Gary Ritchie, Designer & Digital Artist

Modular Interior Design and Production

As with many large-scope, independently published games, this one is still in progress. Here I’d like to share my work designing and building a modular environment kit for one of the game’s factions. The requirements list was short and sweet: Sleek and modern, with a monochrome color pallete.

My personal requirements: modular and organic. I also wanted a hint of sinister undertone — that it could quickly become an unsettling place to be.

Storyboarded scenario to provide context and inspiration for the design.
Mood board. Visual vocabulary inspiration was derived from H. R. Giger and cleanroom design.
Sketches to help define the organic details to help set the tone of the environment.
Door and "spine" detail key elements.
Several more pages exist, like this one, serve simply to get visuals out of the mind and onto paper. In this earlier sketch there's a hint or two of the key elements I was after.
Modular environment test scene to help understand what's possible with this technique and the challenges with implementing an organic design. Constructing an environment using a modular kit can speed up production.
Modular environment test kit. Too many pieces!
Painting directly onto the low poly environment elements in order to get a feel for how they look in camera. Several wall variations were created to help reduce repetition.
Modeling begins. First low poly, then adding high poly elements for normal map baking.
The number of modules was reduced in the final kit to help balance scope with variety.
The challenge with an organic modular kit is that not all arrangements are supported. This forced a measure of simplification that somewhat restricted the layout.
Design restrictions and technique from reworking the texturing on the primary modules informed the construction of the stairwell modules.
Stairwell grouped on a separate layer for ease in exporting.
Radial symmetry of the stairwell platform and the ability to array the tread along a spline reduced the amount of modelling needed.
Levels one and two ready for export.
Testing the kit in-engine with the demo scene. This was prior to reworking the UV mapping and refining the textures.
Floor material showing the texture baking set-up.

Process and Toolchain

For the process junkies out there…

Modeling and texture map baking was performed using Blender 2.79 along with a few key and well-crafted add-ons: BPainter’s layering system made life easier when painting the details onto the wall modules, and B2U for getting the completed scene and material definitions into Unity. A handful of add-ons were tested to help manage texture baking but in the end TexTools came out on top. Normal to map Cycles node group was key to baking normal maps.

Early in the project my workstation was Ubuntu Linux based. I’ve since built a new workstation and, while I can still boot to Linux, I’m mostly using Windows 10. In this new environment, the following were essential: Windows Subsystem for Linux; Chocolatey; VS Code. This allowed the continued use of makefiles for scripting repetitive tasks such as image format conversion and creating metalness maps for Unity. Git with the LFS extension was used for version control.

Feel free to reach out via social or email if you’d like to know more about the project or process.

 Filed under: Concept Design, Game Design