Work In Progress / 20 October 2023

Project Chronovia WIP - Ancient Mountain Ruins/Imperial Vaelthur Empire City

In this post, I will cover my process of developing the final two environments for my capstone portion of Project Chronovia. In my last post, I showcased the creation of the Mortisoria area, a dark wasteland that leads to the entrance of the following areas – The ancient mountain ruins and the City of the Imperial Vaelthur Empire.

The Mountain Ruins

These ruins are what remains of a lost civilization deep in the mountain ranges between Mortisoria and the kingdom of the Imperial Vaelthur Empire and serve as a pathway between the two kingdoms. Over many years, the ruins have been overgrown with toxic fungal spores, making the journey between the two kingdoms almost impossible for people attempting to escape from Mortisoria.

Although it is the second last environment I created for this project, the idea for this area inspired how the swamp and mountain entrance were designed. I knew I wanted a unique environment to showcase in my project, and I had the idea of incorporating giant mushrooms and spores after watching the film Nausica. I initially planned for the swamp area to have the spore overgrowth but felt it would become crowded with too many elements. I then moved my attention to the mountain pass/ruins area and thought it would be cool and made more sense narrative-wise to add the spore overgrowth to the design of that area instead.

My process for creating this area was the same as the previous areas. I started by doing a basic block out of the terrain in Unreal Engine, took a screenshot and drew a concept over the top of the image, which I then used to create a list of assets to start making.

Blockout/Concept for the Mountain Ruins area

The assets I needed to create for this area were much different to the previous areas, which were more organic based, whereas this area is based around large buildings and structures. This, in turn, became the biggest challenge when creating this area, but it was also a great learning experience that helped my approach when creating the next area. Once the assets were completed, I imported them into Unreal Engine, put together the scene based on my concept, made minor adjustments to assets and layout as needed, and finished with VFX, lighting and post-processing.

The mountain ruins, overgrown with vines and fungal spores.

Once everything was finished and polished, I moved on to create my project's next and final area – The Vaelthur Empire City.

The Imperial Vaelthur Empire City

When creating the Vaelthur Empire City area, I took a different approach to the design than the other areas. Instead of screenshotting and drawing a rough concept, I built this level as I made assets. One of the main reasons for this approach was that I didn't have any specific plans for how this area would turn out. All I knew was I wanted it to be a modern-looking industrial city with large industrial structures looming in the background. I started by drawing some basic brick and concrete textures and modelling buildings in Blender with different types of architecture. Once I had a building model I was happy with, I made multiple variations and imported them into Unreal to see how they would look in-game. I then continued to build out the area as I went along, making assets as needed to fill out the environment. Once I had a base layout I was happy with; I finished by adding and polishing filler and decorative objects before building the large empire pyramid structure for the background. Finally, to finish the area, I did the usual lighting/post-processing process I used for the previous environments.

The Imperial Vaelthur City


At this point in the project, I am feeling the pressure of the deadline, with the last two areas taking much longer to make than expected. While I'm happy with the overall result, I would have liked to spend more time adding finer details to the city to fill it out and make it look more lived-in, but how it turned out also works with the narrative with the depiction of an imperial dictatorship. However, I stretched my time thin while creating the assets for these two areas, even going over my desired deadline by three days, leaving me with less than two weeks to complete the entire project, with so much more work needing to be done.

What's next?

Now that all the environments are polished and completed, it's time to move on to the final stage of the project: adding characters, animations, and the final render sequence. This section could be considered a bonus to the project as my primary focus is to showcase my 2D, 3D and environment art. However, I hope to still complete everything on time despite falling slightly behind with the extra time spent finishing the environments.

Thanks for reading.

I look forward to posting more progress soon. Otherwise, you can track my progress on Trello here.