Um....holodeck anyone?. This is exciting stuff!
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Why not? I'm a programmer by heart and I'd rather spend few days making solution which will turn hours of mundane work into minutes where you can actually focus on task at hand.
About The Author
My name is Guillermo Moreno Alfaro and I’m from Madrid (Spain). I studied graphical design and 3D between 2006 and 2008 but it wasn’t until past year when I took the decision to go further on my career and started a degree on Videogame Development with UDK.
In fact, I never worked as a environment artist. The purpose of every character and environment I’ve created was to fill my portfolio and find a job.
I created some environments with Autodesk Maya (the 3D tool I chose to work in this area) and some college projects that never passed alpha status, sadly.
About Medievil Project
At first I wanted this to be an small homage to this long forgotten saga. It would also serves as a great illustration of my skills in my search for a job as environment artist.
I put the video on Twitter just to see if the people out there wanted Sir Daniel Fortesque to come back. This saga was one of the pillars of Playstation. And so far it proved to be very successful. 40k visits in just a single day on YouTube. I hope Sony notices this and greenlights the next Medievil.
Many features on UE4 are still on an early stage if we compare it to UDK. Is not a problem, since UE4 was released not that long ago. Despite this, it’s much more powerful and user friendly than the previous versions of the engine.
I think that UE4 popularity comes from its adaptability. Years ago every indie or low budget creator wanted to use UDK, in part because of Gears of War success. The trouble was that UDK required to UnrealScript to program actions. So everybody started to use Unity because everything was easier to understand and worked with a wide variety of languages, not only UnrealScript.
With UE4 everything changed. Epic offered the possibility to get UE4 for free (not monthly subscriptions). They are offering support to developers. Sharing projects on forums and Github. Streaming videos with new features, future versionsc.
The marketplace is also a great help as it helps the developers to sell their work.
To create Sir Daniel used 3Ds Max, Zbrush and Photoshop for textures. I tried Substance Painter but only for a small details. I loved the small nuances I got on the armor. It’s not an easy tool to start with, but it’s so powerful that the final asset look amazing.
I wanted to test some internal UE4 tools, but I choose finally the ones I feel most comfortable with. Maybe next time.
About The Lighting
Almost the whole light system is pre‐baked. I wanted it to be full real time, but my PC cannot manage something that complex, so I chose the easy way.
The only lights that are real time are the ones on The Bridge and The Mausoleum. Those ones interact with the main character.
The Most Difficult Part
The hardest part was the mausoleum where Sir Daniel rests. I wanted the light to enter through the colored windows to project cute shadows on the walls. But UE4 doesn’t have any automatic process to do this so i used DecalMaterial to fake it.
I think it look pretty convincing: the light shafts from AmbientLight adapted properly and the effect looks awesome.
Another issue was Sir Daniel interactivity with the grass. FoliageActor isn’t available on UE4 yet, so it’s mandatory to use Material and Blueprint. Those are so complex. It takes a lot of time to compile and it drops the overall performance on my PC. So finally I decided not to use it.
The word is that FoliageReactor is coming back on UE 4.8, so maybe on future projects I will be able to add this effect.
Working With Materials
The way to work with materials is quite similar to 3DSmax, in fact, they share some options and nodes. UE4 is more complex, offering some amazing real time effects with almost no effort. 3Ds Max or Maya do not give those options, so they require more time to develop the same stuff.
In Medievil demo, I grouped the materials: Metal (Fences, Armour, Cementery Gate) Nature (Grass, Terrain, trees) and “estructura” (Stones, wood). This way I could optimize my time and be more efficient.
As I said, creating those effects on UE4 was pretty simple. In a few hours we can get whatever we want, and it’s fun to watch how they works in real time.
My short term goal is finding a job in Spain, in case any studio wants to hire me. This demo was so time consuming. Sometimes I had to stay in front of my computer for more than 12 hours straight. I didn´t have enough time to think what I’m going to do next. Maybe another homage: Conker or Soul Reaver. Who knows. I will think about it while I enjoy Witcher 3.