Come exterior, come populating, come foliage. Having undertaken the job of foliage artist I have become painfully aware how naive of me it was to assume you could dab a few trees here and there to create a credible landscape. It makes for a baron looking scene and an unconvincing one at that.
Not short after coming to this revelation we received a presentation from several members of Codemasters outlining their tree, rock, grass method for environments. They explained how it is naive to assume you could dab a few trees here and there to create a credible landscape. It makes for a baron looking scene and an unconvincing one at that. At the very minimum, rocks and grass are added to the scene so that you don’t have an idle tree residing in the middle of nowhere.
It soon became obvious that there was no easy way out of this one if we wanted a lush exterior. As our level is made to be on a cliff, research was required as to what would grow on the coast line of Great Britain. I doubt coastalgardening.com has ever had so many hits. It is also very important that a gothic mood is ever present when navigating the level, a mood which is diminished if vibrant and distracting colours are dominating the scene.
A decent amount of diversity is needed; nothing is more obvious than a repeating pattern or asset within a scene. This has been mainly countered with multiple variants of a similar asset, for example varying heights, colour, mass etc. We have included numerous rocks, plants, trees, grasses, bushes and ferns with still more to add in order to produce a captivating exterior.
It is very easy to over populate when you have a number of assets that need placing within the level and not much of a plan as to where they should be placed. This is where you have to take a page out of someone else’s book, begrudgingly sometimes you have to admit that someone in the past has probably done it better than you and that is why they receive a salary for it. When researching games to take inspiration from I mainly referenced Tomb Raider, as it had been done so well and Alan Wake, for the atmosphere the environment it evoked.
It taught us that a little went a long way, that whilst there was a great degree of foliage present, they were optimised composed subtly to make for a striking scene.