbols for debugging". I don't use C++ at the moment so I don't need this functionality.
I do not install "Engine Source".
I also do not install "Target Platforms" for devices I won't be developing for.
When installing new version of UE4, you'll have an option to include "Art Tools". These are Maya Animation Rigging Toolset, Pivot Painter Tool and Render to Texture Blueprint Toolset.
More info on each can be found here.
If you are receiving ''degenerate tangent bases which will result in incorrect shading'' warning on UE4 Static Mesh import - this is due to object's improper UVs.
Fix: UV your model properly and re-import.
Since UE4 4.14 Anti-Aliasing has been moved from Post Process Volume to Project Settings > Rendering > Default Settings > Anti-Aliasing Method:
In UE4 you will now have a "map build data registry file" saved along with your map (MyMap_BuiltData.uasset).
It is the map's light map data saved in a different file alongside your map. This allows you to have multiple light build data for a single map.
Bit more info on this here:
Do not create or include an alpha channel with your normal maps in UE4. Unreal Engine 4 uses BC5 compression for normals maps which removes the Alpha channels on import.
However, in CryEngine always include your gloss map in the alpha channel of your normal map.
For more info on CryEngine normal maps visit here.
You must learn 3d modeling software as a specialist and not as a generalist. Follow this 9 hour tutorial series and finally be able to learn Maya LT/Maya for game environment modeling and UVing.
In Maya LT 2017 there has been an addition of Workspace Layout options which I really like. These include UV, Modeling, Rigging, Animation and of course you can customize it.
More on Maya LT 2017 – Workspaces:
MayaLT/Maya Tip: Press "Alt + B" = Cycle Between Various Background Viewport Colors:
GIF Link: http://gph.is/2lZfALE
Known issue in Quixel's NDO is not seeing 3DO preview of your normal maps. To fix this, create New Project first then 3DO preview of your normal map will work.
Importance of photo reference no matter what game engine you use. All examples below were created using Source Engine.
Abandoned House photo reference and in-game:
House in Menorca photo reference and in-game:
Raye Street House photo reference and in-game:
Tip #1: Make level design and game art your #1 priority, when you do everything changes. Your work will begin to improve. You will have a sense of purpose and direction that you didn't have before.
Tip #2: Don't wish for your level design and game environment art projects to be easier, work to become better.
Tip #3: Spend time to rework your geometry from the BSP block-in stage to more refined and detailed brushwork in important areas of your environment. Example of concrete block-in stairs to more refined detailed wooden stairs. Once done, I duplicated the detailed stairs to the rest of the house.
Tip #4: Early BSP block-in process will often look very ugly and make you question if you on the right track. But if you keep true to photo reference and continue working on it, it will begin to look better.
Tip #5: HL2: Lost Coast is a great study of level design in a single self-contained map with a difficulty arc and final boss battle. Still continues to be a lot of fun.
Dream sequence in Max Payne 2 had one of the best atmosphere effects and exaggerated physics which added to the surreal feeling of the dream:
GIF Link: http://gph.is/2kYeXnR
Character introduction of Mona Sax in Max Payne 2 is legendary. John Woo would be proud.
Video Link: youtube.com/watch?v=4VZrDMHXfco
I still have a hard time letting go of Source Engine. Nostalgia.
If you are receiving bad/weird blob shadows from prop_statics (e.g. foliage, garbage) in Fast compile mode:
Fix this by going to prop properties and set "Disable Shadows" to Yes. This will prevent the prop_static from creating cheap render-to-texture shadows.
Using Full Compile mode also fixes this issue.
In Source Engine, env_tonemap_controller entity allows to control auto-exposure (HDR) of your level but you'll need logic_auto to start the tonemap on map spawn.
Some older work from Source Engine in Left4Dead2 on architecture and lighting studies:
Work Tip #1/21: Maintain focus by working on one project at a time.
Work Tip #2/21: For each level design and game environment art goal, set a project that is associated with that goal.
Work Tip #3/21: Draw/sketch props and environment as you work to think, understand and figure out your objects:
Work Tip #4/21: Do not multi-task.
Work Tip #5/21: Focus on 30, 60 or 90 minute work sessions without interruption.
Work Tip #6/21: Always work to a timer, know when you start and end each session (allows focusing on the task at hand).
Work Tip #7/21: Develop daily discipline to work on level design and game environment art regardless how you feel.
Work Tip #8/21: Use the daily screenshot technique:
Work Tip #9/21: Build momentum with a series of small, manageable projects you can complete in a very short time frame; build up confidence with finished work.
Work Tip #10/21: (if having hard time getting started at all) build momentum with short timed work sessions (15-30 min each) every day for 30 days without skipping a day.
Work Tip #11/21: Break the year into 4 quarters - 3 months each. Plan for the upcoming 3 months; 3 months will be enough to complete a project, or hit a major milestone on your long-term project.
Work Tip #12/21: Every month and every 3 months (quarterly) - sit down and look where you are and how you are doing; rework, update and revise your goals and projects.
Work Tip #13/21: Use Parkinson's Law "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion".
Work Tip #14/21: Do not have open loops. Eliminate them. If you haven't touched or opened a project in last 3-6 months, then it might as well be dead. Kill it! Otherwise set it as your primary project and begin working on it.
Work Tip #15/21: Use other artist work as motivation to get better but avoid judging yourself, your work and your skill against another artist; only judge against what you've done yesterday, week ago, month ago.
Work Tip #16/21: Keep notes on what you are working on, learning about and steps on achieving a specific result; this will save you time when you have to repeat the steps again.
Work Tip #17/21: Use Pomodoro Technique - set a timer for 25 min, work on the task at hand without interruptions, take 5 min break, jump back on another 25 minutes of work.
Work Tip #18/21: Break everything down into small actionable steps and focus on the next upcoming step.
Work Tip #19/21: Embrace the hard and deliberate work of level design and game environment art.
Work Tip #20/21: If you want to become the best, forget about balance and become obsessed with level design and game environment art.
Work Tip #21/21: In order to sustain continuous high-levels of focus, concentration, mental energy and productivity, schedule clean starting and ending work times within your day and schedule days off within the week.
Bonus Work Tip: eat healthy, get good quality sleep and WORKOUT (run, lift, punching bag, bjj) - these are essential that directly/indirectly contribute to the quality of your work.
WoLD reached 40,000+ YouTube subscribers! Thank you for watching!
8 years ago, Feb 8, 2009 I upload very first WoLD video to YouTube "Counter-Strike: Source Environment Lighting - Case Study".
Video Link: youtube.com/watch?v=6EIPwSBZ3sE
Resource links include things I've stumbled upon, used for research, found inspiration in and wanted to share with you.
Beautiful Pixel Art Game Backdrops: imgur.com/gallery/gyErY
Assassin's Creed: Revelations: Concept Art by Martin Deschambault.
Assassin's Creed Syndicate: Industrial buildings – Textures.
Presentation Slides: "Killzone Shadow Fall" demo Post-Mortem presentation slides.
"Remember Me" PBR Articles: "Main difference between traditional lighting model and physically based BRDF are: fresnel everywhere and energy conservation". Article #1, Article #2 and Article #3. Worth reading for learning more about Physically Based Rendering pipeline.
Voice Pack for Game Devs: Cyael's Dobson free voice (License CC-BY) pack for game devs.
"Counter-Strike: Global Offensive", "Half-Life 2: Lost Coast", "Left4Dead 2", Source™, Source 2™, ©Valve Software. All rights reserved.
"Remember Me" ©Capcom. Dev: Dontnod Entertainment. All rights reserved.
"Killzone Shadow Fall" ©Sony Interactive Entertainment. Developer: Guerrilla Cambridge. All rights reserved.
"Max Payne 2" ©Rockstar Games. Dev: Remedy Entertainment. All rights reserved.
"Assassin's Creed: Revelations" ©Ubisoft. All rights reserved.
"Assassin's Creed Syndicate" ©Ubisoft. All rights reserved.
"Thief" ©Square Enix. Developer: Eidos Montreal All rights reserved.
Unreal® Engine 4 ©Epic Games, Inc. All rights reserved.
All content on this website is copyrighted ©2008-2018 World of Level Design LLC by Alex Galuzin. All rights reserved.
Duplication and distribution is illegal and strictly prohibited.
World of Level Design LLC is an independent company. World of Level Design website, its tutorials and products are not endorsed, sponsored or approved by any mentioned companies on this website in any way. All content is based on my own personal experimentation, experience and opinion. World of Level Design™ and 11 Day Level Design™ are trademarks of Alex Galuzin.
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