Location scouting the UNREAL

It’s early days, but we have now jumped into the UNREAL game engine and begun crafting Stina’s world, and it’s a lot of fun!

The world map is being built with GAEA, a fantastic node-based tool for making landscapes from geological principles: Layering stratification, erosion and sedimentary flow.

This map is then used to deform the terrain in UNREAL, where we use the different maps exported from GAEA (height maps, erosion maps, sedimentary flow maps etc.) to help position the smaller, high-frequency textural details UNREAL can help us create, like grass and rock (Utilizing the fantastic BRUSHIFY shader packs as a starting point.)

It’s an amazing new experience, to be able to make a CGI environment and then run around it location scouting. (Below with UNREALs built in avatar. No Stina hasn’t become a cyborg!) A very different paradigm to the purely design-based approach of CGI we were previously used to. We can now run around and discover things about the world we didn’t know where there, reacting to it in real time like a photographer exploring an unfamiliar landscape; experiencing different compositions of light and form. The ability to instantly change the time of day with Ultra Dynamic Skies makes this even more exiting; how will the vista look at midday? Will the setting sun totally transform the mood?

Standing high up a on mountain pass looking down through a cloud as it diffuses the sunlight over the village:

Looking up at our peaks from down in the valleys:

Looking down on Stina’s aunts house from high above the cloud layer:

Stina’s field and the aunt’s house at sunset:

We are also beginning to design our other pipelines, from animation and facial motion capture through to cloth and fluid simulation. A lot of work ahead, but we’re already assembling a great team and have achieved a lot more than we ever expected in just 2 weeks. (Back at the start of the project this level of fidelity would have taken forever. Technology has come a long way in 10 years!)

We’ll be posting some videos soon exploring our new world in more depth, so keep your eyes peeled…

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