View Full Version : Game Art Mini Challenge #2 - Gate to a Tomb (alexyork)

09 September 2004, 03:41 PM
My "Gate to a Tomb" entry WIP thread:

Hey all.

Here's my entry WIP.

Currently about 800 polys - I'll be cutting it down a lot soon.
I havn't embarked on the prelighting method yet.. I assume that just means texture baking?

So here's a quick render in MAX, with bump maps, the two alpha-tga's and the 128x128 bmp. There are three lights and a little GI to pop the background a bit. It's composited over a simple BG, just cos I like it like that ehe :)

Cheers and please let me know if I'm doing totally the wrong thing here. This is my 1st challenge :)


09 September 2004, 06:31 PM
looks good, though one thing wrong, dont think we can use bump maps
nice texturing

09 September 2004, 07:20 PM
No bumps either????

Man you'd think this was being made for a mobile phone with all these limitations.... I can understand 128x128 textures, but for a complex scenery prop like this the object would more than likely be covered in lots of 128x128 textures, not just 1 repreated over and over..... This isn't a gun or a crate or any other small prop, it's a full scenery prop structure.... i finished a game level project for university a few months ago, and we had 128x128 limitations as well, but we could use as many textures as we wanted - and yes we could use bump maps.......

what's the big deal with bump maps? No 3D games in the last few months have been made without bump maps....... and no games from now on will. So what's the point?

Well. screw it then lol. I'm making this for fun.


I've got it down to 580 faces. So it's working out great. I'm trying to figure out how to bake it all now.

Ps. glad you like it Hexodam

09 September 2004, 08:09 PM

572 polys (will find the extra 28 for something funky soon)

I'm still using bumps..... grr :twisted:

09 September 2004, 09:37 PM
CoOl! :thumbsup:
Am I being too picky if I say I can see the repeating pattern on both sides of the door right away? I know there's limitations but isn't there a way to mix the rock up?
Plus: watch out for the seams on the inner left side of the rocks.

09 September 2004, 10:10 PM
Hey that looks nice. The sharpness works pretty good here. Seems like you've gotten a lot out of those textures. How much of that is lost without the bumps enabled?.. they're explicitly not allowed, but maybe it's not too bad without them.

Also, I'm a little confused about the shadows. Can we use lights casting shadows like that? I was under the impression that with these challenges the textures are fullbrighted and the only shadowinformation allowed are either burnt directly into the textures (tricky with the tiny tiled textures obviously) or made through vertex coloring.. but that is not the case?

09 September 2004, 10:37 PM
You can't use shadows or lightsources, from what i've understood, your final entry should be a viewport image, not a rendered image. So, no true ligthing (but you can make a vertex lighting), no GI, no photoshop filter etc...

Keep working mothermachine, it's looking good.

09 September 2004, 10:39 PM
Monkeybot: thanks mate. you're right about the repetition. it's SO hard to make anything look half decent with (arrrrg) a single 128x128 texture. it's a nightmare tbh.

gaggle: it kinda looks like crap without the bump maps :) thing is... the bump map is the diffuse map for this object. so.... I'm still only using 3 textures as is allowed b the rules. so, I dunno... I'll just have to bake em out with loads of sharpening. about the shadows, well no i don't think we are allowed to use any kind of lighting (woohoo such fun!) so we have to bake everything. joy!

DjinnShadows: yup. nightmare... thanks for confirming it. I'm gonna do the cooking thang and bake this biatch. I'mm bake everything you can possibly bake. eheh

so far:

nothing is baked
im still using bump

those are the only two technical rule problems as far as I can see.

but i'll be damned if I can get it to look any good without those... :)

cheers for the c&c guys

09 September 2004, 10:57 PM
btw it's one single solid welded mesh at the moment.

i will upload some wires and in-app screen shots tomorrow.

I've PM Dargon about all these problems and will leave an answer in this thread when I find out :)

09 September 2004, 11:38 PM
I was typing up all this as your answer to your queries, but I thought other people could benifit from this too, so I'll post it here instead:

Modeling - Meshes don't have to be all merged into one. Intersecting geometry is not only fine, but recommended.

Lighting - No realtime lighting. All lighting must be baked into the vertex information, and/or faked using one of the alpha textures. (you can be clever, I noticed on yours the shadow cast from the gate. This can be faked by using the same texture you used for the gate, making the vertex colour black, and the vertex alpha at about .5, fading out at the edges. These are the kinds of tricks we use when making PS2 games to make them look more technically complex than they really are)

Texturing - no bump maps. Sorry, but this is for 3 reasons.

First, realtime shaders are not all that common on PS2, or even on Gamecube. They are fairly common on XBox, as that probably about 30-40% of games on the XBox use bump maps or normal maps. Nearly none on the PS2, a format that still has about a year's worth of life to it.

Second, I'm asking people to try and do this without dynamic lighting, and without that, bump maps are pretty pointless, because you would barely be able to tell that they were there, and maybe not be able to tell at all, considering it's the lighing that allows the bump maps to be seen.

Third, this is a mini challenge, and the focus was to do a challenge that could be accomplished in a matter of a few days, not weeks. That's why the really low stats.

That, and these are very close to the stats that the game I am just finishing working on will release in early 2005, for the PS2. I wanted people to get a chance to work on real limitations for real systems, rather than the suppositions that everybody comes up with.

Post work - GI renders are OK and all, but we want to see your model as in might look in a game. No game has global illumination, and it'll be a few years yet until any game does. Show a Fancy render, but show a screenshot from your modelling software as well. We'd also like to see some wireframes!!

In theory, the PS2 can handle a lot. In practice, once you account for storing around 70 animations for the main character, plus his 2000 polys, and 2 256's, about 20 animations each for the 40+ AI in a level, plus their geometry and textures, hundreds of special effects waiting in memory, just in case you need them, hundreds of sound effects, 60 or 70 textures for the level, a second and third level waiting in memory for uninterrupted gameplay, and all the secrets and menus that you could unlock at any time, it really eats things up.

I know it sounds harsh, and it seems the limitations are high. The fact is though, that is where the art of game art lies. What comes with experience is figuring out just how little you can get away with, and how much you can fake all those fancy effects, and how much people won't miss them if it looks nice enough.

Good work on the model, keep it up!

09 September 2004, 09:27 AM
Thanks Dargon that answers everything clearly.

Now I just have to figure out how to bake everything :)

09 September 2004, 11:14 AM
I'm not exactly sure, but I think you can use bump maps to bake in the extra detail for the lighting. :shrug:

09 September 2004, 11:27 AM
Well that's what I'm thinking... but I have no idea about this prelighting/vertex lighting malarky.

I've posted a reply in the main Tomb thread. Hopefully we will know soon.

09 September 2004, 11:36 AM
Here's an in-app screenshot

Sorry about the size

09 September 2004, 11:39 AM
i ought to mention,

that tga + alpha at the top of the structure with the crest logo is actually a blend map with the background being the stone texture and the foreground being the tga+alpha.

is this allowed?

i dont see how it can be, since blend maps still dont display realtime in MAX..... you need to render them.

09 September 2004, 11:47 AM
Yes, that's allowed. PS2 is perfectly capable of multilayered texturing. Typically, 2 layers would be all that you would get though. If you needed more layers, you'd have to create a floating peice of geometry to put over top.

09 September 2004, 11:52 AM
I don't know really the answer for your blend map, but i thnik you can save some tris by detaching the box at the ground of your gate and replacing it by a simple 6 faced box.
And , well for your blend map, why not having the logo on a detached face with alpha...

But blend map should work on PS2 :shrug:

And btw, thanks for those clarification Dargon :thumbsup:

Edit: héhé Dargon was faster ;)

09 September 2004, 12:13 PM
Cool so one problem down.

So the only problem remaining is this pre-lighting.

Everything else is done and within the rules.

Bumps are out too and it looks ok without.

09 September 2004, 03:47 PM

590 faces, decided to split the mesh up (nice suggestion guys) so the floor and gate are seperate, no bump maps, no GI, still colour-corrected in Photoshop but it looks pretty cool inside MAX which is the idea I guess. It's still not pre-lighted. Still no idea how to do it :)


09 September 2004, 03:53 PM
it still looks great too :)

what renderer are you using...?


09 September 2004, 03:58 PM
cheers man.

i was using Brazil, but all this vertex painting stuff scared me so I switched back to scanline. This last one is scanline, all the rest are Brazil.

09 September 2004, 04:03 PM
Here's an in-app shot of the same render, so you can see what it looks like "realtime" (although it's crap, since im using multiple sub-object materials on the same 1 texture with different rgb output to make it shade differently over the mesh). Grabbed from a Brazil Camera angle with wide angle lens.

09 September 2004, 04:17 PM
might just be me but I think it looks better now without the bump :)

09 September 2004, 04:20 PM
you think? mhm im not sure i much prefer it with bump, but seing as we aren't allowed bump, i said bye bye to the bump :) just gotta get used to it hehe.

i'll polish this up for my portfolio afterwards though :) with unfathomable amounts of GI, copius bump maps, 2000 textures and 4000 polys :)

09 September 2004, 05:28 PM
Sweet work so far I like the gate it self the most. I find it amazing how much a gate of 64x64 alpha can look that detailed!

09 September 2004, 05:49 PM
thanks m8

the gate is 64x43 at the moment. needed to keep the aspect for easy mapping.

it looked rubbish until I played around with the output value in MAX for the material. seems to work fine after tweaking. you even get blurry shadows cast off it with a map this small.

Shadow Spoon
09 September 2004, 08:59 PM

I had a somehow similair idea and im almost finished modelling but i think you are better technically than me:D

Anyways I'm going for it and hoping it won't look to much like yours:sad:

09 September 2004, 11:20 PM
hehe good luck Shadow i look forward to seeing it :)

ok here's an update. I seem to be getting somehwhere with this pre-lighting thing.

so.. NO lighting in the scene at all. all shadows and shading are vertex colors. no bump, nothing. for some reason my polycounter says 250 polys, which can't be right (yup its a collapsed editable mesh, not a poly, that's why it's weird)

So the only thing left to do is work out how to get this vertex colour thing to render

09 September 2004, 11:21 PM
oh yeh, I had to loose the nice shadows cast through the gate, since we aren't allowed any lighting at all. woooohooo! :scream:

now i remember why I hate low poly work... lol

09 September 2004, 11:24 PM
ah it's 516 polys. thanks for the Edit Mesh modifier tip.

I wonder why they let that bug through in MAX 6? maybe it'll get fixed in v7.

also, now I remember why I switched to XSI recently....

this is the last project I ever do in MAX :)

09 September 2004, 01:16 AM
oh yeh, I had to loose the nice shadows cast through the gate, since we aren't allowed any lighting at all. woooohooo! :scream:

now i remember why I hate low poly work... lol
If you want that cool shadow of the gate, you CAN do it with vertex color, and a couple extra polys.

First duplicate the gate, then rotate it so it lies flat on the floor. Set it's vertex color to pure black and voila! Since the alpha is still there you get the gate image without texture, which works fine for a shadow. Then you can use vertex alpha to fade it out a bit. After that skew the poly to line up with the rest of your scene. You might also have to add a few cuts, because of the steps.

09 September 2004, 11:34 AM
That's an awesome idea StickFigure thanks :)

09 September 2004, 12:18 PM
Another solution for the shadow would be to put it directly into the textures.
But I dunno if you still have enough space though, as the texture size is limited.

anyway just an idea :rolleyes:

09 September 2004, 12:20 PM
i would but the texture resolution is soooooo low. it would look aweful.

this duplicate poly option is great. will take up another load of polys but it will work.

thx for the suggestion :)

09 September 2004, 12:34 PM
check this out

Dargon's prelighting tutorial

09 September 2004, 04:43 PM
Great tutorial. Explains loads. Still the problem of rendering the vertex colors though.


Finished vertex painting. 596 polys. collapsed editable mesh. no in-scene lighting at all. no bumps. everything's done. (I couln't get that gate shadow to work properly, so I've left it out. It will be in the beauty render only.

Cheers hope you like it.

It's nearing completion now - Just gotta figure out how to get the vertex colours to render and I'm done.


09 September 2004, 04:55 PM
And here are the texture maps:

09 September 2004, 05:03 PM
heheh, so simple texturing but very well used and whats best, no pesky UV mapping:thumbsup:

looks great now with the vertex thingum added to it

09 September 2004, 05:05 PM
Thanks :)

Yeh I think I finally got my head around vertex colouring and what it's actually for now :)

If I can't figure out how to get this to render with the vertex paint on it then I'll just use proper lighting for the beauty render. Is that OK Dargon? Are we allowed to use proper scene lighting for the beauty render?

09 September 2004, 05:09 PM
Lookin good! Great to see you've figured out a few things with this comp.

Your texture sizes worry me though. Very few games can handle texture sizes that are not factors of 2 (8,16,32,64,128,256,512,1024,2048 are the common sizes) Even if they could run them without crashing, factor 2 textures are far easier to compute. I suggest non-uniform scaling them to fit the factor 2 both length and height. Also, you could gain a lot of texture resolution if you painted the textures to tile as a mirror. I think you could double your crest's res, (plus the little bit to sqeeze it out to 64) and quadrouple the gate's texture, or at least double it.

09 September 2004, 05:10 PM
Thanks :)

Yeh I think I finally got my head around vertex colouring and what it's actually for now :)

If I can't figure out how to get this to render with the vertex paint on it then I'll just use proper lighting for the beauty render. Is that OK Dargon? Are we allowed to use proper scene lighting for the beauty render?
Yup, just show the Screenshot as well.

09 September 2004, 05:14 PM
Hey Dargon.

I had no idea game engines had trouble with texture resolutions that aren't a factor of 2. I'll have to get them changed then, if it means I'm still within the rules! Gadzooks this is a complicated challenge. Not quite living up to the title "mini" :)

That's great news about the beauty render. We can really go to town on it then :)

Thanks for the info and encouragement :)

09 September 2004, 05:24 PM
Wow that looks great mothermachine. The individual stones you've bumped out is a terrific idea.

And your texture is way lower than I had thought. I.. I wonder if one can go too low? I mean, I think it's cool that you've taken so little so far, but is there any logic in thinking that a company expects you to use the limits imposed? As far as I can tell there are enough unused pixels to fill up more than a 64x64 texture.. but I guess they could be used on another nearby prop. I don't know, anyone have thoughts on that?

Anyway, it looks great. Very clean and efficient.

09 September 2004, 07:15 PM
galggle - thanks a lot m8 :) i've taken yours and Dargon's advice and split up the 128x128 bmp to about 3 different textures. i now have some more detail in the rocks and on the ground plane. working out great thanks for the tip!

i've also resized all the textures to be 64x64, 64x64 and 128x128 so it will work fine in a game engine as specified in the rules.

so everything's dandy, except I still can't render out this mesh with vertex colors. oh well :)

I'm learning fast!

09 September 2004, 08:24 PM
looks really nice, the texture on the door is very impressive :). Hope you, I and the rest of the entries get vertex shading to work :D

09 September 2004, 10:35 PM
Thanks :)

Yeh I hope we all get it to work as well. Otherwise all our entries will be disqualified, which would suck :)

All I need is to get the vertex colors to render and I'm finished I think. And I'm working on an uber-nice beauty render too.

Thx for all your help so far guys and good luck with your ones too.

09 September 2004, 12:31 AM

Finally figured out how to get vertex paint to render in MAX.

I posted a link to a tutorial I found in the main thread if you are interested.

OK, so now everything is sorted, it's renderable!

So here is a screengrab of the mesh in MAX - everything is collapsed to one single editable mesh (597 polys) and there is no lighting in the scene - everything is sell illuminated.

Sorry it's a bit dark in this grab, but I had to take into account ambient lighting once the mesh makes it into a game engine, so it's deliberately a bit dark :) Those stones don't work with the vertex color for some reason. Will fix it for the final submission.

So... tomorrow I will post the final images!

Thanks for all your help everyone - really appreciate it! I've learnt a lot doing this, about UVPMapping for low poly meshes, Vertex Colors (finally my friend!).

Tip of the day: When searching through software help files, use American spellings, not English!

09 September 2004, 01:40 PM
In case anyone missed it, the finals thread will be up this weekend hopefully - cheers Dargon!

So I'll be posting my final images then. Everything's done and dusted and ready to be submitted.

Good luck to everyone!

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