In 2019 I started working at Marmalade Game Studio and my first full project was the Monopoly mobile game.
It’s been a great experience working on it as the lead 3D artist for this project. I learned a lot with every theme we made, so hopefully I can go over a few of these experiences in the next posts.

For this initial theme there was no specific location in mind, just a busy city with buildings representing the different colour set properties.
Since the game is only for mobile we knew the restrictions we would have implementing the 3D art but the chosen art style allowed us to simplify the models and the texture usage.

Most of the assets only need these two textures:
-one for the the main colour, which consists of a few gradients (this method allows us to quickly unwrap and layout the UV for any object)
-one for the windows variation. We only need one channel (red) that will be added to the main colour. Even though this theme is set at daylight, having this bit of variation to the window light help giving a bit more of life to the buildings. The windows play a big role in setting the city’s scale so making sure they look right is quite important for the overall look.

We don’t use any dynamic light or lit materials, we only use lightmaps and any other effect in the material (like the specular in the windows) is done by unlit custom shaders.

Another big part of Monopoly is the player tokens, which are a fun apart, they’re probably the only 3D asset that we see from a closer camera, especially at the token selection screen, so we can go a bit more into details.
Again, we don’t use dynamic lights/shadows and we thought using PBR shaders for them could be an overkill. The solution, a good and old matcap shader. It’s flexible, light and it looks perfect for our needs.
We also didn’t want to use additional textures for them, so we packed normals and AO (to help some details pop out) in one texture. The blue channel for a normal map is usually mostly white so we replaced it by the AO, which only needs one channel as it’s a greyscale image, then in the shader we split them and fill the blue channel with white (or 1) for the normals calculation.

The matcap textures are added as a shader global texture since (at least for now) every token will have the same material, the only change will be the different light settings for each theme. Every scene has a specific matcap texture which is loaded in game.

And here are some of the tokens I modelled for some later themes.

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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