Wolcen – My 3D Environment

Above is my completed project that I made from a brief which required us to create a complete 3D environment for a game concept. With the Fire Emblem series (represented in the first image below) being a influence for me I knew instantly that I wanted to make an RPG, which brought me to the fantasy genre and known fantasy troupes such as medieval settings (also see below.)

Fire-Emblem-Fates
Fire Emblem Fates Poster
Skyrim-Best-RPG-Game-Ever
The Elder Scrolls Poster

Wanting to avoid being a stereotype and challenging myself to create something different I thought about what my game would be should it actually be made:

  • story focused,
  • character centric,
  • turn based battles,
  • levelling system with skills tree

Knowing these points I was able to understand that I wouldn’t be creating an open world environment. This lead me to think about map games, where you travelled to different points through the map (some examples below).

Norende
Bravely Default’s Norende Village
temple of fire
Bravely Default’s Temple Of Fire Dungeon Map

This lead me to creating the floor design underneath.

HUB Menu1
Wolcen’s Floor Design

However I also didn’t want to restrict the shape or size of my environment so I understand using a low Polygon would help me, and the software I wanted to use which was handhold consoles (the higher the Polygon count the longer the in-game render takes).

After taking all these points into consideration I knew that I wanted quite a flat landscape, which lead me to thinking of my sky island with my first idea of mountains coming into the design early.

New_Estal
Sky Island That Incorporates The Fantasy Genre Well

I had originally sketched a mountain range while thinking of the polygon count, since I knew it would fairly simple to create with my lack of knowledge of CINEMA 4D and would have on the number of Polygons there would be

moutains
Sketch of My Mountain Range

I merged this idea, of mountains and rocky terrain with the sky island concept.

2015-10-05 20.38.56
First Proper Sketch Of “Wolcen” With Annotation

For more on my design, please click here.

The Process of Creation For My 3D Environment
|Practice|

Using my sketches as a references – with only mild changes to the design during the process – this is the process of creating Wolcen, using CINEMA 4D.

First, I practiced with the “Landscape” shape.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 14.52.17How Landscape looked unedited.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 14.52.01Using the “Object Properties” I start to play around with the shape.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 14.52.05

I stretch it to spiker looking to completely flat.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 14.51.55

Before I increase its height and flatten its peak, using only the Object Properties. I do this as I wanted to experiment with the some sort of surface on top.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 15.00.45

I Use the “Extrude” to pull the top Polygons on the peak down, hollowing the mountain.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 15.19.09

I then begin to texture with the Grass Tool by using the “Live Selection” Tool to select the Polygons where I wanted the grass set.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 15.32.00

Using the Content Browser (which can be found through the: “Windows” dropdown menu) I also choose a couple of other textures for water and rock, and then continue to experiment.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 15.36.12

This is the Rendered view of my Textured object, though I decide the rock is too dark.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 15.36.33

In this one the rock is too light for what I want.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 15.39.42

I finally decide on the right Texture and start to think I’m ready to begin to construct my actual environment.

 |Attempt Number 1|

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 13.35.59

I begin with a Cube where I go straight into adding Polygon’s to its’ Faces to help with the Extrusion I had planned for later.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 13.42.22

I change the Shape using the Object Properties so its flatter, as I did not want so much mass at the bottom.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 13.49.14

I use a Subdivision to smooth over the edges before I start to select Polygons to Extrude – starting with the bottom; wanting to get a layered. rocky texture.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 14.11.45

I continue until I have a peak.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 14.15.02

I then use the same Tool to get a rocky effect along the sides as it could not be flat, otherwise it would appear unnatural.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 14.54.13

I went all around the sides until I had finished.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 15.03.47

Here I continue to use the Extrude Tool to raise the edges for the mountains I wanted around the sides, as in my plans the environment was completely enclosed with rock.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 15.21.15

I had had added bumps to the ground to create the rocky terrain and was just starting the oasis in the centre, when I notice the completely blocky shape it still maintained.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 15.37.16

I started to further Extrude the edges to try and create a rounder shape.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 15.48.28

I continued to do with for some time before I realised that the Polycount had become ridiculous for both what it was and for an environment that was meant to have a low Polygon count.

The shape of the object, also, hadn’t improved and was started to remind of more Sci-Fi then Fantasy. I knew then that it was beyond saving and I had gone drastically wrong, and unfortunately needed to start again.

|Attempt Number 2|

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 11.34.26

This time I started with a Cone as it was a closer shape to what the out come to be and rotate it with the Rotate Tool, so the flat “surface” is facing upwards.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 11.42.30

Again, I use the Object Properties to add Polygons and increase its height and width.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 11.44.49

I then begin to select the Polygons on the surface and start to Extrude.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 11.49.43

With the “walls” up I add a Subdivision so that the the shape is smoother sf it loses the harshness of some of its edges.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 11.58.42

I go on to start to create the rivers that would connect to the oasis by Extruding inwards again.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 12.34.52

I get this far before I realise I don’t know what I’m doing anymore and that I’ve lost the creative process, no longer understand what I should do I scrap this one as well.

|Attempt 3 – Success!|

After a whole lot of frustration and worry I consult Youtube and find a tutorial that helps me discover what I am doing wrong.

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VHMUnGcQ34]

I follow the steps of the video until this point of my sky island construction.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 10.48.50

The basic shape I needed. Created from a sphere and perfect for me to continue with.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 11.09.27

I know the next thing I’ve got to do is to start making my mountain ring. I do this with the Landscape Object as I had practiced with it before and it was easily then individually making my own.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 11.10.56

I change the shape using the Object P and start to move it with the Rotate Tool.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 11.15.07

I continue the process with the next.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 11.55.03

Of course then I remember my floor plan. In order to retain shape I Hide the Landscapes I had, had from view and using a Cone lower it into my surface to display an outline of an oasis.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 12.19.59

I continue with mountain creation once it is in place.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 15.43.52

Once I have finished, the next thing I have to do is to delete the excess Polygons from around the edges, which was left over from the Landscapes.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 15.47.25

That was a very long and time consuming process as I had to edit each Landscape individually.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 10.21.36

Once I am done I make sure by looking around all the edges, to ensure that the back of  the mountains do not go over the edge of the base of the island.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 11.16.26

The next process takes just as much time, or more so and is incredibly fiddly. Since I had leave the mountains with holes in them I go back around each Landscape object with the “Bridge Tool” to seal them in.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 10.38.13

Once I double checked that nothing was see through I want on to add detail – detail I had not originally planned for, but which came to me while I was thinking about the general design.

Using the ring Object, I start to add flotation rings.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 10.45.38

I continue to add them all the up the base, all the thickness as I Copied the original and simply made it longer.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.18.20

I look at Rendered Textures, knowing I want them to be somewhat _ but not liking the colour, figuring it would blend into the rock too well.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.19.07

I end up deciding on this glass Texture which instantly looked right for the genre.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.32.45

I then begin to add planets around the sky island: The sun and the moon I start with as I had already had the idea with the protagonist, and his backstory with the Priest class and Norse mythology (explained here, under “Characters”) but I added another to represent the main antagonist.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.40.37

I go into the Content Browser again to look for the correct Texture for the planets.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.43.27

I Render the environment to see the progress but realised that the environment completely black.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.42.40

I experiment with a few before I begin to add lighting with the Physical Sky and other effects.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.49.04

I Render the environment to see that the sky island has gained light and shadows with the Physical Sky, however it is still too dark.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 10.58.16

I go into  the settings for the Physical Sky settings to try and make it brighter.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 14.19.42

I Render it to see if this has changed anything and am satisfied with how its turned out.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.58.55

I move on to continue Texturing. I start with the base of the sky island by adding a Plain object on top, fitting it to the size of the island so that I can Texture it.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 12.09.06

I look online for Textures to import into CINEMA 4D. As the climate is very extreme I search for cracked earth to accurately show the barren landscape.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 12.12.35

Once I have found the correct Texture I go back into Content Browser and on the “Computer” dropdown menu, I find my hard-drive and double click to open it up as that was where I had saved it. I double click on it when I find it and drag into CINEMA 4D.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 14.11.34

Once I have selected the Polygons of the Plain and added the Texture.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 14.18.06

I repeat this process with the Textures for the base of the sky island and the mountains, changing the Texture Projection from UV Mapping to Cubic.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 14.36.43

I Hide the mountains so that I can see the untextured area and begin to fill in the space with Textured Plains.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 14.43.20

I delete the Polygons that go over the edge. I make the lines cleaner with the Knife Tool.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 15.43.20

Once I am finished I look at the difference between the two main textures. So I create a “Material” to change the colour of the centre of the sky island to make it redder.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 15.46.35

I try a few Materials until the colour between Textures are similar.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 10.44.36

I go onto delete the Cone I had in place for oasis and put a Plain there instead.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 10.47.10

I then go into Extrude the area so that it has a more natural form.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 10.54.49

I continue until I have finished and go onto select the Polygon’s outer ring with the Live Selection Tool.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 11.17.02I then add a grass texture (instead of spawning actual grass, as for a low Polygon environment I did not think it was necessary) and then use the Invert (In the Select Menu,) to select the area that had been left earlier and Texture that as well.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 10.12.50

I add a Cylinder and centre it to the middle of my Plain and elongate it,

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 11.17.56

I then add a Sphere to the top of the Cylinder.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 13.50.52

*It was about here that I started to really work on the oasis area by adding the streams to the Plain and then aligning rock I made by using the Landscape object. Unfortunately I have lost this part of my process.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 14.39.55

Upon making making the Cylinder editable and adding my wanted amount of Polygons, I then use the Live Selection Tool.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 14.42.32

Using the Inner Extrude I create doors on the Cylinder.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 14.45.19

I then go around the doors to make a doorframe, by Live Selecting them and, this time, Extruding them.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 14.46.22
I go onto use the Matrix Extrude to further pull out the front Polygons for the doorframe.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 09.41.26

After, again, using the Extrude to create rings around what was becoming a tower, I make a bigger ring that I pull out further and with the Live Selection Tool I start to make pillars.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 09.42.16

Using the arrows I pull the Polygons down to create the pillars.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 09.49.46

I continue up the tower making rings by Live Selecting the Polygons and Extruding.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 11.07.56

** Here I have added another Sphere and using part of the same that created the base of the sky island, I made this rocky frame to go around the main Sphere of the tower. Here I have already Textured it and added on another Landscape to the top as an extension of the tower, with flotation rings encircling it. Again, I have lost the screenshots for this part of the

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 12.04.10

Here I begin to retexture the oasis to better fit with the new shape.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 12.18.29

Here I have Textured the rivers across the two Plains.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 13.56.57

Due to the  water Texture seeping through the boarder rocks I added more to thicken the bank and rid of the extra.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 16.07.13

I start to Texture my tower’s pillars.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.07.12

I used the Live Selection Tool to select the right Polygons for Texturing for the two different textures.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 09.33.04

Next I fixed a problem I saw in a few Renders I had done previously were some Polygons were not Textured. I Live Selected them and simply pushed them up above the base that they had been underneath.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.33.10

* At this time I add another Sphere and I scale it until it has completely encompassed the surface of the sky island, without covering the top of the tower. I increase the number of Polygons and make editable, with that I can delete the Polygons which have gone through the walls of the base of the sky island.

I then Texture the Sphere to match the flotation rings to make the barrier (it has an almost rainbow dome appearance) which becomes key in-game for the storyline.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 12.47.28

With my environment finished I began the work for my walkthrough by starting with a path for the camera to follow. To do this I go into the “Freehand” dropdown menu and choose the “Helix” Spline to encircle my sky island.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 15.41.24

Afterwards I Go into the “Camera” and choose the plain Camera.  The next thing to do is set my camera onto the Spline. With the Camera selected I go to the “Tags” dropdown and then to “CINEMA 4D Tags” and finally, “Align to Spline.” This will give my a small icon (or Expression) Next to my Camera which I click for the Tag Properties. There will be a dropbox at the top beside “Spline Path” which I just have to drop my Helix into, to attach the two together.

Going back into the Camera Properties and then clicking on the “Object” tab, I find another dropbox called “Focus Object” to focus my camera to my sky island.

Once this is done I set how many frames I want by the timeline at the bottom of the modelling screen.

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 09.15.05

I then begin the Render process by going to the “Render” menu and then “Edit Render Settings” to what I need for a game environment.

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 09.21.07

I then begin the Render by going to “Render” and then to “Render to Picture Viewer,” pre-setting it so that all the frames were in folder I had created for that propose.

Because it was quite low Poly, my Render didn’t take very long despite the computer I was using  crashing once right at the start.

|Still Frames Of Render|

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 10.19.12 pm

Side view of Wolcen, where the camera is encircling the base.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 10.19.45 pm

This is where the camera is reaching the top; giving a good view of the mountains that took me so long to make.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 10.20.54 pm

The camera here is giving a nice view of the tower and barrier, as well as the surface.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 10.21.31 pm

This is where the camera ends, with the planets and an eagle-eye view of Wolcen.

 

|Evaluation|

While I wanted to stick to my design and overall plan for my environment, I stayed quite flexible with the idea that somethings would need to change in the production.

During the creation of Wolcen I would ask opinions of friends during different stages for a fresh pair of eyes. This often times helped me make important decision in my work.

  • Scrapping model version 1 – I don’t think I would have kept it regardless as I was hitting a creative road stop and I just couldn’t continue with it, however Josh’s comments on the Polycount made me realise how unfeasible that model was.
  • Texturing model version 3 – I had a few problems with Texturing the model I ended up keeping, with Polygons that refused to Texture and the surface un-editable, I had a few hiccups however I had just found the right rock Texture for the base and asked Tom what he thought of it. He suggested changing it from “UV Mapping” to “Cubic” as the Texture was just slightly blurred from trying to wrap around the whole shape. I did and the quality greatly increased.
  • The added feature of the tower – I completely added the tower and everything attached to it after a few comments from Jon, Josh and Joe about its simplicity, something I, nor they, really minded. However I did start to think Wolcen looked a bit too flat and decided on adding a tower. The dome on top was included when I thought about the story and how the Priests (And their Order) needed somewhere separate to live from other people.

Finishing Wolcen was quite a relief since I had been working on it so long and it was really fiddly to do, despite how minimalist it looked compared to other environments in the class. However I thought I did better then I expected to do with CINEMA 4D – a software I had never used before, despite the ups and downs of the project.

I feel like I constructed Wolcen well and am happy with the finished product. If I had to make one criticism it would be that I didn’t really have time to full play around with the sky, as I feel I could have done more to add to the effect that it really was a sky island.

However it looks decent while Rendered and think it accurately represents my game concept.

|References|

Fire Emblem Fates – Image Source

Skyrim: The Elder Scrolls V – Image Source

Bravely Default: Temple Of Fire Map – Image Source

Bravely Default: Village Screen – Image Source

Floating Sky Island – Image Source

Sky Island Tutorial – YouTube Source

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