I've also been making progress on my mod, Thirst. As I mentioned before, it's been going a little bit more slowly due to my other obligations. I'm also at a stage right now where, unfortunately, for all the work I've been doing, there's little to show. Currently I'm working on the first major dungeon area in the game, and considering the size of the area, the amount of detail invested in it, the actual design work behind it, the writing, etc., it's been hard to show major milestones... while one room might look great, the next might be completely missing, that sort of thing. Due to the nature of the environment, I can't provide the same visual variety or design rationalisation that goes into it, as well. Between that, there's also been some overhauls to writing, changes to scripting and progression, that sort of thing. So, apologies for not being able to treat readers with too many screenshots or videos at this point. I'll be giving a more thorough update when I have something that's presentable.
One major issue I've been battling is that the models I've been using to build the dungeon environment don't play well with dim lighting. It's quite curious - they seem to exhibit a degree of self-illumination, even when there are absolutely no lights present at all.
|Did someone shut out the lights? ... oh, wait.|
|That's more like it.|
|I had to use fog as a substitute for legitimate darkness. It works, but is still kind of a "cheat."|
Not only is everything significantly brighter, but the light is flatter as well. The subtle detailing in the normal maps appears washed out. The ambient occlusion that gets baked in looks rough and flat, lacking in depth. The lights don't really blend together very well - there's no subtle interplay of colour as they meet. There are partial work-arounds for all of these problems (using more intense lights, extremely dark shadows, bounced and reflected lights added manually), but none of these really allow for the same degree of quality found in any of the official levels. And unfortunately, it means I have to settle for levels that are going to look good, but never quite as good as what's seen in the Dragon Age game proper.
|These environments have actually come a ways since I last showed them.|
That said, it's still possible to get good results in certain situations, as seen above, and outdoor environments are just fine as well. I know I've spent a few posts bringing this up before, but it really is the one thing in the way of bringing my worlds to life. BioWare, next time you make an RPG engine and release tools for it, could you please use a real-time lighting solution? Nothing too fancy, just something that doesn't require me to wait half an hour to render. Come on, you have a license for Unreal Engine... I've seen tower defense games, top-down shooters, platformers, casual sports games, survival horror, I'm sure you can add RPG to that list too.
Anyway, that's enough complaining for one post. I have a few ideas for articles floating around which I may follow up on, and I'll be sure to provide a more substantial progress update on Thirst when I'm able to provide something a bit more substantive.