This is my first question I have posted so ere’ it goes
Preface: I am working on a project in which the majority of gameplay takes place ‘above the clouds’ targeted for VR. In my research particle effects and volumetric lighting are expensive. As the player traverses the map I visualized a rolling sheet of clouds for the bottom of the level/map. I have played with some ideas but in lieu of time I thought it better to just ask the community directly.
Question: Is there an efficient way to illustrate a mostly opaque sheet of clouds to mark the bottom bounds of the level?
Thank you! These were exactly the answers sought and with more detail than I expected to receive. Asking such a broad question, I was unsure as to whether it would get answered at all.
This is a rather difficult question, it depends on the trade-off of render budget, fidelity, art direction and actual budget. I will not and can’t give a copy-paste solution, because I don’t know what exactly you’re going for, for that we would need reference (images, video). Instead I’ll give a more high-level approach, remember there’s the unreal marketplace with a lot of great content on it (a lot of people put a lot of time and effort into their creations), so if you don’t mind paying the price that comes with an asset, it might be a place worth looking around. But here’s my opinion:
A point would be your level setup. If you have geometry under the clouds you can create a quite compelling result with cloud/fog cards, given that the player is high enough over the clouds, to hide the fact that they’re only seeing cards.
They’re essentially just a plain quads with an non-/animated cloud or fog texture and a depth fade. I would recommend Houdini to create the cloud/fog textures. You can stack them into layers for a higher visual complexity.
If you don’t feel like using a bunch of particles/cards, you can use stacked planes covering the whole ground/cloud layer or at least the visible part of it, and attach them to the player. And pan cloud textures over them. You should be able to combine it quite well with Unreal’s height fog effect.
If the player is closer to the clouds, I think you should go with something more volumetric instead. Maybe a mixture of
the above mentioned and a volumetric approach, where you only use the volumetric clouds for a small distance to the player.
Hope that helps. Just let me know, if I was way off course/should become clearer, of if you have any questions.
A lot of my levels are above clouds. The best approach I found so far is twofold:
Use a good HDR for the clouds
Make a BP of a small number of carefully chosen particle effects that surround the player and follow on tick. If you get the right kind of effect, it seems to be spread over the entire level.