We are happy to show you our graduation project called THE FAULT. This project was made in New3dge school from September 2020 to June 2021 with a team of six artists: Elisa Bernon, Fabien Burger, Steven Deutsch, Alessia Malatesta, Livia Pilant and Maël Villa.
"BACK IN 1932, DURING AN EXPEDITION INTO ANTARCTICA'S LAND, SCIENTISTS MAKE A HORRIFYING DISCOVERY INSIDE AN ICY FAULT"
After an earthquake recorded west of Antarctica, a team of scientists is sent to research inside a gigantic ice fault that has opened up.
Six months after the first team, a new one disembarks to take over. Suzanne and Gunther are sent into the fault, but no sign of life is to be seen in this threatening environment...
Through the blizzard at the surface of Antarctica, the ship can be seen stowed miles away from the icy fault.
The Camp is found inside the Fault, where the first team of scientists settled months ago. It has long been abandoned.
The Laboratory is located in a large cave opened by the Fault, where the scientists did their research. No sign of human life can be seen there. Yet, a strange, beautiful but disturbing organism has spread there.
The uncanny bioluminescent organism that has spread everywhere inside the lab reveals an horrifying and disgusting aspect when lit with a flashlight.
Deep within the Fault where the horrific creatures set up their nest, the bodies of the previous team of scientists are found.
Suzanne is a skilled biologist sent down the Fault. She is dressed warmly and equipped for glacier explorations.
This Nox Araneae has been living deep underground for thousand of years and has spread its territory after the Fault opened up.
We have a unique master shader for all manufactured objects, as well as rocks. It has multiple parameters allowing to add frost, snow, dirt, change the color or the contrast.
The ice shader allows us to make multiple variations of ice, according to the different playing areas, such as the ice of icebergs, the fault, stalactites or of the glacial cavities. It also has parameters similar to the master shader.
The snow shader allows you to make different textures of snow.
Many assets have been created and integrated for our different environments according to our needs, but to save time and expand our level arts, we have chosen to use outsource assets as megascan textures and assets.
Assembling many assets in a blueprint allows to quickly fill levels by placing them and modifying at the instance.
We first built a hostile and icy natural level with our modular assets of ice and a unreal landscape. Then, we had to dress it with our scientific assets' blueprints to create the different zones of the game. We placed the mucus according to where and how it grew and caused chaos in the laboratory.
We wanted the mucus to be a beautiful bioluminescent organism in the dark but repulsive in the light. When the flashlight is on, the bioluminescence disappears.
We needed a lot of different mucus assets so we aimed for a procedural approach with Houdini. It allowed us to easily iterate until we find the desired repugnant effect.
Starting from a simple sculpted shape, the procedural tool is then applied to it. Most of the result is based on where the holes are made. Some of the spheres are kept to make the eggs in red.
To add details in the shape, a perlin noise with displacement is applied for a more organic effect.
The procedural tool can be applied to any mesh so we used it to cover the corpses with mucus.
All mucus assets share the same materials. We only need two unique textures per assets: one with multiple masks and a normal map. The different shared materials are then applied with the masks.
The mucus is a living organism so it needed to move. A morph is baked into the mesh with 3ds Max and then called in shader in UE4. That way we can give the mucus a precise movement and keep them as static mesh.
Since they all share the same materials. The mucus all looked the same when put together. To avoid this, we used large masks panning into the scene, changing the emissive color and intensity with a pulsating effect.
To break the uniformity even more, we used Sphere Masks to modify the mucus aspect at a precise location in the scene. We even used it to completely turn the bioluminescence off at some places to reduce the visual noise.
We wanted the most realistic way to make fur and decide to use the new Unreal's groom technology.
That way it was easier and faster to do fur than using regular haircards because the fur can still be tweaked inside the engine. The shader creates ID per hair, creating variation without any maps needed.
It also has a built-in physic that is a lot customizable, making it even more realistic!
In the Camp, Suzanne has snow covering her clothes that melts when the player reaches the Laboratory.
Like the groom, we wanted the most realistic way to make character movement and choose to use RootMotion instead of regular InPlace animations.
This system uses animations moving in space instead of staying in place, and gives to the player the same velocity than the animation itself, instead of having to assign a value to each animation ourselves. A dynamic lean effect has been added to make it look even more realistic.
The flashlight is also dynamic. It always points at the center of the camera by aiming at an invisible object in front of Suzanne. It gives the player the feeling that she is actually holding something instead of having like a "crane-arm".
To gain time, we did not make the Rig Setup in a dedicated software like 3dmax but inside the engine with Control Rig. All the Creature's and Suzanne's specific animations were done using this system.
The advantage of this workflow is that we can have an instant feedback in Unreal and avoid juggling between different softwares. It was also perfect for the cinematics to focus on the animations seen on screen.
We used exclusively blendshape instead of rig because it can be added in any baked animation. Which has a good synergy with Control Rig, allowing us to make animations and their expressions without leaving the engine.
This way, we were also able to make Suzanne talk by coding a system analyzing the voice audio files, extracting its spectrum and filtering it. It was possible to assign several mouth movements to different frequencies in order to simulate the different syllables.
Using Parallax, we can see through the Creature's skin. It simulates 3D elements under her skin without actual real transparency or aditionnal modelisation, being so really light to render.
Using a greyscale map, this system duplicates the maps with displacement applied for every copy, which gives us the illusion of relief.
Günther is the partner following the player during the gameplay. He had to follow our character wherever the player went.
Thank you for reading! We hope you enjoyed our project. For more informations, please visit https://www.new3dge.com/thefault