(Re)Building Forum Augusti

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This is a first update regarding progress (july-august) on game-oriented assets production for the new Forum Augusti employed to create reusable, flexible and modular 3D components. The FBX models target utilization mostly in Unreal Engine 4 and SONY PhyreEngine (Playstation VR) – within REVEAL Project. Overall process started out from basic props and components (e.g. column, doors, braziers, etc…) most of them re-optimized to fullfil proper guidelines, including PBR requirements within VR fruition.

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Most of per-asset workflow focused on geometry optimizations, level of detail, uv-maps and other aspects, taking into account a few considerations regarding VR best practices and in-game fruition. At this stage, produced FBX were imported in Unreal Engine in order to verify modularization, parametrization and procedural generation, described in a previous post. Such approach guarantees great flexibility for level designers or, if different hypotheses are validated during the process.

The video shows a short overview of a few experimentations right before the summer break, using produced modular assets, their parametrization and a first draft for PBR-based materials. Such tasks were also carried out in order to verify performance scaling at macroscopic level. More technical updates to come… Stay tuned.

Building Procedural Instancing Tools for Unreal Engine

When dealing with repeating 3D elements, a meaningful approach is to procedurally describe and generate them through a template and a transformation-list. The new upcoming version of ATON 2.0 for instance (yes, pun intended) already provides built-in procedural methods in order to instantiate several 3D objects by streaming a template (e.g. a column) and a transformation-list, thus greatly reducing bandwidth. On the desktop side, a porting of such functionalities from OpenSceneGraph to Unreal Engine 4 (ver. 4.16.1) began a week ago.

A C++ ActorComponent has been developed in order to read common ASCII files representing TransformList (position, rotation and scale) and a StaticMesh representing the Template. Such functionality can be employed into a compact and very basic Blueprint node (see figure) offering a flexible and manageable tool for designers, while maintaining all parsing and processing routines at C++ level. A TransformList file can be externally updated (e.g. generated by another software) and the procedural generation automatically rebuilds right inside Unreal Editor.


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A second Instancer tool has been developed (this time, fully Blueprint) to offer a customizable tool to generate randomized instances (always in Editor) in a given radius with draping, overlapping options, scale variance and much more. The following shows an Instancer with trees (top left), another Instancer with boulders (bottom left), and a third Instancer (ferns) testing adaptive location on top of world geometries (right).

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Adding another Instancer for grass, and tweaking of scale variance inside Unreal Editor.

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There are more upcoming features… Stay tuned!

VR in your browser

During the last months several updates were rolled out for Aton – right before summer vacation. The WebVR one allows users to toggle immersive VR fruition of 3D models and archaeological areas through HMDs like Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and many others in WebVR-enabled browsers.

To get started with WebVR, you can download recent Chromium builds here and start exploring published 3D scenes through Aton Front-End. Among the goals of such feature is also realizing the so-called WebVR responsive concept, where the service adapts to your viewing environment by using fluid layouts, similar to Aton responsiveness for mobile devices (HTML5 UI, multi-touch controls, simplified shaders, etc..). Next steps will focus on proper traveling handling in order to offer a smooth HMD experience.

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The WebVR update for Aton also couples with another upcoming update for the desktop application (ovrWalker), targeting performance for complex, multi-resolution 3D scenes and 3DUI research applied to CH – watch the video here. VR features in Aton will be further enriched, as well as massive upcoming updates related to node loading – so stay tuned!