When I started writing Chimera, I was inspired by the most magical technique of the day, the Filmation Isometric 3D engine created by my hero Chris Stamper.
You had to have been there. The technique was so far ahead of anything anyone had seen on the ZX Spectrum, that like other staggering advances, it was pretty hard at first glance to take in what was going on. After a while, as the shock was replaced by awe, I set out to recreate the effect.
I’m not one for saying “no” to challenges. I remember when I was 19, a friend of mine told me to get the Joe Hubbard album and to listen to a particular track. He assured me that once I’d heard it, I’d give up the bass, an instrument I had only just started to play and was picking up some initial proficiency in. He came to visit me a week later. I will never forget the dumbfounded expression on his face as I played the solo back to him. Like Chimera, my rendition was not perfect, or close, but I had proven a point.
I believe we should set high goals. The goals that inspire me are what appear on face value to be absurdly high. The type of boundless goals a child might set.
My first plan with Chimera was to keep the pixel graphics and maybe add a few more skins. I’ve changed my mind. I’m going to go after the most advanced lighting and shading done in an isometric game to date, and I’m not going to be precious about how that’s achieved. If that means voxels, I’ll learn voxels. If that means real-time ray-tracing, I’ll find a way of doing it, but more likely, it will be some cack-handed technique that achieves the results I want.
This weekend, I was planning on learning the basics of modern 3D graphics. I have yet to transform a single matrix in my life, not consciously anyway. I think before I try and break the rules, I should learn some. After all, I was already a somewhat competent assembler programmer when I wrote Chimera, so it would probably be useful if I were to learn the basics of 3D, shading with shaders and whatever the latest global illumination trickery is before I try to change the world.
Don’t tell me it can’t be done, unless you want me to do it.