Talk:2019-04-30 Developer Diaries: Building Tech

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I'm Devin Lafontaine, and my job title is Senior Environment Artist at Intrepid Studios. Most of what I do here is focused on natural environments so terrain, trees, grasses, that kind of stuff. I also deal a fair amount with lighting, and also technical process stuff that we do in the background to support the whole art team. The housing tool was designed mostly originally as a way to make houses quickly, and make them run really well. We identified some ways in Apocalypse that we could have improved the way the buildings were set up, and in doing all of the performance improvements that we ended up doing near the end of that project, I learned a lot of things about how we can improve that going forward. So the housing tool is focused a lot on that, and also making it easy for the whole team to build a bunch of buildings, because we're going to need many many many MANY buildings for the nodes. Ashes of Creation is a very large and ambitious project. We have 9 different races that need to be represented from an architectural standpoint in each of the nodes. As players move throughout the world and establish these cities, you're going to see manifested in real time each of these cultures in some way, shape, or form. In order for us to accomplish the creation of these vast cities and multitudes of buildings, what Devin's been working on with this tool really allows the artist to swap in different modular pieces to create diverse and unique buildings within the node system. Now, obviously, this tool doesn't accommodate ALL of the features we want to see from an architectural standpoint in the cities. There is still going to be a need for one-offs and custom-created assets that represent perhaps the central building within a city or the unique social organizations that exist. These will still need to be completed separate from a modular set. So one of the things that I learned when building all the POIs in Apocalypse was the quantity of items that we had to render. It was pretty expensive, and there's a lot of technology in Unreal that helps reduce that that we wanted to start using more for the MMO, so the housing tool is very heavily reliant on some of that tech. So the first thing it had to do was be performant so it could render lots and lots of buildings pretty easily. It also had to be easy to manage for the art team and the artists building the pieces that comprise a finished house, and it also had to be easy for anyone on the team to use. The designers could use it and not really have any headaches or any confusion as to what they're doing. The one thing I really like about working on these games is watching players discover them, so I'm really eager for the community to hop into the game and see all the stuff we've been doing, because it's really fun making it and there's a lot of cool stuff that we want to share. One of the paramount goals at Intrepid is to create the ultimate immersive experience where players, as they explore and search the far reaches of Verra, they get to experience this vast diversity in culture through the different cities that they'll come across. Really putting the players IN the story, making them feel a part of the world - that's one of our primary objectives.