At this year’s SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference, Matt Pettineo and David Neubelt of Ready At Dawn Studios delivered a fascinating presentation within the Physically Based Shading in Theory and Practice course that showcased both the PS4’s graphical capabilities and the impressive fidelity of their upcoming next-gen title The Order: 1886.
The Order: 1886 looks to be one of the more unique next-gen exclusives, as the game makes use of an all-new original IP which takes place in an alternate reality version of London. The first gameplay trailer for Ready At Dawn’s new title debuted at this year’s E3 expo, featuring some incredibly vibrant visuals that truly brought viewers to a new faraway world.
During their presentation–Crafting a Next-Gen Material Pipeline for The Order: 1886–the devs from Ready At Dawn revealed a few key insights on the resources and tools they utilize in order to craft and fashion the game itself, providing a wealth of technical data that reflects the PS4’s enhanced capabilities.
Pettineo and Neubelt’s PowerPoint Presentation featured a myriad of example visuals that showcase the different types of shading, revealing some highly polished work that exemplifies both the studio’s skill and the performance of the PS4’s GPU.
The visualizations include examples of different instances of shading and lighting including ambient skin tones, cloth shading, the complexities of material layering and even material composition which is showcased via one of the in-game weapons.
With the various shading and lighting effects, the studio has created a batch of incredibly photo-realistic textures and models that adequately represent their real-life counterparts, reflecting reality in such a way that depicts the new age of console graphics quite well.
The course notes are also available which provide an expansive overview of the seminar, featuring a ton of intricate equations and technical details for aspiring developers. A selection of the intro section is highlighted below:
“It was decided very early in the project that utilizing a physically based shading model would be a key component of achieving the look we wanted for the game.
A Cook-Torrance-like microfacet BRDF was adopted as the default specular BRDF for our materials, and energy conservation was enforced throughout the rendering pipeline. We also implemented several alternative BRDFs for skin, hair, fabrics, and anisotropic materials.
We also realized that having a robust material pipeline would be essential for allowing artists to efficiently create the thousands of materials that would ll our game world.
To this end we utilized an inheritance-based asset format for our materials that allowed us to create a standard library of
material templates that could be modi ed to create level-specifi c variations of core material types.
We also implemented an oine material compositing pipeline for automatically generating parameter maps for materials, with the parameters being de ned by a stack of material assets and blend maps.
In addition to the oine compositing, we implemented a runtime layering component for materials that allows arbitrary materials to be combined inside the pixel shader.”
Additionally it was revealed during the presentation that Ready At Dawn has a development team that consists of around 80 members–a surprising number considering the sizable array of devs working on AAA franchises. It’s noteworthy to see the studio create such talented work with a small-ish (yet stable) workforce.
Along with the visuals, equations, varying parameters and complex technical data, Matt Pettineo further provided sample anti-aliasing code for demonstration purposes which can be found here.
“Sample code to complement my presentation that’s part of the Physically Based Shading in Theory and Practice course at SIGGRAPH 2013, entitled “Crafting a Next-Gen Material Pipeline for The Order: 1886″. Demonstrates various methods of preventing aliasing from specular BRDF’s when using high-frequency normal maps.”
Last but certainly not least, the duo uploaded a video that chronicles the process of textile acquisition, which can also be found below.
All in all Ready At Dawn’s presence at SIGGRAPH 2013 was noteworthy, and both Pettineo and Neubelt revealed a plethora of information regarding the team’s shading processes and further showcased examples of the PS4’s graphical integrity. The renders and textures are all works of art in their own right, and it will be interesting to see even more in-game footage for The Order: 1886 in the next coming months, not to mention it’s impending release onto Sony’s highly anticipated next-gen console.
For a full run-down on the course be sure to head on over to the blog archive for full details including course notes, PDF’s and PowerPoint presentations.