Game Look Evolution

As the Game is progressing internally (game play viz) we are also doing some fixes and tweaks to the graphics of the game and this week we made a big leap ahead in that department so this weeks blog goes to the look of the game..

Initially our game world was made of just plain textures and coloured light map. It was last year when we discovered how to generate light maps in blender suitable to use in the engine. At that time we thought this is the biggest discovery we have made :)

Light Map Generation In Blender

Then started days of normal mapping, and we spend many weeks figuring out the proper values for normal, specular maps, light attenuation etc.. As the performance of the game was directly proportional to some of these things it was serious stuff. But got passed that fairly well..

Character look is something which has taken the most time so far. Every time we run improvement iteration on the character it was feeling like we are still missing something. You can tell by the images below that the character has come a long way.

Highlight Problem :
To highlight the character in game we had a rim lighting around him which was kind of making him whitish and also loosing the details in the texture. We tried all sort of things with rim lighting and realized this is not going to work.
Grim With Rim Lighting On :

After giving up with the rim lighting we started evaluating our options cel(toon) shading vs normal mapping. toon shading was promising as the specularity was evident and highlight around character came at no cost.

Image with cel shading in high intensity:

It had a drawback of loosing the details when character enters less intense light area. In high intensity the specular was too intense making it look like cartoon. Given the style of our game (which is more towards realistic look) we felt that this is not going to be appropriate and started leaning more towards the second option.

The normal map was not very promising in the beginning as the outline or rim lighting shaders does not work if the normal maps are on. Character was looking good but without highlight he was getting merged with the environment but there was no other choice left. So we started working on it and after few iterations we realize that it might just work.

Image with Normal Map (Without Highlight):

Image with Normal Map (updated):

Still work is in progress ..:)