PolyWorld, for those who don’t know, is a suite of tools and 3D artwork to create a flat-shaded, faceted world right inside of the Unity engine. You can find out more about it at the main PolyWorld site.
It’s a pretty powerful kit that produces some cool results. The release of Polyworld: Ancient East marks the second release in the series, the success of which will determine if the intellectual property needs to grow further. The whole idea came about after seeing many screenshots of indie games that had this simply-colored-yet-3d-look to them. Games like Monument Valley, Grow Home, Paper Fox, or even the old Interstate ’76 game from Activision way back when all share elements of a visual style.
Color is simple but deliberate. Great attention to scale and silhouette are what make or break this approach. The Paper Fox uses the polygonal style with simple color, but also uses a paper texture to further enhance their world and sell to the viewer that everything is paper.
Grow Home is a platformer released on Steam by Ubisoft. Same polygonal style, but they add a bit more dimension to their world and characters with a bit of fresnel falloff or image-based lighting. You can see the effect on the right side of the character’s head, or the shadowed side of the single bottom rock.
Of course, it’s not just games. Graphic Designers are seeing the benefits of the simplicity of this style. This shot is prerendered due to the very accurate bounced lighting around the tree and very smooth ambient occlusion.
The style, for whatever reason, invites people to explore because it just looks fun. And I know from experience what it takes to execute this art style, so one day I decided to just script it up inside Unity. I wanted to be able to take any 3d model that has a texture and convert it into this wonderful style. I’m not a pro at C#, but I get by. After several weeks of tweaking and adjustments, I’m able to convert any 3d model on the internet and any skinned character inside Unity to the flat-shaded style.
Weights are transferred, animations are preserved, but now the mesh is faceted and colored.
If all goes well, I will expand PolyWorld into a much larger property. More packs are planned such as Industrial, Space, Pirate/Galleon, even Steampunk. If you have any questions or suggestions, be sure to send them to me via the contact link to the right menu.