Senior Multiplayer Designer
May 2012 // Starhawk Multiplayer
The Sever, or "shattered moon" environment, was the most challenging Starhawk environment to bring to life. In Starhawk's lore, this moon of Dust was torn apart by rift energy, and serves as the lair of the Outlaw and Outcast war bands in the campaign.
Our terrain workflow relied on heightfield-based terrain, which complicated the matter creating floating islands. Our solution was to skim the top off our World Machine terrain output, then use hand-modeled rock geometry to cover the sides and bottoms. I planned out the island shapes I wanted (to scale!) in Photoshop before Lead 3D artist Jon Galloway worked them into the full World Machine terrain template and our other artists began building the lower shells. These islands were designed to take up half the texture memory of a normal terrain and could be duplicated in the scene for symmetry, freeing up more memory for the shells and other massive rock meshes and textures.
We went back and forth a bit on how to construct the terrain layout itself; I was able to work up a way to lay out large cracks in the terrain, which Jonny then fleshed out and detailed in the final terrain pass. This cracked look helped create Hollow's low-lying slot canyons as well as ramps allowing vehicles to jump over the gap in between.
Hollow's unique layout feature is the central floating island that serves both as a visibility blocker between bases and a valuable overlook base for Build & Battle expansion. Despite its ridiculous elevation, I was able to affix a couple ramps to either end, creating the opportunity for the most dangerous vehicle jump in the game - just don't try it in the slow-moving Tank.
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