What makes a really good environment?


What do u guys think make a 3d environment stand out from the rest and why?


Details, its all in the details.


Storytelling and mood. There are a million things required to get an environment up to the “good” level, but the difference between good and great almost always comes down to those two things.


I’m not an environment designer, so it’s just are my thoughts.
Environments are separated into two key elements: architecture and landscape (including vegetation). So, of course, interesting architecture, which complements the mood and the task, is beneficial. It would stand for a reason choosing abandoned churches and clock towers in Roman or Gothic style with complementing dried trees for the landscape. And for something like fairy-tale more of Gaudi style with peculiar trees.
Then complementing weather, time of day, lighting. Spooky - most probably night, mysterious - may be high midday without any clouds. Artificial lights also matter, as their direction can completely change the perception of the environment.
Then for 3d part, yeah, small details, that add to realism, if that’s the goal. Like a bit of wear, reflective surfaces, pools of water in the night.
If for games, then playability, balance, believable construction depiction.

If you can feel the inner entourage, if you can feel if the street is telling its story, if it emanates something which it absorbed though years, be it fear, loneliness, mystery or good old days, then it works. Some streets have its mood, and you always feel elated there. For example Yaroslava Val Street is always cheerful and I feel like I get into something pleasant there http://www.nostalgia.kiev.ua/img/nostalgi_3/prestig/prestig_11.jpg And our academy of arts is more spooky http://www.vnz.univ.kiev.ua/img/museums/00032_NAOMA.JPG ad you can feel it was a church there with all its strong emotions, and they are still there. One girl made an interesting engraving, where different streets represent different states of mood.
It’s easier said than done, so it requires quite a lot of knowledge creating such a concept design.


The game Borderlands 2 has some great environment designs.

I’m playing it right now and really enjoying it…


I’ve been wondering for the past week why nobody is talking about this game here on the forums. I’ve been grinding through it with friends, already on my second playthrough, and I LOVE IT. The graphics are amazing (but then, I loved that about the first game too). It’s so refreshing to play a game of this genre that’s taken a totally different stylistic route to everything else. The characters are absolutely fantastic too. And unlike the first game, every location in this game feels very different and unique. The attention to detail is really amazing, with every area feeling like someone has carefully gone and done set dressing specifically for it.

Another game with great environments is Skyrim.


Borderlands 2 is great. Everything about the game oozes quality. Its a lot like Fallout: New Vegas with better shooting-action and much nicer, stylized cartoon graphics.

I’m 15 hours into the game. When I finish it, I may replay the game with one of the other 3 character classes.


I agree that ultimately what drives an environment are some of the “soft” characteristics like story or how well the mood is delivered.

Borderlands… I played a lot of Red Steel 2 before going to Borderlands and I think the aesthetic wasn’t the same… but felt similar enough so I wasn’t exactly bowled over.

When I think environment though… I think METRO 2033 was great in parts if we think about games. But that’s not an absolute. It’s great because the environments worked well with the droll Russian dialogue, the dry Russian humor.

And METRO 2033 dabbled a lot in old Russian traditions in telling ghost stories and some such. So the environments for that were great.

Similarly for example, when talking about futurism and the boldness of exploration I did like the feeling of the environments and ship design in “STAR TREK: The Motion Picture”. I remember seeing it for the first time… when the ship and the uniforms of staff were re-done to reflect a scale that wasn’t possible in the original TV series and it really enhanced everything in spite of the fact that all the main players and plot were really the same level as the TV show.

So that’s an example of the environment really yanking up a production’s impact.

P.S.: Do Menus count in “environment”? Because I’m playing Civilization V and the way the game’s font, menus, just sort of give you this regal feeling and look really classy. I mean, I went all Total War for quite a while… and I used to think the “environment” in those apps was pretty good.

But Civilization V’s menu, and even the borders on buttons and windows… It’s just a work of art. It made me think of the game as something exquisite. Like it was a collector’s item or something.


What I think makes the biggest difference to a still rendered environment is the lighting, that can really make or break a scene, sometimes people dont pay that much attention to their modelling and that can be hidden in a way by good textures and the right lighting, but when the lighting is wrong then everything just seems wrong.


Actually, my answer would sort of be the opposite of that. The best environments I’ve seen are the ones that you can read very quickly because they’re composed very well. Contrast between the sky aorund the ground, for example, can mean the difference a good environment and a muddy mess.

There’s a rule some matte painters use where the audience has 4 seconds to see what an environment is about. Too much detail, and by that I mean too many contrasty elements, can make it very difficult to decipher what it is the audience is looking at. If it helps, I think the maps Valve made for Team Fortress 2 are generally very good examples of good environments. If you were to check out TF 2, then check out Half-Life 2. I think then you might see what I mean about the details causing readability issues.


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