Why did you decide to create New Retro Arcade: Neon?
We created New Retro Arcade: Neon to further expand our free Demo with more content, other VR games and to integrate multiplayer gameplay into the experience. There is also the ease of access to updates and user feedback that a platform like Steam offers so we wanted to make use of that resource to help us improve as game developers.
What 3D modeling software do you use to create your assets?
I use the open source 3D software Blender, although I’m probably in the minority among other 3D artists I’ve met. Other members of the team use different software such as 3DS Max and ZBrush. Often the tool is dictated by the assets we need to create, the remainder of the time it comes down to preference.
You use the Unreal Engine 4, why did you decide to work with this engine?
Epic’s Unreal 4 is a very well documented and popular engine which satisfies the requirements of all of our departments. Both programmers and artists find it a powerful and accessible environment to work in. The VR support is also great and Epic is always improving the different parts of the engine so we can’t complain as they do an excellent job! Their royalties based license is a very fair system for such a feature heavy tool like the Unreal Engine.
Why did you decide to use InstaLOD?
We had a wide range of assets we needed to optimize and looked into what automated 3D optimization solutions were available. After a few enquires we were down to two main contenders. One of the options has been available for quite some time, but they’re focusing primarily on AAA game developers by not having license terms suitable for indie devs.
So that’s why we decided to get in touch with the developers of InstaLOD; here we had a much more Indie-friendly LOD solution that wouldn’t leave our team destitute. The cut in cost did not equal a cut in performance however – InstaLOD delivers the power of high quality auto-generated LODs that AAA games utilize daily to boost production efficiency and game performance. The guys from InstaLOD were not only fast in responding to our needs but always came up with great solutions if we encountered any issues (that said we didn’t have any technical issues with it). In the past the task of manually generating LOD models fell to me and as such I have to thank them personally for their support of both us and Indie game developers in general. They have gone out of their way to help us and react to our needs. The solution that they have provided allows us to put more of our time into creating new content and less into the monotonous (and generally thankless) task of manually building LODs.
How did you find working with InstaLOD?
Working with InstaLOD has been extremely fluid, I just went to the big purple logo button in Unreal that acts as a help file, had a short read of the instructions there and I was ready to go. The first asset I used InstaLOD with took a little trial with the different settings to achieve the result I was after, however having done this once I had a good grasp of the workflow. It really was that straightforward to use without the need for any advanced tutorials.
Were there any problems working with InstaLOD?
InstaLOD performed perfectly inside Unreal Engine 4 – we did not experience any crashes, errors or other problems which could have affected our workflow. We actually integrated InstaLOD during crunch time, where stability and reliability is extremely important, so it was under a higher level of scrutiny than usual. I should mention that we also did not have much time for the implementation of our LODs with our deadline rapidly approaching. After installing InstaLOD into Unreal Engine 4 I was able to make all the LODS for every asset in the game in about 2 working days, including time to visually test all of them. We don’t have the most extensive asset list of any game of course, but for a small indie team we take pride in saying we probably have one of the best looking VR titles right now.
There were quite a few high quality props for the game and after the LOD phase you can barely notice any LOD swaps on the props themselves at all. Unreal Engine 4 itself also helps in this regard as it has an awesome LOD preview visualization which makes it easy to tweak the LOD switch distances.
It was quite impressive for us as a team when seeing the performance improvements as a eureka moment for us, having previously had no LODS at all in-game.
Would you use InstaLOD again?
Yes, without any hesitation. A more pertinent question, given the alternative of manually creating all of the LOD models for every asset, would be “Would I consider not using InstaLOD again?” As it stands, nothing exists which could provide a 1:1 replacement of the efficiency it brings to our development pipeline. The boost it grants to performance for such a low time input make it a no-brainer for us. We can’t see ourselves working on our next title without the massive help of InstaLOD, the advantage it has on cost, integration, workflow speed and reliability is second to none.
We hope for those interested that this was an exciting read. Once again, thank you InstaLOD!
Your Community Manager Joe and the rest of the Digital Cybercherries team.