• Dev Blog #2: Inside Out

    "Imagery and information to get inspired"

    Hello my name is [TWDEV] Brrr and I am a modeller and texture artist on the Traction Wars Team. My work ranges from weapons and vehicles to buildings and other map related assets. Today I will be discussing the non-unique buildings as well as their potential to be used on multiple maps and multiple locations.

    On a standard map, numerous buildings are required to bring a location to life, both visually and also in the sense of game-play. If all the buildings in a map were enterable by a player, the result would be extremely chaotic a way around this issue is the creation of non-enterables buildings. Limiting the amount of enterables results in more focused game-play, but also saves time in the creation of buildings for villages and towns on the map.

    Enterable Buildings

    I lightly based the design of the building in the reference shown on the left - including particular noticeable features into the final model. The enterable house required in-depth modelling of individual rooms and corridors - paying special attention to maintaining enough space for players to flow throughout the building.

    An enterable building such as this would require several tileable textures, as mentioned in the last blog by Sir Apple, the Traction Wars team already has a growing library of its own custom textures, ranging from concrete, to wallpapers and roof tiles. Each texture is made to "tile" so we can re-use our high-quality textures across multiple buildings whilst saving memory by repeating the image in a grid pattern.

    Tileable textures have some disadvantages. As the image is used on multiple objects they can't be customised to the individual item, so for example you can't add those natural colour variations which you don't notice until they're missing.

    So when placed on an object and seen in-game they can appear to lack depth and can look one-dimensional. A way around this lack of specific detail is the use of vertex colouring. Vertex colouring allows us to add shades of colour to our models that are used in combination with our shared textures in-game rather than having a special texture for every building.

    The (nearly) finished building with some finishing touchs added

    Non-Enterable Buildings
    Not every building should be entered by the player as mentioned earlier. Non-enterable buildings will make up the bulk of houses in most dense groups of properties. A village like Lebisey for example might contain 1/3rd enterable scattered strategically throughout with the remainder non-enterable. Modelling and texturing processes for non-enterable are the same but without the need for much interior modelling.

    For this next building I decided to source references using street view and looked through the roads and streets of Rue de Epron - the modern day location where Lebisey was situated. I settled on this particular unique looking building as the basis of the final model.

    "Creating the illusion of an interior"

    The main difficulty that needs be overcome with non enterable buildings is the task of creating the illusion of an interior but ensuring player readability i.e. the player must be able to identify a structure as enterable or non enterable without being too intrusive. Some games have fully reflective surfaces on windows that do not allow any hint at what is inside the non-enterable, however with our current set we decided to experiment with an alternative method. Using vertex colours and models, I made a very basic interior and artificially darkened it with vertex colours. I then added curtains to the windows edges to obscure a little of the view. Finally, the glass material was made and the glass was given a dark diffuse and a very subtle transparency. The result is subtle, but is instantly recognizable as a non enterable building instead of an enterable one.

    The finished non-enterable building

    That it for this time but if you have liked what you have seen and would like to share your thoughts about the game or just get involved in the community you can visit our forums. You can also keep up-to-date with current development and news via the social networking links below.

    Don't forget that we are still looking for talented individuals to join us on the team, so if you think you might have what it takes or if you are just curious then you can check out our recruitment page for full details.
    13 Comments Comments
    1. calgoblin's Avatar
      calgoblin -
      Does this mean you can recreate my house just from Google maps?
    1. brrr's Avatar
      brrr -
      Does this mean you can recreate my house just from Google maps?
      Indeed . Well from one angle at least, need to hypothesis what the other side/back would look like.
    1. _Franky_'s Avatar
      _Franky_ -
      Good stuff! The decals and the vertex mapping really bring that nice finish to it.
    1. AutumnWind's Avatar
      AutumnWind -
      Great work can't wait to see more!
    1. Roughbeak's Avatar
      Roughbeak -
      Is it possible to fix these "404 image errors"? Thanks.
    1. litchu's Avatar
      litchu -
      Is it possible to fix these "404 image errors"? Thanks.
      That'd be nice
    1. calgoblin's Avatar
      calgoblin -
      @General_Naga has been working on the image caching here on the forums. It's a WIP so I expect they'll return shortly once he's allowed time away from work to think!
    1. General Naga's Avatar
      General Naga -
      Well spotted @litchu. As @calgoblin says we're working on image caching for the site at the moment which should make a marked difference to the loading time of the site, we're still ironing out a few little specific issues. You should be be able to view the images now
    1. litchu's Avatar
      litchu -
      Wasn't me, it was Roughbeak

      They work in the post now but I noticed brrr's signature image isn't working, so you're not done yet sadly
    1. General Naga's Avatar
      General Naga -
      Oops! Sorry @Roughbeak - thank you

      There are a couple of image hosts which are proving troublesome but also some 404 images are genuine missing files. We will get there in the end
    1. litchu's Avatar
      litchu -
      Wish @volcol would lose his signature image..

      Goodluck anyway!
    1. Feldmeijer's Avatar
      Feldmeijer -
      Aha! So it wasn't my computer after all.
    1. Miller786's Avatar
      Miller786 -
      Yea i was suspecting the same thing lol