TF2: Falls (PT 2)

Hi everybody! (Hi doctor Nick!) Just an update on my TF2 map
    

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So, I set out from the place you last saw me with a somewhat drastic goal: what if the waterfall... Went the other way?!!! I know, crazy right? Well, after thinking about it, I determined that the map would be much better off if, instead of a shear drop right at the horizon, your eyes would behold a vast and beauty-ous waterfall. Plus it didn't really make sense for such a small channel to be supplying so much water...
 
Changing the waterfall also allows me to work in what I think is a decent gimmick: Water current. I still haven't sussed out the details as I want to keep myself as open as possible for the moment, but there are many possible ways I can take it. Certain classes could be washed away to their death (Heavies), some could cross instantaneously (Soldier, scout, demos) and some could be slowed down fairly severely, having to fight against the current (snipers, pyros, medics). Heck, if I want to get really gimmicky, I could animate a log that allows all to cross that shows up and leaves at 60 second intervals. The possibilities are endless, which makes it easy to balance.

 Rocks

 
 Heavy: 500k
 Heavy: 500k
In service of this new objective, I had to make a nice and rocky cliff face for one to gaze at. So I turned the industry standard in rocks: Zbrush. For those who don't know, Zbrush is an application that allows one to sculpt digitally. Over the past few years it has absolutely revolutionized the industry, and continues to do so. The above was the outcome of my foray into the program.  
 
But the big issue with Zbrush is, it makes a lot of polygons. That fairly simply model is 500k polygons, a pittance for Zbrush (Not uncommon for a great Zbrush artist to push 15 mil.) but totally insane for source engine. Don't ask me why Zbrush can do this stuff with ease and no other program can't. I'm pretty sure Pixologic made a contract with the devil.  
      
 Low: 1171     
 Low: 1171     
So I can't use it as is, unfortunately. Instead I have to retopologize the model, a process that I outlined in my very first blog. Go read that if you want, but the important part here is that I turned 500k into 1171, and it took me forever
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  Well, that looked alright and fit the "raw polygon" style of TF2, but I knew I could make it better if it was just a bit higher res. But trouble is, it's not as easy as just hitting the divide button. If I do they all instantly become ridiculously smooth boulders. No, I wanted to keep those rough edges. So I dug in there and selected the edges I wanted to keep, and gave them a slight radius. This changes how the computer approaches dividing the mesh, and retains the chosen edges. I may have to revert back to the lower res if I bump up to the constraints of the source engine, but it's nice to have on hand. 
 
 Mid: ~9000
 Mid: ~9000
So yeah, that was done. It looks alright. 

Water

Now I moved on to the water that falls. I could've created and interpreted this part myself like a real artist, but hey man, this is the 21st century. Let's simulate it!
   
  
I used RealFlow - a really excellent fluid vfx program - to simulate a waterfall. I imported my mesh, and created a domain around the area I would be simulating in. The domain dictates the area that the simulation will take place in. It's important to only encompass what you need with the domain, else the computer will have to go through additional calculations. I created my emitter - the object that the water particles spawn from - at the top of my waterfall. I hit simulate. It looked weird. After much fooling around (around a day's worth), I figured out that my emitting speed was too high. I fixed it, meshed the particles from one frame and moved on. 
 
VFX is not a part of CG that gets an overwhelming amount of notice (because honestly it can be quite boring to talk about), but it is truly 1/2 of the whole that is today's modern artist.
 
So back in modo (My 3d package), I've got this ugly looking, triangulated mesh. The sad realization that I had to retop again reached me. So yeah. I did that.  
 
 Probably going to have to rework this at some point.
 Probably going to have to rework this at some point.
To make it clear, I'm not going to have some awesome particle simulation going in this map like in that video. I just have one static shape and will be using good ol' texture trickery to make it "move", a process I'll outline when I get to there. 

Oh Yeah, and the Rest of the Things I Did.

 
  •  Began to differentiate the two sides through differing architecture 
  • added stairs/tentative logs across the body of water 
  • animated a log going down the falls for the aforementioned idea that I may or may not carry out 
  • created underground path through midpoint 
  • tentative design of stairs linking upper and lower of midpoint  
  • got a rough idea of how I'm going to style the unreachable scenery 
  • restricted sniper/sentry views 
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 I think I'm nearly ready to take this all in to Hammer and start to make it all playable. The rest of the props and details will be built to order as I progress. I am in no way stopping in developing the map conceptually though, so I'd still love to hear more suggestions/questions/criticisms if you have some.
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