Environmental Woes

We recently wrapped up work on a new environment, it's not finished per se, but it's at the level we need it to be for now.

It's a simple environment, essentially a flat octagon with walls. But simple was our aim for this arena, it's meant to be a starting point for new players, without any tricks or environmental hazards. There will be a weapon in each corner and a pick-up in the centre.

Despite it's simplicity, the environment took a while to create, taking several weeks longer than expected. This delay was caused by a combination of poor planning and lack of knowledge.

Part of the issue in designing the level was that we wanted to make sure that the players couldn't become hidden behind the front of the arena due to the changing position of the camera. A great deal of time went into designing levels where that wouldn't be a problem, and some time went into researching technology to circumvent the problem.

Unfortunately it took us several weeks into the project before we realised that if we simply constrain the camera properly, then there shouldn't be any need to worry about that issue. This is something that we should have realised earlier into the process of creating the level.                                           

Partway through producing the level we also learnt about Maya's 'Bonus Tools', a set of free tools from Autodesk with some incredibly helpful functions and features that aren't included by default in Maya. These tools are fantastic and I'm amazed we hadn't learned of them before now. These saved me a great deal of time on this project, and I'm sure they would have saved a lot of time on earlier projects. There are a couple of other really nice plugins we came across that I'll talk more about in later posts.

Another problem was that I had once again failed to properly concept the arena. This compounded with the perceived camera issues and caused me to go through a load of iterations before settling on a design i was happy with.

Once again I've learned the importance of planning a task, finding the best tools for the job at hand and considering the potential pitfalls and workarounds before even starting work.

On the bright side of this unnecessary slog, i learnt about some fantastic plugins, and I also learnt a load about stuff like texturing, visual design and various parts of Maya like Bullet and color management. 

The slideshow below shows the major iterations the level went through before ending up where it is now.

Thanks for reading.