Friday, October 2, 2009

Creating Internal Environments: Part 1

Its getting closer to that time of year again! One of my favorites! HALLOWEEN!! So to keep with the holiday spirit I thought I would make a Catacombs for all kinds of undead to hobble around in. I'll be documenting my process to reveal it to you as your trick or treat candy! Enjoy!

First I started with an idea and a simple story for it. The idea is a Catacombs behind the Church in my first city I'm making. The story for it is a Necromancer broke in and started making undead from all of the corpses laying around inside. Your job? You guessed it! Go slaughter some zombies and skeletons, and kick out that Necromancer! So before the player gets to bash in their great great grandparents' skulls, I have to make the level.

First I sketched out an idea for a layout. Because its easier for me to model in standard sizes and re-use parts, I thought it would be best if I made the level out of several of the same size parts. I color coded which rooms are the same size and labeled a few things.

Catacombs Layout Sketch

After the sketch is done I decided I should refine the idea and make it with squares of equal size. So in Wings 3d I made a 32x32 grid and colored where I wanted the floors. I then refined the layout and added some elements to enhance flow. Things like locked doors and closed gates are different colors and labeled in their material names. I then extruded all of the walls to make it look 3D.

Catacomb Layout in Wings3D

At this point I have a layout and an Idea but I needed to refine the idea and decide what style I wanted to make the catacombs in. I spent some time looking at pictures of real catacombs to get some ideas. I decided apon the look of all of my pieces such as columns and recesses based off of those pictures. To make sure I kept true to those selected elements and to make sure they looked alright together, I drew a quick sketch of all of the parts I wanted in it. I did this for each different wall. This is the wall with three casket recesses in it.

Extremely poor sketch of a wall full of caskets, scary!

Armed with a sketch of all of the elements I needed to render, I am now ready to battle my way into Wings3D! I will be putting the dungeon together in pieces, so to make things easier I proceeded to make a plain empty square wall to make all of the various walls and doorways from. This way, once I have modeled and textured all of the different walls and doorways, I can say a room is three walls by three walls wide and everything will fit together.

Untextured Model of a Catacombs Wall

Staying true to the elements I drew out, I easily completed a few walls and doorways. I had also drew out some of the things you would find within the catacombs like coffins and light fixtures. I modeled these as well and made several variations such as broken coffins or coffins with their lids off. With that done I had to go on to the hardest part of making my catacombs, texturing! Usually when you see a picture of a catacombs, the walls and decor is worn off and the place is falling apart. Thats usually because its several hundred years old. But this catacombs is a bit newer because the game is supposed to take place in a past setting, those several hundred years haven't happened yet.

Textured Model of a Catacombs Wall

At this point I'm pretty well tired out for the day. I modeled five different walls, an arched doorway, a gate, several caskets, and some light fixtures. I still need to texture most of the items but at least I textured all of the walls. It took me at least two hours to decide what textures to use on them and I had to make a couple new ones too. Fortunately since the game has more of an overhead view I do not need to make any ceilings.

I will show you the rest of the process in Part 2 once I have gotten that far. Mostly it will be about putting all of the pieces together and adding in more fine detail. Part 3 will be about importing the scene into IRREdit and adding proper lighting and lightmaps!