Technology used for Trine?

For discussion about Trine, firstly released in 2009 for Windows and on PlayStation Network.
Sinus
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Technology used for Trine?

Postby Sinus » Tue Jun 29, 2010 1:20 pm

Hello.

May an amateur future would-be 3D artist ask a "behind the scenes" technical question? Namely: how were Trine's graphics created? What tools were used, in what development pipeline? What were the models modelled in? What was used for texturing? Did you use "sculpting" tools for creation of the normal maps? How many polygons are there roughly for models in the final gameplay? What special visual effects are used for the overall ambience, apart from blooms, glows and camera tints? What texture sizes are used? Etc, etc, etc.

Apart from semi-professional reasons, I'm asking this because I _know_ I'm going to look at other contemporary fantasy games now, and say "oh for crying out loud, if a small independent development company can create something this beautiful, why can't (insert huge company name here)!?" ;P

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Lucas W
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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby Lucas W » Tue Jun 29, 2010 4:07 pm

Sinus wrote:Hello.

May an amateur future would-be 3D artist ask a "behind the scenes" technical question? Namely: how were Trine's graphics created? What tools were used, in what development pipeline? What were the models modelled in? What was used for texturing? Did you use "sculpting" tools for creation of the normal maps? How many polygons are there roughly for models in the final gameplay? What special visual effects are used for the overall ambience, apart from blooms, glows and camera tints? What texture sizes are used? Etc, etc, etc.

Apart from semi-professional reasons, I'm asking this because I _know_ I'm going to look at other contemporary fantasy games now, and say "oh for crying out loud, if a small independent development company can create something this beautiful, why can't (insert huge company name here)!?" ;P


As Mr. File Snooper I'll let you in on some info.

"How were Trine's graphics created"

.EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) for models.

"What was used for texturing"

.DDS (DirectDraw) format

"Did you use "sculpting" tools for creation of the normal maps"

That, I can't answer as the maps are in .bin(ary) format (to protect the source code)

"How were Trine's graphics created? What tools were used"

You could use Photoshop or similar Image Manipulations Program(s) as the models are just flat images with....boxs and the texture are just colour which (as you know) gets wrapped around the mesh.

I have used GIMP with addons for it to open .DDS (A google search away) and GhostScript for opening .EPS (GIMP refuses to open them but I can still view them in GhostScript)

How's that for 2 days of studying Trine? :P

Also, Trine's sounds are in .OOG format, and you can replace them with your own sounds! :D I tested that by replacing the Thief's dying sounds to the meme "WTF BOOM" and it hilariously worked. Thinking of putting a more appropriate death meme sounds, though.

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fb_joel
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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby fb_joel » Tue Jun 29, 2010 4:51 pm

How do you get .eps for the models... :P The models are .s3d, which is our proprietary format (I bet there's a gazillion similar around though). They are exported mostly from LightWave 3D, which is our primary 3D modeller software. I believe the other graphics tools are Photoshop (for textures/general) and Zbrush. We also have a couple of other tools but I think they are used infrequently.

I can't really say anything about polygons... I think we have quite a bit of polygons, e.g. comparable to any 3rd person action game, although I think the skeletons were optimized quite heavily because there's so many of them. All visual effects come from our inhouse engine/editor, I don't know too much about that (except that there's at least some fog used to hide background areas etc). The beautiful visual look of Trine comes from a combination of all these things, and from exceptional use of lighting. Texture sizes vary a lot, I think we use some really tiny ones and up to 1024x1024/2048x2048 stuff. It's probably mostly 256x256 for smaller objects and 512x512 and 1024x1024 for bigger assets.

Ultimately game development is not about the technical aspects that much, it's about the team's combined efforts/skill. We've got a great team and atmosphere, and we don't need to follow e.g. a publisher's guidelines or anything like that. 8)

You may want to read the Trine postmortem @ Gamasutra. It's not very technical but it's a good read anyway.

I hope this helps. :)
// Joel, Frozenbyte team

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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby Sinus » Tue Jun 29, 2010 7:42 pm

Lucas W wrote:"How were Trine's graphics created"
.EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) for models.


EPS for models..? Since when does the EPS format feature any kind of 3-D data, texels, bones and other model components..? I've seen B3D and S3D files in the game's FBZ, which are clearly 3-D models belonging to some program I don't know, but the EPS files are flattened meshes (perhaps rendered unwraps as base for texturing?).

Lucas W wrote:"What was used for texturing"

.DDS (DirectDraw) format


A game running under DirectX has to use DDS textures, or at least some other format which easily translates into DDS (like Blizzard's BLP/BLP2 used in Warcraft III/World of Warcraft), so no surprise there. I was rather wondering what software package was used in this particular case.

"How were Trine's graphics created? What tools were used"

You could use Photoshop or similar Image Manipulations Program(s) as the models are just flat images with....boxs and the texture are just colour which (as you know) gets wrapped around the mesh.

I have used GIMP with addons for it to open .DDS (A google search away) and GhostScript for opening .EPS (GIMP refuses to open them but I can still view them in GhostScript)


With Windows 7 even Paint could be used, as it finally got some soft-edged drawing tools. My question was rather about what software to FrozenByte use in particular, what they recommend, basing on their experience. Majoring in 3-D animation I have used several 2-D and 3-D graphics packages, from Photoshop through old Softimage through XSI to 3DS Max and Poser and Maya, so I do know the basics. I rather wished - and thus still wish - to know what particular software/techniques were used in this specific case.
Last edited by Sinus on Tue Jun 29, 2010 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sinus
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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby Sinus » Tue Jun 29, 2010 8:59 pm

Ooo! A dev answer! And just what I needed first and foremost, thank you! :]

Okay, if I may turn this thread into a tool/technique discussion for a tiny moment...

Basic modelling. Why Lightwave? I've used 3DSMax and XSI and they both had a very good poly editing workflow, usually "starting from a box" with all the typical tools like crease, ridge, ring, loop, soft selection edges etc. - does Lightwave now feature something easier, or is it just a cheaper alternative (hey, that matters!), or are you just Amiga-rooted and accustomed to Lightwave just because you like it?

Texturing. Photoshop, you say, no surprise there - what do you use for exporting to DDS, by the way? The nVidia export plugin, or some batch conversion tool so as not to have to export-to-DDS every time?

Sculpting. ZBrush, eh? I wonder why Mudbox isn't too popular, apart from the price, anyway. But anyway, ZBrush says it all, whoever worked on that for a while can immediately recognize its effects in-game ;P Especially on the trees and statues, which are small wonders in themselves.

Good for you to be independent, though - I for one know how it's like when the developers or sponsors dictate some changes that they feel would be best, even if you have to trash your entire month's work and you know it's a bad move. Mmmyeah.

Anyway, thanks for the response. If you have any other development anecdotes - like in the Gamasutra article, a very nice read indeed! - that you think might bore a statistical reader to tears (but certainly won't bore a dabbler like myself!), by all means, please share! Having participated (and, kinda, won) in a major modding contest for The Witcher I'll definitely appreciate any tidbits of practical tips that might come in handy one day, or be just a good read in itself :]

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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby fb_joel » Tue Jun 29, 2010 11:32 pm

Well this is starting to go beyond my expertise to be honest. But I'll try. :)

We use LightWave because it is cost-effective and reasonably suited to our needs. Apparently the new versions and CORE are pretty good in general too. Our guys have used Maya and 3dsmax before too but it's probably just easier to keep the pipeline the same on every computer.

We have our own custom exporters that we use for textures I think (or rather, one huge exporter thingie that converts all file types except models).

We tried to put everything in the postmortem so there's not a lot of stories left to tell, or at least it's getting hard to remember them, heh. Nice to hear about your background, always welcome to see true modders around (it's very tough work and in many ways probably doesn't differ that much from 'real' development, except for the communication aspect if the team can't be together physically).

Anyhow, I'm going to ask around tomorrow and see if I need to correct some things... wouldn't be the first time I'm wrong on these kind of things. ;)
// Joel, Frozenbyte team

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Lucas W
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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby Lucas W » Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:33 am

Sinus wrote:
Lucas W wrote:"How were Trine's graphics created"
.EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) for models.

EPS for models..? Since when does the EPS format feature any kind of 3-D data, texels, bones and other model components..? I've seen B3D and S3D files in the game's FBZ, which are clearly 3-D models belonging to some program I don't know, but the EPS files are flattened meshes (perhaps rendered unwraps as base for texturing?).



EG. "data1.fbz\data\model\actor\humanoid\player\CHARACTER\dev\" Open up any of the .EPS files

Here's what I get for the warrior (Hopes this isn't illegal?)

Image

(Sorry for the Paint drawing of your company name)

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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby Sinus » Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:58 pm

I did open these files, no need to prove a point here :)
This seems like an unwrapped mesh, ready for painting the skins on. Unless Frozenbyte were using some 3-D painting tool (Zbrush has some, I believe), they'd likely draw on top of that mesh - this wouldn't definitely be the model itself, but rather a preview of how the engine understands its surfaces when it places textures all over it.

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Lucas W
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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby Lucas W » Thu Jul 01, 2010 1:19 am

Maybe it's a mesh for the physics engine?

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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby Sinus » Thu Jul 01, 2010 4:27 am

As far as I know physics engines, they mostly use simplified placeholder objects only roughly the shape of actual objects. Take the spiky balls in Trine - they roll about as if they were perfectly round, even though they do have spikes which should stop their rolling very quickly.

You seem definitely bent on that this is a mesh used for something in-game. I'm saying it's the model unwrapped as a canvas for texturing.

Can one of the devs please make a judgment? ;P

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Lucas W
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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby Lucas W » Thu Jul 01, 2010 9:32 am

You seem definitely bent on that this is a mesh used for something in-game. I'm saying it's the model unwrapped as a canvas for texturing.


I just figured it out. Gosh I'm dumb...... You had it all along. There's a reason why it's in a Dev folder :P

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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby fb_joel » Thu Jul 01, 2010 5:47 pm

Yes, that file and other similar .eps files are sometimes used as a simple guide when creating the final textures. I didn't actually know this myself either but it makes sense. The \dev files shouldn't have been included with the game in the first place, oh well. :)
// Joel, Frozenbyte team

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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby Sinus » Thu Jul 01, 2010 6:09 pm

And who says dev/ files would necessarily be development-stage only? ;P It wouldn't be the first time a release's files or folders would be named out of whack... ;D

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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby fb_joel » Thu Jul 01, 2010 6:16 pm

Well, yeah... In this case they really are dev-only though. We reorganized the whole Trine file folder structure at the beginning of the project - the Shadowgrounds games are a big mess, Trine is a bit less (but it still became a mess of sorts). I guess nature likes chaos. ;)
// Joel, Frozenbyte team

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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby FB_Lauri » Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:02 am

I'm not artist either, but I can add up a few programs our artists use (but it's likely that I forgot someting or that I'm incorrect with something):

Modo (modeling / sculpting / many texture maps)
LightWave 3D (modeling)
Maya (modeling)
CrazyBump (bumpmaps)
PhotoShop (textures)
Premiere (video editing)
Vegas (video editing)
After Effects (video editing)
Our own tools (everything else)

We also have tons of other programs which are used, or not. Also, many programs have many plug-ins to ease work. Also, before Joel is nitpicking here, some programs are new to us and are used in Trine 2 development :D.

However, our artists uses most ... pencil and paper, for sketches :lol:

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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby Sinus » Wed Jul 07, 2010 3:12 am

Wooo. Now this is quite an interesting list, especially to me as I've never even heard of CrazyBump or Modo (looking into them now!).

You do know that it would be a tremendous read, if you happened to - you know, occasionally, to "talk to a rubber duck" maybe - post some dev-blog-like about how Trine 2 comes to life? Even silly little tidbits, like "we had to remap the whole qqqq animation, because Yyyyy rigged the bones badly at the elbows and forgot to do this or that semi-important thing that's actually important in this case" or "here's how Zzzzz's texture looked upon first loading in the game: [horrible pic here]. This, children, is what happens when you forget to assign mipmap count in a texture".

Who knows, maybe all of that technical jargon will sound like mother tongue to some crazily skilled modders out there, that might spring up if you ever enable some sort of modding in your games? You know, just to rev up the hype from the development side? :]

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Lucas W
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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby Lucas W » Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:47 am

if you ever enable some sort of modding in your games?


You CAN do modding in Trine.

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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby fb_joel » Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:35 pm

Yeah you can basically edit the data.fbz packages and replace files with other ones, and scripts are easily editable (although you might need to copy some script compiler stuff from e.g. Shadowgrounds Survivor to be able to create the .dhps files from the readable .dhs files, or you could just edit .dhps directly).

We don't officially support modding in Trine though.

I hope we have some time to start a blog about Trine 2/general stuff, but we'll have to see how things go...
// Joel, Frozenbyte team

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Lucas W
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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby Lucas W » Wed Jul 07, 2010 3:59 pm

But all the scripts are in .bin files.

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fb_joel
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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby fb_joel » Wed Jul 07, 2010 4:15 pm

D'oh! Indeed they are, I forgot that we started using that for release versions. So forget what I said above. :)
// Joel, Frozenbyte team

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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby Mr. ShadowStealer » Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:48 pm

Yeah, every game out there is possible to be modded, even without support from the developers, as long as you have enough time, knowledge and right tools. ;P

Even Robot Arena 2 got modded so that it's compiled core code was changed, meaning that they changed that unreadable code a bit and made it work.
Not all of you have äää's and ööö's :P

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Lucas W
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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby Lucas W » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:13 am

Would it be legal to hand out the script files to interested individuals?

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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby Mr. ShadowStealer » Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:41 pm

I think that's the spot where you should stop.

I think somewhere in that EULA (that very long text on which you agree without reading a line) says that reverse engineering is not tolerated, will be punished and is illegal act on the copyrighted material. And also you shouldn't share any part of the game to publicity and yadda yadda yadda. ;P

Or did I miss a point here? :P
Not all of you have äää's and ööö's :P

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Lucas W
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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby Lucas W » Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:35 pm

If they included the Scripts in the Shadowgrounds game, It must be legal to include them with Trine. The files are probably in a smaller size when packaged(?) into a .bin file.

Also, If I reaaaalyy wanted to edit the files I *could* but I have no clue of how to use such program and it would be rather pointless when I could ask if it would be possible for interested individuals could take a look (And have Trine go to the moon! :D)

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Re: Technology used for Trine?

Postby fb_joel » Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:54 pm

Well, in all honesty there's not much of a point to editing the script files. There are things you could do but they are rather limited if you don't have deep knowledge of the engine/game (i.e. I could probably modify an arrow's damage, start a dialogue conversation and play some sounds, or something like that, but anything more advanced and it's getting tough - and I know how the scripts work even if I'm no programmer). So for someone starting fresh, it's just a waste of time in my opinion. Trine 2 is not based on the Trine 1 code/scripts at all so there's no hypothetical future use either. (If we would give out script files then I suppose it would be perfectly legal - and it's all our own code as far as I know, so there's no such legal issues.)

If you are interested in e.g. the syntax and such that we use, you could just as well look at Shadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds Survivor modding/scripting - it's 100% the same (although Trine is more complex and has new commands etc, and the files are compressed into .bin). Rather embarrassing to link to that when there's so little content, but oh well. :)
// Joel, Frozenbyte team


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