New World Building Tools | RockHoundBlack Video Follow-Up

  • Founders

    Hey guys, Lewis here.

    You may have seen my recent interview with RockHoundBlack and I wanted to give you guys a follow-up with more information about what we spoke about in our chat.

    If you haven’t seen it already, here’s the video:

    Making a large open world isn’t just about making the world bigger – it’s also about keeping that quality you would expect from smaller more refined levels whilst making the world feel natural. To be able to do this we needed to develop new tools and systems to enable our design, environment and audio teams to populate the world more effectively.

    The tools also reduce the amount of time it takes to iterate on the world, allowing us to spend more time focusing on the smaller details that make the world feel natural and impressive to you guys, the players.

    Some of these systems/tools that the tech team have developed are:

    1. Smart Prefab System

    What makes a Smart Prefab “Smart” compared to a normal Prefab?

    • It has the ability to automatically conform to the terrain,
    • It has the ability to automatically remove objects or vegetation (e.g. if we were to place a cottage in a forest, we would no longer need to manually remove the trees),
    • And finally, it allows us to interact and hook into other systems (e.g. our Loot System).

    Here are some examples of smart prefabs being used in the editor. The first video shows how we are able to paint a mask that we have assigned to the smart prefab that gives us control over how it blends with the rest of the world. In this case, forgive my lack of artistic skill I’m a programmer, I wanted to have some of the grass blends with the mud inside of the small forest.

    In this second video, I’m searching for a new smart prefab to replace the current one. As you can see we can update these very quickly with just a few clicks and we don’t have to wait for things like the lighting or vegetation to update around it as it all happens in real-time.

    Again I play around with the mask but this time I’m focusing more on the heightmap rather than terrain textures. Rather than saving the changes in this example, I reload the mask again and instantly revert the changes I’ve made.

    2. Loot System

    • Give us the ability to create Loot Tables (such as a Town or City just to state some of the types we have) which can be assigned to Smart Prefabs our SpatialOS GameWorker is then able to set which items should be spawned within that Smart Prefab based upon the loot table,
    • A loot table defines all the items that can be spawned along with weights and changes to create variation due to different bundles being chosen or changing amounts of a particular item can spawn between game sessions,
    • Allows designers to quickly add new items or change the ratio of the number of items should spawn within a given type of loot table,
    • And makes it easy for designers or environment artists to assign a loot table to a given area of the world without needing to worry about individual spawn points within that smart prefab or collections of smart prefabs.

    3. Material Effects System (MFX)

    Handles all in-game effects (consist of audio, particles and decals) that are a result of some type of physics event based on which materials are colliding:

    • Generic collisions
    • Projectile Impacts
    • Melee Impacts
    • Bodyfall (i.e. players falling from a height)
    • Destruction

    I’ve set up a small test level which I’ve populated with some metal barrels and rubber tires falling onto a wooden floor to demonstrate the audio of the MFX system, as I’m sure those of you who have entered The Forge would have seen the particle and decal effects handled by this system in game before.

    As you can hear, the sound effects are different between the metal, rubber and wood surfaces colliding with each other as well as the player’s footsteps interact with them.

    1. Road Tool
    • Allows the environment team to be able to quickly place large roads across the world that generates realistic results,
    • Allows for presets to be created, making the process of setting up the constraints that are used by the pathfinding algorithm as a one-time process,
    • Interacts with the Smart Prefab system, having the ability to erase vegetation within them – so placing a road through a forest doesn’t require any time to erase vegetation,
    • And allows for the generated spline to be touched up by hand and live to edit the world around it.

    In this video I’m using an existing road preset, selecting two points in the world for the road and letting the tool generate a road based on the constraints the profile provided. Even after it has been generated I still have full control over editing the spline and touching up some parts of the road, as you can see most of the time-consuming work has been done for me so I can focus on making the road fit into the world.

    Hopefully, this gives you a small insight into some of the tools that we have developed that have been designed to aid us in creating Mavericks. By reducing a lot of the repetitive and time-consuming tasks from designers and artists, it allows them to focus on creating an interesting, high quality and natural looking world. See you on the Dern!