Recreating the atmosphere of tension in "The Highest Cliff"
I am a beginner in Unity3D, and I enter this challenge to test my own skills using rapid visual prototyping Unity offered. When we talk about "A New world", we always think about something related to space travels, cyberpank, aliens, extraterrestrial civilizations etc. We imagine a world full of neon lights, blasters, flying vehicles and hope to be a part of it - a hero who comes and saves the day in the sparkling suit, bold and confident. But sometimes we forgot about other part of futuristic "brand new world" - in one hand, we have cities (or even planets), where the technical progress is rocketing up, but in other hand we have sparcely inhabitat, poor, trying to survive cities, which have only crumbs falling from a tables of the richer. The cities and planets which could not blend in new world - maybe because they are poor, maybe because they have a history they do not want to surrender.
Looking at the concept arts provided for this challenge, I saw the last part - the cities and its habitants, who has something unique in their culture. People, facing the new world, but not ready to accept this world and "blend in". People who have their own "little wars" and little worlds.
I was inspired the most by "Highest Cliff" art by Georgi Simeonov. I imagined the last survivors, antagonistic heroes in this scene, people who were forced to fight on their own and not ask for help. So I tried to recreate the moment happened just the second ago, when the tension is the highest - the creature is summoned, the warriors are coming, and the wizard of the small tribe is creating his curse.
I will decribe the process of this scene's creation below. It took four-five days (6-7 hours per day) to create it from scratch till final video uploaded. To really test the rapid prototyping and the level of entrance - how many prerequisites I need to have to create the game enviroment in Unity - I used only free assets from Unity Asset Store and create some basic objects on my own - terrain, particle systems, terrain material (stone) for terrain collider. I also changed objects textures and scales manually to improve visual aestetics of the scene.
I changed the list of assets used few times during my project, while I improved the visual aestetics, so the final list will be provided in the end of this post.
First, I created a Terrain GameObject to be further changed to make hills and cliff. To make textures for this terrain, I used Ground Textures Asset from Unity Asset Store - ground with rocks and two types of grass. Because these cliffs are located in the sea, I also used texture to implement ground with moss to those parts of terrain which is closer to the water. The shape of the hills and cliff has been changed continuously during the project.
To make the part of the terrain where the level of the water is low look more believable, I decided to put rocks at the surface and changed its structure to "ground and moss" too.
Adding warriors and wizard in the scene
For the heroes of this scene I used Unity Blacksmith Assets - Challengers and Volund (The Blacksmith: Characters Asset) - and set up the basic animations provided with it. I changed a speed of the animation in the end of the project to make sure all actions in the scene look syncronized with the music.
Creating the particles for the stream of the blood
That was quite hard part. I decided to create three particle systems, put them at the same reference point and change a material for each of three. I used free asset "Blood decal pack" (2d materials) to add such materials.
Adding the details to the scene to make it vivid
Because there were no other details at the concept art, I decided to add here something from my own. In my opinion, this scene represents a part of the territory, where there is a slightly safer for the habitants access to the sea, where they could go fishing, maybe travelling to nearest islands by the boats. But this particular place represents not-living area: there are the watchtowers, boats, some trails to be able to explore the territory.
Audio in the scene
To support the atmosphere, I decided to implemented the music which highlights the tension, but is not very "forwarding" in terms of telling the story.
I used the DarkCave music from DarkFuture Asset and animated the creature (Monster 3 Asset) at the right side of the scene to produce the "roar" sound, like it is ready to fight. We still have this uncertainty in the scene - we do not know with whom he allies.
To achieve gray-blue effect of the light in the scene, I implemented fog effect to default and post-processing effect and decided to use twilight skybox. I used area lights to highlight the heroes position (warriors and wizard) in the scene.
When the scene was almost done
After I completed the majority of the tasks scene required, I implemented the water object. It shows all the rocks at the left part of the scene, showing that the sea is not very deep here, and some islands are not easily reachable because of sharp stone peaks (water is from Stardart Unity Asset, Water Basic). Later I added a ship just near the creature (Brig Sloop Sailing Ship Asset).
Post-processing and Cinemachine
I used Unity Recorder to record a scene and capture audio effects. Unfortunately, it did not capture animation track with images, so the darkening effect I implemented is not presented in the video.
I created several cameras: one with Dolly track, three simple virtual cameras - to capture the view at the cliffs first, then move to the characters and "curse scene" and then to show the complete scene aestetics.
For the final list of the effects I used Fog (changed to density 0.001 and gray-blue color), Vignette, Depth of Field and Antialiasing.