Creating terrain textures
Our previous concept art articles already showed the perspective and style that Cross of the Dutchman will feature. It is now up to the artists and designers to stick as close to the concept as possible, and that means coming up with solutions to problems. One of these is the ground textures in CotD. The environmental concept art (read this article) shows how sharp lines show the difference between what is grass and road, the tools Unity provides us with however are great when you’re creating mountains or rainforrests, but since we have neither in CotD, the standard set of tools are not quite up to the job.
Fortunately, Unity also comes with an asset store that allows developers to try and purchase plugins models and animations, helping you speed up the development process even further. We knew what we were looking for, an effect similar to what you see in RTS games like the recent Age of Empires Online. This ‘Tile Based’ approach basically means that designers come up with a series of puzzle pieces, that are then put together in a clever way to create the most elaborate constructions. The tool we found for this job is the PATileTerrain tool, made by Panerox on the Unity community. The tool is very close to what we’re looking for, and since it is delivered with source materials, we will be able to tweak it to our needs and get the results we we’re looking for!
Just to give you an idea of how this works, above you can see an example of a tilemap that shows how grass flows into dirt and vice versa. Pascal creates a tileset like this for each combination of terrain in CotD (over 20 have been identified so far), which then is compressed into a single texture. The surface is then split up into “Quads” to allow a single texture to be applied to each one. Once you do this hundreds of times, you end up with a result similar to the top picture. Keep in mind that none of the lighting has been applied, and it already looks fantastic!