With the impending collapse of the Citadel, two members of the Resistance are tasked with evacuating any citizens remaining. Little do they know that their mission sees them gaining critical information that puts the early fate of White Forest in their hands.
Old to New. The evolution of one of our oldest environments in-game!
Posted by MrtwovideoCards on Dec 2nd, 2011
Above is a picture of the old version of map 03, the garage, from 2009. While that version of the map played alright, there was still a lot of room for improvement. At the time it was too similar to the Episode 1 garage. In mid 2010 we debated about what we wanted to do with the environment heading into the end of the year. At that time a lot of the enviroments in-game had already been heavily revamped during what we considered our 2nd art pass phase. We decided to start a new version of the garage from scratch. Doing this marked the beginning of our Third Art pass phase, which became the final and most inspirired art pass. So far it's seen the majority of our content go way beyond how it used to look and feel, as well as started the entire total conversion aspect of asset overhauling.
Through redesigning this area, it eventually went from that, to this:
Instead of being a series of strung together small to medium semi-destroyed garages like the old version and like Episode 1′s garage, this version takes place nearly entirely in one large collapsed underground garage. The main floor area includes the expanded Antlion Guard fight while the rest of the garage is an upward explorable zombie adventure to the surface.
While this new garage was an improvement, the layout was still very rough and the art still left a lot of room for improvement. Nearly all of the debris and broken concrete slabs in the version pictured above were made from displacements or brushes and the entire garage used mostly stock Half-Life 2 content, which included the debris piles mentioned in a previous blog post. Over the next few weeks we set out to replace or edit most of the stock content used in the map and replace the brush/displacement placeholders with proper models.
We tried to keep all of the models very modular and tried to use the same textures as the remaining brushes in the garage to save on texture memory and keep a continuous look. On certain models separate damaged materials or modified normals were used to give the models a more damaged look compared to the remaining sections of the garage still somewhat intact. Along with the new models we refined the layout, lighting, and post process effects. The latest version of the garage uses nearly all custom content or modified stock content and came out much more unique and exciting than the previous garage. Below are a few shots of some of the modular models used in the environment and a screenshot of the near-finished garage.
We modified the stock Valve concrete wall textures in these models, desaturating them to fit the color theme and oldness of the garage a bit more. We wanted to make sure the Garage felt like it had been abandoned for quite some time, and antlions utilized it as their home. Eventually to stay consistent with the rest of our asset conversion, we ended up completely repainting all of the garage textures from scratch, including creating a variety of blends for both the models and brush surfaces. Bumpmaps were also eventually added to models the broken models pictured above, where the bumpmap completely handled adding detail to the surface via light angles, versus directly painting it on everywhere.
Later on during the art pass process we started talking about adding in foliage. Foliage played a pretty big part in conveying the garage had been abandoned for a great deal of time.
Fog has played the largest role of really making an area feel right. So much that we completely tossed the valve stock fog system. Gone are the days were you have to recompile your map to see fog changes. For city17 we created a custom fog system that can be changed real-time.
How it works:
Anyone who's work with left 4 Dead 2 might be familair with how the fog system works there. This system is fairly similair, though without the need to recompile your map. A fog script instance looks like this:
"subway_fog_interiors" -System name for the volume to lookup
"primarycolor" "47 45 43 255" -Color of the fog
"secondarycolor" "73 67 67 255"
"start" "-1" -Distance to start fog intensity
"density" "0.45" -Controls the overall density of fog
"farZ" "99999" -Where to cull the world
"lerpspeed" "0.01" -Speed that defines fade time for the fog system when the player steps into a volume
This system allows us to literally have an infinite amount of fog variations, without ever having to exit the game, or recompile the map. SImply change the fog values, save the text file, then noclip out and back into the volume you are editng. Easy as pie. On average we have about 7-10 different fog setups for a single map.
Thats all for today! Stay tuned for another update tomorrow! Follow us on Twitter for updates on what's going on in development, as well as our blog for City 17 and other development news from us. If you'd like to get in contact with us, be sure to email us at email@example.com.