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The making of inferno
by merlucin | Excerpts of the demo diary
The demoengine
After Hepilektic and Dixieland, we decided that the days in which the demo was built from almost scratch were gone. We were in need of a demo engine so started to design one.

We heard that threepixels, a Spanish demo group, had one. The situation was very curious because no one could tell us how it was but everyone was talking about it. We couldn't, also, take a look on it so started again, breaking our promise, from zero. This was the beginning of Inferno, our visuals engine.

  
The Logo Introduction
The 3D Spöntz logo was the first thing we constructed with the demoengine. A lot of things were still hard-coded, and you can notice this in the frame of the "S", that follows a perfectly linear path. There is also a failed attempt of getting a fake bump mapping at the text that appears below the logo. The fake consisting in moving one texture above a fixed one, but was completely unsuccessful. Below the logo, in the screenshot, there is the debug information that had only sense for kolian, the original engine developer. We planned to start every demo with this small animation, but as other great dogmas and decissions, this was the first and only time it was used.

  
The Grid
The floating grids scene was designed to be extremely beautiful but was completely lost because a hard drive failure. Based on the final scene of "This Way", a great demo presented by Stravaganza in EuskalParty some time ago, we were trying to represent the ascension of several souls to the reign of God. The only thing we saved from that scene is a render test with an old iBook. A grid of nodes was attached to a sphere and was moving due to the action of a simulated wind and gravity. Inside the sphere should be a representation of a set of small faces that Angelss designed. Those faces were also lost. Anyway the section was very specific to be reused in other demos, so it wasn't a huge lost

The Heart
The heart itsef took a lot of hours of work. Perhaps the most intense part came from the texturing and the fact of finding a good grid density for a smooth rendering (This demo was built with a Pentium II 233Mhz with a very poor 3D card). In the images you can take a look to different parts of the construction process and previews of the final result.

The texture was drawn in a complete manual way using a limited set of colors. Some final retouches with photoshop ended the work.

The heart was generated in 3D and separated in two parts (Step 1). Afterthat, each part is projected in a plane (Step 2) where we can paint the texture. The thirds step represents the texture once painted over the projection (50% transparency) and finally the last drawing represents the heart as it can be seen in the 3D modeler with the texture projected over the surface.

Final heart textured parts Heart model Final 3D heart Heart texture
The demoengine
After Hepilektic and Dixieland, we decided that the days in which the demo was built from almost scratch were gone. We were in need of a demo engine so started to design one.

We heard that threepixels, a Spanish demo group, had one. The situation was very curious because no one could tell us how it was but everyone was talking about it. We couldn't, also, take a look on it so started again, breaking our promise, from zero. This was the beginning of Inferno, our visuals engine.

First ximac's loader Second ximac's loader Third ximac's loader
  
The man
AThis should have been a really easy scene. It features a nice original skybox, and two 3D objects: the starring of the demo and the famous textured heart commented above. The real problem of this scene was the positioning of the 3D models inside the OpenGL space.

As the demoengine did not have a preview system, the scene had to be rendered once and once again during several days, to get a good position for the man and put the heart inside the hand without polygons interference.

The tunnel effect
Yes, there is nothing new in a tunnel effect, but this is not the typical tunnel effect. We will have animated walls and dinamic fire. All this stuff is part of the story of inferno, of course. We don't want the typical set of effects displayed one after another, but a story joining all the sections.

With a wide lens camera it's possible an impression of speed in the borders of the window, this means that the particles are moving very much faster near the borders that in the center of the screen.

As you can see all the effects are first created under Macintosh to be ported, after completion, to the PC. For this we use a small version of the main Spöntz demo engine

If you wanna see the tunnel in the very early stages of development you will need a computer with at least MacOS X (v10.1) installed. We have three executables corresponding to the three phases of the project (clic in the images above to download)

Tunnel 1
This is an one pass tunnel. The basic elements are defined but there are only one iteration of the algorithm, so the tunnel has a finite length

Tunnel 2
The complete effect. The tunnel is now virtually infinite, but we have some issues to correct with the borders of the bumps

Tunnel 3
This is an outer vision of the tunnel. With this perspective the user can take a look at the bumps directly


Tunnel 1 Tunnel 2 Tunnel 3
Inferno: the diary
Small diary recopilated during the construction of inferno: the demo

02/November/2002
The demo is finally ended. We arrived the partyplace only 15 minutes after the deadline. The production worked without problems in the compo machine. The 3D card was so fast that the water physical model moved really good. We are very proud to present you the result of this effort: inferno XD

31/October/2002
This is the last update before the official presentation at bcnparty 10. We are under betatesting now, this means that the graphic initialization routines are tested over different computers. But there is work to do yet: synchros and cameras are being set up. See ya in the party place! :)

22/October/2002
If things can go wrong, they will go wrong. Kolian continues without computer, therefore he cannot code. This week we will go to the computer store to buy some pieces. Angelss should submit her faces today by night. We will use them in the main head effect at the middle of the demo. Yesterday merlucin added more that 30 sync points to inferno. We don't know if the product will be ready for the deadline, but we cannot surrender now, not after more than two months of intense coding and engine rework.

20/October/2002
A hard weekend of modelling, texturing and coding. We are working as hard as we can to end the prod before the deadline. This week the objectives are the soul and head scenes. Dios is working in the inferno title and Kolian will return soon too. New hardware too, the old Pentium@90Mhz died past friday :(

15/October/2002
Very bad news for the demo, but very good for Kolian! He is now working for hp, this means that he is temporally inactive for inferno. We have two weeks yet until the final dead line. Kolian will be in the bcnParty, helping to put all this stuff together. One last thing: we will not present inferno if it's not completed at 95%, nevertheless we will work as hard as we can. Time to pray XD

05/October/2002
merlucin is now in Santander! He is working with Jano, finishing the soundtrack. Kolian is now working whith a new section and is adding shadows to the previous ones. We have three loading screens, so it's time to vote :)

22/September/2002
The music is going slower than predicted but it's one of the best songs we composed. The blur effect is ended, as the loading screen. The tunnel effect code needs only some little fixings. This week we expect to end the two first sections. Kolian completed the loading section with a progress bar too while he was fixing some bugs

20/September/2002
Jano and McBrain came to Barcelona to complete the guitars of the soundtrack. Kolian implemented some motion capture routines in the demo engine while was fixing some bugs. merlucin is working in a bump-based tunnel effect with realtime generated textures.

14/September/2002
The introduction is finally ready. Now Angelss and merlucin are working in the first demosection. For this some 3D stuff and two skyboxes are needed. Kolian is fixing some bugs while XiMac creates a loading screen for inferno.

12/September/2002
This week's goal is to complete the 13 seconds introduction for the Spontz logo. A bump mapping algorithm is being coded only to animate a 2-seconds sequence that will appear in this part.

05/September/2002
We are currently working in the new engine. There are a lot of new features such as random beginning, synchronization improvements, 3D loaders, etc...

 

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