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Petrograd: an action-thriller first person shooter. Enter the shoes of a Black-Ops Special Agent, investigating the disappearance of a full city's population overnight. An eerie atmosphere and immersive environments are just the beginning, nothing is quite what it seems in this suspenseful experience set in post-USSR Eastern Europe. The purpose of this project was to create a trailer with near triple-A quality, that goal was achieved on Feb 2009, and thus this project has concluded. The studio has since turned pro and continues to produce commercial games. Thanks for you support.

Report content RSS feed Petrograd Mod Level Design (Environment Design)

A brief look at environment design using the CryEngine Sandbox editor.

Posted by ben72227 on Sep 19th, 2008
Intermediate Level Design/Theory.

Hey everybody I've gotten some questions regarding level design and working with CryEngine. I am the lead level designer for the Petrograd mod, so I thought I would post this to let everybody see some of the work I do for the Petrograd mod.

For this first post, I'm going to talk about how I design environments - for this example I will do a quick and simple design of a city street.

First I start off by painting the textures - my vision for this street is a small boulevard with a landscaped median in the middle of it. So I'm going to paint textures for the street and the median.

Next I want to add some brushes to the environment - so I'll add some apartment buildings, a sidewalk and curb, some utility boxes and a small bus stop.

Now I want to add a few entities (which are objects with physics properties and such) - so I place them into the environment. I add some light poles and some phone booths.

So now we have a pretty decent environment, a few good brushes anyway. But it looks pretty barren. So, what am I to do? I know - I'll add some vegetation. First, I put a few big trees in.

Looks better - but it could still use some more detail I think - so I add a few small shrubs to round it out.

Ok - so now I have the vegetation out of the way. Looking at my progress so far - it looks good, but I still have work to do. At this point, I start to focus on the small details. A very easy way to add detail to environments is by using decals. So I put some decals on the street to make it look more like a street. Some patches to the pavement, a manhole, and a storm drain.

I put some street lights in earlier - but I felt that they were missing something - so I add some powerlines to connect them.

And with that - I'm done with the building of my simple street environment. Here is a screenshot of my progress so far:

It looks fairly decent...but I decide that I want to have this particular environment be part of a night-time level. So I change the time of day settings to night-time.

Only problem is - there aren't any lights lol! So I add some lights.

And with that, I'm basically done with this simple environment. Now I need to export this to the engine so that it will be playable in-game. I always like to see how things look in different modes - so I render the environment in wireframe mode and sketch mode before I export to the engine.

Everything looks good to me - so I go ahead and export to the engine. The final render looks like this:

And so there you have it. Well, this is the end of my first post. I've never done a blog like this before so I'm eager to see how you guys respond. If the response is positive I will probably do another post in the future. I hope you enjoy and learn something from this!

-Benjamin Thatcher (ben72227)

Post comment Comments
RogerRamjet Sep 19 2008 says:

I think you have done a pretty good job at it, would suggest having a link to the full size image so we can see what you are doing and see the greater detail.. but other than that, a nice straight forward, clear tutorial... The Cry2 Engine certainly makes things a lot simpler than other editors and gives a beautiful result (in the right hands that is.)

+3 votes     reply to comment
Bobes Sep 19 2008 replied:

Nice!Really good :D

+2 votes     reply to comment
ben72227 Author
ben72227 Sep 19 2008 replied:

CaptainSource, I added links to the full-sized images.

+1 vote   reply to comment
Arkanj3l Dec 15 2008 replied:

It's simpler... with practice.

Although the workflow is devilishly simple the toolset isn't very intuitive. Try adding a layer, for example.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Silverfisk Sep 19 2008 says:

I might have to buy Crysis, it has an awesome level editor.

+2 votes     reply to comment
stonecold23 Sep 19 2008 says:

only downside i see to this map editor... from this tutorial anyway.. is that it looks like i need to learn how to create moddels of my own before i can input my own content into the game?

great tutorial. may have to get the editor.

+2 votes     reply to comment
ben72227 Author
ben72227 Sep 19 2008 replied:

stonecold23 - not necessarily. There are a lot of building pieces within the Crysis asset files - for example, the bus stop was built completely out of Crysis assets. The only custom models I used in this scene were the apartment buildings.

+1 vote   reply to comment
hushpuppy Sep 19 2008 says:

Awsome stuff :D looks cewl

+2 votes     reply to comment
DeadlyContagion Sep 19 2008 says:

I can see why this workflow makes interiors difficult on this engine.

+1 vote     reply to comment
ben72227 Author
ben72227 Sep 19 2008 replied:

Interiors aren't necessarily that difficult - they are just done a bit differently that outdoor environments. With interiors you have to worry more about lighting and vis-areas (which are used to define indoor areas that have their own ambient color; vis-areas prevent the outside light from affecting 'indoor' environments)

+2 votes   reply to comment
Armageddon104 Sep 19 2008 says:


+1 vote     reply to comment
xilef24 Sep 20 2008 says:

very nice done man!
but does someone know why the editor won´t open on my pc
(downloaded sandbox with the demo but doesn´t work at all)

+1 vote     reply to comment
chris_sloany Oct 15 2008 says:

awesome dude! can u plz post one next time on how to get custom songs on to crysis i dont know how to make my mp2 into mp3's

+1 vote     reply to comment
shadow_696AD Oct 20 2008 says:

could you make a video tutorial
I thing is a better way to learn abou LEVEL DESIGN

+1 vote     reply to comment
Amosinn Dec 9 2008 says:

That actually looks a lot like a russian city. I went to Leningrad and it looked exactly like that LOL

+1 vote     reply to comment
Duck_Of_War Oct 18 2009 says:

Nice work...

+1 vote     reply to comment
GARYOSAVAN Dec 3 2011 says:

All Photos Dead!

+1 vote     reply to comment
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