Game Art Trick #26
What you see here
is the stunning background art
of one of the most beautiful sci-fi games.
H o m e w o r l d 2
Thanks for reading.
Just kidding. Of course i have something to say about this. In the company we look at the art of Homeworld from time to time and bow to the creators of this masterpiece. Once we talked about how great the background look and how interesting this sketched style is. There is something...some details seem...special to us.
I mentioned, that this looks a bit like... a vertex color gradient. But they wouldn't paint the background on geometry, right? I mean...that would has to be a highly tessellated sphere.
The discussion was over but I wasn't satisfied and wanted at least see the textures. So i used some mod tools to extract the Homeworld 2 Demo data but there were no textures. Only some .HOD files. I used Google and found a thread how to generate these .HOD files from a .TGA. It was said:
"...scans every pixel of the image then based on contrast it decides whether or not to add a new vertex and color..."
Could it really be, that this is vertex color? Luckily you can watch at .HOD file with CFHodEdit. And another tool can force a wireframe mode. And now look what this brought to light:
This is one
of the most brave
solutions for game art i ever saw.
And here you can see how this influences the sky sphere geometry of the game. Do you see how low the resolution is in the low contrast areas? And how round the sphere is where details were painted?
I never ever had thought, that this can produce such good results. Oh and don't forget that this technique solves two major problems.
#1 You don't have any problems with DDS texture compression artifacts.
#2 More important from composition perspective: since you can't get too fine detail (it was said in the tutorial that the base TGA shouldn't contain too sharp details), the background stays were it should:
In the background.
Too often i see games where the background contains so much noise and details, that you can't really separate fore-/midground from background.
The last time i saw this perfect combination of tech & composition was in Diablo 3. I talk about the 2.5D tree article.
If you want know more about how these spheres are generated, read my next article about this topic.
Thanks for reading.