In this feature we’re going to be focusing on some of the plants that we’ve touched up, remade, and refined. We’ve got some in-game photos and some information about what went into these efforts in this developer diary about our Complete Collection.
What was the idea behind the decision to start Complete Collection and do so many remakes?
Hendrix/DM and I are currently the longest active members of Aurora Designs, so we were the ones who collaborated behind many of these remakes. There’s been quite a bit of time in which we’ve been part of the Zoo Tycoon online community and contributing fan-based bonus material. Part of the reason for these remakes is because of the amount of time between projects and how much we’ve improved as artists, coders, and developers. I always want to create new content for the game, but I did not want to overlook some of the content that we have made. In terms of plants, there are lots of different plants, but some of the plants we’ve made are really cool in real life and didn’t get the look they deserved.
What sort of updates did you make?
Part of the updates are patches and fixes to some things we’ve overlooked. We’ve corrected some of the biomes that some of the plants are in. Thanks to Hendrix, All plants are now BFB files instead of NIF’s, which is better for the game. They also have wind effects consistent with the Original Blue Fang plants. Hendrix also found a way to correct the Normals for many of the plants so that the shading of foliage looks more realistic in-game.
Of course, the main reason for Complete Collection was to update the graphics of our plants. At the least, we’ve refined the tone, saturation, and brightest of some textures to make them more realistic or make it match plants in the same biome. Many of the temperate rainforest and tropical dry forest plants needed some slight corrections such as this. At the most, we’ve completely remade the model and skin of some plants. This is the case for sugar cane, mountain sagebrush, shell ginger, and elegia restiad. You might not even recognize these plants when they’re released because they’re names have been updated too.
For the complete remakes, how were they done?
We model the plants in Blender and export using Hendrix’s BFB scripts, which he updated numerous times during the course of this project. I use a Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet and Adobe Photoshop CS5 with a plugin to export DDS textures. My process is to use a combination of digital painting and photosourcing from images that I’ve taken or found online. I can use more or less photosourcing depending on the plant. I tend to photosource a lot for trees, as it is especially hard to paint all those leaves. Except the Jarrah tree, Eucalyptus marginata, and Douglas Fir, Psuedotsuga menzeisii, are almost completely hand-drawn. I’m particularly proud of those two.
What plant has gotten the most drastic change?
Probably the shell ginger. I think I started that plant in 2006, and it just happened to be released with the Malayan Tapir several years ago. I originally painted that plant with no tablet. I also used Jasc’s Paint Shop Pro because I didn’t have Photoshop then. I see shell ginger, Alpinia zerumbet, probably everyday walking to work, and they really aren’t super chartreuse green. If it’s growing well, it should be dark green.
Any surprises out there?
Maybe, there could be some random new plants thrown into a release that you may never hear about. It may also seem like some of the plants are missing because of the name changes . To save you some trouble, sugar cane is now Kans grass, Bengal bamboo is now Indian timber bamboo, Elegia restiad is now Cape thatching reed. I think that’s pretty much it. There may also be some Radical Remake plant edits thrown in too. Oh, we also ditched lava cactus because there is a really good one out there by zerosvalmont. If you don’t have it, you should download it and put it with your Radical Remake Galapagos tortoise.