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Now and Then

Click for full size As I get ready to (maybe) buy Anthem I notice I worry less about gameplay and more about stuff like loot boxes and technical performance. Is the game, clearly made thinking on consoles, work well on my PC? Will the game have loot boxes? How much they expect me to pay AFTER I pay the entry fee? Will loot boxes affect gameplay? Will Anita visit to Bioware during development turn the game story into a lecture as fun as attending Sunday’s mess? I miss the good old days…  

Starblood Arena Dev On Server Shutdown: ‘We Loved This Game Deeply’

Eariler this week we reported that PSVR multiplayer shooter Starblood Arena is shutting down. Now developer WhiteMoon Dreams has spoken up with a bittersweet goodbye. Studio CEO Jay Koottarappallil took to the PSVR subreddit to talk about the game’s closure. “People, we loved this game so deeply,” he wrote, “it became a large part of the studio’s identity and though we work on other things today, the roots of SBA run deep, making this time even harder.” Starblood was an enjoyable six degrees of freedom (6DOF) VR shooter that launched in 2017. It had some good ideas on how to build a VR shooter, but struggled to find a robust audience. That’s a common theme with VR games. Sony will take the servers offline in July. Koottarappallil revealed that the decision to shut servers down came from Sony…

What Happens When A Regular Person Finds A Huge Security Flaw?

The biggest news in the infosec world, besides the fact that balaclavas are becoming increasingly popular due to record-low temperatures across the United States, is that leet haxors can listen to you from your iPhone using FaceTime without you even answering the call. There are obvious security implications of this bug: phones should only turn on the microphone after you pick up a call. This effectively turns any iPhone running iOS 12.1 or later into a party line. In response Apple has taken group FaceTime offline in preparation of a software update later this week. So, how does this FaceTime bug work? It’s actually surprisingly simple. First, start a FaceTime call with an iPhone contact. While the call is dialing, swipe up, and tap Add Person. Add your own phone number in the Add Person screen. This creates a group call with two…

China giant NetEase acquires ‘minority stake’ in David Cage’s Quantic Dream

Although it’s easy to think of Quantic Dream as a Sony subsidiary (kind of like one might erroneously ponder Next Level Games and Nintendo), it’s actually been a completely private company based out of Paris since 1997. That changes today. NetEase and Quantic Dream have jointly announced this morning that the former has acquired a “minority stake” in the latter, primarily for the purposes of “further[ing] the development and distribution of global online games.” According to the duo. Quantic Dream will be able to operate independently under David Age and Guillaume de Fondaumière’s leadership. Ethan Wang, VP of NetEase, notes that the deal allows them to secure “partners that compliment [NetEase] in the development and creation of next generation games.” It’s all a bit vague, but Quantic Dream is no longer 100% independent and there is certainly room for NetEase to increase their pull…

Poor investments and engine woes at centre of Starbreeze’s untimely demise

We now have a better idea of what went on at Swedish games firm Starbreeze in the last few years. That’s thanks to an in-depth article from Eurogamer , with the media brand having spoken to staff from the studio to see what went wrong in the months and years leading up to its descent into administration. One of the main factors behind Starbreeze’s demise was large amounts of money being spent unn…

Setting Up Atmospheric Forest Lighting in UE4

Nora Nirvaluce talked about the lighting studies and her setup in the UE4 project Morigesh Forest Lighting. Introduction Hello! My name is Nora Nirvaluce, I’m currently a lighting artist at Eidos Montreal. I joined the studio 9 months ago and had the privilege to be part of the lighting team on Shadow of the Tomb Raider. My journey began when I was a student. I was always interested in the ‘graphics’ world and touched on editing, abstract 3D, and graphic design but was never able to find my path. My ‘real’ journey began when I played Crysis 3 on the Xbox 360 and fell in love with the stunning environments. This truly blew me away! As I was finishing my University Studies (not in 3D), I decided that I was going to focus solely on game development. I taught myself different software but…

CGMA Student Project: Alkaline River in UE4

Omar Al Salihi kindly shared his experience and knowledge gained during CGMA course Organic World Building in UE4 with Anthony Vaccaro: making an environment from the concept to the final image, creating Alpha images and tileable textures in ZBrush, working with blending nodes and controlling normal map details in UE4, lighting, LUT. Introduction Hi, everyone. My name is Omar Al Salihi, I am a 3D environment artist. For 4 years, I’ve worked as a texture artist at Rubicon Group holding studio in Jordan Amman. Before that, I worked as a concept artist at the information technology group company where I was responsible for creating 2D art library provided with animation. After the first time, I played on NES, my passion for creating video game levels rose. Working on 3D scenes motivates my artistic imagination to create every tiny detail to enhance the environment and make it very believable…

UE4 Guide: Red Dead’s Looting System

Have a look at a guide from the Nitrogen channel on YouTube that shows a way you can recreate the Red Dead’s looting system inside Unreal. One of the best games of 2018 features a number of unique decisions that make it a masterpiece, so it’s really nice to recreate something from the Rockstar’s game yourself. “Recently RDR2 (Red Dead Redemption 2) was released and one mechanic got my attention, that being looting enemies. So I decided to experiment a bit and try to recreate it. I managed to get a similar result so I decided to make a tutorial on that as well,” states the description. The video is quite thorough and detailed, so we’re sure you’ll figure out everything in no time. Make sure to discuss the guide in the comments below and share other useful tricks. …

Crafting a Japanese Fantasy Environment

Michał Baca talked about his Japanese Fantasy Environment made for the recent ArtStation Challenge: blockout, rock and vegetation workflows in ZBrush and 3ds Max, lighting in UE4. Introduction Hello, my name is Michał Baca, I’m Junior Environment Artist at People Can Fly from Poland. It has been a long time since my last article which was about my previous project (Cyberpunk City Alley). During the last year, I was working with a small team from Łódź, Poland called Render Cube Games, and I was working on their game called Monster League which is available on Steam early access. Now I just started working in People Can Fly as a Junior Environment Artist. Japanese Fantasy Environment First Stage: Idea, Reference, Blockout After my previous project, I decided that my next would be an…

A Sneak Peak into Level Art for Beginners

Bart Grzegorzewicz gladly shared the lessons he learned as a level artist and talked about his general workflow in Unreal Engine 4 using the Mountain forest scene as an example. Introduction Hi, my name is Bart Grzegorzewicz and I come from Poland. My journey into Unreal Engine 4 started when I worked at Madmind Studio a year ago as a tester. Now I’m a level artist beginner. I’m still going to school and in my free time, I mostly create small environmental scenes, such as a part of the forest or mountains, and playable demos with mechanics sometimes. Preparation to the Scene The first thing I do before even turning on the engine is collecting references. Ask yourself: how should my level look like? In what mood is the player supposed to enter it? Maybe you…

Environment Design for AAA Games with Laurie Durand

Laurie Durand kindly talked about her experience of working in Ubisoft and taking part in the production of For Honor and shared helpful pieces of advice for those who want to learn environment art for games and join the industry. Introduction I’m from Montreal, Canada and as long as I remember I’ve always been interested in history and old architecture and loved to play video games. I did some private sculpture class for a couple of years and after that, I went to college where I specialized in visual art. After college, I built a portfolio and entered the university to study 3D art. After trying many different things like animation, character modeling, and game design, I decided to specialize in environment art. I stopped my choice on it for good because environment art has more freedom for creativity and ownership as we always…

Tutorial: Using Procedural Foliage in Unreal Engine 4

Joe Garth has recently shared a new tutorial that goes over some of the procedural features in Unreal Engine. The artist showed how you can set up a huge scene and make everything work inside the engine. “Learn the basics of Procedural Foliage placement in Unreal Engine 4 in this 40-minute tutorial,” states the description. The whole scene is covered in rocks, trees, and other small details that make it look so awesome. The thing here is that you need to be careful with your performance and Joe can help you with that. You need the artist’s Brushify: Forest Pack to follow all the steps. The pack is available on Unreal Marketplace. Don’t forget to read our exclusive interview with the artist to learn more about his projects. Make sure to discuss the tutorial in the comments below. Simple…

CGMA Student Project: Forest in UE4

Eduard Grechenko kindly shared a greatly detailed breakdown of his environment made in UE4 within the CGMA course Vegetation & Plants for Games lead by Jeremy Huxley: rocks, vegetation, materials in Substance Designer, lighting, and more. Introduction Hello everyone! My name is Eduard Grechenko, I’m an Environment Artist from Kursk, Russia. I don’t have a formal art education, most of my experience comes from working on Allods Online and Skyforge at Allods Team studio where I learned from incredibly talented and skilled professionals. Goals When I signed up for the CGMA course Vegetation & Plants for Games, I decided to focus on learning how to make everything from scratch, without using scanned assets directly. I used them as references and color sources a lot, though. The course turned out to be a game changer for me. It would take me so much longer to achieve…