Friday, 26 June 2009

Playing around with particles (not related to the LHC in any way)

Now for another lookie at our powerful arsenal of tools. This time I'm showing the Particle Editor, which is the app we use to do those nifty particle effects like fire, smoke and so on... you can get really nice stuff by using this thing.

Actually, the Particle Editor is nothing new in our toolset. Those who picked the HPL tools pack to make a map for Penumbra (or just for the sake of getting them) surely will have spotted a ParticleEditor.exe in there. You could create and control every aspect in a particle system with it.

Good ol' Particle Editor

It worked like this: you created a new Particle System, added at least one Particle Emitter, and then set these up with stuff like starting position, velocity, material, etc., which would be used by every particle created by each emitter.
When you are creating the Particle System, you sure need to check how it looks while you are at it, and this was the main flaw of the old Particle Editor: you could do a preview of the Particle System in the works, but the method implied saving it to a file and loading it on a viewer program. This was done automatically by the editor, so no sweat in there, but having to save to a file + loading the viewer is a rather blocking combo (meaning it makes you wait and only wait), which can last up to a few seconds.

Hey, wait a moment, this nutty is telling us to wait a few secs... what's the big deal? you might think... but if you spend a couple hours working with it, you will notice you will have to do tons of previews (even more when tweaking little details), which translate to a lot of time wasted in the end (not to mention the actual time spent checking the Particle System while it runs)... and also you will find it really annoying :P

Ahh, the old times.We spent a good time together,right? Wait, that was actually a LOT of time.

So for HPL2 we decided to make a "new" Particle Editor, which basically is the same editor for HPL1, but with a really ├╝bernice realtime preview. It still has some details that could be polished further, but it is quite nice to work with at the moment,and that's the important thing.

And now it's time to see this in action: behold while I make some strange effect in this video :)

Hope you liked it. Will get back to the Particle Editor at some point in the future. As always, you can voice your thoughts on this. I'll be happy to know those :)


  1. From windexglow - Damn you guys love that particle editor, never really did get into it. How are particle collisions in HPL2? In hpl1 they tended to be extremly buggy, crashing the game more often than not. They were also quite cpu intensive it seemed.

    Another thing I noticed, is the particle editor seems a bit cluttered - lots of tabs. Is there any plan to clean that up?

    Lastly - LoL@"Flashbacks" folder. You guys sure do love those :p

  2. Wow nice, I like it! :)

  3. Windexglow: I was playing with particle editor and I think I had no problems with it.

    I hope we will see a lot of cool particle effects in your next game!

  4. I can't really do too much discussion on this, since I don't know much about this stuff, but I would like to say that I enjoyed reading it. I like these behind-the-scenes-ish posts as well as the horror-genre ones.

  5. I would like to make a suggestion about future blog post. I would like to know how do you work as a team. How do you make a suitable music for your games? How do you tell your music composer how should his music sound?

  6. @Windexglow:
    -The particle engine hasn't changed much since HPL1 (if it has changed at all). Particle collision is not a thing one should get too excited about anyway, I think there's even a warning about this on the Penumbra content creation document. And yeah, they still are quite CPU intensive.
    -Nope, actually tabs help a lot when organizing categories. Try to picture it without tabs ;)
    -Ah, stop overanalyzing the vids like that :P

    That's one nice idea! But I think Thomas is your man, as he is more like the producer here :)

    Thank you all for commenting. Glad you guys liked the thingy :) except for Windexglow, that is :P

  7. Why is there no Linux and Mac port of that Tool ? :)

  8. Sorry for the late reply. There are no ports at the time, but there are plans... You will know in due time :)