Here are some technical details about the next in the castle simulation series, Stronghold 3.
Have you changed your Art Pipeline from previous Stronghold games?
In stronghold 3 we use various art techniques depending on the type of asset we are producing.
Characters have gone through a massive overhaul from Stronghold 2. Each character now has 4 Level of detail (LOD). These LOD models change depending on their distance from the camera. By using a polygon reduction and a texture transfer technique in Autodesk Softimage we are able to transfer all high detail information from our highest model to our very low model. This results in a seamless transition between LOD models.
Not only have characters changed since Stronghold 2 but the buildings have also been revamped. Every building in Stronghold 3 has either been built from scratch or updated to a higher standard, with the emphasis on still retaining the Stronghold charm. We now have the ability to add extra assets to our buildings. Particle effects, swinging signs, torches and textures can be place in or on the buildings adding extra detail. This adds a lot to the over look of the stronghold world. Buildings use the same LOD method we apply to our characters.
Has this improved the performance?
On the performance side of things, the characters also have a skeleton LOD system which old Stronghold games did not. Each character LOD model has its own skeleton; the further away from a character you are the fewer bones are skinned. This combined with the polygon LOD system results in a better overall performance.
What new art technology are you using in Stronghold 3?
As you might know we have different time of day and weather effects in Stronghold 3. In order to differentiate between these effects we have to use some new technology not found in the stronghold series thus far. We use something called colour grading; this effect is used in Television and film to balance out the colours to achieve an overall effect. We would use one set of grading values for Sunny and another Stormy.
Another new feature we are using is the ability to attach particle effects to models. In stronghold 2 there was a generic fire effect which was simply placed on a building or character that was set on fire. This looked the same for every single model. In Stronghold 3 each fire effect is different depending on which building or character is burning.
Stronghold 3 release date is September 2011