If you haven't heard anything from me in a while, just go ahead and assume that I'm working on artwork again. My third map, Vulcanix, is purposely more-sparsely populated than the first two, but I came up with some other interesting effects that make it feel just as busy.
First, the map is set up like an island, surrounded by a pool of lava. And already that required special consideration, because I had to model unique sloping corner and edge pieces, as opposed to the ground planes I'd been using up to that point. I also needed an outer wall anyway, because there's nothing gamers hate more than invisible map boundaries. You should be able to see the thing that's keeping you in, so I decided to set the whole map within an even larger volcanic crater. These slightly-curved outer edges (and especially the rounded corners) caused me quite a bit more trouble than I was anticipating, especially trying to get them to match up at the ends and display a seamless pattern across all of them. I got so frustrated that eventually I decided to cheat and just make a bunch of separate materials that all tiled perfectly together, rather than one that could stretch across an entire arena wall without too much stretching or obvious repetition.
Next, I made a big volcano centerpiece. It's just a cone with the top lopped off, but when it came to texturing, I had a heck of a time trying to make it seamless while avoiding distortion as well. I also decided to model some 3D tendrils to go along with the painted-on ones. These flow down the volcano's sides where they join with a special chain of center pieces and continue all the way out to the lava pool.
And yes, that lava is actually moving. It's a very simple script that applies an offset to the UV texture every frame. Unfortunately, in my case it required a whole four new materials to get the lava to always flow away from the volcano, but I think the end effect looks good.
The environment is also populated by plant/rock formations that I took inspiration for from undersea coral. Finally, I created some mini animated lava spouts. By translating and scaling the lava part at random time intervals, it's very easy for players or COMs flying around to get hit by it. This causes the normal stun effect and is one of the most fun things I've put in the game to-date.
And that's not all! I've still got some notes on how I had to modify cow behavior for this map, and my crash course in particle effects to really sell the atmosphere. Stay tuned!