Using Modular Assets – Pros and Cons

As a result of following tutorials on creating modular assets, more precisely, modular walls to be used within a game environment, I decided delve further into the subject and do some further research.

Benefits of Modular Assets

The immediate benefit of using modular assets is that it is simply, re-usable. Re-using assets allows for a continuous art-style throughout environment, no matter the size. Also, using these assets increases the speed in which these scenes can be built, without draining resources within a development team.  As a result, this allows the development team to concentrate on more unique world building without having the create and export every window and door, which as you can imagine, would become very tedious and tiresome.

Cons of Modular Assets

The main downside of using modular assets is that re-used artwork can quickly become repetitive. Therefore, developers and artists have to use their expertise and decide when to focus their attention on sections of the environment which require to be more unique, re-using the assets when it seems sensible.

Examples of Modular Assets

The above images shows a series of pipes in Fallout 3, developed by Bethesda.  Bethesda use a system in which they develop “kits”, in this case, a piping kit.  These kits are relevant pieces of art which can be used in conjunction with each other.  In this example, the artist has created 4 sections of pipe, which ultimately can create numerous configurations. It is evident that this technique can easily transferred in creating other kits, even larger models such as corridors.

Before Creating Modular Assets

Before beginning creating modular assets for an environment, it is best to determine the dimensions of your character/s, also the units in which the world is measured. This allows you to scale the models around these without later complications such as items being too larger or small.

Another tip which I gained whilst research this subject, was taking in consideration your gameplay, determining things such as how far can your character jump or even fall without dying / taking damage.  These will all affect the spacing of assets in your environment and keeping this information in mind will allow you to create a level which will play and look its best.

Finally, it is useful to agree a uniform measurement for similar assets across kits, such as door / window frames.  This will allow you to use a more varied selection of designs, letting you re-use assets between different kits and other teams environments.

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