The building was procedurally constructed in Houdini. This proved to be a quite laborious process but provided me with a lot of variation in the types of buildings that could be blown up.
It was split into two separate meshes; The first mesh contained big pieces such as roof and outer walls and was exported as a skeletal mesh driven by FBX-animation. Apparently, you can push thousands of bones into Unreal but I didn’t dare to. The other mesh contained small pieces such as bricks and wood splinters and was driven by Vertex Animation Textures. Using this, piece count is only limited by texture size since the all the animation is shader driven.
This Blueprint switches on physics and collision for meshes after a certain time in the animation has passed. This allows for the first few frames of the FBX-animation to give the pieces velocity which is then inherited by the individual physics pieces after the switch. This means you can art direct an explosion in Houdini but still make it dynamic and exciting in engine.
Using the Gamedev Texture Sheets Houdini tool, I could get normal information in the R & G channels in the texture allowing for some lighting on the sprites. However the shading was not really up to par – it’s just a normal map in the end of the day and can’t provide any real contrast. It’s pretty cheap though, using only one texture for the whole thing. This kept me wanting to push my explosions further, which I did, here!
The flying thing
The FNS 478A-U1 Vampyre is an unmanned reconaissance unit with anti armor capabilities from the Maschinen Krieger universe. It was modelled and textured during a hard surface school project.
3D view located at: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/E3NgN