AAG the next big thing in computer games.
[Computer][Future Technology][Games]

It seems like the next big thing in the computer science of games is Automated Art Generation (a term I made up). While most companies know that generating art is one of the most costly part of making a game (typically significantly more than paying for any programming), recently a few big names have realized that there is, in fact, something that we can do about it.

Epic plans to release an AAG for outdoor maps with their Unreal 3 engine (source: Maximum PC Magazine). A 3D modeller will simply have to sculpt the landscape, deciding what the elevation of different points are, and the AAG will automatically recognize the "signatures" of various terrain types, and apply textures and vegetation automatically. Create a gently slopping surface, and the AAG will recognize this to be a hill, and add a grassy texture. Create a surface that sharply drops off, and the AAG will say "Hey, this is a cliff!" and add rocky textures. Obviously, the AAG will have a set of grass textures which it will apply randomly to create a sense of variation, as opposed to tiling the same grass texture over and over again, making the tiling points obvious.

Microsoft has patented an AAG which presumably will be released with the development kit for the XBox 2 console. "The example given of this in the patent is setting a processor to work on generating a realistic tree using geometry data for a leaf and physics data for the world around the tree - technology which would relieve much of the huge burden which generating art resources for next-generation games presents to developers." A spokesperson for Microsoft said: "Art is the highest cost component of game development, and so much of the art is really repetitive and really intensive, and then doesn't come out to be very realistic. You know, bricks in a wall - very repeated textures. Let's go write the brick program and run the brick program to make a room full of bricks, lose the art expense and gain a more realistic looking room, because now we can focus on having the bricks there in a really realistic way."

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1. WCN said:
so all it does it put textures on surfaces? does it upwrap the surface by itself? I don't really get it..
Posted on Thu January 6th, 2005, 9:49 PM EST acknowledged
2. Nebu Pookins said:

I don't know what upwrapping is, but it may add vegetation type models (e.g. grass and trees) in addition to applying textures. And in an engine like Half Life, where textures are associated with physical properties (coefficient of friction, effect of being fired upon, footstep sounds when the player walks on this type of terrain etc.), all those physical properties would be applied too, I'd assume.

The idea, I think, is all you have to do is draw the mesh that makes up the ground and the level is done. You don't need to add textures or vegetations or anything like that. You don't even need to draw 5 different "grass textures", and you don't need to make sure that tiling doesn't appear in your game (unlike those old Dragon Warrior or Final Fantasy games, where every grass tile looked exactly the same). The AAG generates random textures for you, using the similar technology as those Photoshop filters that generate random textures.

Posted on Fri January 7th, 2005, 11:08 AM EST acknowledged

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