Progress Tick-list?

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Joined: 13 Aug 2015, 08:09

Progress Tick-list?

Postby drachma » 13 Aug 2015, 08:16

Hi guys,

Your demo of age 233 this year had me interested. I've been following the project for a couple years now :)

A lot of the game in riven is broken up into small chunks. E.g., each island, and each age, seems like it can be worked on as an isolated unit. Which is why you can "polish" one age, demo it, and move on to the next project.

I am wondering if you have a high-level step-by-step of how you approach the re-creation of each one of these units. For example, I imagine it goes somewhat like this:

1. build model of the land
2. triangulation work to determine the locations of objects on the land
3. build 3-d models of those objects
4. place them in the right spots
5. design and apply textures
6. add sounds/buttons/animations

I'm sure its much more complicated than that, and that there are special cases for each location. But at a high level it seems like there is some process like this that will yield a 90% complete area of Riven.

Finally, in addition to learning about your technical process, I'm curious about progress. How many such units are there in Riven, and at what step are you on each of them?

Starry Expanse Developer
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Re: Progress Tick-list?

Postby zib_redlektab » 13 Aug 2015, 23:23

Actually, triangulation is pretty much always the first step for new areas - the terrain usually to be triangulated, too! We start with a totally blank slate, and block in as much geometry as we can, in the correct spots and at the correct size and rotation, before we start high-detail modeling.

In some cases, detail models can be made before triangulation is finished. This happens a lot with manmade objects - they are generally pretty geometric in nature, so it's not really necessary to triangulate (or "camera match") to determine their shape, only their placement in the scene.

For most of our assets, the modeling process is generally: camera matched geometry -> high-poly model/(or sculpt in some cases) -> uv unwrapping -> texturing -> low-poly model. As soon as any version of the asset exists, we bring it into the engine so we can start working on interactivity and material settings, plus just start getting a feel for the area in realtime. So that part is kind of always happening, as models are tweaked or textured and get re-imported to the engine along the way.

We do try to split up the game into manageable chunks while working (chunks like Prison Island, the Survey Island elevator room, the Jungle Island village basin, and 233...), and then those chunks are divided up into individual assets. Those assets are then split into various tasks (like modeling vs texturing vs animation). The next part is fun: we use a service called Trello to oranize all of this info into to-do lists, which ends up looking like this:


This allows us to parcel out the mountain of content that is Riven into individual pieces that an artist can tackle, one at a time. Someday, they will all be finished.

I'm not really the best to comment on all of the nitty-gritty of what I just described, but that is (I think) a pretty decent explanation of how we work, in general.

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Starry Expanse Developer
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Joined: 09 Jan 2015, 21:38

Re: Progress Tick-list?

Postby philip » 14 Aug 2015, 03:48

To expand on what zib said a bit, when an asset is being modeled/textured, a number of sub-steps also have to happen. I'll try and write them out in as useful/ordered of a fashion as possible, but quite often steps are omitted or reordered due to varying needs of assets:

  • Model high-poly version of the asset (insane number of polys, excruciating level of detail, doesn't actually appear in the game -- often this is a sculpt)
  • Model "low poly" version of the asset (not really low poly, just lower poly than the high-poly)
  • Create UV maps for the high poly model
  • Create textures and materials for the high poly model (under mocked up lighting conditions)
  • Create UV maps for the low poly model
  • Retopologize ("retopo", i.e. project the colors) from the high poly geometry onto the low poly geometry, essentially generating textures and normal maps for the low poly
  • Create lightmap UVs for the low poly model, if necessary
  • Create collision meshes for the model, if necessary

At this stage, the model is ready to be imported into the engine and tweaked according to lighting conditions and such. After that's done, we create materials (shaders) in the UE4 editor, either just to display regular textures or to also add special effects. Not every model has a high poly and a low poly version, but many of the very important assets (e.g. the submarine) do.

Also something I left out was our review process, which involves a bit of consultation with other team members every few steps, to make sure everything's A-OK as the asset gets pushed through the pipeline.

This is all for static assets, as well. For animated assets, there are quite a few more things that have to happen, including skinning, rigging, and all that jazz.

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Joined: 13 Aug 2015, 08:09

Re: Progress Tick-list?

Postby drachma » 17 Aug 2015, 08:15

thanks for the replies, always cool to learn about the process!

Curious what major areas you have left to start on? I think I've seen stuff from mapping island, have you done anything in crater island and gehn's lab?

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Gehn's Boot
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Re: Progress Tick-list?

Postby Gehn's Boot » 17 Aug 2015, 17:32

In their Mysterium 2013 presentation, they showed early, untextured areas of crater island and Gehn's lab there. I'm sure they're much further along with those locations.

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