Roman Race 6004 A.D. uses Side Effects Software Houdini

Wed 4th Dec 2002 | News

Long-time Houdini user CAMF Productions, Austrian company specializing in 3D computer animation and visualization for film, games, entertainment and other applications, has used Houdini to create highly detailed characters and terrains for the forthcoming new computer and console game title "Roman Race 6004 A.D." Modeled, textured and animated completely with Houdini, the 3D portion of the game features races between exotic teams of creatures (comprised of around 25,000 polygons in varying different versions) through changing landscapes (generated and shaded procedurally at two levels of detail).

Enhancements in Houdini 5.5, such as new character tools, a procedural interface for the VEX scripting language and the VEX builder, provided CAMF with more efficient production techniques for creating all of the 3D artwork and integrating it into the game engine.

In "Roman Race 6004 A.D.," members of a confederation of planets make their fortune racing fantastic creatures through intimidating terrains. Four teams, each made up of two characters (an animal plus a rider), currently exist within the game, with another eight pairs to be added over time. To maximize 3D elements for use across different contexts of the game, CAMF used Houdini to create high-resolution game-character models (8000-9000 polygons) that could be brought down to lower levels (800-1500 polygons) as needed with no perceivable loss in detail or distinguishing features.

The entire landscape for the game's first level version was generated procedurally in Houdini, so complex changes could be executed quickly and easily for the game engine during testing, and alterations to this environment could be automatically applied for the "game floor" and the collision objects involved. The landscape consists of two levels of detail: one fully textured and optimized for the game engine and another for cut scenes. At the game level, larger portions of the environment were cut into sections using Houdini clip SOPs (surface operators) to enable different parts of the visible landscape to be shown, or shut off, at will. For the cut sequences, textures were used only partly in favor of custom procedural shaders that could be employed to automatically assign attributes to different landscape facets, such as sand deposits to the upper levels of a canyon wall or a "wet" (or darker) look to sections of rock that had been lying in water.

Designed for Xbox and PC platforms, "Roman Race 6004 A.D." will be distributed in the U.S., Japan and Europe. A fully functional first level is scheduled to be available this month, with the entire game scheduled for availability by the end of 2003.

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