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Splatterday

Better Red Than Dead_v02

Getting paint splatters to feel just right in our game has been a challenge. There are some amazing tools for animating fluids in movies, but they can take hours to render a single frame. Since our game is aiming for 60 frames a second, realistic fluid simulation is pretty much impossible. So we do the next best thing: we cheat.

The trick in games is knowing what you can fake that isn’t going to betoo obvious for players. For example, we’re not currently animating the splats at all. When a paintball collides with a wall we just immediately draw the splatter on top of it. Of course in the real world, if you were to look at a splat in slow motion you’d see the paint gradually spreading out. Surprisingly, even without animations the splats look pretty good. But we were curious about how much better it’d look if we made the splattering more realistic.

So we decided to go out and shoot some reference footage of us throwing paint at a wall. As game developers we tend to solve most of our problems with computers (or denial) so it’s easy to overlook times where it’s easier to just go out in the real world and do something rather than simulating it. In this case reality had the advantages of being incredibly beautiful (super realistic) as well as faster, cheaper, and more fun than the traditional digital route.

After securing a location that we could get messy and hanging multiple tarps we were ready to set to work. We tried a few different paint dispersal techniques — throwing it out of the can, filling water balloons with it, and throwing a plastic ball filled with paint. We opted not to use a paintball gun because the splats made by paintballs aren’t as large and juicy as we hoped to get. This was our loading setup:

The-Filling-Station

Having never actually thrown real paint before, we learned a handful of things. First, while a turkey baster is a good way to fill a water balloon with paint, after a while the paint will start to thicken up inside the baster’s bulb and neck. Next time we’ll bring a backup baster. Second, getting latex paint on a latex balloon makes it incredibly slippery. Slippery enough that it is difficult to throw accurately as it tends to slip and wobble out of the thrower’s fingertips at the point of release.

Third, it takes a lot of paint (6-8 fluid ounces—3 or 4 baster-loads) to get a really juicy splat. Any less than that and the balloon may bounce instead of bursting.

Paint Balloon Ready to Go

Fourth, the plastic ball method was a surprise success. We found a clear ball (labeled as a “candy ball”) for 99¢ at a party supply store. Its two hemispheres screw together and when thrown hard enough, they burst apart on impact. Unlike a balloon, this creates something closer to a “directed splash” than a burst. The only downside is that it uses a lot of paint.

Blue Ball

Fifth and finally, splashing paint around leads to a lot of collateral splats, spots, drips, and spatters. The actual distance appears to be proportional to the size of the tarp you lay down — the farthest splatters will always go a few inches past the edge of your tarp. Don’t try this at home. Unless you’re about to move.

RedPaintMidThrow

And here’s the video we shot (you can also download it as an mov):

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15 Responses to “Splatterday”

  1. Tsun Says:

    You really like splatters do you? xD
    It’s nice to hear something about the game.

  2. theturbolemming Says:

    Neat! Glad progress is being made!

  3. Dinnye Says:

    This is so awesome. I can’t wait for the game 😀

  4. Iain Says:

    Anxious…

  5. sommeil Says:

    It’s nice to see you guys are progressing… I’m so curious about this game ;3

  6. OMGHURRYUP Says:

    Like I said in a earlier blog, hurry the heck up with this game!

  7. Loki'sMom Says:

    Looks like a rough day at work.. Just discovered this game. It looks like a lot of fun, and kinda creepy too.

    Keep up the good work. I hope to see this on the shelves real soon. I want to play it. 😀

  8. Code Says:

    Hey guys, any chance you could post some new screenshots/video?
    It’d be great to see an update : )

  9. Rapchik Says:

    nice.. this is like giving away research for free.. for me its close to making your splatter code opensource :P..

  10. Evan Says:

    Epic.

  11. Tayron Says:

    nice:D this post is old, so how’s the game doing?:D

  12. Taras Kuba Says:

    Hi! Whats with the game?
    Here in Minsk we are all waiting for it.
    Big up

  13. Chris Hoffmann Says:

    It’s been a while since you were making a blog entry. I can’t wait for this game to happen! Please continue working on it! Will be a definitive buy!!

  14. Tom Says:

    I fully agree Chris. It’s been 4 months since the last update, even a little note saying that it’s still happening would be nice. I also notice the posted positions haven’t been taken down, does that mean you never managed to hire them? I hope all is going well and you’re simply too busy to post.

  15. Yun Says:

    “It’s been a while since you were making a blog entry. I can’t wait for this game to happen! Please continue working on it! Will be a definitive buy!!”

    Same here.