The technology behind the graphics of Fall-bound PlayStation 4 poster boy The Order: 1886 is downright fascinating, and Graphics and Engine Programmer Matt Pettineo is definitely one of the men that know best about it.
Recently he shared some more information about the technology that’s being used, also hinting to areas where there’s still room for improvement on Twitter.
inFAMOUS: Second Son Graphics Programer Matthijs De Smedt asked Pettineo how the lightmapper (an engine feature that calculate lights and shadows) deals with specular materials, and the answer highlighted the weakness of the current system, mentioning that the team is working on a fix.
Thanks! Currently we only handle diffuse bounce, so it’s too dark. We’re still working out the best way to fix that.
We also got some interesting information about the texture compression used in the game thanks to a conversation with Intel Tech Lead Andre Lauritzen, who asked if anyone was using BC6H compression:
We use it for lightmaps, skydomes, specular cubemaps, particles, etc. Currently using the compute shader encoder.
CS encoder is the fastest but has quality issues, and is still pretty slow. Encoders seem to be focusing more on BC7.
BC6H and BC7 are new block-compressed (hence “BC”) texture formats that were introduced in Direct3D 11 and provide much better final quality than previous BC formats. BC6H has a 6:1 compression ratio, while BC7 features 3:1 for RGB and 4:1 for RPG plus alpha (transparency).
Considering the quality offered by BC6H compression, it’s not surprising that the textures in The Order: 1886 look as sharp and crisp as they do. We’ll have to see if Pettineo and his team will manage to optimize the speed of the encoder further, which could free up resources for other processes.