On this page I will be talking about 3D graphics and how they are used in a game environment. I will take a look at 5 different games and explain things like: Basic shapes, Use of light and shadows and different texture types, for example, grass, brick, metal etc.
In this scene from Borderlands 2 (above), there are quite a few noticeable basic shapes. For example on the left there are a couple of poles completely formed out of a primitive cylinder, another example are the two buildings, they are made from cube shapes and then built on from there. The washing line in the top left seems to contain a few different shapes, including rectangles and triangles. Another model that appears to be made form a primitive is the tank in the top of the image, a cylinder would be used to form this shape. The next thing I will talk about is the light and shadows. On the right of the scene, between the two buildings there is a shadow that is cast form the model on the right, this creates an impression of mystery and make the player want to go there for exploration, or stay away because of possible danger. On the shotgun, there are two barrels that are made from cylinders, there is a gradual shadow on them to make a sense of realism, when the player moves position or rotates, those shadows will change, this is due to dynamic lighting. Taking another look at the clothes line again, those shapes have textures applied that have a burnt-in shadow, this is to save on texture memory for the scene. There are several types of textures shown here, the ground has a basic dirt/rocky texture to make the environment fit in, this is because this level is based on a rocky barren land. If we take a look at the cylindrical tank in the top left you can see that it has a rusted metal texture, this is to create an structurally old look to again, go along with the rest of the environment. On the fence in the left of the shot it has a dirtied wooden texture. This environment has a generally dirty look, this is well shown throughout the scene.
In the image shown above, a screenshot was taken from Destiny, it is a good contrast compared to Borderlands as it is a much newer game and not to mention next-gen, this means developers have a much better processor to work with and therefor can involve a lot higher detail. Lets start with the basic shapes, the wall in the background is clearly made up from a square shape, then further developed into what you see. In terms of the enemy on the right (robot crab), it uses quite a bulbous shape, implying a basic spherical primitive was used for this. Moving onto shadows and lighting for this scene, with the model of the enemy, it clearly cast a large shadow beneath itself, dynamic lighting is used to accomplish this, because the enemy moves around the environment, the lighting will change relative to where it is positioned. In this title the shadows are not generally burnt onto the textures because of the extra horsepower, this created a more believable appearance. If you look closely, you can just about see that the texture on the wall has erosion on it, burnt-in shadows are used to create this effect in some cases. Textures on next-gen games tend to have a lot more detail in general and it is clear when playing a title such as Destiny. It uses a concrete texture for the large wall in the background and incorporates erosion into the design. On the enemy a metallic texture is used, it has a slightly dirty look to it, but then has specular to help show that it is far form damaged.
This is Most Wanted (2012), it is clear to see it is meant to look quite believable, yet have a specific, dramatic effect throughout the gameplay. On the right there are what appear to be silos, they were made using cylinders and spheres, then small details were added to finish them off (pipes, bars, etc.). On the far right on the screenshot there are containers, these contain shapes in the form of rectangles and cubes. In the wheels of the vehicles it is easy to spot that the basic shape here is circular. As this game strives to be dramatic, dynamic shadows are key in providing this. All of the shadows on the cars, jeeps, lorries, etc., have dynamic lighting, this is because these are the main aspects of the game and your focus will be primarily on these models. On the road, although being a crucial part of any racing game, it has textures that make it look like it is used, the shadows and lighting on these are not dynamic as you race past them at blazing speeds most of the time. This game features a lot of roads, so road surface texturing for different areas (dirt, gravel, tarmac and asphalt.) is necessary. The texture on the containers in the top right is a painted metal, with a few rusty sections here and there to create the natural look. The cars themselves are made from metal and this is very clear throughout. Specular is also used on every car to create a reflective metallic look like any normal car would. There is also some plastic or carbon part to specific cars, this has more of a dull look with a very diffused outcome to show that it isn’t a normal metallic material.
This is a shot from gameplay on Mirrors Edge. This scene contains a lot of simple shapes like the pillars on the right, they are primarily square-looking. Again, the red chairs on the left are also made from square shapes and cubes. If you look closely you can see that the helmet that the enemy is wearing has a spherical look to it. There seems to be a lot of dynamic light in this specific scene, this is because there are projected light sources all over the environment. Even the tiles on the floor use dynamic lighting to create the best effect. An example where dynamic lighting isn’t used is the on the chairs, more specifically the feet for them. At the bottom and in any bends it appears to use a the burnt-in method to create the effect for the shadows. Textures are very clean in this game generally, as you can see the floor tiles are very clinical and would be quite easy to create a seamless texture for this. They appear to be given a slightly polished metal look or maybe even a polished ceramic material. The chairs have a red leather texture with creases to give a more authentic appearance, alpha mapping looks to be used here too, due to the lighting and shadows, it would be very unlikely for a developer to use up polys creating a plush leather look. The pillar on the right have a very clean concrete texture to them, this ensures the feel of the environment is carried out through the whole scene.
This is an image of gameplay featuring the new to be released, Final Fantasy XV. The floor in this scene looks to have a tiled, cobbled stone look, using cubic shapes to create them. The building on the right looks to have a lot of square shapes in it, especially for the window frames. There aren’t many other shapes in this scene, none cylinder that I can find. Although on the floor to the right of the character there is some debris that looks to have a triangle shape to it. Keeping to the piece of debris, it uses a texture which has a non-dynamic shadow on it. The enemy in front of the character looks to have dynamic lighting, this is to ensure the appearance of the lighting and shadows change when the enemy model moves. The bridge to the left looks to have dynamic lighting as sections of it gets very bright when the sunlight hits it directly. There isn’t a very large variety to the types of textures in this scene, it looks to be mostly concrete and stone. Although there isn’t a huge variety in type of textures, the variety in colour and cleanliness seems to be quite wide, for example on left there is a broken pillar, it has a dirty, light stone texture to it. Whereas if you look on the right, the building has a darker stone, with an almost polished look to it.