Let’s talk about last minute entries. The neon challenge had come to my attention in December. Considering that I had no particular experience working around 3D environments, I found the challenge to be intimidating and therefore did not think much of it. However, a few interesting and inviting ideas seemed to pop up randomly in my mind. After a great idea came to mind, I decided to humbly start working on this project. The environment I have created is inspired by the Kardashev scale and Dyson’s sphere hypothesis. I haven’t based my project on any concept art. I prefer working this way as it allows me to gradually build on an idea.
The Kardashev scale is a method of measuring a civilization's level of technological advancement. The scale categorizes civilizations based on the amount of energy they can harness and utilize. Nikolai Kardashev proposed this idea back in 1964 and identified three levels of classifications in his papers. For those wondering, humans have not yet ranked up to level 1, which is the type of civilization that can harness all the possible energy found on their home planet. A type 2 civilization would be able to harness most if not all of the energy from its star and a type 3 would be control thee energy of its entire host galaxy. What a type 2 civilization would be likely using to absorb the energy of its star is a Dyson sphere or a Dyson Swam, a magastructure surrounding a sun in order to capture its energy.
My name is George Kairis, I am a graduate student at Athens School of Fine Arts and this is my entry for the neon challenge.
Setting up the scene
I have started working on this project a week ago. The first thing I did was create the sun. The result would determine whether I would carry on working on the project. I purchased Human’s unit star generation asset and I was quite impressed by the results I had just by using it for such a short period of time.
About the construction
In order to come up with the basic shape of the construction that would enclose the sun, I created an editor tool that helped me spawn game objects around it, in various alignments and configurations. I am not an expert on coding however for an afternoon’s work, the tool proved to be very helpful in creating the shape. The rest of the construction was easy to complete, as a simple search using the keyword ‘space’ on the asset store, provided me with plenty of results to go with.
The next step was to add the planets. Alexander Lindt’s Super-Earth is an asset highly recommended by me. The results were striking.
The galaxy is just a group of particle systems with the default particle that comes with unity. If I was to develop a game based on the prototype scene that I am showcasing, I would have them gradually spawned after exiting some trigger at the bounce of the solar system. Now they are being stationary inside my scene for the purpose of the video; in order for the shot to be taken. The skybox is changed by a simple script enabled at a specific key frame inside the Timeline.
Just then I realized that I was running out of time, so the rest of the work was a lot more rushed and less tidy. Creative prototyping, right? Lights are a complete mess. This is only the second project that I am attempting to work with lights in Unity but somehow I managed to come up with a satisfactory result. There is a main point light inside the sun that is used to
illunate the solar system and plenty of spotlights around the planets and inside the sun, controled with Timeline, to create the volumetric lights and highlight some the details on the planets’ surfaces.
As far as the animations are concerned, there is a basic animator that makes the planets, the satellites and the construction orbit the sun; nothing too complicated. For the video though, I used Timeline to setup the transforms for the shots.
Post processing was implemented from the very early stages of the project, but it wasn't until I began working with Cinemachine that I dived more into it. I have worked around photo and video editing, so I understand the importance of using filters and effects in order to produce a nice atmospheric environment and color cohesion throughout the shots. I spent a lot of time adjusting keyframes in Timeline in order to make the video keep up with the music and create the shots. I found Cinemachine great. I had never worked again with Timeline or Cinemachine, yet the experience was great. Both of them are really powerfull tools.
One more thing
Bear in mind, the above project is not a true representation of the actual construction of the Dyson’s hypothesis, as such a construction would require a tremendous amound of materials. A more realistic construction would require creating a Dyson’s swarm to surround the sun or the whole solar system. However, since none of us will ever experience the real existence of such a device, what we can do until then is create all sorts of imaginative and crazy staff and put them into video games. I hope you enjoyed the video. Good luck everyone!
Modular Space Station Kit
Post-processing Stack v2
Scifi Jumpgate Type 1
Scifi Jumpgate Type 3
Magic Missiles and Lasers
SpaceBox4096 - Dim Space Series
V-Light Volumetric Lights
Sound has been created using the Evolving Textures Volume One pack (purchased from Loopmasters).