Graphics

Marty's place

Managed to render another scene this weekend:

Marty's place

We visit this location early on in the game in the hopes of picking up a friend.



October Update

Sadly I didn’t have as much time to work on the game as I’d like in the past few weeks. Just life and work getting in the way.

But I did manage to squeeze in a couple new scenes and continued to improve the VHS look:

Looks like your perfectly ordinary bathroom...
 
... or not.
 
Revisited the bedroom scene with enhanced VHS effects.
 
More VHS effects.
 
Even more VHS effects.
 
Re-rendered in full VHS resolution.
 
Threehouse again
 
The neighborhood
 
Dad's office
 
Culvert exterior
 
A good ol' 386 IBM PC-compatible

Stay tuned for more updates.



The Culvert

As the kids try to make their way into the haunted theme park they realize they can’t just bust in through the main entrance. Looking for alternate ways to get inside, they come across a culvert that seems to lead straight where they’re heading.

Outside the culvert
 
Inside the culvert
And just like any self-respecting teenage horror movie victims participants, they (of course!) decide to enter the darkness…



2.5D Depth Compositing

Psst… wanna hear a secret? In an earlier incarnation of Fatal Attractions the game had a different name: It was known as Libera Me.
Libera Me never really got past the tech demo stage. But a key element of the game’s tech was its 2.5D compositing. The idea here is to have pre-rendered background images which contain information about each pixel’s depth. Through some clever shader tricks this allows us to perform several graphical feats that usually require full 3D scenes:

  • Depth compositing
  • 3D lighting
  • 3D shadows

This concept was used heavily in the earlier Resident Evil games.

I’ve decided to revive this technology for Fatal Attractions. The cool thing is that the entire background scene as well as the character are just billboard sprites; that makes for a whopping 4 (!) polygons being rendered in the clips below!
The 2.5D depth compositing is implemented via custom shaders and provides correct depth occlusion, as seen in this short clip when the character walks towards the background and ends up behind the tomb stones:

Traditionally this kind of depth compositing would require a fairly elaborate setup of masks and/or occluder geometry. Not so with 2.5D compositing where we get the occlusion for free without any extra effort.

But wait, there’s more! Here we can see a real-time directional light casting shadows from a 2D sprite onto a 2D background… and thanks to 2.5D depth compositing we get correct 3D shadows just like in a proper 3D scene:

Of course we’re not limited to static light sources – we can even move a light around. Here we have a dynamic point light moving around and lighting up just the appropriate region of the scene. Also note how the character sprite casts proper shadows onto the background geometry.

I plan to use the dynamic 2.5D lighting to allow the player to investigate using a flash light as well as other sources of light. Of course dynamic shadows will also have their place.

Unfortunately the video compression made a bit of a mess with the image quality, so here’s how the background render is meant to look:

The spooky cemetery



The Haunted Mansion

Working on the engine at the moment. That and the VHS Look post-processing shaders have been keeping me busy lately. It’s hard to find a good compromise there: On the one hand I want the game to have the authentic look of an old VHS tape that’s been watched too many times. But then again I’ve put so much work into the background art and this gets all but ruined by the VHS artifacts.

Today though inspiration struck and so I revisited an older scene that’d been sitting idly on my hard drive for a while. No creepy theme park is complete without a Haunted Mansion, so here’s a first look at what to expect:

The Haunted Mansion Entrance

Here I’m trying to recreate that somewhat over the top spookiness of Disney’s Haunted Mansion. Of course our heroes will have ample opportunity to explore the mansion and mingle with its inhabitants – whether they want to or not…