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What method did Sacred use for maps?

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The title says it all. I was playing. . . doing research on various map systems and I am really impressed with the graphics in Sacred. Does anyone know what method they use to create the maps? I would find it hard to believe it is tiles. Anyway, thanks for any help, it is a method I would like to look into further. Thanks.

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Looks to me like hand painted backgrounds, probably with an invisible tile system used for collision and easy object 'culling'. Looks like much of the ground textures could have been easily painted and then tiled, but the general look of the buildings and cities looks like it was done by hand. I like the game quite a bit.

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Yea, I guess that makes the most sense. I was trying to figure out how they were able to get the terrain so natural looking. I love isometric but unless you have a good artist the tiles can really be a pain. Thanks for the response, I'll keep looking.

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Just took a brief look at some of the gameplay footage over at Gamespot. I also noticed that there's a demo to download... I'll have to do some research on this title as well... the graphical look (from a technology perspective) it very interesting.

To me, a lot of the artwork looked tile-based. But, that could just be the isometric perspective and the artists who created the art giving that impression. I'll have to see it in non-compressed-video-over-the-internet form to say for sure.

The gamespot review mentioned that it had a fixed 1024x768 resolution... that's a shame, as my LCD is native 1280x1024, which means I'll have to choose either running it smaller than 19" or letting the hardware scale it up (which is not ideal as it use a fairly bog-standard bilinear filter to do so, definitely not my preference for raster artwork).

I would suspect that they either used a technique similar to what EDI describes for his Project2 (splatting) to get that organic look, or they are taking the other PC RPG route of 100% handdrawn backgrounds (Icewind Dale, et al). Of course, in both scenarios, there's a traditional isometric tile system guiding gameplay if not artwork.

Another approach, taken by the guys who did Baldur's Gate on the PS2, is to use a tile-like system for building the level (for the geometry -- they were 100% 3D) but then texture it with a completely unique texture. Since the camera angle is somewhat fixed, you can carefully control how much texture data you're streaming in as the player moves and exactly what your performance hit will be. An approach I'd like to take personally, if only I had an artist capable of taking advantage of it! [grin]

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Well I'm no expert, and I'll I've done is look at the screen shots on their website, but here is my best guess:

Splatting is used to some extent, as well as multiple texture layers and object positioning within the layers (thus allowing you to place a stone on the ground that lets it overrun multiple tiles). The grass appears to be a combination of effects, using basic tiles to build up a basic landscape then applying some sort of growth effect (fractal maby?) to setup blades and other random things. Objects (such as the trees) then have their own splat textures that extend out from them (or maby just simple alpha channels) to make them look like they are really growing out of the ground.

Here is my reasoning for making my statements:
Looking at the sand to stone transition, they are definately using splatting.
Looking at the base of the trees, they are all the same (though damned impressive) and blend into the ground much as you would a standard texture.
Looking at the swampy sections, well to me it just looks like its grown from some mathmatical function - so I'm guessing fractal samples.

In other words, they have some excelent artists and are making use of regular tech. Its just the matter of how they are using it :).

- Jeremy

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