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Ethereal Darkness Interactive's The Lost City of Malathedra screenshots + discussion

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the friendly folks over at #graphicsdev on afternet helped me.

I recived guidence from:

Roy Eltham - Reltham - Sony Online Entertainment
Richard Fine - SuperPig - Rebellion
Anthony Whitaker - Sages - Raven
Joshua Tippets - Vertex Normal
Promit
Drillian
CircleSoft
Cypher
And others...

They all helped me to understand 3D and shaders. Good people the lot of them =)

I would recomend swinging by there if you need to learn, but it is a very topic-focused channel so keep the chatting in #gamedev

=D

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First off looking quite nice. The only thing I saw that looked slightly out of place was the tomb, but I'm sure it will come together quite well in the end.

I'm quite curious about the "Tile Splattering" what is it and is their any articles about it? I've waisted plenty of hours creating transition tiles (and I'm no artist) for projects, and that could have been time spent in other areas. Would you please elobrate on it a bit?

Thanks,
- Jeremy

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'splatting' as it is commonly called, is a neat way to add varience to a surface using a very small amount of repeating square textures, and a lot of alpha maps (or per-vertex linear blending; i prefer alpha maps), here is the basic idea of how it works.

you have a grid of tiles, each tile knows it has a base image, and a number of 'splat' images, i allow for 4 splat images.

each image, is a 256x256 tileable texture.

each grid (a map for instance) has a number of splat-maps (the same number as splat images on a tile (4)), each splat map contains information (8 bits of alpha) as to how much of the splat texture on the same layer should be shown.

when this grid is rendered the base is laid down first, then for each splat layer on a tile, it draws the splat texture using the splat-map's alpha information as a mask.

here is a better visual explanation:

Tile base texture:


Splat0 texture:


Splat0 mask:
note that the mask is much smaller than the source texture, using linear blending will smooth this out when it is stretched. i use 32x32 32x32 pixel masks in a single 1024x1024 texture for a 32x32 tile map (tiles are 256x256 each).

(can be it's own texture, or can be a single large texture and a part of it used)


The base drawn, and the splat0 drawn using splat0 mask


so instead of having TONS of hand-made graphics, you use square general graphics, and custom low-resolution, 8 bit alpha maps, to mould them.

i've found this method works great!

anyone interested feel free to hit me up for my vertex and pixel shader code to do this in a single pass.




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Thanks greatly for the detailed explination. That combined with the article that I stumbled upon here about the topic gets me moving in the right direction.

One more little question :). It appears that the new engine will be in Direct3D (I appologize if this is already answered and I missed it). I'm guessing that this is how your achieving the "Topigraphical" style along with shadow casting?

Looks like this new engine and game will be far advanced over the Mornings Wrath one, can't wait to see it in action. Course I hope I managed to finish Mornings Wrath before this one comes out, LOL.

- Jeremy

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Yup we are using Direct3D and the terrain is /actually/ 3D, however we are using a fixed view. The shadows you are seing are done via a single directional light (like the sun) the goal is to also allow for some omnidirectional lights too.

Yes this engine is likely to be far advanced over Flare(the mw engine),we are hoping it's new capabilities will make developing easier, and result in another great game =)

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well, Morning's Wrath has those features, but noone has really steped forward to ask for them yet; that coupled with me being so busy, I haven't released them.

as for project 2, we use Lua as the scripting engine, and the map editor is internal.

our goals are to licence the engine after Project2 is released in an effort to gain more capital so 'hopefully' we can begin to work at this full-time, so the tools won't be released as freeware, but as part of a 'game development package'. somewhat like a torque type engine, except it's usage is far more concise, and specifically for adventure games in similar structure to Project2.

or at least that is the current plan =D

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Guest Anonymous Poster
The graphics look great!

One small suggestion though: please make the camera use some kind of scrolling with acceleration (take a look at the Secret of Mana 2 for the SNES for inspiration) - coupled with a semi-fast movement speed this should look great. One (of the few) short-comings of Morning's Wrath was the camera movement which looked a bit 'wooden'.

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Hello :) nice menus, were you perhaps inspired by "Silver"?

I've been watching this topic for a while now. It seems that you have really learned a lot from your previous project. I especially like the art you are making, it looks very promissing.

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Question about the radial menu system...does the cursor (highlight) just circle around through the different options or is the cursor static with the actual objects rotating around? Did that make sense? Either way is the selection mouse or key driven?

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Hi there!

first of all...really nice screenshots! kinda interesting to see more and more parts of "Project 2" ;)

Got a question about the texture splatting used in "Project 2":
Are you going to place paths or streets the same way? For example...using the red channel in the color-map indicates where the path texture is blended into?

Another interesting thing would be some kind of tutorial on how you came so far.
You know...heightmapped terrain, your fixed view approach, basic lighting, the tree-sprites and your basic texture splatting.
I know...these articles exist all over the gamedev boards and websites. But it would be great to see or find them at one place. maybe a sticky in the isometric board...

best regards and good luck for your project...
- christoph -

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Quote:
Original post by Acid-Chris
Hi there!

first of all...really nice screenshots! kinda interesting to see more and more parts of "Project 2" ;)

Got a question about the texture splatting used in "Project 2":
Are you going to place paths or streets the same way? For example...using the red channel in the color-map indicates where the path texture is blended into?


yup, that is exactly how we will do it =)

Quote:
Original post by Acid-Chris
Another interesting thing would be some kind of tutorial on how you came so far.
You know...heightmapped terrain, your fixed view approach, basic lighting, the tree-sprites and your basic texture splatting.
I know...these articles exist all over the gamedev boards and websites. But it would be great to see or find them at one place. maybe a sticky in the isometric board...

best regards and good luck for your project...
- christoph -


Unfortunetly (as you can imagine) I am always busy, so the periodic updates I give is about the best I can do until perhaps I retire ;)

thanks for the luck =)



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I've finally managed to get software splattering working, and now its on to hardware based. Since you said that you would let us see your code if we wanted, would you mind posting or sending it?

Thanks,
- Jeremy

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oooh I didn't even notice that there was another one of these posts, now I can follow along in your Journal and on this thread. I'm always interested to see whats going on.

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Turt99: hehe, yup =)


So, now that the engine is in a semi-presentable state (still lacking a lot of functionality, but enough to move about the environment, and actually have an environment) it is time to write an editor.

we decided to write an external editor instead of an internal one which was originaly planned, this was mainly because writing the ui for the engine editor would be a long and painful task.

So here is where the editor currently is at:





I am writing it in C# and so far after only a day and a half of work it is looking excellent, always choose the right tool for the job =)

we chose XML as our map output format, this will save many headaches as the format changes over time (oh and it will I am sure LOL) and it will mean that little tweaks such as (replace all lava tiles with water) can be done via a text editor instead of through back-breaking editor work, or writing specialized editor code.

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Sorry for the lag in update but things have been busy, and I have a nice screenshot to show for it =)



This is a pulled back shot of the 'proof of concept' map that I am working on, to ensure S3Engine has all the features we need =)
the water is animated (and looks a little weird freeze-framed)
I added the ability to have animated terrain materials, which i think is going to be really nice, since it will allow for lava flows, water, sparkling ice, and all sorts of things =)

the engine is nearing completion, though there are some major systems that still need implementing =)

and I am currently working on the story too =)

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Raymond (Ray?),
The screen shot is quite interesting to say the least. Any plans on getting dynamic shadowing working with your sprites and 2D objects? That way you could animate the trees blowing in the wind and recieve shadows that match (course this could be achieved in the 3D pre-rendering with an alpha channel also). I'm guessing here that the trees are 2D sprites same as the hut.

How long till we at least get an idea of the storyline and maby a simple sample of the engine?

- Jeremy

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