6.1– Add Little Details

It's really the little details that add life to a level. These are often the things we take for granted and don't generally think about but never-the-less things things are there and we should pay attention to them for the sake of our levels. I'm talking about things like electrical sockets, switches on walls, irregularities here and there a ton of other things that, if we are careful observers, we will see all around us all the time.

This is also where we have to be very careful. If we don't take care about how we add these details then we may find that these details will slow our frame rate down too much. So there has to be a fine balance. There are some ways to add details that will cost us nothing but time in creating them. One such way is to add some of these details to textures themselves. If you are creating a texture for a wall, then why not add an electrical socket in there? There are usually several along a single wall so a little repetition as the texture tiles shouldn't be a problem. These are the sorts of details we should be thinking about as we are developing our textures.

There are other ways to add details as well. One way is to use sprites. Sprites are great to use as decals for non-repetitious things like a unique crack in a wall, a poster or picture that is only in one place, a newspaper or piece of paper on the floor and other such things. You will have to set a little code to keep the sprite from orienting to the camera all the time (refer to the C-Script manuals for more information on that), but using sprites effectively can be a very good way to add details and break up repetition. If you add a little bit of transparency to your sprite you can make the sprite seem as if it is an actual part of a texture as well.

You can also add 3D details by using models. This could include things like books, soda cans, bottles and many other things. Since these items are not “main” items in a game (i.e. the player is not going to pay too much attention to them) they don't need to be hi-poly models at all. Quite the opposite. There is an advantage to using 3D models for details and that is you can animate them should you want to. You can make, for example, a piece of paper that blows in the wind, bottles that break when hit and a lot of other things.

Just like choosing the proper textures, adding details takes some forethought as well. Take your time, plan out your levels and add the details that you think would breathe life into your levels. Just don't overdo it. Too much detail can be distracting to the player and actually take away from the game.

Return to Part 6 - Misc.
Go to Part 6.2 - Using Map Entities