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Creating Urban Game Environments in 3ds Max
Illustration by Mark Todd

Using the Walkthrough Assistant to assess texture needs


From:

Creating Urban Game Environments in 3ds Max

with Adam Crespi

Video: Using the Walkthrough Assistant to assess texture needs

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.
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  1. 4m 47s
    1. Welcome
      55s
    2. Understanding the design process
      47s
    3. What you should know before watching this course
      14s
    4. Software requirements
      47s
    5. Using the exercise files
      2m 4s
  2. 14m 36s
    1. Identifying key contours and shadows in concept art
      1m 59s
    2. Analyzing concept art for texture
      2m 28s
    3. Choosing between modeling and texturing
      1m 43s
    4. Understanding the limitations of normal maps
      2m 26s
    5. Analyzing concept art for key shadow details
      3m 10s
    6. Identifying shadow details as generated or painted
      2m 50s
  3. 44m 57s
    1. Planning the visible overlaid history in a city
      3m 6s
    2. Planning a "wedding cake" building: Base, middle, and top
      2m 50s
    3. Planning a modern building: Base and shaft
      3m 1s
    4. Designing the zoning: Planning the visible uses of buildings
      6m 43s
    5. Laying out city blocks
      2m 36s
    6. Planning modular textures and geometry: Streets and sidewalks
      4m 1s
    7. Texturing intersections
      3m 13s
    8. Modeling modular curbs, gutters, and ramps
      5m 7s
    9. Modeling modular street elements
      3m 14s
    10. Modeling corners with ramps
      5m 56s
    11. Unwrapping sidewalk elements
      5m 10s
  4. 38m 9s
    1. Laying out rectangles and planning how to clone geometry and texture
      4m 59s
    2. Using layers to organize construction elements and actual models
      3m 51s
    3. Extruding edges to form major shadow lines
      5m 17s
    4. Testing the module for correct floor-to-floor heights
      1m 41s
    5. Trimming down the module and cloning
      4m 10s
    6. Stretching the vertical elements to minimize geometry
      7m 10s
    7. Unwrapping the elements for correct proportion
      7m 48s
    8. Laying out a texture sheet for a façade
      3m 13s
  5. 39m 50s
    1. Making brick texture
      6m 23s
    2. Adding detail to the diffuse texture: Sills and arches
      4m 24s
    3. Adding stone accents
      7m 47s
    4. Layering color in window frames and doorways
      8m 39s
    5. Copying diffuse layers for normal map foundations
      2m 7s
    6. Desaturating the diffuse map copies and prepping for normal maps
      3m 42s
    7. Converting bump maps to normal maps using nDO
      6m 48s
  6. 1h 2m
    1. Analyzing the necessary silhouette and geometry
      5m 24s
    2. Examining existing buildings in different lighting conditions
      3m 8s
    3. Planning cornice elements
      3m 32s
    4. Extruding cornice elements from polygon edges
      9m 12s
    5. Assigning smoothing groups for optimal shading
      4m 31s
    6. Unwrapping cornices for lighting
      8m 43s
    7. Modeling sloped roofs
      7m 16s
    8. Adding fascias and soffits
      5m 21s
    9. Adding fascias and soffits for gable ends
      7m 31s
    10. Texture sheets for roofs
      8m 1s
  7. 13m 55s
    1. Arranging, aligning, and cloning modular elements
      3m 26s
    2. Setting pivot points for buildings
      5m 48s
    3. Reusing elements: Exploring possibilities in modular building design
      4m 41s
  8. 40m 3s
    1. Creating a texture library
      36s
    2. Creating rusty corrugated metal texture
      7m 53s
    3. Creating stone texture
      4m 42s
    4. Creating wood texture
      9m 50s
    5. Creating rough brick texture
      7m 44s
    6. Creating roads
      9m 18s
  9. 38m 44s
    1. Using the Walkthrough Assistant to assess texture needs
      4m 46s
    2. Drawing detail at the right size
      3m 30s
    3. Understanding tiling and non-tiling textures
      2m 57s
    4. Deciding when to use tiling and non-tiling textures
      3m 2s
    5. Using multiple mapping coordinates
      4m 3s
    6. Using multiple unwrap modifiers
      6m 47s
    7. Unwrapping objects a second time: Planning an unwrap for a light map
      7m 46s
    8. Unwrapping a building façade using overlapping texture elements
      5m 53s
  10. 30m 25s
    1. Understanding ambient occlusion
      1m 50s
    2. Assessing the quality of occlusion as a cinematic mood
      2m 48s
    3. Overview of the Ambient Occlusion shader
      5m 9s
    4. Baking maps using the Render To Texture dialog
      3m 15s
    5. Using occlusion as a foundation for dirt
      5m 28s
    6. Using occlusion from detailed models for texture
      5m 54s
    7. Baking lighting
      6m 1s
  11. 25m 18s
    1. Preparing for Unity as a world builder
      2m 26s
    2. Importing into Unity and recognizing limitations
      4m 12s
    3. Importing elements with detailed materials
      5m 59s
    4. Setting optimal texture sizes and resizing in Unity
      3m 12s
    5. Setting up a naming convention and scene management
      7m 40s
    6. Renaming tools in 3ds Max
      1m 49s
  12. 1m 21s
    1. What's next
      1m 21s

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Creating Urban Game Environments in 3ds Max
5h 54m Intermediate Sep 07, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the design process and software requirements
  • Analyzing concept art for texture and key shadow detail
  • Planning differently styled buildings
  • Laying out city blocks
  • Organizing construction elements and models using layers
  • Cloning geometry and texture
  • Testing the module for correct floor-to-floor heights
  • Arranging, aligning and cloning modular elements
  • Building a texture library
  • Creating stone, wood, and brick textures
  • Constructing texture sheets
  • Drawing detail
  • Using occlusion as a foundation for dirt
  • Preparing for Unity as a world builder
Subjects:
3D + Animation Modeling Rendering Game Design
Software:
3ds Max
Author:
Adam Crespi

Using the Walkthrough Assistant to assess texture needs

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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