You may have seen Ray Harryhausen credited with Technical Effects (meaning special effects) for his amazing stop-motion animation in movies like Mighty Joe Young, It Came From Beneath The Sea, and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. Well, this column isn't really about special effects, just technical game details and behind-the-scenes programming stuff that we thought you might find interesting. We'll be updating it regularly, or whenever Lars thinks of something.
12/01/02: FUN WITH BOX LISTS
THAT'S MIGHTY BIG OF YOU
With the pixel scale finalized, I determined that my initial design for the box scale didn't provide enough resolution to adequately resolve collisions and shape interactions between objects. Thus I'm rewriting part of the collision system and asset export tools to provide higher-resolution collision data for all objects. The screenshot of my asset viewer below shows the collision boxes (in top down view). The red boxes are the old volume bounds and the yellow are the new, high res shape:
Altitude data is also part of this shape, but it isn't displayed in my tool. When I need this data, I can now export a series of images in altitude slices, like a CAT scan (something I'm too familiar with at this point due to sinus problems). The animation below is of Newtrino in slices, from his feet up:
MIND THE GAP
With the new high res data, some flaws became more pronounced. When I export the 3D models, the box tool was only looking at vertex positions to determine the volume and shape of the object. For large structures made of simpler primitives (boxes, cylinders, etc.) this could lead to gaps in the high res box shape if the primitive wasn't broken down into enough vertices per edge. I've enhanced my tool to now parse the face data from the 3D models and interpolate the surface of each polygon so there are no more gaps.
CHOCOLATE BUNNY EFFECT
Unfortunately, these changes will require us to re-export all of our existing assets from our 3D models again -- a very tedious task. But better to do it now than later, when we have even more assets. This will also allow us to improve the graphics slightly, as I fixed a few other bugs in our asset tools.