I tried to learn houdini during the longer content lockdowns in the late stage of production.
This is my attempt at fixing a very specific problematic case we had during production. Advertising and huge billboard walls require a lot diversity that can be very hard to predict. Advertising needs to stand out to look like advertising, but it cant stand out more than the game objective because then level design will get sad and mad. Especially in a setting like New York this balance is easier to walk with iteration in game and since making these assets is pretty simple work but nonetheless time consuming it is a perfect case for procedural tools.
The tool was made with some principles in mind.
Content should be complete from the tool, including LODs, lightmapping, vertex color. This was surprisingly easy with Houdini and was vital for the tool to actually provide the possibility for iteration that I set out to solve.
The controls are the most important part of the tools. They needed to be self explanatory, I took large measurements to hide technical controls unless absolutely necessary for the artist. The UI changes based on artist needs, if you set the input type to vector image rather than text, the textfield is hidden and replaced with a path to your vector image. Using Raster image as input type exposes some controls for cpntrast, inverting colors and so on so that the artist never has to do open photoshop to create a mask from something. You can use a straight png, black logo on white, white on black or gray on darker gray, it does not matter. A sloppy print screen is enough to provide ready made content. Surprisingly enough, generating from raster images is the most stable and provides a fantastic fallback whenever you need to precisely control what is created.