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 22, 2009 8:01:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hmm... I´ve been wondering how long will take BoogieBac to get into office.

 

@Scoutdog : I have an example for you to understand why it´s not possible to do what you want. Imagine yourself on a rocket, going out of the planet. As you accelerate through the orbit, you start seeing things down here on Earth everytime smaller, first buildings, cars, then you see cities boundaries and then you see only small dots that you believe it´s a country or something. That´s what happens when you zoom out. "Turning off" the LoD would be something like being on orbit and even tough seeing every single person, car, building, bird, BEAR, or whatever, in the "screen of your eyes". Can you imagine how big that would be, and even if you have that image, how frustrating and confusing it would be? There´s no reason in having such a scenary. 

That´s why I love analogy. Hope you understood, if you don´t, feel free to ask.

 

Cheers,

Kata

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June 22, 2009 8:24:19 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Nope, every image is hand-made with an artists touch.

Eep! In that case your artists are definitely doing a good job

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June 22, 2009 9:21:26 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Actually, whay Kata is describing sounds like an interesting way to play the game.... but the info from Brad about it being toggled by frame-rate is exactly what I wanted to hear.

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June 22, 2009 9:21:52 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I guess the next question then is if you make a mod that only has one piece of art for the thing in question, will it try to show that thing all the time? How many scaled levels are required?

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June 22, 2009 9:25:49 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Boogie's post gave me the impression that the thing will automatically remove details as the zoom goes away. Even if it doesn't, just shrinking the image then blowing it back up again will have much the same effect.

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June 22, 2009 9:25:50 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Those mountains, forests, and waves look beautiful! *Follows the thread*

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June 22, 2009 10:06:58 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is a sample of the Icon Sheet we make for the various Cloth Icons. Our task was to make images that 'look like something Aragorn would draw', and we've found it suprisingly hard to make quality assets that look sloppy (the two being obviously contridictory). I think our current pipline will result in some great looking stuff that completely fits right in the world (and scales nicely, to boot)!

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June 22, 2009 10:14:33 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I guess the next question then is if you make a mod that only has one piece of art for the thing in question, will it try to show that thing all the time? How many scaled levels are required?

The engine spoorts DDS and PNG's by default (it'll look for a file's *.DDS first, then look for the PNG version). If it reads in a PNG, then DirectX will be in charge of the MipMaps...the DDS file's we've been making have been using 4 levels of detail.

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June 22, 2009 10:18:00 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Something like that would be a part of the mod tools though, correct? We've only seen a few screenshots of the modding things, but it does look like they let you put together the pieces to make it. So, for example, when we're creating a new building would we have all the existing assets at our disposal and we just put them together to make a building that looks like how we want it?

And as a question out of curiosity - how many of these images are there for each object? Would the modders have to make all of them as well, or would the game do okay just scaling/sizing one?

Sorry for all the modding questions, but you guys have big hopes for the modding scene for Elemental, and so do we

Edit: Oh you beat me on my curiosity question.

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June 22, 2009 10:24:35 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

We just put together the final icon in CorelDraw or Photoshop, so there's no reason we can't upload all our icon assets for the modders to use...it'd lend ALOT to artistic continuity.

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June 22, 2009 10:31:11 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting BoogieBac,
We just put together the final icon in CorelDraw or Photoshop, so there's no reason we can't upload all our icon assets for the modders to use...it'd lend ALOT to artistic continuity.

 

That's great to hear. My biggest worry since getting the first glimpse at Elemental was that it would be rather difficult for most modders to replicate the art style closely enough that it fits in.

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June 22, 2009 12:28:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Same here. I wonder if there will be supplemental art released later that does not appear in the vanilla game itself?

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June 22, 2009 12:32:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Some righteous stuff here. I'm glad to see this issue is a primary concern for SD. Those of us with God boxes thank you for your consideration SD.

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June 22, 2009 12:42:01 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Scoutdog,
Same here. I wonder if there will be supplemental art released later that does not appear in the vanilla game itself?

I wouldn't count on what you would imagine being supplemental art.. there might be stuff the artists make that doesn't get used, but I doubt that they would be making extra icons and other materials just for modding purposes.

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June 22, 2009 12:54:22 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Actually we plan to release a ton of stuff to help with modding.

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June 22, 2009 12:58:37 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Then I'll go   again!

Been around SD for a couple years and you still surprise me once in a while.

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June 22, 2009 1:15:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
Actually we plan to release a ton of stuff to help with modding.

 

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June 22, 2009 1:29:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Ooooh..... cool. 

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June 22, 2009 2:19:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting BoogieBac,


This is a sample of the Icon Sheet we make for the various Cloth Icons. Our task was to make images that 'look like something Aragorn would draw', and we've found it suprisingly hard to make quality assets that look sloppy (the two being obviously contridictory). I think our current pipline will result in some great looking stuff that completely fits right in the world (and scales nicely, to boot)!

 

I'm such a nerd, Icon sheets make me very happy.

 

*Save as...*

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June 22, 2009 3:49:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Question how this is going to be presented in alpha.  Are we going to see multiple layers of icons?  Meaning, for example, 3 different icons at different levels of zoom before we zoom into the 3D map. 

I understand that not all the cloth map art will be done, assuming some redundancy and placeholders for a while.  But curious how much detail the cloth map will be showing when zoomed as far as we will be zooming in alpha.

 

...and maybe someone can ask better than I, not sure how to word it. 

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June 22, 2009 4:20:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting dctrjons,
Question how this is going to be presented in alpha.  Are we going to see multiple layers of icons?  Meaning, for example, 3 different icons at different levels of zoom before we zoom into the 3D map.  

Last word I've caught is that the alpha won't be able to zoom into the 3D view. Seems likely though, given the icon proof sheet that Scott posted, that we'll see zoom-level variations in icons on the cloth map. That'll be a nice improvement over GC2.

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June 22, 2009 4:24:14 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

I don't think dctrjons was asking about the 3d zoom:

But curious how much detail the cloth map will be showing when zoomed as far as we will be zooming in alpha.

I think he was basically just asking if we'd see the 4-level LoD detail on the things that are "finished" (meaning there is art for the 4 levels of LOD), on the cloth map in Alpha.

Which I would guess "yes", though my previous guess was a bit off the mark.

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June 22, 2009 5:31:25 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Very nice indeed!

Great to see the game moving forward and you guys being so open about the process and progress. I'll be watching!

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June 23, 2009 1:44:08 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Denryu,
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?  

I'm pretty sure that you can think of those grids to be analogous to sectors in GC2, not individual tiles. For example, if you look here you can see roughly the size of each tile if you look at the edges of the land, and they are much smaller than the cloth map grids (of which there are 2 sizes).

Also, if you look at the images in this thread you can see multiple units in the same grid boxes, which indicates that the grids don't represent individual tiles. And the fact that the grids are so huge kinda gives it away. too

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June 23, 2009 1:51:19 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It could also be latitude and longitude lines.  It is a map after all.

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