Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Better Smoke Clouds


On my list of stuff I think looks not good enough, for me to improve when I am ahead of schdule and ‘treating myself’, is the black smoke clouds left behind when ships explode (mainly cruisers). They always looked a bit poor, and were just a handful of big sprites that rotated and faded in and out.

I’ve spent a good few hours investigating techniques and ideas and ended up with this:

Looks better in motion. Despite a lot of reading about fluid dynamics and mega-particles and other stuff, I ended up just using spinning sprites again, but this time with tons of refinements, in terms of different sizes, generation delays, greater sprite contrasts, and using sine waves to control spin speed degradation, sprite size growth and also now have 2 distinct groups of them in different size distributions.

I also experimented splitting them into layers so ships could fly through the smoke, underneath half of it, but it looked a bit wishy washy so I junked it. There is some extra fillrate involved in doing this, but I don’t think GSB is maxxing out many video cards right now, and this does look better to my eye.

Also, retreating now works 100% in the campaign game. Just need to have a visual retreat countdown timer and some tutorial hints for it now.

5 thoughts on Better Smoke Clouds

  1. Among the best smoke effects I’ve seen! Awesome work!
    I wonder how it’ll look in motion though …

    Have you considered rendering your particles in a lower resolution buffer?
    It should save you some fill-rate ..

  2. Sorry Sander:
    I hate those lower resolution renderings!
    I think that it looks bad in most games?
    If you program it right, the buffer and rendering should be fast enough to handle it.
    Also it’s not like 10 big cruiser explosions at the same time in a normal game.

    Way to go!!
    Although fluid dynamics would be nice I guess in space it won’t be so good looking.

    I guess all that explosions and gasses when spaceships are being destructed is wrong.
    Imagine: The hull of a ship get the first hole.
    (There is no need for real explosions in the first place!)
    Gas should rush out in a fast manner (because of the pressure difference) and will distribute like a splash in space.
    Problem: You can’t see air in space.

    So what’s left? “Fuel”.
    If we imagine that the fuel is something like oil today, and not exploding from the last shot:
    It would “swell” out of the holes in the hull, building bubbles I guess, which are then moving quite fast into the universe.
    So… uhm…
    i would totally suck.

    Like mostly everytime something from Sci-Fi gets reality it’s sucking.
    No sound in space, no explosion sound, no nice explosions…

  3. Bwahhhhh looks like a pain in the ass for modders… will I have to change the damage model of every ship again? Bummer…

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