Currently in development I've spent the past 2 months becoming familiar with Unreal Engine 4 and developing experiences in VR. Current events and my own curiosity compelled me to take a step into the Metaverse and see what development of these new experiences may be like. Learning the basics of the Unreal pipeline gave me the ability to create a completely immersive world and I look forward to learning more and more about everything this software, and new medium, have to offer.
integration of 2d and 3d assets
Using references found online, I recreated some seaweed assets in photoshop and imported them to Unreal Engine.
With virtual reality experiences you have to be cautious of performance issues and utilizing 2d assets wherever you can significantly increases process speeds.
I created some new materials and blueprints for the seaweed. Using a few effects and small adjustments the seaweed was brought to life with movement and color.
Once that's all done incorporating those assets becomes as easy as click and drop into the scene. I utilized this technique a few times, bringing in a few different types of seaweed to add variation to my world.
Though 2d assets are great for performance, Unreal Engine is a pretty beefy software and it's built to handle a few 3d meshes here and there. So using my new 3d skills I was able to whip up some assets I could integrate from cinema 4d.
Effects and lighting tricks
As is the case in most art and design, attention to detail was crucial to pull of a convincing underwater world. utilizing some native Unreal effects I was able to recreate caustics effects and bubble particles both ejecting from ocean life and floating around in the water. This creates an incredible effect in virtual reality with particles floating by your face and being bathed in caustic rays of light from the surface.
Taking some simple Caustic png files from google and adding some texture samples and light functions I integrated the texture directly to the lighting in the scene. This allowed the light itself to be affected by the caustic texture added so the light rays move through the water just as they would in the physical world.