Reflection: Evaluation of Learning

For my final project, I have learnt a great deal about using different applications for different situations and how I manage my time.

The technical skills I have learnt include: Rendering Machu Picchu in a game engine, adding Interactive elements, using Google earth maps, height elevation data, used Maya, Blender, Google Sketchup, Mudbox and Photoshop as well as Unreal Engine textures and materials. I also learnt about time management, prioritising tasks and planning.

Whilst this was a solo project, I did receive a lot of feedback from my peers in the few days before the deadline. I think I might have benefited working in a team to improve my communication and teamwork skills. Still, I learnt a lot about myself during this project and what aspects to improve on.

As an artist I feel that I have learnt many new skills and will leave Hertfordshire wanting to learn more about level design and environments. I also need to work on my confidence. While this project was challenging and occasionally frustrating at times, I enjoyed it and was happy with my final product.


Hand in today

Well,that was incredibly stressful. The unreal version I was using was 4.8 and the one in the LRC was 4.4.

I tried to compile it numerous times but failed. In the end I attempted to compress all 8GB onto a DVD-R that I had and submitted it.

So, what I have learnt today is to check compatibility beforehand and keep the file size low if you can. What I found a bit annoying was that the open world demo assets that unreal gave was 6GB, and I was only using four of those assets. I deleted the ones that I didn’t have and received an error message, which disappeared when I put everything back again.

I am hoping to improve this for the Graduation Show on November.

Camera and lighting issues

Well the good news is that the camera works! I looked up the blueprint documentation and managed to get each camera corresponding to a number on the keyboard. I did want the user to be able to use the camera to move around 360, but I was still able to move it like a  FPS game. In the end I decided to limit it to no movement.

Unfortunately my laptop freezes every time I try to package or do a lighting building. I am hoping to do this tomorrow at university.

camera blueprint

Reflection: Methodology

I think the main thing I can take away from this project is to improve what items I need to prioritise. I had originally thought that since the buildings and the grass steps of Machu Picchu would be quite small in comparison to the terrain, that I really should do the surrounding landscape first. So, yes, I do find it hard to work out what should be focused on.

But this brings me to my methodology, which for me is working out what tasks need to be done and how. When I’m stuck I look up tutorials on-line or ask my tutor for guidance. I like videos that are straightforward, and explain things through in a simple manner.

Keeping this blog helps, I think, as I have a record of everything that I have done so far as well as my inspirations and that helps in keeping me motivated.

When making decisions, it’s usually based on what I can or can’t do within a time frame. I notice that if I spend too long on an aspect of my work, I can easy forget about the rest of it, as I am focusing on trying to get it right.

As a potential artist, these are the things I need to keep in mind in order to improve my methodology.

Buildings part 2

After repeated attempts to get one building into Mudbox, I decided to leave it and texture the whole scene, however, the textures came out distorted.

I tried to use the normal texture maps from blender, but Mudbox kept giving me a message that the UV Map was wrong. In the end I imported the whole thing from blender into unreal and placed a stone wall texture on it.

The trouble after that was trying to get the buildings onto the grass steps correctly. No matter how many times I re-sized the buildings or the terrain, I kept getting the same result, where some of the building would float in mid air.

I went back to blender and this time managed to import each building separately.

HighresScreenshot00004 HighresScreenshot00006

Whenever I became frustrated with the buildings, I would try and improve the terrain.

It worked!

Well, kind of. The second time round, I received an error message in unreal stating that the heightmap should be in greyscale, so I amended the image in photoshop.

Once that was done, I had no error messages at all. However, the mesh generated was distorted and bumpy. I had to smooth everything out and re-size it so I could place it on top of the mountain.


Running into Issues

Now, I’m having trouble trying to import the grass steps as a mesh into mudbox in order to paint textures. I get all sorts of warning message about degenerated faces or too many edges. I look up all the error messages and try to fix them by using the clean up tools in Maya and correcting the UV layout.

I am going to keep trying to correct the mesh, but if it doesn’t work out I will need to try something else.