Thursday, May 28, 2009

My First Deferred Shading: Light Prepass Rendering

Ahh the teapot mesh... the always used but pne of many useful mesh for rendering objects. Especially in prototypes which I am currently doing. Now, without further ado, I give you, MY FIRST DEFERRED RENDERING (drum-rolls).

I'm doing a Light PrePass rendering by good'olde Wolfgang. The process is remarkably simple once when you understand it. Similar to Deferred Rendering, (well this IS deferred rendering), which only renders normal/depth in the first pass. The lights are then rendered using the first pass normal and depth buffer. The light pass are accumulated and then applied on the gather pass.

The image above is just a teapot rendered with two point light. Not much I can show right now. But the key thing to do here is how you pack the data in the buffers. Currently, I tested out 3 ways of packing the normal/depth and 2 ways of light accumulation passes. I find Pat Wilson's suggestion on transforming the normals to spherical coordinates you can mind-blowingly pack the 3 floats into a 1 and a partial half(just enough to store the sign of the normal.z). I find Reltham via Drilian's (in http://www.gamedev.net/) suggestion also interesting on how the light accumulation pass is done, which is to do a multiplicative blending, instead of standard alphabend. The colors are sharper and the mid-blend of two lights seems to look more 'realistic'. I haven't done any tone mapping or normal mapping, I'm quite excited on that after I nail the packing of buffers.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Advent Rising: A Game Taken Me By Surprise

When Nazarene (my loving other-half) and I went to Sim Lim Square to buy some stuffs, we saw this game store which sells a wide variety of PC games. Much to my delight, they also sell old games which I missed playing. Best of all, they were on sale (and my GF said she'll pay for it). Buy 2 get 1 free. A good deal, I should say. I took FEAR 1 and Broken Sword 3. Then I needed to choose the free game.

Then I saw Advent Rising. I was a bit hesitant, at first. I only heard about this game from my ex-colleague in Emerging Entertainment, Charles, a game designer who's a frantic RPG-er. Honestly, I only chose it to be the free game because of its intriguing orange-green DVD casing cover.

When I got home, I installed FEAR and Broken Sword 3 first. Installing Advent Rising to me was just an after thought. A week later, I pop in Advent Rising in my laptop. And after a few hours of playing it, I was taken a back... This game is a hidden gem!

I have to admit, the game is not easy to get into. The controls were quite complicated, but the next thing I know, they became 2nd nature to me. It's story.... one word... SURPRISINGLY AWESOME! (ok that was 2 words)

How this game intriques me was the way it's experience changes as it progress. If I could put it in a title, I'll dubbed it as "Game Evolved Within A Game". The game has also a final trick on its sleeves after the credits, but I won't it spoil for you.

Advent Rising was intended to be a trilogy. The game ends in a cliff hanger. But like the Back to the Future, with its famous 'To be continued...', the story satisfies its objectives within itself. Unfortunately, news said the sequel were cancelled due to its poor sales. But for now, I'll be positive about this, they WILL make the sequels.

Why didn't it sell that good? Maybe poor marketing strategy on the part of its publisher, Majesco or THQ. Kudos to the developer Glyphx, though. Maybe because of some technical hiccups the game has. But for me, I was bought.

I read some of the reviews of this game. Most of them shout 'rip-offs' or 'cliches'. But in reality, no ideas are new under the sun. I don't see, even if they're similar to other story, it intentionally ripping off other games. Uniqueness shouldn't be a standard but a plus. Otherwise, anything will be a rip off of something.

Underrated games are out there. Most of them were overshadowed by big titles when they come out (example: Psyconauts). My advise to everyone, don't just be interested on overly-hyped games. There are hidden gems out there. In this 'case', its an orange-green diamond.