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Follow a practical guide to building 3D cityscapes for games. IAuthor Adam Crespi constructs a city block in 3ds Max utilizing low-polygon modeling and advanced texturing techniques. The course shows how to model common city elements such as buildings, intersections, curbs, and roofs and explains how to expand a city quickly and easily by reusing existing geometry in a modular way. The course also sheds light on simulating real-world detail with baking, lighting, and ambient occlusion techniques and offers a series of best practices for exporting to the Unity gaming engine.
When you're making a game, there is an enormous amount that depends on texture. In every game we're limited in the amount of geometry or polygons we can have, and this is further constrained depending on where our platform is. If we are going out to a console, we may have even more limited resources than a PC. A small form such as a phone is even more constrained. We try to do a lot with texture and part of dealing with that is in 3ds Max before we get to a game engine, testing things out and finding out if you're truly painting the textures at the right size and if your mesh works for your game mechanic.
A great tool for this is to use the Walkthrough Assistant. The idea then is we can simulate gameplay. We have look around plus the standard game keys of W, A, S, and D for forward backward and side to side, giving us all the controls and constraints of a first-person shooter. We can test out not only the resolution of our textures, but also if our geometry works for the game mechanic. In this example, I've put together a warehouse quickly. It's a brick structure, two stories, with garage doors and windows on three sides and a large blank wall.
In this case we are looking at the front and one side and around the back we have three rollup doors. On the fourth side then it's effectively blank, probably a parking lot or something similar. We want to test and see if we duck into a doorway that our texture will be the right resolution. And also did we plan enough space and the geometry in, so it feels like we're ducking in. If we are playing in a game looking over this city, that game mechanic is far different than, let's say, ducking down an alley looking in trash cans or ducking into a doorway so somebody doesn't see you.
What I'll do for the Walkthrough Assistant is choose Animation > Walkthrough Assistant and it pulls up the Main Controls Walkthrough Assistant dialog. It creates a camera, either Free or Targeted. We can actually animate this on a path if we'd like, either picking a path or generating one. For now I just want to be able to use the camera and test it in the view and see if my geometry works and how close I'll be to things. I'll hit Create New Camera and it gives me Walkthrough_Cam001. I'll take this camera and move it down in on my scene.
For this example, I'm going to test if these large doorways are big enough I can duck in and really not see down the surface of the wall. I'll make sure my snap is off, pull the camera down and also look at the Lens Parameters in the camera. We can decide on the lens for a game, and it really affects the storytelling of it. Do we see a narrow view or a wide one? I am going to set mine to 28, which is not far off the human eye. That way I get a nice wide field of view and what looks like great depth in the scene. I'll put my camera fairly close to start and aim it over where I want to be.
Let's say I am walking up to the door and need to duck into this doorway. I'll hit C to go into the camera, so I can see from that perspective. Now I am ready to test. In the viewport controls on the lower right in the screen under the track is the Walkthrough Assistant button. Once you're in this mode, the cursor changes to a circle with a dot in the center. This simulates as you click and drag with the left mouse, the look-around of the player. The W, A, S and D keys simulate moving forward, backward, and side to side.
Here using W and A, I am going into the doorway, aligning with it and seeing if I can duck behind. It looks like I could duck into this doorway, out of sight from passersby. I'll use the D key to come to the side. The other thing I can tell by doing this is that if I can duck in the doorway here, I'm right next to this rollup door. And if I'm right next to this rollup door and seeing this frame straight on, that texture needs to be pretty good. I also possibly can be in a position like this, seeing this brick wall fairly close, maybe even turned over a little bit and to the side more.
So whatever I've got going on down here should look pretty decent as well as these windows. Coming farther back using S to scroll backwards here, I can see that I get pretty far away from the building to see the upper stories and brick up above that first window, so that texture if it's different, may need to be a little lower res, where I can get away with less texture. In this case this tells me as well that if I'm standing close to the building, I'm going to see a good expanse of this brick and this is a good place for a tileable texture, which we'll get into the next lessons.
The important thing is to test. We always want to go in and test as much as we can and plan what we're going to do. Rather than slapping something in and just revising, I'd rather know going in that well, I need a good rusty texture on this door and I am going to see that doorframe really close. That way I can do it right the first time and move on.
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