I'm very proud and grateful to have worked with Bluepoint games on this project. For Demon's Souls I worked on quite a bit of R&D, and as such a lot of the work ended up not making it into the final product. Here is a small snippet of some things that did make it!
I was responsible for the natural terrain/biome of Boletaria. The cliffs were sourced with photogrametry which we purchased to work with. So I cleaned up the drill and explosion marks on the scan data, made multiple cliffs into fully encapsulated assets and used them to world build. I also worked with a group of people to handle the distant vista that is seen from the large bridge. In addition to this, I implemented and polished outsourced art for the vista cards for distant matte mountains. I also was responsible for the waterfall next to the large bridge.
Clean Scan data in Zbrush including drill holes, blast marks and plants. Mirror asset and fill holes, Create brushes from cleaned scan data and use those brushes to fill in cleaned and blank areas. Once the hi-poly sculpt was done, I used a combination of decimation master and Houdini poly-reduce with curvature as a weighted density value for the low poly. I would then bake and run through Substance Painter for the masks and normal maps and pass off to the material team to create a tiling rock texture for the cliffs (these are MASSIVE sculpts!). When I get them back, I place the assets in the world with a simple plane for the dirt in Maya to start. Once I have *loosely* placed the dirt plane in the Game Engine, I would place the cliffs, and other boulders which I sculpted in Zbrush. When I had a decent composition, I would take all these assets to Houdini and combine everything to get an overall shell. From here I'd measure curvature and soften the concavity to give me my "swoops" in the dirt plane. Then I'd optimize the geometry by removing unnecessary faces and start to use vertex painting for various ground textures to paint in my dirt, grass, rubble, land slides, etc. and export the new ground plane into the game engine. When brought in, it conveniently matched up with the rocks exactly and got rid of polygons that couldn't be seen. During this process, I'd generate an occluder mesh that optimized a lot of those cliffs and boulders' faces that were "iceberged" under the ground. From here we could still leverage the benefits of instancing while keeping the beauty of the rocks and cliffs with custom terrain that procedurally filled in where dirt and scree should be. I'd also go back and use vert painting to place the grass. The last few steps were to polish and place decals for erosion, mudslides, water stains, etc. to break up any monotony.
Once I was close to done with the Boletaria terrain, I decided to move on from production to become a 3D educator and mentor at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, and take my first steps in being a Foster dad. I happily passed my workflow onto Urban Mclafferty to continue on the vistas and terrain.
I hope you enjoy and that this helps anyone interested in method, Cheers!