The Castle Courtyard is a game environment that I created as the final project for the “Environments for Games” class. Over the course of a quarter, I developed the environment using modular kit pieces as well as hero assets. The goal of the assignment was to create a game environment utilizing our modeling, UVing, texturing skills, and assemble the final product in Unreal Engine. For my project, I drew inspiration from a variety of European castle courtyards and fountains. I simultaneously aimed to dwarf the player in a large environment, yet create the feeling of a small intimate space that alluded to interior environments.
This project allowed me to research more about techniques in Substance Painter, ZBrush, and Unreal Engine. My hero asset is an ornate fountain with lion heads and full body owl sculptures which required the use of the insert mesh brush in ZBrush. I also began creating smart materials in Substance Painter for use on multiple meshes. After applying materials to my assets within Unreal, I felt that displacement maps were needed to give more surface detail to the walls and ground. This necessitated the reworking of some assets that did not have enough polygonal detail for tessellation within Unreal. However, after adding more subdivisions in Maya and exporting from Substance Painter, I was able to apply displacement maps to many of my material networks. My research process always starts with gathering reference photos. For this project I wanted to capture certain architectural elements that I could use as modular pieces.
Sketching was an important facet of me trying out my designs. I needed the castle to feel as though it had survived several ages. Using my reference photos as a guide, my sketches experimented with surfaces and designs.
This environment focused on lighting and texture elements plus more in-depth sculptural hero assets. I wanted to create a mood of a tranquil night scene in my final renders. I experimented with exponential height fog in Unreal Engine as well as light volumes in order to get rays of light shining through the fog. I also utilized particle systems to give the fountain a water effect.