Sunday, March 29, 2015

How we Take Screen Shots

Today's blog post will actually be a guest post from one of our artists, Dan Hutchings (@HutchingsINovae), about the process he goes through when creating our screen shots. Dan has taken some stunningly beautiful screen shots with the I-Novae Engine and without further ado I'll pass the podium to him:

"This week I’ve decided to share a bit about the screenshot taking process and provide some behind the scenes insight on the state of the engine. The I-Novae engine is becoming quite user friendly, the tools allow one to control the visual mood and tone of a scene without having to make calculations or adjust code, which is great for a free flowing artistic process.

A screenshot can look quite different just by adjusting the star’s temperature (which translates to colour) from red dwarfs to blue giants. Once a nice view has been selected for capture I can begin tweaking the scene settings to find something that looks appealing. Lower temperatures give reds and oranges whereas higher temperatures produce lovely blues and whites. Personally I prefer the purple sunsets and blue hues.

I control the visual depth of the image by adjusting atmospheric scattering such as density, thickness, and refraction to produce a thick haze or thin veil of an atmosphere. The ambiance of the shot is further modified by toggling the oceans; I can capture a barren dry landscape with a glowing red giant or a frozen, water-less, irradiated world quietly orbiting a white dwarf star. A lot of character and back-story can creep into a shot as it develops.

Now that the general mood has been established it’s time to hone in on the details. Too many stars in the sky? That can be resolved by changing the location of the system within its galaxy. Moving out of the galaxy will reduce the number of visible stars in the shot whereas moving it near the galactic center will fill the sky with points of light. Each star you see represents another solar system in the galaxy, I could fly there if I had the time, however I’ll wait for FTL drives to be integrated before attempting that stunt.

Currently our clouds are low resolution, two dimensional, static, and lack variation. They’re only experimental and the final solution is still under development as a low priority feature. Despite these limitations I manage to pull off some spectacular shots from ground level where they don’t look as bad.

We have received many questions surrounding the future of clouds and whether or not they’ll be a feature in Battlescape. We do want to see volumetric clouds in the engine as well as lush vegetation covering our planets - and more! The current issue is time. Core features come first and beauty treatments are lower priority for now.

There are still many engine features that our current set of (public) screenshots haven’t shown along with an array of game content yet to be published. As the remaining features are integrated and polished, and once they’re ready for showcase, you can be sure to see them featured in future postings.

Taking these weekly screenshots has become a “spare time” task of mine. I enjoy searching for great shots that demonstrate what the I-Novae planetary engine can produce. I love creating the images and I get to enjoy reading the comments once they've been published ;) Let me know what you like or even what you’d like to see more of in the future!