Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Lion.Kanzen

How AOE HD II(Pro) makes their buildings set?[Design]

Recommended Posts

References & Concept Art

The first task is to find pictures of existing African buildings, we gathered hundreds of pictures of Northern African architecture. However, here we met our first challenge: were not making a set just for the Malians, were having them share their set with another African civ. So we had to make a generic African set, which is not something that exists. Time for concept art! We started with the market as our first building. The reason for this was two-folded. First of all, the market is a building that changes in all ages, so we can use its style and texture as a base for the rest of the buildings. Secondly, its a big building with a lot of variety, which helps us define that proper style.

neAjbwH.png

Basic Blocks

Time to turn this pencil & paper artwork into digital models. We jumped into our modelling software and came up with the following models:

AhwIeej.png

However, we made a big mistake, which we didnt notice right away. All buildings in Age of Empires II have their characteristic shapes and sizes. Although the market was roughly following the proportions of the existing markets, it wasnt close enough, and it felt like the buildings stood out too much. Back to the drawing boards, where we analyzed the existing sets to turn all buildings into basic blocks. Playing with LEGO as it were.

DFjMiTq.jpg

Source:http://www.forgottenempires.net/age-of-empires-ii-hd-dev-blog-4-african-architecture

MNCnmp9.png

Rendering & post-processing

Now, what was the reason we got the market to fit in with the other buildings in the end? Once again, two important reasons. The first one is because of the way Ensemble Studios created their buildings. In the 90s, 3D modelling wasnt as evolved as it is today. Each and every object was created individually, down to every brick in a wall. Which is exactly what we did. The straws in the thatch roofs on the Feudal market are all modeled individually. Which you can also see in this detail of the Imperial market

#######

This part isn't important to us. But I included as extra info , or a curiosity.

####

qa6qVsJ.jpg

Age of Empires II HD Dev Blog #4 African Architecture

by Cysion | Aug 28, 2015 | Age of Empires II, Dev Blog, News | 137 Comments

New civilizations also mean new buildings! And we were presented with a big plate of fresh challenges. Looking back at the new architecture sets introduced in Age of Empires II HD: The Forgotten, we knew we had to step up our game. The Italian set was masterfully photoshopped from the Middle Eastern set (with some exceptions) but we wanted to go the extra mile for the African set. Time to brush off our 3D modelling software!

References & Concept Art

The first task is to find pictures of existing African buildings, we gathered hundreds of pictures of Northern African architecture. However, here we met our first challenge: were not making a set just for the Malians, were having them share their set with another African civ. So we had to make a generic African set, which is not something that exists. Time for concept art! We started with the market as our first building. The reason for this was two-folded. First of all, the market is a building that changes in all ages, so we can use its style and texture as a base for the rest of the buildings. Secondly, its a big building with a lot of variety, which helps us define that proper style.

aoe2_african_concept_art_market

Basic Blocks

Time to turn this pencil & paper artwork into digital models. We jumped into our modelling software and came up with the following models:

aoe2_african_first_models_market

However, we made a big mistake, which we didnt notice right away. All buildings in Age of Empires II have their characteristic shapes and sizes. Although the market was roughly following the proportions of the existing markets, it wasnt close enough, and it felt like the buildings stood out too much. Back to the drawing boards, where we analyzed the existing sets to turn all buildings into basic blocks. Playing with LEGO as it were.

aoe2_african_lego_blocks_market

Now we had the basic shapes, we could start modelling again. This time we focused hard on the Feudal Age set. A lot of improvements were made as you can see on the images below. Feudal Market V1 shows the market prior to our block-building analysis and V2 shows the revamped version with proper AoE2 proportions.

SvHDV5q

However, we werent happy yet. The shape was right, but the building looked a lot more simple than the buildings currently in the game. This was due to two reasons: firstly, African feudal architecture was mainly mud-based, which has functionality over aesthetics, but secondly is because we made it look simple. Its not because its simple, that we cant make it look more special, time to step up our game!

So we began experimenting, which eventually led to all the images below. First we tried with some more complicated textures. Then we started to change the shape of the building, which eventually led to V3, which we nicknamed Flintstone-melted potato with a tennis sweatband-style. Needless to say, we ditched that one in the end.

aoe2_african_potato_melted_flintstone_market

Many iterations later, we ended up with the final Feudal Market, which is the one you will see in the game.

aoe2_african_final_model_feudal_market

Rendering & post-processing

Now, what was the reason we got the market to fit in with the other buildings in the end? Once again, two important reasons. The first one is because of the way Ensemble Studios created their buildings. In the 90s, 3D modelling wasnt as evolved as it is today. Each and every object was created individually, down to every brick in a wall. Which is exactly what we did. The straws in the thatch roofs on the Feudal market are all modeled individually. Which you can also see in this detail of the Imperial market.

aoe2_african_imp_market_stages

Now comes the most difficult part: weve seen the models in high-quality 32-bit renders this whole time. But for Age of Empires II, they need to be converted to 8-bit images, which means from 24 million colors to just 256! Luckily we can use Photoshop to help us in that conversion so that not too many color-ranges get lost, but its still a shocking difference to see sometimes.

Last but not least, we add eye candy! The last step in post-processing to make the buildings fit with the rest of the game. We copy some barrels, items and little plants that can be found on other buildings and paste them on our new models.

Its been a month-long journey, and at the time of writing, were not at the end yet, but I would already like to thank our lead artist Jorgito, for all the hard work he has done and still maintaining his sanity over it 😉

To top it all off, a small teaser screenshot of a Feudal Age Malian village!

Edited by Lion.Kanzen
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Others reference from this team, that can be useful for us as Devs.

Balancing with previous versions

http://www.forgottenempires.net/age-of-empires-ii-hd-dev-blog-6-balance-testing

They make a voice actor competition ( not bad idea)

http://www.forgottenempires.net/age-of-empires-ii-hd-african-voice-acting-competition

About biome and their Lobby multiplayer.

http://www.forgottenempires.net/age-of-empires-ii-hd-dev-blog-2-natural-wonders

Edited by Lion.Kanzen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a great find, thanks Lion.Kanzen.

I do believe this is something we might have not followed enough on some buildings.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seems like the post is somewhat messed up, Lion (with missing images, and double texts). Here is the original link: http://www.forgottenempires.net/age-of-empires-ii-hd-dev-blog-4-african-architecture (which is somewhere half-way in the post too)

I post source, sorry if I can't copy exactly. Is hard doing from. An iPad , but source is there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a great find, thanks Lion.Kanzen.

I do believe this is something we might have not followed enough on some buildings.

Some building, but most fine.

Actually that's something we were critisized about by kicking bird.

What didn't licking bird criticise about?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×