Creating modular houses

Creating modular houses for use within Unity 3D, houses that users can build up themselves. We’ll start with a basic base house model and then model each of the components to the house i.e. Windows, doors, chimneys all separately and then join them all together in Unity 3D. We’ll then be able to create prefabs in Unity 3D for these unique house styles. Try and think of it like Lego rather than a complete house.

Why we’ve come to this decision to create our houses for the game in a modular way and what the benefits are:

  1. We started created Assets for our game  and quickly came to the realisation that crafting each model in Blender and Cinema 4D as an entire object, UV unwrapping each object and then texturing individual houses was going to take a long time to do as we’re aiming for around 20-30 unique house designs.
  2. UV unwrapping larger objects lead into a complex UV map and unwrapping smaller modular objects are easier to identify parts of the object to texture.Example of a bad, complex UV map and how it’s hard to identify each of the objects that the house is composed of:

    Example of bad UV unwrapping
    Example of bad UV unwrapping
  3. Creating smaller modular objects that are imported into Unity will give us a collection of objects i.e. windows, doors, chimneys and we’ll be able to give the game designers more flexibility when adding these components together; creating the prefabs.
  4. Creating larger objects that aren’t modular doesn’t give the game designer much flexibility. Say that we wanted the house mesh but without the chimney on the top. If the 3D model has already got a chimney in place but when they remove it in unity 3d we’re left with a big hole in the roof; it doesn’t look very nice.

An example of the house in Unity 3D that is just made up of 1 mesh, isn’t modular and doesn’t give the level designer much flexibility in house apperance:

House Design in a single mesh
House Design in a single mesh

As you can see, if the level designer wanted to change the position of the roof dormer windows or the outside light for example, they’re not able to do so when the house isn’t made for a modular design.
I’ve managed to convince myself and the games team that going to a modular design is a good idea going forward and hopefully you reading this.

We’ve started a move this this new way by separating each of the objects so that we can texture them separately and construct them in Unity 3D to give that flexibly.

Here is our house style in an exploded view to show the individual components:

Modular House Components
Putting these individual components together we can make more complex houses and different styles of building by re-using what we’ve made. We’ve also simplified our texture maps and are easier to follow and texture.

Importing these assets into Unity 3D and Texturing will be covered in follow up posts to this.

Our modular mini village with some extensions:

Modular House Design

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Michael Cowley

Job: Software Developer (C#, JavaScript) Hobbies: Games Development (Unity 3D, Blender 3D and Photoshop) Assets: http://u3d.as/mYx Game: @geekgarageuk

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