My latest project ‘115 Madison Avenue in the style of Tom Clancy’s: The Division’ has been completed.
You can find it among my other projects in the gallery page here.
If you wish to read up on the process, you can visit the breakdown page here.
Tessellation is a great way to add organic detail to a mesh.
However even with matching UVs and pixel perfect line-up in textures seams will occur across meshes.
Expand the models and have the displacement map taper off towards the end. The tesselated geometry will intersect creating a more natural looking seam. CAUTION!!!The geometry will lightmap based on the un-tessellated geometry which will produce some lightmap errors on the tessellated geometry. But at least there’s no seams 🙂
So we have an asset to send over to UDK, what now?
In this series I will be covering an asset flow based on the FBX plugin as the other method, based on ActorX is being phased out.
Select your asset and bring up your fbx exporter.
A common problem is that smoothed edges don’t translate over to the game engine after the export.
Make sure to be using the 2013 version of the plug-in as UDK will yell at you otherwise.
Set your settings according to the image and hit Export.
UDK uses a packaging system to manage its content.
Every asset that you will put into your scene will be saved in a package.
You can store models, textures, materials, animations, audio etc in packages.
Typically packages are saved under UDKGame>Content.
Packages can get quite large; UDK recommends not letting them get over 300mb, since you can have a near infinite amount of packages that will not ever be a problem.
My recommendation is to split your project up into several packages, within reason.
I had a project built around a single package once and that package corrupted. Should that happen in the future, with a multi package setup you only lose a portion of your in-engine work.
Now, let’s get started.
In UDK, bring up your content browser.
Press the Import button on the lower left and an explorer window will open.
Navigate to and select your asset, the Import dialog will open.
The first segment ‘Info’ is always the same, no matter what type of asset you’re importing.
Here you determine what package you want to add your new asset too.
If you had a package selected when you pressed import, that package will appear here.
You can create a new package my deleting the text and naming a new package.
Grouping is where you can define the sub-groups of your package.
For instance I like seeing all the meshes together, all the textures together etc so for a package that will contain static meshes I usually create three groups; Materials, Meshes and Textures.
Name, this will be the name of your asset inside UDK.
By default this will be whatever the name is of the asset you’re importing but you can still change it.
Below the Info box you will find more import options, these differ for every type of asset you import.
Experiment with what works best for you, the option names are pretty self-explanatory and if you hover over an option additional explanations will pop up.
Adding assets to a scene
Now that the asset is in its package, together with its textures and with its materials applied, it’s time to add it to a scene.
One way is to just select the asset and drag and drop it into your viewport. The other is to have your asset selected in your content browser and then right clicking into your viewport.
A dialog will appear and you asset will be listed for placement.
How to find my asset – Scene Tab
Once you start building a world, level, portfolio piece you will quickly end with a tone of assets in your scene. Managing all those assets can become difficult and tedious. You can find a list that breaks down everything in your scene under the Scene Tab in your content browser.
By default UDK will list everything out by its default handle. The first static mesh you add will be StaticMeshActor_1 etc. So it becomes difficult to see at a glance what StaticMeshActor_168 is.
Click on a listing and on the right you will see its properties. Those are the same options you see when you bring up the options window by pressing F4.
Scroll down until you find the Object category.
There you can tag an object and assign it to a layer.
The tag can be anything but I don’t feel like getting creative with the asset tagging will benefit me in the long run. Instead, I copy the asset name out of its listing up top under Static Mesh Actor>Static Mesh Component>Static Mesh Component>Static Mesh and paste it into the tag.
That way glancing over the Tag column will give me the asset name, which should be following some sort of naming convention and therefore give me all the information I need.
Help, my scene is too crowded – Layers Tab
All those assets sure make for a beautiful scene, but trying to place an asset using the viewports in that wireframe soup quickly becomes cumbersome.
This is where it paid off that you also defined a Layer in the same step where you assigned a Tag. In the content browser, open the Layers tab and all the layers you declared earlier will be here. Now you have a way of easily hiding and unhiding whole groups of assets based on their layer.
I recently started a new side project and decided to showcase it in UDK.
Having only had minimum experience with UDK before, I decided to chronicle my learning experience in short mini tutorials focused on the issues I encountered and how I solved them.
I’m not claiming to be now, or ever, the end all be all authority on UDK. Anything found herein worked solely for me. If it works for you too, then that makes me happy but chances are there are a million different ways out there you could do things, many better than the ones demonstrated here.
Now, without further ado, how does scale work in UDK and how do I get my assets in-engine to be the right size.
Help!!! my assets are HUGE… or tiny…
If you’re like me you have your modeling package set up in metric. You have your exported set up in metric and you’re happy. But once you brought that first asset into UDK you were either scratching your face on that characters toe or you where straining your eyes to even see your asset.
UDK does not use any conventional measuring system encountered in the real world. UDK uses Unreal Units. What are those?
A generic character in UDK is 96 units high. If we accept a six foot, 1.8m tall human as average height we can infer that 16 units equal one foot. If you come to this from the metric system and have been using Cryengine or Unity then that is the single biggest thing I want you to take from this. Feet are your friend.
Okay, we found ‘feet’, now what?!
First you will need to set your modeling package, in my case Maya, to think in feet.
You can do that by navigating to: Window>Settings/Preferences>Preferences
then go to the Settings Tab and in Working Units set Linear to: Foot, then hit save.
After that I like to use Josh Buck’s UDK tools to manage my grid.
You can find them on his personal site here:
It’s a free tool and it comes with all sorts of tricks.
You can set your grid divisions and create references at the click of a button.
Here I have created a cube that is 6 feet tall.
Can I has Game Engine?
Now it’s time to export our efforts to UDK.
You can use either ActorX or Autodesk FBX. I’m using FBX and after I figure out what the best settings are I will be posting those in a future entry to this series.
Once in UDK you will need to import your asset into a package. I will be going into Packages in more detail in a future post but for now, follow this link to the official unreal forum for an explanation of what they are and how they work: http://udn.epicgames.com/Three/UnrealPackages.html
Here you can see the cube we exported inside UDK.
You can set the subdivisions in your grid to any number that us a power of 2.
Here it is set to 16 units and as you can see our 6ft cube fits exactly into the Unreal Grid.
I hope you found this post helpful.