MotoGP: lightning flashes

If you've been following my series of posts about wet weather effects in MotoGP, you may have noticed we had a habit of abusing the fog settings to create other effects.

Ok, this is the last time, I promise 🙂

The artists designated a couple of the wet tracks to be in a thunder storm. At random intervals, we triggered a burst of lighting flashes in rapid succession, then played a thunderclap sound a second or two later.

How to draw a lighting flash?

  • Fade the sky texture to pure white
  • Fade the fog color to pure white
  • Make the fog start distance somewhat negative

The result was similar to just globally fading the entire screen to white, but subtly different because even with a negative start distance, nearby objects were still fogged less than distant ones. This gave the flash a sense of direction: it was coming from the horizon, rather than applying equally everywhere. That's a totally different thing to properly lighting the environment based on surface normals, but we weren't set up to do realtime lighting on everything. The flash was over so quickly that even a horrendously approximate sense of distance and direction was enough to get the point across.

Comments (3)

  1. tgrand says:

    Sounds like another nice trick.  It’s great to see so much mileage out of a feature like fog.  Your initial description of the lightning made me wonder a little though: working on a title for a major console, did you have any guidelines or requirements relating to epileptic seizures?

  2. ShawnHargreaves says:

    > did you have any guidelines or requirements relating to epileptic seizures?

    Great question!

    I don’t actually remember the answer to this. I know we didn’t include any options or warnings in the game itself related to this, but it’s possible there might have been a warning on the box or in the manual. The publisher puts tons of legal cover-our-asses type stuff in the small print at the back of the manual 🙂

    I doubt this would have been a problem in practice, though. Although it was flashing somewhat quickly, games are normally played some distance from the TV in a room that has other lighting, so any flashing is nowhere near so intense as it would be in, say, a darkened cinema.

  3. haxpor says:

    Wow, that’s a nice trick!!

    I try to implement some flashy sky in rainy day. I think I might use this nice but simple technique.


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