After the launch of Sentinel’s Fate, players quickly noticed that a huge percentage of the level 81-90 gear had armor appearances from either the newbie islands, or level 40-49 armor sets, just recolored.
It turned out that new armor appearances had been built, but very few had been wired up, so most of the armor had placeholder appearances. It took at least a couple of months for another art build, and much work behind the scenes to get the situation resolved. Even still, there are considerable swaths of armor appearance choices which have remained limited.
Covic does not want a repeat of this and wants players to be genuinely impressed with the wide array of Velious armor options, with not simply re-textures and re-colors, but reworkings and new geometry (bolted-on pieces) to create truly unique appearances.
After the jump, his complete quote.
Dave (Covic) on armor appearances in Velious:
With the armor sets for velious we try to cover the main armor types. Which is vanguard, chain, leather, robe, and gi’s. This set is not a concept but will be in velious.
I know I have talked about our armor process before, as usually a player will be here answering the questions for me. But I will run through the process here for everyone.
The best and fastest approach to making a new set, say a vanguard set, is to take the original vanguard model and first retexture it. Depending on the artist this can be done in about 2 to 4 days depending on skill and complexity. Now to make a fully new geo that has to be skinned to over 30 models, which every race has it own skeleton, including soga and non-soga being different takes about 2 to 3 months. So in 3 months we could make 1 new geo vanguard set or 15 new textured sets at the max of 4 days.
Now one way to look at games is that even though its 3d, the final image we look at is 2d so textures well painted using nice normal maps or bump maps will simulate geo without the extra need of having the geometry to support it. I recently was looking at the new models for Assisins Creed Brotherhood, and even though the model were only 6 thousand polys they looked amazing because of the great texture maps and rendering engine.
What new geo does that texture maps can not, until dx11 starts pushing the tensilation on games, is change the silhouette. Now the best and fastest way for us to do that in our game is with snap ons, which usually consist of helmets, pauldrons, and added pieces. I think currently the gnome set is the best example of this, I know people are all ready waiting for it, so no spoiler. Snap ons are almost always solid pieces that dont require skinning so one piece of geo can be applied to almost all the models. This helps with rendering and production time.
Another reason retexturing and snap ons works is for rendering and keeping up the frames per second. If say 6 characters on screen are all wearing the same vanguard geo but with retexturing to make them look different, the game brings in one model and 6 textures. Which is a much lower hit on memory then having the engine bring in 6 separate models plus six seperate textures. Now I dont know the exact percent of frames per minute loss when bringing in 6 separate pieces of geo compared to the copy of the geo with different textures but it is significant. This past week we have been working on npc population control to help with frame rates. We can have a pretty good size of population if there is sharing of models in the zone.
The one thing that mmos like us have to do is provide a great variety for players with still keeping the game running. So retexturing is a way to keep the variety up and keep the game from being a slide show as well as keep production time down.
We have made many new snap on pieces for velious so that we have created new unique looks even though maybe the base mesh is retextured. This works very well because I have seen many post were there are discussion of whether the set created is new geo or not.
Hopefully this will bring some understanding of how our game and many mmos work. I know there may be some typos and grammar faults in my post, but I am great with math and art. That’s why I make video games
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