In the past few months I have been working on environment art for Worlds Adrift.
When I create new assets and vegetation, we need to make sure they work together well, so I always spend some time to create a target island for a each biome. For this I use the Island Creator Tool that we recently released to the public. Not long ago I finished working on the desert biome so in this blog post I want to talk in more detail about the whole experience of creating the island.
Whenever I start on a new biome, I start with the trees; I made a few different types of palm trees, as well as dead trees. To avoid repetition we want to have a few different shapes of branches, different textures, and leaves.
We want some of the desert islands to have some kind of vegetation and foliage. Eventually all of these plants will be tinted in the Island Creator to give each island a different feel.
It’s nice to have different types of rocks for each biome, to set the islands apart. For the rocks and island textures, we use Maya and Z brush for sculpting. Whenever we make a new texture or asset, we try to keep the detail to a minimum.; having too much detail in the textures would create unnecessary noise and we want to keep our art style simplistic.
When exploring these islands, players can come across broken ruins. We needed to find a way to create the illusion of the ruins being there for a long time. One way to blend them into the sand was to put sand on top of them. These ruins can appear in any rotation on the ground, so we made a shader that knows which way the object is facing and generates sand textures on the top.
Once I had enough plants and trees it was time to put them on an island. I wanted to create more of a Savannah feel, so didn’t use the palm trees for this island — those ones fit better with a tropical desert.
For the top of the terrain, I used four textures. The base is a flat rock texture, on top of that, it’s sand with soft blending to avoid sharp edges between rock and sand. I also made some white tiles to make areas of the island different from the rest. The fourth texture is small pebbles. Using those is an easy way to break up the texture and make the ground look more interesting.
For the side of the island, I made a cliff texture that looks similar to the desert rocks, so they will blend in nicely.
The lighting is very important to give an environment a certain feel. For each biome we want to have a different lighting ramp. The temperate biome has more purple in the shadows, the snow islands will have a slight blue tint, and the desert has more yellow and red in the lighting ramp.
Here you can see the difference between the colours used in temperate and desert lighting.
We also made some environment effects like heat waves, to really make the island feel hot.
The next biome I will be working on is jungle, I’m looking forward to showing that to you, too.