We have often stated that ShiVa 2.0 will primarily be an Editor update: better workflow, faster texture and asset processing through multithreading, better UI with customizable Editor modules, a new Editor API to control your game creation process, and so forth – but there was one question we have always avoided answering. That did not stop our users from asking it anyway: “How will ShiVa 2.0 games look? How will the Material editor module evolve? Will there be a boost in visual quality? Can ShiVa games be as pretty as the AAA competition?”
Living in a Material world
There was a choice we had to make: Either improve the existing material system, add new texture map slots, new layers, new predefined shaders, new lighting options, and make the material editor big, unwieldy and complicated in the process, or implement a new industry standard that offers unparalleled realism in real time graphics, often making game models look better than their raytraced counterparts. With the help and advice of some experts we have been in touch with, we made good progress in implementing Physically Based Rendering into ShiVa 2.0, and we think it’s time we showed some of those gorgeous pictures to you!
Let’s get Physical
Physically Based Rendering, or PBR for short, is a recent trend in real time 3D graphics development that describes a departure from traditional, simplified lighting models in favor of one that is based on real-world measurements. With PBR, properties like the diffuseness, smoothness and reflectance values of metals, woods, plastics etc., light coherence, light temperatures and camera settings can be modelled on real-world data. With a proper material setup and a little work, you can achieve a photo realism that was simply impossible to do with any prior shading algorithm.
A Substantial Update
Physically correct materials in ShiVa will be realized through special shaders and a series of texture maps that can be imported from industry-leading tools like Substance Designer. Apart from the obvious Albedo/Opacity map, we will be supporting Emissivity/Occlusion and Normal/Height along with the matching Metallic/Roughness or Reflectivity/Softness properties. Additionally, Radiance/Irradiance maps will be responsible for vastly improved image-based lighting behaviour.
The 3D model in these shot was created by Andrew Maximov, while the radiance and irradiance maps were generated using cmftStudio by Dario Manesku.
We are planning on making PBR materials available on every one of our platforms, including WebGL, which will be our engine port of choice for an upcoming demo in a few weeks. Stay tuned!