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Modeling for Game Engines

Modeling for Game Engines

In this series we explore the fundamentals of 3D Modelling with Real-Time rendering technologies for use cases in the Enterprise sector and the Entertainment sector.

This is the first in the list of talks from the Team at TILTLABS. This article will be in two parts, with the first part dealing with Industrial Modelling and efficient methods to streamline production and app development.

Game Engines have come a long way overcoming a lot of constraints; at its present state it is a fully functional software suite that enables both enterprises and content creators to create a whole segment of applications. The growth and extent of its use has also increased exponentially in the past few years ever since the advancements in real-time rendering and XR (Extended Reality- AR, VR, MR). With a

At TILTLABS we have two separate divisions that utilizes the power of game engines- our Enterprise segment and our Entertainment segment. Our enterprise segment consists of a team of developers and digital artists that recreate interactive scenarios that can be used as training simulations for a variety of purposes.

What is 3D Modelling?

This is simply the process of creating a three dimensional object inside of a simulated software. These objects consist of polygons — this is one triangle when coupled together forming a complete 3D model.

Digital artists come in various forms these days. We have 2D artists who provide concepts and illustrations, and then we have 3D artists who transfer these concepts to 3D models which can then be used in Game Engines for games or any other interactive simulations.

Types of 3D Models

Depending on the type of realism of the model that you want to achieve 3D artists usually swap between high poly and low poly models. These terms are self explanatory — a high poly model consists of a higher polycount and a low poly model consists of a lower poly count. Even though high poly models look and feel better without an optimized workflow this would create issues when importing into a game engine.

In this image we wanted to create an interactive tour of an apartment complex. The first step in this process was to conceptualize the app’s flow and create a customer journey. Using these story boards our 3D artists were able to re-create the models in its most basic form so that developers could get a quick start with integrating them directly into the app for testing.

After an initial concept is fixed our 3D artists recreate a blockout of it in low poly to test its optimization for actual use cases.

Render and export times can be affected by a lot of different factors especially if the art assets used aren’t optimized for a specific work flow. This is why it is crucial that artists collaborate with each other during every step to avoid constant iteriations.

Texturing

Simply put, texturing is the process of applying depth by adding colors and details to a 3D model. Like modeling, texturing for use in a game engine is pretty much similar to other mediums but there are some rules of thumbs to follow.

Types of Texture Maps used

  1. Diffuse: This is the most common kind of texture map and it defines the color and pattern of the object.
  2. Normal Map: This is a type of texture that stores a direction at each pixel, which are called normals (the red, green, and blue channels of the image are used to control the direction of each pixel’s normal), and this gives the illusion of a greater detail in your model. Normal maps are used on most objects since they give the illusion that objects in a scene have more details than they actually do.
  3. Specular Map: As it suggests Specular maps is used to add ‘specularity’ or ‘how an object shines’. It is usually black and white or in grayscale. These maps are not always used , but when we have objects that are reflective in some areas these maps would be used as it allows for a strong level of variations.

Applications

At TILTLABS we build enterprise applications mainly in AR, VR, and MR. Our notable expertise lies with factually recreating products in the digital space so that a common person can interact with it and recieve instant feedback. We’ve noticed that building AR applications is the best way to achieve this.

The most important part to remember when modelling industrial equipments is that showcasing its functionalities is more important than the asset’s story.

Delivering applications in the enterprise segment requires a quick turn over as needs of the client can vary frequently. This is why it is important to adopt a flexible pipeline in asset creation so that apps can be developed and tested faster.

Larger Scale Enviornments

This is the stairway of a chemical refinery plant that had to be replicated in Virtual Reality in actual scale

Art is always a collaborative process between a group of people, and when recreating sketches into models it is imperative that the entire output looks and resembles as intended.

The above image is from an application we had to develop demonstrating a walkthorugh for an industrial plant. The main challenge we faced here was recreating the model to actual scale, i.e, modelling a plant and its assets in real-world scale. Usually when undertaking a project the main challenges to overcome are:

  1. Consistency: When a group of people model a project of this scale it is important that the art style (photo realism in this case) matches every corner in this particular scene. Every artist has their own style; for a user in a virtual world it is more than common that they would recognize this inconsistencies when presented the entire enviornment.
  2. Timeframe: When dealing with an enviornment of this scale it is easy to get absorbed in the work that we feel every detail should matter. This increases the project scope and meeting deadlines wouldn’t be possible.

In an interactive enviornment we have the freedom to define where all a user can move and what all they can interact with. Keeping this mind, it is simple to focus on key-areas in the enviornment where we know the user will look in detail and where the user won’t look at.

A perfect solution for this was to create modular pieces from references and use artists to assemble them individually. This makes sure that the art style is consistent and the time frame doesn’t increase.

Modular pieces are common elements found throughout a model that can be assembled together in any way to create a variety of shapes.


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