Dev Blog - Project Geneva #03 - [Progress]

Work In Progress / 08 February 2020

It's time for another post ... this one is a normal 'Dev Blog' again! Yay \o/

Update

As you probably guessed from the title, I had some time to work on it again. :D Most of what I did was focusing on the actual track area, but also remodelling some already integrated props and blocking out a couple of new ones. I'm currently exploring where I can put what. So to see what works well together I'm back to the blocking phase in some parts of the map...

Here is a short list of changes before we get into the screenshots:

  • Remodelled the upper floor railings / barriers --> Now they fit better into the overall style
  • Finally decided to scrap the cellar floor --> I know I never mentioned it here ... but it was there (at least in a rudimentary blocking state xD
  • Added vents and air shafts to the ceiling above the track --> This change gives the whole area a lot more character
  • Added Pipes to the same ceiling and to the bottom sides of the track --> Same reason as above, also the secondary accent color makes it 'pop' a little more
  • Reworked the BG area behind the track --> It looks more interesting, is clearly marked of and the potential player won't get to distracted by it
  • Remodelled the screen monitors --> They fit in better now and open up more opportunities for BP / Material games :D
  • Remodelled some of the track side barriers --> Mostly to make it more interesting and to 'hide' some pipes
  • Added blockings for the following: Big ad/info screens, clock, modular benches, ... and maybe a couple more
  • Built and added a small BP system for the hanging banners --> This enables me to freely change between variants without having to drag different material instances on it ... I know it's kinda unnecessary, but I had fun building it xD

WIP Screenshots

Ok I think that's most of the changes (at least the 'important' ones). Now have fun by exploring them yourself!

UE4 Screenshots - Spawn Room

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UE4 Screenshots - Transition

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UE4 Screenshots - Control Point 

Since most of the changes are pretty subtle on the usual WIP screenshots, here are some more close ups:

UE4 Screenshot - Track side BG close to spawn area

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UE4 Screenshot - Track side view from CP

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UE4 Screenshot - Track side BG 'details'

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UE4 Screenshot - Transition 'details'

What's next?

Hmmm ... I guess I really should start with doing at least some of the UV work, but maybe I continue to explore or build those DetailNormal Trims. To be honest I don't really know, I probably just keep working on the parts I have the most fun with. :D

Also I had the idea to record a little fly-through, just so people can get an overview of the whole map extends, etc... Would you be interested in something like that? For when the map is finished (lel ... we'll see about that) I'm already planning a neat little cinematic, so don't expect to much from the fly-through. xD

Hope you liked this blog post, if you have any feedback or suggestions I'm always glad and grateful to hear them! 

Cheers :D

Dev Blog - Project Geneva #02 - [Experiments]

Work In Progress / 11 January 2020
Heya all, hope you had a nice and relaxing holiday. :D 

it's that time again ... the next update on my Overwatch fan made map, enjoy!

Colors \o/ ... bye bye grey!

Finally I found some time over the holidays to mess around with some material studies. Mind you those are nowhere near final ... (yet). The materials are mostly created directly within UE4 (except some grunge maps). This way it's possible for me to easily texture some of those huge modular pieces and still have consistency throughout the whole map, without any real hassle.

One of the few 'unwrapped' pieces ... ignore the silver parts though :D

The most painful part was to find and balance the color scheme ... to be honest ... that's probably one of my biggest weaknesses. Thanks to the help & feedback from some colleagues and friends the groundwork is now basically almost done. But, I'm open for any suggestions! Probably will first touch it again after all the pieces are unwrapped and the lighting has gone a little bit further.

Ahead of showing the, - well - 'usual' WIP cams, here is a quick overview of the master material used for the modular pieces:

  • The basic stuff ... Color, Roughness, etc... with grunge variations and a mask driven selection
  • Base-Normal & Detail-Normal blending ... with UV and intensity parameters
  • An additional, blendable detail layer ... with Color and Normal
  • And the biggest thing ... a curvature mask to slightly highlight edges in a certain range


M_OWBase_Opaque_Master

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MI_OWBase_LGrey

Let me know if you want to learn more about this material. In case you do, I'll try to throw in one of those 'mystery' spotlights I have talked about a couple of times now, going through it step by step. :D

Chores & smaller Updates

UVs ... let's be honest ... I didn't do them (yet). Instead I fixed the geometry on a couple of modular pieces and finished the detail modelling on other ones. But I also did some more explorations with the limited space I have. For example I planned to add some more 'nature' to the scene ... well nature as in rock walls ... 

I also expanded the space at the ground level a bit by adding a second bypass track on one side of the platform. This track won't be directly accessible, but should add some more depth and interesting features to the scene. For now the rock walls are only height map based ... sculpted rocks will be coming soon. :D

WIP Screenshots

UE4 Screenshots - Spawn Room

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UE4 Screenshots - Transition

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UE4 Screenshots - Control Point 

Oh yeah ... please don't mind my test objects smacked in the middle of the control point, they will off course be removed later on. :D 

And as you probably noticed, I implemented some of my older Overwatch fan art assets, just to have a general idea how they will look and fiddled around with the lighting a bit. Currently playing with the thought of remaking most of the assets for this project.

What's next?

Well ... everything ... nah just kidding. For now I'm mostly focused on finishing tests on my rock wall idea, but after that it's UVs. Following that lovely part of 3D production there have to be some adjustments to materials (probably), etc... but then I'm planning on creating some DetailNormal TrimSheets.

Hope you liked this instalment of the Dev Blog series ... as always feedback and suggestions are very much welcome!

Cheers :D

Dev Blog - Project Geneva #01 - [Status Quo]

Work In Progress / 28 December 2019

The true start

Welcome to the second instalment of my 'Dev Blog'. Glad you found your way to this one!

Well ... technically it's the second one, but it's the first one with 'real' content about the project, hence #01. Also this will be the last post this year (obviously). :P

So here we go ...

Overview

Let me give you a bit more information about this project. 

'Project Geneva' is the current working title of my custom Overwatch map. It won't only try to match the iconic artstyle as closely as possible, but will also inherit some basic game design concepts. The map will focus to incorporate a couple of elements typically found on Overwatch's 'King of the hills' playstyle maps, also known as the game mode 'Control'.

Typically those maps are built symmetrically and are split into 3 single maps with one control point each. 'Project Geneva' will represent one of those smaller maps and will have the control point in the middle of the map. 

For the setting I chose a subway station ... I figured out later, that those places can be a bit of a pain to design, especially if you are trying to build a fun and fair FPS map for two teams with a central objective. What was the problem? Sightlines ... oh boi is it hard to make a space look interesting and make it work at the same time, when it's this enclosed and stretched. But well, enough of that ... I'm gonna post the design process later on in another issue of this series.

Here are some more interesting details and features I plan(ned) to have in this map:

  • A unique environment obstacle, which kills players who don't pay attention ... I let you guess what that might be :D
  • Indirect storytelling will be implemented ... most likely something about the 'Omnic Crisis'
  • The map will be directly linked to one of the heroes
  • Despite it being heavily influenced by the current sci-fi maps in Overwatch, it will also house some classic elements, which most people might associate with the town and country it's located in
  • And of course ... all the other stuff you can commonly find in a subway station ... small shops, vending machines (a lot of vending machines - who doesn't like breaking them in the game?!) and many other - sometimes kinda crazy - things

Let's get down to some more technical stuff:

  • Modelling will mostly be done in 3ds Max, with some assets getting an additional sculpting pass in Zbrush
  • For texturing it's a bit harder to specify ... Materials will mostly be made in Substance Designer, with some being made in Unreal Engine 4 - the texturing will then happen in Substance Painter ... some masks, alphas and decals will also utilize Phtotoshop
  • The game engine in use is Unreal Engine 4.23 ... I might update the project later on, but will most likely stick to this version
  • Mechanics and other technical stuff will be build using UE4 blueprints ... but getting a coder on board isn't completely ruled out yet

Status Quo

Currently I'm working on a couple of fronts. The biggest one is 'detail modelling', but there is also some more blocking to be done, also I started to set up some base materials in UE4. I know this might not be the best approach, but I needed some changes while working on this. Sometimes I just want to model, other times I feel more like doing a bit of blueprint work ... as long as you keep track of what needs to be done, do whatever you like.

It's more important to have fun and not loose motivation on such a big project, than pushing every step to the limit from the beginning!

Ok ... after all this text, here are some screenshots for you to (hopefully) enjoy. :D (They should be big enough to enlarge them a bit.)

UE4 Screenshots - Spawn Room

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UE4 Screenshots - Transition

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UE4 Screenshots - Control Point

What's next?

Those angles in the screenshot above ... you will see more of them. They are fixed WIP cameras I set up in the scene ... thought it's gonna be easier to document and follow along, if the screenshots can be compared to each other - without the influence of different angels and perspectives.

And of course I'm gonna fix all the gaps in-between the modular pieces ... but maybe more colours next? I honestly can't stand all this grey any more....

Let me know after the next couple of posts, if this is a good idea or if I should only focus to highlight the major changes. :D

Cheers :D


Oh I almost forgot ... hope you had an awesome Christmas and I wish you a happy new year! May the next decade be full of awesome stuff!

Dev Blog - Project Geneva #00 - [Intro & Announcement]

Work In Progress / 14 December 2019


Background

Some time ago (actually it's now probably around 2 years) I had the idea to realize a huge project. I was (and still am) a huge fan of Overwatch and thought about the possibility of creating my own map. I knew it's gonna be a huge chunk of work ahead of me, but oh boi ... did I underestimate it.

Working a full time job with 40+ hours per week, doing some freelance work, meeting friends, enjoying hobbies and working on this project really took a toll on me. That's why the project was stagnant for almost 3 quarters of 2019 - and overall a huge mess in the year before, until I decided to resurrect it again around the end of summer 2019.

When the urge to work on this struck me again, I spent around 2 weeks gathering, sorting and checking all previously generated files, data and lists. I came to the conclusion that my project and time management was mostly to blame for almost screwing up this project completely. Also to get the project back on track I had to make some sacrifices ... I was missing certain files, so just starting where I left off wasn't an option. 

Restart

After some thinking I decided to scrap most of my greyboxing and built up the modular system from scratch. I tried to keep as much of the original level design as possible, only making adjustments if necessary. Here I discovered that the old greyboxing was off by a lot. The thing is ... I just started working on it again like before. But now i realized I have to change stuff up to make sure the project won't end up like it already did once.

I decided to completely organize the project, including version back-ups, overview boards, task lists and changelogs - most of which probably sound like a normal, must-have thing for anyone else. Also, I'm gonna use this 'Dev Blog' as part of my documentation, so I and people who are interested can comprehend and follow the production & development of this project.

Screenshot Milanote Board

What's next?

This is the start of a multi part blog post series. I don't know how regular I'm gonna post updates, but I'll try to figure that out in the near future. For now I aim for the cycles to be around 2 weeks (maybe a bit shorter during the Christmas holidays). I'm also planning to throw in some random project spotlights of certain parts, breakdowns, analyses and more.

If you like what you see, or think something I show is interesting and you want to learn more about it - don't hesitate - ask me about how it was done. I'll consider making a spotlight out of it, if I have time to do so. :D

To conclude this introduction ... I hope you are looking forward to the next post (aka the real start of the series)! Leave me some feedback or suggestions, they are greatly appreciated.

Cheers :D