THUNDER: Throne Wars
Studio: IMU Studios
THUNDER: Throne Wars is a fast-paced team vs. team multiplayer FPS game. Using a variety of sci-fi devices, players can move rapidly throughout THUNDER‘s large multiplayer maps. The game is set in the stellar “Jewel Box” Nebula, a prolific star-forming region just across our Milky Way galaxy. The objective of each player is to capture and build thrones to strengthen your own kingdom while trying to usurp the enemy team’s kingdom.
As the Level Designer for this game, I knew I would have to take special account of the unique style of high-intensity gameplay of THUNDER to really bring players the experience they are looking for. The terrain of this level, called Bear Isle, guides players from one side of the map to the other through its shape, elevation, and defining features. Ammo and shield pickups are placed strategically throughout the level. Players can visit a number of shrines hidden in the level to replenish their ammo and health. They can also interact with the environment in many ways, such as closing the castle gates when enemies are approaching.
In this level, I was responsible for the creation and sculpting of the terrain. I sculpted the original version of the terrain while IMU Studios was using the Amazon Lumberyard engine, but continued to make iterative modifications after IMU switched to Unreal Engine 4. I also created the rivers seen throughout the level, as well as the lava flows and the lava material. Another one of my responsibilities for this level was asset composition. I placed the major environment assets such as the castles, rivers, lakes, shrines, and gameplay objects. I also scripted all of the level and gameplay assets located within this level, such as the capture objectives and pickups placed in the map.
Procedural Unreal Environment
This was a solo final project I completed for my senior Level Design & Environment Art class at Purdue University. I chose this as my final project with a goal of learning techniques for using proceduralism to create a large realistic outdoor game level from scratch. This project taught me many useful skills, from procedurally generating terrain to the optimization of foliage and environment assets. This is a fully playable level within Unreal Engine 4.
My process started with gathering references similar to the environment idea I had in mind. From there, I began prototyping my terrain using SideFX Houdini. I used a series of masks on the terrain to make splat maps for texturing. After importing into Unreal, I set up the landscape material using the splat maps and textures I created. Finally, I procedurally generated the foliage throughout the level using a series of spawn constraints. The PowerPoint embedded to the right goes into more detail about my creation pipeline, as well as providing accompanying screenshots.
I made each of the materials here using my 2D image editing skills. I produced color textures from photos which I then created normal and roughness maps from. I also. I used SpeedTree to make some custom grass, plants, and trees for my level, which included my own custom materials as well.
Tools Used: Unreal Engine 4, Houdini, SpeedTree, Photoshop, Bitmap2Material.
Click Here to download and explore the level in Spectator (camera) mode or in 3rd person mode! Just unzip the packaged project and run Berges_CGT490_Final.exe.
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Since this game was designed with a fixed overhead camera play style in mind, I knew it would be important to create the level in a way that would allow the player to lead his AI followers back to the home farm in order to score.
I shaped the terrain so that the paths feel natural to the player as they journey to find their targets. I used a series of blocking volumes along with the terrain to make sure that players would not get stuck or wander out of the level area.
The biggest challenge for me was making it so the AI characters would easily follow through the environment once hypnotized. During the bug-testing phase, some changes had to be implemented to more easily allow for the AI characters to navigate the environment. The development of this game taught me a lot about creating natural player navigation throughout a map, as well as how to design a map to allow for AI navigation.
Used a series of blocking volumes along with the terrain shape to guide the player.