General scene planning and modeling?

I’m still struggling with how to plan my renders.
-I could sandbox everything and just build a big world and then move my camera around to take different node renders… (too much baggage and memory problems)
-I could create a set for each node… (too much remodeling?)

There is some compromise somewhere in between but it escapes me, especially when one node can see a lot of another node.

Any ideas, especially from those who have actually managed to build a large number of nodes renderings? (I’m thinking Agustin and Imari at the moment)


Good question, though it depends a lot on the kind of environments you’re working. We’re mostly limited to interiors, so what we do is render “flat” textures of adjacent rooms and use that for passages and doors. Save for tricky scenes, such as the foyer in Asylum or lobby in Scratches, each room is a single project, which means a standalone file.

I strongly advise against going full “sandbox” style because it will drive you nuts. I had no choice but to do it for the garden in Scratches and it was by far the most difficult scene to work with :mad:

I just render model single rooms, I tried doing a house once, just a typical english terrace house, with an attic and cellar, and it really was a nightmare, specially re editing the model, lighting, textures
Then I tried it as modules on layers that worked better but you have to duplicate doors, now I just do it scene by scene

exteriors there’s a lot of tricks to render a big world and save time, my favorate are fog/haze, camera mapping, depth pass, IBL backgrounds

thanks guys, that’s good to know. If I have to model each set separately, at least I know I have good company!

One reason I gave up on the rock/desert scenery in ‘big dead adventure’ was the open-air setting. The sandy desert scene was actually working out; I used Terragen to make the skies and horizon and that looked really good, especially using it for IBL, with Blender doing the sandy terrain (still a 2 km landscape with special mesh resolution trick that changed resolution with distance from the camera. I had a giant hi-rez height-map image that displaced my mesh. The mesh follows the camera as I drag it to different locations over the heightmap).
But the inner canyon scenes were boggling to make good and I still had problems adding good closeup textures of sand and rock and dirt and debris and other junk, oh my!

I’ve got three other ideas in various stages of modeling and I will have to keep in mind flat render-textures for nearby backgrounds.

BTW, anybody know how Cyan did all those amazing outdoor scenes in the second and third Myst games? The computing power and modeling tools were a lot more primitive and yet the results still stand up well.

There are different techniques for big areas. One of the most used one and my favorite is using distance layers.
For example you create a small desert scene with a size around 50*50 meters. You make the borders high enough so you can create another layer behind the main area. This area can be rendered as a cube map around the scene with an alpha channel. Behind that you can create another one and make it very distant mountains.
This way you won’t need to render everything each time you change something in a scene and render times will be a lot better too.
Hope this helps.

I have several large areas in Adamantus and each gets broken into several rooms or smaller areas. I usually begin by “sketching” the scene in with dummy items or primitives and then move the camera around in the scene to see what can be viewed from what angle. I particularly want to “tuck away” places that are going to change so that they can’t be seen from too many angles. (I am not always very successful at this.)

With large interior areas, I begin each single room with this large roughed-in scene, making each room a scene unto itself, refining it, and then and saving it separately. When the rooms are finished, I already have the camera placements for all of the nodes from my large roughed-in scene. This way, when it comes time to render the video for the doors into the connecting rooms, I render the door(s) opening from inside the room with an alpha map for beyond the doorway. Then, in the destination room’s file, I set up a camera that is at the door, but outside of the room, and render a background slide. (I usually hide the door and door surround when I do this.) I then assemble the background slide and the door opening video in HitFilm, saving as an image sequence. Finally, I run the image sequence through VideoMach to make the movie and convert to OGV format.

Exterior scenes are much harder for me. I begin in the same way with the large roughed in scene, which usually begins with a terrain. In Vue the terrain can be sculpted into pretty much any shape that you’d like. You can leave the terrain at a relatively low poly at first, because Vue now allows you to subdivide and refine individual areas within a terrain — so I save out the roughed-in scene and when I open up the individual smaller scenes, refine the area around the nodes. I also make use of Vue’s EcoSystems for plants, which turns distant plants into billboards until your camera gets nearer to them. I’ve had over 20 million polys in a scene with ecosystem plants. I usually populate the scene with them and then erase and paint-in specific plants in key areas to compose the scene to my liking.

Figuring out how to break up the scene is tough, though. In a large city scene, I added in detailed buildings in the foreground and used progressively less detailed buildings in the distance. Even the more detailed versions had to be relatively low poly and needed careful texturing. I basically added as much as I could, then started breaking the scene down into clusters of nodes and stripping back out the elements that could not be seen from each particular cluster of nodes.

Sometimes I have an interior scene with a view of the exterior. I set it up within the large roughed in scene as I do the other scene, but hide the terrain and ecosystem as I build and don’t make them visible except for renders or test renders. Sometimes waiting for Vue to catch up becomes tedious, and I will build to a point, then save the scene. Then I delete the terrain and other things seen outside the windows, Save As, and continue refining the interior until I’m done. Then I open up the original scene, remove the interior parts and merge the scene for rendering.

There must be easier ways to do these scenes. If you figure out some, please let me know. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

When I was doing the zeppelin interior I built the corridor in 4x4 metre sections, then instanced them along a path, the hard bit is having them not obviously repeating materials, another thing was rendering sections and using the image on simple geometry with a normal map

My favourite is frontal projection

only Wall-e and the tracks on a floor plane are in the scene, there is bump as well

I’m liking this thread! Can’t find this kind of stuff in a book (too bad :slight_smile: )
Yeah, that would a best-seller… “Advanced Project Techniques for Modeling and Rendering 1st Person Perspectives”.
Foreword by Dr. Suess.

I find that one of the hardest things to do is to create a scene where the player is “naturally” directed from node to node. As a player, I usually find it frustrating to see an area that I’d like to explore, but can’t go there. On the other hand, in an adventure game, I have the expectation that most areas have a purpose — that there’s something for me to find or to do. So as the game maker, I find that it’s a juggling act to make the area look “complete,” but to also keep the player on a path through the nodes. For the most part, I’m doing this by making each area self contained. The player can wander through the area back and forth at will, but must take some sort of conveyance to get to the next area. I also try to direct the player visually with hedges, walls, and pathways or to block travel in a certain direction via a locked door or other barrier. I’m also depending upon the storyline to motivate the player to keep exploring.

To make the scene complete, I try to add in lots of details. I try to make sure that there is something interesting to look at in each direction and that each direction of the node is well composed. (I’m not sayin’ every node, but at least most nodes where the player is likely to spend some time.)

I also have a basic color scheme for each area or sub-area. I try to make the textures interesting and varied, but also consistent by repeating the same material within the area. Though it’s tempting, if I have one marble, to add another and then another, I find that the scene can quickly look “tarted up,” if I do that.

I’m hardly a pundit of game scenery creation, but these are some of the issues that I’ve faced while working.

P.S. - Nice image (as usual), Nige. :slight_smile:

P.P.S. - To you-who-are-creating-games-with-Dagon, how about sending a couple of screen shots or concept art and a bit of information to Agustin so that he can add your game to the Projects section? Come on, guys.

I wish I had something to show! Working on my Dagon Studio thingy I dumbed the scenes down so they rendered really quick, I wanted to shoehorn in as much as possible in regards to functionality, ie sound, speech, animation etc etc, fantastic art work doesn’t really matter.
While the studio is on hold (its not really on hold as the work I’m doing benefits the studio anyway) I started on the proper scenes but there isn’t many yet ,they lack detail and to squeaky clean which is were I struggle.
My game is a 30’s private eye theme but a bit of a twist, but it needs to be dark and run down.

I have found doing a template scene helps a lot, just using primitives were objects are likely to be, there’s nothing worse than having a key item that isn’t in a linear spot or a weird shape on a number of face joints