Saturday, July 26, 2014

"The Stacks" new hub building construction

Humble beginnings but you gotta start somewhere...

I've extended the walls up and are preparing to join the vertexes above the doors.
The cube on the right is the doorway size. I need it to be consistent.

This will need to be exported to UE4 and viewed in the Rift constantly. The proportions of the building are tight. This will likely need to be deeper like a lego modular building. The original cg artist's primary goal was to replicate the look of the building. Heights of the doors were inconsistent among other things.

I wanted my steps to be realistic so I read up on how to build real stairs and created a spreadsheet calculator to build them. I realize there must be a plugin for this but it was a good exercise to understand how it is done.

Here are the finished entry steps:

With the spreadsheet it took about 2 minutes to build the top 2 steps.

I finished the steps, added an interior wall and floor for the left entrance. Now to add collision and bring it into UE4 for scale assessment.

Here is the collision. 13 collision meshes so far...

Well, getting this bugger into UE4 was a total suck fest. I learned a few things:
1. You need to create a UV map. I think you also need a light map. I did both at the same time. If you don't the object is black.
2. The new fbx binary export does not support multiple collision meshes. Totally annoying. You have to use "fbx 6.1 ascii".

I've got to figure out a better workflow. There seems to be a dozen new hurdles getting meshes from blender into UE4.

So, here is the building with collision in UE4:

I added it to the sample map and added a door. I like the proportion of the door but it is too short. I scaled it to fit the door opening and then scale the building along the X axis until the opening matched the door:

I now know the correct scaling for the openings is 1.140137 (they need to be that much wider).

Ignore the crappy look of the material. I have not properly UV mapped the mesh. I just wanted to get a sense of scale.

Here is what it looks like in the rift:

UE4 does not do a good job with a lot of things when you view it in stereo. Normals looks weird, reflections are bad, anti-aliasing is nasty, lens flare is annoying. I had to turn that stuff off and find a material with minimal reflections so it looked good.


I've decided the left portion of the building is a staircase. I've built 1 flight of stairs. I fought with the scale until it felt right. The doors are way too big but the space and the stairs feels good.

I wasn't happy with the building. It was just too tall.
1. I shortened the height
2. I removed a step from the staircase and shrunk the height of all steps.
3. I made the stair landings equal size

Once I'm happy with it I will add the rails. Something like this:

I figured out how to drop the height by 2 more steps. I added 2 more stories of steps to visualize the total building height. The height will be driven by the stairs.
first flight = 14 steps + 3 outside
second & third flights = 16 steps

Designing objects for VR is very hard because it has to have the perfect proportions inside the rift. In real life, 8 steps comes to eye level. I've got it doing the exact same thing in the rift so the steps are perfect. At the same time I have to make the building look like the artwork as much as possible. The building was never designed to be used so it is quite challenging.

Just having a little fun before I add the windows and top floors...

Add added the second floor and some windows. I tried my best to pick the best window proportions that matched the art and would work with the interior. I had to move the first floor window close to the door to work with the staircase. I flipped the staircase along the x axis to allow a window to work along the side.

Third floor basics in place:

I added the balcony, floors, stairwell walls and doorways for the 2nd and 3rd floors. That actually took a while...

I added the roof and created an arched window cut out. The cut out is positioned to cut the first window from the roof.

View from within UE4:

View from within Rift:

That's enough for tonight.

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