World Decoration System
My primary task on Anthem was to work on and develop the Decoration System for Anthem. The Decoration System's main purpose is to be able to dynamically populate the environment with assets that serves the purpose of aesthetically supporting the type of gameplay that's going on, as well as providing spots for collectables and resources to be collected from.
The system by design, had to make use of a preexisting system that was used to spawn in enemies and random quest content, but I had to repurpose it into the Decoration System.
The System had a few mandates.
Anything spawned in could not invalidate metrics. Cover and line of sight breakers in Anthem had very specific dimensions. I had to ensure that nothing that was deliberately made as cover had decorations spawning on them.
Anything spawned for aesthetic purposes could not give the impression of being interactable. This was to ensure that the visual language in Anthem stays strong and that the affordances of the decorations and environment are clear.
Anything spawned cannot invalidate navmesh. Depending on the location, certain enemies would spawn that needed different sized navmesh. I had to ensure that whatever spawned, did not cut off navmesh for the largest type.
How it Works
The system was essentially a way of setting up metrics for different assets to spawn in. The system relied on 2 key components. The world anchor markup, and the sets of decorations.
World Anchors were placed in the world and had 2 pieces of information. The size of the asset that the anchor could support, and the type of asset that would make sense to come in where the anchor was placed. For example, a flagpole would be dynamically spawned in on an anchor that had the size value of 'Tall', and the location value of 'Entrance'.
The Decoration Sets were essentially assets that had a list of certain decorations that would be spawned in on the World Anchors. With this set up, depending on the set that we chose, we could create vastly different themes in the same location. Sets were categorized through what faction was inhabiting the space, and then what they were doing.
The power in the system lies in the Sets. Depending on the assets inside a Set, and how we tagged them, we could have different factions decorate the same space differently, where some factions would prefer extravagant decorations while others kept the area clear with only their supplies.
I also made asset clusters for the decorations (making junk piles of sorts with preexisting artist-made assets) that had to be specific dimensions. Artists did a pass on these to make sure they were consistent with the game's visual language.
Decoration System in Action
In the above image, the key decoration assets were highlighted. Assets 1 and 3 are listed as Dead Space Assets, which are just locations that serve no gameplay value and are usually just supplies stacked against the wall.
Number 2 is a decoration that marks an entryway to that particular area and are usually tall.
Asset 4 is known as an elevated assets. These assets spawn in high locations, while 5 is another entrance asset. 6 is known as a path fork asset and is primarily used to highlight decision making points within the area.
All content is owned by EA and Bioware.