Article: Game Art Art

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SimonT interpolator
Hi friends! Not sure if i'm correct here, but my issue is heavily technical - but of course about game art. Anyway this is pure self-advertisment. I write an articles about...
"Fakes & Tricks of games which impressed me"

It goes about crazy ideas or awesome tech fakes which made an cool effect. I write about this in my blog and collected everyting i can remember. Feel free to comment about my stuff, explain what i didn't understood or tell me about what stuff impressed you.

01 Fallout 3 - Edges
02 Teleglitch - Viewcones
03 Teleglitch - RGB Flickering
04 Diablo 3 - 2.5D Trees
05 Warcraft 3 - Billboards
06 Divine Divinity - 2D Reflexion
07 Cell Shading
08 Deus Ex - Occlusion
09 Deus Ex 3 - Folds
10 Deus Ex - Scan Lines
11 World of Warcraft - Balloon
12 Assassins Creed 3 - Windows
13 Assassins Creed 3 - LoD Blending
14 Kid Icarus - Tricks
15 Left 4 Dead - Puke
16 Sacred 2 - Crystal Reflexion
17 Sacred 2 - Pulse Shader
18 Battlefield Bad Company 2 - Smoke Column
19 Battlefield 2 - Flag Pole
20 Sacred 2 - Burning Map
21 Assassins Creed 3 - Bouncing Light
22 Airborn - Trees
23 1943- Retro Shadows
24 Metal Gear Rising - Slicing
25 Dead Space 3 - Diffuse Reflections
26 Homeworld 2 - Backgrounds
26.2 Homeworld 2 - Backgrounds.Tech
27 Diablo 3 - Resource Bubbles
28 007 Legends - The World
29 Homeworld 2 - Engines
30 Homeworld 2 - Hyperspace
31 Bioshock - Glossiness
32 Starcraft 2 - Localization
33 Doom 3 - Volumetric Glow
34 Doom 3 - HDUI
35 Scribble Cel
36 Lego Batman - Crawler
37 Dungeon Keeper 2 - Walls
38 Lego - Studs
39 1nsane Carpet 2 - Repetitive Worlds
40 The Binding of Isaac - Composition
41 Company of Heroes - Shaded Smoke
42 Company of Heroes - Flamethrower
43 World of Torch Siege - Blended Trunks
44 Oblivion Territory – Tree vs Palm
45 Handmade Normal Map
46 Tomb Raider - Laras Hot Secrets
47 Don’t starve, Diablo – Parallax 7
48 Windows - AC/Row/Infinite
49 Render Hell 2.0
50 Zelda Wind Waker - Hyrule Travel Guide
51 Rei Ayanami – Inner eyes
52 Sacred 2 – Fake Mirror
53 X:Rebirth – Geometric Lensflares
54 Fallout 4 - Wasteland Eyes
55 What is Color Banding? And what is it not?
56 Fallout 4 - The Mushroom Case
57 Diablo III - The sacred spiderweb
58 Alpha1 - My Top 5 usescases
59 Blubb! - Fish Tanks in Games
60 Diablo III - Wings of Angels
61 Dark Maus - Top Down Trees
62 Alien vs Wolfenstein – Cutting Torch
63 The Joy of VFX – Pin Table
64 Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag – Waterplane

To give you some hints whats that all about, here some of the pictures i made for the article:
iLYbsUgRLz7qEgif
tree_zoom01jpg
iLQejf1HiJq8vgif
j4EUjEjw3QVOojpg

Replies

  • throttlekitty
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    throttlekitty Polycount Sponsor
    Cool topic! In Fallout 3, the edge wear are decals using parallax to give it a feeling of depth, I thought it was a pretty cool trick too.
  • Eric Chadwick
    Great examples Simon! I love this kind of stuff, thanks for sharing!
  • wichenroder
  • MrOneTwo
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    MrOneTwo polycounter lvl 8
    I tried this cel shading method in Modo. It's pretty cool. It doubles your vert count though. Interesting article. Thanks man.
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    All
    Currently i re-structure my blog so every trick gets an own post. This makes it more easy to edit and comment on it.

    ThrottleKitty
    Thanks for you comment. Unfortunately it seems that you're not right 100%. More about this in the expanded version of the fallout 3 post.

    wichenroder
    Thank your for the link! It seems that they let the extra geometry stay right? but i dont understand how they avoid zfighting. also in fallout 3 i cant see the extra geomtry in the wireframe. more about this in the expanded version of the post.

    MrOneTwo
    Good to hear. Yes it doubles the mesh stuff but i think that triangales aren't the problem of the latest graphic cards. its more about texturesize and complex shaders i guess. so should be ok...i think :D

    Eric Chadwick
    Thanks :) All the stuff (or most of it) will be expanded a bit.
  • Kurt Russell Fan Club
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    Kurt Russell Fan Club polycounter lvl 8
    Look at the teleglitch image again and tell yourself that the black regions are actually just pitch black vertical walls that rise up past the camera, and that when your character moves the walls are moving because of the perspective.
  • Computron
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    Computron polycounter lvl 7
    I love reading about these. Curved world Vertex shaders may be of interest. Think Animal Crossing.
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    Kurt RUssel Fan Club
    In fact, they're black walls. That's what made me so excited about writing an article about fakes and cool tricks in games. :)

    Computron
    Never played AnimalCrossing but i'll check some videos out. Thx!
  • throttlekitty
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    throttlekitty Polycount Sponsor
    SimonT wrote: »
    All
    ThrottleKitty
    Thanks for you comment. Unfortunately it seems that you're not right 100%. More about this in the expanded version of the fallout 3 post.
    I don't have the game installed, so I can't double check, but I think Bethesda stored parallax in the alpha channel of the diffuse map when the shader had parallax enabled. (or maybe they used the _p suffix?)

    You might be interested in giving NifSkope a whirl to take a look at the model files.
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    I don't have the game installed, so I can't double check, but I think Bethesda stored parallax in the alpha channel of the diffuse map when the shader had parallax enabled. (or maybe they used the _p suffix?)

    You might be interested in giving NifSkope a whirl to take a look at the model files.

    Thanks, i'll check this tool. Hm not sure about the textures. But an friend mentioned a way they could have do it (i'll try to find out): Maybe the decals are placed in the Fallout Leveleditor on the stone and then stored as prefab. So every level designer could use this stone with decals (without having to add the decals to every stone). We'll (hopefully) see :D
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    Added a new part at them bottom of the post. I tested the GECK and i think its pretty clear, that they used decals.
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    I added the single posts for the most parts of the article now.

    #1 Fallout 3 - Edges
    #2 Teleglitch - Viewcones
    #3 Teleglitch - RGB Flickering
    #4 Diablo 3 - 2.5D Trees
    #5 Warcraft 3 - Billboards
    #6 Divine Divinity - 2D Reflexion
    #7 Cell Shading
    #8 Deus Ex - Occlusion
  • Snader
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    Snader polycounter lvl 11
    I noticed the same thing when watching "WTF is... Teleglitch?" - but it's not just that. It think there's also a sort of 'bubble' around the player that offsets the vertices, to make the shadowing a bit more dynamic. It's particularly noticeable when walking through doors.
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    Snader wrote: »
    I noticed the same thing when watching "WTF is... Teleglitch?" - but it's not just that. It think there's also a sort of 'bubble' around the player that offsets the vertices, to make the shadowing a bit more dynamic. It's particularly noticeable when walking through doors.

    Exact! But to be honest, i think it would be better without these vert movement because normally i would try i "hide" the fake. But especially when walk through doors, you can notice it pretty good. Anyway, it's awesome. And i got the link to the code from the developer, so check it out if you're interested. Link is in the teleglitch article.
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    Small add to the Fallout 3 Edges issue:
    Falk mentioned something: maybe they place the decals in their editor and save this as prefab. Then the level designer could use the prefabs and the decal data is stored wherever. BUT today i talked to a guy at Crytek where another guy (really, at Crytek works another guy??) works which worked at Bethesda in the past. And he (the first mentioned guy) told me, that they (Bethesda) does it exactly the same way like it is in the Cryengine (article mentioned above). OK...maybe i should checkout the NIF tools and maybe there i can see some extra geometry.

    Anyway, an interesting note: i asked how the blend away these decals and it was told to me, that they just delete these decal planes in the LoDs. Clever!
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    Added 2 old and 1 new topic.

    #9 Deus Ex 3 - Folds
    #10 Deus Ex - Scan Lines
    #11 World of Warcraft - Balloon

    The last one is brand new and maybe you can help to find the solution. Here is a hint picture:

    jmlExqt3MzGlb.jpg
  • passerby
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    passerby polycounter lvl 8
    the rgb distort is pretty easy to do in udk, you just take a scene texture sample copy it 3 times, than use 2 append vectors to make it a 3 channel again, than you distort the UV's of all 3 of them in different ways, and add a panner for some motion.

    after that you can setup uv's for the 3 channels that aren't distorted and lerp between distorted and non distorted uv's for hte r, g and b channels.
  • Zwebbie
    Concerning Deus Ex: it often seems to use both a grand defining texture and a detail texture map, and it just looks especially funky on the screens. It's one of the few games that I've noticed utilising them, but that may be me. I suppose the game doesn't quite have the texture resolution to keep the effect from being a bit jarring, but it's still cool that you've got sharp texels even when standing right in front of something.

    Take a look at this screenshot, where it's obvious there are a seperate door and wood texture: Deus_Ex_DoorStrength

    Or the right side of this picture:Deus_Ex_Catacombs

    (Taken from this review, which has more high-res pictures showing it.)

    As for the WoW balloon... is it a billboard affected by a mask over the details of the balloon texture? That is pretty interesting.
  • Eric Chadwick
    IIRC, detail maps were used in the first Unreal game, back in 1998. Some more stuff here:
    http://wiki.polycount.com/DetailMap

    The WoW billboard trick is very cool!
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    BAD NEWS

    I updated the lower part of the WoW Article and i found out that the big quad isn't the yellow hot core. It's just a subtle glow around the balloon. For a picture check the article. :,(

    Thanks for the replies, i'll read them later. (it's pretty early :) )
  • Neox
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    Neox ngon master
    i'm almost certain that the red glow texture is used with a litsphere shader and masked with an alpha

    :edit:

    rebuilt it

    litsphere.jpg

    http://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?t=68125
  • Blaisoid
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    Blaisoid polycounter lvl 7
    it may not be uncommon but i remember that my jaw dropped when i noclipped through the floor in some game in late 90's and realized that reflection on it is actually a duplicated room turned upside down.


    also, magic carpet creatures made using flat circles:

    screenshot2328-0.gif

    Foto+Magic+Carpet+2%3A+The+Netherworlds.jpg
  • Eric Chadwick
    Blaisoid wrote: »
    it may not be uncommon but i remember that my jaw dropped when i noclipped through the floor in some game in late 90's and realized that reflection on it is actually a duplicated room turned upside down.

    Haha, yeah Duke Nukem!

    Duke_Nukem_3D_DOS_006.png
  • fatihG_
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    fatihG_ polycounter lvl 11
    Kid Icarus Uprising for the 3ds has allot of cool little tricks.
    I noticed allot of Nintendo games have cool stuffs in 'em.
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    First of all: Thank you NEOX for the solution. I added it to the article and made some additional example pictures.

    iFnYfqFUBiFoM.gif

    Zwebbie
    Then you should checkout Halflife2. It uses detail maps also very much. And of course Unreal Tournament 3. And to your suggestion: no, it's done like Neox said. Checkout the added explanation in my article :)

    Eric Chadwick
    I wish i could say i revealed the trick but i was wrong :D The billboad is only for the glow. But i like it anyway :D

    Blaisoid
    Yes thats right, the Duke Nukem "Mirrors" where nice :D Awesome idea to rebuild the room to fake a reflexion. I think this could work today too, because we don't have any good realtime reflexions in the games...

    bb0x
    Didn't played it. Do you have cool examples?
  • fatihG_
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    fatihG_ polycounter lvl 11
    if I dont forget about it I will record some vids.

    Also the Warcraft 3 flat sphere things.
    You could bake a sphere to a quad for a normalmap and make it react to light properly, instead of faking it with view dependant darkening. You wont see the backside of a sphere anyway.

    It fun seeing things you thought of by yourself and seeing them implemented in games way before you thought about it.
    http://bb0x.com/rise/tangi/bombs2,5d.png
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    Nice bomb @ bb0x!
  • Elyaradine
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    Elyaradine polycounter lvl 9
    SimonT wrote: »
    Thank your for the link! It seems that they let the extra geometry stay right? but i dont understand how they avoid zfighting.
    The shader draws the stuff in two passes (kind of why the vert count would appear to double). The first pass draws the outline, at which point the data's already written to the frame buffer as far as I know, so when the second pass draws the textured model, it just draws that over the previous pass.

    So there's no confusion as to whether something is farther in zdepth or not; it's all happening within one piece of geometry in a two-pass shader.

    (I may be a bit wrong with my terminology, but I'm quite sure about the actual concept. :P)
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    Elyaradine
    I mentioned the zfighting problem not in regard of the outlines :D I was thinking about the decal stuff. But i asked a guy and he told me that these have differnt material ids and so they can have a higher priority.

    A new article is out!Yeah!

    #12 Assassins Creed 3 - Windows
  • Felixenfeu
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    Felixenfeu polycounter lvl 7
    Wow great blog and great discoveries. I'm gonna subscribe to this thread. The assassin's creed and Deus Ex one are pretty amazing.
  • Vrav
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    Vrav polycounter lvl 10
    Always liked how Assassin's Creed was effectively just one directional light. And all the realtime shadowmapping was done from that one light. It was a cool solution for outdoor stuff.

    That old pdf on SotC and ICO tricks was cool and relevant to this topic. Can't find the exact PDF atm, but this page seems to cover most of it: http://teamico.wikia.com/wiki/Graphics_and_post-processing_effects_used_in_Shadow_of_the_Colossus
  • pixelb
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    pixelb polycounter lvl 8
    This is such a cool blog. I was pleased with myself for knowing about Diablo's trees, but the Pandaria balloon came as a surprise- I would've guessed it was a fresnel shader, too.
  • Saiainoshi
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    Saiainoshi polycounter lvl 9
    First off, I love your blog. I work on the same team and with the guy that did the hot air balloon. I passed on that you like his tricksis <3

    Watching you backwards engineer our pipeline and problem solving is very entertaining. :thumbup:
  • jmiles
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    jmiles interpolator
    oh man.. all these examples are great...
  • JacqueChoi
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    JacqueChoi interpolator
    The Deus Ex Folds one is actually just an animated Parallax Map.
  • matty6666
    In assassins Creed what do the windows look like in the day? there trying to emulate a lit room at night. I haven't played the game so I'm just wondering if the player can see in the windows or if there blocked out in the day.
  • hamzaaa
    Great thread simon, really interesting! Keep it up :)
  • Bishop313
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    Bishop313 polycounter lvl 9
    Thx Simon! I love this Thread! It would be nice to make this one sticky (maybe in the technical section). There a lots of cool tricks in games and this whould be a nice, interesting and informative way to talk about!

    Keep it up dude!

    Btw. Here is a nice technical trick im realy in love with the last couple weeks! Its the mesh and texture morphing of the new gina sisters game! Its a great way to manipulate the whole environment! http://gianasisterstwisteddreams.com/morphing-the-world-in-project-giana/
  • Spudnik
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    Spudnik polycounter lvl 8
    Fantastic! Keep it up!
  • SHEPEIRO
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    SHEPEIRO polycounter lvl 13
    for the AC3 windows are they not just NOT taking into account the meshes normal when sampling the cube map, thus sampling from the cube map "behind" the windows surface, much like projecting a cube map to the interior faces of a inverted sphere

    nice article... i love the tricks of the trade, the smoke and mirrors etc
  • deadpixl
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    deadpixl polycounter lvl 9
    This is an awesome thread, hope it keeps getting updated.
  • Snader
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    Snader polycounter lvl 11
    Along the same lines, another interior mapping technique:
    InteriorMapping_large.jpg
    http://www.humus.name/index.php?page=3D&&start=9

    I don't think AC3 uses anything this complex/advanced though. It looks to me as if it's a simple parallax mapwith a slow scroll. Just a blurry tiling texture with light rectangular blobs. This is also why the 'corners' of the room are darkened. Having actual detail in the image would give away that it's a flat texture in less than a second.
  • mLichy
    Halo 3: ODST also has windows like shown above. I cannot find a good screenshot though. They were flat pieces of geo, but when looked at, it appeared as though the interior was modeled with lighting inside/ect.
  • haiddasalami
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    haiddasalami polycounter lvl 9
    Here's a working version of that interior mapping article

    http://udn.epicgames.com/Three/DevelopmentKitGemsInteriorMapping.html

    Awesome stuff Simon. In regards to the AC3 windows, I remember Epic talking about doing stuff like using the camera vector and sliding various textures (example shop store front) in a powerpoint. Think it was the modularity one.
  • kwakkie
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    kwakkie polycounter lvl 11
    Hmm I think the deus ex scanline effect might actually just be really small lines, or a 2x2 black/white repeating texture. They call that effect 'Moire' and it might just happen automatically because of the epeated texture, not sure, cant test it right now...
    [ame="
  • allaze-eroler
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    allaze-eroler polygon
    for about mirrior thing from duke nukem, there is another game that did use it too, it's mario 64 it goes same to zelda ocarina of time.

    any way, after i read all these articles, i did remember that i noticed one game that use a trick about anime character like the game "dragon saga" which you can see the inside month but it was 2D texture... until i did noticed that the toungue and teeths are moving, i was thinking if it was that cubemap trick you did talked in the article ? i'm very interested to know how they did.
  • JacqueChoi
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    JacqueChoi interpolator
    I believe NBA Live might have been the one that pioneered mirroring geometry as floor reflection.

    ^_^


    BTW, this is a really cool thread. Brings back memories.


    A lot of those EA sports games pioneered some extremely creative visual tricks given the tech. So did the MGS games.


    Things like anisotropy (on hair) can be faked using a reflection with a small texture using horizontal lines.
    'Fur Shells' is an interested technique used by Conker, and Shadow of the colossus (with vertex alpha for wispier transparencies).

    I remember there were some cool FX, and UI tricks, Trees in BF2 used billboarded leaf clustered with soft-particle type behaviour. mmmm...
  • sltrOlsson
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    sltrOlsson polycounter lvl 10
    About the worn edges for Fallout 3, they could be using a second UV channel mapped for the worn parts. Blended with the alpha from the dif.

    Btw, made a tutorial covering how you would go about creating a sculpt for something like that. [ame=" Concrete For Cryengine 3 Tutorial - Intro - YouTube[/ame] :)
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    Felixenfeu
    Thank you! Oh yeah, the tricks they do are really amazing. :,)

    Vrav
    I LOVE the ac shadows since the first one. I have no idea how they do these great stuff. But interesting note: at least in part 1 & 2 the didn't had shadows in the indoor rooms - but it wasn't a big issue. Looked stunning anwayway and there were not much int. rooms.

    The ICO/SotC Tricks are mindblowing. I have a document about SotC linked in the old version of the game art article...i'm not sure how i can place them into the blog. anyway, if you're interested, this is the link.

    pixelb
    The trees in D3 one of the most awesome and bravery stuff i ever saw!

    Saiainoshi
    Thank you very much :) And please bow in front of him for me instead because i think i did one of the most perfect assets i every saw. All is fitting so well together. model, texture, style and tech. Wow! (i mean that as "wow!" , not as "world of warcraft" :D )

    jmiles
    Glad you like it :)

    JacqueChoi
    You crazy guys! I would love to checkout the wireframe of this bad boy but unfortunately you made the game iron save. I can't rip anything via dx ripper, there is note wireframe mode and no model viewer :,( Damn you :D Dont make me installing Windows as 32bit to have access to the global system monitoring feature from dx ripper...

    matty6666
    Thank you for the question! I'm currently writing the answer into the article ;)

    hamzaaa
    Thanks! I have some issues left i want to talk about but soon i trust in you guys :D

    bishop313
    I love you nickname, because it has the car number from donald duck in it :) awesome! Oh and thanks for the feedback. i answererd your pm :)

    spudnik
    THX, will try :)

    shepeiro
    Thx man! Hm...what do you mean with smoke?

    deadpixl
    Thx. When i'm out of issues i hope for your guys help :)

    snader
    Thanks for the link! I'll add this to the article. There is another paper i alread linked but its never enough :)

    Regarding the AC3: i think you are right. and i love it. I love when people making awesome stuff with small tech :)

    mLichy
    I have to checkout Halo....thanks for the tip!

    haiddasalami
    Thanks for the link, will add this to the article. Do you have a link to this powerpoint? would be awesome!

    kwakkie
    Cool video!! Will add them later. So sad that i can't access the files from Deus Ex :( Would love to see how thair textures look. Cause the got these cool "round" lines...

    allaze-eroler
    Sounds intersting. I have to check this out. But i' afraid that its nearly impossible to rip the assets and look at them. On the other hand....it was done with the game cube zelda in the past....hm not sure. thanks for your comment!

    JacqueChoi
    Hello again :D Do you think the NBA games did mirror their geo? In fact, its always mirrored (2nd camera) but do you think the artists made this in 3dsmax and "faked" it that way? I heard that mirroring was no big problem until console games became strong. Cause consoles arent strong enough to make this in realtime no game included it....but thats only what i heard...

    Battlefield rocks! I have an issue in mind regarding BF bad Company 2. Soon ;)

    sltrOlsson
    Right, but i checked the UV of the stone and found nothing :( But maybe i overlooked something...

    I you did a tutorial. Cool! Thank you for this!
  • allaze-eroler
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    allaze-eroler polygon
    SimonT wrote: »
    allaze-eroler
    Sounds intersting. I have to check this out. But i' afraid that its nearly impossible to rip the assets and look at them. On the other hand....it was done with the game cube zelda in the past....hm not sure. thanks for your comment!

    very true, recently, i did some investigation about other game who use that kind of art style, apparently there are few game like "tale of graces F" and other "tales of" serie as well other game on psp. i hope this hint will help you to decypher these games :) by the way, you can check this video for yourself and sorry if it's french.

    [ame=" of Graces f : Playthrough / Gameplay #01 - Une fille myst
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