Fun with level of detail

By on June 21, 2009 4:07:00 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Draginol

Join Date 03/2001
+102

One of the cooler technologies that has really come of age in the past few years is level of detail. It doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves.

But it’s a big, big deal in terms of letting us make a game that scales seamlessly from an old laptop all the way up to a Core I7 system with a monster video card.

Level of detail lets us seamlessly use different models and assets depending on the level of detail a user needs.

To illustrate this, let me use something as simple and basic as the cloth map in Elemental.

 

Detailed:

image

A nice simple picture right? You can’t easily tell but it has a nice texture that makes it feel like it’s part of a cloth map (ah, screenshots are so limiting sometimes).

image

Zooming out, now a different image is used that uses less memory.

image

Zoom out further and now you can probably tell that a different image is used.  But when zooming out quickly, the transition is subtle.

image

Zooming out even further yet a simpler version is brought up.

So why do this?

Because by doing this, you can have a much much more complex world and a lot “fancier” graphics than one would expect to be able to have even on slower systems.

Level of Detail as evolved over the years in response to the demand that people be able to have their cake and eat it too – people with high end systems should get beautiful graphics and people with older systems should still be able to play an attractive game at a decent speed.

And bear in mind, this is alpha level here. We haven’t even started working much to make it “pretty”.

In our case, we want to have randomly generated worlds that are FULL of lots of exciting things without having to compromise.

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June 21, 2009 4:20:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

1st and 2nd, and 3rd and 4th images look the same to me.

Also, I thought that said 'Oprah' at first.

 

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June 21, 2009 4:24:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Flowers?

I was playing a game of Sins yesterday, and it was amazing how nice it was to zoom out easily to see the whole star system and then zoom in to the point where my cursor was and see how detailed the ships are. Fascinating. Reminds me of that video of Demigod with Elemental footage in which you were playing with the zoom level. It was amazing too. With all those clouds and all.

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June 21, 2009 4:27:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Giggety!

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June 21, 2009 4:27:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Are we discussing mipmapping here?

 

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June 21, 2009 4:38:29 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

you should invest in "vertice collapse" for your latest engine... a well programmed algorithm for that can save artists hundreds of hours overall, and autoscale for computer requirements.

Also, it looks far better in my opinion then the "pop" you get with the old fashion LoDs.

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June 21, 2009 4:40:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

That is level of detail.

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June 21, 2009 5:03:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Looks good. How are you scaling to performance with it, just having the different settings use different qualities?

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June 21, 2009 6:32:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Ah, if only the Vanguard engine team had mastered LOD and a few other old technologies (threading, background loading anyone?) the MMO landscape could well be very different.

It's unsurprising that stardock understand the impotance of these technologies.

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June 21, 2009 6:46:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I wonder if we will be ablt to turn this OFF. I have a fairly high-end system, and while I understand that a lot of people will want to make use of this, I want to preserve as many details as possible: I'm used to watching things in "high-def".

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June 21, 2009 6:48:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quite nice indeed

 

Keep it up. Very coopl the fact that lots of different machines will be able to play it easily.

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June 21, 2009 7:35:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Wow update today, didn't see it coming! Great info. I like fancy detail, the more the better!

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June 21, 2009 7:56:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Nice. I really like the fourth picture (the one of the cloth map). It looks really cloth mappy.

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June 21, 2009 8:17:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I only wonder what machine that will be able to have 60FPS on maximum graphics. Hope that a Core 2 Duo 3Ghz and a GeForce 8800 GTS (G92) is enough. Otherwise I'll have to get a priceworthy highend card.

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June 21, 2009 8:28:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

heh they all look the same to me also

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June 21, 2009 8:30:41 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Scoutdog,
I wonder if we will be ablt to turn this OFF. I have a fairly high-end system, and while I understand that a lot of people will want to make use of this, I want to preserve as many details as possible: I'm used to watching things in "high-def".

i honestly don't get what you even mean? turn what off? if you zoom all the way out, from what I assume, your monitor can't show all that with it's initial detail as if it were zoomed in, just a matter of not enough pixels

 

i dont even get what you are saying. zoomout, looks nice, and it seems from post high end machines still are awesome lookinh

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June 21, 2009 8:46:42 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Scoutdog,
I wonder if we will be ablt to turn this OFF. I have a fairly high-end system, and while I understand that a lot of people will want to make use of this, I want to preserve as many details as possible: I'm used to watching things in "high-def".
In a game where you can't zoom that far out like C&C, this could be doable. But in a game with strategic zoom, keeping everything at max detail even at max zoom would kill any computer.

 

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June 21, 2009 9:19:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I mean, will I be able to decrease the amount of LoDing if I have a faster computer and larger, higher-res monitor, or even turn it off entirely.

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June 21, 2009 9:41:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Using higher resolutions and having LOD control on textures is part of the same package.  Zooming out is essentially the same operation as decreasing the resolution.

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June 21, 2009 9:54:35 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

I mean, will I be able to decrease the amount of LoDing if I have a faster computer and larger, higher-res monitor, or even turn it off entirely.

There is nothing to turn off. Frame rate determines when it switches to the next quality level.

I took these screenshots on a Thinkpad T60. Not exactly a top of the line machine.

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June 22, 2009 12:01:10 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,

I mean, will I be able to decrease the amount of LoDing if I have a faster computer and larger, higher-res monitor, or even turn it off entirely.


There is nothing to turn off. Frame rate determines when it switches to the next quality level.

I took these screenshots on a Thinkpad T60. Not exactly a top of the line machine.

I have a couple of questions regarding the 4th image. There are grid lines on that image. What is the scale of the game world (how many x how may of these grids?) It appears that a unit would have a lot of room to roam within one of those grids - how many "movement squares" is one of those grids made up of?  

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June 22, 2009 12:49:42 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

There is nothing to turn off. Frame rate determines when it switches to the next quality level.

Ahh, so that's how it determines scaling. I thought it might have been some "you can't see the detail of this level at this zoom" algorithm. Will you be able to change the frame rate threshold? Some people are fine with a lot more stuttering than others. Also, I presume there will be a set zoom level for the transition from 3d to 2d, since otherwise a powerful computer could zoom out to where the 3d version would be illegible if it was just based on frame rate. Is this correct?

Also, ha! My T61p (presumably) beats your T60 ! Of course, knowing your habits it's probably pimped out just short of spinning rims territory. What graphics does it have in it, though? Because the only T60 my school offers is an intel graphics model, I wonder if yours has a GeForce card or is stuck with a quadro with its lovely non gaming optimized drivers available about 8 decades after nVidia comes out with them, from what I can tell.

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June 22, 2009 4:07:59 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

so are we going to be expected to create several versions of whatever we mod so it can scale, or are the mod tools going to figure that stuff out for us?   (I'm not sure how difficult it is to create an editor that takes a high quality image and figures out how to auto-adjust the resolution/poly-count to fit its needs)

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June 22, 2009 6:55:17 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting landisaurus,
so are we going to be expected to create several versions of whatever we mod so it can scale, or are the mod tools going to figure that stuff out for us?   (I'm not sure how difficult it is to create an editor that takes a high quality image and figures out how to auto-adjust the resolution/poly-count to fit its needs)

Yes, I agree...  several months ago I asked for more details regarding the graphics and images, but no response yet.   I would love to get started on creating the images for my creatures, units, etc., etc., ... but we need information and guidelines.

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June 22, 2009 7:04:11 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the engine manipulates the thing itself, otherwise I imagine their artists are probably raving mad by now and had to be chained up and fed with some rather thick bite-proof gloves.

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June 22, 2009 7:36:20 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Are we discussing mipmapping here?
  Yeah, with the zoom level required for Elemental, we've had to really dig in and process the images by hand. A huge part of the image used is the zoom distance, so as you pan back the images get more and more iconic to the point that a fallen circle of castles, overgrown with grass and vines becomes a simple X at the furthhest zoom (representing it's game type...an artifact).

Also, if you zoomed out all the way, you'd see that fertile grove (the flowery patch of grass north ofthe city) basically disappear because it hasn't been given the LOD treatment yet (the stalks of grass quickly vanish in DirectX generated mipmaps). We'll thicken and consolosate those blades for the further shots, eventually thuring it into somethign truly iconic (perhaps just the sunflower head) so it's quickly identifyable when scanning the entire world.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the engine manipulates the thing itself
Nope, every image is hand-made with an artists touch. DirectX made mipmaps (with an alpha channel) would all have a funky halo around them and become completly unreadable at the farthest zoom.  We have a pretty cool system for making the cloth icons, though...I'll bring up an example when I get into the office.

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