Friday, 7 November 2014

World Machine - Making Mountains!

We’re a couple of weeks into our big 6 week, year group project and everyone’s plans are coming together. In my teams, cold level, we noticed we’d need quite a broad and dynamic mountain range to fill in the vast background. This gave me the idea to create some mountains using world machine.

Having never used this software before, it was all very new to me and I had to learn the basics to get the hang of it. I didn’t realise, however, just how easiy this program is to use. Luckily we have the full licence on the computers in the university labs and so I had access to all the features.

Mountain Range Layout
I first started by searching for tutorials on making icy mountains on YouTube. There weren’t many around, but from the ones I found, they were very similar in terms of work flow. I build up my flow graph in the program as I followed the tutorial. From this, I then experimented with all the values of each node.  I got a few good results with some nice sharp edges on the mountain faces.

I tried a few different times and created about 5 of these different alp-like mountains. Each one was unique and it was interesting to see the same basic node structure make so many different peaks. When it came to texturing it, there was a macro node which was recommended in the tutorials which provided colour information. However, I had trouble using these macros at first as
they didn’t work on the uni computers. Because of this, I had to download the free version of world machine at home and input the macros through that method. I then saved out the flow graph and rendered the model and diffuse files at uni using the full licence.

Colourmap Output

The final results came out really well and a bonus with the software is that it can render a static mesh, diffuse map and height map as outputs all at the same time. This meant that I could render a mesh of a high poly mountain. I then made a low poly version simply by creating a plane with segments of about 26x26 which I then overlayed above the high poly mesh. I then used the 3dsmax retopology tools “conform” tool to, almost, wrap over the high poly. It was then just a case of unwrapping and baking the diffuse and normal information.

Left: High Poly Mesh - Right: Low Poly Mesh

This method of producing mountains was actually pretty successful, as they were in the background and not really a focal point of the level, they were cheap to make and texture. I also made a volcano for the Hot level to use as it was just a slightly modified workflow to this one. Also, I had the experience with the software which none of the team from that level had. 

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