Monday, 25 March 2013

Trees pt 3

If there's one thing I'm getting used to on this project, it's being very disappointed with my assets when I first drop them in-engine.

The above is my tree from before with a simple shader setup, using the "improved" vertex normals. After applying a custom lighting model and disabling mipmapping, the volume of the tree was a bit clearer and the opacity outline much sharper, but still wasn't looking good.

I doubled up the number of branches and scaled them down and stopped using the vertex normals, to see if that improved things. Whilst it helped, I still didnt have what felt like bunches of leaves, with the outer leaves lit and the inner leaves shadowed. I tried frankensteining several of these trees together to form a much larger tree. This actually did a much better job of feeling like bunches of leaves:

On the tree on the right, even in the small thumbnail it's clear to see a few bunches of leaves. This is a promising development, and I'll be striving to maximise this effect and compliment it with a nice lighting model. I was curious to see what the framerate hit would be, considering this tree is now standing at some 40,000 triangles and casting realtime shadows, but thanks to the fairly full planes, theres not *as* much overdraw as one might expect, and spamming the level with a bunch of them had an acceptable hit to framerate.

It is worth noting that the framerate will become considerable worse during winter when the planes have fewer leaves and the overdraw rises exponentially. It's something I'll be sure to check before committing to such expensive trees. I may also consider some method of card shrinking to make the planes literally smaller during winter, to remove wasted blank space. That may be tricky to do unnoticably and without stretching though...

Anyway, look how much atmosphere is added by having fullsize trees! I should really have done this in my blockout, but I'm very pleased with the vibe the big trees add...

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