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Matt Aufderheide

Vegetation in Crysis, etc..

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Does anyone know what major techniques a game like Crysis will use to render vegetation--Specifically trees with dense foliage? While palms trees and such are pretty obviously meshes, i wonder if for trees they use anything other than standard geometry with alpha masking. What is the state of the art in tree rendering these days? I assume Speedtree with sprite leaves is pretty much nearing its end.

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Yeah, I am putting my bets on speedtree. If you watch the videos you can see some pretty interesting Level of Detail popping as the person approaches a tree or bush (at least in the videos that I have seen). The close up bushes/trees use a higher level of detail mesh for the foliage than the far away ones. You can see the same thing when playing Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.

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Speedtree is probably still numero uno when it comes to vegetation, but I suspect Crysis doesn't use it. They probably use techniques similar to that in Far Cry, just on a larger scale and with other cool stuff (like trees being destructible) [smile]

Regards,
ViLiO

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Crysis has a number of features on their vegetation that are not very typical of Speedtree, which is more or less meant for creating static vegetation. Crysis has a lot of mesh deformation and finer-grain collision features than SpeedTree really offers. Granted, you could probably add such features while also using SpeedTree at the same time, since the geometry that SpeedTree generates is deterministic for a given construction history, but that can potentially be a pipeline headache... and they probably don't really need it considering how well they managed without it the first time around.

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the obvious: no lod popping and good shadows ... ? Speedtree is a pain and yes one of our game teams no moved to 4.0 and they achieved halfway good looking trees by not doing any lod anymore and as far as I know they did a lot of work in Maya before they moved the trees into the game ...

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My main question is this though: do you think sprite based leaves or mesh based leaves are the best way to acheive realism? I am leaning definitely towards mesh based leaves.. sprites are just too obvious when panning around.

I have a SpeedTree-style system implemented in my engine and I'm just not satisfied with it, mostly becasue of the sprite leaves. Till now pure mesh based trees neeeded too many polgons to get a good foliage though.. but maybe anymore I shouldnt worry about it.. especially If i go with dynamic imposters.

Are there any magic tricks that have been developed lately?

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Well if you look at how FarCry rendered leaves, they were just 1/4 spheres, or bent quads with textures on them. And if you orient them correctly, they look perfect. You don't need a mesh for every single leaf necessarily.

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