UT3 DM-Shaolin 01

This is the first post in a series of many where I’ll be posting updates on my progress creating a small Unreal Tournament 3 level using UT3’s Asian assets. I picked “Shaolin” as an extremely cheesy name and decided upon a castle/temple on a cliff at the edge of a waterfall. I got my idea from looking at CTF-Relfection, a map which i’ll be taking most my cues from.

I made some sketches first, just to put down on paper what the general thing would look like:

sketch001 sketch002

After that I drew a quick map, nothing too accurate. Some things changed going from the sketches to the map already. I made the main building wider, spaced the central buildings apart and decided the gate to be larger. Most of the parts of my map are in some way based on parts of CTF- Reflection. Here’s my rough floorplan with screenshots of the locations from CTF-Reflection:


With the plan done, I started blocking out my level in the editor. I looked for the waterfall mesh and some rock meshes which I could use. Having two editors open at the same time helped me find assets used in CTF-Reflection, so I could then place them in my level (not recommended on weak pc’s!). I didn’t use BSP for this, since these are really big meshes that really define the level. After that I used BSP brushes and a few more meshes to get a basic layout done. Here’s how I currently stand:



You can already see a problem here; the waterfall mesh isn’t made to connect with a waterplane behind it, so I’ll have to create a new waterfal mesh and probably change the material(s) as well.

Environment inspiration websites

So, since I got this handy online bookmark plugin for Firefox, I can start making more use of bookmarks. Usually I’d just lose all of them after a format.
Just now I found out about or remembered a few great inspiring websites:

(they do seem to reference each other a lot)

Really makes me want to create something after the stuff they post!


Normal baking and 3DS Max Tangent basis

During my Skorpion SMG project, I did a lot of normalmap baking. The baking itself really is the most tedious process for me, reaally slows me down a lot, even compared to UV’ing which a lot of people find horrible (I think it’s quite easy if you have TexTools and Unwrap Tools).
Every cage needs an hour of tweaking in my case (I group things into 4-5 big objects) and then still requires overpainting and fixing of normalmaps in Photoshop. I did find out a few things while baking in Max and xNormal:

  • Max uses an incorrect tangent basis to compute the normalmaps from. This results in the maps not working 100% correctly when viewed realtime with a shader. They do look ok when rendered, but that’s pretty useless for a game-artist.
  • xNormal does use the correct tangent basis, but is a bit tricky to set up. Biggest letdown was the lack of supersampling in xNormal, which leads to artifacts on baked maps. Max has no issue due to samplers like 2.5 Star or Hammersley. Santiago from xNormal did tell me he’s going to add supersampling in the next release!

In conclusin: big ups for Santiago, he’s areally great guy and it’s not the first time he’s been really helpfull and responsive to me. On the other side, boo on Autodesk for not fixing this issue for … years!