AP-003 Oasis
Updated 2 months ago
In the hart of the desert AP-Oasis, a rest stop for the tracked City Riggs works away. Oasis is everything to the workers and families on these rigs, a place to rest and recuperate, trade, and refuel.

AAP - 003

On a distant planet Ships come from far and wide to purchase bulk aggregate to sell at home.


Current integrated assets:
  • Unity Particle Pack -
  • Shader Forge -
  • Cinemachine -
  • Post Processing Stack -
  • Unity Recorder -
  • Simple Decal System -
  • Assorted substances from Substance Source
  • Blender Space Ship Generator -
  • Rock & Boulders Pack -!/content/2452

10 - The great break...

Happy new year!
We just had the winter break, and I was hoping to get much more done, unfortunately, my laptop and Unity decided to go to war on each other. A lot of that probably had to do with how far I was pushing my tech (2012 MacBook). SO I've now gone through and re-evaluated my approach to the challenge. Now I can almost run my project at 10fps! Anyhow, I've removed ships, cameras form cine machine with the Timeline. I redid my terrain and sky with a single HDRi and the unity terrain system instead of my custom meshes. Check it out in the next post!

09 - Ship update

Ships! Ships everywhere. About a year ago I came across the Blender Space Ship Genrator ( a brilliant little add-on that is great for background ships! (Or game prototyping) Check out their promo GIF:
I want this to be aport for the Cities to come and trade their mined resources at. Form there there are shuttles that take the materials to the big fighters above. SO far I have shuttles, freighters, and patrol ships.
Spaceship Generator gives a lot of nice features, auto windows, turrets, engine, even a grebe normal map. To polish them off I ran them through Substance Painter.
Here's the new scene:

08 - Making the background ships

This is a pretty simple process for generating game ready ships.
  • Generate your ships in Blender Ship Generator. Remove duplicate materials for simplicity.
  • Make a duplicate version without modifiers, this is your low poly model. You can use a single material for all of these, then Smart Project the UVs.
  • Duplicate and join the models (Command/Control + J)
  • Bake the emission form Selected (original Models) to active (Joined Models). Save that file.
  • Export your high poly models, then your low poly (separated) models.
  • Bring them into substance. Bake your textures. Then brign in your baked emission map in the emissive channel.
  • Find some good smart materials, then export your textures for Unity 5!

07 - Holiday Updates

It's always good to take a step back from your work, get some perspective and fresh air. Letting my plan stew over Christmas gave me some ideas for tseting the visual scale of the building. I went ahead and added some platforms and cargo elevators. From here i need floors some buildings and I REALLY need to make a nice greeble texture to replace the bronze plating I now have.
Here are some plans I have for the final pice (sorry, no sketch overs):

06 - Base Building

No that I'm in unity, with a nice environment setup, it's time to start building in the actual port. Im breaking the port into 3 sections, ordered by needed detail and time:
  • Dock 60%
  • City 20%
  • Spaceport 10%
Now that I know how this will break down I can start to build up the port in sections. Starting today with the main structures of the building.
So here is the new scene, updated with the starts of the oasis.
If you are finding this interesting or helpful please like the project! Thanks for reading.

05 - A word on environments

A while ago a Unity developer named Daniel Weinbaum put out great dynamic sky system ( I've wnated to implement somthign similar for years, but haven't had the time or opportunity.
Then came Neon, so now I have a rudimentary version of his system. I grabbed 4 HDRIs form HDRI Haven and got to work.
From farthest to closest... I have a skybox that is a star map, then comes moons sun and belt. These are actually 3D geometry, which means that they react tight gourgously. Next up is an atmosphere, the blue sphere, with geometry straw inside of that. I have control over the geo starts, so I can build my own constellations. Finally I have a cloud layer that obscures everything near the horizon, a perfect fade out!
THis system is not nearly as advanced or even dynamic as the inspiration, so go check it out after liking the project! Here is the link again:

04 - First steps in Unity

Today I got started in unity. It's very important not to rush into the engine, or even your modelling software before you have a solid idea. It's all to easy to get distracted and compromise your scene when you have access to so many tools. I started by building up my environment in Blender. I'm using ANT Landscape Generator for the horizon mesh. I went with he Ocean Simulator to create the large peaks and dunes of the forground mesh.
From there I brought them over to Unity.

03 - Metrics: Size and space

Have you ever played a game where the environment felt way to huge? Or parked in a parking space that was way to small? Those exist because along the line, someone ignored their metrics.
Metrics can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people and industries. For today metrics will mean 'can I park there' and 'can I walk there'. To get metrics right level designers will 'grey box', as an artist we do something very similar: a 'blockout'. A blackout lets us build the general shapes quickly, checking for size as we go. This way we don't wast time polishing an asset that is WAY off scale.
I always start a block out with my base unity of measure, in this case my workers. They are the smallest stakeholder in the scene, so they will be the standard for everything else to build off of.
Keep in mind that we aren't making a masterpiece (yet). Were just making sure everyone is the right size. These blocky people have the same hight and width of an actual person, I can use these to inform everything else scale.
Unfortunately I need to work much, much, bigger then individual humans. So I built a Traction Citie stand in, scaled to work with the humans.
Now we have our secondary measuring unit, the cities. These are the main clients of the Oasis, so the docking area should be measured to accommodate them.
Now that I have these models I can quickly block out the Oasis structure to scale:
There needs to be room to park the city and room to pass, so I pinned up the cities 4 wide with a few dozen meters between. From there I can build up the walls of the land-port, and I can use the people to adjust individual floor height.

03 - Concept Art

This is where the references, research and lore begin to mesh. I had the overall form and atmosphere down in my mind, but I can pull specific elements form my research to strengthen my design. Referencing reality also helps to add a layer of believability to the final scene.
I hope you have found these notes useful! I really like this procces for getting a well developed scene produced with meticulous detail.
If you have enjoyed these, please hit like, it helps a lot in the competition. See you next update!

02 - Refining the lore

Why bother with lore?

Lore is at the heart of my creative process. Lore is more than just what species there are, which orc hates which elf, etc. Lore is the underlying logic of your world. Even pac man uses lore to justify design.
We can use lore to not just justify, but inform design.

Starting point

Starting off, my world is in a universe much like this one. On a arid planet, or biome rich a resource of great value is collected by massive city like tracked rigs.
I know these because they match my vision, a giant desert, giant tracked machines, and the reason they're there. Now I need to flesh these out: Why are they winning, did they come form earth? Are they human? Do I need mineral vaults or oil tanks on my rigs?

Growing the lore

Who are they? These are miners and colonists form Terra, an earth like planet in an alternate universe. There is a mix of wealthy elite, and lots of middle class workers on the rigs. Rigs are dangerous, but they pay well, and you cna bring your family. At port (my scene) you workers and owners alike take rest in the upper cities. Meanwhile the impoverished toil below, refusing and cleaning the riggs while they are parked. Maintenance pays much worse then mining, but it's slightly safer.
What are they after? These desserts hold many treasures, but the main 3 are: Scratch Oil, a thick liquid with an oily rainbow colouration; Crystals, they grow just under the dunes in hoards, fetching a high price in electronics markets and beauty markets alike.
When is this? Abut 200 years in the future. The singularity was not as we though, instead of a revolution it created stagnation. Technology has hardly changed, thought we made it to space before that. Since then our technology are old, we built bigger, but not newer.
Where are they? They inhabit an alternate moon of Jupiter, dry and almost earth like. The atmosphere is barely breathable but that adds to the danger pay!
Why is this place here? These massive cities roam the dessert, but they need a hub, a place to refuel, rest and trade the resources they have gathered for the resources they need to survive the next trip. This includes selling oil, crystal and metals. They buy food, spare parts, water especially.
When on leave the workers and rig owners inhabit the city at the Oasis, a relative luxury in the desert. Here they relax, swim, hike and enjoy fresh air created through osmosis.


Now I have lore, lots of it. My port will need massive tanks for oil, a few for each company. Boxes of crystals everywhere, and sand must encrust everything.
I'll need camps in the lower levels for the poor dock workers, and lavish cities on the top level.
I can probably avoid faces on my characters with breathing masks.

01 - The spark of inspiration


Hey guys, this Neon looks awesome, and the other works I've seen, equally so. Here is the start of my Neon Challenge, the ideas form which my scene shall grow.
I remembered seeing art for the 'Mortal Engines' book once that really stuck with me. The idea of massive roaming cities was so cool! But... where are they going? What are they doing? (I should probably read the book...) SO here is my destination, I call it the Unlikely Oasis.
What is the Unlikely Oasis? That my friends, will be in post "02 - The best to be titled". See you then!

My inspiration and references



For my scene I have a lot going on, so I tried to isolate past experiences and items that I could draw from. I cam up with: Airports, Cities, Dry Docks (where you build ships), Oil Rigs, Guard Towers, 'Traction Engines' (The moving cities form that book), and the aptly named 'Walls'. Be warned... there's a lot of reference!
When I look for reference I am trying to match images to the vision in my mind. Looking for everything from silos to material properties. There is a secondary goal though, finding thing completely different. This is similar to Diverging in creative problem solving, looking for ideas that fall outside of your conscious solutions, drawing in the elements to bring your vision to life. This really helps highlight things you haven't thought of, and improve your design overall.



Dry Dock:

Oil Rig:

Guard Towers:

Moving Cities:

Thats all for now! Hit like (please!), I would really appreciate the support in this completion! Keep checking in for more of my workflow and some pretty art, thanks!

Matthew Murchison
Technical & 3D Artist - Artist