Trees in Diablo 3

In a wonderful translation of an excellent article about resource bubbles in Diablo 3, I found a link to another excellent article - “Diablo 3 - Trees” , about trees, which is also wonderful. I offer the community a translation of this text. I hope the author of the above article does not shoot me for this.

So let's go.

When I first saw the trees in Diablo 3 in the screenshot, I noticed one feature. Their silhouettes were smoothed, while on other objects typical "steps" of absent smoothing were visible.


I could not believe my eyes when I saw how they made trees.

They drew them (alpha8) on curved planes. Yes, with this approach they could be used only from a certain perspective, but they looked just incredibly detailed. Due to the fact that camera rotation is generally an optional attribute in ARPG, Blizzard has once again proved that they are masters in the combination of graphics and gameplay.


Robert asked for a better quality GIF in the comments, and to be honest, I never liked the quality of the one you can see a little higher. Thanks to Robert’s magnificent APP-OBJ converter (.APP is a type of Diablo 3 model files in MPQ archives), I managed to make such beauty in excellent quality:


And Robert asked, wasn’t it possible to achieve the same result with “real” geometry? Here is my answer: of course it is possible, but for such a level of detail a lot more polygons would be needed. Here, for example, one branch:


For this beautiful branch, they used only 2 triangles instead of x-thousand for a “realistic” model. By the way, never forget that even the largest mega-super-highpoly model (highpoly - from the English highpoly, i.e. with a large number of polygons - approx.per.) is rendered on a flat surface (frame buffer or, if simpler, your monitor). So if we are not talking about Oculus Rift (or other technologies that provide “realistic” 3D) and the game does not have the possibility of a strong change in perspective (camera rotation, zooming, etc.), then it may be better not to go crazy and just use 2D elements instead of thousands of polygons. But this is my opinion, which can be challenged.

By the way, if you're interested, here is the texture of the tree (left: diffuse, right: alpha). It's hard to look at them without envy ... they are so beautiful!


The question is: why not resort to this method more often? I think this is due to the severity of such a decision. Viewing computer graphics from a traditional artistic perspective is not easy all the time. Especially when there are people who just want awesome new technologies. “You have a 3D engine? So we want to rotate the camera! ” And if a person who says such things is superior to you in office, then your arguments, they say the camera rotation is not necessary (either for the gameplay or for the art part of the game), will beat like peas on a wall.

I would also recommend watching the whole presentation. To see Blizzard's approach to computer graphics is very cool and informative, especially when there are people around who just give new technologies to some DX99 and do not care that the game does not need them.

Addition # 1

Roger gave us a new Diablo 3 model converter! Since they changed the .APP file format (Diablo 3 models) in the Reaper of Souls add-on, the old converter did not work. You will also need vcredist_x86.exe (containing msvcrt * .dll) - you can download it on the Microsoft website (I downloaded the German version, and you do not forget to choose the language you need).

ATP, Roger!

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