Chronicles of Narnia: Developer Q&A

Written by Wil Harris

July 1, 2005 | 08:33

Tags: #lion #witch

bit-tech: What's the average polygon count on-screen at any one time, and how does that compare to the console versions?

Dave Dootson: Polygon counts should be similar across all versions. Typically we do not keep track of polygon counts as this is not usually a very good guide to visual quality. Scenes have roughly 100,000 polys drawn per frame, characters have roughly 3000 - 4000 polys for the lead characters.

(For comparison, Battlefield 2 draws 100,000-500,000 polygons per scene, and Unreal Engine 3 does 1m+).

Chronicles of Narnia: Developer Q&A Future plans Chronicles of Narnia: Developer Q&A Future plans
bit-tech: What method is used to implement shadowing?

Dave Dootson: Narnia uses stencil shadows generated from implicit geometry representations such as cylinders and ellipsoids, and also extruded polygons. These representations are built by the character artists in Maya along with the polygon skinned model.

bit-tech: What are the specific differences in texture resolution, lighting etc between the lowest-quality and highest-quality graphics settings in-game? Can you go through the performance and quality options that users will have available to them?

Dave Dootson: The same texture resolution and lighting model are used on all quality settings. DXTC texture compression is used and texture dimensions are not reduced. The game can obviously be run at various screen resolutions.

(As Dave mentions below, the textures will look sharper on the PC version due to the extra resolution.)

bit-tech: How have Nvidia helped you out through the development process?

Dave Dootson: Nvidia have helped by providing technical assistance in writing shaders, performance analysis of the engine, as well as optimisation of shaders and engine setup to get the best performance out of Nvidia cards.

bit-tech: What would you think will be the best hardware to play the game on?

A high-end PC system running at high resolution to provide the most fluid framerate and best quality image. Currently, texture resolutions are slightly over-spec’ed for console TV resolutions and hence these look sharper and more detailed on higher PC resolutions.

Chronicles of Narnia: Developer Q&A Future plans Chronicles of Narnia: Developer Q&A Future plans

We had a chance to sit down and play the game itself, and it's pretty enjoyable. It's designed for kids and adults of all ages, and features drop-in-drop-out gameplay, where a second player can come and join in the game for a while then drop out again. This is achieved by having a party of characters on screen at all times, each with different abilities, and by switching between them.

The game recreates areas from the film incredibly well, and really captures the atmosphere of the Narnia film footage that we've seen.

One of the more interesting technologies in the game is the enemy engine, which generates, in some places, tens of enemies on screen at any one time - and expect far more for the final battle level. Seeing this in action was extremely impressive - watching Edmund fight of swathes of minotaurs, it was hard to believe this was happening on a Xbox.

Perhaps the most amusing gameplay aspect is the fact that characters can team up, in-game, to do combo moves - for example, Lucy can be picked up and swung around by Edmund to knock enemies over. However, since this is such a strong attack, it's also useful for clearing obstacles in your path - meaning that Edmund is repeatedly bashing Lucy against a rock, for example. Genius!

Here's just a couple of other titbits for you to mull over: Dave thinks that the GeForce 7800 is "Another excellent chipset," Traveller's Tales is planning work for PS3 and Xbox 360 for the near future, and whilst Episodes IV-VI of Star Wars in Lego form aren't confirmed, the team is clearly keen to take on the challenge.

In the meantime, Narnia will be out just in time for the Christmas rush - who wants to bet on it outdoing Harry Potter?
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