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Realistic maps?

Hey guys. What’s the best way to get a realistic look in my maps? I guess my biggest problem is that I don’t really know much about what to do in maps after actually making the map itself to make it look good. And by that I mean, whenever I make a map, I just put the map together, model by model, throw a light in, and use it. Is there anything I’m supposed to add to my map to make the game look better? Aside from a few lights here and there, I don’t really add ANYTHING to my maps for stuff like that. I know that good models and textures help, but in games like Unreal Paris (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6PQ19BEE24), it’s not just the textures and models that make it look nice. It’s something else, but I don’t know what it is. Here’s a picture of a map from my most recent game: d9c4c6a6b14d1597c0df9f722c19fb508d8c4790.jpeg

That one wasn’t really intended to look realistic, so the sky/textures look a little bit more cartoony, but that’s how most of my games end up looking - even if they are supposed to look realistic.

I’m having a bit of trouble explaining this, so I hope you’re able to understand. I guess what I’m trying to say is… Is there anything that I need to add to my map after I’ve finished the design of it to make it actually look good from inside the game?

it is all about the models and textures. there is no real magic thing you can do, it’s a combination of everything that makes it look great. unreal Paris is an arch viz, it has really high quality models and textures that use pbr, and it probably uses a tweaked light mass. post process can help a little to polish a scene, but if the models and textures are low quality it wont do much.

edit: also at that level of quality, you cant run it in real time. that’s just a matinee render.

What’s just a matinee render? Unreal Paris? Unreal Paris is an actual game actually run in real time, at ~60 FPS (for me, anyways).

Okay, thanks! Also, what exactly do normal maps do?

They are a rendering trick to make a surface appear to have details that aren’t actually modeled in the polygons. In your screen shot, the small, grainy/bumpy texture on the snow is simulated by using a normal map. They are a better/more convincing version of the old “bump map”.