Last week I wrote about the High Fidelity Pioneer Builders program. If you haven’t read it yet, you might want to take a look! Today, we continue by taking a good look at another particularly well-made Pioneer domain, Polygon, by Giovanny Arce, aka Polygon Monster.
When you first land at Polygon, you’re struck by the artist’s use of line and forced perspective, you arrive in an enormous palace of crystalline minerals. Suspended in midair, the structure is reminiscent of the floating, mysterious world of Miyazaki’s Laputa, Castle in the Sky.
A soundtrack with pads, strings and piano, invites the visitor into the enormous crystalline temple. Approaching the center of Polygon, you’ll find a pyramid-like hunk of material, rich and powerful, seemingly the heart and life-force of the floating structure. With enormous hunks of shimmering metals and minerals, suspended in midair by terrific forces and deeply pulsing with energy, Polygon feels like the perfect representation of potential energy. Using High Fidelity’s physically based rendering, Giovanny composited ancient, almost hieroglyphic-looking visual elements on top of the immense and shimmering mass.
I asked Giovanny a couple of questions about the build, and here are his insights:
What were your influences and inspirations for the concept?
My main inspiration comes from big environments where the sense of scale is mostly used. Big objects like mountains, fog, god rays, and elements of nature contribute to what I had in mind for this project. I also looked into paintings from artists like Ralph McQuarrie, Daniel Dociu and many old masters who captured the true essence of nature in the past with a limited amount of resources.
As a VR artist, what’s special about working in High Fidelity?
I always find amazing the idea of dreaming and being able to see things that, most of the time, don't exist. With that in mind, now that we have technology like High Fidelity, where you can immerse yourself in the metaverse with VR headsets, you can get almost the same experience. Look at the reactions of people of all ages that use VR for the first time: most of them can't control their body when they are on a roller coaster, they feel that they are going to fall or that anything can interact with them, even if they know that everything is made up. The mind tricks you in a similar way to dreaming or even having nightmares, so I believe everything is possible and ideas for this are endless. Trying to decide what to do was the biggest challenge!
The ability to do scripting on the fly while modifying objects on the cloud is very unique and we still haven't seen the full potential of it. I wish I knew programming so I could express myself a lot more, I remember I ended up feeling limited by not knowing how to do scripting, that is why teaming up with other people in the future is going to make anything possible.
What kind of feeling are you hoping to impart on your visitors?
I believe that human beings usually get very excited when they walk very close to huge statues, or even at the edge of the abyss where you can feel the danger and adrenaline in your bones. I would like to make people feel the mystery behind everything that surrounds them by walking or flying. Again, I wanted the sense of scale to be the focal point and also the dry color palette of elements like gold and stone so it could feel like a temple. The rest is up to the user, being able to create something in a new tool set while learning at the same time can be a little bit challenging so I wanted to leave space to people to create their own story after the experience so I could focus more on the composition of the environment.
Would you like to share information on your work flow, technical or otherwise?
Working with certain constraints and making something that is running on the cloud, I had to think about how many resources I wanted to implement without breaking the performance. To my surprise, I did some tests in the beginning with around 1 to 3 million polygons and it runs fairly smooth, so that gave me a little bit of breadth to make something bigger.
Creating a mock-up with cubes and spheres in High Fidelity is key as a guide for layout, also using an avatar as a reference in your 3D tool of choice is very important if you want everything to fit perfectly. I made a list of objects that I wanted to add, as well as a list of materials and textures. For execution, I used 3D-Coat extensively for texturing, Blender for 3D modeling and ZBrush for the high poly details.
For the background mountains I cheated a little bit, compositing everything in Blender and baking out the whole render into a 4k map to save resources. For music, I wanted a combination of relaxing and mysterious ambiance, which I found on Purple Planet. I used atmospheric wind sounds in several places as well. These and other sound effects were selected from freesound.org, with Creative Commons attribution information in the entities’ description.
If you’d like to experience Polygon yourself, put on your HMD and head to hifi://polygon.
Because there’s much that you can explore while flying, you might want to try navigating with Settings>Advanced Movement for Hand Controllers. Consider visiting with a friend, it’s quite fun to explore with others.
Hello! I'm Caitlyn Meeks, Director of Content at High Fidelity Inc in San Francisco. We're busy making the metaverse!