College of Engineering Unit:
This project is a simulation of wildlands fires created with the Unreal Engine 5. The simulation is built with a grid of hexagon tiles which represent the floor of the forest, on the tiles are bushes and trees which can be burned in the simulation. The team used a variety of free assets from the Epic Games asset marketplace such as fire particle systems, vegetation models and textures, as well as some functional libraries (namely procedural noise). The simulation is procedurally generated using seeded noise. The user can select the size of the simulation they want as well as a seed and watch the fire spread and take over the forest.
The team utilized the blueprint system to create actors within the Unreal Engine which dramatically sped up development time. We were able to use this framework to create actors (or objects) to represent the board, tiles, fuel, fire, and more. We were also able to use the blueprints to make widgets (UI elements) to allow the user to set up the simulation. Some actor blueprints were used for UI elements as well, such as camera manipulation and tile highlighting.
The goal of the project is to raise awareness about wildlands firefighting and to inform the public about how wildlands firefighters approach fighting fires. Many common tactics include cutting down fuel (trees or bushes) and digging trenches in order to impede the progress of the fire. Sometimes controlled burns are used to create a fire line that burns up the fuel before the main wildfire arrives. This also halts the progess of the fire. Unfortunately, due to time constraints and team changes, the team was unable to implement game elements for fighting the fire. The team is proud of the work that was accomplished this year and is excited to see what the next team that works on the project is able to accomplish!