Black and White 2 - The Making Of.. Trees

Black and White 2 - The Making Of.. Trees Black and White 2 - The Making Of.. Trees Black and White 2 - The Making Of.. Trees

Matthew Hanlon, Game Programmer on Black&White 2 explains how forests and trees work.

Forests are just one of the many background simulations that make up the world of Black & White 2; we wanted the simulation to act like you'd expect a real forest to. Trees in the forest are split into those which are still growing and fully grown mature trees. The mature trees drop seeds which, under the right conditions, sprout into saplings, so the forest will naturally expand and produce new trees. If, for example, you pull all the trees out of the centre of a forest, over time new trees will grow into the space filling in the hole.

Our foresters have become a bit more eco-aware in B&W2; when looking for a tree to cut down they'll favour the mature trees over those that are still growing - allowing the forest to sustain itself. The larger trees mean more wood resource for you, and with the resource miracles gone, you need those trees.

One of the new concepts introduced to BW2 is fertility. The ground on a land ranges from ultra-fertile to totally unfertile barren land where nothing will grow. Fertility is incorporated into our forest simulation with the fertility of the land affecting the growth rate or the saplings, the more fertile it is the faster they'll grow - seeds which fall on infertile land don't produce saplings. Fertility affects other things in the game, but I'm not going to tell you about them here.

Our 3D coders and artists have done a fantastic job with the tree models, like the rest of the world tree change to reflect the alignment of the player. Additionally they've developed a technique to model a tree's growth, with the amount of foliage on the tree changing with its age. All adding to the sense of a real forest, and to think before starting work here, I would have never even considered how a forest works..."

What is bloom exactly and what does it do?

Francesco Carucci - 3D Programmer : Blooming is a simple trick to enhance the perception of brightness of very bright objects. The idea behind blooming is to separate bright areas of the image and apply a filter on them to soften them up and "bleed" over the less bright portions of the image. The result is then added on top of the image to simulate the way light is diffused inside the human eye.

Have you used special inspiration for creating this effect?

Francesco Carucci : Yes! The original Halo. The first time I saw its blooming sun I wanted to do it myself. It just looked perfect and so real with sun light bleeding behind trees. A very cool effect. And Mark's help pointed me to the right direction to achieve the same effect in Black&White 2

What is your main resource of inspiration while working on a project such as B&W 2?

Francesco Carucci : Other games, in general and mainly real life. I use to look at how effects are implemented in other games and try to do the same things better. After all B&W2 must be the best looking game out there! For new effects I closely look at real life and try to understand how I can reproduce it on a screen. Water is an example: I was in Italy last summer sitting close to a lake with my brother, I noticed some beautiful sun glittering on top of the water surface and I tried to reproduce it in code when I went back to work.

What is so cool about the fields?

Ron Millar - Lead Designer : They can be any size or any shape you want! You can build them over hills or in valleys, the crops grow and you can help them with watering them or adding a tiny bit of poo.

Have you used any special inspiration for creating this?

Ron Millar : Flying in for my interview to Lionhead last April I was landing and saw all the nice little patchwork fields. I always imagined that's what Black & White 2 would look like. It's so cool to see that vision come to life.

What is your main resource of inspiration while working on a project such as B&W 2?

Ron Millar : The people on this team are my inspiration. They are fun to work with and incredible. Every day somebody creates something that propels this game forward and at least four times a week someone does something to make my jaw drop. I love working here!

Ben Sugden - Senior Engine Programmer : When I was thinking about implementing alignment for the vegetation and buildings, I was inspired by a scene in the first Lord of the Rings movie, where one of the Black Riders stood near Frodo as he hid under the tree. The woods seemed to distort in the distance as the rider approached and then the ground seemed to fester around it as it dismounted. I remember thinking how cool it would look to be able to have the alignment of the game change so profoundly in such localized conditions and in real time, so that's what I set out to do.

You can find a variety of further information on the Black and White 2 website.