Building stuff


I’m back with some stuff I have to vent somewhere. This blog is unfortunately caught in my line of fire this time.

So for a while I’ve been thinking a lot on how I would best go about to create actual game assets to use in my engine. Like: levels, models, sprites whatever might exist in a game. But the main thing that vexes my mind is the actual levels. I can easily load a single model into my engine and have it display with a shader effect, have it run through different animations and all that.

But a level is so much more and so much bigger than a single model. Sure, I *could* theoretically cram an entire level into a big model file and run around in it. But that would combat the very thought of component based, reusable level building, which is a must in many cases, and neutralize the very idea of performance. Having such a large model in any memory is simply a waste.

And because a level is so big. It therefore needs some guarantee of consistency between textures so everything looks to be about the same size referenced to each other. The models we put in, however, are going to be of the right scale no matter what. As long as you adhere to the unit scales in the 3d program.

The reason why this texture resolution problem exists in the first place is because of the way you’d have to unwrap 3d models in the 3d program. It’s a very free process so the final result UV unwrapping can take on any weird scale or angle, making it a pain to see in the game.

So I’m not so sure how I’d go about to solve this little “problem”. Not only do the levels have to be consistent in scale and texture resolution so they look correct, one has to be able to make them in reasonable time.

Other games I play from time to time are from the mid to late 90s, early 2000. So most of their level architecture is built out of “block” type structures, as seen in… Uh… Any game that has a majority of architecture that looks like it’s carved from blocks. This stuff is called CSG by name. I think this applies to any game that has this “blocky” type level structure. I’m not sure.

This, of course, inspires me and I’m from time to time thinking if I should go about to use something similar to make level editing more consistent and robust. I’m not sure if it would prove that beneficial in the end anyway. It would pretty much solve any texture problems though. The scale and everything else would be really consistent.

I’ve spent a good deal looking at the engine for the Penumbra games and Frictional Games‘ current engine for inspiration. And it looks as if they are onto something really great. And I’m just guessing most of my projects could benefit from a similar work-flow like the one they’ve set up. I’m mostly thinking about their way of handling levels in their current engine which makes for a good deal of designer freedom and supplies a good level of consistency.

But somehow I feel that it wouldn’t work that great for outdoor environments and that I would need to incorporate some special-case stuff for larger, outdoor areas.

Well in the end I guess it’s the best type of experience to actually try to work with it and see whether I raise myself a living hell or if I’m able to get away with it without gaining any new body-cavities.

I’m also just guessing that this kind of stuff has to be connected closely to what type of game I’m building. Because building an engine in complete disconnection to whatever game it’s running in, is something that I feel won’t be the least bit beneficial in the larger scope.

Whatever. I’ll try some stuff out and see what of it.

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