Arcade Environment Remake, Update 6

General / 16 August 2018

Lots of progress was made yesterday. I sent the scene around to a few places to get some feedback, including friends and the Dinusty Empire server and came out with some new changes I'm going to move forward on.

Wow this place has changed a lot hasn't it?~ I added some more guys so I could triple check all of my model scales. Most of them are where I want them. But as you can see, the room layout has also changed a bit. I've moved a lot of the machines since the left side of the room was beginning to overpower the rest of the scene. I'll likely add some more trash and wrappers to the floor, similar to my old scene to help liven up the carpet. I've also changed the ceiling to panels and incorporated Splines into my workflow.

I've also added a banner which needs a bit more work. I used Ncloth in Maya to make a quick simulation but might go into Marvelous Designer if I feel I need something fancier. It's pretty flat right now, so I'll add some girth to it when I texture.

Nothing too fancy, but it allows me to fool with pipes and the ceiling guards without placing each model by hand, which saves a bit of time when I'm fooling with them. Wires from the machines are still required, so I'll use this BP to make more of them to help fill dead space.

Alongside the splines, the pipes and supports aren't the only things I've changed with the upper part. It has a brand new ceiling!

It's nothing super fancy, just a tile sampler with noises blended in for a tiny bit of variation. I used a directional Warp to help make sure each tile was more varied. Every little bit helps! Substance Designer is great for making these quick little textures.

The other thing I've done is start to figure out what I want the final lighting to look like. I did my first pass with the Post Process and came out with something like this

It definitely makes the colors pop a bit more. It's still prone to adjustment but for a first pass I'm satisfied.

On the new Arcade Machines and Coin Machine, it's more using textures I already have bases for, so after that it's just micro detailing. It's starting to come together in a way I like!

Update! 8-14-18

General / 14 August 2018

I've been working on the Portfolio and updated Kindled Dreams and my Metra Train projects. Arcade has been delayed since I was helping a close family member move and working on some stuff in Substance Designer. I'll have a post before the week is out.

Arcade Environment Remake, Update 5

General / 08 August 2018

Hey I actually got a Blog Post out on time! Things are going pretty swimmingly on this project. I think I'm starting to figure out an endpoint for the product now that I've got most of the larger meshes complete. As of right now, the only two big things left to texture are the Coin Machine and the final Arcade Machine.

But first, big changes have happened since last time.

 While the lighting isn't final, I've spent most of the week refining the upper and lefthand sections of the scene. I've added a completely new counter and have begun to start populating it with small props. I'm much happier with the first pass at it as it helps to make the lefthand side of the screen more interesting. I was considering adding some more big props to the floor but once I add more posters, I'll want a centralized spot for the viewer's eyes to rest.

Lets go over some of the new changes made to the scene.

The first big change I made was to the counter itself, and added some smudging to the glass. The side by side below shows the difference along with the changed assets. I thought the register was in a bit of a strange spot before with it's angle, so I moved it to a different part of the counter to make it less cluttered. The Popcorn Boxes were just opacity masks in designer, a very quick one two punch node setup. The cooler with the sodas was provided to help fill the new counter spaces.

In addition, I never really liked my new light fixtures, so I decided to go back to the old similar lights I had in my old scene. I think the interesting wavy shapes and the brighter colors make for a more interesting visual. Since the colors I used before were pink green and blue, they help to form a white light and can provide emissive color without overpowering the other palettes. Note to self, don't go insane with Bloom this time, as a primary problem with the Post Process in the last scene was I was far too heavy handed with it.

One asset that's gotten a bit lost is the ticket machine, I'll be doing some light cleanup once we near the end of the scene. With only a few more assets like left to clean up the place, It won't be long till we're onto lighting and then finishing the exterior of the scene. I've added some smudging to the windows but I'll have to move it around a bit and make it a bit more prominent.

Thats all for this update! Next update the goal is all the textures and models being done!

Arcade Environment Remake, Update 4

General / 31 July 2018

Wowee it's been a while hasn't it? Well I've been busy with iD Tech but FINALLY camp is over! Since then I've been combing over the scene and getting feedback from some friends about little changes and things to go over when I'm adjusting the scene.

The first thing I've done that is incredibly notable is scrap the previous concrete wall texture for something with a little more volume. I decided after looking through some images and being out at Chinese food one day that Bricks would be a better alternative since they are darker, have texture breakup, and are overall a bit less plain and should spice up the room without making it more distracting. Thanks a to a lovely tutorial from Josh Lynch that my friend Daniel Brown so graciously directed me to, I followed it along and then made many adjustments to make the bricks more my own for my own scene. Below is the finished wall product.

And the graph below, again the base of the tutorial was heavily modified to make them more my own.

In addition to all that, there have been lots of changes in the lefthand side of the room!

First of all, the Unreal guy has been added into the scene to help me get a better sense of scale for the environment. I've been working primarily with him inside of Maya, but adding him to the scene itself gives a lot better sense of how big my objects need to be.

Second, the Popcorn Machine received another overhaul. I wasn't too happy with parts of it, so I got some feedback and was able to tweak it so it is more acceptable. I've also added some  new things to the counter, which I think as an asset I'm going to overhaul for the next update. I feel like it's too distracting and I can make it a bit fancier. I also added a register to the mix to go alongside the machine, helping to make the space look a bit more occupied. Fooling with the sizes a bit more, but that will likely be adjusted again by the next update with the new counter.

Speaking of the Counter, I did some work underneath and started filling the baskets with prizes. I made a special material in Substance Designer for them, with an Opacity Mask for holes. The graph is below

And with the graph applied to the material. I set up a Material Instance that allows me to Lerp between different tears and folds in the paper, along with the pictured number, this allowed me to only use a few different albedos and opacity masks to get the desired effects i want. Still deciding what I want to put in all the baskets for now!

I ended up spending a day or so just refining things around this corner. I want to make sure it gets a nice bit of detail in it since there are a lot more small assets and since the camera angle lends it to being closer to the foreground. Once I have the entire counter section done, its time to move back onto the big machines for some more hearty textures.

Updates will be a lot more frequent now that work is done! So thank you to all who have read this and keep checking back for more!

Arcade Environment Remake, Update 3

General / 09 July 2018

I've been hard at work working on some textures for the scene. Here's the basic setup I have with some of the main assets blocked in. I've decided for now to focus on the interior. I lowered the ceiling a bit more and also moved around some of the assets. Here's the first glance of the room and composition with zero lights.

I haven't finished texturing every asset, but I did want to try and focus more attention in the center of the room, using the bright colors of the machines and more greys. The next step after establishing the composition, I can see certain parts that need more detail. The model of the counter likely needs to be overhauled, given how the glass and containers for the game corner prizes don't have the required space that the eye would be drawn to. The top shelf is too close to the roof of the windows. As well as that, the light designs seem a bit too plain for the space.

To go along with all those model changes, more additional textures like mentioned above will be required. Speaking of Textures, I decided to go into Substance Designer a bit to get myself the texture for the ceiling as pictured above. Below is the graph I made quickly. It took about 10 minutes to create this material. I wanted it to be simple and tileable, and am content with the result.

I also made a simple concrete for the wall

Afterwards I worked on some more textures as pictured. I decided to make one Arcade Machine to start, and can move around the textures to copy for the other machines. If I want to change the joystick setups, I can simple delete the static mesh parts without moving my UV's, which saves me time in the long run.

With the machines, I think its important to make sure to get the sort of reflectiveness in the screens that cause them to glow and cause slight illumination. The screens themselves are emissives, but one thing I noticed as I put these assets together for the next post is that I need to push the screens further in so I can create the reflective surface, since normally the screens are indented further inside.

I placed a few lights in to start to feel out the scene but it needs a ton of work. After all the assets are polished up and textured, I can get to work on seriously lighting the scene. By having a few lights in to begin with, the material metals begin to shine through and allow me more understanding of how the light bounces. From here I can see the roof and the pipe might be way too shiny, and that the sign needs emit less glow regardless.

Thats all for this first pass. I have a lot of things on the bucket list for the next update, so I'll be focusing on those for the next post!

My bucket list includes for the next update
-Finishing the other Arcade Machine texture
-Fixing the Counter to make it less cluttered where the prizes are, as well as refining the glass
-Readding an Opacity mask on the light atop the SkeeBall Machine
-Adding more ceiling fixtures
-Adding Popcorn to the Popcorn Machine
-Texture the Coin Machine

After that, it's all cleanup on textures, and then lighting!

Arcade Environment Remake, Update 2

Work In Progress / 27 June 2018

It's been over a week, and this blog post is late due to me passing out from working at ID Tech almost every night. However whenever I came home I tried to get a little bit done on this piece. With my job taking up most of my time, I feel like I've been glancing over some important details.

I began gathering reference images related to some more neon areas. I prefer the scene to be moody and let a lot of the lights of the emissive neons do their work, Since the scene is an interior, I didn't gather many references for the exterior, but still went through the process of grabbing a few glances from the outside.

After looking over the images, I think the two images on the top are more representative of what I want to see in the environment from the exterior. Since however I enjoy the large windows in the bottom right image, I think I'm going to use to bring some natural light into the scene, where before the very little natural light i had was purely through the blind shudders of the Arcade before. Alongside the lighting from the machines, I've assembled a small moodboard of interiors to see the different forms of unnatural light and layouts of the machine.

Some of the things that stuck out to me are the carpets, ceiling tiles, and the ventilation in the images above. I like the dark blue of the carpets as it matches my old one and gives me an idea of how the floor lighting can be dimmed along, given the patch of light in the upper right image showcasing how the carpet doesn't seem to catch all that much light. The machines and cabinets are very similar to each other, so for now I think i'll be focusing on the simple machines and making a more small corner to the arcade. This time instead of going for quantity, I should be focusing on quality. I'll be limiting myself to four machines, my skeeball machine, which needs only a retexture, My Arcade cabinets, and the coin machine.

The Coin machine model I believe was one of the weakest parts of the previous scene, so I made a more divisive moodboard for it.

The Coin Machine is one of the machines that I'm most interested in remodeling due to it's complex shape and the fact that I'm a much better modeler than I was back when I first started this project. So with all my reference images in hand, it's time to get back to work. I decided to first focus on multiple machines, redoing their models since they had high polycounts before and since I've gotten a lot better at modeling, wanted to fix a lot of the wacky topology that occupied them. Below I have the side by sides of the more complex models, or ones that saw a drastic decrease in Polys compared to the old ones. The Coin Machine pictured below was the most different compared to before, as I was much less careless with Edge Loops and have a better understanding of snapping and vertices.
The process of making the Coin Machine was using the 6 sided Cylinder, and then snapping objects by 60 degrees when rotating in Maya, along with using Component for extrusions to make sure all the sides were evenly spaced. I would use snapping UV stacking to make sure my shells were all even, so I could keep up with the symmetry of the product and not have different edge flows on multiple sides. I also chose to not bevel as much, since the natural shape of the object carried through, and spent the poly budget on making the metal railing cases.

Below are some other models that had too many polygons prior.

Reducing the polycount of the Arcade Machine was incredibly important since in my previous scene they were repeated 18 times. It was a lot of unneeded polygons, given that I shaved over 2k off each one, saving almost 40k polys.

The ticket Machine also now Isnt all one object, making it much less ugly.

While not entirely visible, the changes to the Popcorn Machine are on the pot, getting rid of unneeded bevels to reduce the polycount by 1000.

After that, I made several other assets that I felt were required for the scene, redoing small ones. Below is the initial pass at the modular kit, with more models to be added as I deem them necessary.

After a while I created this kit of assets. More are likely to be added after the initial scene setup, but I wanted to figure out the arcade machines before going to the ceiling, which is where a lot of time will be spent lighting. I really like the exposed ventilation in one of my reference images, and think it would be fun to play around with some of the funky lights that could spruce up the scene with neon colors. I think lights that are most subject to change are my round lights, which I've swapped my ceiling for for simplicity sake. Yay for iteration!

I then blocked the scene out in Maya to get a grasp of what I want it to look like.

I took the Unreal Engine man out because I could use him for scale, and plopped him in the scene. An observation I made is the ceiling might be way too high for what I'm going for, and the posters dont seem to scale. I decided to adjust a bit before deciding to import some assets into Unreal and try to do a base lighting test before going further, to see if that affects the spaciousness of the room.

I focused mainly on the directional and skylight of the room, with a point light where the neon sign was. Without materials, it's hard for me to get an accurate reading, but figured it was a good start since it let me check for lightmapping errors, and get the window shadow to cast as I wanted it too. In addition, I moved the ceiling down slightly and scaled a few posters differently so they didnt seem out of place. The overall composition might need some work, so that's my next focus is assembling everything properly.

I'm moving to some texturing next week, so I'll have some more updates by then! I think this blog is helping me spot some mistakes and shortcomings I made, and it's good to let me see the progress tracking. Any feedback is welcome since I'm working on this between my days at ID Tech!


Arcade Environment Remake, Update 1

Work In Progress / 15 June 2018

Back in late 2016, I began an Environment based on an old Arcade called Nickel City that I visited in Northbrook Illinois. It's a rather old place, with a crusty interior and some of the most archaic machines. I often visited the place when I was young since admission was a dollar and the currency was Nickels, often making many games cost less than a quarter. Five dollars can buy you quite a bit of entertainment for a modern day place like that, as well as the large amount of free to play games.

The old project, pictured below, was an alright start, but it has lots of problems. Lighting is one of them, as a lot of it is not properly gone over, with bloom being a primary problem with the scene.  It also lacks a lot of variation in the roughness and is moreso a scene that demonstrated quantity over quality. The composition could also be improved, so I will be dedicating time to fixing many of the assets whose topology was too high to begin with.

Below is the Original Project Screenshots, this will be the project I am improving and essentially redoing

Originally when working on this project, I had created a mood board of some of the assets. What I've learned since then is while having one for a general direction is good, keeping as many reference images on hand as possible is critical to the success of creating a more realistic piece. Many of these assets can be pushed much further, and that is this scene's biggest fault is that there's too much going on in it, and needs some more direction to help guide it. Below is the original Moodboard used for the version of the project pictured above.

Before I even begin looking for new references, I have many models that I felt could use improvements. Many of them have a lot of unneeded polygons and have edges that disrupt the flow of the models. Focusing on primarily these models first, I would like to first see how many polygons I can cut away, primarily on the game machines. Below is the model sheet with examples of most of the assets from the previous iteration of this project. 

Now that I've given some background on the piece and some things I want to improve upon it, I've already begun work on remodeling some of the assets and doing a blockout of the scene in Unreal Engine. I'll be making textures in Substance Painter and Substance Designer, instead of in Photoshop where I first textured this scene.

I'll post next week with a detailed breakdown of the work I have done on the scene so far and progress i've made.


The Rookies!

General / 07 May 2018

Rookies closes in a whole 3 weeks! If you guys haven't seen our game, go check it out! I was a producer and Environment Artist on the project.