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Next Gen Graphics!?

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Hows it done? i mean do they paint the graphics by hand or take high definition pictures in real life and use than as graphics in game. also how do they give armor that shine and "Glow" it has in some mmorpg games like aion? I also want to know the roles that play into the spectacular picture . . like lightning, bump mapping and that of the sort.

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A lot of "Next gen" things are done as vertex and pixel Shaders. Those are programs which are executed on the graphics processor. They are implemented using a graphics programming library such as DirectX or Opengl. Textures are most likely done with an image manipulation program. The thing to remember is that high definition only effects the range of an image. A HDR Image has a more dynamic range and that is executed on the G.P.U To the best of my knowledge glow is a post processing effect, or it's an effect done after the other effects have been added to a scene.

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Textures are painted by hand (often based on photographs though).

The textures are split up into many different "layers" of different properties of the material. For example, for a single material, an artist could make all of these different textures, which are combined in a pixel shader to give the final look:
* Albedo/Diffuse : The colour of the material that is reflected equally in all directions
* Specular colour : The colour of the material that is reflected in a focused direction, like a mirror. Black for matte materials, bright for glossy materials.
* Specular power / roughness : How shiny or rough is the surface
* Normal map : Which direction are the bumps on the surface pointing (bump mapping)
* Height map : Used to add parallax to the image (more bump mapping)
* Emission : What colour light is emitted from each pixel (normally black, but could be used for things like eyes glowing in the dark)
* Ambient occlusion : How dark is each area due to being located in a crevice/crack/etc...
* Glow/bloom mask : Does each pixel glow/bleed out into neighbouring areas
* Opacity mask : How transparent is each pixel

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Also, you can pack some of these values into the alpha channel of the texture, to reduce texture counts.

As well, you can pretty much combine the diffuse texture with the ambient occlusion.

OR do all your ambient occlusion as a post-process ( SSAO ).

Texture1 RGB = diffuse RGB color * baked ambient occlusion
Texture1 A = transparency

Texture2 RGB = normal map XYZ
Texture2 A = height

Texture3 RGB = specularity RGB color
Texture3 A = specular power

Texture4 RGB = glow/emissive RGB color [ black = no glow ]
Texture4 A = reflectivity [ for modulating a reflection map inside the pixel shader ]

So you can pack all that information more-or-less into 4 textures per material...which is pretty efficient for what you're getting.

I do all that stuff that right now... so does that mean the current generation is the next generation? :-o

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Some people do hand paint and some photo texture. I can really notice a difference in some hand-painted ones though and I hate the results. They just look too un-realistic.

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most people do a combination of both, a smart use of different layers of photoreferences, and paints to bring it all together.

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