In most game productions 3d artists and programmers need to pay very close attention to the available texture memory. While some platforms support hundreds of megabytes of texture memory, on other platforms this memory can be extremely limited, especially on mobile devices like IPad, IPhone or Nintendo DS.
The Nintendo Wii game console offers a lot of potential for innovative gameplay, but the graphics have to deal with very limited graphics texture memory. To overcome this limitation, artists needs to master extremely time consuming techniques of texture tiling and bitmap scaling. Both can produce very blurry and unsatisfying textures if not performed carefully. In addition the processing power significantly limits the use of real-time lights and shadows.
Flatiron is the perfect choice for this kind of game development: with a few clicks the artists are able to pack all objects into a single UV Map, and render it as a shadow map or lighting map. This can be used to boost the visual quality immensely without putting too much strain on the hardware.
Lightning maps are just one example of adding more depth to the visual experience – the artists can use Flatiron to bake whole level segments into one or a few textures at once and send them to the engine – with lights, shadows, GI effects, ambient occlusion or specular highlights. All this combined delivers quite impressive results. And Flatiron makes it happen with only few mouse clicks instead of hours of tedious manual work.
Here we would like to share with you some sample images of a Wii game production, where you can see for yourself the interplay of fully baked textures for the background scenery and mapped shadows for the large ground areas. Check the training material section for a more in-depth look of how Flatiron was used for this production.