Dev Blog Post #2

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Lightmapping Hell!

As I’m sure all of you experienced game makers are aware, lighting isn’t as easy as you’d expect it to be. When making 3D model assets, the actual modelling of the object isn’t even 50% of the work. What takes most of your time, effort and patience is unwrapping UV’s for texturing and light maps. Well, guess who didn’t know lightmaps existed… That’s right, this so-called Game Designer. What you are about to read is a chronicle of my descent in to madness.

Low Poly Was Easy!

Relatively speaking making low poly assets is easy, at least the modelling side of it. I thought I had struck gold and I was putting in the hours and seeing visible progress! I don’t know about you but I am a sucker for instant gratification, and the low poly models I was creating really made me feel like I was actually making a game! I imported them in to Unreal and then it all started to go wrong.

Screenshot 7

That Dreaded Second UV Channel

Who saw that coming? Probably all of you. So naturally I hit up google like a pro and to my horror I was shown a whole new world, a dark world where I was not welcome, a UV World. After stumbling around looking for any kind of tutorial I could understand I started unwrapping my models manually, as that’s what everyone said was good practice. But guess what, it didn’t work! No matter what I tried the shadows kept bleeding over the hard edges.

Resolution, But Not That Kind

It was a resolution problem! I think. I increased the resolution and the shadow bleeding went, but then I was hit with incredible build times. We are talking 7 minutes for 5 trees on ‘Preview’ settings. So I halved the resolution (and it still looked okay) and started building my forest scene. Now I probably should have sought a solution to the high-res problem as I felt it was a cheap fix that wouldn’t be sustainable, but I got distracted by my attempt to catch up on The Walking Dead (Season 3 is really good). So, I built the forest.

Screenshot 8

Even More Problems

Finally, I had built the forest. Then I received messages that the render was too large so I needed to insert a Lightmass Importance Volume, which somehow seems to have made no difference. After 6 hours of rendering to production quality I got a message saying that my computer has run out of memory and closed Unreal. So, I did what any sane person would do and ate a whole tub of misery ice-cream.

What next?

This was a hard weekend for me, as I put so much effort in and still came up short. But on the bright side, I know I want to be a Game Designer even more so now as I would have given up long ago if it were anything else. Unless I can find a way around this I will simply have to redesign the game to something my computer can handle. I need more ice-cream.

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