Environment States in Overwatch 2: Behind the scenes with the engineering team – News

Hello, everybody! My identify is Marco Alamia, and I’m a software program engineer on the Overwatch staff. Since we lately completed engaged on a brand new piece of expertise for Overwatch 2, we thought it might be an important alternative to present the neighborhood a sneak peek of what goes into creating enhancements for a game engine. To help me on this endeavor, I’ve enlisted the assistance of two different builders from the Overwatch staff: Bruce Wilkie and Fabien Christin.

The brand new expertise we added to the engine is named Setting States, and it has rapidly develop into our favourite workflow for map creation and design. Though the characteristic is developed and refined contained in the Overwatch 2’s engine and instruments, the core concept stems from the thoughts of our proficient lighting artist, Fabien. I requested Fabien to assist us perceive how he got here up with the concept has now reshaped how the staff creates maps, and to stroll us via his design course of.

Let’s dive into Setting States!

Pitching the Thought

Fabien: Overwatch is about in a brilliant and colourful world, and far of the character of the game is expressed via its maps. The creation of a map begins with the extent designers who invent your entire structure of the place utilizing massive gray containers to provide fascinating and balanced gameplay. An important factor at this stage is to design a map that’s enjoyable to play! After many hours of testing, it’s the atmosphere artists’ flip to rework the non permanent gray containers into fastidiously handcrafted buildings and environmental property that can give life to the places gamers will journey to.

Alongside the atmosphere, we create the lighting that helps the story that the map is telling. For Overwatch 2, we wished to create fascinating new moods that will completely change the sensation of a location. Think about travelling to Numbani and seeing the futuristic metropolis illuminated in a heat African sundown, or touchdown in a wet Paris, with all of the retailers glowing with heat golden lights that invite you inside to eat a croissant till the rain stops.

Environment States in Overwatch 2 Behind the scenes with the

That is precisely what the Setting States have been designed to do. With this new system, we’ve managed to separate all the main elements of lighting, sound, and results into self-contained property that may be mixed like constructing blocks to create what we name Setting Situations. We are able to share them throughout maps, and we will even have a number of Situations on every map.

Let’s take the instance of the fast-paced deathmatch map of Necropolis. You’ve in all probability performed it in its night time state of affairs, which marries the distinction of the chilly blue colours of the nighttime with the brilliant orange of the torches lit across the buildings.

Environment States in Overwatch 2 Behind the scenes with the

However let’s say we need to experiment with a special state of affairs, and we determine to attempt the new desert colours of Temple of Anubis. With the brand new Setting States system, all we have to do is take the Setting State from the Temple of Anubis and apply it to Necropolis.

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This seems to be nice already! Nevertheless, we will make it look even higher by nudging the solar course to create extra fascinating shadows. To do this, we create a brand new Setting State that can solely override the solar’s course, and we place this new “block” on high of the one from Temple of Anubis.

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Because of the pliability and ease of Setting States, we will prototype new lighting for our maps inside just a few hours. Having the ability to iterate rapidly permits us to experiment extra, be extra artistic, and produce extra selection for all our maps.

However that’s not all. Whereas the earlier examples have been largely beauty, Setting States may also be blended dynamically to develop new and thrilling gameplay alternatives. Think about that you’re despatched on a mission to Necropolis to revive the connection to an Overwatch satellite tv for pc hyperlink, and whereas defending in opposition to a Null Sector assault, a sandstorm rapidly approaches the placement and rises throughout you! We are able to make your mission a bit more difficult by including a brand new sandstorm Setting State on high of the Sunny Situation, which can slowly improve cloud protection and sand impact density.

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With this new expertise we will create all types of climate modifications, like thunderstorms, snowfalls, and different thrilling environmental eventualities to make the game really feel completely different each time you play.

Let’s return to Marco, now, and see the extra technical aspect of how Setting States work below the hood.

Implementing Setting States

Marco: Fabien’s imaginative and prescient was bold, so we needed to design a strong system to attain what Overwatch 2 wanted for its environments. After some brainstorming, we determined to permit for a number of Setting States to be current all on the similar time, ordered neatly in a stack. This stack might change dynamically, so at any given time an Setting State might be added or eliminated. The magic occurs when the engine seems to be at this stack and blends all of the Setting States collectively to provide the ultimate atmosphere look. You probably have ever used Photoshop, it’s the identical as having a number of layers blended collectively to provide a last picture.

The concept is that every Setting State can describe some facet of the atmosphere itself, such because the wind power and course or the solar colour. When the state is pushed on the stack, solely the offered features contribute to the consequence. For instance, it is a stack taken from Lucio’s membership in Rio, the place an Setting State that modifications the digital camera publicity and colour grading features is pushed on the stack:

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The Setting State on the base supplies all of the features for the map, and the one on high overrides the colour grading to provide the menacing and creepy ambiance of the Diablo space. Setting States could be added and faraway from the stack dynamically through the game, permitting for extra dynamism and making the maps really feel livelier and extra energetic.


Beneath the steerage of the artwork staff and Fabien we’ve recognized a number of key features that we would like Setting States to have the ability to outline. For instance, post-processing was the engine’s first characteristic transformed into a facet. Put up-processing is a typical ingredient of all fashionable engines; it’s used to use varied filters and results, like controlling the ultimate picture’s distinction, brightness and saturation. Adjusting the picture distinction and brightness dynamically relying on what’s taking place within the game could make the ultimate picture extremely extra vivid and dynamic, and that is now attainable in Overwatch 2 because of the Setting States expertise.

The fog facet is one other highly effective device in our new system. By altering its parameters, we will drive the fog feel and look, which in flip permits the artwork staff to make the atmosphere evolve visually based mostly on the game mode, gamers’ positions, and even time. For instance, we might make the map spookier for Halloween, or have the fog develop into thick solely round a particular space of a map, or make a sandstorm construct over time in one in all our new Hero Missions.

We now have a number of features that contact upon different visible properties such because the shadows forged from clouds onto the map, and even nonvisual properties just like the power and course of the wind. Two of an important features that we will change are the Solar and Sky features. Because the names counsel, these enable us to vary some key options of the Setting, just like the solar’s place and colour, what clouds we’re utilizing, if any, and whether or not it’s day or night time. As you may think about, it is a very highly effective a part of the Setting State system as a result of it permits us to vary the appear and feel of the map in very dramatic methods.

These two features (Solar and Sky) leverage one of the crucial superior areas of the engine: the lighting system. Lighting is extremely essential for Overwatch 2 as a result of it helps us set the look, really feel, and temper for our environments.  Nevertheless, any change to this technique can have reminiscence and efficiency implications, so we should be very cautious with what we allow. Fortunately for us, we’ve an important engineer on our staff, Bruce Wilkie, who has in depth expertise with lighting methods and will help us create one thing that appears nice whereas conserving our efficiency on the excessive stage {that a} aggressive shooter like Overwatch 2 requires.


Bruce: A lot work and dedication go into the colourful, colourful visuals of Overwatch. Each time I play a match in one in all our many stunning maps, I’m reminded of simply how a lot consideration to element is given to every lighting atmosphere. Daylight bounces into rooms, floodlights illuminate ruins, and nighttime festivals come alive with colours–these are only a handful of examples of how lighting performs such an essential position in the appear and feel of our game. When making the engine for Overwatch, we labored intently with the artwork staff to supply lighting options wanted to convey the 2D idea paintings into the 3D world–options like gentle bouncing off surfaces (usually referred to as International Illumination), metals reflecting the world round them, and shifting objects lighting seamlessly with static environments.  These options require many calculations, which are sometimes much more CPU-intensive than could be finished on the body charges we wished the engine to attain. To permit Overwatch to run at excessive body charges and nonetheless ship these superior lighting options, we compute as a lot lighting data as we will forward of time, package deal up the consequence, and use that information within the consumer. 

Let’s take a more in-depth have a look at the information we use in Overwatch to allow a few of these lighting options. For issues that don’t transfer, reminiscent of partitions, flooring, and ceilings, we construct a number of items of knowledge. The primary piece of knowledge tells the engine how a lot lighting is hitting a floor, and what course that gentle is coming from. Typically, this information is named a “lightmap,” and completely different engines will retailer completely different “flavors” of knowledge in lightmaps.  

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On this picture, you may see an instance of how lightmaps are generated for the surfaces in a map.  On the left is a last composite of all of the lighting.  Within the middle, simply the charting is rendered on the surfaces.  Our artists use this view to ensure sufficient lighting information might be saved for the floor to attain the visible consequence they’re on the lookout for.  On the suitable, that is an instance of how the engine packs collectively these lightmaps to attenuate the reminiscence they take up.

Once we shipped Overwatch, we generated colour and course for all gentle hitting a floor.  We use the course information to range the colour on bumpy surfaces–the extra the floor faces that course, the extra colour it receives. For Overwatch 2, we now generate three lighting instructions, permitting us to range every of the colour channels (pink, inexperienced, and blue) independently. The results of the additional instructions deepens the vibrancy of the ambient lighting, which in flip will increase picture high quality.

For stationary objects, we generate information that tells the article how a lot of the encompassing atmosphere is seen. Typically, this information is named ambient occlusion. We began producing this information in a number of maps after we shipped Overwatch, like Paris and Havana. For Overwatch 2, all maps might be producing this information now, growing the standard of the visuals.

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For issues that do transfer, like characters, we generate many pattern positions on the planet and encode lighting information for every of them–the identical kind of knowledge we construct for stationary objects.  When a shifting object comes near one in all these factors, the article makes use of that information to gentle itself. In Overwatch 2, we’re producing many extra pattern positions–particularly within the air–which implies that shifting objects will look higher than ever.  

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Should you watched our BlizzConline panel, you noticed a glimpse of maps having a number of completely different lighting environments. For every atmosphere, we need to share as a lot information as attainable to maintain our obtain and set up disk measurement affordable. The Setting State expertise permits the engine to group collectively a number of lighting environments for a map, permitting for a big a part of the precomputed information talked about above to be shared between these grouped lighting environments. This brings down the information footprint significantly, which suggests our gamers wouldn’t have to obtain and set up as a lot information per variation. Larger high quality lighting, extra lighting variation, and fewer information–all because of the Setting State characteristic.

Because of Setting States, Overwatch 2 will really feel extra dynamic whereas bettering the workflow of our artists, enabling them to create a colourful world so that you can get pleasure from. Sit up for immersive, globe-spanning adventures with altering environments and gorgeous visuals in Overwatch 2!

Unique supply: https://playoverwatch.com/en-us/news/23674944/environment-states-in-overwatch-2-behind-the-scenes-with-the-engineering-team/

I am an author on Gameblog24! Your favorite one, probably, huh? My games: I love the GTA-series, Minecraft and other small games like Among Us or Overwatch!

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