All Things Die, my forthcoming AI-driven RTS god game, has received a number of compliments of its style. So, I thought I’d break down an image effect-by-effect.
The Bare-Bones Scene
So, you know, that’s what we’re starting with. All of the style at this point comes solely from the models done by a fellow named beffio. And they’re great. Anyway, let’s add some Screen Space Ambient Occlusion to add some shading and depth to the scene.
It’s a little hard to tell what this does for the scene, but what’s going on is that we’re providing some shading to pixels on the screen that are exposed to ambient light. It’s most obvious if you look at any part of the scene where two pieces of geometry intersect.
It’s always amazing to me what a good sky can provide to a scene. In this case, my sky contains actual 3D volumetric clouds, not just some well-placed particle effects. The framerate also suffers for it. Now, my beloved bloom:
As anyone who has worked with me in the past knows: I love my bloom. I really, really love my bloom. It just makes a scene pop so much more for me. In this, I’m using a bloom technique that also overlays tiny specks of dirt in high-light emission areas of the screen. I have no good reason for it. Maybe the cameraperson dropped it or something. Whatever.
Color grading is the process of tuning the shadows, midtones, and highlights (basically, dark color values, moderate values, and high values). I actually, in the process of doing this, realized that I need to do a pretty significant color grading pass on this scene as it’s not quite having the atmosphere that I’m going for. Oh, yeah, color grading:
Now, especially, the sky and the trees really pop in the environment. Now, let’s add the atmospheric scattering associated with the lighting from the sun in the distance:
Now everything in the distance has its proper atmospheric scattering going for it; basically, you can think of atmospheric scattering as colored fog — like when the sun first rises in the morning and you see a layer of fog over a lake. Maybe you’re not a lake person, just go with it.
And finally, since I’m rendering all of this to High-Dynamic Range (HDR) buffers, I need to ensure that that the whites/blacks don’t get washed out in the final composition. So, I add a tone mapper with a custom graph and we end up with the final composition:
And there you have it, that’s me avoiding making any actual progress on the game whatsoever for an hour.
Added in a cinematic camera that would do its bestest to frame the best action going on in the scene from a variety of different camera perspectives (using locators placed on each ship). These are probably the last screens of this for a bit, while I’m off playing god and destroying low-poly humans in a different project.
My entire site’s WordPress installation mysteriously died as no result of any human’s particular actions. As a result: shit may just look wrong.