# outer-space graphics

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I recently stumbled upon eve-online (screenshots: http://www.eve-online.com/screenshots/28082003/default.asp). The screenshots look pretty awesome. I was wondering if there was an online tutorial or documentation on how to render outer-space graphics like this (let me know the url, please.) Even a book would be good! Specifically, how to render planets nicely (with atmosphere blur), how to render the cool plasma/nebula backgrounds, and how to create good starry/galaxy backgrounds. Any links/info would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Ummm... wow.

Lots of wow effects. Eye candy. Shinies. Hot damn.

I'm watching this thread carefully, in case anybody does know how to do some of those effects... sorry I'm not any help.

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ya indeed it just so cool and perfect but how do they know the outer space look like this ?

sry again i cant help :D

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Quote:
 Original post by henchsterya indeed it just so cool and perfect but how do they know the outer space look like this ?sry again i cant help :D
You have never seen any images from Hubble telescope or NASA ? Theyre pretty much like the images in the above game.
Besides, who cares if it actually looks like this in reality ? Its unimportant during game-play if the eye-candy is sufficiently pretty, which is the case with this game.

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 Original post by Wyrframein case anybody does know how to do some of those effects...
Well, they all seem to me like dynamically generated particles by some function (some combination of Perlin with other stuff) and then cleverly laid out in a level editor. Maybe some postprocessing in Photoshop&filters is used too to enhance the foggy&blurry look of the particles.
True, it must take some time to find good parameters into such functions, but then again, the end result is worthy some experimentation, right ? Then just dont spoil it by projecting them onto a SkyCube, but rather some nice sphere.

But, its still just static, boring background. Planets are where the game-play fun can begin !

- Regarding the planet rendering, IMO the atmosphere could be done through multitexturing. Atmosphere would be just second trasparent texture. And if you transform its coordinates over time, voila you have a moving atmosphere with moving clouds over the planet!
- As for the glow around the planet, well, you could first render scaled (bigger) planet (without texture) with transparency fading away from the center of the planet (or some other point - experimenting is needed).
- Then you could add some third texture stage with some transparent animated storm texture, and you get a flashing storms around your planet !
- And if that isnt enough, place vulcans (just a regular 3d objects on top of the planet) all over the planet and assign particles to it. With some good textures, the result must be astonishing to see vulcan explosions under transparent parts of storm texture. Also tornados could be incorporated in same way.
- Should you make the planet like a heightmap (a bit tough compared to regular 2D heightmap), you could achieve great effects, like if the planet partly hides the sun behind it, and some highest planet mountain is right in the view, you could actually see the mountain over the planet blocking parts of the sun, therefore empowering the feeling that the planet is really 3D and not just a simple sphere. Ive seen that already in some Space pictures and it was absolutely awesome to see the mountains making the surface look rough and not just plain sphere.
- This way you could experiment with terraforming, i.e. fire a nuke, or two into the planet, change the heights of unhappy mountains and you can dig a crater into the planet. Put some cranks around the epicenter as fourth texture stage and you got your nice terraformed planet!
- Surely, if the player would be able to descend into low orbit, some detail into the heightmap would have to be computed on-fly (maybe some perlin noise, or some other ways of making detail over the mountains - search net for more info on this) to make it look detailed still.

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Hoo hoo, yeah i do know a few interesting links:

None are programmer oriented, but they should give you enough hints to implement it yourself in real-time.

First, Making a realistic Star field. Basically, generate a noise texture, and apply multiple filters on it (play with brightness/contrast/glow, colors, blend multiple layers of noise, etc..).

Secondly, Making a planet, or more specifically how to light the atmosphere, from an artist point of view. Again a lot of hints to do it yourself.

Y.

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those screenshots look really nice. looks like they used and abused of screenspace glows and HDR lighting :)

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 Ive seen that already in some Space pictures and it was absolutely awesome to see the mountains making the surface look rough and not just plain sphere.

I'd be interested in seeing any picture where such a thing is noticeable. if yo take earth as an example, the ratio between the highest mountain and the planet diameter is ridiculous, and you wouldn't notice anything but a round sphere unless you come close enough (real close), and moreover, there is the atmosphere on top of that, that looks like a tiny hyper thin layer compared to the whole planet. and it's still much higher than mt everest.
even if you consider other planets, I really doubt you will see any really noticeable montain popping out the surface of the planet.

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 This way you could experiment with terraforming, i.e. fire a nuke, or two into the planet, change the heights of unhappy mountains and you can dig a crater into the planet. Put some cranks around the epicenter as fourth texture stage and you got your nice terraformed planet!

do you actually have an idea on what terraforming is?

Ysanega> really nice links, even if not programmer oriented :)

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Quote:
 Original post by sBibiI'd be interested in seeing any picture where such a thing is noticeable. if yo take earth as an example, the ratio between the highest mountain and the planet diameter is ridiculous, and you wouldn't notice anything but a round sphere unless you come close enough (real close), and moreover, there is the atmosphere on top of that, that looks like a tiny hyper thin layer compared to the whole planet. and it's still much higher than mt everest.even if you consider other planets, I really doubt you will see any really noticeable montain popping out the surface of the planet.
Well, who said, its gotta be realistic and who said its gotta be on planet Earth ? Ive mentioned it in my post that reality isnt THAT important in such a case, but youve probably havent read it all - but then why do you nag at it ?
As long as it looks good, its suitable for games. I really saw some picture like this long time ago, though have no idea, what space body has it been. Maybe it even wasnt a planet, who cares ? The effect was however great and that was my point.
If you REALLY have to nag at reality, Asteroids HAVE this issue visible, so at the very least, if you wanted to have your game realistic, they could use this effect.

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 Original post by sBibido you actually have an idea on what terraforming is?
OK OK, I might have misspelled the words a bit, Im not an English Native, and I forgot that this forum is frequently flooded by philologists. I meant terramorphing, but you get the idea - change the surface of the planet.

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As an even player i can confirm that Eve uses a skybox for its lovely nebula backgrounds :o)

(You can extract them from the data files)

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Quote:
 Original post by sBibiI'd be interested in seeing any picture where such a thing is noticeable. if yo take earth as an example, the ratio between the highest mountain and the planet diameter is ridiculous, and you wouldn't notice anything but a round sphere unless you come close enough (real close), ...

It's not the height of a mountain which is important, its the slope. Although from space you don't actually see the shape of the mountains of a real planet, you do notice them because of lighting. It's like normal mapping! The normal maps don't generate bumps, but different shades. The same is true for mountains. The more variations in the slopes, the more the lighting will vary.

There are some nice regions on planet Mars like Valles Marineris (Mars' Grand Canyon) or Olympus Mons (a mountain 20km high IIRC). They are well visible from space especially when the sun is low.

I've implemented a solar system simulator which uses realistic height maps for the planets. The image below is an example of Valles Marineris. Ok, it's not really from outer space. I'm at the office right now and can't generate an image from outer space, but please believe me that normal mapping stuff makes planets look MUCH better than just flat spheres. Also, the atmosphere makes things look much better.

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the discussion in the thread is great, i wasn't expected so many good ideas :) thanks also to Ysaneya for the links to greg martin's tutorials!

keep the links/tutorials/ideas coming!

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Ever heard of P-BDAM?

Abstract:
"This paper describes an efficient technique for out-of-core management and interactive rendering of planet sized textured terrain surfaces. The technique, called P-Batched Dynamic Adaptive Meshes (P-BDAM), is based on BDAM structure. Data is partitioned into a set of BDAM tiles, each of them constituted by a pair of geometry bintrees of small triangular patches and an associated texture quadtree. Each triangular patch is a general triangulation of points on a displaced triangle. The proposed framework introduces several advances with respect to the state of the art: thanks to a batched host-to-graphics communication model, we outperform current adaptive tessellation solutions in terms of rendering speed; we guarantee overall geometric continuity, exploiting programmable graphics hardware to cope with the accuracy issues introduced by single precision floating points; we exploit a compressed out of core representation and speculative prefetching for hiding disk latency during rendering of out-of-core data; we efficiently construct high quality simplified representations with a novel distributed out of core simplification algorithm working on a standard PC network. "

- Watch videos here.
- Read paper here.

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You can see plenty of "roughness" especially along the terminator (the line between light and darkness). Just look at the half moon through a telescope. Of course, on Earth most of the surface is covered by flat ocean so you'd only see good shadowing if you look at the right spot at the right time (like photos of the Himalayas taken by ISS crew)... The effect is certainly more visible on smaller planets or moons. Look at Mimas or Miranda for example. Phoebe is even more extreme but it's more like an asteroid in size.

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Quote:
 Ever heard of P-BDAM?

I wonder why everybody is going crazy about this technique.. it is the 4th or 5th post i've seen this week speaking of it.

Sure it's nice and fast, but geez.. 7 hours of preprocessing, and 6 GB of disk space ?

Show me the same without any preprocessing and with reasonable disk usage, and then i'll be impressed..

Y.

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Ysaneya, well show me a technique which achieves the same amount of detail / visual fidelity at the same speed and I'll happily post that link as well :)

The 5GB are mainly there because they use high-resolution NASA datasets. On the other hand, every solution which uses multi-resolution representation of geometric data, be it multiresolution-batched meshes or image pyramids (geoclipmapping!) will suffer from a severe overhead of course.

You could also use smaller datasets and add a fractal-based algo for continuous level of detail on the surface, normal mapping etc. and it'll look smooth and would be well suited for games.

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Quote:
 It's not the height of a mountain which is important, its the slope. Although from space you don't actually see the shape of the mountains of a real planet, you do notice them because of lighting. It's like normal mapping! The normal maps don't generate bumps, but different shades. The same is true for mountains. The more variations in the slopes, the more the lighting will vary.

the height _is_ definitely important for edges of the planet, that's where you see features popping out, and normal/offset mapping can't do a thing about it. sure, slope is also important, but so is height (of course if the whole surface is displaced 200 Km upwards, it doesn't make a big difference ;))

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Eve had pretty sweet graphics, just promise me that your game will not be a boring pile of crap ;) Very interesting thread to read, thanks guys!