Here's our final scene. We hope you enjoy it. We have been working like crazy in the last couple of days and we actually managed to get the look we wanted. There are a lot of things we didn't have the time to do, and others that we're still learning, like Lighting settings and the Post Processing Stack. Other things we tried using, like Volumetric Fog and Lights, we didn't manage to get them to work.
But, all in all, we hope we have managed to convey our original idea: A world that is a bright and a bit optimistic. Clean but, at the same time, a bit strange and quirky.
We hope you enjoy it.
Thanks a lot to Unity for the opportunity, for the brilliant products and for the countless tutorials, videos, keynotes that teach so much. This has been quite an experience. We have enjoyed ourselves a lot and, above all, we learned more than we had imagined.
And now, a final update on our workflow.
We used a lot of packages from the Asset Store. All of them were free assets, and it's quite amazing how many good quality things you can find absolutely for free. Some of them, we used as they were, some we tweaked a bit.
Amanda Frost, by 3D Maesen. Animated character used in the scene.
Cyber Soldier, by Will Morillas. Another animated character in our scene.
Destructor Spaceship, by Eldanu Games Studio. Modified the scale a bit, and it became a hovering car.
Free Space Ships , by PM Assets. Same as before, we turned them into cars.
Futuristic Robot MK-1 , by AndreaDev. Another character in our scene.
Idle MoCap , from Morro Motion, a set of idle animations, which we used for some of our characters
Kitchen Creation Set , from Studio Krokidana. Used some of the set for the outside of the Diner.
Low Poly Street Pack , from Dynamic Art. We used the park ground and some of the trees and bushes for the Nature-Sim building.
Man In A Suit, by Studio New Punch. Very nice character, with Mecanim animations.
MCS Female, MCS Female Sci-Fi Bundle and MCS Male , by Morph 3D. An awesome package of fully customizable human characters, which we used in our scene.
Modular Spaceship 1: Star Sparrow , from Ebal Studios. We used one of the spaceships as is. It was part of a timeline that didn't make it. We also converted the body of the spaceships into cars, and used the textures applied to primitives to make the Power Station behind the Diner.
Natural Tiling Textures , from Terramorph Workshop. While these textures are very natural looking, and not the most adequate for a futuristic setting, we used them in the Museum building.
Radio Tower - Low Poly , from Markarma.
Sci-Fi Music Pack 1, by pdkmusic. We used one of their songs as soundtrack for the video.
Sci-Fi Platforms, by Coostvenay. Used some of their textures. Particularly, we used the hexagonal platform to make the floor of our bridge
Sci-fi Styled Modular Pack , from karboosx. This is a very cool pack. We used one of their floors to make our landing strip. We also took one of their transparent panels, and together with a cube with the texture mentioned above, we created our bridge. We also used some of their sculptures, lights and a projector with particles for the front of the museum.
sFuture Modules Core Pack , from Sami Lehtonen. We mostly used the textures from this pack. These are top quality textures, with amazing normal and height maps and a very sleek look. We used them in primitives to make the road and the train tracks, and also in the big building platform.
Taichi Character Pack , from Game Asset Studio. Used some of their animations for our characters.
Vast Outer Space, by Prodigious Creations. This is a beautiful package whose purpose is to create outer space environments. But after seeing it, we thought it would be a cool idea to have a "Planetarium" and used the environments as floating orbs.
WarZone Environment Pack , by VD Games. Used their radar, and also one of their vehicles.
White City, by ALIyerEdon. Used some of the buildings to fill up our scene.
Yughues Free Concrete Materials , by Nobiax / Yughues. Used some of their textures and, in particular, we used one of their normal maps for our sidewalks.
From Unity Technologies:
Recorder . Used to make the videos.
RobotLab. This is a 4.x version package, but we always liked some of the models. Ended up using the Hover Pad (which I had been wanting to use since I saw the physics tutorial). One of our Robots seems to enjoy it !
Standard Assets. Used assorted items (some materials, textures), some sounds, particles and the Ethan animations for the characters.
Also, the Skybox came from the 18 FREE Skyboxes UnityPackage, found here , in the Unity forums.
And, of course, Timeline, Cinemachine and the Post Processing Stack.
Some of our textures came from textures.com, particularly the ones for building windows.
Putting it all together
Creating the dynamic part of the scene was, at the same time, challenging and fun.
For animating characters and vehicles we used scripting and Timeline.
The cars have a simple script attached that spawns them and destroys them when they're out of view. The humanoid characters have Animator Controllers, some of which are simple series of animations running in a loop. For others we used scripting to trigger the animations.
The futuristic helicopter-based aircraft and the train were animated via their own timelines. The ease of use of Cinemachine cams and Timeline offsets made it quite simple to coordinate both.
Using Timeline was amazing. Having the freedom of changing any parameter of an object gives way to countless possibilities. We were aware of changing values, transforms, etc. But being able to use activation tracks, or changing the material of a building as you run the Timeline, is simply brilliant.
As far as Cinemachine goes, we decided to use Dolly Tracks for our cameras, because we were running out of time and they're very easy to set up. But also, it seemed like the most adequate setup for this type of project. Some of them, we set up to follow a character as they walked, for some others we created an empty GameObject and used it to change the Aim of the cameras.
It is a fascinating asset and there is so much still to explore.
With respect to the Post Processing Stack, we used v2. We actually loved the possibility of using Volumes to change the look and feel of the scene, but unfortunately didn't manage our time well enough. So we used a global profile. We added some Bloom and changed the Color Grading and some Motion Blur.
We worked in Linear color space, with HDR and using the Deferred Rendering Path.
One day to go, and so much to do...
We have been working quite a lot in the past few days trying to make it in time. Hope we do. We have played a lot with lighting, added some buildings, moved a few others, added some props, some color, some characters, sound and music.
We have also been working with Timeline and Cinemachine, creating a couple of clips for the final submission. No time to make a full blown video today, so I'll leave a couple of screenshots:
But well, as I said, too much to be done yet, so I guess we'll do most of the writing tomorrow. But we did want to mention some of the modelling process with Blender.
Modelling with Blender
While we have used the Asset Store a lot for this project, we made all the buildings ourselves in Blender. As we mentioned before, we were already working in a project and we had recently discovered that the way we built our models was less than efficient. Too many materials, which caused way too many draw calls and increased the vertex count to insane levels. So we had to re-think all our modelling.
In a way, it was a very cool thing to have happened. Before, we were trying to make the best possible buildings but trying to keep them as low poly as possible. Now we could design buildings and structures as heavy and as detailed as we wanted (within limits, of course) thanks to the usage of Normal Maps. Yes, we didn't know how to make them until just a few weeks ago.
Baking normal maps in Blender was not immediately intuitive or easy, but once we figured out how, it became second nature. But not only that, we figured out how to also bake multiple textures, detail maps, specular and emission maps. We're still learning, but we definitely know that Blender is yet another amazing tool with which you can really do anything you want to. After this project is done, we're going to write all we learned about baking different maps to be used in Unity.
Here's some examples of our models:
For the more seasoned 3D artists out there, all this is probably very well known, but this is part of all the things we learned during this project.
We wouldn't want to finish this small overview of our work with Blender without thanking Alimayo Arango. He has a Youtube channel about Blender and he is truly a genius. He has the best tutorials out there, we think, and we have learned an awful lot from them.
Thanks for reading, see you all tomorrow!
The Story So Far
We are Irene and Andrej, a two-person team of indie developers from Buenos Aires, Argentina, South America, and Ljubljana, Slovenia, Europe, respectively.
We have been working on a game, taking place in the future, for a while now. We've recently switched to Unity and have been learning how to use it for the passed couple of months. We discovered The Neon Challenge while we were starting the process of redoing and expanding the assets and the scenery for our game. Given the challenge is to create a futuristic scene we decided it was a great opportunity to push ourselves to discover the various features on the game engine.
When moving to Unity we started building a new scene. As before, we've done all the 3D modeling work in Blender. At the beginning we had multiple materials in each of the assets, the idea being that we could tweak the materials, textures etc. separately. As the scene is kind of big and placed in the open it started becoming too heavy and unwieldly, so we adapted our workflow to add lower poly versions with a single texture, a normals map, emissions map etc. baked in, keeping both versions in the same Blender file, but only adding the low poly one to the scene and prefabs. This is when we discovered The Neon Challenge, for which we started building a new scene. We spent the first couple of weeks of working on the scene making new buildings and other assets in Blender. We also looked at a bunch of things in the Unity Assets Store, where we already found a few cool things. Some we used as they were, some we tweaked, and we also reused some assets we already found before. In the next couple of days, we will go in depth as to how we created our models in Blender, how we used the Assets Store assets, and how we used Cinemachine, Timeline and the Post Processing Stack in our project.
The idea behind the world of our game is that in the future artificial intelligence becomes prevalent and robots take over many of the currently human tasks. As humanity sleepwalks into an A.I. driven world the robots become more self-aware, but they do not have the same set of morals the humans have. This had not happened without warning and there were attempts at making more humane machines, however, unfortunately that was not the case for all of them. The main (playable) character will be an android with a more human-aligned moral compass (we intend to convey this message by giving our non-hostile android more human-like, kinder graphical features) that is trying to prevent the complete domination of the world by a completely utility-driven artificial intelligence and its robot army.
The concept of the scene presented here is going to be a city that is not yet fully inhabited or controlled by robots and serves almost as a prelude to our game's story (in which there will be few to no human characters appearing in the city), where humans are still there, coexisting with the robots. The idea behind it is not a dystopian scene, but rather an orderly future city with dystopian elements to the storyline. While our ideas were influenced by some dystopian stories, like Blade Runner, we opted for a less dystopian setting, at least visually. For the most part, we took inspiration in the real world, rather than in any piece of concept art. We found images of big cities like Shanghai, Dubai and even Buenos Aires very inspiring and created models speculating a bit on what things might look in the future. Also, trying to get out of the dystopian paradigm, we thought of a setup that would be more odd than pessimistic. A world where things would almost make sense. Think a bit like current AI making music: Yes, it's music, but sounds weird. We hope we can convey that in our scene.
Thanks everyone for watching, and a big thanks to Unity for the opportunity. We have learned a lot and have had lots of fun. There's still a lot we have to do with a scene, and we will be updating of our progress.