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A quick update, stuff about new outdoor environment assets and some techniques used creating them.

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I've been noodling with outdoor environment assets and scenes yet again. There's some new snazzy cliffs and rocks, terrain textures and tiles and a whole lot more is coming as we speak.

Thematically we have two outdoor types so far:
1) dry desert with red cliffs, desert palm trees and cacti (is it "cacti" or "cactuses"?)
2) jungle swamp with denser vegetation, grass and mud.

Because our system is tile-based without terrain painting features or anything fancy like that, I had to find a way to create varying and organic terrain transitions to different ground types in some other way. I tried to create textures that had all the transition tiles done in Photoshop, but that was a major pain. Instead I'm now experimenting with vertex color controlled texture blending:

Left: Painting vertex colors in MODO and viewing the result in Unity

Positive things about this technique is that it's a lot more easy to control and edit and also there's no need for separate transition textures. This technique is quite versatile and can be used for most assets, e.g. adding sand and grass to rocky walls, darkening crevices, adding rust to metal surfaces and so on.

The downside is that it takes a lot more vertices per terrain tile (or any other asset) to get any sensible results. I've decided to solve this issue by preparing low-poly tiles (2 tris) to be used in areas that don't need any transitions, and a set of denser meshes for areas that do.

Some of the new assets for the desert area

Currently I'm exporting different terrain tiles with vertex colors from MODO because Unity lacks vertex painting tools by default as far as I know. There are some cool looking vertex painting tools available for it, but I'll stick with this workflow for now.

The shader used to blend textures by vertex color information is a custom edited one, basically just combining two shaders. If you're interested about it, you can find more info from our blog:

Alright, that's it for this update. Thanks for reading!

- Sami Kuronen

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