I literally never make showcases for my models, but this one in particular is loved so much by me and other people that i decided to showcase it here. This is literally THE best-looking fire model rendered in real time that i've ever seen; it took me a REALLY long time to make such effect, lots of research into how fire behaves, practicing animation and effects in general, trying to understand how the shaders look in-game and how fire actually looks and glows in real life, but i did it. The apex of fire effects in, at the very least, StarCraft 2. (In my opinion anyway)
I was able to achieve some good results in the hour or two of experiments I put into the game.
Keep in mind Gifcam doesn't produce smooth results for me.
Conversely, I did no research at all for Starcraft 2. I just winged everything from rendering the frames to the effects and everything shown here is just a first time dry run, so it's unpolished. I was aiming for an Anime style. As I was replacing every particle effect in the game I had no attachment to the existing art style or appearances. Since I was building the particles for weapons I was intently focused on them being concise reads (like they are in asian MMO's or shmups) rather than realism. My rule of thumb was for general weapon impacts (all of the above) to be <1.5 seconds in length on Normal Speed.
Some of the FumeFX systems I made for the particles.
I don't know if you sc2 snobs consider it as a legitimate example, but I'd like to show some particles based fire effects I made in unity. Unity particle system is almost the same as we have in Art Tools, so if I created those in sc2, they'd took the same efforts and looked the same. Fire effects are showed between 2:40 and 3:45.
That moment when you realize all your studies into fire were for naught, because technology can do that all for you.
Actually, realtime fire simulations cost alot of performance. Particle effects based ones are so much cheaper, that in most cases they are being preferred, so it doesn't matter what technology can do. Also, it's rather math then technology.
I mean i can use the FumeFX simulations to create textures to use in the game engine, not directly using fumefx to make fire in-game, that'd be utterly ridiculous.
Actually, not as ridiculous as it was before GPU became available for general purpose calculations. Some game engines simulate suff like fire, fluids, fur or clothes in realtime. It looks much better than the ones made with animated textures, and can interact with the environment and player characters, can realistically react to wind and shit. So when computations are not the limit, simulated effects have distinct advantages over the premade ones.
When it comes to particles, I find understanding methods becomes the most important thing, more important than understanding realworld objects you are representing. I am an analyst, so I broke down what I wanted to recreate into defining motions and reconstructed those motions and ignored everything else. Everything to come after was just yolo.
Technology is only as good as its master. I can walk into something like FumeFX and sc2 particles with great confidence because I have been working with this specific nature of subject since 1999. All of the applications and methods homogenize in a way that lets me apply methods I learned in Brood War and Age of Wonders 2 to Sc2 or Unreal 4 in this very specific area. I know precisely what I want because it's what I've wanted since I began. So I have a good idea of what I need to reach that point, just not a very good idea of how to actually make it (there's millions of things I want to make in FumeFX I have no clue how to yet).
These are a good start. I would look into drag effects for the smoke and such. It will be quite some time before I get into really major scale particle work in Unreal 4 but maybe I will revisit this later down the line when I do, because the shader control in Unreal 4 makes Starcraft 2 look like a bad joke and the effects I can achieve with material manipulation alone are innumerable.
I can see i still have a very long way to go, especially considering i've only been messing with particle effects for about 2 years or so... well, i've also came a long way since then, i can remember my first fire: it was just a constant point emitter with yellow triangles that shrank over time. So... yeah.
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"What do i look like? An orc?" - Artanis after being poked.