Animated Game Textures.


Before anyone yells at me, I know this should probably go in the Texturing forum, but I know that I’m going to get a bunch of answers for rendered stuff, rather than real time.

My question is about techiques for creating animated textures, i.e. water/waterfalls. I’ve seen them done really well, and am wondering if anyone has a good tutorial on it, or can help me understand how to do it. Is it just an animated gif or avi or something?

Thanks for any info, and I appologize if I pissed anyone off, but I know if I post in the textures section, I’ll get lots of raytracing/refraction stuff that I don’t have access to in real time.


I think your question would be better served if you could specify the particular engine you plan to work in, since there are numerous ways to go about this. The short answer to your question would be: all of the above, and then some. I’ve seen animated gifs being used, the Unreal engine can use a sequence of discrete images that are defined in the editor, and I’ve also seen AVIs and bink videos being used, among other things. Then there’s also procedural stuff, such as the fractal animation for fluids that was used in Unreal Tournament. And of course, there’s the simple panning of textures (also used quite heavily in UT for stuff like skybox clouds, waterfalls, etc).


The unreal Engine has a few ways to animate textures. TextPanner pans the texture in a specified direction and speed. TextRotator rotates a texture, etc.

More Information here

Water falls in UT2k3 are typically a panning texture with a sprite emitter at the bottom for the mist.


Thanks for the info, I really can’t be a lot more specific. it was a general question, and I knew it was. I was playing Ratchet and Clank, and was admiring the waterfalls that they had on one planet, and was trying to figure out how they had handled them, since it didn’t just look like a texture pan.


Interesting topic, I recently started looking into ways to create nice magical effects. I somewhat thought up my own technique since I’m working on an OpenSource game, with an OpenSource engine:

Divide a texture map into 4,9,16,25… little textures.
Example: (Picture removed due to bandwith limit)
Then let the uv-coordinates animate over the texture map, so that you can display (in this example) 16 “frames” of texture.

I think it would be great to gather ideas (both existing and new) on how to do animated textures.


Massie, I like that idea, I suppose it would be up to the programmer to figure out how to jump your coordinates around? I’m not remotely a programmer so pardon my idiocy


A couple of tricks we used on Impossible Creatures was to animate the UV offset of your main diffuse pass, so that it scrolls down the modelled waterfall object distorting as it goes. As well, you can animate the alpha channel at a different rate and with a different texture so that it breaks up the hard lines to the eye and a pattern is more difficult to see. Layer one or two of these on top of each other and it really starts to look like water.

As well, judicious use of particle effects at important spots, like where the water takes a change of direction after hitting a rock midway down, and lots of foam and spray at the bottom, help to sell the effect.

All in all, not one animated texture used. Our engine didn’t support them. :slight_smile:


you could use particles. If you have Unreal2 XMP, there is map (cant remember the name offhand) that has some nice waterfalls, and its all realtime)

you can use avis, img sequences, elaborate chains of textures moving over one another with differing alphas.

but the only problem is that you could get much better results with some crazy particles, then post them together. and take an avi of it… or just post it in later.

Water is hard to do in games… mostly because of particle caps and texture memory. You could use 20 textures each witha unique alpha and make teh sweetest looking water yet, but in real time stuff 1 or 2 is all you get… and they’re small :slight_smile:


Originally posted by Tumerboy
Massie, I like that idea, I suppose it would be up to the programmer to figure out how to jump your coordinates around?

Exactly, the good thing about working with an OpenSource engine, is that we can program functions like this into our game ourselves.

Though for waterfalls Gnome’s method sounds a lot easier and less resource consuming compared to the one I described. The “best” way to go allways depends on the thing you want to accomplish.


Thanks guys, I appreciate the ideas. Gnome I figured that was a good way to go about it, but I like the idea of moving the alpha at a different rate. Thanks again


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