Monopoly – Paris

In the spring of 2020 the theme “Paris, La Belle Epoque” was released for Monopoly. The biggest challenge for this theme was portraying the beautiful parisian architecture, some key landmarks and its dense city in a small space inside the monopoly board.

Embrace your joie de vivre with friends and family when you buy, sell and scheme your way through Paris. The parks and streets around the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower are now yours for the taking!

I worked on it as the lead 3D artist and I was also responsible for the tech art. We use a variation of the simple shader for the buildings created in past themes plus a custom shader for the river, it’s a big part of the city and we had to keep it flowing in a calm animation and keep the theme’s bright and cheerful colours.
It’s mainly done using some UV channels and a simple noise texture.

For every theme we try to add something new, which can be challenging as we have to keep an eye on performance on mobile. For Paris we wanted to add some pigeons flying around the city.
-Animating by keyframe could be a pain, especially for a small team of 3D artists, plus it would take a lot of work to look natural, hard to make changes or add more variation.
-I thought about using boids, but I could take me a while to learn and implement that, the city is static, there is no need to be something too dynamic and it could also be too much for something so small.
My solution was:
– create a path using a tool that we already had (Unity’s Cinemachine Path)
– at runtime I create one path (just an array of Positions) for each bird
– we used the “Roll” value from the Cinemachine smooth path to define how far a point can be from the original path
– tween the bird through its own path (using DOTween)

This way anyone can easily create a new path for the birds flock. I then just created a script that controls the different “main paths” and move the flock (an object pool with all the birds) through them with different triggers.

For the bird itself, I wanted to avoid keyframes (and animation/animator components + skinned mesh) again. I saw some inspiration in a few different places online and decided to try implementing it and adapting it to our needs. The whole animation is done by the shader, being controlled by the birds different UV channels.

All of the birds use the same material and with Instanced Properties and GPU Instancing we can create loads of them with a minimal cost, without affecting performance.

Every Monopoly theme is the result of teamwork, very often the same asset gets iterations from different artists. I’m showing here as I’ve been responsible for directing the 3D and tech art but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what each one did nor can I take full credit for it.

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