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

  • ScribbleHead
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    ScribbleHead polycounter lvl 9
    Thats friggin' mindblowing, i would've NEVER guessed that they had used vertex colors :O.

    Now-a-days with the lesser impact of polygons on engine performance i bet we could do all kinds of crazy stuff (just too bad that the development of vertex painting tools has been stuck in the same place since forever xD)
  • fatihG_
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    fatihG_ polycounter lvl 11
    That does look interesting.

    Since it looks like it doesnt actually use any manual input (figuring out all of that stuff and where to place more verteces and add colors too them would be too time cosuming I guess), does anyone know of software/scripts to create something similar?

    If done properly, using layered BG spheres like that could be pretty interesting, using vertex alpha's and what not.
  • Froyok
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    Froyok Polycount Sponsor
    Well, with zBrush today it's quite easy to achieve. (You create a sphere with some UVs, bake the texture into the polypaint then use a decimation which preserve the polypaint).

    However, I'm very curious about how they did it for homeworld... Like bb0x says, if done by hand it looks very time consuming.
  • igi
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    igi polycounter lvl 11
    That one is really impressive,nice find :)

    I guess the background geometry can be done by using a hand painted greyscale displacement map with some editing by hand.But I'm not sure ,this is just very impressive in both end result and technique.
  • fatihG_
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    fatihG_ polycounter lvl 11
    I dont use Zbrush, In fact I have only used it on one or two projects in the past. Polypainting and all that fancy stuff wasnt even out when I used it.. So Zbrush wont work for me.

    Ill play around with Meshlabs tomorrow, maybe it has something that can more or less do the same thing.
  • Computron
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    Computron polycounter lvl 7
    Froyok wrote: »
    ...use a decimation which preserve the polypaint

    How do I do this? I cant find an option for this in 4r5.
  • Neox
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    Neox ngon master
    Computron wrote: »
    How do I do this? I cant find an option for this in 4r5.

    its in prefrences, not in the decimation master tab >_<
  • cptSwing
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    cptSwing polycounter lvl 8
    That last one is awesome, Simon. Thanks!
  • JamesWild
    I'd approach it by making a sphere, using face snap (retop basically) and building right onto it. Additionally, parts could be made on planes and shrinkwrapped onto the surface.
  • Eric Chadwick
    Great sleuthing SimonT!

    I bet they simply wrote a tool that converts a bitmap into a mesh. Not that hard when you know exactly what you want. And painting a bitmap is quick and easy for artists.
  • Froyok
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    Froyok Polycount Sponsor
    Computron wrote: »
    How do I do this? I cant find an option for this in 4r5.
    Neox wrote: »
    its in prefrences, not in the decimation master tab >_<
    Yeah, the setting is hidden here :

    zb_polypaint_settings.jpg
  • Computron
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    Computron polycounter lvl 7
    Found it, thanks guys.
    LQd4QIW.png

    Decimation master doesn't really work that well if you go below %10.
    (I guess that's why its called DECImation master, heh...)
    CzXOTwr.png

    Going any lower than the current polycount, 4,685, (even after re-anylizing/decimating) destroys that image entirely. And this is just the flat plane3d with importance set %100 on polypaint in decimation masters settings.

    Cool stuff though. Probably with some tweaking on some more practical meshes it will work out nicely. It is necesary to have a pretty blurry/dreammy texture, sharper stuff will not work nearly as well.
  • marks
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    marks polycounter lvl 11
    This is one of my favourite threads ever on polycount. Pure goldmine of info, great job SimonT :)
  • Shuriken UK
    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.


    also, magic carpet creatures made using flat circles:

    screenshot2328-0.gif

    Foto+Magic+Carpet+2%3A+The+Netherworlds.jpg

    LOL I remember Carpet! Man, the 90's were the golden era of games IMO. Better than the 80's AND the 21st century. Theres something missing from todays games that was captured so well in the old days of Amiga, Atari, Jaguar, SNES, PS1, and MAYBE even up until the days of the PS2, but somewhere around there, a falloff point was reached, and since then, that sense of "gaming magic" has only been seen in EXTREMELY rare cases, such as Bioshock as one well known example. Also, the thief games had that "thing" IMO (something I find impossible to define).

    Anyway back onto graphics, about the "3D" animated models made of multiple 2D objects. I've seen this effect in countless games, a lot of the time it looked a bit silly, but sometimes it looked great, for example, the arcade version of Galaxy Force 2. You really did get the impression you were immersed in a 3D world with huge 3D monsters, rather than a series of 2D papercraft cut-outs. Infact, GF2 is probably the best use of that effect I've come across. The console version looks terrible by comparison though.
  • poopinmymouth
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    poopinmymouth polycounter lvl 14
    Anyone interested, I did some internet sleuthing, and here is a tool that does the conversion of a 1024x512 spherical image into a .hod file for homeworld background usage, http://forums.relicnews.com/showthread.php?148734-Homeworld2-Background-Builder-v1-3

    If anyone gets it working and wants to write a tutorial, I would love it!
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    NEU - Homeworld 2 Backgrounds.Tech
    #26.2 Homeworld 2 - Backgrounds.Tech

    Because some nice people asked how these spheres are done, i tried out some mod tools and i hope you'll enjoy the results.

    ik22EZeFFsAYW.gif

    alfalfasprossen
    Hehe i totally understand your feeling. But to be honest: Homeworld is too hard for me and too time consuming. But it's of course an awesome game.

    ScribbleHead
    Hehe you're right. But who knows, maybe there's a good point also in Next Gen Games to use this tech. We'll see :)

    bb0x
    Checkout the new article. It's not done manually. That would be a job for the hell :D

    Froyok
    I have no idea if the ADD verts to a low poly sphere or REDUCE verts from a high poly sphere...but some of it is explained in the new article.

    By the way: your zBrush results are awesoe. I linked them at the end of the article.

    igi
    Yes i'm also stunned everytime i think what they've done.

    cptSwing
    Thanks man :)

    Eric Chadwick
    Thanks :) And you're right with the tool!

    marks
    Glad to head this! Thank you!

    Shuriken UK
    Hehe yes it's awesome how people work around the low hardware performance and create stunning tech.

    poopinmymouth
    Thanks man. I already had this tool and used it over the weekend to write the new article. If you want, tell me what you think about it.
  • poopinmymouth
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    poopinmymouth polycounter lvl 14
    Thanks a lot for this, answers my questions. :-)
  • fatihG_
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    fatihG_ polycounter lvl 11
    Sexy.

    I was thinking about a method how this could be done if I were to need to write a tool like this. Seems I was on the right path... I think anyway.

    It looks like the tool is using the "edge map" as some sort of mask I guess to increase the vertex count/mask out optimization.

    Thanks for the research man. =D
  • Computron
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    Computron polycounter lvl 7
  • o2car
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    o2car polycounter lvl 12
    Anyone else having issues importing the OBJ that "HW2BGBuilder" outputs in Maya?

    Cant see the mesh in Outliner for some reason.
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    I can see them (in 3Ds Max) but don't try too hard because there are no vertex colors on these meshes :,(
  • o2car
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    o2car polycounter lvl 12
    SimonT wrote: »
    I can see them (in 3Ds Max) but don't try too hard because there are no vertex colors on these meshes :,(

    It worked fine in Max! Thanks Simon and Pior for exporting it to me.

    I am only interested in the mesh. It is easy to transfer the texture->vertexcolor back on the mesh with a simple spherical projection.

    All skies in Mirrors Edge has vertex colored gradients, but the mesh was optimized by hand, I wish I would have had this tech back then. I guess I didnt do my research.
  • o2car
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    o2car polycounter lvl 12
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    o2car
    If you want i can export something for you into a format which is readable in Maya...i'm mean maybe only OBJ produces these errors and maybe FBX would work better? Or you could download a student version of Max to do it by your own. The idea with the sperical projection is great!

    Oh i see you worked on alot Games...and my favorite is also in there: battlefield 2 :,) I love this game. For the article about the "fake" sound i visited Battlefiedl 2 again and it looks great, it plays great and it sounds great. Awesome :,) By the way, i tried to make something about the Level-LoD because in BF2 i saw it the first time, how verts move and stuff like that, but i wasn't able to capture this good enough for an article.
  • mikiex
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    mikiex polycounter lvl 5
    Check out this video from James Bond Legends
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIyoKCgWqt8
    Go to 6:06 Notice the graphic of the earth spinning on the screen.
    How do you think this was done?
  • Ace-Angel
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    Ace-Angel polycounter lvl 7
    Image sequences or a small video.
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    mikiex
    Thanks for the question! I don't know it but on the one hand it would be the fastest way to just use an animated texture like Ace-Angel said. I could also imagine that they move an static world-texture over a flattened sphere surface so that the UVs at the border of the flat sphere would be pushed together and would fake a spherical movement. But to be honest, this seems too much effort. But for me it looks too spherical to made which such a fake...don't know.

    Would be cool to have a look in the data of the game :)
  • mikiex
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    mikiex polycounter lvl 5
    SimonT wrote: »
    mikiex
    Thanks for the question! I don't know it but on the one hand it would be the fastest way to just use an animated texture like Ace-Angel said. I could also imagine that they move an static world-texture over a flattened sphere surface so that the UVs at the border of the flat sphere would be pushed together and would fake a spherical movement. But to be honest, this seems too much effort. But for me it looks too spherical to made which such a fake...don't know.

    Would be cool to have a look in the data of the game :)
    Close but not geometry :)

    Well I should of been honest that I know how it was done because it was my method. Render a sphere mapped how you want in a 3d package as UVs to a texture and scroll UVs like you would normally and mask the area outside of the sphere. Texture compression makes it a bit error prone, a smaller 32bit image can be used. I did also raytrace a spheres UVs in a shader, its actually not too expensive considering screens are often full emissive with no lighting, but I dont think that version was ever used. Originally I got the idea off the demo scene wormhole effect.
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    Would love to see an example texture :)
  • mikiex
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    mikiex polycounter lvl 5
    SimonT wrote: »
    Would love to see an example texture :)



    The raytraced version produced a similar image in the pixel shader, I based that on IQ of RGBA (I
  • Tamarin
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    Tamarin polycounter lvl 12
    I created a test vertex color background for unity using the great article by Simon Schreibt.

    I still have a few issues with the technique but find it an interesting challenge to re-create. I am not using the mod software.

    This example sphere is 10k triangles and based on an image provided by Optikz.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16703380/test3/WebPlayer.html

    ***edit

    Okay, thanks for the correction. Here is a similar test using more triangles. 33k. I will try to create a hand painted background for a proper test at some date in the future.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16703380/33k/WebPlayer.html
  • SpeCter
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    SpeCter polycounter lvl 9
    Tamarin wrote: »
    I created a test vertex color background for unity using the great article by Simon Schreibt.

    I still have a few issues with the technique but find it an interesting challenge to re-create. I am not using the mod software.

    This example sphere is 10k triangles and based on an image provided by Optikz.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16703380/test3/WebPlayer.html

    Just a little correction, his surname isn´t "Schreibt", that´s the german word for writes , so it´s just saying that it´s Simon writing the article :D
    His full name is Simon Trümpler as far as i remember ;)
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    MikieX
    This is awesome! I would like to describe this stuff as a part of my next article if you don't mind. Would fit perfectly.

    Tamarin
    Wow man! How great is that? Is there a way to see the wireframe?

    SpeCter
    Hehe you're right :D But "Schreibt" is also a cool name. No the blog is called like that because at first i only wrote stuff in german.

    But now let me show something different :,)

    100.000


    I can't believe it. But somehow people like what i'm doing. In fact, 100.000 people visited my blog. For this i wrote a small note :).

  • Tamarin
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    Tamarin polycounter lvl 12
    Congrats on 100k visitors.

    Here is a wire frame.

    I am displacing a high poly mesh with the image and then using a decimate - trying to keep detail in the mesh before baking in vertex colors. It looks like Maya has a feature that creates mesh from images but that is not available to me.

    I think sharp edges in a few key areas and large smooth gradients go a long way to making this effective. The image I chose is probably not ideal.
  • mikiex
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    mikiex polycounter lvl 5
    SimonT wrote: »
    MikieX
    This is awesome! I would like to describe this stuff as a part of my next article if you don't mind. Would fit perfectly.
    Sure - sorry I don't have nice example images.

    You should check out whats going on at Shadertoy https://www.shadertoy.com/ These guys are doing amazing stuff just in the pixel shader - look at this https://www.shadertoy.com/view/4slGzn no vertex shader!

    Actually this one is pretty much the same as the raytraced one I did
    in terms of how to make UVs, though iqs is more complicated with lighting
    https://www.shadertoy.com/view/4sf3Rn
  • o2car
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    o2car polycounter lvl 12
    I downloaded this FBX converter and it worked fine! Now it opens in Maya.

    http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/pc/item?siteID=123112&id=10775855
  • o2car
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    o2car polycounter lvl 12
    SimonT wrote: »
    o2car
    If you want i can export something for you into a format which is readable in Maya...i'm mean maybe only OBJ produces these errors and maybe FBX would work better? Or you could download a student version of Max to do it by your own. The idea with the sperical projection is great!

    Oh i see you worked on alot Games...and my favorite is also in there: battlefield 2 :,) I love this game. For the article about the "fake" sound i visited Battlefiedl 2 again and it looks great, it plays great and it sounds great. Awesome :,) By the way, i tried to make something about the Level-LoD because in BF2 i saw it the first time, how verts move and stuff like that, but i wasn't able to capture this good enough for an article.

    Battlefield 2 was an awesome project to work on. Sound guys at Dice have always been top notch. Battlefield 3 sounds amazing too imo.
  • SpeCter
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    SpeCter polycounter lvl 9
    Congrats(Gratulation ;)) to 100k visitors. I hope to see more insights and gimmicks in the future :D
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    mikiex wrote: »
    The raytraced version produced a similar image in the pixel shader, I based that on IQ of RGBA (I
  • mikiex
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    mikiex polycounter lvl 5
    SimonT wrote: »
    I need your help. I tried to test this in UDK and when i use your texture, it works pretty well. But i thought about render my own sphere and set the blue channel to black (i only need R & G) but then my resulting checker looks very flat. What happens there?

    Which 3d package are you rendering it in?
    Did you UV map the sphere in the 3d package in the same way you want the texture to appear?

    What I mean is, I uvmapped a sphere with a worldmap on it in Max. If that looks correct, then render only the UVs.
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    mikiex wrote: »
    Which 3d package are you rendering it in?
    Did you UV map the sphere in the 3d package in the same way you want the texture to appear?

    What I mean is, I uvmapped a sphere with a worldmap on it in Max. If that looks correct, then render only the UVs.

    No i just made a sphere and baked a normal map of of it. In UDK i wanted the texture to modify the UVs of the base texture. But noe i'm not sure if i understood your approach :D
  • alfalfasprossen
    you've got to bake the uv position of the vertices into color. you can do that by assigning a gradient texture to the spehere like that in maya:
    bakeUVs.png
    (one U ramp, one V ramp, add them together, render you sphere)

    and then make sure you uncheck sRGB in the imported texture in udk or you will get streched values in the darker ends of the uv range ^^
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    mikiex
    Originally i planned to talk about your tech example in the new article but i didn't understand it completely and maybe its better to make a new article for this issue. It seems to be really interesting.

    These shader toy things are sick :D

    Tamarin
    Thanks man! Intereting that you displace you sphere...but shouldn't make any shading problems since the the background shoul be self-illuminating.

    o2car
    I'm jealous that you worked at Dice :,)

    SpeCter
    Thanks man! Me too :D

    alfalfasprossen
    Thanks for the help. I tried it but i don't get any good results. I have to read more about this stuff and how UDK handles the UV input.

    NEU
    #27 Diablo 3 - Resource Bubbles

    iHcA7zYth9s2H.gif
  • fatihG_
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    fatihG_ polycounter lvl 11
    If they had made the disc more like a traditional disc instead of a grid cut out as a disc, they could have probably added more edgeloops at the edges of the disc and created a more sphere like shape. Instead of the hat shape I guess.

    flatsphere.png

    It has more or less the same polycount as well.

    edit--

    Btw, could they have been using secondary uv maps? The uv map that you showed obviously has distortion in em to create the bubble like effect. But the horizontal line seems to be perfectly straight, no matter how high up the "sphere" it is.
  • alfalfasprossen
    it's totally straight forward in udk. the way you did it is correct. just beware of the sRGB part
    uv_udkTexture.png
    uv_udkMaterial.png
    (yes, the texture compression for my test texture sucks... )
  • mikiex
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    mikiex polycounter lvl 5
    I just remembered some more inspiration.
    Hustle Kings did nice balls, similar to raytraced method.
    http://www.voofoostudios.com/?p=33
  • kaptainkernals
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    kaptainkernals polycounter lvl 9
    Why is something as great as this not stickied? Such a wealth of information.

    Thanks SimonT!
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    Updates
    Dead Space 3 - Diffuse Reflection Tree new links about the issue
    Airborn - Trees A comment from Warby about another advantage of the approach
    Metal Gear Rising - Slicing I re-thought my words about the procedural depth of the melon
    Diablo 3 - Resource Bubbles More infos about the line which appear when resource isn't full
    Diablo 3 - Resource Bubbles MikieX brought us a nice link about shiny balls

    bb0x
    Yes that would be an alternative. I added you question to the article and gave an answer :) See link above.

    mikiex
    Impressive balls! ;) Added the link to the artice (see link above)

    kaptainkernals
    Thanks for the compliment :) But i think its OK, polycount honored my already twice by posting an article on their facebook page.

    alfalfasprossen
    Thanks for the example. I want to first try it without the sphere. I tried to make a texture which in the first place does nothing. So i used the tip you gave me and made a simple texture based on a green/red gradient.
    I expected that nothing changed, but at the borders of the texture preview i can see some stretching. I already deactivated the sRGB option.

    jZEoUcl357ggj.png
  • Ace-Angel
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    Ace-Angel polycounter lvl 7
    Try and use a Normalize/Clamp node before feeding it in?
  • SimonT
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    SimonT interpolator
    Ace-Angel
    Clamp doesnt work. I mean, if the colors are a full representation of the UV space, than it should work. What i could imagine is, that the compression makes weird things in the dark and bright areas. I tested different compresseion like e.g. TC_NormalMap or TC_HighDynamicRange but this made it worse. I'm not sure if theres a button for "take it without any compresseion".
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