Some game spaces are fully enclosed within a 3D environment built and themed for the game. But often fully enclosed environments require alot of processing power due to increased polygon counts. If you're looking to keep the frame rate high and reduce demand on player's CPUs then a Skybox will be essential. A skybox being a single texture that wraps around the game space creating the illusion of an all-encompassing background.
You can source a skybox online (example site here), capture one yourself (guide here) or make one from scratch in your image editor of choice. For this step I'll be going over the custom skybox I made using Photoshop.
Several assets described will be available for you to download here if you want a hand getting started.
- Skybox Specs. If the download link is giving you grief the specs for a standard Tabletop Simulator Skybox / Panorama are:
: Pixels: 10000 x 5001
: Resolution: 72 dpi
: Export: as web legacy, .JPG High - 68% --> final export size 3MB.
- Skybox (in this case Skyshpere) Template. In Tabletop Simulator panorama files are applied to large spherical object surrounding the entire play space. To create the illusion of depth in a 360 degree sphere the template below give guidelines for managing vanishing points and horizontal eyelines. You can download this template here.
- Skybox Design. The closer objects are to the center horizon/horizontal line, the more 'normal' they will be, the further away from this line, or the closer a design element (eg. tree, character, cloud) gets to a vanishing point, the more screwed the design element will become in the spheroid skybox within the game itself.
It's a little bit of trial and error to get the skew and placement right - use the guidelines on the template, they're your friend. Lastly, these skybox files are massive so they need to be compressed during the export process (as listed at the top of this post).
One way to help keep the file size low is to reduce the number of 'unique pixels' in the image - to this end you'll notice below that everything below the horizon line has been left empty.
This is how the skybox I use looks, there's no need to design an area that's being masked by props in the game space / play environment.
- Importing the Skybox into Tabletop Simulator. In Tabletop Simulator select 'Objects' from the top menu; then 'Backgrounds --> Custom --> choose your file from wherever you stored it'.