As with our level design, we wanted to allow for flexibility and modularity in our material work. As opposed to painting larger architectural assets we opted to use materials made in Substance Designer, with exposed parameters to allow artists flexibility in engine. This also allowed us to have a greater variance of material and texture work without sacrificing time to do every piece by hand.
When deciding which textures should be largely material work and which could be done in painter as unique textures we considered the repetition, scale, and importance of the object. Hand-painted grime can appear very repetitious if used on a large, repeating object for example. As is often the case, larger environmental textures were handled procedurally (grass, ground textures, asphalt) but as were materials that we knew would be reusable (bricks, plaster, metal). These materials could also be used in unique textures in our own project material library.
The reusability of procedural materials was a great benefit to us as a small team, considering it saved us considerable time which could be used to help other aspects of the project. It also allowed for quick feedback and revisions on the fly, parameters could be adjusted relatively easily and nondestructively.
The style and feel of our textures was just as important as the modularity. When looking into references we wanted something which was stylized but not overly painterly, textures that could tell a story of a worn-down city without subtracting from the visual clarity of the game. For most textures we utilized a technique of using layers of EZSplatter and slope blurs to create more painterly color variation, and then added detail lighting and lighting from the material’s curvature. To create more complex materials for architectural pieces we often utilized previously used materials in a new graph, using height blend to give the feeling of two materials fusing into each other (such as in the case with brick poking through an outer layer of plaster). Layering different materials, techniques, and operations was very important in creating interesting materials which make the environment feel lived in and unique without distracting the player.
- Jamie Zerillo