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Hidden Harmony: Bell Deer's Forest

Bell Deer's Forest: A calm, relaxing cherry blossom forest with a river going right through it. There are clusters of flowers grouped by color as you walk down the river. Arches of calolily and vine go across the river all the way down the path, where it ends with a bed of flowers surrounding a pedestal where our Bell Deer creature will be perched.

There were at least 3 total redesigns of the asset layout in Bell Deer's forest, primarily to focus on clustering flowers in more desirable arrangements rather than creating large beds of flowers that were computationally expensive. One major design challenge in this area was working with a 3D Modeled terrain, which meant that assets had to be moved by hand any time the river shape change A key feature that stayed through each redesign was the coloration of flowers as you go down the river that leads into an overgrowth, at which point the two biomes overlap and support each other.

Matthew nutt belldeer

Bell Deer admiring her beautiful view.

Matthew nutt graybox

We were adding to an existing world where we knew we wanted to have three areas to explore. Being that the main feature of Bell Deer's area is a river, it needed to be long and it couldn't disrupt the other zones' space. The red line illustrates the path.

Matthew nutt thumbnail

These are the thumbnails created by our art director for possible coloration options. Initially, we chose the bottom color palette.

Matthew nutt assets

Some of the assets used in this area. They are all UV mapped, with a face count of less than 50 for most of these, with exception to the callo lily.

Matthew nutt rivershape

Beginning development in the area. It started with cutting the shape of the river. At this time, we had foregone the decision to make a path back to the hub, and instead optioned to try and connect all three zones at a middle point at the end of the river

Matthew nutt bamboo

This area's musical theme is bells and wood instruments. We were inspired to create a cherry blossom forest with ringing blossom flowers accompanied by overgrowth.

Matthew nutt archway

We wanted players to walk down the path on lily pads, with cherry blossoms and flowers that they could interact with as they went down the river finding objects to play with. My goal in this design was to focus the eye down the path, thus the wooden arch.

Matthew nutt update

At this point we hit a wall: while the area looked great, its color scheme was too similar to another zone, the asset count was high, and they were not well clustered like a natural area.

Matthew nutt bulbous

It was at this point that the zone went through three or four design iterations in an attempt to make better use of the assets while also transitioning the color scheme to fit more appropriately.

Matthew nutt belldeerforest

We settled on a cooler tone, opting to replace the skybox with a morning sunrise instead of an evening sunset. This made the scene much more calm to look at, and we also opted to remove the focus on players traveling down the river.

Matthew nutt otherside

The river cutoff was also added. Players wanted to continue to the end of the river, but without a truly meaningful reason for the three zones to connect, we transitioned back to a river cutoff that players could follow back to the hub.

Matthew nutt belldeerforest4

Belldeer's pedestal. Since this area both encapsulates overgrown bamboo and a lush blossom forest, we wanted to prop the cornerstone of this zone in a spot that could showcase the connection between these two distinct zones.