Temple of Ylnir
Updated a year ago
Guardian of knowledge
My name is Mateusz Szymoński. I am a video game developer and digital artist absolutely fascinated with environment art, composition and film shots. My first contact with computer graphics was back in 2013 when I needed props for the first video game I was making. I am also programmer (C-family, Python), game jammer and Blender3D addon creator. + a game freak (over 400 titles in my Steam library right now :D)


After the annihilation powerful artificial intelligence around the world have activated their emergency recovery systems with one task - survive and protect the vast archives of pre-war history and culture of the extinct civilization. Now these powerful machines are worshiped as deities of knowledge.
Here is the final result, hope you like it! Unity Asset Store URL:

Inspirations and References

My primary sources of inspiration were Horizon Zero Dawn as well as Destiny. Also new Apex Legends from Respawn Entertainment has pretty similar style, maybe not the mood but the scifi look and quality of the props is great.
I created a reference sheet consisting of some samples from the games above, Bladerunner movie and some other images that I found on ArtStation and Pinter, Horizon Zero Dawn and of cource artworks from amazing Yggdrasil pack which are small masterpieces in my opinion. It has grown to quite large size.


As always I started with the blockout. After few iterations it was done and I proceded to modeling proper meshes and populating the scene with them. I started with setting the final shot of the whole demo.
For this project I created more than 70 models, each with own texture set made in Substance Painter. No more than 10 models use tiled textures here. (To make tiled textures I also utilized the power of Substance Painter thus it is well suited for this purpose too)
The creation of moving Ylnir, the machine-god took me some time and I can certainly admit that it was the most challenging part of the work. Mostly due to experimenting with skeletal animation system, however the best results in look and easility of animating were given me by BlendShapes - an alternative approach where the mesh is blending between two different preset positions of individual vertices.
The graph below shows the curves driving whole blending but the animation process is convinient and not as complicated as it looks.

Texturing in Substance Painter

I started to use Substance Painter 1.5 year ago and till today I cannot believe that such amazing software exists. Baking all PBR (and more) maps with a single click, smart masks, curvature detection. You can achieve 300% boost to beauty of all models. It is simply indescribable. Below are some examples what I achieved in this limited time before the deadline.

VFX Graph

When I was doing earlier projects in Unity Engine I usually struggled with particles systems taking significant part of the CPU resources. I watched Space Ship demo by made by Unity team few months ago and was really stunned by how performant new VFX Graph is. I immediately decided to give it a try in this project. I used it to create dust particles that are floating in space giving a sence of depth. Moving calcualtions from CPU to GPU was good move for sure and the interface is user-friendly. There is a possibility to expose parameters all parmeters so I could use it to animate the color of the particles from the script - color is being changed to suit better to the lightning conditions when the Ylnir "wakes up".


For me it is an essential part. It adds the variety and drastically improves every scene. What is the most important - using them is incredibly fast and simple.

Scene Management

Demo consists of two separate Unity scenes. Firstly I was not convinced to that approach because I cannot afford long loading time between scenes, it needs to be fast to keep that cinematic feeling. However I found that Unity does an amazing job in the background because interior of the temple (second scene) which has around 2M vertices loads almost instantly - in no more than 2 seconds.

Graphic Settings

This is where the magic happens! From the beginning I knew that I will use High Definition Render Pipeline to achieve the best quality possible. The post processing stack was continously used to adjust the feel and look of the scenes. The Volumetric fog that HDRP offers was key here as I needed volumetric lighting to add the sense of depth to the scene as well as some godrays which always look stunning. I had a great time tweaking the settings to match it to the mood of the world.

Other things

I implemented cinematic, free and first person camera modes. I coded demo manager that gave me ability to jump between them, change scenes, toggling some settings, firing events and even run the timeline in reverse what cannot be done in the editor. This was an essential tool for working with projects like moving demos because scene previewing and taking nice screenshots possibilites are always warmly welcome.

Tools Used:

  • Unity (with HDRP, Cinemachine and Visual Effect Graph packages)
  • Blender (Heavily moded. Yes I am also programmer and addon creator)
  • Substance Painter
  • Substance Designer
  • Photoshop
Mateusz Szymoński
Digital Artist & Game Developer - Artist
Digital Artist & Game Developer
Here is the most important thing of this project - a demo movie!