A Trip Through the Woods – Concept and Early stages stuff

Eager to jump right into this project, I didn’t spend too much time with concept art as it would be easy for me to get stuck there. Being an artist is my day job- getting straight into coding/Unity was important so I wouldn’t lose my momentum. If I focused on art I might get too distracted by details.

I did end up throwing together a small, quick mood board with images that inspire me, and did up a REALLY quick concept sketch in Photoshop. It didn’t turn out anything like what I ended up modelling but it served as a good starting point.

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I knew I wanted a house or cabin in the woods – at night or dusk. I wanted the lighting coming from the building to be cozy and warm and the forest surrounding it to be magical/mysterious.

Apart from that, at this stage, I didn’t have much back-story in mind for the scene. I figured the building might be a tavern where the user could enter and walk around or the inside of the house could serve as a separate UI menu from the outside.

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Before I got too bogged down modelling the building, I wanted to prove this was something I could actually manage making in Unity. So, I threw together a really quick and dirty model of a house, ground and trees (with some basic lighting). I wasn’t sure how hard it would be to import into Unity as an FBX file from Blender, but it turned out to be pretty easy. All the materials even copied across OK apart from the lighting which was awesome!….I remember trying this like 4 years ago and the process didn’t seem as smooth…or maybe I was just too new to game dev at that stage.

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After I had imported my crappy house model into Unity, it was time to set up the camera and a really dirty test UI. I thought it would be cool for the user to start off looking at the house and the surrounding forest, then for them to select a button that would move them into the house.
Now there were two ways to go about this- I could animate the camera using Unity’s mecanim, or, I could move the camera position in the code once the button was pressed. Not having anyone to tell me otherwise, I opted for using mecanim (which could come back to bite me in the ass later but we shall see..) It also turned out to be a pretty simple process- set up the animation states and use Unity’s canvas to create some simple buttons.

 

The above video shows what I ended up with with about 2 hours work. This was definitely enough to prove I could make something nicer without too much difficulty. Next task- model some pretty looking assets for the scene!