Graphics and Animation Technology
Developer: Terminal Reality
Nocturne official page: http://www.nocturnegame.com
Expected Release: Halloween 1999
Interview with the Vampires
Continuing our two part series on Nocturne (see yesterday's preview of Nocturne
), we present our interview with Terminal Reality about their new horror game, Nocturne. Questions are in bold
while the answers are in normal text. Answers were provided by Mark Randel (President and Lead Programmer) and Jeff Mills (Production Lead for Nocturne) of Terminal Reality.
Thresh's Firingsquad: I understand you're using cloth that's modeled in real time so
curtains/coats flap realistically. Can you describe how the cloth
modeling works? Are you using weighted vertices or..?
Terminal Reality: Cloth modeling takes in a mesh of vertices created by a 3D
artist, then hooks up connecting vertices to a skeletal model. The rest
of the vertices are simulated using a cloth simulator. The cloth
simulator keeps track of weight, thickness, springiness, elasticity,
wind area, moment of inertia, connected vertices, etc. for each vertex,
then solves those equations in real time. It also collision-detects the
cloth with the skeletal model it is attached to. It is very complicated,
and it takes upwards of 20 million to 50 million floating point
operations a second just to do the cloth simulation in Nocturne. This is
a brand new technology far beyond what "weighted vertices" could do.
FS: Tell us more about the impressive shadow and lighting in
Nocturne. Obviously, this is one of the most important parts of your
graphics engine, if not the most important - in what ways do you feel
that your implementation of lighting and shadow is superior to other
TR: Nocturne is the only game that actually uses a light source in
the scene to produce shadows. Every light in Nocturne casts a shadow on
every polygon. Multiple lights give multiple shadows. Our light is
additive. Everybody else's is subtractive. The characters arm will cast
a shadow on the character's body. Look at shadows in real life, then
look at them in other games, then look at them in Nocturne. You can then
tell me why Nocturne is better then every other game.
FS: Elaborate on the inverse kinematics principle you're using for
animations - how does it work and what does it do for you that motion
capture doesn't allow? Do your animations support "interpolation," that
is, can, say, the walking animation be interrupted and combined with something else?
TR: Inverse kinematics allow the character to reach out and pick up
objects, no matter what height they are. This means that the level
designer doesn't have to put doorknobs at the same height. We can use
different types of levers and switches, and items the hero can pick up
don't have to be on the ground. They can be on tabletops, in niches in
walls, hanging from the ceiling. When picking up something or pulling a
lever, the program decides how to pose the character. It makes the game
look much more natural. There is quaternion interpolation between
animation frames. Animations can be interpolated into other animations
because of this. Animations can also be played on top of one another -
i.e., you can draw your gun while running.