How did you do the reflections on the water surface?
For those bashing EA..... Any old-schooler will tell ya, EA is not some great company. Yeah, they've released some great games, but the bottom line is they're the fabled 'corporate giant' out to make money and eliminate competitors. Been that way since the early 80's. Another victim of EA you might have heard of, the Wing Commander series (Privateer as well). If they can't rush out better games than you, they'll buy you out and kill your franchise.
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With the upcoming era of VR just around the corner, you may try experimenting with virtual reality. To help you with this task is the new scene breakdown from Yuri Popov. He created a copy of Casa Brutale (read about this awesome project here) in Unreal Engine 4 and adapted this environment for VR. You can read about the project creation and download the executable files for study.
My name is Yuri. I am software developer. I develop games, interactive and audiovisual installations, using Kinect, Oculus, Arduino.
I am strongly convinced that virtual reality is one of the best ways to show architectural concepts. It creates an opportunity for people to immerse into your own vision, to show a world that doesn’t exist or will exist only in your dreams. You can see a flat, house, apartments not only in booklet but in VR like just like in real life.
I had idea of creating architectural visualization for a while but I didn’t have enough time for a lot of experiments. Once I came across a Casa Brutale project on the web — conceptual home designed by OPA (Open Platform from Architecture). It’s meant to be built within a cliff on an Aegean Island.
And I realized that the time has come. Its minimalism, elegance and atmosphere inspired me to create this architectural visualization and a virtual reality experience. The project absorbed me completely and I spent a month doing it.
Building the Scene
The level I made with Geometry Brushes (BSP). These tools were enough for my purposes. You can do quite difficult geometry with it. And the main advantage of it is that you can change it and conveniently tweak UV during the project. Also BSP requires sufficient resources so finally you should convert all of them into the static meshes and replace the same objects with one instance.
OPA posted blueprints, so it was easy to keep proportion and scale, although I have changed some things.
A simple mountain environment has been made using the built-in landscape tools.
I watched a lot of architectural visualizations and noticed that many of them look dead. It’s all sterile and vacuumed. Mine idea idea was to bring some life in it. I decided to add some dynamic elements: particles, butterflies and falling leaves.
Also the scene has some interactive things (don’t forget that I’m programmer). For example, there’s an elevator, that you can use.
Unreal has powerful post-processing tools, that I used for underwater effects in the swimming pool.
Caustic simulated using the light function. Someone at Unreal Forums said that you can go crazy living in that room with caustic, so it would be cool to add jalousie on the floor.
Caustic material blueprint.
Bringing The Scene in Virtual Reality
Working with Virtual Reality has became much easier thanks to modern game engines. With Unreal Engine 4 you can immerse into virtual reality simply by clicking one button. A simple scenes will be working fine without any additional tweaks in VR.
But the main problem with VR is to optimize your content and find balance between quality. Quick tip – always give preference to FPS.
Stereo doubles our drawcalls, so I was forced to simplify graphics, remove some effects, minimize dynamic shadows and so on. GPU Profiling was useful to find out where your GPU time is going. Use ProfileGPU (Ctrl + Shift + ,) in the editor to get quick information on what’s slowing you down.
You can watch different information about scene statistics using console commands (console called by pressing tilda ~): Stat SceneRendering, Stat Particles, Stat LightRendering.
For the Oculus Rift DK2, the FPS target is 75. This requires careful optimization.
Honestly, scene in Casa Brutale did not give me any big difficulties.
I used only lightmaps, all dynamic shadows were disabled. The light is totally static.
I disabled Light Shafts, also known as God Rays – it gave bad performance for me.
I removed some chaotic flying particles and fog from scene.
Post-processing settings also decrease your FPS, but I left swimming pool volume for underwater effects.
If you don’t understand how to use profiler you can use dirty hack – remove objects and watch what’s happening on the scene. So you can find your problem.
Careful testing will help you find the optimal settings for your specific project.
It took me 19 hours to build all the light data in the scene. Quite a journey.