The first stage of creating a 3D image is to use a 3D design tool to build the item, character or object in question. Lets take the example of a Dark Young, these are the monstrous living-tree beasts who are the foul offspring of their mother-deity, Shub-Niggurath. Now their creators describes them as thus; “…it was the black thing of my dreams – that black ropy, slimy jelly tree-thing out of the woods.” (from Robert Bloch’s ‘Notebook Found in a Deserted House’)
Stuart starts by creating a really high resolution model for the Dark Young. With such tools (you can try the free and open source Blender if you want to try 3D creation yourself!) we create a 3-dimensional model of the object, like a virtual sculpture. In graphics terms, the more complex the model, the better it looks, but the more processing time it takes to display it and move it around on the screen. This is why a Pixar film will always look better than a PS3 game – because they are not generating the film in real time. They can take weeks if need be, to generate a few minutes of footage whereas a game is real-time.
Because the player can be anywhere in the level, the graphics have to be calculated on-the-fly continuously. That means in-game we’re always looking to keep the complexity of the model down while trying to keep it looking good. Here’s our high quality (or high poly, as in ‘polygon’, as we call it) version:
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