Detailing Environments

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Build a complete tower defense game from scratch using the Unreal Development Kit with this book and ebook

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by John P. Doran | July 2013 | Games

One of the things that many people do not know is that level designers may actually have nothing to do with the art involved in the levels they produce. This all depends on the studio that you work at of course, but traditionally level designers are responsible for designing the gameplay that a particular level has. They develop a basic layout as well as taking care of the scripting done in the level. The actual person to create the art as well as place the art into the world is traditionally the environment artist.At this point, our game has its core mechanics prototyped. In this article by John P. Doran, author of Getting Started with UDK, it is explained that once prototyped, a level designer will often give his/her level to an environment artist in order to make the level more artistically pleasing.

In this article by John P. Doran, author of Getting Started with UDK, we will be taking on the role of an environment artist, doing a texture pass on the environment. After that, we will place meshes to make our level pop with added details. Finally, we will add a few more items to make the experience as nice looking as possible.

This topic can be split into four tasks depending on what we are doing. We will discuss the first task in this article. The outline of our tasks is as follows:

  • To apply materials to our world

  • To place staircases

  • To add in-level boundaries

  • To spawn weapons

(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)

Applying materials

As it stands, our current level looks rather... well, bland. I'd say it's missing something in order to really make it realistic... the walls are all the same! Thankfully, we can use textures to make the walls come to life in a very simple way, bringing us one step closer to that AAA quality that we're going for!

Applying materials to our walls in Unreal Development Kit (UDK) is actually very simple once we know how to do it, which is what we're going to look at now:

  1. First, go to the menu bar at the top and access the Actor Classes window by going to the top menu and navigating to View | Browser Windows | Content Browser. Once in the Content Browser window, make sure that Packages are sorted by folder by clicking on the left-hand side button. Once this is done, click on the UDK Game folder in the Packages window. Then type in floor master in the top search bar menu. Click on the M_LT_Floors_BSP_Master material.

  2. Close the Content Browser window and then left-click on the floor of our level; if you look closely, you should see. With the floor selected, right-click and select Apply Material : M_LT_Floors_BSP_Master.

  3. Now that we have given the floor a material, let's give it a platform as well. Select each of the faces by holding down Ctrl and left-clicking on them individually. Once selected, right-click and select Apply Material : M_LT_Floors_BSP_Master.

    Another way to select all of the faces would be to rightclick on the floor and navigate to Select Surfaces | Adjacent Floors.

    Now our floor is placed; but if you play the game, you may notice the texture being repeated over and over again and the texture on the platform being stretched strangely. One of the ways we can rectify this problem is by scaling the texture to fit our needs.

  4. With all of the floor and the pieces of the platform selected, navigate to View| Surface Properties. From there, change the Simple field under Scaling to 2.0 and click on the Apply button to its right that will double the size of our textures. After that, go to Alignment and select Box; click on the Apply button placed below it to align our textures as if the faces that we selected were like a box. This works very well for objects consisting of box-like objects (our brushes, for instance).

  5. Close the Surface Properties window and open up the Content Browser window. Now search for floors organic. Select M_LT_Floors_BSP_ Organic15b and close the Content Browser window.

  6. Now select one of the floors on the edges with the default texture on them. Then right-click and go to Select Surfaces | Matching Texture. After that, right-click and select Apply Material : M_LT_Floors_BSP_Organic15b.

  7. We build our project by navigating to Build | Build All, save our game by going to the Save option within the File menu, and run our game by navigating to Play | In Editor.

    And with that, we now have a nicely textured world, and it is quite a good start towards getting our levels looking as refined as possible.

Summary

This article discusses the role of an environment artist doing a texture pass on the environment. After that, we will place meshes to make our level pop with added details. Finally, we will add a few more things to make the experience as nice looking as possible.

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Getting Started with UDK Build a complete tower defense game from scratch using the Unreal Development Kit with this book and ebook
Published: July 2013
eBook Price: $14.99
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About the Author :


John Adams

John Adams currently works as an application development consultant in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for a fantastic company called RBA. He has been developing custom business applications with the Microsoft .NET platform for 6 years and has specialized in development with ASP.NET MVC. He loves writing code and creating solutions. Above all, he loves his wife and children and the lord Jesus Christ.

John P. Doran

John P. Doran is a technical game designer who has been creating games for over 10 years. He has worked on an assortment of games in teams from just himself to over 70 in student, mod, indie, and professional projects.

He previously worked at LucasArts on Star Wars 1313 as a game design intern. He later graduated from DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, WA, with a Bachelor of Science in Game Design.

John is currently a software engineer at DigiPen's Singapore campus and is tutoring and assisting students with difficulties in computer science concepts, programming, linear algebra, game design, and advanced usage of UDK, Flash, and Unity in a development environment.

This is his third book after UDK iOS Game Development Beginner's Guide and Mastering UDK Game Development, both of which are also available from Packt Publishing.

He can be found online at http://johnpdoran.com and can be contacted at john@johnpdoran.com.

Books From Packt


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Grome Terrain Modeling with Ogre3D, UDK, and Unity3D

Mastering UDK Game Development
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Unreal Development Kit Game Programming with UnrealScript: Beginner's Guide
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Unreal Development Kit Game Design Cookbook
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