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Return to the Zone



Back in 2010 Josh, creator of the Leadwerks Engine, asked Dave Lee to create a part of the exclusion zone. 7 years later, this project has been revisited and rebuild.

Original footage from Leadwerks 2.3


With Leadwerks 3 I asked Josh if I could convert the assets to the new engine. Most assets were uploaded to the workshop, but they lacked proper physics, materials etc. Back then the Leadwerks 3 engine didn't have the vegatation editor and no deferred renderer. So building the entire map was not pointless.

Now in Leadwerks 4 the tools are perfect to recreate this beautifully designed scene. Josh gave me once again all the assets, and I started rebuilding the zone piece by piece. Many hours later in just the time span of 2 weeks we have some good results.

Step 1: Terrain import and basic terrain painting. 


2. Painting general layout and some first vegatation


3. Placing the first bridges


4. Placing the first large buildings. as you can see the texture are missing. 



5 Reapplied building textures. Holy **** that was a lot of work. Some textures did get applied automatically, but a lot of the textures were combined in larger shared folders. A lot of manual searching and applying the right textures.


6 Props, props and even more props. The more I started placing props, the more respect I got for Dave Lee's original design and prop placement. The amount of props is growing significantly. Here is a comparison of Bober station, with and without the building.


7. Fine-tuning terrain textures and terrain.

8. Adding more vegatation and rocks.

9. Swamp emitters.

10. Some more props.

11. Performance optimizing. View distance, billboards etc. More on this in the next blog.

12. Adding some post effects and sound.


13 Some missing things: due to a tight deadline, no time for physics yet. Except for models that have box physics or where physics do not really matter that much. Optimizing and organising the scene is also far from done. I came across a nasty bug where all my assets were removed from the filters I had in place. That was painful.



The final reveal of Return to the Zone project will be done by Josh. In the mean time...enjoy....






Recommended Comments

The thing that really strikes me about the props in the original is the depth of storytelling that Dave put into the scene.  The barricade on the main road bridge over the river...the desk, lamp, and chair in the guard outpost...the encampment in the garage...empty gun racks in the guard tower.  It all forms an impression without being too explicit about that occurred.  Very impressive.

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I hope the final iteration is a bit brighter, unless it looks brighter in-game. That or should be 1:1 with the LE2 version. But overall, amazing work I'm excited to finally be able to play this, I hope this gets released as a template or an open source project. 

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On 6/17/2017 at 11:19 AM, reepblue said:

I hope the final iteration is a bit brighter, unless it looks brighter in-game. That or should be 1:1 with the LE2 version. But overall, amazing work I'm excited to finally be able to play this, I hope this gets released as a template or an open source project. 

Those screenshots were just some experimenting with ambient and post effects, and by no means a final result. With Josh's new fog shader and SSAO improvement things are already looking better than in the screenshots above. The main reason for rebuilding it was to give Josh a packed scene where he could really see how a scene with so many props and vegeations would run. 

When you read Josh's blog on shader improvements, this already improves the engine for everyone a lot. That is what this is all about. Apart from that it just looks so awesome and that there could be potential cool mini game be created with this as the start map.

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The zone really does have a special place in LE history so it should really be made an official mini game with functionality. Maybe  FPS with some mutant dogs that hunt you down with guns, ammo, and med packs scattered around. The dogs can just randomly spawn every once in awhile near the player. 

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