GameDev.net and CRC Press have teamed up to bring a free ebook of content curated from top titles published by CRC Press. The freebook, Practices of Game Design & Indie Game Marketing, includes chapters from The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, and An Architectural Approach to Level Design. The GameDev.net FreeBook is relevant to game designers, developers, and those interested in learning more about the challenges in game development. We know game development can be a tough discipline and business, so we picked several chapters from CRC Press titles that we thought would be of interest to you, the GameDev.net audience, in your journey to design, develop, and market your next game. The free ebook is available through CRC Press by clicking here. The Curated Books The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition, by Jesse Schell Presents 100+ sets of questions, or different lenses, for viewing a game’s design, encompassing diverse fields such as psychology, architecture, music, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, anthropology, and more. Written by one of the world's top game designers, this book describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game design, demonstrating how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in video games. It provides practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again. View it here. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, by Joel Dreskin Marketing is an essential but too frequently overlooked or minimized component of the release plan for indie games. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing provides you with the tools needed to build visibility and sell your indie games. With special focus on those developers with small budgets and limited staff and resources, this book is packed with tangible recommendations and techniques that you can put to use immediately. As a seasoned professional of the indie game arena, author Joel Dreskin gives you insight into practical, real-world experiences of marketing numerous successful games and also provides stories of the failures. View it here. An Architectural Approach to Level Design This is one of the first books to integrate architectural and spatial design theory with the field of level design. The book presents architectural techniques and theories for level designers to use in their own work. It connects architecture and level design in different ways that address the practical elements of how designers construct space and the experiential elements of how and why humans interact with this space. Throughout the text, readers learn skills for spatial layout, evoking emotion through gamespaces, and creating better levels through architectural theory. View it here. Learn more and download the ebook by clicking here. Did you know? GameDev.net and CRC Press also recently teamed up to bring GDNet+ Members up to a 20% discount on all CRC Press books. Learn more about this and other benefits here.
The placeholder graphics for prairie started out the same as tall grass with 50% smaller grass plants. Looked like a cabbage patch or something. But that was all that was needed for gameplay purposes. when it came time for final graphics, i downloaded a bunch of reference photos, and more photos of wildflowers than i care to recall. then i made some new prairie grass and prairie plant textures. then i made the prairie code use the new textures. then i started decreasing the spacing between plants. down from 5 feet to 3 feet, even 2 feet (62500 plant meshes visible at once). had to keep increasing the max number of meshes in a 300x300 terrain chunk to do it, first from 10,000 to 20,000, then 20,000 to 30,000. by the time i was at one plant every 2 feet, with 62500 plants visible (with no instancing) framerate was starting to suffer. looked great, but too slow.
so i took time out and played some skyrim. well, i intended to play, but instead found myself wandering around looking at how they drew things. one thing i noticed was that the plant meshes in skyrim, unlike oblivion, are all "bent". instead of having a plant mesh made of intersecting flat quads, they use intersecting pairs of quads that are not co-planar (ie a bent or folded quad). the result is much less "disappaering" of sections of a plant as you look at them edge on.
The i started thinking about batch calls and number of triangles rasterized. I realized that my bottleneck was most likely rasterizing 62,500 meshes of 8 quads each (1,000,000 visible triangles with HEAVY ovedraw). so i started thinking about how to make a simpler mesh.
well one triangle wouldn't really work, because either the top or the bottom of the plant would be clipped by the triangle.
a single quad wouldn't work, because of the edge on "disappearing" issue.
and billboards would turn when you moved.
so what i came up with was 2 quads standing up, intersecting at right angles. then i added the Skyrim "bend" by twisting the top of the mesh by 45 degrees.
this cut my mesh from 16 triangles down to just 4, which meant i could draw them twice as close together and still use the same number of triangles total.
so i added the new mesh, played a bit with the scale and spacing and came up with the results seen above.
the grass is a little dark, but that's easily tweaked in paint.net.
the upper image is actual prairie land, with trees and buffalo in the background.
the lower image is the screenshot of the new prairie terrain in the game.
one of the big challenges was getting the grass big enough to look thick and lush, without being too tall, or looking wide yet flat.