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Starscape Graphics Questions
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Heko



Joined: 29 Jul 2004
Posts: 11



PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2005 10:25 pm    Post subject: Starscape Graphics Questions Reply with quote

Hello,

I've been in shock and awe when I played Starscape several years back, mouth gaping at the amazing graphics of the game. Now I'm writing my own space shooter and now when I look at Starscape (It's an inspiration), it doesn't seem that complicated, but I'm wondering as to how your rendering system works.

1. Paralaxxing stars on a drawn background
2. Particle system for missiles, the warp effects, bullets, collisions, explosions...
3. Pre-rendered spaceship graphics
4. Sexy additive glow

Is that it, or did I miss something? What would you have done differently to make it more visually appealing, had you made it right now? And do you have any tips for modelling the ships / making the particle systems, coding the gome? Common pitfalls?

And on a sidenote, I remember I read somewhere where Fost said that there's a lot of things that he would have added to make it prettier, had it not made the game unstable... What would that be?

And for the programmers, what was your approach to creating Starscape, you created a basic engine and then scripted in the explosions and everything, or hardcoded most of it?

And as for the design part of it - did you have a design document for the game, and what were you initially planning? ... maybe share some excerpts?

Sorry for so many questions but I'm very interested in this, Thanks!
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Poo Bear
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Pod Team


Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 4121
Location: Sheffield, UK



PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 8:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If we remade Starscape right now I couldn't do anything to make it more visually appealing, it uses a hardware accelerated DirectX/OpenGL graphics engine that lets you do just about whatever you want. Surely reworked for for DX9.1 you could use vertex/pixel shaders to achieve even more amazing visual effects? Very true, but then you are catering to 5% of your likely audience and in doing so you will undoubtedly damage the experience for the other 95% who will have more basic hardware. You cannot really scale a game perfectly across such wide ranging capabilities.

One thing I would probably do is switch to 3D models instead of rendered artwork, not to improve the game's looks, in fact they would probably look a little inferior. It would allow more units and a bigger game while reducing or at least maintaining the download size.

If I wanted to make Starscape look nicer then I'd need to go back through all the tools, making them more sophisticated, streamlining them, improving them. Then hand it all over to Nick and preferably clone him a few times too. Good tools, good artists and lots of time are what you need to make anything look good.
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Fost
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Pod Team


Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 3734



PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 9:20 am    Post subject: Re: Starscape Graphics Questions Reply with quote

Heko wrote:
And on a sidenote, I remember I read somewhere where Fost said that there's a lot of things that he would have added to make it prettier, had it not made the game unstable... What would that be?

I think you may be referring to the mine trails. They weren't impressive or anything, but there was just something in them that caused major slowdown. Not really a bug, it was just something in their setup was unoptimal and I couldn't fathom what. Ordinarily, I'd get Poo Bear to look at it but he was rioning out the last bugs before the game was ready to go. Everyone was desperate for sleep and I took the desicion to pull that one effect (I might put it in again one day when I have the time...)

Heko wrote:
did you have a design document for the game, and what were you initially planning?

Of course! We wouldn't have gotten far without one. There's not a lot to tell though - Starscape is one of the few times where we pretty much put everything we wanted into the game (in fact, some things went beyond the design doc).

Might be worth checking the Starscape update/sequel ideas thread, there's some great ideas in there. Our own ideas fill a couple of encyclopedias and we'd love to do an update sometime Smile

Keep us up to date with your own project if you have the time.
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Heko



Joined: 29 Jul 2004
Posts: 11



PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2005 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the response, I'll keep you up to date!
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