[casual_games] Procedural rendering - again

James C. Smith james at Reflexive.net
Tue Jan 10 13:34:21 EST 2006

AS>> Did you consider JPEG2000? In the Ricochet there 
AS>> are lots of JPEG artifacts that really annoy me 
AS>> (especially in the menu).

No. We never tried JPEG 2000.  I am curios which version of Ricochet you
were looking at.  In Ricochet Recharged we got very aggressive with the
compression and it looks a little bad but this is not how most of our games
look.  Ricochet Lost Worlds had 170 levels and was 13.6 MB.  Ricochet
Recharged uses the same art but different levels and different art
compression to squeeze 360 levels into a game with a download foot print
under 10 meg. In other words, we removed more than 3 MB of art resolution in
the Recharged version but the earlier "Ricochet Lost Worlds" game was higher
image quality.

JB>> With that graphics ratio, it'

We use different compression ratios for each piece of art depending on the
content and usage. Some art shows compression artifacts more then others and
some art (like the player character) is more important. So we end up use
lossless compression on some art and very low quality JPEG compression on
others and higher quality JPEG on the rest.  Overall JPEG gives us a
distribution size for the images that is about 25% as big as it would be if
we used lossless compression and about 13% as big as the original images.
For example, The Big Kahuna Reef distribution files contains 3.66 MB of
images.  (this is all art including animations of fish swimming and static
images like splash screens and menus).  They are stores in a proprietary
file format that uses JPEG compression but also stores alpha channels. The
"source" files that those proprietary format image files are created form
are 32 bit TGA images.  There are over 2 thousand source TGA that total 27.1
MB. These TGA use lossless RLE compression.  But any time you are taking
about distribution size, it is more useful to see how big those files would
be if they were compressed by your installer.  When I build an installer
that contains those 2 thousand TGA images it is 14.6 MB not counting the
size of the installer stub (just counting the data in the installer and not
the installer program itself.)  

In other words, using the JPEG compression on the RGB data, and our own
proprietary compression on the Alpha channels, what would have been 14.6 MB
of art data in the distribution was compressed down to 3.66 MB.  

JB>> I also wonder what people use for animation compression
We have just started using FLASH for this in some cases for our games in
development. It includes a very nice video codec.  We first used FLASH for
the Reflexive Logo movie in Big Kahuna Words.  We are not talking about
vector graphics here. This is pre-rendered 3D animation that is compress as
video. But this is still new to us. Most of our animation (especially on
older games) is just a sequence of individually compressed images.

JB>> [AGG vectors] Doesn't go well with your graphical style, or is the
process cumbersome?
Is that a question or a statement?  I think it works very well and goes well
with the style of the game.  The tool in our engine can be used to do more
than "water mark" looking stuff. That is just the style we chose to use for
this game. But if you look at the used created level for this game you will
see an amazing variety of art drawn with our vector tools. See
http://www.bigkahunawords.com/levels/  All the pictures you see on those
levels are things drawn with our vector art tools.

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