Testing City Designs. Shortfilm Diary Part IV


As I mentioned in part III of this diary, I’ve been working on different city designs to see what I like and don’t like.

So I want to share one of my ideas and what I like (and don’t like) about it. Here’s a quick animated fly-over of the design.

The idea behind the design

I don’t want to too much away except that a part of the film will take place on a freeway.

So I needed to create a freeway, of course. For that, I decided to use the Kitbash3D (KB3d) kit called Highways. And for many of the buildings, I used the KB3D cyberpunk 3D asset kit.

I liked the idea of having a highway that was elevated and stood tall among skyscrapers. I also liked the idea that it almost encircled the city center where the main story should begin and unravel.

I imagined that the tall skyscrapers should represent the upper class. And under the elevated concrete highway should live the lower class and homeless people.

Elevated freeway 1
The elevated highway encircles a densely populated city center.

This way, by having the highway running through the upper-class districts, the highway would represent a way for the poor to gain access to the main streets of the upper class.

I’ll stress this by having the city have different levels, similar to what I did in my earlier cyberpunk city tests.

The upper level is the city center and financial districts. Then there is the middle class at the mid-level. And finally, there’s the working class and poor at the lowest level, constantly living in the shadows from the skyscrapers of the rich, and never seeing the sun.

City levels low mid and high
It’s hard to see here, but my idea was to create three levels of society, reflected in the three levels of the city ground plane as well as in the sizes of the buildings.

When the posh high-society class goes down to the city street level to grab some sushi or hail a taxi, they would be exposed to and reminded of the poor living under the concrete pillars right under their noses. This, in turn, could lead to all kinds of conflicts.

I find it important in cyberpunk that the city has a life and conflicts of its own, and this city design could be one way to achieve this.

What works and what doesn’t?

So what works in this design and what doesn’t? What do I like and want to keep, and what do I want to get rid of?

While I still like the idea of the elevated freeway, there are some issues to overcome. One is technical, and another is if the overall city design will fit the story.

Technical hurdles

Let’s start with the technical problems.

I’ve found out that the Kitbash3D highway kit is terrible for getting to work with actual cars. As standard, any car you put on will fall right through the roads – even though you have collision turned on and set to block everything.

The problem is that the items don’t come with collision boxes as standard, which means you have to create them yourself.

Cyberpunk KB3D with road trouble
I managed to get the cars onto an on-ramp by creating and tweaking the collision box, but then it started to fall through the next. Also, this was the only car that could drive onto the ramp without flying off the road because the collision box doesn’t match the gradients. My other cars kept hitting invisible bumps and went flying into the air.

But creating collision boxes that match the gradients on the roads isn’t possible even though you can get close.

You also have to play around with complex shapes and simple (or vice versa) to get the car to not fall through the shapes.

But getting close isn’t enough when trying to get cars with physics simulations in Unreal Engine. The smallest deviations between the collision box and the road skeleton mesh will send your car flying.

I think the solution is to ditch the KB3D highway kit entirely and start testing some spline-based road generation instead.

The city style and design

I like the holograms and the idea of a cyberpunk city in a constant fog. I also like having street levels of small shops and all kinds of people mingling – a cesspool of filth, as I wrote in part III.

I also like having these ground levels surrounded by tall skyscrapers. So this is something I’ll keep developing.

But I don’t like having that many glass towers from the KB3D cyberpunk kit. I think it makes the overall design to modern and pretty. And I want a much darker and gritty design.

I’ll probably rebuild another city from scratch and only sprinkle in a glass tower or two to create a city center or financial district.

I love the small shops, which are also a KB3D pack called Cyberpunk Streets. So I’ll definitely work more with those.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.


  • Jan Sørup

    Jan Sørup is a indie filmmaker, videographer and photographer from Denmark. He owns filmdaft.com and the Danish company Apertura, which produces video content for big companies in Denmark and Scandinavia. Jan has a background in music, has drawn webcomics, and is a former lecturer at the University of Copenhagen.

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