Battlezone 98 fans... it's nearly here!
As we get closer and closer to the launch of Battlezone 98 Redux ,we're excited to continue our dev blog series as we delve deep into the remaster's development. Here, courtesy of producer Mike Arkin, is the second entry in the series, in which Mike talks about how his team have given Redux's models a thorough makeover.
Hi, my name is Mike Arkin and I’m the producer of Battlezone 98 Redux. By strange coincidence, I was also a member of the original team that launched Battlezone in 1998. In this second dev diary I’m going to talk about what we did to enhance the art for Redux - specifically the vehicle and building models.
In 1998, the state-of-the-art in 3D games was very different to what it is today. Back then, the Grizzly tank was made up of about 300 polygons and it had a single texture that was 128 pixels by 128 pixels i.e. an 8-bit image! We thought it looked great at the time, but bear in mind that the average PC didn’t even have a 3D card back then and when they did, our target was a card with 4MB of ram. 4 megabytes! Yikes.
A GRIZZLY TRANSFORMATION
Here is what that Grizzly looked like. Notice how rough the textures are and how, because the models have such low polygon counts, there is almost no detail - it’s all just flat.
Fast forward 17 years later and PCs are just a little bit faster. And we really wanted to make Battlezone 98 Redux shine. So the first step was to remodel all the tanks at a much more reasonable level of detail, at around 8000-10,000 polygons in fact. We actually used the original models as reference since it was important to us that the vehicles in game felt familiar. We wanted the same shape, but better looking.
We didn’t actually have the original models from scratch, but using a utility called NOESIS we were able to convert the cooked game assets back into a format called FBX. This meant we could use the exact models and textures as a basis for the new models.
So, here is the new Grizzly model. Notice we added lots of detail and rounded all the sharp edges a bit. The tank barrel is no longer just a long rectangle as we gave it some flutes and an actual opening.
LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!
Once we did that, it was time for new textures. With our minimum specifications just a bit upgraded from the 4MB days, we were able to redo the textures to match the new models.
The end result: 2048x2048 per vehicle with even larger textures for larger buildings
Here is the texture for the new Grizzly…
And here is the textured Grizzly …looking good, baby, ready for outer space war!
We really wanted to keep the look of the original tank though key elements like the star and eye decor. We also wanted to retain the roughened, rugged look from the original game, which was very different then the super clean look of Battlezone 2.
But wait, there’s more! Video cards now have programmable shaders, and modern shaders can read multiple textures, so we didn’t just use a single texture like we did in the original game.
We added a few extra bits like a specular map to show where the vehicle should be shiny.
And a normal map, which helps to show the way light reflects.
And an emissive map, which shows where on the vehicle there is light being emitted
The emissive map is great because now we can have things glow, and we’ve sure made a bunch of things glow. Once we saw it in action we wanted things to really pop, so we added a full screen shader to make all the emissive effects on screen have a super glow effect.
Which, I think you’ll agree, looks superb.
THE FINAL RESULT
So when you put it all together, you can see that our tanks (and buildings) look fantastic!
One of the other things we could do with these fancy new shaders was real-time shadowing, so now as you can see the tank has some nice fancy lighting which now includes-self shadowing. If you don’t know the term, self shadowing means the light from the sun causes parts of the vehicles to cast shadows onto themselves. So, for example, the tank gun casts a shadow onto the tank.
Even the old boxy pilot got a makeover!
He’s not just blessed with a high polygon count and a fancy new texture. Now he’s a skinned model with 18 animations. That’s about 15 more than the original!
So there you go, high-poly models, fantastic textures and modern shaders, took us from here...
Not bad, right?
Thanks again for reading! We can’t wait to show you Battlezone 98 Redux very soon. As ever, if you have any questions or want more info, feel free on the Steam forums – I’d love to respond to you!
Battlezone 98 Redux is coming to Steam this spring.