As I have a passion for particle simulation, I would like to create a 3D particle creation tool using WebGL in Google Chrome. The tool will allow the user to create a particle system that can render up to 10 million particles and export a single frame or animated sequence for use in games as sprites in their game’s particle system. This will be things like single smoke puffs, magic spark effects, fire, explosions, fighting effects, plasma bullets etc. As a way of getting more realistic particle effects without having the game simulate millions of particles, this can act as a mid-point between millions of particles being simulated in the game engine and having to create particle animations in Photoshop or other tools.
The tool will focus on real-time interface speed and be done using WebGL. I will research particle simulation techniques, one in particular is a trick that utilizes the graphics card and uses image maps as the positions, velocity and other elements using the RGB values of each pixel in the map for the X Y Z values of these elements. I will then use render targets to do post-processing like glowing, color manipulation, sharpening and lens flares.
The user will be able to render the particle system, like an explosion, magic effect or smoke cloud, and see each frame individually as it will be all stored on the video card. Once the user is happy with the animation, they can export it and download it as a sequence of PNGs (some may have many channels like alpha, multiply, additive). The rendered images will be done client-side and appear in the browser, able to be exported to use in their game engine.
As for game engines and target platforms, the tool will mainly focus on exporting for the Unity game engine, but because it will export PNGs, these could be used in any engine and any platforms, and because the tool will run in browser, it will not just be limited to PC, but in any platform that uses Google Chrome and WebGL.
The main goal of this project is to create a free, usable tool for artists that will allow them to create realistic special effect sprites like explosions, fireworks, magic effects, smoke and whatever they can manage to create. The niche is that there isn’t any free, easy to use tools that allows an artist to create a realistic explosion or a smoke effect other than tools like 3DS Max, and even those tools require a lot of setting up and don’t allow you to view the effects at real-time. They are also not built to do those sorts of things but rather are expensive complicated plug-ins for expensive complicated programs.
An additional thing I want to do is make the particle system like a plug-in so that people could use it in games for less intense particle systems. This is because I want to focus on getting as many particles rendered at real-time using GPU power.
Some ideas for extra work would be packing the images as a zip file, and combining them into sprite-sheets.
“Domain” security with websites and web browsers accessing local data. Textures and save files will need to be downloaded/uploaded and the state of the application will need to be stored on the server the site is run from.
Lighting with smoke particles will be a challenge to get right. I will need to research how this can be done to many particles without losing much GPU resources.
Particle flow will need to be chaotic and still realistic so that it looks good enough, this may need to be simulated perhaps with particles representing pressure
Real-time storing of long animations will be difficult as they are stored client-size, these particles will use a LOT of memory, and some systems will either run out of GPU memory or physics memory. So this will need to be closely maintained.
Some research that will need to be done is on usability. I will ask people from the industry and artists about the tools they use, the issues they have with them, and things they like and are familiar with. This will help with the layout and to keep usability solid.