Overgrowth takes place in the savage world of Lugaru where rabbits, wolves and other animals are forced to use paws, claws and medieval weaponry to engage each other in battle. Combining 3rd person adventure platforming with intricate melee combat, Overgrowth achieves a unique feel. Overgrowth also benefits from Wolfire's brand new Phoenix Engine which has been built from the ground up to allow the use of cutting edge graphics, animation, and physics. Add to these exciting features Overgrowth’s realistic artificial intelligence and streamlined control system and the result is an astoundingly immersive experience.

Report article RSS Feed Normal map vs. mesh

Whenever we post a new model for Overgrowth, a comment we often get is "there's no way that can go in the game -- there are way too many polygons!" That is true. However, we can simulate it pretty well using normal mapping. I'll save the technical details of what a normal map is exactly for another blog post, but the basic idea is pretty straight forward: we make a lower polygon model and simulate the missing geometry with a normal map.

Posted by jeffr on Sep 29th, 2009

Whenever we post a new model for Overgrowth, a comment we often get is "there's no way that can go in the game -- there are way too many polygons!" That is true. However, we can simulate it pretty well using normal mapping. I'll save the technical details of what a normal map is exactly for another blog post, but the basic idea is pretty straight forward: we make a lower polygon model and simulate the missing geometry with a normal map.

Here's an illustration of why this is important, using the new character I'm working on (with a few of the changes people suggested in the last post). On one side is the normal-mapped game character and on the other side is the sculpted version. It gets kind of hard to tell them apart in this view, even though one is highly optimized.


Although, when looking at the wireframe it's not hard to tell at all.


You may be thinking the one on the left doesn't look much like a wireframe, but you just have to zoom in.


The sculpted version has about 10 million polygons, but I couldn't load it in 3DS Max to display it, so this version of the sculpt is only 4 million triangles. The game-resolution version has fewer than 5000 triangles, but has most of the detail of the sculpted version.

Thanks for all the feedback on this character! His outfit is inspired by African tribesmen -- what other sources could we use for inspiration?(permalink)


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willy-wilson
willy-wilson Sep 30 2009, 1:27am says:

What size texture map are you using? Can we see the texture map? Some of the detail didn't transfer over very well. Either the uv's are not utilizing space very well or the texture isn't big enough. Also what was used to bake, the default max bake or xnormal?

+4 votes     reply to comment
jeffr Author
jeffr Sep 30 2009, 5:15pm replied:

I'll ask Aubrey about the texture map and his tools, thanks for the feedback.

+1 vote   reply to comment
chris_sloany
chris_sloany Sep 30 2009, 1:45am says:

OMG on the 2nd pic. i was like theres no way thats wireframe. but then on the third on you could tell, but barely. Could you possibly bump map the textures for your model (when you do apply the textures) giving a more higher quality look to it? Not saying it doesn't look amazing already. And i wouldn't think you would see a drop as far as optimization.

+1 vote     reply to comment
willy-wilson
willy-wilson Sep 30 2009, 1:56am says:

optimizing polycount as much as posable without loss in quality is of course important but your real enemy is not polycounts its draw calls
please read this... Boards.polycount.net

heres a quote from kevin johnstone "I spent a solid few months of optimizing polys, lightmap UV channels, collish meshs for everything in UT and the act of
stripping 2million polys out of a level generally improved the FPS by 2 or 3 frames."

+1 vote     reply to comment
jeffr Author
jeffr Sep 30 2009, 5:14pm replied:

Cool link. :) I am sure Aubrey is aware, he is a regular on polycount.

+1 vote   reply to comment
willy-wilson
willy-wilson Sep 30 2009, 6:49pm replied:

yea, i first saw this on polycount a couple weeks ago i think

+1 vote     reply to comment
PringleX
PringleX Sep 30 2009, 2:59am says:

10 million polygons could possibly melt your brain. If not your computer.

+1 vote     reply to comment
razorb
razorb Sep 30 2009, 4:12am says:

lol i think people are still a bit lost here :P... bake seems ok imo... not 100% perfect but imo its good enough!

-2 votes     reply to comment
lethal_vortex
lethal_vortex Sep 30 2009, 5:08am says:

thats alot of polygons :O

+1 vote     reply to comment
formerlyknownasMrCP
formerlyknownasMrCP Sep 30 2009, 5:37am says:

You must have a very very powerful PC to be able to display that high poly model.. When ever I try to get anywhere near those numbers my i7 crashes out.

Just incredible quality right there..

+1 vote     reply to comment
leilei
leilei Sep 30 2009, 7:23am buried:

(buried)

that's what beowulf clusters are for son

but yeah, normalmapping has been common place since 2003, don't know what this news article is about here other than showing off a standard rendering feature as new.

-9 votes     reply to comment
pvt.Johnson
pvt.Johnson Sep 30 2009, 9:37am replied:

Overgrowth isnt showing normal mapping as something "new", they always explain features ingame even if they are common in other games. Its just how they share their development i guess.

+6 votes     reply to comment
Minuit
Minuit Sep 30 2009, 11:06am replied:

Yeah, you're a huge, unfunny **** in pretty much every post you write, Leilei.

Anyway, keep these updates coming guys, I love reading this stuff.

+7 votes     reply to comment
kinesis916
kinesis916 Sep 30 2009, 5:50am says:

It looks good. Though I think you could have stretched to telling us what a normal map is in this article. Not that I don't know already.

And wow 10 million polys. My computer has a heart attack when I reach around the 4 million mark.

+1 vote     reply to comment
bogie
bogie Sep 30 2009, 7:41am says:

Hasn't Pacman got 10 million polys?

+2 votes     reply to comment
pfannkuchen_gesicht
pfannkuchen_gesicht Sep 30 2009, 8:23am replied:

pacman has over 170billion polys :P

+4 votes     reply to comment
ultimate
ultimate Sep 30 2009, 9:25am says:

How big is the texture size for the normal map? would it be possible to change the performance settings ingame to use a model with double the size of that texture? The high poly version looks very good, but the ropes on the normal mapped model are pretty blurry. I'm just a beginner at this kind of stuff, but as willy-wilson said maybe the UV's just need to be utilized better. Would love to see the texture map.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Silverfisk Creator
Silverfisk Sep 30 2009, 10:22am says:

Haha, people in the comments don't know what they're talking about. xD
It's a nice article and the model is awesome.

0 votes   reply to comment
bogyb666
bogyb666 Sep 30 2009, 1:11pm says:

now when a game engine can support good displacement maps the fun will relay start :D, nice post :)

-1 votes     reply to comment
Killer_man_1996
Killer_man_1996 Sep 30 2009, 1:52pm says:

with that 10 million poligons you can make cool renders in HD :D

+1 vote     reply to comment
spellman23
spellman23 Sep 30 2009, 2:37pm says:

Yay normal mapping to save the day!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Chronosheep
Chronosheep Sep 30 2009, 3:18pm says:

Looks very nice.
May I suggest using parallax mapping (or some other displacement technique) as well?
It would give even better sense of depth, and probably allow you to reduce the poly count even further.

+1 vote     reply to comment
pfannkuchen_gesicht
pfannkuchen_gesicht Oct 2 2009, 9:46am replied:

doesn't work that good on round objects

+1 vote     reply to comment
marinos
marinos Sep 30 2009, 3:45pm says:

Very nice. It's good to sse some poeple like what they do.
For inspiration, think of some Greek warriors or Roman-Byzantine soldiers. For a more babrbarian outfit, use reference from celtic and germanic tribes

+1 vote     reply to comment
Raneman25
Raneman25 Sep 30 2009, 4:40pm says:

I'm kind of a noob to this, but... did you have to make all 5 million polygons 1 by 1? I would hate to be a modeler...

+1 vote     reply to comment
jeffr Author
jeffr Sep 30 2009, 4:57pm replied:

Nah, that would take years! Here's a timelapse of what it looks like: Youtube.com

+2 votes   reply to comment
Nebcake Online
Nebcake Sep 30 2009, 6:09pm says:

That many polygons, just blowed my mind

+1 vote     reply to comment
willy-wilson
willy-wilson Sep 30 2009, 6:55pm replied:

well for anyone interested heres the polycount thread i have to say it looks a lot better ingame than just in the bake shown above.

Boards.polycount.net

+2 votes     reply to comment
Atlasfield
Atlasfield Oct 1 2009, 1:37am says:

I understand all mister "sabelotodo", only I commented not always the model save a game, sometimes the textures make a good job and sometimes much better than the models. But sometimes, not always.

0 votes     reply to comment
dill1233
dill1233 Oct 1 2009, 1:41pm says:

Man, 10 million polygons is even more than I want to start to think of! Yet, I have to say that the sculpted looks better than the normal mapped one to me. So, for posters, game boxes, etc., I'd use the sculpted, but for the actually game, I'd definitely used the normal mapped one.

+1 vote     reply to comment
jeffr Author
jeffr Oct 1 2009, 3:48pm replied:

That would be awesome to have a game box :)

+1 vote   reply to comment
pfannkuchen_gesicht
pfannkuchen_gesicht Oct 2 2009, 9:50am replied:

yeah, please make a gamebox cover if you have some time

+1 vote     reply to comment
Myloman
Myloman Oct 2 2009, 10:19am says:

Wow, it's crazy how much these technical aspects can be broken down. Really interesting comparison, makes me wanna give modeling a shot. Well either way I think the result will be nothing short of inspiring :).

0 votes     reply to comment
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