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Submitted by Mox, posted on January 10, 2001

Image Description, by Mox

This is a pair of images taken from our latest game demo. You can see the multi-textured landscape, the special effect materials and some particle effects in these screen shots; the demo itself shows off the unit AI and, of course, the physical simulation routines. You can get the demo from our web site,


Image of the Day Gallery


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Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active. It is here for reference purposes. This thread was created on an older version of the flipcode forums, before the site closed in 2005. Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.
Darshan Patil

January 10, 2001, 03:48 AM

The shots look good!
I especially like your trees.

The lens-flare looks out of place IMHO in the first shot.


January 10, 2001, 04:07 AM

I really like the idea to project the billboadrs of the trees on the ground, that looks cool. The lens-flare sucks ;-) But it will look when you have a visible light source (sun) and use a few different textures for it. But this is a minor problem, the shot looks awesome.



January 10, 2001, 06:03 AM

Er, oops. It is there really, but the sun is quite high, so the flare itself isn't visible to the camera in that first shot. I knew there was something wrong with it ...


January 10, 2001, 06:44 AM

I have just been to your site and seen the specifications of your engine. The engine sounds incredible but has it really only take you 4 months to get this far? Are you working on this full time? I will be interested to see how this turns out once it is finished.


January 10, 2001, 06:44 AM

cool shot! I'd like to experience the physic system!

But I don't like the fog, it's too much! Use it for atmospheric effects, not for reducing the polys! No collision detection?- the laserbeam of the robot seems to a x-ray ;)

However, very good job. I can't do it better, yet.

David Olsson

January 10, 2001, 10:20 AM

I've tried the demo and I noticed a few things.
First of all, it ran very slow on my geforce2/athlon700.
It seems you don't use mipmapping, if not, do it, because it's pretty annoying. Billboarding looks great in screenshots, but not in realtime. I would suggest you use atleast 2 quads in a cross with tree texture that doesn't move with the camera. ( that is, is always perpendicular to the camera vector)

Other than that, I was really impressed... I think you will do a very nice game.


January 10, 2001, 10:26 AM

As it happens, we had cross-section trees in at first. They don't look so good, because from most angles you see a thin sliver of tree pointing towards you. Oh, and I've just read your comments again, and I see you mention 'always perpendicular to the camera' - i.e., a billboard. The best trees I've seen are in Motocross Madness, but I don't have the polys to spend on them.

The thing that makes billboarded trees look bad is rotating the camera around one. When the camera only translates or rotates, they look quite good. Our fault for not tweaking the camera path properly.

Incidentally, we have mipmapping on some textures, most notably the landscape ones. The tree textures are quite new, and we haven't mipmapped them yet. Same is true for the buildings.



January 10, 2001, 10:31 AM

Pretty. RTS Game? You've definately got one of the better engines there.


January 10, 2001, 10:37 AM


Na, the games going to be a fast action shooter. You're in control of the Giant Robot, shooting, smashing and stamping on things.


David Olsson

January 10, 2001, 10:56 AM

If you draw the quads multiplied with a constant alpha calculated from the dot product form the camera vector and the quad normal, then quad will fade out as it gets thinner... (I just thought this out so I don't know how it will look but it should be pretty sweet.

I actually noticed that the landscape was mipmapped. I will look damn good with mipmaps on everything.

It would be interesting to hear what framerates you get. Or if my system is too slow/bad configured.


January 10, 2001, 11:09 AM

Hm, good thinking there Mr. Olsson. I can't think of an easy way to try this in our code, though. Maybe if I have some spare time I'll try out this scheme.

At the moment the trees have two 'levels of detail.' In the distance they are drawn as alpha-keyed sprites, and become alpha-blend sprites once they are out of the fog (i.e., near enough for it to matter). If, instead of that, they gained some 3D polygons, like the ones in Motocross Madness (no, I don't work for Microsoft : ) I think they'd be as good as they could get.

My development machine is a P-III 733 w/GeForce 2. I get around 25fps, sometimes higher, sometimes lower. Sometimes a lot lower, when we get Nightmare Sprite Overdraw syndrome from the particle effects. At peak, it tries to render (i.e., pass to Direct3D) over 20,000 triangles, which it has transformed and lit itself, so it is highly dependent on CPU performance at the moment.

We do intend to improve on this, of course : )


David Olsson

January 10, 2001, 11:19 AM

25 FPS sounds like what I've got. (I estimated it to be between 20 and 30 fps).
I'm currently thinking about a method that uses both alpha blended sprites and geometry. The closer you get, the more geometry you get.
Should be very fast and good looking.

Alex J. Champandard

January 10, 2001, 11:44 AM

> I would suggest you use atleast 2 quads in a cross
> with tree texture that doesn't move with the camera.

I noticed the tree textures have an alpha channel, and are blended with the background. That works amazingly with bilboards parallel to the camera... if you have two static crossed quads, it's a real pain to get the same alpha blending: you need to split the tree into 4 quads, and render them is a depth correct order (may also need to sort them with the other potentially interstecting trees, but this can be avoided by having sparse forests).

Good work anyway...

David Olsson

January 10, 2001, 11:54 AM

If the hardware supports alpha buffer, then there is an algorithm that allows you to draw them in any order with nearly the same quality... I saw an article about this somewhere, dunno where and I don't remember exactly how it worked.

Phil Carlisle

January 10, 2001, 11:58 AM

Nice image. Good work. I'm not sure if there is a skybox in that image, It kind of looks like its some mountain thing? It doesnt quite work for me..

I'll have to try the demo and see if it is ok in "game" :))



January 10, 2001, 12:31 PM

I've seen this done before. There were 8 views of the tree, and the engine alpha blended them depending on what direction you were viewing it from. For just 16 triangles it was a pretty good tree! I cant remember where i saw this though..

Alex J. Champandard

January 10, 2001, 12:43 PM

Yeah, i've also seen it done. The tree is rendered in slices, 4 along the X axis, and 4 along the Z axis... as you said, the angle with the camera determines the angle.

Worth looking into maybe.



January 10, 2001, 04:03 PM

I comment only what I see in this picture

What sucks:
sky (unrealistic)
flare (there's no sun visible)
straight line - it shouldn't belong to this picture.
contrast line between green(?) hills and gray ground.

What's better:

conclusion: it SLIGHTLY sux...

Alexander Blach

January 10, 2001, 06:36 PM

Actually, you suck - but that's another story.

The demo is great imho (I know that you are talking about the picture only - but that's not exactly fair).

Don't listen to mcbaxton (yeah, no caps).



January 10, 2001, 07:09 PM

I think that was abit out of line Alex. Negative criticism is just as important as positive criticisim (assuming it's well founded). I think MC BAXTON tried to justify his position and that's really not a reason to say that he sucks (which is actually unjustified). Granted it should be noted that he was evaluating the screnshots not the demo itself, but the points he made are valid.



January 10, 2001, 07:46 PM

You don't remender where you saw that ? ..hehe ...

Do you remember DOOM ? .... yes ...DOOM does not use trees ..but the monsters are sprites , with multiple views ...and it looked damn good

James Matthews

January 10, 2001, 07:46 PM

Right, hopefully Flipcode will let me post this time, here is my message:

I would download the demo, but at 10Mbs, can't really afford to. The shots look *really* nice, those trees rock. That little insect thing in the top shot reminds me of something in Armoured Core 2.

I don't get the bottom shot - what's that line from the bot to the house?

Also, the radar looks real neat, as do the explosions. Overall, a kick-ass shot. I wish I could view the demo (wanna see the AI, hehe).

Hmm, ok Flipcode is not letting me post this, so I'll look at your screenshot section. Damn, why did you pick those two screenshots?! People should look at these:

Schweet. :) Dammit, flipcode is still not letting me post. Haha, I bet there are about 8 copies of this message on the board :)



Jon Creighton

January 10, 2001, 07:59 PM

I had a look at this paper when I was designing the vegetation for 'Lone Wolf' and came to the conclusion that it wasn't a valid solution for huge numbers of trees. The author uses a dozen or so vertical slices for the canopy of the tree and attaches them to a high-poly trunk. The results in his demo app are not very convincing since the slices are very noticable and don't look any good from above and below.

Like you Mox, I was impressed by the vegetation in Motocross Madness and used a similar system to that. You have to build the polygon models of the trees by hand, but that's not too hard. I've only had time to create a few trees for 'Lone Wolf' but it's quite possible to get a convincing looking tree with 50-100 polys. Have a look at my IOTD post of a month ago to see the results.

Geomorphing between the billboard LOD and the poly model like Motocross Madness is an good way of reducing popping. Infact, billboards look a lot better than poly trees in the distance since there are no aliasing effects.

Kurt Miller

January 10, 2001, 07:59 PM

"hopefully Flipcode will let me post this time"

Not sure what that means, but I don't believe there have been any server or forum problems recently... at least nothing's been reported...


January 10, 2001, 08:26 PM

Well, negative criticism may be justified, but when worded in the form of "this sux" or "that sux" its not. Neither Baxton nor you nor I nor anyone else has the right to criticize the authors work in that manner. To say otherwise is ludicrous. I could join a forum on engine design, and start posting "that sux" comments, but I wouldnt have a clue what I was talking about since I have no idea about engines (mechanical). Just because I have a computer and can fog a mirror doesnt give me the right to tromp on someone elses hard work. I am tired of his comments, I am tired of his defenders and I wish you were all banned from this forum. Nuff said.


January 10, 2001, 08:35 PM

Damn, dependant on cpu power, i thought your site said it used the lastest and greatest t&l hardware optimizations.


January 10, 2001, 08:48 PM

I completly aggree with bit64. The only moment I'll start listening to what MC BAXTON say is when he'll submit a screenshot and a demo of his work. I even womder if he over 12.

Jean-Francois Dube

Dean Harding

January 10, 2001, 09:33 PM

OK, First time I've posted, and it's to say this to MC BAXTON:

While you are getting better, I think you should take a few things into account when you make posts like this. First, people spend a LOT of time making these games and demos, and to have them criticized so out-of-hand, as you do (ie, "this sucks, that sucks, etc...") is always a blow to someone's pride. You may think you're only helping, but if you want to make valid criticisms, tell us what, exactly, you think will improve the models, or the "straight line" (I don't even know what you're referring to here, is it the laser thing coming from the robot?), or whatever else you think is wrong.

Also, we haven't seen any of your work, have we? People don't usually take someone who is able to come up with bad points about every one's work seriously, when they have nothing to show that they're any sort of authority on the topic. Have you made better models than Mox? Show us how you do it better.

And finally, if you're expecting Quake 4, then you're a little off track. Most people who post images here work on their games or demos on the weekend, and so don't have time to research all the new fang-dangled technologies, I think the standard of work we get on this site is mind blowingly good. Don't forget also that these are work-in-progress, so there's always going to be a few rough edges.


January 10, 2001, 10:00 PM

well said deks.
bit64 applauds.

Dean Harding

January 10, 2001, 10:20 PM

One game I know that does nice looking trees is Asheron's Call (hmm, another MS game, I hope this isn't a trend!!)

I'm not sure how links will work, but here goes:

In the distance they use billboards. Doesn't look too bad, cause they're so far away. You can see I've circle the trees in question in the shot.

It's up close that they look really good. You see, most of the trees are hundreds of feet tall, so you really only ever see the trunk up close anyway (unless you look up), so what they do (for the really tall trees) is just have flat polygons for the leaves, and have a polygonal trunk. For the semi-tall trees, as in the screenshot, they have a few more polygonal branches, and a number of flat polygons for the leaves. You can see examples of both of these in the screenshot, the tree the girl is sitting under is a tall one, and the one behind that is a semi-tall one.

As for small tree/shrubs, they sometimes do a combination. In the one on the left, it's got a polygonal trunk, and a few flat polygons for leaves, and the one on the right has two flat polygons intersected.

I guess it all depends on how you will be looking at the trees, but from a humanoid perspective (as you have in asheron's call) this works really well. Especially when you're in a forrest, and all you see is these enormous trees towering above you. I can see how if you're an 85ft mech, it may work as well, but it's something to think about...

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