Tag Archives: Bioshock

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You see that i run out of topics by talking about tricks which aren’t existing. Do you know that, if a game looks better in your imagination than it actual does? I had a nice detail in my mind which i saw in Bioshock. So i revisited the game and…it wasn’t made how i thought. :(

So what now? Forget about it or mention it anyway? Maybe someone could use at least the idea…let’s see:

When i saw this door in Biohock for the first time, i immediatelly noticed: the reflections are well  done. And today i think: they still are! Look how great the wood differs from the glass. And how the two structures of the glass pop out. ♥ But i had something different in my memory…

Source: Bioshock

…because a specular map only controls the intensity of the specular, but not the size of the spot. The smoother a surface, the smaller the light source reflection. If a surface is rough, you get a bigger and smoother reflection. Below you find a link to a polycount thread with a link to the Valve Wiki for more information.

More Info: HERE

My point is, that i thought that Bioshock would not only control the specular strength but also the size of the spot (smaller on the glass, bigger on the wood). But after short look into the game and their textures it was clear: they don’t (there was no extra control texture).

Source: Bioshock (left: diffuse, right: specular)

I wrote this article anyway because of three things:
  1. Maybe i could inspire you to think about the specular issue in general. It’s very interesting how light works and how we try to press this complex phenomenon in game engines.
  2. I think even with a standard specular map, the door is a really great example how well specular can (and should) be used for different materials.
  3. Something which speaks against the idea of controlling the reflection size (besides of the setup effort): You have to store the information somewhere. Regardless if you do it per vertex color, in a texture mask, in a color channel or per object: you need extra resources.

I would love to hear your opinion about this article. Because it’s not about an awesome trick but on the other hand it is definitely a great example. So feel free to contact me and tell me your opinion!