3D Game & Interactive Design

Works created with Unity, Maya, Zbrush etc. designed to be interactive.

Importing the Fountain into Unreal Engine

Yesterday I wasn’t happy with the resolution and look of the fountain, so I exported it at a higher res and re-textured it in Maya. The file size went from 242kb to 1MB.

Higher res fountain

Higher res fountain

Today was the first day I actually launched Unreal Engine and I was able to import the fountain asset into a scene.

Unreal Engine
Unreal Engine

My first thoughts are that Unreal Engine seems way more complicated than Unity. The UI is very cluttered, and you actually have to go through the Epic Games launcher just to get to the game engine. Once in the actual editor, there seems to be a lot going on. Even a blank scene comes with a bunch of pre-built chairs, tables, etc cluttering the screen. This will take some getting used to.

Modeling the Fountain, export to Maya

For my fountain “hero piece” I began by creating a low-poly model in Maya, then brought it into Zbrush for more organic sculpting. Here is the sculpted “red clay” version.

Fountain modeled in Zbrush
Fountain modeled in Zbrush

Zbrush allows you to create Polygroups from Normals. This basically lets you group areas of you model according to which direction the topology is facing and organize these facing “normals” by color. This can be helpful for exporting or isolation sections.

Polygroups from Normals
Polygroups from Normals

After watching several hours of tutorials on Pluralsight.com on prepping Zbrush files as game assets, I was able to create polypainted version. I enjoyed the process of painting directly on the model in 3D, rather than painting on flat UVs in Photoshop then wrapping them around a model.

I exported the polypaint texture maps from Zbrush, then exported the low-poly version of the fountain model into Maya, where I used the Hypershader to apply the high-res texture map to the low-poly model.

Polypainted fountain
Polypainted fountain

Polypainted fountain in Maya

Polypainted fountain in Maya

I think this could still use a lot of work. I wasn’t entirely successful getting Bumpmaps to be as dramatic as I wanted. It’s possible I could export a few more types of maps (ambient occlusion, etc) and tweak them in Photoshop, then reapply them in Maya via the Hypershader. But for now I was happy that I had gone through the entire process of scuplting, polypainting, then exporting back into Maya. This asset could them be sent over to a game engine like Unreal or Unity for inclusion in a larger scene.

Low-poly game assets

I created some low-poly game assets in Maya to import into Unity to prototype the game and experiment with game mechanics. These represent the element of Water, plus a 3D version of the Sacral Chakra symbol.

Low-poly assets
Low-poly assets

After the initial game build, I felt they needed more color, so I used the Hypershader in Maya to give them some color for the final prototype. I also created some background texturing for the floor of the game.

Assets in Unity
Assets in Unity

I used the Roll a Ball tutorial for Unity as a template to create the game prototype. I was really glad this tutorial allowed me to copy/paste the code provided as I followed along in Unity, because I have very little programming experience.

Here is the link to the final game prototype!

SevenGyre 3D Interactive Scene

My project will be an interactive 3D model of a fantasy landscape to simulate the 2nd or “Sacral” Chakra known in Sanskrit as “Svadhisthana,” meaning “your own place.” (In traditions of Yoga practice there are seven Chakras that align along the spine.) The 2nd chakra is located along the lumbar vertebrae, slightly below the navel. It is associated with sensuality, creativity, passionate emotions, flow and flexibility. Associations with this chakra include:

  •         A circle with six petals
  •         A moon crescent
  •         The color orange
  •         Element of water


Symbol for the 2nd "Sacral" chakra
Symbol for the 2nd “Sacral” chakra

To make the scene interactive, I plan to create a series of objects that the player places in specific locations around a fountain. If they select the right objects, a spiral of colorful “energy” emerges from the fountain. I would also like to recreate the Koi fish I created in a previous class. I feel that using Zbrush will help me create a more realistic and beautiful model. If there is time, I would also like to create music soundtrack.

Similar projects:

  •         Deepak Chopra and Wevr Studio’s “Finding Your True Self,” a VR guided meditation
  •         Snowworld” a VR simulation developed by University of Washington Seattle and Harborview Burn Center. Used to assist burn patients alleviate pain.
  •        Yana VR Relaxation for Google Cardboard. Basic graphics of a beach environment with ambient music soundtract.

Software needed:

Unity, ZBrush, Maya, Photoshop, Audition (sound editing)

Unity screenshot
Unity screenshot

Assets needed:

  •         “Sphere” environment – a 360 ° environment/playscape
  •         Fountain
  •         Koi fish
  •         Assorted objects – mandala symbol disc, seashell, goblet, etc.
  •         Music

Estimated timeline for each asset:

Prototype scene assembly in Unity 2/21

Prototype game mechanics/interactivity 2/27

Refinement of objects…more to come…


Estimate budget:

Purchase Zbrush $500

Unknowns in software:

  •         Improving modeling skills
  •         How to make spiral energy in fountain
  •         Pipeline from creating objects in Zbrush and Maya then bringing them into Unity
  •         How to use Unity

Steps to complete prototype:

Create rapid prototype to test game mechanics, then refine modeling for each asset, optimize for Unity, import into Unity, refine game mechanics/interaction, import soundtrack and sound effects.