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[WIP] Metro

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    [WIP] Metro

    So after finishing University, I wanted to work on a level showcasing my ability in UDK, over the past month when I've had some spare time after work I've been putting together Metro.

    The level is set in an abandoned section of the Metro system where rebels are fighting against the military presence in the area (I'll try and add more images later, my dropbox seems to be dead at the moment so I'm using a friends)


    I've created a video using matinee to show the level so far, the level still contains quite a bit of BSP but with the time that I have it could be like this for another month before I can finish off my 3D models.

    Screenshots of Metro in progress can be found here

    I've also used assets located from various sources which is stated at the end of the video.

    Any feedback good or bad will be very appreciated.

    What university are you attending? Are your professors critiquing your work?

    Right now your environment is very uninspired and the lighting is flat. You also have a lot of tiling in most of your textures and there is a lot of texturing that doesn't make sense, because there is missing art direction and no cohesiveness with the materials and surfacing. Also, don't use so much BSP- you should only be using BSP to prototype and gray box the level, in the end you should have the majority, if not all of it, made of static meshes.

    - look at the floor; it's bland and empty. The texture is just a basic tiling texture and that's it, with some simple diffuse shading. To improve it, add dirt and grime decals. Do a debris and garbage pass; add papers and trash that is strewn about, add small water puddles, etc.

    - your ceiling suffers the same problems; it's just a tiled texture and that's it. Where are the air vents that would usually be up there? How bout some pipes, airducts, etc.? What about signage? Have you ever seen what a real world subway station looks like? Do a Google image search for subways in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc.

    - your walls; same problems

    - your dependency on BSP is causing the majority of your level to have perfect 90 degree corners where walls, etc. meet- this doesn't happen in real life. Create static meshes and bevel the corners; do some sculpting in ZBrush and make some natural looking walls with imperfections, just like man made walls and structures in real life

    - your lighting is flat, it's not interesting. Why is everything lit so evenly? If it's supposed to be an old subway or whatever, make it more interesting. Make some more dramatic lighting, with lots of contrast and make the player path more interesting; right now there is no player path illustrated

    - why are there such clean large posters/signs of Samsung ads and people in some of your assets? This makes no sense at all, like no creative thought went into making this environment. You can keep that stuff, but be smarter about it. For example, what I would do is retexture that stuff to make it look old and damaged, if it's supposed to be self illuminated signs with plastic or glass surfaces, I would crack the surface, dirty it up, add some stains, damage, etc. and make a material that flickers, making it seem like there's a story behind the asset, making it feel more alive and cohesive with the rest of the environment- for example, there is a flipped over newspaper dispenser and a sparking phone (why the hell would a phone spark?), showing that you were going for an old, abandoned, damaged subway environment, but then there's these perfectly clean Samsung ads that totally fight with the scene and makes no sense you understand what I mean?

    - proportions are weird on a lot of meshes; the wood crates seem cartoony and odd; the same goes for the wood palettes, they are cartoony in shape, size, and texturing

    - what is up with the super clean train in the end? completely looks out of place- I would add damage, wear and tear, etc.

    There is a lot of other things that need to be completely overhauled, but those are the biggest things that stood out to me within the first 30 seconds. I hope you take my critique the right way and don't get emotional about it. I figure since you're still in school, you should hear this from a professional environment artist. You need to improve your work and take it to the next level, actually to a few levels really. I'm going to be honest and tell you that it will be difficult to get into a good game studio with your current reel. Try looking at other games for reference and see how they complete production quality environments. Since you're doing a subway level, I would recommend looking at games like Battlefield 3 and Metro 2033; they have great examples of detailed and well lit underground subway levels; especially Metro 2033.

    Good luck with everything and can't wait to see more improved work!


      Thank you for replying jak_carver.

      I've left University but the problem with the course was it taught me nothing in my field, so I've had to learn everything myself, I'm not going to get emotional about your critique because it's what I need to make myself better at what I do.

      I created the video just to show where the level was at, although I do have many images I felt it would be better to show a video that would capture most of the level for analysis and with your reply I felt that's worked.

      As you stated I'm using a lot of BSP, I know this and like I said I'm working on static meshes to remove them eventually, the video I posted is just to show the stage I'm at with the level.

      With the floor I've been looking at decal usage and material overlays, I've started creating some decals and yet to put them in, I've also started creating newspapers and such for a particle system to move around the floor, would that be the right way to do this or should I just turn them into a decal?

      The ceiling is lacking quite a bit but only because I've not really touched it yet, I wanted to have it connected to the walls with static mesh pieces (Like borders along the top, hanging wires going to the lights)

      The lighting is flat yes, I've only put them in to get an idea of where my lights will highlight, should I look at tweaking them now or until my scene is finished?

      I never really thought about the ads, Your right though even though they are ads they should also be telling a story towards the level environment, I'll take on board what you said and start bringing some story to those pieces.

      I'll look at replacing things like the crates and palettes, they never seemed right but I wanted them there till I could create my own.

      The train was one I found on the internet, I'll go back and see If I have any right to change it's texture, If not I'll create my own.

      Thank you once again for your reply, It's helped me better understand where I'm going wrong with my work and what I should do.


        For the news papers and random trash along the floor, you may want to use a hybrid approach of combining actual meshes, textures, and decals together. You may find this works best.

        For the lighting, there is no one way approach, it really depends on the artist and the environment. What I like to do is the following:

        - first I'll use my lead concept artist's mattes to see the level art and lighting direction

        - then I'll take some time to research and collect tons of reference images (Google image search is your friend) from all kinds of sources showing scenes that demonstrate the lighting I need to achieve. Looking up screenshots from really good movies or shows is a great resource to draw inspiration from for your lighting. Think about it, if you mimic lighting in your game from a movie like Aliens or something, your environment will have amazing lighting right? I cannot overstate the importance of having a large pool of great reference imagery to draw inspiration from. If you skip this step, you failed.

        - treat lighting and lights in Unreal as if they were paint brushes and the level is your canvas. Don't be afraid to place a hundred small lights everywhere to highlight and lead the player path. Use colors to control the mood of your scene. Don't use a lot of global illumination. What I do is, I'll do several lighting passes, the first will highlight the player path, I'll turn off indirect lighting for all the lights I place and create a dramatic mood with a lot of contrast (in photography you're taught to compose shots with major areas of contrast as this naturally draws interest from the human eye, there's a whole psychological theory behind this, but I won't get into it, just look it up and learn about it).

        - once I have an interesting player path with all the contrast and mood I wanted, then I will add some very low power fill lights with some indirect illumination to complete the scene

        - FX- don't underestimate effects. Add volumetric lighting effects to your scene, fog, lens flares, etc. This is very important in order to make the scene all come together. Think like a VFX supervisor. When a movie is shot, they don't just put it in theaters. VFX artists will go in and add post work that includes FX, etc. Making an effects polish pass will make the level go from amateur to professional

        Hope those tips help. It's important that you perform several polish passes until the scene looks the best possible. Use current AAA games on PC and consoles as your benchmark, as the level you want to aspire to achieve for your environments.

        Good luck!


          Amazing advice Jak, anyone interested in environment art should have a read through this thread.


            the ceiling is way too low, proportions look a bit off when looking at the boxes and benches in comparion if someone would sit there and be standing up.

            I advise our artists ALWAYS to put a static character ingame to match up to the environment, you cant substiute that by just using your eye


              The ceiling only looks low because it's from a camera, not from a player perspective, you can see multiple characters throughout the video that show the true height of the level.

              O.k so I started ripping things apart, I created a static mesh floor and for now created two holes that have pools of water in them.


              I also added volume meshs to the lights and tweaked with bloom scales from some of the lights while decreasing brightness.


              With the adverts I created a flickering texture to simulate a broken light behind it, also added a smashed glass decal over the top of it.


              I started creating paper and trash assets, this is just a quick one to get an idea of scale.


              Again, thank you for the feedback, it's helping me a lot with me work.


                fantastic, keep going!


                  They're look the best. Like the neutralized ads here and matinee. ^^


                    Been a bit busy over the last few days, I did mange to do some work though, I added an Exponential Height Fog to the scene which I think helps the light volume meshes fit more with the scene now.

                    This is an off/on comparison (If it's hard to see I apologize, my monitors brightness scheme has gone a bit weird recently)


                    I also added pointlights around the advertisements, I've kept the radius small and changed the falloff a little to not seem overbearing, any thoughts on them?



                      Updated the video in the original post to show work so far.


                        Getting better on the lighting side of things, but still a long way to go. All of my original critique still applies.

                        Keep working on it; getting better.


                          Cheers Jak, I'm now working on a to-do list and I'm using your critique as a basis.

                          We'll see how the next week goes.


                            Been extremely busy recently, my day time job is starting to cut into my development time and that's never good.

                            Anyway, the other day while cruising through GTA IV I came across the Suffolk station, although it's not fully underground (As the train entrance/exit is outdoors) It looked like a fantastic game environment to really get some inspiration from.

                            I recorded this 20 second clip for now (first time using the games capture system) to get an idea of just the platform, I'll create another one later of the entire structure from pavement entrance all the way down to the platform.

                            I also tweaked a bit more with the post process system, the following images of how it's looking now.





                            Also started work on some more trash models along with re-doing the train texture, my friend has been teaching me a few tricks in photoshop in creating old and aged looking textures, will hopefully have that done by this weekend.


                              Still looks like you haven't touched upon any of the items in my initial critique list. I wouldn't bother wasting time with the post processing, truth is you need to complete your environment art first before even touching post processing.

                              Everything is still largely the same as when you first posted the level in your thread. Keep working on it.