Phaneron - Neon Challenge
Updated 2 months ago
Phaneron City
The Phaneron is the interpretation of the world you have, filtered by your senses. Phaneron City is in a rocky world populated of isolated cities. In this world things as mundane for us like flowers, seeds, or birds are very uncommon because of it's ecosystem. There is a subculture of smugglers that travel from city to city moving these treasured items which are of the interest of everyone but only some can obtain.



I studied design and lived in Barcelona nearly all my life, till I moved to Mexico where I have been working as CTO for some years now. I work in projects related to video games but I hardly do them from the proffessional point of view. They are more a hobby for me. I have been using Unity since version 3, and I like to do some assets for the Asset Store from time to time. I am the only involved in this challenge though the Assets I got from the Asset Store made this posssible.


Blade Runner and it's atmosphere was my inspiration from the right beginning. Also I was looking to recreate a credible city but placed in a different environment, nearly out of place. That is why Phaneron is a small city sorounded by rocks, but at the same time has tall buildings with lots of lights and neons as you would expect from a sci-fi noir themed environment.


Building buildings

To get credible buildings you need real references. I always felt that for a nice futuristic city you need some art deco buildings, cause they look like carefuly crafted sculptures. Some street view from google maps gets you what you need:
The modular approach for buildings is always best, since it's a manmade structure, the repetition doesn't look boring and you can always add details when you have the comprete building. This is what I've got for the example (with some texturing on it).
This is the building you get with no floor or modules mixing.

But it's quite uncommon to see buildings that are the same in all 4 sides, or even, the same side. That is why you mix them, and look for a non quadrangular shape.

I modelled 18 facades and mixed them for 130x130m of city
While all that happens, you have to model with the texturing in mind. I used substance designer for all byuildings. After 6 or 8 facades I have figured out the best way to texture a big modelar and tileable thing, and not care (on the texturing side) about how I was mixing the different parts.
The unwrapping needed a lot of reworking during the learning process. Sometimes, de modelling too.
Unity may need some tweaks too, materials, souble sided shadows, lightmap scale etc.

With modular buildings is pretty easy to get super high polycounts. You have to keep your budget per piece really low.

Your place in Unity

After a lot of messing with photoparametric rocks, mudbox and other hard things I decided to use a free asset from Manufactura K4, a bit old fashioned but hight quality stuff and what I needed for the rocky environment.
Some low poly buildings did the rest for Phaneron.


Details details

As always, the final tweaking is the longest and more difficult. You could spend weeks tweaking everything, good there is a deadline.
I did this speeder some time ago, it's been more than a year and it looks like it was yesterday.


Small animation update


Already setting up the final character models. I am using Morph 3D excelent models and character system.


Yesterday I bought some assets from the Asset Store I need for Phaneron, I'll have to do that list to keep track of them all. Anyway, I feel I have to stop working on this substance although I am not that happy with it yet.


I have spent some days messing with Cinemachine (messing because it's buggy) and I feel I lost a lot of time trying to learn it's ways. First looked like a great tood, now it feels like a great tool for certain things and an incomplete one for others. Today I wanted to feel like I have acomplished something so I worked on what should be the last prop (I hope) I'll need for Phaneron. Here are some screens from the process.


Changing focus

I feel I have all the architecture I need by now. I am using my asset "city low poly" for the background buildings. Now I am moving to the real important part of the project.


Some old tricks

This is the final version for the parking payment system (check the Videocall prop from log_13). Here I am using a quite standard material and set of textures for the main prop, but added some old school effects to bring it to life: the " blinking god rays" shader from an old Madfinger project for the blinking light, and a simple scrolling texture script for a quad sitting over the screen.


I got from the substance share portal some good base substances for making my own asphalt and sidewalk materials. The asphalt has controls for the paintied line design, drainage details, potholes, cracks, water... all you would need to texture asphalt I would say. Also, the material keeps the texture border details so it's tileable no matter what you do inside these borders.
Similar situation with the walkway. Details such as oil stain, leaves, old gum etc. Substances are so handy.


Phaneron is taking shape.


Phaneron props

This is the "videocall", the public telephone system in Phaneron. There will be some variations for this mesh such as parking payment.


The passway

I always thought passways look so futuristic. I like the most the ones in Hong Kong. A modular passway is a must for Phaneron.


Some material thinking (2).

The 4 substances used in this building:


Some material thinking

The color code you see on the meshes is related to the materials that are going to be used. In this last example it would be 4: the clear pink yould be a concrete with AO info on it (note the modularity), the blue on the sides would be a concrete but tileable. The blue in the lower level windows is meant to be a glass + metal frame composite (that lower level is 4.33 metres high) and the yellow material will be a concrete + metal + glass shader.


Getting some buildings into Unity to see how they look, some texturing being done too.


I always liked the look of these red tiles on the floor near where I live. First frame is the reference, the rest are the substance (adding variations such as moss, damages and water pond).


Already working on some substances for the project. I really like to have exposed properties and be able to add variations from Unity. If there is something I like to have always is the "water_level" and "degradation" control where I can generate ponds and age the surface.


Working on some quick tests, the "city + rock" concept may work.




Is the interpretation of the world you have, filtered by your senses (and I would add, your mind). This makes a clear division between the outside world and your world inside. I would like to reflect this in the Phaneron City, having a different "outside" environment concept you would expect from a Sci Fi city world or concept.


I decided to use substances to texture everything. That and the unwrapping may be the most time consuming in the modelling side.


I am doing some quick modelling for some facades to start getting in the mood. I think some of them should be Art Deco, I am using real life references for them. Modelling in 3D Max, making them modular in Max, but whole buildings for Unity.


Hello all. These are some of my references and inspiration for the project. My objective is to make a tech-noir scene, I want to focus on realistic architecture sorounded by tech.


Madfinger God-rays shader No Emotion Skies The Recordist sound FX Pixabay - Images and video

Vital de la Torre
CTO - Manager
Vital de la Torre
2 months ago
CTO - Manager
Thomas MathiesonReally nice, though the audio sounds like it's clipping, try turning it down. But otherwise I love the city and detail.
thank you for the feedback. Will do.
Thomas Mathieson
2 months ago
Mr. - Student
Really nice, though the audio sounds like it's clipping, try turning it down. But otherwise I love the city and detail.