It is that time again to redesign WoLD.
Last time I did this was back in 2014. I did a few minor interface changes throughout the next 4 years but nothing major.
Now at the end of 2018 I decided to re-do the entire site again.
On the surface it may see the same. Similar layout and color scheme - this was deliberate. I wanted to retain the same look and feel. But, under the hood (html/css), everything has been changed. The entire framework was updated.
The site is now responsive and works great on mobile.
I spend last 3+ weeks coding and updating the site. I had to put everything I was working on hold. In the end I am very happy with the results.
Another big change you may notice is the website now uses SSL.
I stopped playing games for a long time...
This happened naturally after I started working on level design and game environment art. It became about wanting to create than wanting to play.
But, i began to realize something...
I gave up the one thing that inspired me to get into level design and game environment art. I was no longer opening up myself to new gaming experiences.
I had to start playing games again.
If you stopped, you must start playing again. Here is why...
Clip and Player Clip brushes are very important in Source mapping but I was confused which one to use?
Clip or Player Clip?
I decompiled a few maps and found that one map used "clip" (CS_Militia). While another used all "player clip" (CS_Office).
It seemed arbitrary.
But after researching and testing here is what I found.
When I'm starting a new scene whether it's a playable level or stand-alone game environment, last thing I am concerned about is lighting.
Lighting comes at a later stage in level design and game environment art process when the scene is already created.
In the beginning I am focused on creating geometry - using BSP brushes, inserting Static Meshes, working with landscape, implementing gameplay and creating/testing Blueprints. For this I need a basic daytime scene with even lighting.
"Default Level" under "File > New Level" is a good start. Many use it as-is without changes. The scene comes with some light actors, sky sphere, fog, player start and a ground plane. But there are some issues - distracting auto-exposure, shadows are too dark and it is hard to judge scale of the environment.
Here is my 8-Step Checklist for default level that I use to begin creating environments and playable levels in.
I just spent half a working day looking at 3d maps. If you saw me during this time, you would yell at me "AG! Stop playing around and get back to work!"
But, I was actually working. I was searching for interesting locations, collecting architecture reference and getting ideas for top-down layouts.
Once I started using "Google Maps 3D View" option I couldn't stop. I would get lost in a neighborhood after neighborhood discovering interesting locations and collecting real-world reference. When I thought I was done, I would see another street corner, another building, another layout and I had to explore it further.
So here are the 11 secrets I found using "Google Maps 3D View" to get more ideas, top-down layouts, research and reference for your next level design and game environment art project.
How to light night time outdoor scene with a "moon" sky in Unreal Engine 4?
What if you want to have more atmosphere filled environment with moon lighting instead of a starry sky?
In this second tutorial we focus on how to have a moon in the sky lighting our scene and all the steps that it takes to get there. No custom content is required and you can do this with default installation of UE4.
How to light night time outdoor scene with a "starry" sky in Unreal Engine 4?
There are 2 major obstacles with lighting night time scenes (or daytime scenes).
First is artistic. You have to understand color theory and how lighting works to communicate proper feel, mood, and atmosphere of the environment.
Second is technical. You have to know which actors to use, which properties to change and in what order. You also have to have the content to light the scene with, such as sky Static Mesh and sky material.
In this first tutorial of two you will learn how to light a night time scene for starry sky. No custom content is required and you can do this with default installation of UE4.
UE4 "Starter Content" has 2 water materials - ocean and lake.
These two materials are great to use in your environments and to study how water is created - ocean and lake.
But there is a problem with these materials.
If you apply ocean or lake water material onto any large Static Mesh plane, the texture will be stretched out, distorted and unusable.
Here is what to do and how to fix it.
There will come a time where you no longer want to use default Static Meshes or Static Meshes created by someone else to construct game environments. Instead you want to begin creating and using your own custom Static Meshes.
You will quickly discover the amount of work and knowledge you'll need to acquire before creating your own 3d assets.
Custom Static Mesh creation is an involved process that uses multiple software and specific guidelines to follow for each step of the pipeline.
The process itself is actually very straight forward and simple once you've gone through it a couple of times. The problem is getting there. You must know the process sequence, rules, guidelines, options to check and problems to anticipate along the way.
Learning what to do for each step of the pipeline is what takes so much time. You will need to make sure your 3d modeling software is set up correctly for matching the scale and grid spacing in UE4. You will need to model a low-poly and a high-poly mesh, UV for textures and for lightmaps, set hard/soft edges, bake normal maps, create textures, material, collisions, export/import using specific settings while problem-solving at every step of the way.
In this MASSIVE quick-start tutorial guide (7,800+ words), we'll cover the entire overview from idea to final static mesh and all the steps that have to happen along the way.
Update: "UE4: Custom Static Mesh Formula" tutorial series is now out.
I can finally announce the release date for the brand new tutorial series.
This tutorial series is the reason for lack of updates on the blog and emails within the last few months. Something I have to find a way to balance when working on longer tutorial series.
What is this tutorial series about?
"UE4: Custom Static Mesh Formula" is a complete step-by-step tutorial series to creating, exporting and importing custom Static Meshes into Unreal Engine 4 for Game Environments.
So next week...
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