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Showing posts from November, 2010

Tech Feature: Terrain textures

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I have finally finished the part of the terrain rendering that I spent most time researching and thinking about: texturing. This is a quite big problem, with many methods available, each having its own pros and cons.

I was looking for something that gave a lot of freedom for the artists, that was fast and that allowed that the same algorithm could be used in both game and editor. The last point was especially important since we had much success with our WYSIWYG-editor for Amnesia, and we did not want terrain to break this by requiring some complicated creation process.

Even once I started working on the textures, I was unsure on the exact approach to take. I had at least decided to use some form of texture splatting as the base. However there is a lot of ways to go about this, the two major directions being to either do it all in real-time or to rendering to cache textures in some manner.

Before doing any proper work on the texturing algorithm I wanted to see how the texturing looked on …

How the player becomes the protagonist

Introduction
In Amnesia one of the main goals was for the player to become the protagonist. We wanted the player to think "I am" instead of "Daniel is" and in that way make it a very personal experience. The main motivation for this was of course to make the game scary, but also for the memories that were revealed to feel more personal for the player.

In this post I will go through some of the design thinking we used, problems it caused and how it eventually turned out. I will also briefly discuss the future of this sort of design.


Playing a role
First of all, it is not required that the protagonist matches the player character in order for the player to "become" him/her. As an extreme example, I see no problem with a game featuring an animal as lead character to have the player become the protagonist. The idea is not that the player should match the physical / mental protagonist, but rather that he/she should be able to roleplay him/her and to feel like real…

Leviathan VR5 Mortis (Totenköpfe - Deaths Head)

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For those of you who have not seen it, I felt I should post a description of the first Leviathan release. For those that have.... Here is some new eye candy.

Grandfather of all Leviathans; the VR5 design is over 200 years old and has seen many improvements and variants. It and its variations are widely considered some of the finest designs ever produced. A balance of size, speed, armor and armament all come together to make a very formidable vehicle.
The decision to design the cockpit after the Totenköpfe was primarily nostalgic and a matter of national pride. The frame of the first Leviathan was designated VR5 in honor of the 5th Regiment commanded by Colonel von Ruesch, the first Hussar commander to use the deaths head symbol. The Prussian army Hussar first adopted this symbol in 1744. The Mortis in its purest form is outfitted with two close combat weapons, and no additional armor, this allows for the fastest possible movement and a vicious close combat capability. The massive oil s…

Leviathan Mortis release date

I have a (tentative) release date of December 15th. If all goes well and there are no major hiccups.

There is still ALLOT of work to be done. Molds checked for vent and sprue issues, Instructions, Box art, Web store and shopping cart integration, ect. Perhaps a more realistic date would be January but I like to push myself.
I may releases the first one or two on Ebay if I don’t have time to work out the cart and website issues.
Pricing as it stands now: Leviathan Mortis: With Scythe and right hand Claw $350.00 Optional weapons: Right hand Vulkan $45.00 The Leviathan Mortis is a all resin model kit, roughly 9.5" tall I will be working a lot of late nights to try to get this out the door by the 15th, so please be patient with me if the date is bumped.
Please understand that they will initially be produced in house so the number of kits available will be limited due to having only one set of production molds and production equipment.
I will update the blog with pictures of the final casts a…

I am the great and powerful OZ!

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Many people ask why is this so expensive. The short answer is that nothing about making resin models is quick or cheap. The long answer requires a more in depth look at the costs involved. Unlike many manufacturers, I do not feel it is constructive to dance around this question. An honest question deserves an honest answer.
So let us pull back the wizards curtain and see what hides behind...

Pricing my models is a subject that often causes me a great deal of discomfort. Every kit, every release begs the question what is a fair price? What do I need to charge to keep the doors open and continue making things I, and hopefully others enjoy. While understanding not every model will be a spectacular hit, what is a reasonable number of models you should expect to sell to amortize your upfront costs?
Now we look at the ugly numbers. I already own the equipment so I will not count that in the total but I show them here for general reference. Also, keep in mind this rough overview is for a rathe…

Leviathan Azazel sneak peek.

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Azazel will be the last of five in the series of VR5 frame Leviathan.

Azazel and subtlety are two words seldom used together. There is nothing subtle about this Leviathan. It wields one of the largest projectile weapons mounted on any Leviathan and a whirling blade of destruction. This is the King Tiger of Leviathans

Just to recap, here are the five VR5 frame Leviathans in the series.



 I hope to start limited production of the Leviathan Mortis some time in December, with the crusader soon after and the remaining three in this series to follow ASAP.

Tech Feature: Noise and Fractals

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Introduction
Now that I have a working algorithm for terrain rendering, I wanted to try making some of it procedurally. This would not be used in order to generate levels, but instead to help artists add some extra detail and perhaps for some effects. The natural world is very noisy and fractal place, so in order a to get a nice looking environment, these two features are crucial.

Noise
When doing noise for natural phenomena, one normally wants some kind of coherent noise. Normal white noise, when nearby pixels are not correlated in any way, looks like this:

This is no good when one wants generate terrain and the like. Instead the noise should have a more smooth feel to it. To get achieve this, one fades between different random values, creating smooth gradients. A way to do this is to generate a pseudo-random number (pseudo because a certain coordinate, will always return the same random value) for whole number points, and then let the fractional parts between these be interpolations. F…

Anti-Grav upgrade for the Siler Tank

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Jon at Khurasan asked me to make him a plug in unit for the track area of the Siler tank. I wanted to design something that changed the silhouette of the Siler and made it immediately recognizable as a Grav Tank.

I went with an asymmetrical design that mounted larger grav units to the front and adjustable jets to the rear... I felt it gave the model a vroom, vroom, ready to race look.

Here you can see the component view and how they simply plug into the track slot.. You can also see the additional nose length added to further change the lines away from the tracked version.

Tech Feature: Terrain geometry

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Introduction
The past two weeks I have been working on terrain, and for two months or so before that I have (at irregular intervals) been researching and planning this work. Now finally the geometry-generation part of the terrain code is as good as completed.

The first thing I had to decide was what kind of technique to use. There are tons of ways to deal with terrain and a lot of papers/literature on it. I have some ideas on what the super secret project will need in terms of terrain, but still wanted to to keep it as open as possible so that the tech I made now would not become unusable later on. Because of this I needed to use something that felt customizable and scalable, and be able to fit the needs that might arise in the future.

Generating vertices
What I decided on was a an updated version of geomipmapping. My main resources was the original paper from 2000 (found here) and the terrain paper for the Frostbite Engine that power Battlefield: Bad Company (see presentation here). Bas…