The Cave story - Neon Challenge
Updated 2 months ago
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The Cave story


The Cave story is the 3d environment created for Neon Challenge 2017 by Team Cave. The development lasted from Dec 15th 2017 to Jan 7th 2018, using Unity3d 2017 2.0f3. The final product is a 40 seconds real-time animation with 1200 frames and complex lighting effects.
Taking advantage of the new features in Unity3d, we are able to easily edit and polish the scene on-the-go, as well as experiment different post effects in more efficient manner. As the users of Unity3d for over 4 years, we are grateful to see unity3d evolving and offering more useful features that help to shorten the development cycle. More and more creators would benefit its functionality and product better media content.

About the Team

We are Team Cave, composed with two members.
Jinchao (Jin) Han
• Worked as a television director and a freelancing developer for 5 years with specialization in 3d art and animation.
• Currently pursuing the master’s degree in Entertainment Technology Center, Carnegie Mellon University
Le (Leona) Yang
• Worked as project manager and art producer in Original Force for 4 years, which providing art and animation production service for various AAA game studios
• Currently pursuing the master’s degree in Entertainment Technology Center, Carnegie Mellon University
In this challenge, Jin handled the major environment development of art and animation. Leona took the responsibility of concept developing, organization and documentation.


The world concept of the cave story was inspired by the multiple mini stories or branching tasks in NieR:Autometa. When the machines gain the self-conciseness and emotions, they start to form a society, build up relationship between each other and construct the structures that fit their needs.
Also we gathered inspirations from the places matching the characteristics of cyberpunk style in our understanding which are busy, chaotic and with strong contrast, as well as the rusty metalic structures for material and texture reference. Below shows some images we refer as concept art.

Production Process

High Concept

We design this environment as a high density commercial area, the Cave, used by the robots for night life entertainment. Shops stacked together to serve the robots citizens in different shapes and sizes. We would like to picture a world in which the robots form their society and shape the places for their own interests and aesthetics. Interaction and conflicts among the robots exist in the Cave just like in the human world.
For the art style, we decided to use high contrast color and lighting to communicate the busy and chaotic feeling of a cyberponk environment. Instead of going for the depressed and pessimistic mood which can be found in many cyberponk fiction works, we would like to introduce some sense of humor and reinforce the vigous and dynamic side of the cyberponk world.

Story Board

Once we decided the high concept, we started with storyboarding to plan out the cinematics, as well as design visual components in the animations. At this stage, we also generated the sckeches of the character design and the composition of the environment.

Character Design

We designed and created four differet types of robotic characters scratch. We also resized them to diversify the characters to express the concept of robotic society. The characters are stylized with realistic materials. They are intended to be pure mechanical that behave completely different from human beings; and a bit cute to match the art style we defined.

Environment Design

The Cave is intended to work for the robots. As a result we structured the space with the respect of the scale of the robots characters and arrange the features fitting their perspectives. The majority of the environment assets were modeled in Maya and exported to Unity3d. We created more detailed concepts for heach features and made adjustments while integration to make sure they fits better. Pipe-Kit and Assorted Props Packages from the Unity Assests Store were used to populate the environmennt.

Materials and Textures

Substance Designer and Substance Painter were used to create the materials and the textures.


Before polishing the details of the environment assets, we started with the animation. We first blocked the camera and basic motion and then iterate on it. We used the Cinemache to create multiple virtual cameras and the Timeline to review the real-time animation. Both of the tools were very useful, which made it easy to set the composition and make the right timing for the cuts.

Lighting and Post FX

We used the Post-Processing plug-in to add image-effects. A c# class is created to make it possible to set keyframes for DOF(Depth of Field) in the Timeline, so that the lens blur can be reviewed in real-time.

Sound Design

When the art and animation was finished, we moved on to sound design. We used the sounds downloaded from and edited them to match the animation.

The Final Result

Assets, Tools and Plugins List:

We created all the models and character animation except the stone, pipe(part of them) and some garbage models.

Assets from Unity Assets Store

Arid Enviroment (stone assets)
Lens Flares
Pipes-kit (pipe assets)
Assorted Props Pack (garbage assets)
volumatric light(Git hub)

Sound Assets:

sewing sound FX:
drill sound FX:
machine sound FX:
hit sound fx:
Spark sound FX:
ambine sound:
growl sound:
speed sound FX:

Software Packages

Maya 2017
Substance Designer Student Edition
Substance painter Student Edition
Adobe after effect,
Adobe Audition
Adobe Photoshop

Work-in-Progress Logs

Jan/15/2018 documentation and upload
Jan/08/2018 Final tweaking and export
Jan/07/2018 Sound compositing
Jan/4/2018 Lighting, post-fx, and animation
Dec/30/2017 Modeling and texturing
Dec/20/2017 Animatic and Unity scene set
Dec/16/2017 Concept design
Dec/15/2017 Research

3D animator,Game designer, TA - Artist
Le Yang
Graduate Student - Student
2 months ago
3D animator,Game designer, TA - Artist
Farrukh AbdurVery nice work :) The final result is great. Good luck
Thanks man
Farrukh Abdur
2 months ago
3d Artist / 2d Designer - Artist
Very nice work :) The final result is great. Good luck
2 months ago
3D animator,Game designer, TA - Artist
Joaquin CatalaGreat work! Love the cyber-cuteness and the color scheme!
Thank you, appreciated
2 months ago
3D animator,Game designer, TA - Artist
Sergey KlimenkoInteresting and beautiful color combinations :)
Thanks man
Joaquin Catala
2 months ago
Ximo C - Artist
Great work! Love the cyber-cuteness and the color scheme!