Friday, 23 September 2011

Topia: Vortices & the art of screen grabbing

Last night I got stone circles into Topia, these are destinations for herds and a major part of the gameplay. To make them easier to find I threw in a few hundred faint streaking particles that home in on the centre of the circles and move in a cool spiral thanks to simple Newtonian physics, or what I like to think of as simple Newtonian physics. It's just a few adds and multiplies of variables called 'velocity, thrust and momentum' which is about as accurate as I'm prepared, or indeed mathematically able, to get.

Anyway, they are pretty faint and don't really show up well on screen grabs. They look pretty good when moving though which is nice as they aren't just a visual effect. I threw them in as a signpost to the nearest henge-vortex thing. I love it when something serves a gameplay purpose and looks cool at the same time. they can sort of be seen on the following pic.

Josh Tweeted this last night after I sent him a version. I couldn't believe quite how good it looked. I had to check with him that he hadn't done anything sneaky in Photoshop but he swears it's just a grab off his iPad2.

Which is coincidentally very similar to the 'I finally got Retina running at 30 FPS' pic from the blog a few weeks ago.  It's almost the same view though the old version doesn't have the Vortex as the code for those didn't exist back then.

After posting it I got an IM from Josh saying it was "that screenshot you posted looks sort of ugly" which it is.

I have been considering why that might be. The actual differences are:

  • Obviously it's lower resolution,
  • The Retina view doesn't show the atmospheric fogging well.
  • Retina isn't using MSAA as the older devices just don't have the pixel pushing power. 
  • The iPad2 version uses a more complex shader, it does this weird subtle thing with the colour bands on the rocks while the fallback shader just uses a low res 'lightmap' and the texture I'm using as the backdrop of this blog for detail.
  • Josh's grab was taken in the 'early evening' of the day night cycle while mine was taken at 'midday' 
Sadly I think it's mostly the last one and Josh's artistic eye which is slightly irritating as most of the other differences were a lot of coding work. I must stop taking screen grabs with 'force daylight' turned on.

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