Collection: Brian Smullen 4th Year Portfolio

Tools

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Overview

On this page I show off the different tools that played a big part in the Level Design for me. I included short descriptions and screenshots of the effects I wanted to achieve and how these certain tools were used to achieve that effect.

Terrain Tool

The terrain tool has played a huge part in the development of the world for me. It allowed me to build up the hill/mountain around the track in the game. To break down how it works, I have included some images below and will now proceed to discuss whats happening in each image.

Fig. 1.1 This image shows that the terrain tools can be found in the modes panel on the left side of the editor. In the manage tab we can set the size of the terrain we want and some other settings to, but size is the important one to pay attention too. If we click the fill world button, unreal engine will generate a terrain with the specified settings in the game world.

Fig. 1.2 This image shows the terrain that was created with the setting shown in fig 1.1 after the fill world button was clicked.

Fig. 1.3 Here we can see that the sculpt tool is selected, this is probably the most useful tool in the terrain editor for starting out. It allows us to set some brush parameters and sculpt hills and mountains on simple mouse clicks. There are a few other tools here which all have their own uses.

Fig. 1.4 Here we can see the noise tool is selected this allows us to simply add some noise to the surface of the hills I created in the previous segment, this gives a nice rough looking range of hills and valleys, we don't want them to be perfectly rounded hills.

Fig. 1.5 This image shows how very quickly and easily we can create a simple range of hills with Unreal Engines terrain editor.

Spline Tool

The spline tool was an essential tool for me in the development of all the way down too. It allowed me to create smooth tracks, even over the bumpy landscape that has been put in place previously. 

Below I talk about how it works, with references to images 2.1 - 2.5.

Fig. 2.1 The spline tool can be found under manage in the terrain editor mode.

Fig. 2.2 Splines can be used to draw out nice, neat roads and paths. These could be used as a base track for a racing track or as a river bed either. This suits perfectly for me for creating a mountain biking track.

Fig. 2.3 This image shows how the values in the details panel can be changed to change the size and shape of the splines. You can select all control points, all segments or and segment or control point individually and set its values. These points and segments can also be moved and rotated using the standard widgets but they cant be scaled. Instead we have another tool which allows us to change the tangents at each end of the segment. Here we can see that the track has been lifted off of the ground and I have manipulated the control points too add some hills and bumps in the track.

Fig. 2.4 Building the track now is a very simple process, under manage > tool settings in the terrain mode we can have two options for deforming the landscape to match the splines. Once clicked the landscape will fill in the space between the ground and the track of splines. The falloff and width can be changed in the details panel.

Fig. 2.5 This final image shows how once the deformation is clicked all terrain will deform to match the spline. This allows us to add track segments that rise off of the terrain or even allows us to dig a track into the terrain that is already there. 

Lighting/Environment

I used various techniques to build up a kind of faux lighting. These elements are described below with assistance from Fig 3.1 - 3.5

Fig. 3.1 One of the first changes I made was to the sky sphere. I changed the cloud opacity and also changed the colors (darkened) in the sky sphere to try and make the sky, and environment, feel more Irish. 

Fig. 3.2 The next change I made was the addition of the exponential height fog. What this does is, adds fog to the level but it gets thicker the lower you get in the level. This adds a lot to the scene and makes it feel more like an early morning in the mountains, in Ireland.

Fig. 3.3 The unreal engine blueprints tutorial has some really nice light beam meshes. The use a blueprint and react to the main light source in the level. I thought that these would fit perfectly into the level and this image shows how the work alongside the fog.

Fig. 3.4 I added an additional sky light to the scene, this really helps to soften the shadows in the woodland. It looks much more Irish now.

Fig. 3.5 All of these elements combined really add to the scene and make it look much better than the proof of concept lighting and environment. I think these changes probably have the biggest impact on the visuals of the game since proof of concept.

We still need to adjust some of the colors in the level and this will be achieved with post processing effects such as: LUTs and exposure effects.

Fig. 1.1

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Fig. 1.5

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Fig. 2.1

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Fig. 2.3

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Fig. 2.4

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Fig. 3.5

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Fig. 3.1

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Fig. 3.2

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Fig. 3.3

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Fig. 3.4

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Fig. 3.5

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Foliage Tool

The foliage tool can be found in the modes panel by clicking the tree icon.

The foliage tool allows us to add various static meshes into a brush like tool where we can set the brush size and density, and falloff too. When we pain with the brush it will place the trees randomly in the brush strokes.

Within the tool if we select a mesh we have various different setting where we can adjust the angles the are placed add, do they react to normals, scaling and collision settings. 

This tool is a very quick way to fill out foliage in a level.

Landscape Material

Use of RATSGAME's free landscape material. 

1: The landscape material uses layer blends to blend different materials together based on where I paint them or it could also be based on inclines or overall height in the level. For example we could have a steep incline that would automatically pain rock and everything above a certain height in the level would be painted with snow.

2: I used this tool in a very simple manor, I set up the layer blends and simply used the paint tool to paint everything with grass and then do the track with dirt.

Find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORM13rPNqN0

Fig. 4.1

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