(Retrospective September 2015)
Here we are again,
yet more highlights from our September updates, we hope you enjoy them.
Tyres: It was time to finally get some nice looking tyre textures done. We had so far only used procedural grey, and wanted something closer to the typical black sponge rubber with a hint of dust stuck to it from the track. Later on you will see how we have use the white painted circle on the tyre wall to identify the different tyre materials by changing its colour.
Cubemap implementation: So, when we started out with VSC we had our slot car room, all snug and closed in, with our, now deprecated, PraGames logo all over the walls (1). We didn't pay too much attention to it to be honest, as we were mostly focused on getting the tracks and the cars driving correctly. But as time moved on, and our reveal trailer got ever closer to its deadline, we started to realise that the room itself felt rather claustrophobic and was in some dire need of a texture rework.
OK, well what were we going to make the room look like then?...The usual suspects obviously came to mind:
Man cave – or Lady cave ?
Show room ?
In the end we decided we wanted something that resembled a really nicely made basement in some huge stonework villa/house, that had been built on a hill in the countryside a long time ago. Something that was old but had been refurbished with no expense spared, and with a nice view to the surrounding countryside. We moulded the theme further by researching what people had done with similar buildings in real life.
So now that we had an idea for the room we got about doing the textures. This of course took a lot longer than anticipated, and came to a halt when we realised that the our windows showing the vista outside really ended up looking like no more than large photos or paintings on the wall (2). There was no parallax displacement of the view outside when moving around the room. Sigh...
Cubemaps to the rescue! (3). We ended up making the horizon of the cubemap relative to the camera height, and the result seemed to work very well. As an added effect, to simulate a faux depth of field, we blurred the the wall textures by a factor of 1 and the cubemap textures by a factor of 2, this offered more focus and attention to the table and the slot cars themselves (4). As one of my friends wisely mentioned to me, the walls and background should be seen to be there, not there to be seen :) All attention should be on the racing on the table.
With the cubemap horizon being dynamic, it would also provide a nice mountain top view from the cars perspective in the reveal trailer, which is what I was hoping for. In the words of Bilbo Baggins “I want to see mountains again, mountains Gandalf!“
As I already mentioned, the aesthetics of the game were on our minds more and more with the reveal trailer coming up, and we noticed that the green table felt, similar to pool table felt in real life, looked ok from afar but fairly low resolution at close up. Well, that just wouldn't do. Getting the high detail tiles procedurally applied to the table was done, but it really missed the visual noise.
The trick was to maintain the nice level of visual noise we had over the entire table top, noise that is particular to how the light is reflected on such felt, while increasing the resolution by way of created a tiled solution to the procedurally generated table – the table size is determined by the track size.
In the end we found a nice way to procedurally apply the noise texture over the tiles, which gave a pretty much identical view from afar, while the new tiles showed nice detail up close. We we're quite happy with the results. We applied the same technique to the green felt curtain around the table.
Chase camera: Enrico gave himself a fun side task to create a floating, dynamic, interactive, real time chase camera to the game. Basically it offers a one click solution to viewing a race in a sort of cinematic mode, and it works incredibly well. We even used some shots from it in the reveal trailer – but of course Enrico ;)
UV map rework: One of the things that was always in the back of my mind was to show the tyre marks on the tracks. But after a quick review of the UV mapping on the procedurally generated track textures we had to once again revisit the engine and the UV mapping of basically, well, everything
This post can now be discussed at the forums here.