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Understanding Modularity in Unreal Tournament maps

Hey everyone,

I was spending the last days looking into Unreal Tournament maps and how they were made. I was stunned by how smart the Epic team can work and great such high quality environments! Really appreciate you share it with us so we can study from it. I hope is ok to share my toughts with you since I also have some doubts about the creation process. I would love to hear from other devs or even the team at Epic about their approach on creating environment art!

So what I saw is that they have some material libraries and some master materials where they apply their instances into all their models. There are 2 kinds of master materials that I can call: “The tiling material” and “the one using Atlas textures”.

So the “tiling material” is pretty much a low poly model with the material instance applied to it and all the details are painted using vertex colors. But you don’t bake any high resolution model on it, this can be useful for floors and some walls.

The “Atlas textures” use the same method but it blends with a normal map that use all the models. This is used for architecture elements such as columns, arches and walls. It’s great to see that they are actually really small pieces that by them self they don’t seem to be useful but by combining them with other simple pieces they can create beautiful architecture designs.

This is for instance a model that uses the Trim technique texture:

And if you see the UVs are packed in a way that use the best of the texture trim:

The atlas texture looks like this:

Unlike traditional trim tiling textures this is also separated into “Tiles” and “Baked 3d models”.

This is another one:

I really can’t figure out if this just uses Trim textures because it can’t tile along the way. But this texture is being used along many objects. I believe this is the main model used to bake the High Poly information:

I can guess that they first make the big one and then separate it into smaller parts that uses the same normals and UVs.

This is another one!

This one also doesn’t use “Trim textures” since they can’t tile along the way if you stretch the UVs, they actually fit the UVs perfectly!

You can also see another model that uses the same normal map and it’s completely different:

This is the last one:

If i try to separate the pieces, I can guess they baked the high poly model into 3 different pieces:

It’s really hard to tell since I don’t know how it was done but it would be great to hear from the devs how they did it!

I’m trying to study from these kind of maps so if anyone wants to contribute it would be great to share some experiences. Looking at these kind of maps really changed my whole approach into making environment art. Thanks to the Epic team to be able to share this with us!