Spellforce 2 Demons of the Past

Spell­force 2 was released in 2006 and will be 8 years old by april. Nev­er­the­less, the third add-on of the series shipped a month ago. Talk about a long seller!

Of course I’m attached to SF2 because I wrote many parts of its engine back then. This time I was briefly involved to help the devel­op­ers include my attribute-less nor­mal map algo­rithm. The orig­i­nal SF2 did not have any nor­mal maps, and there­fore none of the orig­i­nal art assets comes with tan­gent space infor­ma­tion. This is an ide­al sce­nario to pimp up the visu­als with­out touch­ing the geom­e­try, sim­ply by mak­ing a shad­er change and adding nor­mal maps.


The famous Pal­adin of the human fac­tion, now with nor­mal maps.

So over the last week­end I final­ly found the time to play DOTP this week­end and I am pleas­ant­ly sur­prised by the whole pack­age! Con­sid­er­ing the fact that pub­lish­er Nordic Games could not com­mis­sion the orig­i­nal devel­op­er, this is quite an achievement.

The new mis­sions are engag­ing and the spir­it stays faith­ful to the orig­i­nal. Some puz­zles are hilar­i­ous and you even get to vis­it the gods of Eo them­selves. I see very cre­ative usage of the exist­ing tech­nol­o­gy, for instance, its appar­ent that the exist­ing water­fall mate­r­i­al was used on an egg-shaped object to make it look like a trans­par­ent mag­i­cal cage.

Oth­er mod­i­fi­ca­tions that I can see they did:

  • They added screen-space dither­ing for shad­ow maps. Look­ing very nice!
  • They added some kind of rim-shad­ing, where the effec­tive nor­mal is “bent around” the object. How­ev­er some objects have this flagged where it should­n’t, espe­cial­ly walls and fences with pla­nar faces. It gives them the illu­sion of translu­cen­cy when viewed at a graz­ing angle.
  • They added 16:9 and 16:10 aspect ratio. Some­times how­ev­er the old code is leak­ing though, for instance when icons are dis­played inline with text in quest logs, they’re stretched.
  • They must have changed the way over­bright­ness and bloom works. It now appears dif­fer­ent­ly col­ored in dif­fer­ent direc­tions … weird but also cool.
  • The back­ground now gets blurred and desat­u­rat­ed when the user opens a menu. How­ev­er the blur is slight­ly off-cen­ter as the image seems to move a bit when you open a menu. Maybe they tapped into the dread­ed pre-DX10 half pix­el off­set.

I’m being to nit-picky. Over­all, the whole add-on is well done!

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