The Noon Past Night project was designed by Ned Daniels, Payton Haven, and Nawar Sami Al-Ali as part of PAACADEMY‘s “Reactive Miniverse” with Studio Friedenberg – Machmouchi. The Reactive Miniverse studio explored the fundamentals of architectural geometry and how it is implemented in geometries within a game engine to create interactive environments.
Noon Past Night is meant to be an adventure – game of three levels. It speaks of a planet with a harsh sandy surface and unexpected strong sand storms but restricted to the lower layer of the atmosphere.
The planet’s inhabitants had to live in floating pods in the upper part of the atmosphere, where they enjoyed a peaceful life in the clarity of the colorful sky but faced limited resources.
Now and then, they would need to travel to the under-surface area to claim their needs resources; for that, they created outland posts, where requests and needs are assigned to an adventurer (the player) who is residing in the outpost.
The adventurer faces the planet’s surface hazards and the unexpected events of the underground, where he looks for signs from the ancestors that would guide him to claim certain spots within the caves to provide the provisions of his assignment.
But to enter the caves, the adventurer has to suffer the alteration of physics laws for heat, gravity, and humidity. He also would have to pass through tubes to be prepared for that alteration. The ancestors created these tubes to protect their grounds and adjust to that change.
Inside the caves, the adventurer would walk into rock sandy lands with crystalized (nature-made) and glazed (human-made) extents here and there. He needs to be careful, agile, strong to withstand the hazards, and witty to pass through the obstacles and follow the crumbs of his ancestors.
The player is assumed to pass through puzzles, follow clues, and face creatures of the underground and planet surface to survive their journey. As he goes through his journey underground, some of the hazards would force him to emerge on the planet’s surface to adjust the causes of certain events or to follow certain clues and solve parts of the puzzles.
For the Noon Past Night team members, there was a starting point that differed from the other approach to the Project, but the three members shared a passion for visionary architecture, joined by mystery, adventure, and fiction; but above all, game-playing.
The team proved similar mindsets since the first meeting and exchanged concepts and ideas to support the main line of the design narrative. Then each member of the team tried to provide the necessary primary studies for the project analysis of a case study, a primary artwork for the whole design enhanced by material/color palettes, and experiments on the DALL-E mini.
Concept and Inspiration
The Project was initiated by scientific discoveries about the planet Venus’s nature, combined with the concept behind the creation of the fictional planet (Arrakis) from (Dune) movie, the 2019 version.
For planet Venus, Scientists found out that they can run their research from stations in the upper layer of the planet, for this layer has similar conditions as the atmosphere of planet Earth. This concept was joined with the mysteries that were brought in (Dune) ‘s Arrakis. A planet is rich in indispensable material for space traveling called the (spices) that came with the planet’s surface sand. The twist in this project was that the harvest of the sand was to produce glass, along with the harvest of Date Palm Trees, for the upper-level provisions.
The Project was divided into three levels, and each member was responsible for the design of one level. Still, all three started to experiment and test their concepts in the DALL-E mini, dropping images to reach several possibilities of their approach.
The team members had different approaches to the design process due to the nature of the level. Being in open spaces allowed the designer to focus on the forms for the middle and upper levels. For the under-surface level, it was essential to lay down a zoning proposal for the caves as an example of what the game may hold at this level.
Noon Past Night project’s members sketched their forms using Rhinoceros/Grasshopper and discussed the sketches with the team to move on toward visualizing their geometry. Most forms were created using SubD and their tools in Rhino and Grasshopper for their speed and distinctive qualities in surface creation.
While applying the key shortcut methods that are available in Rhino, working with SubD sounded like sculpting raw materials. The privilege of the Project in using these tools was the chance to present new types of Architectural forms by using simple commands/key shortcuts, which eventually led to the creation of new architecture not only on the general level of forms but on the level of form creation methods as well inside the Project. In addition, Grasshopper’s flexible and capable tools resulted in richness in details and enhancement of speed on the level of general form treatment.
The Project was presented using Unreal Engine 5 for visualization, for it combines the abilities of different software programs into one, with high-quality results and easy access for editing. Adding materials, rendering, animation, and cinematic approach; all these abilities were presented within simple methods.
It might be normal for sophisticated software to require high hardware qualifications to handle the data. Still, it seems that the answer to this problem for designers who wish to create their assets, and use Unreal Engine, is to keep the primary geometry simple as long as they are imported to the software and to take it from there toward high quality inside Unreal Engine.
The advantage of Unreal Engine is that it offers a wide range of tools to control the forms and scenes on different levels, in easy, simple, and flexible methods, on the one hand, and to enhance the quality of the design on the other hand. The software represents a simple approach, yet full of details, to visualize any vision of any world.
Unreal Engine is indeed intended to game designers, but in its essence, it is fresh ground for architects who are fascinated by the creation of other worlds to realize their visions with this software. Knowing the details of this powerful software would enable the dreamy architect to create any world they wish.
Piecing together the different parts of the Project and adding materials to them for each level, then joining the three levels with a sense of continuity, was an exciting moment for the team members.
This Project was meant to create three different environments within one world. But instead of being adjacent to each other horizontally, the environments were designed in the vertical sense. The main activity of the player was to move around these three realms for different purposes. This world is named: Noon Past Night.
To create such a world, the team used: Rhinoceros 7/Grasshopper, and Unreal Engine 5. The Design process of this world took three phases: study and analysis of case studies, creating the geometry for the three levels, and visualizing the world with its three levels. The experience withstood for itself as the first encounter with Unreal Engine, with many lessons to learn on how to use the software and which type of equipment is needed to satisfy such an experience and fill pleasure. The experience with Unreal Engine was fun in itself.