Summary

Auroralis is an Unreal Engine 4 environmental setting project that I created on the side to reinforce my list of capabilities. This map was created during the duration of 4 days where 2 days were spent working on it at home and the other 2 days were work-evenings after class. I worked on this to show my skills in the field of environmental design and open world design since one can freely walk around the map.

 

The map features an nordic inspired landscape that one can walk around in and explore as well several scripted events and a few other landmasses that serve as additional scenery.

Specifications

  • Created using Unreal Engine 4.
  • Finished in 4 days (2 full-time / 2 half).
  • Created using Infinity Blade assets & other free Unreal assets.
  • Includes several scripted events.

 

Following references

I had originally decided on working on a desert inspired map to resemble that of the environments made in the game Mad Max but this turned out to fall apart as I did not have a clear vision in my head as to how the map would look like. It also came to me as a slight challenge on presenting a desert in an interesting fashion with the limited amount of assets I had at my disposal. After some planning and revising I decided to go with an arctic landscape and had Skyrim as my main inspiration for the environment setting along with a few other real-life places like Iceland and northern Finland.

An overhead view of the starting area.
I used nordic statues to reinforce the theme of the map.

Learning & Progressing

I thought it would be a cool idea to keep track of my progress by taking screenshots in the editor after a certain amount of time. The first 2 being made during an evening, the next 4 over the duration of 2 days and the last 3 being made during the final day of work in the time lapse.

 

During the time I worked on this map I learned a lot of new tricks to environmental design in Unreal that I had never thought about before such as using fog in the distance to spice up far places and tweaking the post-processing volume to get some really nice visual impressions. I also learned that the overall light setting was very important in getting the map to look interesting and fun to explore.

(A time lapse of the environment)

This is an overview of all the work I put into terraforming and propping.

Music helped a lot!

While working on the project I sat and listened to Skyrim's OST for hours on end and I'll admit it did have a lot of impact of some of my design choices. I wanted a feeling of mystique around the whole map so I placed out specific areas with different events or sound cues that would spice up the world a bit.

 

I also didn't want the player to feel like he was only on one lonely penninsula so I added more hills and landmasses to the terrain around the original area of focus.

 

To finish it off I added distant sceneric objects and mountains to stay true to the theme that one was on a mysterious open nordic themed landscape.

Dedication to my work

In the end I feel that I could do a lot more with this project and that there is much room for improvement in a few areas of the map but at the same time I want to show what I can do as a level designer and not restrict myself to the technical side which I feel most comfortable with. Instead I wanted to show that I could do much in the aesthetic side as well and thus Auroralis was born out of that ambition and dedication.

 

I really placed my heart into this project and visualized myself in the environment I created and that is what helped me ignite the passion I had for this particular piece. After this project I feel that making environment scenes are really fun and I'm definitely thinking of producing more in the future!

A beautiful view of the 2 main landmasses.
Adding story through props and sounds in this area.
Now that I think about it, this looks like something out of an Indiana Jones movie.
My main focal point of the map.
There are stories everywhere to be explored.

Patrick Enz © 2016 | Level Designer