High Noon Shootout: Designing A “Lived-In” Background Scene

In today’s post, I will go over the choices I made when putting together the wild west town backdrop for my recent game.

Today’s Objective: Explain the options I had and choices I made when I designed the backdrop for the duel scene.

Available Resources:

For the 3D models of this project, I was using the Synty Studios POLYGON Western low-poly pack, which includes many great 3D models for buildings, characters, weapons, and miscellaneous objects/props.

There is a great range of models to choose from to make the scene feel much more alive.

The Design Process:

When I started designing the backdrop, I didn’t have a specific plan in mind. I just wanted to use the available assets as best as I could.

As a general rule, it is good to start from the biggest elements first, so I placed the distant desert mesh backdrops first surrounding the town.

Next was the sand/dirt ground including the “path” that the 2 duelists would stand on.

Next was a pretty random, but organised selection of buildings in an order that seemed like it would suit a town. I made sure to include multiple layers of buildings on the Z axis, rather than just 1 layer next to the path.

Next, a scattering of props and objects, marking the start of the detailing phase. I make sure to not have everything perfectly aligned and/or organized so that it feels as though many people have interacted with it.

The building interiors are rarely seen in-game, so I only added props that could be seen through windows/doors. Most props are outside.

Next is populating the town. I figured, if a duel was happening, people would probably be outside to watch. I selected, placed, and posed a number of unique characters from the asset pack in a way I thought looked natural.

I decided not to animate the people at all, since it is basically unnecessary and little value for this particular game.

The final step was the special effects (“FX”). The asset pack came with some awesome ones: dust blowing, and tumbleweeds (collisions enabled!) rolling along.

The dust is placed between the path and the camera, in order to show up at the bottom of the visible screen.
I make sure that, like the buildings, I place some dust and tumbleweeds in the distant background for realism.
It adds more of a realistic idea that everything is not just present in the foreground.

After some interior lighting, post processing, and camera effects, the result is complete and looking great, if I do say so myself! :)

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