Ladies and Gentlemen please
welcome todays opponents…

…in the right corner we have a T-T-T-Tree proudly presented by The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and in the left corner we have a P-P-P-Palm brought to us by Enemy Territory: Quake Wars!

Aaaaand today every seat costs the same because the fighters look (almost) the same from near or far without performance loss! Isn’t that awesome?

Let me answer this for you: It is!

But how is it possible to show a lot palms and trees without performance loss? Is it magic? Is it a wonder? Let’s have a look and find out together!

Round #1

Both, palm and tree, look detailed from near distance! In far distance both get exchanged by a simple billboard!
Enemy Territory has the great “set r_skipdiffuse 1” command which let you deactivate the diffuse texture to see the black geometry. In Oblivion on the other hand you can turn the “Tree Fade” slider to “0” which makes you see only billboard  trees. Both options are great to visualize the difference between detail and billboard.

This make it possible to show a lot of them in a scene but to be honest, Ladies and Gentlemen, we saw something likes this pretty often, didn’t we? 1 Point for both anyway.
1:1

Round #2

For the next round the opponents have to answer the question:

Provided with the kind permission by Blendtec ®

The answer is: YES! Both blend between detailled and billboarded versions with the famous “Grainy Blend” (known from assassins creed lod blending). And both do it like a boss! If you look carefully you’ll see that they first blend in the detail geometry and then fade out the sprite while you approach them.
If you depart the sprite fades in first and then the geometry fades out. With that you avoid
to see a 50% transparent tree/palm when geometry and sprite are both fade in/out and “meet” at 50% fading progress.

There’s a light *plop* on the left side but this nice careful timing of the fading gets a shiny point for both of them!
2:2

Round #3

What a fight! We saw them from near, far and in between. But sometimes you must get at the back of your enemy to see the whole truth! Let’s walk around…

What is this? The Palm changes its texture depending on the viewing angle! Nobody could have foreseen that! The palm is able to do that because its texture contains not only one but eight (!) palms (btw. it’s interesting that they packed the Diffuse & Normal Map together in one texture…):

Depending on the viewing angle they change the used part of the texture! Nice trick! The tree in the other corner looks a bit sad and always the same from any angle. I would say we’ve a clear winner here! The P-P-P-Palm!!!
3:2
But what is that? The tree doesn’t give up and strikes out to crush the palm with his super-power: Variation!

(I used my own superpower to combine all the Oblivion tree textures into this wonderful collage)

Source of the tree texture: TES: Oblivion

While the palm is the only type of vegetation on this Enemy Territory Map, there are plenty of different tree types in Oblivion! So the final confrontation is called: Variation vs. Flexibility! But who wins can only be decided by your taste! Let me know what YOU think and until that watch the wonderful score of
3:3

Update 1
Thanks Mueckenmann for sharing this wonderful article about the creation of imposters for trees. Oh and it also contains the correct name for the “famous” fading: stippling!
Update 2
Just found this nice little insight into Uncharted 4 Imposter creation since it looks similar to what Enemy Territory did. Click here to see the complete talk.

6 thoughts on “Oblivion Territory – Tree vs Palm

  1. RavenWorks

    I feel like the palm should LOSE a point for changing angles! It’s a neat idea when you’re staring straight at it, but if you’re looking at something else, which are you going to notice more — that a round-ish mass in the distance isn’t varying its silhouette like it should be, or that something with a pointy distinct shape just suddenly jumped? A correcting discontinuity draws your attention way more than an incorrect continuity, I think…. that was the whole point of Round 2, no? ;)

    Reply
    1. Simon Post author

      You’re right. OR it could be, that they not ONLY blend sprite –> geometry but also sprite –> sprite. This would also avoid the *plopp* :D

      Reply
  2. Sam

    Could have been way better if the scores corresponded with the trees on the right side. Palm on the left in the pics but on the right in the scoring? Beyond confusing!

    Reply
    1. Simon Post author

      I changed the article :) Thank you for the suggestion! Is it better now? (actually i only had to change the 2:3 to 3:2)

      Reply
    1. Simon Post author

      Thank you very much for handing out this link! Actually it was already mentioned and i added it in the “Update” area of the article at the end. But maybe i should add the link to the text too…to make sure that people see it. :)

      Reply

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