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Art Update #5: World Creation Process

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Oh man, super good update! I love that you guys are taking steps to reduce overdraw even now at an early stage. Keep texture switching to a minimum (the other thing I've found that absolutely kills performance on mobile) and this thing's going to run great on mobile.

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Oh man, super good update! I love that you guys are taking steps to reduce overdraw even now at an early stage. Keep texture switching to a minimum (the other thing I've found that absolutely kills performance on mobile) and this thing's going to run great on mobile.

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op8dom.jpg

That's actually the first time I've seen Z being used for up on a flat surface.

I'm taken to understand that the relations between the Z-axis and Y-axis are supposed to illustrate some sort of perspective and not a graph where the Y shows the data.

In that case you could imagine this laid down on a table (instead of up-right on your screen.) The Z-would be towards/away, the Y up/down and the X left right. My personal theory kind of builds on Nathans comment, but further so the reason why we don't use Z so much for up is that Z comes last in the alphabet. I can see that Z might be used for height when drawing the room-layout for a building, as it usually is a top-down view. But if you think of it then as in term of a picture or through a camera lens that would be towards or way from the floor. Maybe the right way to think of it actually is how it relates to a camera perspective;

If I'm out taking pictures the first thing I do is check if my subject is in the frame in terms of width (X,) then I further adjust the framing to fit as good as possible up/down (Y,) Then I can finally figure out if I benefit from moving closer or farther away (Z) I really don't think about it that much when taking pictures, but essentially everything is flat when it comes out the real world and on to a screen or piece of paper. And that's pretty much why X and Y comes first, it's also easier to remember that order instead of X, Z, (Y).

Great comment, Nathan!

I really didn't know the reason why I had to rotate my model going from Max to Z-brush back in the day, but didn't when I started to use Maya.

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op8dom.jpg

That's actually the first time I've seen Z being used for up on a flat surface.

I'm taken to understand that the relations between the Z-axis and Y-axis are supposed to illustrate some sort of perspective and not a graph where the Y shows the data.

In that case you could imagine this laid down on a table (instead of up-right on your screen.) The Z-would be towards/away, the Y up/down and the X left right. My personal theory kind of builds on Nathans comment, but further so the reason why we don't use Z so much for up is that Z comes last in the alphabet. I can see that Z might be used for height when drawing the room-layout for a building, as it usually is a top-down view. But if you think of it then as in term of a picture or through a camera lens that would be towards or way from the floor. Maybe the right way to think of it actually is how it relates to a camera perspective;

If I'm out taking pictures the first thing I do is check if my subject is in the frame in terms of width (X,) then I further adjust the framing to fit as good as possible up/down (Y,) Then I can finally figure out if I benefit from moving closer or farther away (Z) I really don't think about it that much when taking pictures, but essentially everything is flat when it comes out the real world and on to a screen or piece of paper. And that's pretty much why X and Y comes first, it's also easier to remember that order instead of X, Z, (Y).

Great comment, Nathan!

I really didn't know the reason why I had to rotate my model going from Max to Z-brush back in the day, but didn't when I started to use Maya.

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Thank you Nathan and marcus for the explanation. This makes sense. It's true I'm coming from the CAD world so maybe that is one of the reasons vertical Z is more natural to me.

That's actually the first time I've seen Z being used for up on a flat surface.

You lost me here with the "flat surface". It was supposed to represent 3D just like your drawing but rotated around X axis.

Maybe the right way to think of it actually is how it relates to a camera perspective

By the way, for me the coordinate system of digital images is a neverending source of happiness ;)

Now for a serious question:

Does this mean that by design there won't be any way to do vertical scrolling?

I'm hard pressed to think of a point-and-click adventure that had much vertical scrolling (maybe Machinarium in parts?), but it seems like the "HD safe zone" design choice means there won't be any scope for vertical scrolling.

I understood that it's possible to define an area as n screen wide and m screen tall. I suppose in case of vertical scrolling the HD safe areas would be necessary simply at the bottom of the lowest screen and top of the highest.

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Thank you Nathan and marcus for the explanation. This makes sense. It's true I'm coming from the CAD world so maybe that is one of the reasons vertical Z is more natural to me.

That's actually the first time I've seen Z being used for up on a flat surface.

You lost me here with the "flat surface". It was supposed to represent 3D just like your drawing but rotated around X axis.

Maybe the right way to think of it actually is how it relates to a camera perspective

By the way, for me the coordinate system of digital images is a neverending source of happiness ;)

Now for a serious question:

Does this mean that by design there won't be any way to do vertical scrolling?

I'm hard pressed to think of a point-and-click adventure that had much vertical scrolling (maybe Machinarium in parts?), but it seems like the "HD safe zone" design choice means there won't be any scope for vertical scrolling.

I understood that it's possible to define an area as n screen wide and m screen tall. I suppose in case of vertical scrolling the HD safe areas would be necessary simply at the bottom of the lowest screen and top of the highest.

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The way i see it it came from a graph, not a picture or a cad image, so would naturally be depth.

if you draw in 2d (eg a landscape) you draw what you see; not a top down view. Like in a graph this would only have x and y to start with. Then you add the third or z axis.

If i'm drawing in CAD i always use Z as depth, but as said before, it's basically arbitrary.

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The way i see it it came from a graph, not a picture or a cad image, so would naturally be depth.

if you draw in 2d (eg a landscape) you draw what you see; not a top down view. Like in a graph this would only have x and y to start with. Then you add the third or z axis.

If i'm drawing in CAD i always use Z as depth, but as said before, it's basically arbitrary.

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The way i see it it came from a graph, not a picture or a cad image, so would naturally be depth.

if you draw in 2d (eg a landscape) you draw what you see; not a top down view. Like in a graph this would only have x and y to start with. Then you add the third or z axis.

If i’m drawing in CAD i always use Z as depth, but as said before, it’s basically arbitrary.

Well... :] If it comes from a function graph (which I guess might be true in technical approach but not necessarily in art) Z definitely should be vertical :]

In 2D you have horizontal independent variable X and vertical dependent variable Y=f(X). In 3D X and Y are independent and Z=f(X,Y). Just be consistent and keep dependent as vertical.

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The way i see it it came from a graph, not a picture or a cad image, so would naturally be depth.

if you draw in 2d (eg a landscape) you draw what you see; not a top down view. Like in a graph this would only have x and y to start with. Then you add the third or z axis.

If i’m drawing in CAD i always use Z as depth, but as said before, it’s basically arbitrary.

Well... :] If it comes from a function graph (which I guess might be true in technical approach but not necessarily in art) Z definitely should be vertical :]

In 2D you have horizontal independent variable X and vertical dependent variable Y=f(X). In 3D X and Y are independent and Z=f(X,Y). Just be consistent and keep dependent as vertical.

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Working in 3D animation I have realized that it is all up to the "local convention" where Z is aiming. Many programs and studios have the Y-UP but some places like Pixar have the Z-UP system...

Why is that?

dunno :P

Maybe it looks more fancy and geeky (and in some places that matters ;) )

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This might be a newbie type question - but will the texture files eventually be broken down and applied to individual elements - or will there be some kind of interactive "realtime" projection of the textures?

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Going by my work (I'm currently updating a component of the company I work at's software to use DirectX) I'd assume they just blit the section of the texture they need at the time. So it may be one huge texture file (or a few moderate sized ones)that contains all the scenes elements and it simply uses the part of the texture they need to draw it. Having multiple Textures in memory at run-time can cause quite a lot of lag when rendering, so using multiple individual elements (i assume you mean multiple smaller textures) would actually a big hit to performance.

Perhaps a DF Programming Team member could confirm this? Or completely deny this? :P

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That is great question.

Chris is right. Having a lot of different textures will very quickly turn into a performance problem. The main issue is that is generally costs a lot of cycles to 'talk' to the GPU. So every time you tell the graphics card 'here use this texture' it has to do a state change which can potentially stall the processing.

Therefore you want to use as few different textures as possible. So if you have a bunch of small images, then they should be combined into a bigger texture. While rendering you simply tell the GPU only to use a specific region of the image (aka the original small image).

In addition to that Reds also has to deal with the another scenario: Gigantic images. Right now the background are matte paintings which means that the entire background is painted as one image. Very often these images are too large for the GPU (the maximum texture size depends on the model), so we have a process that breaks them down into a bunch of smaller textures or chunks as we call them.

Regardless of the scenario the other constraint is that most GPUs are very picky when it comes to texture dimensions. They generally like images that are power-of-two (e.g. 64, 128, 256, 512, ...) better. If you want to use texture compression on mobile devices the textures also have to be square images.

I hope that answers the question. :-)

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Thanks Oliver! (And Chris) I very much appreciate the answers!

The more I see here, from the updates - the more I'm amazed by what you guys are able to do...!!

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Hey guys :)

According to the other art update, there will be no true illumination in the game. Does that mean there will be no textures with normal map/specular map? Do you think this is going to make the game a little bit uglier than it could be?

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Heya vector... I'm not anywhere close to an expert - nor will I claim to understand everything they're talking about... But I don't think they are using 3d models for this game... It's hand rendered art that's being assigned to polygon "alpha" cards. Think of it as an illustration that's cut apart - and then reassembled and arranged to provide depth and parallax. If I'm wrong about this - someone please correct me... but that's my understanding...

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Yeah I know, it's a "2D old school adventure", but It is possible to normal maps be applied to textures too, without any 3D models. You can make textures with Photoshop and use a plugin called "ndo", for example. I wonder why they wouldn't use this :)

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Yes, I'm sure they could use normal maps if they wanted to - but all the lighting information is already baked into the texture - as rendered by the artist... So there is really no need for a normal map... Anyway, you might know a lot more about it than me... I might not understand exactly what you're talking about... (It happens a lot.) :)

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Yes, the lighting information is already into the texture, and my question is exactly why would they do that when they can use normal maps. With normal maps the lighting could be a lot more realistic, therefore improving the graphics quality and depth of the characters into the environment. With the "gradient shadow" trick they used the depth of the character is already good, but I guess it could be even better with normal/specular maps.

And I probably know less than you about these stuff, as you are a freelancer artist (the link on your signature was too attractive, I couldn't not click it! =P) and I'm more of a student game designer than anything else.

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Shouldn't the pixel cleanup happen before the clipping polygon is traced? Or do you make the clipping manually?

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As a 3D artist, these art-tech updates are great. I'm curious about the photoshop group export, is that your tool or something off-the-shelf? Would love to have something similar for exporting different textures (diffuse, spec etc) from a single PSD-file.

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Yes, the lighting information is already into the texture, and my question is exactly why would they do that when they can use normal maps. With normal maps the lighting could be a lot more realistic, therefore improving the graphics quality and depth of the characters into the environment. With the "gradient shadow" trick they used the depth of the character is already good, but I guess it could be even better with normal/specular maps.

And I probably know less than you about these stuff, as you are a freelancer artist (the link on your signature was too attractive, I couldn't not click it! =P) and I'm more of a student game designer than anything else.

I think it's because this method is more of a compromise towards 2D. If they did all the lighting in 3D, they'd have to have detailed 3D lighting in every single scene, and they'd also have to make everything a 3D model (at the moment most of the parts are flat and presumably this will be the case with objects in the scenes too). This way, you can just use fairly basic effects and embellishments like the rim lighting in order to sell the objects and characters in the scene, while the overall way it is lit can largely be painted in.

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Thanks a lot for the insights, I guess it's a bit overwhelming keeping so many things in mind when it's not just about to paint nicely but also consider all those things about performance inside the game engine : )

V.

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This is great! I love to get a glimpse of the type of backgrounds you're making -- artwork that is beautiful, full of personality and style. A background that is "static" can still bring a ton of life to a game. A perfect example is King's Quest 6, which had painted backgrounds made with the technology that was available to designers in 1993, but still looks great nearly 20 years later. I still remember how much the walkways made of bone creeped me out in the underworld (and how cool that whole area was).

Kings-Quest-VI-Heir-Today,-Gone-Tomorrow.png

The painting-style backgrounds look better and have more character than the 3D backgrounds that were rendered (through much effort too, I'm sure) 6 years later.

14745Return_to_krondor_30102008_193535.png

3D has made designers need to simplify their designs a lot to be able to render them, until pretty recently. I love the heavily stylized hybrids between painted and 3D that are starting to come out now, like Okami and Double Fine releases (Psychonauts comes to mind).

okami-600x451.jpg

All that is to say -- the DFA art style looks amazing!

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