Sunday, 4 September 2011

Adding detail to Grim Fandango's textures...

When I first opened up Manny's suit in Photoshop I was a little perplexed... where do you add the detail? 

Should we be able to see the fibres of his suit? Should there be more detail in the suit's pattern? Should it look photo-realistic? If not, how do you add detail to something so basic and cartoony? I didn't know where to begin, and it made me wonder: Just what does Grim Fandango look like in "high-resolution"?

The promotional material surrounding Grim Fandango actually used models from the game, and so wasn't any help.

I was trying to recall when if ever saw a detailed close-up of Peter Chan's creations, when I remembered the game's inventory screens:

Looking at these it was clear that if we could "zoom in" on the Grim Fandango world that it would look hand-drawn, not photo-realistic, and very deliberately so. (I guess this ties in with the idea that the characters are hand-made calacas, although I personally like to think that Manny and company are actually made of bone, not papier-mâché.)

The understanding of the look of the world of Grim Fandango led to the first texture test we did:

Transforms to..

There's probably still ways in which this could be improved, but I was quite pleased with how it looked in the game itself.

Think you can do better? Coming soon: A guide on how those with texturing skills can help the Grim Fandango Deluxe project!


  1. I don't get it why did they make textures in so low resolution and models with so few polygons? Most of the time the game has only one 3D character on a 2D background, it couldn't have been CPU and memory usage. Was it disk space? Was the game THAT packed on 2CDs that it didn't have room for 5-10 MB more? Even in the pre-rendered intro cutscene Many has pixelated eyes in the close-up shots... so for the cutscenes they used better models but not better textures? Some things just don't make sense to me...

  2. "I don't get it why did they make textures in so low resolution and models with so few polygons"

    ...Because back in 1998, the hardware couldn't cope with more. Duh.

    Especially video memory, the place where textures resided, was severly limited.

    Just look at other games from the same year: H.E.D.Z
    The Fifth Element

    Yes, they have full 3D environments, but those aren't more than a dozen of polygons either.

    Hell, look at how bad Simon the Sorcerer 3D looked, full 4 years later!

  3. "Because back in 1998, the hardware couldn't cope with more. Duh." Duh?

    Quake 2 came out in 1997, Grim Fandango came out in 1998, same year Unreal and Half Life were made... and for comparison you picked 5th Element? Even GameSpot gave the game 2.4 out of 10.

    I guess you were too young back then, because I clearly remember there were many other games I played that year with better graphics, in full 3D with more polygons and better textures. And you're telling me that Grim Fandango (which loads every time you exit a room) is more hardware demanding than Half Life or Unreal? I just expected more from Lucasarts, you know - George Lucas's company.

    And as for Simon3D, well if the production team is dumb and lazy they're gonna make an unoptimized game that's ugly, buggy and below average compared to other games from the same period (Wikipedia: Simon 3D suffered in its reception for having poor graphic quality as well as poor controls).

    And I think you missed the fact that GF for the most of the time has only one 3D character on a 2D background... really hardware demanding.

  4. This was a first step into 3D for LucasArts, and so it wasn't going to be as advanced as games made by companies who specialised in it.

  5. Was this the first step into 3D though? I seem to remember having read that the GrimE engine was based on the SITH-engine on the renderer-side (not script/logic-wise though), so they clearly did do some 3D before Grim.

  6. Yep, good point. Still, I guess it was early days for them. I don't think GrimE was a great engine, even for the time(?).

  7. I am Brazilian and I wonder if you are in need of someone to help you in this incredible game Grim Fandango which I love so much ... my email is I have experience in creating games use the Unity 3D.