I took inspiration from movies, books and games of the genre, as well some others related, movies like Seven, games like Silent Hill and books like Dante's Inferno. To make most of these mechanics work I had to learn a bit of blueprints in Unreal since I am an aspiring 3D environment artist and I wasn't familiar with them, mechanics like Zoom in, item descriptions, item inspection, interactive assets that use line tracing. I also applied the theory learnt in university, like composition, colour theory, perspective and lighting. I made all 3D assets and textured them, particle systems, decals, UI design, took care of lighting, sound, post FX, animations (except the woman in the environment, I used Mixamo for her), and all mechanics found in the project except UI's, I had help from a friend with the UI mechanics, showed me and taught me how to make them. Most of the apartment is interactive to add more immersion and add several layers of how the apartment looks like overall.
Hope you enjoy my work!
Here are a few screenshots of my project's apartment, as you can see, there are two distinct main colours, the living room having a brownish and warmer colour and the kitchen a greenish and brighter, almost annoying to the eye, this was just a way of me testing with colour palettes and what they would feel like, key words used for the overall look were eerie, unsettling, discomfort and secretive. I made sure that the use of blue was used carefully, only being seen on a couple of important items for the narrative.
Assets - Here are all the assets used in the apartment, minus the decals and particle effects. I used 3DS Max for hardsurface modelling and early stages of organic assets, used ZBrush to work on organic assets, I made sure that assets were optimised since it was one of my goals for the project, having proper UV maps, polycount and polygon distribution. For texturing, I used Photoshop for decals, alphas and tweaks for some textures, I mainly used Substance Painter to texture the actual meshes.
A few renders and wireframes of some of the assets.
This is the high poly version of the couch modelled in 3DS Max, baked the normals in Substance Painter, usually the way I do to create normal maps from high poly models after exporting either from 3DS Max or ZBrush.
A better look at a few assets in the project.
Planning - My concepts are all written; below you can see a few pages of my sketchbook, planning and throwing ideas, the far left is the earliest, every decision I did was written and tested at some point, from narrative to tweaks and techniques, the sketchbook was always with me just in case an idea would pop up. I also used Trello for a more visually organised layout and to put screenshots and renders of the assets; some screenshots can also be seen below.
Apartment's Blueprint - This is the blueprint I created and followed, even though the dimensions of the actual apartment are not the same; they are a bit smaller because the actual dimensions were way bigger for the size I actually wanted; the shape is the same as well as the placement of windows and doors.
Early Stages - On the left is how the apartment looked like for the first time in Unreal, on the right is a screenshot of early stages of me testing out the angle of what would the player see at that point in the project, and the video after is how the project looked like a few months back.
Item Description - To help out on the narrative, I added a mechanic where the player can read descriptions of certain items, it was tough for me to implement it since I am no programmer.
Item Inspection - To get things a bit more interesting, I added this inspection mode where the player not only gets a description of the specific item, the player can also rotate the object to have a better look at it. It was even harder to implement, and even though it is not the best when it comes to movement orientation, I am happy with the result, gives better immersion to the project.
Textures - As previously mentioned, one of my targets for this project was game optimisation, and for the textures since I used Substance Painter I was able to export textures specifically for Unreal, this meant that they were packed, so I would get 3 texture maps in total, Diffuse, Normal and one that had 3 in 1, these were Roughness, Metallic and Ambient Occlusion, all 3 in 1 by using the RGB channels. Applying this simple method, I was able to lighten the load of memory on textures, making it run a bit better.
Detail Lighting - Just a look at the lighting completely lit and at medium level in the apartment. Like I mentioned before, almost everything in the apartment is interactive, this includes lighting, giving 3 layers of lighting to the overall look of the apartment: total darkness, mid level (smaller lamps) and fully lit. This is quite expensive performance wise since every light is movable, but I think it was worth it for the intended purposes, within the limitations.
And that's it! Thank you for taking the time to look at my project, I had a lot of fun doing it and learned a lot!