January was a busy month for the team. We achieved a lot of our goals behind the scenes, and began quite a lot more that’s still in progress and not ready to be shown. This month might feel a bit light, but rest assured we’ve got a lot in the works that we can’t wait to show you all soon! 🙂
One of the improvements that we’ve made to our modeling workflow, as well as performance, is using a texture sheet. This allows buildings to share the same textures and reduces the amount of materials a player’s computer has to render. We started this approach a few months ago, but we’ve finally retextured all of our old models. This process took some time because our modelers were also creating new building and prop models at the same time.
Another advantage of this approach is that it allows us to easily swap out textures and modify them non-destructively. Traditionally, any texture changes that would be made to a model would have to be rebaked each time for each model. However with our texture sheet, we can edit just one texture on the sheet, reimport it into the engine, and it will instantly update for all of our models. This will prove very advantageous when we swap out these placeholder materials for our own in-house work.
Another improvement that we’ve made to buildings is props. They’ve been a long time coming and they give much needed life to our models. Each construction stage has building materials and each destruction stage has destroyed or knocked over props. All of our completed buildings have been given this overhaul.
After refining our art direction a bit further, Halil (our 3D Art Director) took a brief step back from modeling our next unit to conceptualize our material creation workflow. The following materials are works-in-progress. You may also note that these materials lack a lot of the leaves, grunge, dirt, and overall atmosphere that our current placeholder materials have. Although some of this will still be added to these materials, we’ve decided to take a slightly different approach that should give our models a bit more character than they currently have. Moss, dirt, snow, etc. will instead be added in-engine based on weather/seasons and geography.
A key feature of our material workflow is non-destructibility. What this means is that everything from size, shape, color, and noise are all able to be changed without overwriting the original material. This is a fairly common workflow with substance (a professional texture creation and texture painting software) and will make our custom in-house materials more versatile than the placeholders we are currently working with.
The Shipyard serves two distinct purposes. The first is an additional source of food. Fishing boats can be trained here and sent to gather fish from the open seas. However, a shipyard is also needed to build and train transports and military ships. Thus, taking out an enemy shipyard kills two birds with one stone by disrupting resource collection and unit creation.
Will you lead your people on the high seas?
Here’s to a great year of development in 2019! We can’t wait to show you all what’s in store for 2020.