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Joined: 20 Jun 2002
Posts: 1731
Location: Cedar Bluff, VA

PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 3:55 pm    Post subject: Particle Systems [quote]

Gonna add a particle system to Gamestar. Personally I think particle effects are overused: they are a fad that took on a life of their own, and are now everywhere. Particle effects can be effective, but only if they have substance. (e.g. good for giblets, not as a substitute for explosive disintegration).

Personally I'd like to see particle effects used with physical, rather than just graphical, properties. For example, when you blow. technically speaking, every pixel of every tile should have its own density, and for every unit of that density their should be a potential for a pixel of dust. On the other hand, what use is dust in games? I suppose it depends on the nature of the dust.

Basic particle effects tend to involve trajectory, speed, and inertia. The inertia is usually simulated by decreasing the speed of the particle over successive frames, and destroying it/making it disappear. The most important thing is keeping track of particles while they are live. In Gamestar, I plan to do this by creating a named collection whose elements can be cycled through via for-loops.

Because particles are used for a variety of purposes, there must be potential for a variety of particles. Key questions to be asked:
- what is the spread pattern of the particles?
- are they subject to gravity?
- for how long will they last?
- what are the potential velocities each particle can have, and what is the distribution of these velocities?

I don't think Capcom is recognized for it, but they were pioneers in particle technology, even if they only used their particles for graphic effects. Mega Man used particles for many effects, such as robot disintegration and the "cascade of explosions" that destroyed mechanical enemies and environments. Konami also made use of particle effects (random explosions like at the. However, it was Chrono Cross which first exp to complex particle effects, and for the record, I think it made the best use of them to date. Chrono Cross really went the extra mile, using motion blurs to invoke the sense of high-speed motion. Chrono Cross reminds us that it's important to ask ourselves how a phenomena would appear in real life, when it comes to implementing it in a game.

To me, a particle is any autonomous animation whose motion is determined by a formula, rather than an algorithm. If the animation follows an algorithm, it's an actor.
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