LIGHTSPEED STUDIOS' Paul Wu has told us about the company's collaboration with the Adobe Substance 3D team and explained how they build Procedural Texturing System, a tool developed by LIGHTSPEED to boost the productivity of its developers who use Substance 3D software.
I’m Paul Wu from LIGHTSPEED STUDIOS. I joined Tencent in 2009 and currently leading the Technical Artist (TA) team of LIGHTSPEED STUDIOS. I’ve been in the game field of technical art for more than 15 years and have had the opportunity to participate in the creation of several popular titles in the Chinese domestic market, including ASURA, Dragon and Fighters, and Peacekeeper Elite.
LIGHTSPEED STUDIOS is one of the world’s most innovative and successful game developers. With teams across China, the United States, Singapore, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates. And we have several supporting centers, including Tech Center, Art & Design Center, Marketing Center, etc.
Our Technical Art team belongs to LIGHTSPEED Art & Design Center, which provides artists and support from concept design, 3D modeling, animation, VFX design, technical art, cinematics, comics, and more for all LIGHTSPEED games.
Acting as the shared platform at LIGHTSPEED STUDIOS, our Technical Art team is built to provide tech art support for our various studios across the globe for multiple projects. Meanwhile, we keep continuing to invest in infrastructure and R&D to make sure our developers and artists are able to unleash their creativity and make the next-generation gaming experience possible.
Teaming Up With the Adobe Substance 3D Team
With the continuous development of technology, texturing for the gaming industry has entered the field of 3D and realism. 3D has almost become an essential solution for game texture production, including commercial skins, props, environments, and characters. Of course, we would like to work with Adobe Substance 3D, the world’s leading solution for 3D texturing.
Since 2021, our Technical Art team and Adobe Substance 3D have cooperated and jointly created a series of new 3D materials and tools. We are glad to introduce the Procedural Texturing System (PTS), a tool developed by the studio to boost development productivity for LIGHTSPEED STUDIOS’ developers using Substance 3D.
We highly value the in-depth cooperation with Adobe Substance 3D in developing new features. In particular, the features we are looking to develop include a cross-region collaborative mechanism for assets management, customized modular tools for texturing, and other extensions and plug-ins. We look forward to more in-depth cooperation between LIGHTSPEED and Adobe.
The collaboration is a strategic step LIGHTSPEED STUDIOS has taken towards creating the LIGHTSPEED Universe that will bring next-level experiences to gamers and developers by providing easy-to-use tools and technologies. It demonstrates LIGHTSPEED STUDIOS’ commitment to establishing a global platform that advances the future of game development and will inspire more possibilities in extending technological partnerships and driving its innovation-driven global expansion.
Substance 3D Tools in LIGHTSPEED's Pipeline
As I mentioned before, Adobe Substance 3D is the world’s leading solution for 3D texturing, and 3D has almost become an essential solution for game texture production. Traditionally, the creation of art assets such as maps and 3D models is done manually by artists, causing low efficiency in game development.
Thus, the priority of our Technical Art team is to design a system that can boost productivity by allowing developers to create globally streamlined workflows for procedural texturing, modular modeling, and environment and character creation with photogrammetry for multiple projects, regardless of geographical barriers.
The Procedural Texturing System
Procedural Texturing System (PTS) is a tool developed by LIGHTSPEED STUDIOS in collaboration with Adobe to boost the productivity of its developers using Substance 3D.
The PTS features a one-stop terminal where developers can access and manage most of the tools and assets. It helps boost productivity by allowing developers to create globally streamlined workflows for procedural texturing, modular modeling, and environment and character creation with photogrammetry for multiple projects, regardless of geographical barriers.
In particular, there’re several components that make it a powerful game development tool:
- PTS Client: Backed by the secure cloud service, this proprietary PTS client allows our artists to flexibly access textures and materials for various projects. The shared texture asset library is not only open internally to all LIGHTSPEED STUDIOS projects but also can be shared externally with vendors. To support the development of multi-end and multi-genre games, the texture asset library can also be customized to meet the specific needs of different projects. With the PTS client, we are able to synchronize texture asset management for cross-region collaboration.
- PTS Asset Manager: As a one-stop solution with a categorized storage system that can synchronize real-time changes anywhere and anytime, it can effectively prevent accidents caused by local computer crashes and personnel changes.
- Procedural Texturing Material Templates: To help artists quickly generate different visual effects for different projects, the PTS also enables our artists to customize materials from basic material libraries as well as Substance Source Material.
- Procedural Texturing Material Modeling: Powered by the parametric modeling capability of Adobe Substance, the PTS is able to unlock the infinite possibilities of variations in 3D models and patterns. All our developers need to do is simply set up the parametric models and get the texture assets ready.
- Photogrammetry Data Processing Tool: The Photogrammetry Data Processing Tool is also available for generating and adjusting scanned models and textures supported by SAT automation, such as AI delighting and AI noise reduction. With the mapping projection capability of Painter, the PTS also provides a powerful lossless texture mapping function that allows us to easily adapt our texture details to the surface of the 3D model.
We are sincerely grateful to Adobe Substance 3D which works very closely with us to customize the development of smart material tools customized for different projects, and we have seen the deployment of Substance at different levels in multiple scenarios.
Speaking of the team collaborating on designs, especially for cross-regional cooperation, the PTS is a solution and a technical infrastructure developed and customized specifically to boost the development productivity of our developers using Substance 3D across all our studios around the globe. It benefits our artists in mainly 3 aspects:
- It grants game artists who are based in offices worldwide easy and secure access to design assets and allows for seamless cooperation despite geographical barriers.
- It provides artists with libraries that contain assets and tools customized for each project, saving them from tedious, repetitive work and allowing them to focus on the creation of game art.
- It standardizes all assets that are delivered along the development pipeline, making the entire workflow smooth and organized.
In my opinion, the core value of PTS is to help artists spend more time on art creation itself. It allows the team to achieve constant high-standard mass production with less time and in a much easier way so that more time can be saved for design.
In the traditional art production process, art assets such as maps and 3D models are manually created by artists step by step, and the efficiency is relatively low especially when the quality is required to meet a certain standard.
Different from the traditional process, the flexible and industrialized PTS can reconstruct texture assets into modular tools and can quickly produce texture assets through the combination of different functional modules, thus achieving high-quality, sustainable, and unified process results, as well as facilitating future iterations and the usage on different platforms.
Taking the mechanical arm of the bear as an example, its complex model structures and texture information can be generated simply by painting. At the same time, these materials also have parametric adjustment functions, such as this custom bullet crater brush; artists only need to adjust the size of the brush to generate different crater effects on this mechanical arm model.
Adobe Substance can be taken as a visualized programming tool, one that could mean a lot for enhancing the production techniques of artists. Beginners usually need to understand the fundamental principles of rendering through the PBR channel during the production of textures, as well as how texture-swapping works. Combined with official tutorials provided by Adobe, they will be able to get their hands on the tool quickly. As new technologies and techniques keep emerging, I’d suggest everyone always keep learning and building up their skillset to meet new challenges.
LIGHTSPEED STUDIOS’ dedicated development team for Substance 3D offers sessions to share advanced techniques with artists on a regular basis to help them master the tool. In the meantime, our PTS also assists artists at the studio in designing and delivering texture assets efficiently with premium quality.