Remodeling houses with Archipack PRO, and a pet cemetery

Hey everyone, I’m still running the make-it-look-good brush over Peace Island!

Most of my recent work has been more of the same stuff that I’ve already talked about in previous blog posts, but I had a go at completely remaking one of the houses on Peace Island from scratch. Here’s the purple house on the corner of Island Ave. and McClain Way before and after my changes:

Some difference in quality is due to different editor settings on Eric’s machine and mine. Much of it is due to the fact that the original used one 1K material for the entire house as opposed to more than a dozen 4K materials on my asset. The original house is another asset Eric used early on in the project that I am now making beta-worthy.

Archipack Pros and Cons

Okay, I didn’t model the new house entirely from scratch. As with most 3D use cases, there’s a Blender plugin that can help a lot. I used Archipack PRO for parts of the house that I didn’t reuse from the original (e.g. the overhangs, the railings, etc.).

I recommend Archipack PRO if you’re making structures in Blender, but with a few caveats. Note that all of this applies to version 2.2.7 of the plugin. I started the update to 2.3.1 while writing this blog post. Let’s see later on if my concerns still hold.

Problem 1: The walls are dummy t h i c c

First, all of the different parts of the structure can sometimes create exterior walls that are too thick. If this happens, the doors and windows will be stuck in between the walls. I don’t yet have enough experience with Archipack to quite understand why. It seems that poking around some of the helper objects that the plugin creates and applying its boolean modifiers before joining the objects together solves the problem. This is still true of version 2.3.1, and FYI the auto update didn’t work in 2.2.7. It’s possible this is explained in the documentation or some tutorial I haven’t seen yet :P.

Problem 2: Exploded UVs

Second, Archipack creates these exploded UV mappings similar to those in an earlier blog post about an old pavilion model.

A mapping like this will not work with Substance Painter, so I had to remap and reassign materials on the house. Again, it’s entirely possible that I’m missing some feature.

Problem 3: Triangles on the roof

Third, Archipack offers several premade roof meshes, and they have a very high triangle count. Take a look at this other example house I made. The screenshot is in x-ray mode, but you can tell this roof is very triangle heavy:

The original house model was 7,460 triangles, and the new model, using the lowest poly roof I could find, was ~12k triangles. I haven’t set up LODs yet, and for now, it seems we can get away with a higher triangle count. The only graphics-related performance problems that have really slowed Peace Island recently relate to the memory footprint of our textures. This bottleneck is way better with crunch compression and we will soon add streaming mipmaps. I’m not entirely sold on this asset pipeline, but it may just take more study and practice.

Pet Cemetery: Stephen King/Ramones joke here

Speaking of producing assets, I recently made the tombstones for our pet cemetery. Peace Island Kickstarter backers who donated at the Omniseer level could submit a picture of their dearly departed pet and an epitaph for inclusion in this location. One benefit of working on this game is that I could experiment with and add a memorial for my pet goat, Toggy, who I still miss very much.

This is probably the first assets I’ve made for Peace Island that were not based on a pre-existing 3D model. At the start, Eric sent me this graphic showing the silhouette and layout of the models he wanted:

Then I created the model, incorporating feedback from Eric as I went along and settling on granite and lichen materials that made sense for something you might find on Peaks Island or the greater Portland area.

In the discussions I’ve had with other game art people, some of them say they spend a lot of time on mundane objects like rocks, crates, etc. But sometimes you get to build a bunch of cool memorials to many a good cat, dog, and goat.

Finally, if you donated at the Omniseer tier and your pet was not one of these cats/dogs:

Agnes P. Brownhead
Bruno Bane

Reach out to Eric with a photo and epitaph.

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