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Issue 2.2

FEATURE

The Fine Art of Blowing Stuff Up

A Custom Explosion Editor

Issue: 2.2 (October/November 2003)
Author: Joe Strout and Jeff Quan
Author Bio: Joe, the father of a toddler, is no stranger to blow-ups and melt-downs. Jeff is a freelance graphic designer and thinks fireworks need more 3D chunks.
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 26,114
Starting Page Number: 17
Article Number: 2210
Resource File(s):

Download Icon 2210.zip Updated: 2013-03-11 19:07:57

Related Link(s): None

Excerpt of article text...

Making things explode has always been an important part of video games. From ancient classics like Asteroids, to modern Quake derivatives, game developers have frequently needed to make things go "boom!"

A pretty convincing 2D fireball sequence can be made with standard artists' tools like Photoshop. But in modern games, that's often not good enough -- players expect sparks, puffs of smoke, and flying hunks of metal or wood. They expect each explosion to look unique. And of course, they expect it all to work in 3D.

This need recently arose in a game project we'd been working on. We wanted flying chunks and particle effects, but quickly realized that there are a lot of parameters involved -- gravity, particle velocity, burst radius, and much more. Hard-coding these into the game engine, and then testing by running the game, would have been a very slow and tedious process.

So instead, we decided to make an explosion editor. This allowed us to define the explosions very quickly, tweaking parameters, and adding or deleting elements until they look just right. We could then save them as files which could be loaded by the game engine to produce the same effect. As a nice bonus, it allowed us to divide the work along skill lines; the more artistic one of us could build explosions with little or no code, and the coder could make the explosions happen with little artistic skill.

We'll walk you through the development of our editor and explosion system. You can use this explosion editor for your own games too, or adapt the principles demonstrated here to other projects.

...End of Excerpt. Please purchase the magazine to read the full article.