To make a map as realistic as possible, it’s vital that the graphics engine really make the landscape shine. Terrain and water are two of the key elements in World of Tanks for making great battlefields so let’s go into further detail to see how it’s all changing for the better.
Terrain: It’s One of Many Layers
With the new graphics engine, we increased both the geometric and textural detail of the landscape. Even the tiniest elevation is more noticeable—and all the small things: grass, leaves, and stones. The level of detail is much more than you’ve ever experienced before in World of Tanks.
Virtual texture has been used to increase the level of detail while keeping the performance at a similar level as before—it allows for improved blending of textures. When standing still the terrain will not change, however moving will result in new textures being generated gradually between frames.
Greater detail is achieved through tessellation technology—meaning that the volume and complexities of various objects are better realized by adding more triangles to the geometry, dramatically increasing the overall level of detail.
Outland: More Changes on the Horizon
Another goal is to increase the rendering of the terrain to the horizon—in simple terms, all the details beyond the map’s limits. As you may have seen on the Sandbox server, it looks impressive. Maps may seem familiar with a foreign twist. Space is no longer limited, for example:
For all this to be possible, we have developed a special mechanism for Outland—drawing terrain up to the horizon. On some maps, Outland covers more than 1000km2! So what does this mean for performance? The entire process is not demanding, for example: with standard graphics, we use a snapshot of objects outside the map in 360 degrees. This allows for the atmosphere to stay the same, just with a little less dynamism.
We’re still striving to improve performance and increase the number of objects using tessellation in the foreseeable future. This not only means greater realism for terrain, but tanks with a lot of smaller details.
Plans are also in the works to increase the interactivity of the terrain. The foundations are laid: the terrain is already interacting with the tracks and shells, which leave behind traces. But for now, this is only seen by the player and his impact on the battlefield.
Simply put, all the above elements combined to make it looks so realistic, you might have a problem distinguishing the game from the photo.
We’ve covered the terrain, now onto what lurks below.
Water: New Wave
We have developed technological tools that make three forms of water possible: calm for the lakes, current for the rivers and waves for the sea. Along with this, we also implemented a new technology for drawing reflections in water—Screen Space Reflection. Not only are objects reflected but also explosions, shots, smoke and shadows. And all of this will take less resources than before!
Remember how water surfaces were flat and you had to use your imagination to make it seem realistic? With the new engine, ripples will form and waves will crash on the shore. Rivers will no longer just be a flat water texture unless driven through, there is now a noticeable rocking on the water.
If you look at the crest of the waves, you can see that the lighting affects it: the peak becomes slightly bluish and foam is formed with the current.
When moving through water or firing, currents form and show signs of shots. It was discussed to add a feature to put out a burning tank by plunging into the water, but unfortunately it could result in tanks sitting in water throughout a battle because people wanted an economic solution to fire extinguishers.
As you can see the water looks so realistic that after the heat of battle, you might just want to submerge yourself.
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