Creating Immersive Game Worlds: How the Right Workstation Can Help Bring Your Ideas to Life
Mónica Melar, winner of our Creative Starter Kit Giveaway, shares her experience using Unreal Engine on her Dell Precision 3650 Tower Workstation with RTX A5000 GPU to create a stunning night environment inspired by Olympus. Check out her process and get inspired for your next Rookie Awards entry!
In this article, Mónica Melar shares her experience creating a real-time game environment using Unreal Engine 5 ray tracing features on her Dell Precision 3650 Tower Workstation with RTX A5000 GPU, which she won in our Creative Starter Kit Giveaway during the Rookie Awards 2022.
Mónica explains her process and decisions made while creating an exterior night environment inspired by Olympus with neoclassical architecture. If you are looking for inspiration for your next Rookie Awards entry, this article is for you!
Entering the Rookie Awards
When I entered the Rookie Awards, I did not pretend to achieve anything. I simply did not lose anything by entering. In the end it has turned out to be a great help. In my opinion, one of the most important things is to take the contest as a personal goal and just finish a project to send it. Luckily it will be seen by the right people.
I recommend not getting obsessed comparing your work with projects made by other students. It is important to have a look at what other people in similar contexts are doing, but it is more important to look at what we can learn from them.
Do not let the quality of someone else's work affect your mood and motivation.
Project Inspiration and Research
Firstly, I thought about what kind of project I would like to create, and I decided to do an exterior night environment. Secondly, I wondered about the kind of elements that I wanted to work on so I could practice something new. I chose Neoclassical architectural elements and sculpture.
When I started looking for references, I was able to narrow down by focus to be on a fantastical/fictional temple inspired by Olympus with Neoclassical architecture. Although I went with a fictional theme, it is important to rely on real things to make it believable. Certain details like where it would be placed if it was real and how life would be in that environment if it was real, are important things to take into account from the beginning.
Once I decided on my subject, I made sketches of how the architectural elements would look so I could decide a method to model them. This environment would have to be able to be inside a video game so it had to be optimised.
On my Dell Workstation, I mainly work on personal projects for my portfolio, and practice my craft in new 3D modeling and texturing software.
I modelled a great part of the architecture from splines of the profile/section of the moulding, and then extruded and deformed along a spline path. I textured these elements with trim textures. Other elements like flooring and walls, I created with tile textures. Other more complex objects have their own textures but share the texture files with other objects.
I baked the tiling high poly mesh details on the low poly mesh. After this, I adapted the UVs from the selected elements so that they would fit in the trim texture.
Another important element in this scene is the sculpture placed in the background. I first modeled the general body of the sculpture in ZBrush, and then posed it using an automatic basic rigging. Afterwards, I modeled a very simple tunic to apply a cloth and gravity simulation to it. Finally I sculpted smaller details and corrected errors that appeared in the process.
I then arranged the landscape where the scene would be located and what would be seen on the horizon. I made a height map in World Machine and I applied it to an Unreal Engine 5 landscape. I made the textures in Quixel Mixer and used an automatic material shader to place the grass textures with a sand texture fringe on top of the rocks. I also made a couple of sand layers in the material to paint a pathway.
Since the terrain did not have much detail, for the areas that would be seen more closely I needed a rock asset. This asset had its own texture and the grass automaterial applied on top depending on the slope of the mesh.
I added final touches like the fire and magic stone to illuminate the temple with some point lights. I also made the VFX with Niagara and placed some simple foliage around.
I was used to working on an old outdated computer that did not allow me to do everything I needed, and I depended on using the computers at the school where I studied.
On my new Dell Precision workstation, everything is much easier for me to be able to work on my portfolio. I do not have to wait for a few minutes for a software application to load! The applications do not freeze or just close by themselves every time that I am working.
My goal has always been to be part of the Spanish video game industry. Although it is difficult to get a job in this sector in this country, it is not impossible and I keep trying. I work every day on projects such as this, to improve my portfolio and expand my knowledge. Feel free to reach out via my Rookies Portfolio and Instagram.