Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Normalize!

The last couple of weeks Jayr have been providing really great new textures. The biggest improvement is that he's created both diffuse, normal and specular versions. This together with a some nice shaders allows us to get some really nice visuals in Ember. There's already other media in Ember that uses normal mapping, such as the trees, but we now have a much wider variety of textures, as well as a better naming system. This together with improvements to Ogre's material framework, chief amongst them inheritance, allows us to much easier implement and handle the normal mapping.
Here are some example screenshots:


These show the new fern model (the colour is a bit off against the ground, that will be adjusted) as well as the new normal mapped texture for the tinderbox.

Getting the fern out in the world highlights the problem with the ugly lightning on the terrain. The problem is that I'm currently using vertex lightning. This has some disadvantages in that it won't work with the level of detail system, since far away terrain have fewer vertices, thus screwing up the lightning. There also seems to be a problem with the normals, such as terrain that shouldn't be in shadow is in shadow and so on. All and all it's not a good way of doing terrain lighting. The reason however that I haven't switched to a better model (such as baked texture lightmaps) is that I first need to refactor the terrain generation framework. The current framework works, but it's hard to do things like add different materials depending on whether you have shader support or not. We need a better framework. I've created a blueprint for this. Once this is done we can start working on some much better terrain. I'm pondering whether to actually put this on top of my things to do, since getting a nicer terrain will make the visuals tremendously better (since the major part of the screen is covered in terrain).

You will also see the new status widget in the upper right. He's actually also provided normal maps, though I'm not sure how to use them yet. :)
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