Modular dungeon final project - WIP/Diary

Finished this section, and even if I didn’t learn much of new things… I did have lot of fun going through it!

So… I like low poly style. I want to do some cool dungeon now :slight_smile: First, I’ve been expanding on the modules (having more than 100 now):

For sure I will reuse models made during 1 Month of Low Poly Practice Challenge - Finished!

This post is just to kick off the project. Feel free to chime in with ideas and critique.

Project goals:

  • Create asset pack for my future reuse
  • Create interesting dungeon to crawl through
  • Make it all alive in unreal engine

Stretch goals:

  • build and publish on itch.io the dungeon with first person controller
  • make a simple hack and slash game out of it.
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I’m so happy you had a blast with this section.

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Ok, so today didn’t model anything for this project, but took my time to look through assets and some in-game dungeons (Skyrim didn’t age well, but design-wise it has some nice dungeons).

I made a rough plan of what models I will need for that.I am considering to have the following “Room types”:

  • “generic” dungeon
  • prison area
  • main boss area / throne room
  • wine cellar
  • barracks / sleeping room
  • blachsmith area
  • [optional] kitchen & dining areas
  • [optional] caves and/or mines
  • [optional] goblin camp

This will require quite a few modules.

For this I will need to add a few structural modules
  • broken walls
  • big pillars
  • ceiling (flat, arched)
  • Door variations
    • Squre
    • Metal Bars
    • Big doors
    • Wooden doors
  • Windows with bars
  • railings
  • stairs
  • Alcoves (wall with alcovels, for statues)
  • Trap doors
  • half walls
  • bridge (wooden and stone)
  • Wall corners, rounded ones too
And also quite a few props
  • banners
  • barrels broken and barrel parts, barrels opened with liquids, big wine barrels
  • baskets
  • beds
  • benches
  • bones, skeletons, skeleton parts, bone piles
  • bookshelves with books, books
  • bucket, bucket with water
  • cages
  • chains, shackles
  • chairs, stools (wooden and stone)
  • chalices, cups
  • chests
  • coins, coin piles, gems, coin purses
  • crate variants, broken crates
  • crystals
  • food, including cheese wheels :d
  • grates
  • hammers
  • ladder
  • plates
  • potion bottles, broken potion bottles
  • pots, broken pots, pots with handles, iron pots, clay pots
  • pracitce dummy, broken one, some variants
  • rugs
  • sacks
  • shelves
  • statues
  • tables
  • tents
  • throne
  • tool and weapon stands
  • urns
  • wall debries
  • wood and firewood piles
  • wooden boxes
  • wooden logs and piles
Some weapons and armor
  • weapon racks
  • shields
  • axes
  • swords
  • knifes
  • polearms
  • warhammers
  • bow and armor
  • [optional] full suit of armor
Lighting related props
  • torches variants
  • Chandelier
  • candles, candle stands
  • Braziers
  • fireplaces
  • lantrens
  • small pillars with lighting
Characters
  • skeleton
  • zombie
  • goblin
  • ? knight
  • ? rogue
  • ? some monsters
If I get to blacksmithing area I'll need also
  • anvil
  • bellows
  • grinder with grinding wheel
  • forge
  • pliers
  • wooden stump
If I get to the caves part I will also need
  • grass
  • mushrums
  • branches
  • cave modules
  • more rocks

Tomorrow I’ll probably spent some more time on planning and organizing stuff. I already have quite a bit of things from both my 1 Month of Low Poly Practice Challenge - Finished! and doing the modular dungeon section.

I am thinking about some kind of agile approach. Maybe 1-week long sprints, with some playable ‘demo’ at the end of each week. I’m not setting this in stone yet, but will probably limit the project to 1 month.

Any thoughts?

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OK, so today didn’t do much work. Other things got in the way. But I model some open crates to unwind and relax:

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More chests than crates. Much more possible for medieval use. I like the open frame ones.

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Ok, so no modelling today at all… and not much planning. But I did figure out 2 things (almost):

  1. How to use Blender’s Asset Browser. I already have my low poly models in multiple files, so I figured out that using asset libraries will be helpful. It’s not that difficult, but initial setup is prone to issues.

  2. Figured out how to import huge amount of models to unreal. Keeping my scene hierarchy and without need to set up and assign materials for each object. Overall it’s easy to do for couple of meshes, esp. that there is official plugin for sending data from Blender to Unreal… but for this use case it would be too tedious.

So… I used this addon. The problem is that it requires manual clicking on each object I want to export and set up some parameters. As it is the same I wrote simple script:

import bpy
for obj in bpy.context.selected_objects:
    print(obj)
    obj.ExportEnum = 'export_recursive'
    obj.exportFolderName = obj.users_collection[0].name

That for each selected object sets correct exporting setting and changes directory. (I still need to update a bit this script so it also keeps whole hierarchy, not just collection name)

It took me a bit to figure out, but this addon generates script that can be run in unreal… and with it it imports all the objects. There is one step needed to do, as materials are duplicated for each directory. It’s not a huge deal, but it also takes couple of minutes to fix manually. But I might try to automate it in the future (though it’s not top priority).

So basically with the script I can have all my modules ready to use in unreal in about 10 minutes:

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So today (so far, might do some more work still) I focused on figuring out more organizational stuff. I considered how to manage such a project. It’s not overly huge project, but it’s quite big. I set myself a goal of about finishing in 1 month. So the deadline will be May, 24… which isn’t ideal as :leaf: game jam starts before it. So… the deadline will be May,19th for ‘beta’ version and I might add a week after the game jam for some polish. And if I like the project maybe I’ll turn it into an actual game, but that’s for later considerations.

I did consider many ways to manage this project… from jumping right into it to full waterfall GDD driven approach and using many kinds of software stacks ranging from simple notepad to full fledged JIRA stack.

Finally I settled on a simple Kanban approach. So the board with couple of columns and swim lines. I started filling in the board already and will finish it soon. Current state of the board looks as follows:

Swimline for unreal/gameplay related things:

And last swimline is for other things

I use self-hosted instance of Wekan, but there is quite a lot of free and paid software stacks to use (e.g., trello, taiga, clickup). If you doesn’t know Kanban this video explains it well.

It’s interesting that none of the course I did (:leaf: or others) don’t really dive deep into ‘project management’ side of things. Old version of some of :leaf: courses did touch a bit more on that than the newer ones though. Maybe this subject is not as interesting to students as much as technical things :thinking:.

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You will have to make a wiki linked thread explaining all this, once you feel it is sorted out. To me, it may as well be written Klingon! But this getting things into game engines seems to crop up as a problem occasionally. It is odd it is so hard apparently.

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Oops :sweat_smile:

The import-export It’s not hard actually… at least not for static meshes. For unreal it’s as easy as move the object to center of a scene and export it as fbx (and than import fbx in Unreal and set it up there). For unity you don’t even have to move the object. This becomes an issue when you are trying to do more complex stuff. Like importing 100s of meshes at once and have ability to easily update your meshes.

Writing it up in a wiki might be a good idea… or at least linking to some existing tutorials and presenting options.

The project management thing on the other hand… I wonder if anybody would care about it really. Its an odd beast. You don’t think you need it until either you start failing your project or have experience of working with a good project manager.

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Does not crop up often but now and again we get students having problems with getting things from Blender into game engines. Drives me mad lol. I guess they expect complex things to come with them like materials and animations.

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The workflow I use… actually transfers materials :smiley: (but they are very, very simple - just textures plugged in to shader). Animations can come through easily enough, but actually setting up animations (that you have already) and making it really work (like for example you have a run and punch animations and you want to blend between them, so it’s possible to punch while running) is a subject for couple of lectures in a course. And actually this is being though in some of the courses - Character course covers basics of it and RPG as well. Though those are only for unity.

But overall having a wiki thread documenting this part might be useful for those quesionts.

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Finished all the planning work. So back to modular dungeon :). First evidence that project management has it place in such a work. The full overview of the work made me realize that I’ve approached the project backwards - I didn’t prepare any kind of mood board or backstory. So I rectify this mistake and have it now ready:

Fundamental feel I’m going for is the one captured in dungeons of Skyrim and Oblivion with a mix of old dungeons from Baldur’s Gate 2. The general feel of lighting I’m aiming for is a mix of cold blue night lighting with warm orange glow of torches and candles.

For the backstory I am starting simple and a little cliché:

Deep within the The Eastern Mountains an old, crumbled castle is located - the Dawnton Hold. The castle was hunted for hundreds of years, but wasn’t particularly interesting landmark. Until recently…
Now packs of undead march out of the castle every night plundering and destroying nearby villages. The hero was summoned to investigate why undead stirred now and end this threat.

Maybe I’ll elaborate on this idea in the future, but this short paragraph, combined with the mood board should keep me focused in one direction.

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Sooo… again no progress in modelling… But I finally finished organizing my work and workflows for this project :D. I will not bore you with details of that… From technical perspective I’ve set up my “master” blender file:

It looks almost the same as before… but it’s not! I promise! :joy: I switched to using for example asset browser (for materials in this project) and I’ve cleaned up my collection structure (it will reflect my content folder structure in unreal).

I’ve set up my Unreal Project. Tested my workflows with a few modular pieces. And I have start of ‘asset overview’ map:

And also I build very simple test map.

Its alive! :slight_smile:

Next step is to bring over my old models to my new file and start working on the map :slight_smile:

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Impressive work in progress. Something that might be interesting to give a try myself… once I am done the full blender course, environment, character…

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Thanks! I encourage you to try… maybe not even wait to finish all the course… Maybe finish one - do some project, than finish next? :slight_smile:


Today not much progress… I realized that I’m using Imphenzia color pallet/texture. And I think he gives it away for free, but I couldn’t find anything ‘on paper’ or in his videos (and I watched a few today) that explicitly says what is license of this texture. I asked on his discord and even sent him a DM. No clarity (i.e., maybe Imphenzia gives it for free for non-commercial use only).

So I decided to make my own… How hard could it be? … not that hard… but I had to learn a bit of gimp, a bit of Krita… and design it. And it’s ‘done’ (done enough for me to keep going). The good news about the one I’m doing is that it will be “modular” too! I designated areas for different things and I will be able to make variants of this texture that will give different look for the same models. It looks like that:

I made it bigger (512x512), which gives me 256 different color gradients. I will probably not use them all, but I’ll be able to use the space somehow maybe… for example: for drawing some sigils or banners and place those on models.

I’m using different layout… so now I’m re-colorizing my models… columns done so far… 103 models left :sweat_smile:

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The new palette works well. It was additional work, but I think the project will benefit from it. All the models are using it now.

Today I tested it in Unreal, it works well


And I’ve continued porting, fixing and adapting my old models to the new scene. Already 180 models to play with.

Probably I’ll not use all in the dungeon (like a palm tree), but maybe I’ll have some “outside” areas too? :thinking:

So far I moved ~half of my models. Screenshots of the more interesting ones in details

Trees and bushes:


Some rocks:

Weapons:

Blacksmith related models:

Buckets and barrels of different style:

Some of the characters:

And last but not least - I started moving along models from my low poly graveyard scene:

Plans for tomorrow: finish moving and adjusting my older models.

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Quick update: finished moving my old models.

377 modular models (mostly) ready.

And as yesterday a few interesting ones folded here...

Statues:


Some candles, torches, lanterns… I’ll need to remove flames from here and add them as particles on unreal side

Some withered trees:


Couple of shields:

Coffins, urns, graves, gravestones, obelisks:

More columns and part for fences:

So in short: busy work is done, tomorrow back to more creative work with modelling.

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Nice to see a dungeon with a ceiling! Even if it is a tilled floor upsidedown :joy:

I recognise a lot of those items from your older projects!

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:joy:

I will have to diverge even more from course material and do proper flooring and ceiling modules. I’m thinking about having a few styles for ceiling (e.g. arched ones) and overall redoing floor tiles to be 2 sided and thicker.

Yay! It was quite tedious to move them over. Not only because I’m using new palette texture, but also because I learnt a few things and I was improving them a bit (some a lot). E.g., I had very basic mistakes there like ‘floating’ or double verts, but also issues like unnecessary edges or bevels where not needed…

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Cool, you seem to have really got yourself very organised, any hints on how I could improve my workflow? All ideas welcome. At the moment I have 10 open art projects, is this wise or should I shut it down to just a couple?

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