About the Artist
Environment Modeling
The Lost City of Gaius (Exterior)
Software: Photoshop, 3D Studio Max
Platform: Undefined
Class/Project/Team: Designing Interior Spaces and Worlds
When Created: Winter 2010
In the Winter of 2010, I was enrolled in a curious class of dualities: Designing Interior Spaces and Worlds. In this class we were tasked with the endeavor of building two environments, an interior and an exterior, that were connected in some manner. The connection could be as simple as being able to see one environment while standing in the other. Since this was a class focused on the building and construction of environments to be used in games, and we were permitted to use ideas designed in previous courses, I decided to build a pair of environments based upon one of the very first game design documents that I designed for school: an exterior of a city which had fallen beneath the earth during a cataclysmic set of earthquakes, and an interior of one of the public buildings that resides in the city. The city is basically a set of barely-intact ruins sitting upon the edge of a waterfall.

Like many of my classes, the creation of this exterior environment was challenging, and not in the least because I was determined to build a series of complex terrains using nothing more than layered height maps. These displacement maps were hand-drawn, based directly upon the layout drawings and schematics that we were to draw at the beginning of class. This made the placement and organization of paths very easy, and also allowed me to do such things as add procedural nodes to the terrain materials in order to create an additional sense of rough terrain and unpredictability to the design. By layering displacement maps, I could keep the placement of paths separate from the placement of the stalagmites and stalactites, which were also added in order to keep visibility limited.

The distribution of materials were controlled by maps, as well, many of the same ones that were responsible for driving displacement. This gave me the freedom to create materials that were layered based upon height, and to create materials that subtly changed as they transitioned from one zone to another. As an example, the materials of the terrain change depending upon how close they are to the water.

Looking back on this project now, at the dawn of 2013 when I am wrapping up my degree, I can see many things that I would change or do differently now, so there may come a time when I recreate this environment one day. I learned so much when creating this, about different ways to control the mesh and appearance of an environment without needing to rely upon third-party world building utilities, just my own two hands and Photoshop. What wonder-filled caves I would build!
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