Relic & Allegorithmic
Relic’s games require a lot of art, and we do our best to stay up to date with the tools and technology that our artists need to keep pace with the ever-growing demands of content and quality. One of the more recent additions to our pipelines is Allegorithmic’s Substance Designer … a texture-authoring tool that improves workflow speed via templates. It also improves consistency among artists by using base materials – or a shared pool of textures such as gold, wood, rust, sand, and so on. Its plug-in, node-based interface makes it easy to input new normal maps and masks … and to spit out consistent final textures for a new prop in minutes.
We first experimented with Substance Designer back on (and even before) Space Marine (circa 2009-11), and thanks to the tenacity of artists at Relic like Tristan Brett and Allan Dilks, it has really taken hold in the last few years. We’ve now permanently incorporated this tool into our art-workflow for all projects.
As we incorporated Substance Designer into our pipeline, we forged an excellent relationship with their developers, who have visited the studio on several occasions to provide training ... or just check in. Just recently, Allegorithmic hosted its first Procedural Material contest, and one of our principal artists (yours truly) was asked to serve as a judge.
I initially expected to sort through perhaps a few dozen applicants, but I found myself overwhelmed with nearly a hundred exceptional pieces of art – each more beautiful, and more flexible, than the last. And by “flexible” I mean that substances aren’t simply a single set of static textures… they can be fine-tuned and modified to suit different needs ... instantly. Pitted red rocks protruding from yellow sand can quickly be transformed into shiny black rocks and snow, or a silver sword can quickly be changed to copper or gold. Extremely valuable when creating multiple variations of weapons or gear, common to an RTS.
This link shows off the top three candidates per category (Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Urban, Nature and Stylized).
From top to bottom: mottomo.jk, sebastien.rousseau, Käy Vriend, L. Kuzyakin and jimbobelinio
And the top 3 winners!
Top to bottom: eedobaba7726, pawnswizard, and nlongchamps
To take a peek at many of the applicants (and more), browse here. You may have to make an account, which takes only a second, and many feature videos that show you how versatile their substances can be.
Seeing such exceptional art, and the flexibility built into these examples, I’m both reassured that we’ve made the right decision and inspired to push Substance to the limits to make the very best games we can.
What other companies out there use Substance? Perhaps you’ll recognize a few of them.