Post news RSS Trees in the breeze (HD video)

On a rare excursion into the outdoors, I noticed that real plants seldom remain perfectly still. Even on a calm day, some tiny disturbance in the air will bring at least a few leaves to life. I sat down to animate the leaves in Overgrowth, and searched in vain for some decent reference footage online. Not to be foiled so easily, I broke out my trusty video camera and set out to record some of my own.

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On a rare excursion into the outdoors, I noticed that real plants seldom remain perfectly still. Even on a calm day, some tiny disturbance in the air will bring at least a few leaves to life. I sat down to animate the leaves in Overgrowth, and searched in vain for some decent reference footage online. Not to be foiled so easily, I broke out my trusty video camera and set out to record some of my own. Most of you probably don't have much use for it, but if you do, you may as well see it in HD!


Since I normally stay indoors, there were some aspects of plant movement that surprised me. Games usually have a uniform wind parameter that affects the entire scene in the same way, real wind is variable and unpredictable. Wind strength and direction can vary even over different parts of the same plant, and it can change from gusty to calm almost instantaneously. With this idea in mind, I created a vertex shader with pseudo-random wind motion. To apply it realistically to the plant models, I added support for a 'firmness' texture so that Aubrey could make leaves flutter and branches remain rigid. Here's a video of this effect in action -- the first couple seconds aren't very windy, but it picks up later on. Click here for HD!


I found that the wind-blown plants brought some much-needed life to the otherwise-static backgrounds, and the changing wind adds a bit of unpredictability. There's tons of more urgent work to do, but it's nice to take a break sometimes and add fun details. We can't make a game called "Overgrowth" without adding nicely-rendered plants! Can you think of any other environmental details we could add to make the game world feel more immersive?(permalink)


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Comments
Frozencloud
Frozencloud

That is incredibly beautiful :D

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Blandr3ws
Blandr3ws

Quality.
With that and the lighting/transluence the foliage has come along amazingly.
Chances are you've already looked at this, and anyway you've implemented most of the features...but it'd still be a nice read:
Http.developer.nvidia.com
Love gpu gems >.<

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Dra6o0n
Dra6o0n

How about water? It might be a immersive and important aspect when in a battle on a river... Having a good system for splashes and the flow of water can make the "Duel" visually awesome!

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JohnnyMaverik
JohnnyMaverik

Just don't hold back too much on the foliage. If the world feels a bit empty and theres one or two tree's hanging around they just stick out like sore thumbs rather than help do add variety. Maybe a few bushes and rocks, I duno what kinda landscape your going for yet but aslong as there is a bit of fitting variety and some colour thrown in, asthetically I'm sure it will look great.

The sky is absolutely beautiful by the way.

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bleurice
bleurice

"Can you think of any other environmental details we could add to make the game world feel more immersive?"

Physics based collision with foliage/grass against the Player/Characters/Objects in the world?

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Armageddon104
Armageddon104

Beautiful...

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Assaultman67
Assaultman67

man ... with all these details i hope you guys are keeping in mind hardware restrictions ...

a forest full of wiggling trees at 10 fps isn't exactly awesome :P ...

(maybe my computer is really old and i don't fully understand what modern hardware can do :o)

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jeffr Author
jeffr

It should scale pretty well. It's just a couple lines in the vertex shader!

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SinKing
SinKing

In all the games I play the trees do move. It would be more awesome if there was an actual "wind system" implemented. I saw that in the editor for Unreal Engine 3, but it doesn't work yet.
What I think would be cool for OG are Tibetan flags, you know the colorful ones around all the high peaks and special landmarks. They just blow away in the wind, looking pretty, even if they are cut and torn. If you have a cloth simulation planned that would be pretty awesome to have some flags and banners waving in the "wind".

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Piuneer
Piuneer

yes yes. far too few games have material physics. this would be a perfect addition to your vast collection of features :D

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Nebcake
Nebcake

The animation is very smooth, great work

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chris_sloany
chris_sloany

looks really nice!! i would like to see some of this stuff tested on different tress, as this trees leaves, seem kinda flat. not saying it dosent look beautiful, which it does, but would just like to see it on different trees.

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Dra6o0n
Dra6o0n

Wind system on a grass can have other uses other than immersion...

In a battle, you can hide in tall grass and try to ambush people.
People can notice a ambush in the grass because its rustling more than usual... So a player slowly sneaks into the grass to hide and avoid rustling it.

Of course, Blades and Fire should take out plants, and erases possible hiding spots for your foes...

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vfn4i83
vfn4i83

Beautifull work

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doublethink
doublethink

You guys are awesome.

One thing though, when the sun was 100% blocked by the tree trunk itself, before the flare/glare effect, it still looks like a glowing orb right through the tree. Actually on further review its only the main trunk doing this check.

What I mean is, designate a thickness for the transparency or however it is your calculating that so its more dynamic for thick sub-limbs of a very old tree, if possible.

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Fddlrnthrf
Fddlrnthrf

The animation looks very nice; the translucency and branch-waving have my approval. On shrubbery those would be enough, but for a tree (especially a pine), it seems to be missing something. I sense a slightly comical "wiggle" effect that I believe is due to the rigid trunk. If there is enough wind to rustle all the leaves, the trunk should be bending. Not a lot, but pine is soft wood, and pine forests sway and wave all over the place in a strong wind. Even hardwood trees, like oak and maple, rock and sway like a ship on the sea. A trunk is just like a branch.

SWAY = WIND x LENGTH / (RIGIDITY ^ THICKNESS)

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Fddlrnthrf
Fddlrnthrf

...Other environmental details? You're definitely on the right track with wind. I've been playing Prince of Persia recently, and its most subtle, most effective artistic element is the atmospheric/particulate effects: the foggy fade of distant mountains, little puffs of gravel when you run across a rock face, dust motes floating thru the sunlight. Letting the player experience the air is like letting them smell your world with their eyes. Our sense of smell is tightly bound to our sense of memory and atmosphere, so if you can show the air quality, that will directly tap into our memory of real wind or dust or hot humid rain.

That said, our primary environmental sense is hearing, so for immersion, your number-one element is sound developement. Background sound has a texture, and that texture is how we sense our surroundings when we're not looking at them. My living room is silent as I type this, yet if I listen to it, the texture of the silence is obvious. Dozens of birdcalls drift thru my open window, barely audible from at least a quarter-mile away. Traffic, a mile distant, is discernable. The hum of electronics drowns out the hum of insects only because the electronics are right beside me. If immersion is your goal, I implore you, do not ignore the background texture! Otherwise each sound effect (walking, wind, bone-snapping) will stand out awkwardly like a squeaky fart in an empty church.

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Myloman
Myloman

This is captivating I find, which is interesting considering how many choose to overlook the subtler details and features. I think it's a beautiful touch, and will merely add to the already alive universe you guys have created so far. Traversing those lovely landscapes will be made a much more fulfilling experience with things like weather and the elements of nature working in dialogue between one another. Plus there's nothing wrong with stopping and taking a minute to appreciate all the hard work you've done, I know I will :). Nice going.

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aerozol
aerozol

Looks amazing.
Definitely something missing in a lot of games. A nice wind sound that goes with it will make for extremely awesome immersion.

Just make sure that it's not always like that ;)
Otherwise it will just get boring, which would be such a shame for a effect like this.

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