Next-Gen game ready assets and environments

Next-Gen game ready assets and environments

Dennis Welling
by denniswelling on 30 May 2021 for Rookie Awards 2021

This entry shows the projects I've worked on most recently. They illustrate my love for realism, games and the combination of both.

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Hello everyone! This is my second entry for the Rookies! I am a second year game graphics production student at DAE university. With this entry I would like to show my love and ability to create realistic looking, game optimized scenes and assets aimed for next-gen games and environments.

During this project I worked very close from a reference 2d artwork from Jorge Jacinto - "Half remembered ruins". The personal goal of this project was to test the ability to recreate a 2d concept in a 3d real time environment. To achieve this goal I worked with megascans and Unreal Engine 4. My main focus was lighting in this scene to achieve a painterly, soft and realistic look.

To better show off my process of creation I've recorded the different stages of development. First, I blocked out the scene by using simple geometry objects to get an overall idea of the scene and the 3d feeling. After that I worked on a first lighting pass to get the volume and shadows in the right place. In the next stage I substitude the blockout with megascan assets, using only a few but rotating and scaling them around to increase performance. Roughness decals, local volumetric fog and post processing applied in the game engine let it come together to a final result.

Additionally, I created a Substance Designer material for the ruin to make it stand out as I envisioned. I also created a rock and ferns to not be purely dependent on megascans but also to create own fitting assets where needed to achieve my visual goals.

Goal of the following project was to create a complete vertical slice of a game vision I had. I imagined the player being a guardian of the nature. The sun got darkened and you have to collect light sources to store the light energy and give them back to the plants so they can survive until the sun comes back and the spell is broken. Since the amount of time for this project was very limited, I focused on designing the game mechanics and the overall feeling of the game. There will be added more levels later on and even a playable outdoor area is planned in where you can see a giant tree - the home of the player he wants to protect. To show off the mechanics I focused on one dungeon of the game and tried to polish it as far as I could in the given amount of time. In the following I've attached some gameplay to show what I have worked on.

Some beauty shots from in game:

The user interface graphics are self made, the main character was sculpted in ZBrush, textured with Substance Painter and rigged with Mixamo. For the world creation I used again megascans but I optimized them to be used in a game. I added low resolution colliders to them and used LODs to prevent overdraw. I also made sure to only use a new type of asset if needed to increase performance by having instanciated objects and less materials to get an additional performance boost. Whenever possible I used baked lighting. Sounds used are free sounds from The pictures below show the dungeon layout from blockout to asset filling to final lighting.

The creation of one room in the cave:

The following project is a complete level design project with a small story, created in Unreal Engine 4 with a modular asset workflow. My goal was to create a spaceship interior inspired by the style of Star Citizen. I used self created modular assets and trim sheets to achieve my goal. The following gameplay video shows the entire interior as well as a few implemented gameplay features.

Some in-game renders of the most interesting places in the spaceship:

Below, I've attached a showcase of the modular pieces used for the creation of this level as well as the trim sheet, most of the meshes are textured with.

A breakdown of the creation of the rooms:

View if you look out of a window of the spaceship:

With the following projects, I would like to show off my ability to create optimized, high quality and photo realistic 3d assets for games. The following renders are real-time but with cinematic texture sizes applied to show of its maximum potential and texture work I put in there. The mesh itself is game optimized as if it was a hero asset and texture size can be downscaled accordingly for game usage.

The next project aims towards the same goal as the project above, this time I took an asset with more complex materials though. For both, the wrench and this microscope I worked closely from real life reference to grasp every single detail and train my eye to focus on the important texture parts. I studied the objects and tried to touch them as I would use them when I was working with it to know where to put fingerprints on or where dust will collect and which parts are often used and will be worn faster than other surface areas.

Part of my references:

The next project shows another environment. This time an interior design. As reference I used one of the photos of the Ikea page for interior design. Main focus here was to create a realistic looking scene with baked lighting. By the use of light profiles, different lighting channels and self made substance designer materials I tried to achieve a believable scene in 3d aimed for making it look as realistic as possible.

In the following a material showcase of the two materials for the carpet and the wood floor created in Substance Designer with parameters for scaling and fiber rotation of the carpet:

Next, I would like to show a high poly car I've created. It is obviously not game-ready but was a good practice to show the capability of creating clean, non distorted high poly meshes on complex surfaces like car hulls to later bake on a low poly mesh. The biggest challenge here was to align the vertecies and edges in such a way, the light reflections on the car did not look distorted. The car was modelled in 3dsMax and rendered in Arnold.

Last but not least, a very small project but a challenging one was the following. I finally wanted to figure out how to create believable, realistic looking gem materials so I took up the challenge to create a gem necklace and tried to make it look as realistic as possible. This time it is an offline render. 

I figured out for myself, that I get the best reflections if I take a look at a certain gem cut e.g. diamonds cut and build up the facette structure the same way in 3d. Another important factor was to add a bevel to the edges, so light will be reflected / collected on the edges making the gem pop out more. Additionally, the surface behind the gem is very important too. In this case I kept the gem socket a pure chrome material to get maximum reflections and light bounces in the gem itself. I learned a lot from this experiment.

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