(PART ONE is HERE)
Hello again, this is Part Two of the 3dification of the Strange Days top-down 2D town into a fully 3D world. The Part One link is detailed above.
Phase 2 has been a slightly longer process than Phase 1, as it included building all of the town building exteriors and room layouts, along with the rest of the town geometry, including the graveyard, trees, lampposts, and all other exterior details.
I’ve included screen-shots and examples below, but you can also check out the following Portfolio page link to see all the shots in one place:
3D Town Shots
Detailing the Town
The first step of Phase 2 was to build the remaining areas of the town still left to re-create in 3D, which included the cemetery, trees, camp site. Again, this was a case of building in Lightwave (my 3D package of choice), using the 2D tiles and sprites as reference.
The easiest way to do this was to build directly on top of the town 2D map, to ensure the size and scale of all the details were correct.
It actually made the whole process really nice and straightforward, having that visual guide in place, recreating correct scale, design, positioning were much easier than just creating from scratch.
In terms of the texture maps, it was a case of taking the tiles/sprites and unwrapping them, a bit like peeling the skin off and laying it out flat. You can see a few examples below:
Once the town details were finished, it was time to move onto the buildings. This was a big task – the 2D map included 30 buildings (a mixture of shops, bars, huts, a garage and a hotel) and 10 houses. Most of these featured interiors, some with multiple floors.
I also had to decide upon how to approach the interiors. In the 2D game world each interior is part of a seperate interiors map, with the player teleporting there upon contact with the entrance door. Should I do the same with the 3D world, or try for a seemless look, whereby the buildings have the interiors built in, and you walk into the buildings as part of the main world. I decided on the latter approach, primarily as I thought it would look cool and feel more cohesive if the interiors were accessible directly from the main world, just like in real-life!
As with the town details, I constructed the buildings directly over the map to get the scale correct from the offset, and for the textures I had to expand the current building front tiles to add in the sides and back of each building. I have included the Town Buildings texture sheet below.
While the 3D work was straight-forward enough, it was time consuming, and in the case of building the interiors into the buildings, more than a little fiddly at times.
I’m really pleased with the end results though, I think constructing the buidlings with the interiors works well, although it does limit lighting a little as I can’t have hundreds of lights in the scene, so I’ll need to work out the most optimal way to handle the lighting for the building interiors.
The interior textures were super easy, mostly just a case of taking the tiles directly from the interiors map and creating an individual texture for each surface.
Here are a couple of screens showing the building interiors – it was that view out of the window I wanted to achieve, which wouldn’t have been possible if I had seperated the interiors out.
Click to view full size
Below are a few of the interior texture maps:
In Part One I mentioned I was creating some of the level architecture as billboard sprites, whereby a flat 2D sprite is drawn to always face the camera (Doom style), giving the illusion of 3D. Well, I did do this, and then I scrapped it, as the billboards just didn’t gel with the new 3D world, particularly when it came to lighting and shadows *.
As such, I built 3D geometry for all of the billboard sprites, including lampposts, signs, fire hydrants and trees.
In the gallery below you can see the new fully 3D town elements, which to my mind work much better, and allow for proper lighting and shadows.
* The reason the shadows looked so bad is that when the camera rotated around the billboard sprites, while the sprite continues to face the camera, the real-time shadows belie the true flat shape of the sprite. There are fudges around this, but I decided against those, as fully 3D seemed the best approach.
The final element of the Phase 2 rework was experimenting with post processing and lighting, although this will very much be an on-going thing. Do you ever feel completely satisfied with the visual touches? There are aways more tweaks you can make!
Phase 2 is done, so what next… Phase 3 will include the building interior lighting, furniture, shop fittings, cemetery crypts, and any other remaining 3D bits, before the reworking of the C# scripts to reflect the change from 2D to 3D.
What Do You Think So Far?
Thanks for reading 🙂 We would love to hear any feedback or thoughts on the 3Dification via the comment form below…