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Feature: 'Developing The Look Of Star Trek Online's Starships'

In the second in our exclusive series, Perpetual's Ian Pieragostini discusses the visual look development for much-awaited MMO Star Trek Online, focusing in on the...
In the second in our exclusive series, Perpetual's Ian Pieragostini discusses the visual look development for much-awaited MMO Star Trek Online, focusing in on the starships, "one of the most recognizable characters in Star Trek". In this extract, Pieragostini explains the eventual solution to lighting after the developers decided against a method named pre-computed radiance transfer (PRT): "We ultimately abandoned PRT and went with a more traditional lighting solution. Our lighting environments are a combination of a single point light and an environmental cube map. The point light represents the main sources of light in the space scene. It is typically the nearest star. Per-pixel diffuse and specular lighting is performed for this key light. The cube map represents the contribution for other, more diffused, sources of light. For example, a nearby nebula might add a colorful glow to one side of a ship. That nebula would be painted into the cube map. Once painted, the cube map is converted to spherical harmonic basis so it looks like diffuse lighting and less like a reflection. We look up into the cube map for an additional per-pixel diffuse and specular component." You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the topic for more on the technical thinking behind the game, including exclusive screenshots of starships from Star Trek Online (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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