Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
Ben Bowen

Stop Bludgeoning Normal Mapping

This topic is 2105 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

I'd just like to note that I find many "modern" games unappealing due to the excessive amounts of normal mapping they use without sufficient artistic control or physically-based accuracy.

If you can "bake in" physically-based effects into a diffuse map and make them look better than real-time approximations for the most part, then do it! There's a quality threshold between when an effect needs to be baked -- despite having many dynamic properties -- and when technology permits to achieve the same amount of static quality, but also properly capturing the dynamics.

I often find myself appreciating the 3D graphics and artwork of older 1998-2007 games more than many modern games for reasons like this.

Edit, other bludgeoned 'modern' effects:

  • SSAO.
  • Low-res "Megatexturing"
  • Terrible yellow-ish color graded fog which oddly seems to have transmission disproportionate to absorption. For instance: "Given the amount of over saturation the fog has caused, wouldn't the camera would be blind after only about 5 meters of depth? ... Yet it can see far beyond that."
  • Over-exaggerated depth of field with a ridiculously horrid blur kernel
  • And yet we still see INSANE amounts of bloom, though slightly (yes, I said slightly) more accurate than it was several years ago. Your increase in familiarity with color theory justifies little.
Edited by Reflexus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
Well i agree with you that games from 1998-2007 are more, let's say, fast and good.
The technology power it's increasing so fast that they don't do static computations, instead they
try to archieve real time physically events/calculations just to compete with the others engines (the CryEngine 4 is doing this).
In my personal opinion, the differences are minimum, but just the fact that they are a real time approach, will gain advantages over the others engines.
Just remembering that if we have the power of the GPUs and CPUs of today, it's a waste of tech doesn't using RT techniques.
Edited by irlanrobson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I personally find normal mapping extremely useful, you can archive extreme amounts of detail with minimum bandwidth, though you have give the gpu a resource. But yeah, sometimes I do agree with you, artists do sometimes overuse normal mapping when unnecessary, which can actually worsen the final render.

 

But that's just my opinion. happy.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My observation is that normal mapping is nowhere near as bad as it was years ago.  In common with any technique, when it's new there's a "wow factor", just having that technique on it's own is viewed as sufficient, and it tends to be overdone in order to emphasise the fact that a game has it.  We saw this with coloured lighting too.

 

Regarding your other points and examples, the best effects are subtle: they look like a natural part of the scene, you tend not to notice them, and everything looks coherent and consistent.  Unfortunately this doesn't translate as "good graphics" in the minds of many players; many players want to be able to see that you're using bloom, DOF, motion blur, etc, and an effect that just combines naturally with the scene doesn't let them see it.  This has the ironic effect of cases where effort going into making a natural effect leads to players complaining that a game doesn't have that effect; example: http://forums.bethsoft.com/topic/1445048-does-id-studio-let-you-inprove-the-graphics/

 

Either way you can't win, it seems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Give us some concrete examples to discuss and dissect

 

I don't even know where to start.

1637wolfhound.jpg

 

sneak-attack.jpg

dishonored1.jpg

nuove-immagini-per-call-of-duty-black-op

Call+of+Duty+Black+Ops+II+-+Pyrrhic+Vict

codbocutscene.png

call_of_duty_black_ops_ed043.jpg

Edited by Reflexus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And yes, I perfectly well understand why the normal mapping looks bad in these screenshots (and many many many more), but here's the lesson:

It's their mistake of putting it into the game without having it up to par with "baked" approximations which are at least bearable to the eye.

Despite it being a 2004 game, Halo 2 is the first time I noticed this problem. Yes. They had technical limitations, but so do many modern games. Halo 1 had normal mapping (and even more technical limitations), but it was always subtle and looked great everywhere they used it.

Halo 2

H2_mp_waterworks_sniper-GI.jpg

1466_halo-2-vista-shots-2007051201250682

I can't find any screenshots of Halo 1 that demonstrate its application of normal mapping, but I might take some of my own. Don't worry, I'll try to pick the ugliest.

Edited by Reflexus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You haven't said what's wrong with any of those pictures tongue.png


And yes, I perfectly well understand why the normal mapping looks bad in these screenshots (and many many many more), but here's the lesson:

It's their mistake of putting it into the game without having it up to par with "baked" approximations which are at least bearable to the eye.
Normal mapping is a baked approximation. You sculpt a super detailed model that's not usable in realtime, then you make a low-poly approximation of it and bake the surface normal onto your low poly (along with baking AO / anything else at the same time).

Ideally, it would look the same as if you were simply using the high-poly model, except with a blockier silhouette. Normal mapping on its own is just a way to fake higher polygon counts (while also putting the information from those polygons through the texture filter to reduce aliasing).

 

Are you saying that these devs have used normal mapping, but have also chosen not to bake static shadows/lighting into their diffuse textures?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And yes, I perfectly well understand why the normal mapping looks bad in these screenshots (and many many many more), but here's the lesson:

It's their mistake of putting it into the game without having it up to par with "baked" approximations which are at least bearable to the eye.

No, it’s their fault for using a classic (and deprecated) lighting system. Some of them are using Phong shading instead of a physically based model. This in itself will cause non-realistic transitions between the main surface into the “shadows” of the normal map.

There is nothing wrong with normal mapping itself. It’s their lighting model that is to blame, and it would not look any better if it was just polygons and no normal mapping.


L. Spiro

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

GameDev.net is your game development community. Create an account for your GameDev Portfolio and participate in the largest developer community in the games industry.

Sign me up!