It's nice to take a breather from doing monkey work every once in awhile to do something more interesting, when you're a modder. For me, I'm doing something I always wanted to do for the mod but haven't had the knowledge or time to do before. So, while the testers are hard at work putting Freeworlds: Tides of War's universe map through heavy testing, I've had some time to learn how to create some neat new things for the mod.
As some of you that have been following us for some time may know, we introduced normal and specular mapping in the early part of this year. Now, for those that aren't as computer savvy as other, what this means is that we can get incredibly detailed models without losing performance. We do this through textures. Here's an example of what a normal map and specular map look like, respectively:
So, you may be asking yourself, how do these textures add detail to the model? Here's a brief description of each taken from Wikipedia:
In 3D computer graphics, normal mapping, or "Dot3 bump mapping", is a technique used for faking the lighting of bumps and dents. It is used to add details without using more polygons. A normal map is usually an RGB image that corresponds to the X, Y, and Z coordinates of a surface normal from a more detailed version of the object. A common use of this technique is to greatly enhance the appearance and details of a low polygon model by generating a normal map from a high polygon model.
Specular maps are the maps you use to define a surface's shininess and highlight colour. The higher the value of a pixel (from black to white), the shinier the surface will appear in-game. Therefore, surfaces such as dry stone or cotton fabric would tend to have a very dark specular map, while surfaces like polished chrome or plastic would tend to have lighter specular maps.
So, ya, what does this mean to you the player? Well, I'll show you. Below is our newly redone New Republic Starfighters:
Let us know what you think. And don't worry those who love the Imperial ships, they're getting the same treatment and I'll post their videos up early next week.