A history of 3D texturing in video games

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A history of 3D texturing in video games

Senior environment artist, Ryan Benno, from Insomniac Games has put together a super informative Twitter thread It looks at the history of 3D texturing in video games, and it’s definitely worth a look if you’re interested in how games are put together or if you want to learn something new.

Showing the evolution of texturing from the ’90s, Ryan, who most recently worked on Marvel’s Spider-Man, digs into the differences between real-time rendering and pre-rendered textures, looking at how each type delivers different results and affects on hardware performance.

For example, he clarifies how the rise of the first genuine 3D consoles like the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation exposed a portion of the limitations of real-time rendering, with engineers at the time unable to bake lighting and shadows into a scene or use bump mapping.

It resulted in some fairly imaginative workarounds, and specialists would frequently paint lighting information (shadows, highlights, and depth) onto the vertices of textures themselves to make areas to seem lighter or darker.

Player shadows were likewise ordinarily contained a single surface that chased the character, as there was no real way to throw real shadows at the time. That’s right, that implies shadows were just lonely textured glued to their counterparts, doomed to pursue their host to the very ends of the Earth. How despairing.

If those brief tidbits scratched an itch, you’ll unquestionably need to look at the full thread, which digs into everything from unique maps and real-time shadow acting to ambient occlusion. It’s a veritable fortune trove of game development delights.