Finally got my roof pieces done, so this blog is pretty much all about them and what I plan to do next. Still not best of friends with Zbrush, but I can sculpt just enough detail to get by. For example, the above model is my finished sculpt for the ornaments on one of my rooftop pieces. It may look very unfinished, but considering the distance you'll see the ornaments from, I felt it was adequate and didn't need to get carried away with it. Below is some more sculpts - again I just wanted to get in the main details that'll come through on a 512x512 normal map. I read some articles on Zbrush in the Vertex online mag (a great free Game Artist magazine you can download here), and learnt that the Trim Dynamic and Dam Standard brush are great for sculpting stuff like cracks and dents in things.
On Tuesday we had the great Mike Pickton come in to give some talks and give us feedback on our FMPs. It was great to hear that he really likes the idea of my project and could tell just from the whitebox the style i was going for, without having to show him my inspirations folder. It was also reassuring to know that he agreed with my method of building the level, with interchangeable textures and stuff, saying that I've really thought out how to use texture and engine techniques to keep my drawcalls to a minimum.
He also pointed out stuff to be wary of in-engine, stuff I was planning to do, like vertex painting, and also things I didn't, like how shadow banding issues are caused on walls that are almost parallel to the direction the sun is projecting light. Because the shadow maps work on pixel/vertex depth from one another (or something like that), the angle the pixel/vertices are from one another jumps greatly due to the angle, causing the shadow map to become quite ugly and stripey. He said I can fix this simply by altering the direction the offending mesh faces, or by upping the shadow map resolution.
I also remembered during texturing that the drop shadow layer style is absolutely fantastic for creating cracks and chips, which was really useful for making my roof tiles look old and well-worn.
For the gold on my rooftop pieces I read that to do gold well in 3DS Max, the diffuse should be completely black and the spec should do most of the work (like below, and I had a gloss map too which I made completely white as gold is obviously very reflective), so I tried this method and exported it to CryEngine. Unfortunately it looked really ugly so I've left that for now while I work on other things, and I'll have to ask Max about it, as I know he made some nice gold material for his FMP in CryEngine last year.
Finally, some shots of my roof pieces in-engine. I started to place them on my existing building, but this took ages and still didn't line up correctly. I don't want to have to do this sort of manual tweaking with every single building I place, so tomorrow I'm going to sit down and properly plan out how to best build lots of varied, but quick and efficient buildings. It's not so bad on ground level as as long as the unwrap is good, things can be whatever size I want them to, but it's when it comes to placing the tiles and possibly windows that it gets messy. I've made the roof pieces to be exactly 1m long, so hopefully it will just be a case of ensuring that the roof of each building conforms to a X-meter by X-meter ratio.