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methods for drawing falling snow

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So its time for more realistic falling snow graphics in Caveman:

 

http://www.gamedev.net/blog/1730/entry-2258672-caveman-v30-general-desciption/

 

I'm shooting for a more photo-realistic effect, as opposed to an "impressionistic" effect (read: blurry / fuzzy) as seen in titles such as Skyrim.  Don't get me wrong, Skyrim is beautiful, but it almost comes off looking like a painting in an art gallery! <g> 

 

I'm thinking:

 

* particle system in a cube around the camera 

* 3d billboard sprites

* alpha test or maybe alpha blend

 

Sound about right?

 
I'd like to get away with just alpha test for the lower performance hit, if possible.
Anybody tried alpha test vs alpha blended snow?
 

Any cool tricks i might throw in while i'm at it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Alpha-testing alone probably won't give very good results, as it only produces a "hit-or-miss" type of transparency, sort of like the bitmap-masking technique, and if you combine it with alpha blending, you'll get fully-transparent rough edges at the alpha-threshold value. Also, if you use billboards with alpha blending, I think you will have to use them with the painter's algorithm. I haven't used particles yet, but I think they don't have to be ordered, and they are faster than sprites.

 

I think Skyrim uses a post-processing effect for the falling snow...

Edited by tonemgub

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I'm thinking:
 
* particle system in a cube around the camera 
* 3d billboard sprites
* alpha test or maybe alpha blend
 
Sound about right?

 

Yes - except that alpha test isn't necessarily faster than alpha blending. Also, it will give unsatisfactory visual results.

 

Just use alpha-blending - rendering a few thousand snow particles shouldn't really have a big performance impact. 

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Guess it'll come down to how good a snow texture I can make!     : P

 

hmm...   a snowflake mesh of 3 mutually perpendicular textured quads...   rotated on all 3 axes over time...      add a little swirl to the particle's trajectory...

 

Naw - I need to look at some footage.   Good artwork starts with good reference photos.

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