Blackrock Forge


Summary:

Blackrock Forge is an environment setting created by me in one week using only 11 different assets from the Unreal Marketplace. My goal was to create an environment worthy of a spot amongst the levels in the Infinity Blade series.

Specifications:

  • Finished in one week
  • Created using only 11 Marketplace assets
  • Modded using the Material Editor

Paper Planning

Since the release of the Infinity Blade assets on the Unreal Marketplace I had been wanting to make an environment and challenge myself to use as few of the included assets as possible in one of the available packages.


For me, that meant I wasn’t allowed to make my own assets or import new textures. Heavily modifying the assets using the different editors within Unreal Engine, however, was fine.


Since the props I worked with reminded of Minas Tirith, a fortress from the Lord of the Rings series, I thought it would be a great reference point for my environment. I wanted the fortress to be a part of a large mountain structure, like it was carved from the rock itself.

These were the 11 assets I chose to work with

Starting to look like a mountain

Creating a Mountain Using a Rock

Once I was happy with the paper planning behind the level, I started making a small rocky island using my only rock prop.


I used the scale and rotate tools to fool the viewer into thinking that the mountain was in fact a mountain and not a bunch of rocks next to each other.


After that, I raised the terrain from under the water and created a small patch of grass and dirt in the centre of the rock formation to break up the rocky ground beneath the terrain.

Making a Tower Using Floor Tiles

Once I was done creating a basic natural environment, I began creating some structures. My first idea for a structure was to use the floor tiles as part of a tower. I started out by placing floor tiles vertically in the shape of a circle and then later adding two walls crossing each other in the middle of the circle to break up the pattern of the tower walls. At the top of the tower, I placed out a few planks that formed a floor and, finally, I lit the top up by placing fire on a pedestal.


Once that was done, I started placing out some floor tiles underneath the tower to create a starting point for the player outside of the terrain I had just made. The floor tiles were square in shape, which made the floor look really weird when you looked at the edges. Because of that, I placed rocks over the end of the floor tiles, which gave my environment a much more natural feel.

Floor tiles can prove quite useful...

...especially when lit using Unreal Engine

Minas Blackrock

After that I started to create my fortress. To make the fortress walls, I used a brick wall asset together with two arches. I then copied that section, rotated it slightly and then added pillars in between to break up the pattern.


After that, I copied that combination three times, placed them on top of each other, added some rocks around it until I had created a nice looking fortress built into a mountain.


The entrance was made by deleting one of the walls in the fortress and adding arches one after another towards the inner part of the mountain. I then added walls on the sides and some floor tiles underneath the entrance.

The wall parts that make up the fortress

The fortress looks like it was carved from the mountain

Constructing the Core

On the inside of the fortress, I initially only created walls and a floor using the props I had. When it was time for me to create a roof, I ran into some problems.


First of all, the structure was round, and I wanted the roof to be round as well, but the pieces I had were all square and that made tiling difficult. Additionally, the room needed light, and a few light shafts through the roof would probably not have been enough for such a massive structure.


The issue with the roof was solved by using rocks instead of tiles and then adding a pillar to the centre of the room to support the structure. The lighting issue was solved by creating lava using only material functions inside Unreal.

How can I create a round roof using square walls...?

Nevermind, I'll use rocks instead. They look better!

Making Lava out of Noise

Like I mentioned earlier, the issue regarding the origin of the light inside of the fortress was solved by creating lava using only material functions inside Unreal. In order to do this, I added a noise function to a new material within the material editor, scaled it up and then moved the noise based on time. At that point I had a moving grey noise material, but when I added temperature to the noise using the temperature function in Unreal, it looked a lot more like lava when plugged in to the emissive color node. Finally, I plugged the noise into the material's displacement map, giving life and movement to the lava.


Large parts of the floor were then removed and replaced with lava inside the fortress. Since the floor tiles were square in shape, I had to hide the edges of the floor using rocks and bricks, again creating a natural feel in the environment. Later I added two pouring lava pillars as well.

Noise can be used to create lava within the material editor

The lava helped lit up the fortress from the inside

Closing Thoughts

I had tons of fun creating this fortress and I learned so much from just playing around with what I had, instead of asking for more content whenever I got stuck. Given more time I would have tried to make the lava less yellow and more black in order to achieve a more realistic look. I would have also liked to create some form of particle effect/shader that would distort objects behind it, to create a heat wave distortion kind of effect.

Screenshots

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