In this second episode of AiRace Speed Behind The Scenes we’ll keep on talking about Level Design. In the previous episode we focused on the challenges that Oskar had to face regarding contrast and lighting inside the new design of our tunnels (read article).
In this second episode we’ll describe the process of transforming concept art into 3D levels. What new issues as well as new ideas arose? That’s what you’ll find out in this article.
At first, one of our 2D Graphic Designer, “Pest”, drew concept art of environments and obstacles. Those concept arts were presented in these two articles:
Oskar and Mikołaj, our second 3D Designer, had then to create 3D levels according to this concept art.
A 3D level is created with polygons.
To build a 3D model, 3D polygons are connected to each other. So, to create the shape of walls, of floors, of obstacles, of every and each element of the level, Oskar and Mikołaj produce polygons forming the relevant shapes.
Mikołaj - 3D Level Designer
However one aspect is very important: the number of polygons.
Once again I will quote the same page from About.com to explain why this matters so much:
‘’More polygons in a model can mean more detail and smoother renders, but it can also mean longer render times’’ and heavier size of the game.
In the case of AiRace Speed, we have 2 technical factors we must take into consideration: it is released on the Nintendo 3DS and through the eShop.
That automatically sets limits to the number of polygons and the amount of different textures we can afford in the levels. Indeed we must not go over the limit of memory required to run one level smoothly on Nintendo 3DS. Besides we must not release a game that’s too heavy to be downloadable on the Nintendo eShop.
With these constraints in mind, Oskar and Mikołaj defined strategies to optimize the production of 3D polygons and usage of textures to create the 3D levels.
The solution lies in the creation of templates (repeating models) and in the usage of a low number of textures. These textures are however sophisticated.
The models are concretely elements of the game: a pipe, a fan behind a grid, a lamp, an electronic console. They contain different textures and have a different shape. For each new element, a new model is created. Then they are placed and connected to each other as we want.
These elements form a long piece of tunnel which is finally curved to create the shape we want the level to have.
On the right: 2 distinct 3D elements.
On the left: a tunnel formed of different 3D elements connected to each other, later curved.
At the end of one curved long tunnel we can place a chamber that will at its end link to a new long piece of curved tunnel.
When 2 similar elements are used in the level, they will use the same model. However it doesn’t mean that they will look completely the same because we can apply a different light on them: different color, different contrast.
By using models as well as reducing the number of textures, we are able to fit into the technical limits but still guarantee varied and elegant-looking levels. It also accelerates the process of designing levels in 3D.
More episodes of AiRace Speed Behind The Scenes will come up later on the blog. Stay tuned to know everything about the development of AiRace Speed!
Do you have any questions on this topic? Do you wish to know more details? Feel free to ask in the comments. We’ll answer the best we can.