The Merchant's Alley (Final)
Updated 2 years ago
1.4 K
The Merchant's Alley - Introduction & Inspiration
The goal for this project is to create an Japanese environment and combine sci-fi with hints of eberron and industrial technology. Inspiration is coming from a variety of sources, but the atmosphere should feel a little like Fallout 4 mixed with Arkham Knight.
1/15/2018 - Post Mortem
Hey everyone, I'm Stephen Mitchell: a 2D & 3D generalist based in Houston, Texas. Role - Overall design of the environment, texturing of the Merchant's ship, rigging & animation of characters/props/cameras. With me on this project: Cindy Sandoval; musician and skilled character artist (based in Houston) Role - came up with the music and gave the scene life. Jeffrey Wang, studying rigging, animation, & detailed level design (based in New York). Role - modeled the Merchant's ship & added details to give depth to the environment. I've been freelancing work in the video game/animation industry for 2 years with Unity & I'm going to share what we've put together; dubbed Sanctuary #54: The Merchant's Alley.

Production Process - From the start, we had a general idea on what we wanted to make, but we weren't certain of the details. Looking at the asset store and other sites for free assets got the ball rolling. I noticed there were a ton of warehouse assets, and used those as the outline for the scene. Then I sought out the use of catwalks to catch the sun shafts with the lighting. When the basic setup was done, I looked into adding more futuristic buildings/props & using Japanese rooftops, implying a collision of time & culture to the architecture. With Neon in the name, I looked into adding signs and lights as if it used to be a busy market street; now flooded with toxic waters. I used Maya to rig and animate the drone, ship, rotating tower signs, and Merchant(Nyra). I used the timeline and Cinemachine to animate the blue ships and Jasper (the character running on the catwalks) as well as the cameras on dolly tracks. The post processing stack and volumetric lighting was a bit of a chore to perfect; but once I figured out a good combo, it was pretty simple. The only real problem with rendering was how I had transparent materials on windows which wouldn't be affected by the fog. Eventually I gave all the windows an opaque material except the ones with light cubes behind them. Wrapping things up, I finished Nyra's animation, messed with the cameras and cinemachine along with post processes. There was a small problem with occlusion but reducing the 'smallest hole' to 1 solved it. Other ships were added and modified, not to mention sound effects too. I might mess around with the cameras after the contest and test the possibility of 360 degree video. All in all, it was fun and I learned a lot more about the engine. Thanks for the challenge & see you next time. - Stephen
List of Free Downloads
The Blacksmith
Modular Warehouse
Post Processing Stack
Hover Bike
Futuristic Building
Sci-Fi Building
Industrial Building
Retro SFX

List of Purchased Downloads
Japanese Village Kit

1/8/2018 Found a working video capture method in Unity and learned how to use Occlusion Culling. Never heard about it until now but hey I'm learning. Also I brought in some volumetric fog and created some particle emitters for atmosphere. Not to mention I've added some characters and Zahlen added smaller assets.
12/28/17 Character, drone, and vehicle animation, and cinemachine progress. Took a bit of time to further optimize the scenery props. I might add more robots later on.
Messed round with camera movements + changed up the post processing. Also went ahead and added Cindy's music to the camera. Later I'll have character animations and use a little more cinemachine. More assets were added.
Ship's been rigged up and ready to go; here's an animation test.

Last few days were wrapping up a ship prop Zahlen modeled and I textured with Quixel Suite. Soon it'll be rigged and ready to go. I also spent some time messing with Unity's FBX exporter. Note to self: It's probably not meant for entire scenes, but it's nice and it'll help with animation. Lastly for this update, I downloaded a drone from Sketchfab and rigged em in a jiffy. I'll see about rigging the ship later today and adding some more props to it.
Fixed up more signs, added floodwater, and created a simple animated wire in Maya for the glowing cables. I'll look into something for the huge screens in the back.
Added some towers, moved some objects, deleted some scrap, and went through some post processing combinations. It took me 40 minutes to figure out why the camera's refocusing script was messing up; but by the time I had fixed it, I realized a tilt shift script existed and slapped that on instead haha.
In other news, here's a laggy fly-by of the scene's progress:
Optimization is at hand; I'm going through buildings to scrap any extra bits that don't help the scene.
The LOD system in Unity is being weird; it seems I can't use prefabs, but I'll have to convert a prefab into an fbx/dae to use LODs. (can you tell if I've made LODs before?)
Added a few new assets and expanded the city a bit.
Aaanndd it's later. It seemed a bit spacey so I moved the buildings closer. Interior lighting, rain, clouds, and more free models were added to the scene. I also spent some time in Photoshop making a cluster of Neon lights. I can see I'm losing the Japanese roofing architecture under all of the tech and darkness; I'll have to raise those features and light it better. Sooner or later I'll mess around with more rain options.
I started by looking at all of the possible free assets I could use for the project. Then I loaded up a Blacksmith scene and imported a warehouse kit to see where it would take me. -Steve
Eventually I caved in for a $7 deal on Japanese village architecture; it's the direction we were going so why not?Youtube tutorials helped me with some lighting and atmospheric scattering. The birds really bring life to the scene. I'm still debating on whether I want an afternoon or rainy night setting; but that'll come later.

Art for Inspiration/Reference:

3D Generalist - Artist
Cindy Sandoval
2D & 3D Artist - Artist
Zahlen Oum
Danger Noodle - Artist
2 years ago
3D Generalist
Blair RenaudComing together. I really like the look of the sepia tone shot you posted earlier on.
Thanks! I really liked it too, but it's not the style we're going for. Maybe we'll have something like that for memory/flashback sequences.
Blair Renaud
2 years ago
CEO/ Director
Coming together. I really like the look of the sepia tone shot you posted earlier on.
2 years ago
3D Generalist
bryan wallacehey man i love the concept are you planning on making this into a full game or a demo piece?
@bryan wallace Thanks d00d! It's a very basic concept compared to the game in mind; but we are planning to build a game like it later on.
bryan wallace
2 years ago
hey man i love the concept are you planning on making this into a full game or a demo piece?
2 years ago
3D Generalist
Keith MarchellI love it! Interesting theme and composition.
Thanks man!