Month: September 2015

Game Concept Presentation – Evaluation

Well, that went better than expected. I managed to explain my concept fluidly enough for people to understand, and even though I hadn’t got all the information I wanted out, I managed to explain the rest of my concept well through some excellent questions I received. People seemed to like my renders alot too, which is good because I relied on them heavily to uphold my ideas. Basically, it went great, way better than I’d imagined.

The next step is to present even more visual examples of my game through a 3D environment. I plan on creating an industrial warehouse or loading bay set for my game. We’ll see how that goes, I guess.


UPGRADE – Pre Production




The aftermath of a colossal war between superpowers has left humanity in a rather desperate state. During this war, 77% of life on earth has been destroyed. The excessive use of chemical, biological and nuclear weaponry has rendered the majority of the planet’s surface uninhabitable by normal means, and any surviving human population resides mostly underground in military complexes. Even in the face of it’s own destruction humanity continues this war, each side blaming the other for the desertification of the planet. As a result of this shift underground, I won’t be required to create any sort of natural structure like trees or mountains, the visuals of the game needs to feel sharp and mechanised. I’m going to need a whole range of man-made assets, from crane arms and distilling towers to crate shelves and ceiling supports. I’m attempting to make an interior industrial space, so plenty of light sources are required to keep the game from being too dark. To guide the player throughout the enclosed space certain objects will have illuminated features, not only to lend to the artistic style but also serve as gameplay elements.


The purpose of the environment is to facilitate the games platforming and combat elements. The level needs to be spacious enough to facilitate certain larger enemies and freedom of movement, but also contain workarounds and spaces to use vertical mobility, such as overhead platforms and handlebars to swing from. During the later stages of the game where more and more movement options become available, the environments need to be adapted to work with many different styles of gameplay.


The basic layout of the environment will be constructed using primitives in cinema 4D to gain a very rough outline of the shape and design of the space. Once I’m satisfied with the layout, I shall slowly build upon the environment, adding details, gameplay elements and eventually textures and lighting until the stage has been completed. During this process I don’t aim to work around complex level design, I only aim to achieve the look and feel that the game provides, and display as many gameplay elements as possible in the environment. Any legal and copyright issues should not occur as all the models and designs are of my own creation, I’ll just have to take care and make sure I’m accidentally creating a copy of someone else’s work. The same applies to any sort of discrimination, as human characters remain almost entirely absent.

Visual Design

The visual design of my game is rather specific, so the 3D environment will have to represent that also. The environment will be some sort of industrial warehouse or loading bay, with plenty of room to manoeuvre up and across ceiling supports, or down and over crates or crane arms. If I decide to create the loading bay, I want to create some sort of locomotive or train as a dynamic set piece. The emphasis on platforming will be achieved with different layers of suspended walkways or containers. The lighting within the environment will be completely artificial, and feature plenty of spot and point lights to illuminate certain areas. Any existing design I can compare to is that of any modern factory floor or storage facility.

Look and Feel 

The game is rather simplistic in style, using somewhat flat textures and striking colours.Upgrade_Crouch

The graphics are stylised to work with gameplay elements. This graphical style also ha the advantage of being easy to produce (vs photorealism), and doesn’t require as many resources to render. Any existing designs comparable to this may be Mirrors Edge. Like Mirrors Edge, I plan to create crisp environments with striking palette choices to help direct the player throughout a stage, and important game assets highlighted in louder colours.

Technical Specifications

The technical specifications depend heavily on what I want the final  product to be. If it’s a series of standard renders, I want the output resolution to be 1920 x 1080, however I personally think that a walk-through animation of the set will help give a better understanding of how the game mechanics work. I’d like the animation to be 1080p, but of course depending on the quality and time required to render, I could settle with 720p. The games style and mechanics demand a relativity low polygon count, somewhat due to the excess of shaders I plan to use, but mostly due to large quantity of models needed and high-draw distance required.


The final product at the end of this project will be a large 3D environment designed for the game Upgrade. It will feature a first-person walkthrough displaying how the player moves throughout the environment and showcase in-game elements and features.



A production schedule is important keeping track of your time and providing goals that ultimately lead to the finished product. Here is my timetable specifically for creating my 3D environment (Not including weekends)

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Due to the general simplicity and low-keyness of my game, very few (If any) physical pieces of equipment are required. However, multiple pieces of software will need to be used to create my final product. The game is planned to be produced on Unreal Engine 4, due to its graphical quality and general user friendliness.

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The sound recorder is included if I ever decided to produce my own sounds, however due to my extremely limited knowledge in such an area, I plan on using sounds that are not subject to copyright.



If I want to produce this game, I certainly can’t do it alone. I need people with talents I don’t have, and these are the carefully chosen group of people I have selected to help me build my game.

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Payment depends on whether I have money to pay, or if I plan on actually charging for the game when its released. If it’s free to play however, micro-transactions may be included in the game.

UPGRADE – Game Concept

Upgrade Logo LargeThe aftermath of a colossal war between superpowers has left humanity in a rather desperate state. During this war, 77% of life on earth has been destroyed. The excessive use of chemical, biological and nuclear weaponry has rendered the majority of the planet’s surface uninhabitable by normal means, and any surviving human population resides mostly underground in military complexes. Even in the face of it’s own destruction humanity continues this war, each side blaming the other for the desertification of the planet. However, when human beings are in such short supply, the war must be fought by other means…

The marvels of a new brutal technology provide the answer.Upgrade_StandardYou take control of a robotic hybrid designed for war, a heavy machine built to destroy most anything in its path. The design of this particular unit takes on a similar appearance to a gorilla; tank enough to upturn a bus, and maneuverable enough to swing from rafters for a vertical take down.


Upgrade is a sci-fi, 3rd person action/puzzle game set to release on PC and Xbox One arcade. The basic game concept revolves around you the player, taking advantage of the in-game environment and enemies to upgrade and improve your character abilities. Upgrade features an aspect of puzzle solving using physics, player upgrades and the ability to manipulate the environment. The player can choose to overcome an obstacle however they seem fit.

The game is aimed at anyone who enjoys 3rd person fast action games and people who enjoy 3D puzzle games. The action portion of the game is generally fast-paced combat with use of verticality and platforming. The use of different upgrades obtained throughout the level change the gameplay style to the choice of the player, while the puzzle sections may require you to use certain upgrades and in the process teaching the player of the different upgrade mechanics and how to use them.

Upgrade_Items_1               An example of an upgrade obtained from an automatic turret.

As you can see, the game is in 3D and the models and textures for the game have been created using various simple techniques Cinema 4D. The models and textures are very simple on purpose to create the game visual style. This scene was rendered in Cinema 4D using anti-aliasing, ambient occlusion, global illumination and then finally edited in Paint.NET. Of course during a real-time rendering situation the graphical quality is going to be lower, but will still retain the same simple and sharp style.


The game visual style is the thing I focused the most during the initial development stages. The game visuals focus on creating a harmony between dark and light palettes/colors, while creating enough bright and ‘loud’ colors to help the player focus on important objects, such as threats, environmental objects and items. The game assets are generally leaned towards low-polygon, not only for a visual style, but for more engine resources to focus on sharers and pure quantity of on-screen models. Each model and texture works with each-other on a larger visual scale, creating a very stylized and unique gameplay experience.

I used certain color palettes to create a visual style through different lighting environments. The color red is almost always present, as the player learns that entities in red often require attention.

An example of palettes used for bright environments, and a palette for dark environments.



Upgrade’s main focus is of course, upgrades. Upgrades can be obtained in two ways; The first way to find them is to scout them out scattered around the environment. This way however is normally not useful as they are rarely presented without a challenge, and they do not appear often in the first place. The second way is the more frequently used and the more dangerous; deconstructing enemies.

Enemies are very varied in Upgrade, ranging from simple automatic turrets, to shielded tanks, to super-nimble drones. Each enemy deconstruction drops a certain upgrade that is attributed to that specific enemy type, and can be used by the player to take on that ability (to a certain extent). This creates an interesting scenario in which the player, depending on the preferred play-style, needs to choose which enemies to destroy, and which enemies to isolate and deconstruct.

Deconstruction in Upgrade is a process in which the player is vulnerable to enemy attack as the character equips the upgrade. Upgrades/enemies take longer to equip/deconstruct depending on the power of the upgrade received.Upgrade_Turret_1                     An automatic turret, one of the simplest enemies in Upgrade.

Upgrade_Turret              The player upgraded with said automatic turret.

The character wasn’t designed to look like a gorilla for no reason, either. The player is able to achieve many different degrees of movement through an environment by climbing, high jumping and swinging from objects. This allows the gameplay and the player to focus on a whole 3 dimensions, adding more variety. Of course, certain ‘heavy’ upgrades prevent certain aspects of movement to keep the game balanced. For example, the heavy shield upgrade prevents any sort of high jump due it its energy cost.

Upgrade_Shield_1_Fix              The player upgraded with a heavy shield from a ‘Shield Tank’


The initial target platform for this game is through Steam, however depending on how successful the game is the goal is to release on Xbox One arcade. The game isn’t big or extensive enough to warrant a hard copy, and digital downloads allow the game to reach a wider audience.  The game isn’t going to feature many human characters or NPCs simply due to the lore, so any racial or sexual discrimination can be easily avoided. The game won’t feature any gore or dismemberment due to it clashing with the simplistic art style, so I expect the game to be rated at most, M for mature.


Pre-production one of the most important aspects of any major project and it’s involved in most any media production. Pre-production is the process of planning and organizing the various elements of the production, including budget, team construction and hardware/software acquisition.

For my pre-production example, I shall be be creating a game. The game is called Upgrade. Its a 3D 3rd person action-puzzle game in which the player exploits the environment and the enemies to ‘Upgrade’, thus creating solutions to progress though the stage. Since the game is in a sci-fi setting, collecting pictures of props to reference may tricky. Of course, inspiration for in-game assets can found in the real world, so it wouldn’t be a total loss to find pictures of factory floors, modern machinery and high-tech military hardware… getting permission for that last one might be tricky, though. During a AAA media production, artists would be sent on ‘reckies’ across the world (depending on what the game demands) for inspiration and to observe real-world examples of what they are trying to replicate in their game.

Equipment is one of the biggest (and can certainly be the most expensive) ingredient in production. For the hardware for my specific project, a tablet is required to effectively create concept art and textures for game assets, and a good sound recorder to create the SFX. Of course, the most important aspect of game production is the computer hardware. Depending on what you aim to achieve, you may require higher specification PC. For these circumstaces, a custom-built PC can be used to get really specific specifications for certain progams, but the majority of the time a high-end PC of the shelf works just as well.

When it comes to creative media, I’ve plenty of experience with the visual aspects of design, such as concept art, artistic style and modelling. I am, however very lacking in any sort of coding knowledge and require a programmer to help create me game. If you are going big, a marketing campaign is crucial to get as many people buying your product as possible. Sound designers are very important and often very under appreciated, sound technicians who can record real-life objects and work them into your game always create a more visceral and immersive experience. Payment of course depends on the level of skill required.

Materials for in-game assets and certain hardware can be found most anywhere, however sometimes you require certain specific things. Sounds can be found anywhere on the globe and all of them have applications in games. Programs for creating materials for models can be achieved with many different programs, such as the staple Photoshop, or use of other programs like Paint Tool SAI, Painter or Paint.NET. All these programs require certain hardware specs. The more powerful the program, the more computer resources it will use.

Without a production schedule, a large project can quickly become a disaster. I’m seriously not the best at organizing things, and I’m even worse at managing my time. A production schedule dictates when certain aspects of the game should be finished, and ultimately when the game is going to be released. It helps the team keep a steady head and remain organised. During AAA game development, certain publishers/companies (EA) may demand unrealistic deadlines for the completion of games, and this the game isn’t completed to a satisfactory standard. In most indie-game companies though, a release deadline is rarely in place, as development is often uneven and stretched out over long periods of time.

Locations are far more important in videogame development then one might think. During AAA game development, artists and designers will more often than not (depending on the type of game) go out to real-world locations to take pictures or observe certain items. This real-world inspiration can really make a game feel all the more realistic. In my situation, I will be developing the majority if my game inside either at home or in college. Because I’m making a sci-fi game, there exists very little in the real world to compare to or use, so there is no real reason to go outside. Ever.

Paperwork is unfortunately and essential part of any project. The most initial piece of paperwork you should make is that of a budget sheet. A piece of paper detailing any equipment, supplies or personnel you need for you project, and tot up the cost. The rest of the paperwork is generally consists of creative work, such as storyboarding, proposal/idea lists and scripts. Having an established list of needed features and even an order to produce them them can really help foucus a team and have them work more effectivley. The creative writing such as scripts and storyboards helps shape the world you are trying to produce, and helps the designers and artists ahdere to a certain artistic style.

Code of practice can be a swift and painful end to your project if you are careless. The easiest one to get caught out on is the use of copyrighted materials. Anything can be copyrighted, from music and materials, to sounds and models. It’s important to recognise if you are breaching any sort of creative law, as creating something that has too similar a likeness to something else can lead to a serious suing. Health and saftey oversees the well-being of your employees, and even just the people around you (If you are filming in a public place, for example). If anyone is injured as a result of anything you own (cameras, chairs compters ect.), that particular person may choose to sue you for compensation.

The PEGI system is also something to be wary of when undertaking this kind of project. PEGI is the Pan-European Game Information system. It’s designed to help inform consumers about the content of the product, and also to moderate the product away from audiences for which it may be inappropriate. A game that features content such as horror, violence or sex is going to be moderated to consumers of 18+ only, and certain shops may refuse to stock your game entirely, leading to a far smaller consumer base and ultimately less sales.

TIGA is The Independent Game Developers Association. It’s a commercial and trade association that works with governments and businesses across Europe in an effort to make provide business opertunities for independent developers, making it easier produce and sell their product. TIGA  hold high voices in places of politics, using this to improve the commercial environment for game developers in the UK and across Europe.

Understanding the Theory and Application of Digital Graphics for Games

Graphics Style

Graphics style and artistic direction is crucial among game developers. Art styles dictate the entire look and feel of the game and influence target audiences. Some examples of various graphical styles are;

Cell/Toon Shading

This is a piece of concept art for Team Fortress 2, from Valve.

The developers chose this style of graphics mainly due to engine limitations at the time. Cel-shading is much easier to render, and due to not necessarily having to draw dynamic shadows on the models, and not having to render as nearly as many shades. The Team Fortress 2 (Abbreviated as TF2) creates a very unique style. The edges and textures are very soft, the proportions of the models are generally exaggerated to give very cartoony, but still very much grounded in reality feel.

Team Fortress 2’s art style is crucial to its gameplay. One of the key features Valve wanted was for the player to identify each class of character simply by their silhouette, thus making team-play easier and identifying foes quicker. Team Fortress 2 is a competitive team-based first-person shooter, often with extremely fast-paced gameplay, and complex graphics would be overwhelming and confusing towards the player.

Team Fortress 2 went through a very long and complex development, with many different styles of graphics and gameplay elements experimented with. Of course eventually, Valve ended up with this iconic game, a game that mostly iconic because of its art style.


This is an in-game screenshot from Ubisofts’ FarCry 3

FarCry 3’s graphical style is both beautiful and terrifying, and both of those aspects of the game are achieved with a stunning degree of realism. Ubisoft undoubtedly chose to head in this direction not only for continuity of the franchise, but to really immerse the player in the game world and story. A world in which the player can loose themselves in, is a world where the story and environment become more potent to the player, and ultimately (in most cases) more enjoyable. FarCry 3 presents an array of characters who all have individual stories and personalities. As such, the player can far more easily relate to those characters if they look and act as a real person would.

The graphical choice forces the player to play differently, and in FarCry 3’s  hostile tropical environment, it can really shock. Real-life threats like tigers, sharks, and armed militia only feel as threatening as they do because they are represented as realistically as possible, forcing more of a reaction from the player. Dangerous and hostile environments certainly have been represented in different art styles, such as The Long Dark in it’s cell-shaded style. It works in a very similar way.


This is a screenshot of Limbo, a side-scrolling puzzle game developed by Playdead.

Limbo introduces the player to a dark and abysmal world, a world where very little is explained. Everything either seems out of place, or terrifyingly in place. The game is exclusively grey-scale, meaning details about the environment remain a mystery. The art style of this game what made it such a hit, very little like this game has been seen before, and its the general minimalist-abstract style is what makes the entire game work so well.

A large part of Limbo’s appeal is the fear of the unknown, the lack of certain visual feedback just adds to the general surreal atmosphere that surrounds this game. Only the silhouette of anything is every visible, it creates the same feeling of seeing an unknown shadow on the wall. Limbo is only Limbo because of it’s very unique art style, and without that style the whole game would be turned upside down. It’s hard to imagine it in any other style.

Graphics Types and Purposes

Concept art is the preliminary sketches or mood boards that set the style for the whole game, it helps designers realize what the game should look and feel like, and assist the designers in creating in-game assets like models and textures.

GUI stands for Graphical User Interface. It’s a way for humans to more effectively interact with a computer system, using various visual elements like buttons and icons, as opposed to a purely text-based interface using type commands. The visual structure of the GUI can vary dramatically from platform to platform.

Pixels are tiny units that exist on a graphical display. The word pixel is actually a combination of picture and element. Pixels are the smallest ‘measurement’ on the screen.

Image Resolution is directly linked to the amount of pixels on screen; the higher the resolution of the screen, the more pixels are a available, and the higher the image quality presented. Within 3D games the resolution of the rendered scene can dramatically change performance, the higher the res, the more the GPU has to work.

Bitmap image a raster image, and the opposite of a Vector image. When enlarging or distorting a Bitmap image, individual pixels may be seen. Bitmaps are by far the most common form of digital image. Popular Bitmap file formats include JPEG, PNG and GIF.

Vector images are the general counterpart of Bitmap images. They are images that maintain a perfect resolution no matter how much it is enlarged. Vectors use a series of mathematics algorithms, calculating the relative space to one-another, because of this they take far longer to render.

Compression is the term used to describe the size of a file being decreased using algorithm. Compression is useful for saving storage space, however compression may have unintended side affects, and before accessing a file you must to uncompress it.

Many different ways exist for capturing and digitizing images, the most common of course it capturing them with a digital camera, but the best method for digitizing physical images is scanning them, converting the image into a file format. Once the image has been obtained, a place for it to be stored is sorted immediately afterward. Digital images can be stored on HDDs, USBs, and in a variety of formats. You can even the cloud for safe storage.

Week 1 – Day 1




The use of 3D imagery (In one form or another) can be found in almost every media-related industry in the world, from logo creation, to designing a billboard onto which even more    3D imagery could be placed. 3D modelling is perhaps most prominent in the entertainment industry, and in particular the gaming industry.

Recently, science has begun to use 3D models to better observe the natural world. Real-life objects that can be scanned and converted into a 3D model and allow greater observation of details. 3D modelling is also incredibly important in architecture, as it allows designers to view the interiors and exteriors of buildings within a 3D space, just as they would in reality. Film production, much like game production has shifted into the realm of 3D also, allowing more dynamic and interactive visual effects and gameplay elements, and raising   the graphical quality immensely.


3D development software are all built differently with different purposes in mind. One program may be suited better for rendering, while the other animation, so on and vise  versa. Choosing the correct program for you is quite important, depending on what path you aim to take.

Blender has the instant advantage of being freeware and available for anyone to use across any platform. However, being freeware it’s not going to be nearly as dedicated any certain aspect as much as 3Ds or Maya is, for example. I personally found that Blender’s’ UI isn’t as user friendly as Cinema 4D.

Cinema 4D (Among most other 3D development software) Isn’t free, but is commonly used with a student license, so it’s not completely off limits to everyone. Cinema 4D enables    easy to use UI and rendering settings, along with various plug-ins to create a powerful modeling program. However, like Blender it’s not necessarily movie-grade and any professional might find themselves lacking various features.

Sculptris This is the first dedicated modeling program I used. It’s free, which means anyone dipping their toes into the world of 3D modeling can try it out. It’s a very dumbed-down version of Mudbox, and is only really applicable for modeling organic shapes, as any hard-surface modeling proves extremely difficult. It doesn’t come with any sort of renderer, but the models can be exported into Zbrush for further development.


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This is a pre-render still from the opening cinematic in Halo 2: Anniversary. The model, texture, and rig is intended for a sequence with photo realistic graphical quality. This particular model exists in more than one format, the model has low-quality counterpart that can be rendered real-time and exists in the gameplay.

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This is a screenshot from BeamNG, a driving simulator created in the Cryengine. These models have been produced to be rendered in real-time, but also to enable soft-body physics and model deformation. The model allows the engine to deform and reshape the polygons according to dynamic physical inputs, such as collision, inertia and momentum. Any model can have these properties applied to them, but these have been modeled specifically to create a realistic effect.


Geometric theory explains the building blocks of any 3D model, how they interact with one another and how they come together to create a 3D model. The 3 most basic elements of a  3D model are the Edges, Vertices, and the Polygons. The vertex is a single point in the space. The addition of another vertex creates an edge, and the addition of one more vertex creates a simple triangular plane, or a single polygon. A polygon can only have a minimum of 3 vertexes and 3 edges, as a triangle does.

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A model doesn’t  necessarily have to consist of tris, quads (A polygon with 4 edges and Vertex) can be used, and is more often used to create shapes of large surface area or low geometrical complexity. Tris are more often used on character faces and organic geometry that requires more complexity, for the sake of detail or animation.


As with most things, 3D isn’t perfect and a number of drawbacks and formalities have been recognised over the years, and it’s a 3D modellers’ job to overcome and work around these drawbacks…

Perhaps the most important aspects of 3D modeling is the time is takes to render your model. In any other case that isn’t gaming, you cannot afford to render your model in real-time simply due to the graphical limitations that enable real-time rendering. Before you  even begin modeling you must make the decision; do I want to render in real-time, or not. This creates an interesting set of circumstances- for instance, low polygon models capable   of being rendered in real-time have the advantage of rendering instantly but are always going to present a lower graphical quality to a model that has been rendering for 2 hours. It’s a fine balancing act.

Depending on your polygon-count, file sizes (particularly within animation) can be enormous and can take even longer to render. Finding available space to store the information can also prove to be difficult, and even more difficult to transport.

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The same model, pre-rendered (Left) and rendered in real-time (Right). Notice the lack of reflective surface on the goggles, lower-quality shadow maps, and some objects not drawing shadows at all.


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This is a render of an AT-ST Walker from Star Wars Battlefront III in the Half-Life 2 Source engine, in real time.

In this image, depth of field and a degree of anti aliasing have been used to give the illusion of a camera focus. The objects in this scene don’t appear to be drawing any  shadows, either due to the general cloud cover or graphical limitations. An artificial sky light has been used to illuminate the environment, and extra lights positioned around the model to have it stand out against the dull, overcast lighting of the moor.

This is a generally simple pre-render of a non textured, low-polygon mammoth in a blank environment. The choice to use a low-polygon untextured model is undoubtedly an artistic choice, rather than a limitation.

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Any sort of Hypernurb/Subdivision Surface is clearly void from this model to create the stylised appearance, as the individual polygons are clearly visible. It’s likely that a sphere primitive was manipulated by moving individual vertex and polygons using extrude and grab tools to sculpt the body, while Spline techniques were used to create such geometry as the tusks, trunk and tail. Additional primitives may have been used to create the legs and the tuft of hair on it’s head by creating them separately, and using a bridge polygon tool to merge the meshes with the main body. For where additional detail is required, the artist may have used a knife tool to create more polygons onto a surface and thus allow for more geometry.

An alternative technique used to create this model would include that of sculpting, of which the artist would mould, shape and contort a primitive shape into a desired model. This technique is often effective when modelling more organic shapes, such as that of animals or landscapes, or in this case a mammoth.

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This is an in-game render of a Pelican dropship in Halo 3 on an engine built specifically for the game.

This top-down or birds-eye view of the model shows the model’s largest surface-area, and the majority of the texture details. Various shaders have been used to achieve the realistic look of the surfaces, mainly bump mapping and specular mapping. The combination of shaders layered on the textures give the look of extra geometry where there is infact none, this allows designers to ‘cheat’ more detail without adding extra polygons, and thus saving on the performance of the game. In rarer cases, developers may use a tessellation shader to achieve an even more realistic look.

Only one light source is presented here, and that is the sun. The textures and shaders on   the model capture it perfectly.

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This is a render of a planetary environment in Anteworld built on the Outerra engine.

Anteworld is still mostly an interactive tech-demo. It’s for rendering planet-sized environments, all the way down to a single blade of grass, in in real-time and without any loading screens. This scene quite clearly uses a form of global illumination, with atmospheric fog and mist. The games vehicles’ feature spot lights and point lighting when the environment darkens during it’s real-time day-night cycle. LODs play a gigantic part in this game, trees don’t need a draw distance since they are only flat textures, but small rock geometry and texture resolution fades and/or vanishes as long distances, to help the GPU and CPU cope.


3D rendering is the process using Open GL that involves converting a 3D mesh into a 2D image, often coupled with shaders to produce a desired style of image, for example; photorealism.

Direct X is the name for a group of APIs that are commonly used throughout game development, for platforms as early as the Sega Dreamcast. Direct X is a set of ‘instructions’ for the GPU. It is responsible for calculating the the hardware specifications of your  platform, and setting up the rendering quality accordingly. Direct X 1,2,3 and so on are iterations and each one adds certain performance enhancements and flexibility.