QfG5: some words about rendering

It is a well-known fact that Sierra implemented its 3D adventure games in parallel (and that’s not counting Dynamix RPG titles), each using its own engine with not so much things in common.

Mask of Eternity was using Direct3D/Glide (and Indeo 5 cutscenes), Gabriel Knight 3 used its custom engine with possible Direct3D backend (and Bink cutscenes as well as MP3 audio), Quest for Glory V used portable software-only 2.5D engine, combining 3D models with projected background (with custom depth map) and 2D sprites for e.g. animating water (and Cinepak cutscenes and MS ADPCM compressed audio).

So let’s look closer at how 3D rendering was done in QfG5.

Each 3D model consists of one or several meshes that form an unchangeable part of a whole model that may be manipulated independently (e.g. feet/head/torso or a hero). Rendering is done in straightforward way: calculate the orientation and position of mesh triangles, prune the back surface triangles, render each triangle into a dedicated buffer minding the depth (a separate Z-buffer is maintained for that purpose) and using the texture data to decide the pixel value.

But of course it’s not that straightforward. For starters, there are essentially two rendering modes (with several flavours of each): one draws an opaque 3D model, another one blends it with the already rendered data. Also while the renderer uses pre-calculated LUT for paletted texture pixels in order to have fast shading, it is possible to assign special LUTs for the specific meshes (which is done in the cases hardcoded in the engine). As the result glowing objects (e.g. enchanted armour or weapon) is rendered in three passes, using the same model with special LUTs applied to some meshes in certain rendering passes and some other meshes may be hidden during a rendering pass.

Room background blitting seems to be done by having pre-calculated coefficients used to define how to warp the image.

Overall, nothing especially hard so maybe I’ll get to re-implementing it eventually.

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