(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!

A new PBR Model

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Another major update for Aton is about to be deployed. A lot of work has been carried out to provide a modern, efficient and real-time PBR model. A lot of inspiration comes from Unreal Engine 4 (UE4 for short) and its advanced PBR system. WebGL world of course faces several limitations that need to be addressed, sometimes in “smart” ways or using approximation techniques (special PRT and SH solutions and much more) to reduce GPU workload.

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A few samples using the new Aton PBR model.

Check out this demo, or this one.
The new, upcoming PBR system combined with RGBE model for Aton, supports now:

  • Base map (diffuse or albedo)
  • Ambient occlusion map
  • Normal map
  • Roughness map
  • Metallic map
  • Emissive map
  • Fresnel map
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The new Aton PBR with the new real-time rendering engine. Textures modified from http://hrp.duke4.net/
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Close-up on variable roughness, reflections and indirect light contribution (bottom cube faces)

The new PBR maps workflow also has the objective to be as close as possibile to a workflow involving UE4 (or other modern real-time PBR engines), to fully reuse such maps (e.g. “Roughness“, “Metallic” pins in material blueprint in UE4). Nevertheless, the new model is also compatible with “basic” workflow, such as the classic diffuse-only 3D modeling (or diffuse + separate AO, etc..). Screenshots below show sample workflow in UE4 using same identical PBR maps applied to cube datasets:

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Sample workflow in UE4 material BP using same maps.

Of course these improvements will also extend to multi-resolution datasets (e.g. ARIADNE Landscape Services) to produce aestetically pleasing 3D landscapes by providing additional maps in input section, still maintaining efficiency of underneath paged multi-resolution. Furthermore, the Aton PBR system is also VR-ready, providing a realistic and consistent rendering of layered materials also on HMDs, on WebVR enabled browsers.

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To import and ingest 3D assets generated using common 3D formats (.obj, .3ds, ….and much more) into Aton system and its PBR system, the Atonizer service will be soon available.

Stay tuned!

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