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Particle Effects for games. (Forums : 3D Modeling & Animating : Particle Effects for games.) Locked
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Oct 22 2013, 9:01am Anchor

Im new to creating particle effects for games and frankly dont have an idea where to start.
Effects like, dust, smoke, sparks, fire ect.

The picture I have inmind is that Ill create, for example, a fire in fumefx, then rendering it out as a sprite so it can be used for games...correct?
But thats where my knowelage on the topic ends.

Can anyone point me to some tutorials on making these effects for games, I would really appreciate it.

Oct 22 2013, 9:51am Anchor

Depends on what level game we are talking about. Some AAA 3D games use shaders and scripted volumetric particle setups that are well beyond a simple sprite that was pre-rendered. I mainly say this because you shouldn't compare the results you get with sprite baking process to these elaborate solutions.

How you go about baking an animated sprite in a nutshell:
1) Get a software that enables you to set up particles
2) Configure a particle effect until it looks just right
3) Render it to .png animation with transparent background
4A) Scroll through the frames in the game engine using a script
4B) Depending on the engine it could take the animated sprite only in certain format in which case you need to repackage the image files accordingly first

I suggest you use Blender, it's free, powerful and versatile. It has a particle system with plenty of tutorials such as this one. For more tutorials like that you could search for "blender tutorial fire" or last word which ever you want to use.

Usually tutorials like that don't cover rendering/baking the animation because things like file format and resolution, alpha depend pretty heavily on your target platform.

Edited by: shadowflar3

Oct 22 2013, 10:18am Anchor

Thanks for the reply.
Sorry should have said what level. its intended for mobile, so baked sprites...

Im already using 3ds max and fume fx.
After watching the tutorial im stoked at how simple it is.
Just had to be sure I wasnt missing anything.

Feel free to post links to some great tutorials!!!

Oct 22 2013, 10:26am Anchor

Okay so you're already familiar with the topic.

The other alternative to baking animated sprites is to make static particle sprites with Photoshop and make a particle emitter (an entity which spawns and moves a number of sprites) in your mobile development platform. This is of course much computing heavier setup but allows for particle level customization or even interactive particles so your particle effect (smoke, fire, fog, etc.) can adapt to its environment.

Edited by: shadowflar3

Oct 22 2013, 1:49pm Anchor

Lemme give you a fo instance...

If I were to render out the front of the explosion and put all the frames on a sprite sheet, from the front it will look ok.
From the side? The plane with sprite on wil rotate so the front faces the camera.
And what about a top view? It would obviousely not look right.

Or should the game camera angel be the same as the angle the sprite was rendered at?

Or is there way around it without using a particle emitter or should an emitter rather be used?

Oct 23 2013, 3:16am Anchor

Well, that's where the game type comes in play. Most game types, be it FPS, platformer, racing, etc. will mostly view things in similar perspective (pitch wise). So it's either from top down, from side, or something in between and can use this sprite technique. So things like this are also aspects you need to consider when designing your game and how to produce assets for the views you plan to use.

But it's not always possible to get away with 1 sprite for something non-circular like for example fire with smoke rising up or an explosion in mushroom cloud style. How you could get around that:

1) Do it anyway if the distortion isn't too much. I remember seeing this confidently used in older FPS games (Doom, Hexen, Wolfenstein ?) but also in newer games where the player isn't supposed to view something from above. IIRC if you cheat and fly around in HL2 you can see this distortion effect in fire sprites because the player isn't supposed to view them from above. Why? Because doing effects this way is efficient.
2) Multiple sprites for the same effect in different views. I don't remember seeing this technique used anywhere (could be some RTS) but I suppose it's good if you have strictly either-or (for example top and side) views.
3) Circular sprites. Not good for realistic fire but explosions and smoke it's been done a lot in 2D and 3D.
3) Circular particle sprites + emitter script. Use only circular sprites that you move and scale in your game engine to mimic something like flames. It's hard but doable and how modern games usually do it, although AAA also with 4) and 5) plus I bet something I haven't yet figured out :)
4) Animated 3D shapes (with animated UV maps). An early and clear example would be Quake2.
5) Use a shader. This is all coding and basically you take a pixel on your rendered frame and modify the RGB values to achieve your effect. The downsides are mapping a 3D location to 2D can be tricky and also you're drawing everything in front of everything in your scene and even if you use Z-depth info you can't have something like smoke coming from around the corner accurately. It's good for something like volumetric mist or duststorm in landscapes (I believe the duststorms in FFXII were shaders) and with proper coding it can do wonders.

Edited by: shadowflar3

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