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how to create an island/game creating workflow

I would like to create an island for game purpose, and it will be very helpful if anyone can give me some hints about the workflow of creating a game environment and the good way to do it.

I tried to find tutorials to learn creating landscape/terrain but nothing close to what I want (or maybe I just looked into the wrong direction) and some tutorials mentioned hightmap. I want to make an island like this one: Map of the whole island . On the island it will look something like this: rivers and trees , mountains, waterfalls and caves.

My questions are, how do you start to do a environment like this, do you use extensional programs like Maya, Zbrush, etc. to create models (rocks and trees) then import the models into UE4? I am a 3D modeller/animator and I know if I create the whole jungle/island/forest out of maya or zbrush, it is going to take forever and my PC probably cant handle it.

Is there any way (or any other software) to do it more effectively? So far I checked some programs like TerreSculptor HMES, SpeedTree online, any recommendation? Can anyone share the workflow of creating jungle/island environment with me? what software you use, how/where do you start and what should I be aware of if the environment models are used for first person shooting game?

Is there anywhere that I can get sources like rocks/trees models/textures for free?

For now, I would like to do a test project to make a small environment with waterfall and a few rocks with caves and trees around it just so I can get used to UE4 and the workflow. but still I would like to know the best way to do it.

If you have some tutorials related to this, please share me the links, or any suggestions would be greatful, I will be soooooo thankful for your help.

Sorry for a whole bunch of questions and thank you for your time.

For creating island like that i believe most people (including me) use World Machine which is easier to create detailed terrains. For creating various maps (eg: Flow map, Wear Map, Heightmap etc) World Machine has macros which you can use.

Check these macros:
http://www.world-machine.com/library/index.php?entry=61&focus=1
http://www.world-machine.com/library/index.php?entry=62&focus=1

I personally advice you to wait for v4.3 which adds support for SpeedTree and then you can create trees pretty easily. :slight_smile:

Thank you for the hint and advice.
Mind if I ask your workflow (start to finish) to create a game, let’s say you have the concept and a plan already, then what’s next, do you go straight in to create the environment in world machine?

I’m not the person you asked, this answer is different for everyone - but the basic jist for myself (and most people I know) goes something like this:

If your ‘idea’ is based more around a mechanic:
Start with the default starter map (or build yourself a very generic small map.)
Add whatever is needed to the map to allow you to build out the functionality around your mechanic as placeholders (meaning you might just put a cylinder as a ‘lever’ instead of looking for a model one, or just a square for a button/ammo pickup whatever)
Work on your mechanic, prototype as rapidly as possible (ue4 is so great for this, imho)
Polish as needed afterwards.

Working in this way tends to allow you to quickly see if an idea is fun or not, and allow you to rapidly test only the interesting mechanic or whatever very heavily. You can get it working exactly how you want without ever having to worry about lighting, textures, materials, post processing effects, terrain, LODs (the list goes on and on and on.) Once you’ve got the mechanic working the way you want it to, you can polish until you pass out. This could involve everything from new character model(s), more interesting terrain, trees etc to time of day/weather systems or whatever it is that gives your game ambiance. You’ve created the ‘fun’ and the rest of it is creating the ‘pretty’.

This tends to work almost exactly the opposite if your ‘idea’ is not based off a mechanic or something related, but is instead based off a story, or a certain lore, because:
In these cases you’ve got your backstory fleshed out, the way it looks and feels and sounds is vital to your vision of the game so, you may start with sound and lighting and have to get a decent starter map (maybe fire up world machine, and spend some time modeling rocks or texturing things for the right look or whatever it is.) You may spend a lot of time making custom shaders/materials, animations, your own postprocessing - maybe an inordinate amount of time designing your character.
In these cases most the time (again, from my own experience and the majority of those I know) this is all done with basically your default character controller/camera in place. Those aren’t touched until absolutely necessary (and only if it effects the way the vision comes across.)

In both cases the most important step is the first one, just get started. If you get stuck and feel like you’re never going to finish or don’t know what you should be working on. My own personal advice is as soon as you find yourself in that situation, first - take a break, get something to drink, whatever - and when you come back, just work on something, anything it doesn’t matter, pick something you know how to do (even if it’s not vital to the project), or something that interests you (even if you don’t really have to do it) - the idea is to make sure you’re always checking stuff off. As long as you continue to work on something every day you’re always closer to being done (or ready to share with others.)

Best of luck to you.

So… how long does one usually spend in prototyping? I heard one - rumor? myth? or is this true even? - that if you spend too long prototyping you’ll end up just destroying it?

I’ve never heard of such a thing. But I can’t tell you how long to spend prototyping something. Prototyping is literally testing an idea, once you get to the point the idea is complete, your prototype is done. You would never prototype an entire game (and by that I mean, when you’re done it’s ready for a box in a commercial storefront.) If you were making a game where you wanted your main mechanic to be 4 interchangable fight styles/stances with 4 moves each, your prototyping stage would involve assigning controls for this (maybe on a gamepad it’d be dpad for stance and abxy for moves), then you’d work on the actual different moves in each style. Perhaps you’d need to add an AI to fight against. Once you’ve got it to 4 styles with 4 moves, you’re prototyping your mechanics. This is when you’d constantly launch and reload and make small changes to make the mechanic fun to play. It’s also entirely possible that at this point you find it’s not fun at all. Once you move past this, you’re not prototyping anymore.

What you may be referring to as ‘spending too much time prototyping’ is feature creep. This is where in the above example, you add your 4 styles. Now wouldn’t it be awesome if you had the 4 styles, with 4 attack moves and 4 defense moves each. Okay, so now you have 16 new moves (literally twice as many moves as you had to come up with in the first place.) Or you decide that your 4 styles depend on whether you’re on the ground or in the air - now you’ve gone from 16 moves, to 32 moves, to 8 styles and 64 moves. Now you’ve got a ton more to work through while you’re still technically ‘prototyping’. If at some point during this you decide your mechanics just won’t work without also having portals, or gravity weapons, etc - you can see how you can get stuck in a loop where you never make anything.

Prototyping should be seen as a short pass/fail stage. Does this idea work as well on the computer as I thought it would in my head. You shouldn’t care bout visual fidelity, or sound quality, or animation realism - etc when you’re prototyping, just see if the BASIC idea is fun. If something passes, move on - work on something else, until you have your ‘game’ ready to be polished. The best defense against feature creep is having a plan and sticking to it.

Thanks sooo much Madison. you comment helps me a lot, and I will keep your advice in mind. Thanks so much for your time.
Good day :slight_smile:

Monitoring thread with great interest-

I too would like to create something similar to op, but once I learn the engine, I’m going to base it off of the area I live in.

World machine looks very interesting.

I didn’t read heavily into it, but can you export worlds made in that program into UE4 to add better lighting/textures roads building exterior and interiors etc?

I too dame interested in it well i have already read this.

I feel difficult to find tutorials about game creating workflow (or I’m just not very good at finding stuff :D). Most tutorials I found are more like separated sections, for example, in the official tutorials, they have a series of tutorials for programming, blueprint, animation, etc., but all of these tutorials are not from the same projects. There is a tutorial which shows you the workflow for designing level. It’s pretty much the same method as madison’s comment above. But this tutorial doesnt explain in details tho, just a rough idea, but still help. Here is the link to the tutorial:
https://youtube.com/watch?v=XDsJOFyxMnw
I think it would be nice/easier to learn if there is a series of tutorials show you how to create a game from concept to publish with the same project, specially for people like me, very new to UE4 and know not much about it.

Yesterday, I found a series of tutorials that I think it is close what I have been looking for, it’s not free, so I just read the titles of the tutorials, it seems good, thinking of buying it.

http://www.hourences.com/product/the-solus-project-level-introduction/

there are 3 series of tutorials, this is just one of them. I wish more people who know UE4 already can do some game creating workflow tutorials, help out the noobs a little bit. :smiley:

I think that given time there will be some tutorials along the lines of what you’re asking about. I’m not aware of any at the moment however.

The one thing that will complicate this is there’s never going to be a tutorial that covers making your game from start to finish. I don’t mean that to sound pedantic or condescending, it’s just the way things are. What I mean by this is even if the top 10 AAA game developers made it a point to release a tutorial series on their workflow from start to finish. The only thing that it’s really going to help you do is recreate what they’ve already done. Workflow is something that sort of materializes in your own style. While there are things like coding standards, and your asset pipeline (the actual software/tools you use to shuffle content/code around) which are the same for everyone working on a project together (for the most part), your personal workflow probably won’t end up matching anyone elses.

I know it’s said over and over and it’s one of those things that is frustrating to hear, but the best way to learn and develop your workflow is to dive right in. The best thing you can do to start learning today, is start using the UE editor. Pick something simple and that you understand the rules of, connect 4, tic-tac-toe, icebreaker - whatever. Think about how you want to do it, google for it - even if someone hasn’t made it in UE4 these are simple games with simple concepts, if you find a tutorial in a different engine (or just writing it in plain C# or C++ or something), and there’s a part you don’t understand how to replicate google for how to do [technique] in ue4, search the docs, ask on the answerhub or here in the forums. The first time you take a game from a blank starting space to a working recognizeable game, even if it’s just tic tac toe - you will feel an amazing sense of accomplishment. But what you may or may not realize right away is how much you’ve learned in the meantime. You’ve learned what tools and sets of tools are where in the editor, you’ve learned how to look for answers you don’t know based on descriptions or methods you may find elsewhere, and best of all - you’ll know what it takes to get the result you got.

If you make a working tic tac toe game, you can push yourself without making it much harder - try to convert it to being a ‘minigame’ (something you can walk up to and play in a scene), mess around with materials and textures and lighting - you can do a whole lot and learn a whole lot while still executing a very simple game. Everything you learn doing things like this will translate into your working knowledge and ability to create whatever game it is you’re dreaming about.

Don’t wait for ‘the’ tutorial to come out, make something today, I promise you won’t regret it.

I agree with you’re saying Madison, but I don’t know if I can speak for op, but I can certainly speak for myself with what I’d like to see in those tutorials and what I think op and I would like to be covered in those tutorials.

I think what I’d like to see covered in new tutorials, either by someone at Epic or just someone from the community, would be to cover

-What programs are essential for

1: Creating your own custom textures and props

2: Creating your own custom character without relying on other programs with prebuilt characters

3: Creating your own custom map with the basic geomtry/angles YOU want and exporting that back into UE4 or another program for

4: Texturing the hills and placing terrain objects such as cliff faces, boulders water falls trees etc and

5: Exporting the final product into UE4 for retouching and post processing or better overall lighting of your map

  • And a work flow guide in recreating a map to get us use to what to do and how to do it and make it more second nature; I have been working with the basic tutorial that Epic provides on building a basic structure, I have been working on that for the past 2 days just to get myself familiar with that side of the engine and placing lighting player starts objects etc, so It would be nice to have the same thing for work flow charts or recreating one of their maps like what op suggested to at least get us started with it.

Would be cool really just to get us going :slight_smile:

I think you can find most of that! The majority of your list isn’t specific to UE. 1 2 and 3 aren’t really done in the editor, your textures, props, character etc are going to be modeled in a 3d program (the ART toolset works easiest with Maya), and you can find countless tutorials on how to create your own textures, characters (things like Mixamo Fuse work fine if you don’t want to model a character on your own in Maya/Blender/3ds max etc). I agree that 4 could use some better tutorials for UE - however, look in the Rendering and Content subforums, there are already people doing great work with landscapes and terrains - even a very nice example with cliff faces (handmodeled by the guy who’s thread it is, I think he even shows the rocks seperately in the modeling program he’s using.)

5 gets tricky, post processing and lighting depend heavily on what you’re doing (if your game takes place 30,000 feet under the sea, your needs are entirely different than my space game, or my open world third person roaming, or my minecraftesque isometric game with no ToD system.) Both post processing and lighting on their own are HUGE subjects that it’s pretty hard to cover sufficiently in a way that applies to everyone.

To summarize, 1 2 and 3 can be found by searching for any similar tutorials that are for any program that exports into a format UE4 can use (unless you want to extend the formats it can use yourself). 4 I agree is lacking, but there is already some content on the forums for - look around, and 5 is very hard to do, tutorials might show up to help you, but if you get to that point and are having problems ask questions! This community is extremely helpful, not just the Epic guys but the other random members like you and me.

I would expand your search and not limit it to “tutorial made specifically for UE4”, in many ways the plethora of tutorials available for Unity (and ESPECIALLY UDK) translate very easily. If you need tutorials for modeling/texturing check out some of the CG communities dedicated to that.

I agree that more tutorials is always helpful, so I’m not saying you’re wrong - I just think there’s a lot more out there already than people realize. Sure UE4’s public release is very recent, but it’s hardly the first community dedicated to building games, and even though I love the engine and it’s great and packed full of features, it still basically works the same way a lot of other engines do (I mean in the way that you interact with it as a creator), look for similar tutorials and if you can’t find the counterpart in UE, ask where to look for it and you should be able to use any tutorial you find.

I agree with Madison on this- almost any art tutorials will apply to UE 4 for the things you listed.

At the lowest end you could make an entire game with a 2D image editor and a 3D package. All the other programs inbetween, just make certain tasks easier or faster (like Zbrush). I could make terrain in Max. Or Photoshop- or Zbrush. Or all three, whatever I personally find easiest. Someone else on these forums might use something completely different.

Making art for games should be about concepts because the tools will change but the concepts will stay the same. Once you learn one 3D package and understand the concepts behind geometry, you can use any package. They all use polygons :slight_smile:

I would rather Epic create tutorials for how to implement things specific to their engine instead of general art tutorials.

Great informative post guys!

Tomorrow I think I’ll re-read Madison’s post and start doing some searches on google or youtube various things and start looking for other programs like world machine another poster suggested.

I’ll definitely look into Photoshop, because I have used the normal elements 6 programs for editing photos and straitening the edges in photos and using filters and stuff like that, so that could be a very good option for me as I am already somewhat familiar with the program, but I’ll definitely check out other programs and see what’s out there.

Would auto cad come in handy for architecture stuff? I don’t know if you can export stuff from Auto cad into UE4.

I’ve used auto cad before too, but that was a long time ago, but I guess it’s just another area I could maybe look into.

Again Madison, thanks for your in depth and very useful post, appreciate it :slight_smile:

I have learnt a lot form the existing tutorials on the official youtube site, as well as this community, people are extremely helpful. I have been building a level in EU4 with what I have learnt from those tutorials. Those tutorials are great, very useful for newbies like me to understand how everything works in UE4. Eventually I may be able to create a game with my own workflow. However, knowing other people’s workflow is a massive help to improve the way of your work, different people have different work styles, use different tools kits, maybe have different tricks to do things, and so on, by comparing other people’s workflow/work with yours will help you learn what works better/worse, what works faster/slower and what you should avoid to do, in order to do works more effectively.

In my point of view, learning with the tutorials on the official site helps you to get along with UE4, understand the basic functions and principles; studying other people’s workflow/work gives you more like general ideas how things get done (more effectively), what problems you can have if you do this or that, stuff like that. You keep these things in mind when you come to create your own game, you probably will spend less time to deal with problems that you create accidentally.

I dont mean to wait for these kind of “workflow” tutorials, I do strongly agree just make something and test stuff out, but in the meantime, it would be nice if there are some “workflow” tutorials to watch/learn the process, then I can observe other people’s work, make my work better, it is some extra information to help my learning.

That is a very good point, I will definitely look into that. Thanks :slight_smile:

Afternoon Sky_collapsed.

I have no personal experience importing CAD into Unreal, however I’ve heard several times (and I think I’ve seen a conversation about CAD on these forums also, but I can’t remember which subforum so I’m sorry for not providing a link, you may be able to find it) but typically importing CAD into a game engine is difficult. CAD is primarily intended for solid objects, you should expect the possibility for some serious import errors due to this, what may be a perfectly valid shape for a solid object might leave really odd openings (or unsealed edges etc) when converted to other formats. CAD is intended for industrial use and has a very specific audience and function, while you might could build a pipeline for it, I would not recommend it, it will add difficult for absolutely no discernable increase. I honestly believe that you would spend more time getting it to smoothly work than you would learning a new 3d program (especially if you were already familiar with CAD, some of the concepts are the same.)

If you’re looking for image editing I would recommend Maya for 3d models and Photoshop for any 2d work you need to do. The only justification I have for this is that: Maya is the focus of the ART pipeline provided by Epic themselves, they have solved many of the issues moving between Maya <-> Unreal, and you can get help straight from the developers if there’s a weird problem in your workflow, they can even provide helpful tips as they use this software frequently. Photoshop, because it’s the most widely known in it’s field for a reason, it just works, there’s a metric boatload of tutorials out there for it, and it’s got a whole lot of plugins and third party tools.

If those aren’t in your budget, don’t fear. Blender is free (as in beer) and is a fantastic 3d modelling program, you will find a lot of other people in the community (and the communities of other engines) who use Blender. Some of the Epic devs even talk about their use with blender on the forums, you won’t have a shortage of finding tutorials, and because of the community involvement and the size of the blender community itself, if you have problems between Blender -> Unreal there are a lot of people who can provide help. Similarly, Gimp (instead of photoshop) is also free (as in beer). I would have to say in my own personal opinion (as is everything else I ever state, take it with a grain of salt) that the difference between Blender and Maya is fairly small, and that comparatively the difference between Gimp and Photoshop is a little wider, it may have come a long way since the last time I used it, admittedly it’s been at least 2 or 3 years, but Gimp was a little rough around the edges for me. That said I have friends who swear by it and use it only, and they can create some things that are just as beautiful and captivating as anything I’ve ever seen come from PS.

All of that being said, TimeSpirit summed it up for me pretty nicely, there are several ways to arrive at the same goal, and part of developing your workflow is figuring out which tools work best for you, for your budget, for the way you like to work, that you don’t have problems with, that do the things you require for a certain project, etc. But a tutorial for one program doesn’t exclude it from any of the others, look for tutorials on similar software (or for similar toolkits, whatever), and work on adapting it over. There is a lot of information out there you just have to look.

I see what you mean. I don’t know what subforums you browse, but check them all every couple of days - more than once I’ve seen people livestreaming while they work in UE4 in the editor. Also, look at guys like Tesla here on the forums (I hope he doesn’t mind me using him as an example), even if none of his particular projects interest you - he has very nice walkthrough tutorials. There are a lot of threads that might not mention being or having a tutorial, that if you read a few pages in the author will have at some point posted a video of how he made it, or how to integrate it (which can show you all the places they used to create it, etc.)

Maybe these could be organized better? Perhaps added to a list of tutorials or video walkthroughs on the wiki? It’s not something I could commit to doing (almost the time of year where I’ll be working 90 hour minimum weeks) but if it doesn’t exist, maybe you could organize a list for the wiki (or hell, your own thread, whatever floats your boat) where you organize the different videos people have posted on the forums based on what subsystem, feature or whatever they’re working on in the videos. You could help make a nice resource for new people while also finding all the things you’re looking for for yourself. Also remember that I don’t think the old UE4 beta forums have been merged yet, you will be surprised when you see how much discussion and content comes in with them.

Madison, thanks for yet another informative post!

It sounds like CAD won’t be a good way to go lol, although I have it used before and have some familiarity with it, it sounds like it won’t be too useful to me and would instead be more of a hindrance.

For someone just starting out and learning the ropes, I’ll probably go for free programs so will look at a few free programs like Blender, World Machine and investigate wherever I want to go down the GIMP path or back down the photoshop, I think I’d prefer the photoshop path as I am much more familiar with the UI on that over GIMP’s UI, although both of the programs are fantastic, it all really comes down to user friendliness.

Time for a bit of research now!

First I’ll look at what 3d software, just doing a bit of a google I think both world machine and Blender will be very useful for me.

Blender: For animations and creating things like cars and so on

World machine; Looks to be very useful in creating the terrain/geometry for a map.

If I decide to go down the photoshop path, which photoshop do you recommend? Lightroom or will the latest elements be fine?

Okay, so decided to have a bit of a play around with world machine, seems like a very good program.

Took me a bit, but figured out how to export a height bit map (I think it was called) into UE4, now I just need to figure out how to do the same with textures.