With each new generation of gaming hardware, the pressure to build bigger worlds populated by highly detailed content is reaching a boiling point. Studios need to be able to meet deadlines and contain costs while creating a game that creates a fantastic experience for gamers.

Hiring or contracting armies of artists is one way to go, but this increases costs and has practical limits. There must be a better, smarter way that makes it easier to create detailed game art with the team you have and maintain creative control throughout the process.

The solution is to go procedural with Houdini and the Houdini Engine. A procedural approach to content creation involves building node networks that define a “recipe” to create detailed game art that can be applied over and over. You can wrap up these networks to create custom “smart” assets that are built by artists for artists. And with recent technological advancements, these assets can be loaded into game editors such as Unity or Unreal Engine or even custom game editors using a simple API.

Level Building

Houdini offers a number of tools for designing and exporting data which can be used to set up a game level. Houdini can handle large data sets and makes it easy to work with custom attributes and blind data. It is easy to pre-visualize a game level using OpenGL then export the level as points for the engine to build back up in-game or build levels inside your game editor using Houdini Digital Assets and the Houdini Engine.

Tool Building

Houdini’s digital asset technology lets you package up and share tools and techniques around a studio. These digital assets can be built by game artists and provide a quick way to build custom tools and can be improved and changed right up to the deadline. With Digital Assets it becomes possible for a smaller group of artists to develop at the same output levels as a much larger development team and to share this with artists working in editors such as Unity® and Unreal Engine®. Assets such as ProTrack by IndiePro Tools can be monetized and shared with the wider community.

Procedural Modeling

While many modeling tools work well when you have your design in place, there is little flexibility if you are not quite sure. By going procedural with your modeling, you can set up a model with controls for making changes down the line. This is also great for creating different variations of a model and populating your game world with rich content.

Terrain Generation

Modeling terrain by hand can be very time consuming. By going procedural with Houdini, you can work more efficiently and save on development costs. Houdini lets you start simple and then layer in game-ready details as needed. You can use advanced techniques such as volumes to build complex meshes with complete control over level of detail. Along the way, you can react to changes quickly without always starting from scratch and you will have access to procedural techniques for difficult tasks such as setting up UVs on procedurally generated models.

In-Game FX

Houdini’s particle and dynamics tools are well known in feature film circles and help VFX studios handle the most challenging effects. With the latest game engine technologies, many of these effects can be brought in-game with careful management and design. Houdini is ideal for prototyping these in-game experiences using particles, sprites, fractured rigid body dynamics and even fluids. Once the look is set up you can translate the results into a game-play friendly solution.

Game Cinematics and Trailers

While most game cinematics these days are created using the game engine, there are still situations where a fully rendered cinematic or game trailer makes sense. With Houdini’s rich history in feature film VFX, it is a great tool for bringing these shots to life and making an impact with your audience. In addition, Houdini’s lighting tools and Mantra renderer can provide you with an efficient look development pipeline.

Education and Learning

To try out Houdini and experience the advantages of going procedural, you can use the Houdini Apprentice or Houdini Indie to evaluate, learn and develop real projects . You can also go to GameTutor to learn how to think procedurally when creating game art. They have a growing library of lessons available for game artists to learn what is possible with Houdini and the Houdini Engine.