publisher:Square Enix
platforms:Xbox 360, PS3, Windows
genre:action adventure
release date:5 March 2013
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Tomb Raider (2013) is the first entry in a new Tomb Raider continuity. The game re-establishes the origins of Lara Croft. Tomb Raider was released on 5 March 2013 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows. It has sold more than 4 million copies.

On Tomb Raider 2013 I did the real-time tessellation settings on all environments in the game. With tessellation an object can be subdivided to make it more smooth or to give it more detail. The extra detail is added with the help of a heightmap / displacement map.

The game contained over 40 different levels. The daily work involved identifying the low poly objects and their materials. Then the heightmaps had to be created and the tessellation settings had to be tweaked. Special care had to be taken not to create any holes in the levels. Most of the heightmaps were created by converting the normal maps. Since normal maps do not contain all height information, the heightmaps usually had to be manually edited in Photoshop. In several cases heightmaps were made from scratch, either by 3d sculpting or by 2d painting.


screenshots
before / after tessellation
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A work in progress screenshot showing the use of tessellation. In this case the new Corner Smoothing algorithm was used on the large rocks. With standard Phong Smoothing the rocks would have become generic blobby objects and would have lost their characteristic flat areas. The floor shows the use of a heightmap. The fading distances in this shot have not yet been properly set.

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Nixxes Team
studio head:Jurjen Katsman
lead programmer:Jim Offerman
producer:Hugo van der Heiden
tessellation programmer:Frank de Bresser
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Technical
Because this project involved a lot of texture work I wrote two Photoshop scripts that helped me in creating seamless textures. More information about these scripts can be found here: sdvOffset and here: sdvTile.