I've been working with the sand material, which includes a blending of sand, rocks, small pebbles that blend in around the larger rocks, and water. With all of these components coming together in one material, I've had to do quite a bit of tidying up and figuring out the best organization for blending these all together. The rocks and water can be blended in by painting different Vertex Colors on the mesh. I break up the Vertex Color mask by blending in the height maps of each material. This ground material is also set up with displacement. I'm enjoying the way that these different components can be combined (for example, I can have the sand with rocks blending in and water blending over top.)
I've also been hooking up all the parameters to change throughout the boat deterioration sequence. This includes the boat's animated mask revealing rust on all of its parts, the buoyancy height displacing the boat changing, the wave height and speed of the water changing, and the shoreline mask clamping in, overtaking the water. All of these parameters are based on your distance to the boat, which is mapped 0-1. Each parameter has a float curve on a Timeline in the Level Blueprint, which maps its overall progression from 0-1 throughout the sequence. (For example, the wave height may grow as you come closer to the boat, but then decrease again as the shoreline swallows the ocean.) Each parameter has the true, user-defined min and max value, and the 0-1 from the timeline is remapped to that range. Then, the corresponding Material Parameter is set.
I'll be updating this soon with a newer video that shows the water waves growing in height and the sand surging towards the shoreline, but here is the boat sequence as of now!
A little bit on some developments I've made in terms of the concept that has been motivating my design. My idea is that, metaphorically speaking, your everyday experiences and memories are hardened and fossilized into rocks by your conscious mind. While you're dreaming, your subconscious brain accesses all of your memories. You can melt the rocks, which reveals these memories to your subconscious - you bring light to them and they become fluid again. I'd like the environment to be fairly empty at first, and as you melt rocks, accessing your memories, the environment will materialize - your subconscious brain is forming new dream memories from your collective experiences. Although your subconscious mind often accesses your permanent, fossilized memories while you dream, dreams themselves are very impermanent and hard to remember after waking. This is why many of my visuals deal with the ephemeral, like the boat deteriorating away and the constant flux of the environment. Sand also relates to this idea, as it is composed of a seemingly infinite amount of eroded rocks. It is the dust of time, constantly blowing around and never settling permanently.