Unit 49: 3d computer Games Engines

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Unit 49: 3D Computer Games Engines

Tutor: Chris Gray

Date: 04/10/2013

By Ashley Smith

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction………………………………………………………………………… 3

  2. Static Elements…………………………………………………………………….. 3

  3. Dynamic Elements…………………………………………………………………………...... 4 - 6

  4. Conclusion................................................................................................... 6


In this assignment, I will be describing how static and dynamic 3D elements are related to one another within a computer game. This will be in a form of a written report accompanied with a range of resources. I will compare different computer games to analyse and determine what static and dynamic 3D elements are then explain the relationship between them.

Task 1

You must describe how static and dynamic 3D elements relate to one another in a computer game.
Analysis of Static 3D Elements

Static 3D elements in computer games are elements within a game which usually cannot be interacted with and what primarily make up a game. This can include environmental architecture and 3D objects such as buildings, walls, floor, rocks and crates; foliage is another static 3D element as it cannot be affected or manipulated by the player. In some games such as half life 2, some static objects can be interacted with as they aid the player throughout the game; these objects can be ammo crates, health packs and power ups.

Non player able characters (NPC's) are elements within a game which the player can interact with, however this does not necessarily mean these are dynamic. http://www.gamearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/world-of-warcraft_quest-marker.jpg

Nerurkar, (2010)
A great example of this is in the game World of Warcraft is where Static NPC's give players quests to do. Another static element is a skybox which according to Clare (2012), "The skybox is essentially anything beyond the immediate environment that the player will see: it can include the horizon, the sky, and even the ground." These are static because they cannot be interacted with by the player and are always out of reach.
Static light mapping within a computer game was mainly used within older games to light up areas; these are static as they do not give off dynamic shadows when an object obstructs the light.
In conclusion, static 3D elements are rules within a game that the player has to abide by such as walls and floors cannot be moved and usually are non intractable so the player has to navigate around them to progress to an objective. Static elements are used to enhance gameplay, realism and help players throughout a map. (With the exception of walls in games like Battlefield 3 where these can be destroyed thus becoming dynamic). Indy games use very simple game mechanics so static 3D elements are employed heavily.

Analysis of Dynamic 3D elements

Dynamic 3D elements in computer games are elements which can be interacted with and changed. These include animated 3D meshes, entities such as items, objects and NPC's, dynamic triggers, A.I path finding, A.I waypoints, volumetric objects (e.g. water) and lighting.

Animated 3D meshes can be anything in the level what moves, this can be vehicles, players (if it is multiplayer) and textures such as bullet holes from a players weapon. For example, in the game Battlefield 3, this can be tanks, jeeps, jets, helicopters and enemy players. If the player has Interaction with any of the vehicles it will result in the movement of the vehicle mesh and/or weaponry upon the vehicle. These dynamic 3D elements can ultimately help the player reach an objective which could count towards a win or a loss if used by the opposing team.

Hoff (2011)
Entities and world objects are elements such as barrels, ammo, mobile health packs and furniture. These elements are dynamic because they can be picked up, moved or destroyed by the player. A good example of this is in the game Half Life 2, where the player can move and destroy an object such as a barrel. Compared to older games such as Goldeneye 007, the player could not move or destroy objects with many elements been static. Other entities include dynamic NPC's, which can be interacted with in the terms of acquiring direction within a level and the ability to kill them. http://gamentrain.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/30.jpg
Dynamic triggers are invisible points within a level which "trip" once a player has either completed an objective or walked past certain in level. For example, this can be when the player walks in a certain area it will trigger a cut scene or enemies/items to spawn. Other examples include when a player moves to an item such as a health pack to increase life which is a dynamic trigger; these are heavily used in first person shooters.

Conde Nast Publications Inc (2012)

Another 3D dynamic element is artificial path finding, this is when NPC's in game find a route around the static 3D elements such as walls and objects to get to its destination. One example of this is in the game DayZ where the zombies "lock" onto the player and map a path to that player which is dynamic because the path changes to where the player moves.

Waypoints are also present in most games such as Battlefield 3 (multiplayer Conquest), these are static points on the map where players have to capture and hold them for points for the team; the longer they are held, the more points the team gets.

This is a good example of 3D static and dynamic elements having a relationship because the waypoint is static (unmoveable) but control of the waypoint is dynamic as each team can capture it which ultimately counts towards the a winning end condition within the game.

Goss (2011)
Artificial intelligence in most games use a waypoint system in order to navigate an area, rallying to a point and attacking an objects or foe. The most basic type of A.I waypoint is the movement element, this is when a unit will move towards a final destination in a sequential order of waypoints. http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh9/paultozour/stormwind_circles.jpg
This can be dynamic because if the unit's waypoint is obstructed by an object then the unit will find a way around it by plotting new waypoints. Another type of waypoint is a rally point (used mostly in strategy games) which is a predetermined point where new units are assigned too; these are static as the units will always try and go to the same point regardless of obstacles in the way. One other waypoint is the when the player gives the order to attack someone or something. This is dynamic as the target could move when being attacked therefore the original unit has to track it.
Volumetric objects are elements such as water, fog, smoke and fire. These can be potentially game changing as it can alter the look of a level, block and aid the player in some situations. A good example of volumetric objects that control gameplay is in the game Silent Hill; this is where fog, according to Giant Bomb (2010), "was used equally to create an atmospheric element, and because of hardware limitations". The atmospheric effect also "hid" the monsters who would regularly attack the player throughout course of the game. Another example of volumetric objects that control gameplay is in the game Minecraft, this is where water can be used to do multiple task such as extinguish other volumetric elements (fire and lava) whilst it can create an obstacle for the player through the formations of river beds and the sea.

Gaming bolt (2012)
Dynamic lighting allows the player to experience realistic lighting and shadows in game. Games such as battlefield 3 use spot and directional lights meaning that the light source can be in one part of the level (such as the sun) and all shadows will cast onto surfaces from objects or animated meshes blocking that light. Dynamic lighting is heavily used in modern games because it enhances realism and works alongside static elements such as solid geometry like the floor and walls to create effects such as casting shadows. In older games, shadows were used to enhance realism but were not dynamic and often textured into static objects and surfaces. This shows how the advancement of technology has allowed for lighting to be dynamic and the relationship between 3D dynamic and static elements. http://gamingbolt.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/bf3_viaductbattle.jpg
In conclusion, dynamic and static 3D elements are as both equally important than one another. Both elements work together to enhance the game in the terms of realism. The more realistic 3D elements become, the more complex the relationships are. An example of this is with dynamic lighting, which enabled static and dynamic meshes to cast shadows on other surfaces, which allowed developers to reduce the texturing of shadows on flat surfaces.

Also, the relationship between static and dynamic 3D elements enhance gameplay and rules of a game. An example of this is with elements such as power up's that give different advantages to players to win a game or complete an objective, thus been dynamic. Static 3D elements set the rules of a game (the floor so the player can walk, obstacles the player has to overcome and keeping them in the playable area.

Adam Clare. Reality is a Game | What is a Skybox? (2012) [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.realityisagame.com/archives/1776/what-is-a-skybox/.
Martin Nerurkar. World Of Warcraft Image Gamearch.com [ONLINE] (2010). Available at: http://www.gamearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/world-of-warcraft_quest-marker.jpg. 

Eric Hoff. Half Life 2 Image [ONLINE] (2011). Available at: http://gamentrain.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/30.jpg

Conde Nast Publications Inc. DayZ Image [ONLINE]. (2012). Available at: http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/dayz-best-zombie-mod-game-ever-2.jpeg.
James Goss. A.I Waypoints [ONLINE] (2011). Available at: http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh9/PaulTozour/Stormwind_circles.jpg.

Giant Bomb. Fog (Concept) - Giant Bomb [ONLINE] (2010). Available at: http://www.giantbomb.com/fog/3015-904/.

Gaming bolt. Battlefield 3 Dynamic lighting [ONLINE] (2012). Available at: http://gamingbolt.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/BF3_ViaductBattle.jpg. 

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