How to create a basic game environment

In the first of a six-part series, Andrew Finch explains how to create a professional-looking environment for a video game.

game environment

Being in the games industry you have to stay constantly up to date with the latest technology and techniques, otherwise you will very quickly 
find that your skillset becomes out of date and you will struggle to keep up with the work being offered. It's very competitive, and studios are always trying to outdo one another to find new ways to work.

Be inspired by these amazing examples of 3D art

The industry is at the dawn of new technology with the next generation of consoles now on the shelves, and video game studios are developing new tech to get the best they can out of the hardware.

gaming environment 2

Here I will guide you through the process of creating a professional portfolio piece, in this case, a realistic environment. Following my tutorial you will be able to create a strong portfolio piece in a short space of time, with very basic assets, using the brand new Unreal Engine 4. I will also cover modelling of modular assets and exporting them into Unreal Engine, texturing in Photoshop and setting up the PBS shaders in Unreal to apply to the assets.

First, we'll look at how to model and prep modular pieces. Here are the assets you'll need:

01. Model the garage door

step 1 gaming

I use simple modelling techniques such as extrude, connect edges and chamfer. I tend not to get too complicated with my meshes as I put my attention into the material and lighting side of things.

Using a biped as a scale guide, cut in the necessary details to block out the form of the garage door asset. An important part is to chamfer the edges: this removes the harsh edges and allows the surface to catch the light more naturally, giving us a better final image.

02. Model the windows

step 2 gaming

Next, create a row of windows quickly using the Connect tool and dividing the surface by 10 to give you 10 window panes. Then select all of the polys and use the Bevel tool to create the frame.

Change the method from Group to Poly so each poly is affected independently, then adjust the outline and height settings to build the frame. Use the Bevel tool again to create the depth of the frame.

03. Build the complete scene

step 3 gaming

I use these same methods to create the whole scene. I don't model too much detail as I will be placing the detail meshes in Unreal Editor. I'm just interested in the main building at this point, and doing a rough layout to make sure my composition will be good when reconstructing the scene in the editor.

I will revert back to this Max file when assembling the scene in the editor, making sure I don't veer off track.

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