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Weather - finally done right

PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:47 pm
by stormclouds
I want weather to play a part in Storm Clouds - with a name like that, it would be silly not to. Weather affects combat flying in real life, and definitely to a much greater degree in planes without modern conveniences such as radio and radar.

Previously I'd implemented a cloud layer that comes & goes, darkens when rain comes, and darkens even further when a storm develops. The rain effect itself was also implemented, and looks ok. That was great, but the effects were a bit 'sparse', and didn't really impact the game apart from the visible distance coming down when in the rain / cloud.

I've now fleshed out the different weather stages, giving each one a unique look, and most of them features that can impact the game:

  • Clear - during the day, the sun shines. It progresses across the sky and turns red when setting & rising. Importantly, the planes in your vision halo will not be visible when in the sun, this enables the famous tactic of attacking out of the sun! This also affects AI planes, they will not see you coming if you keep your back to the sun when attacking. Also, the sun casts shadows, which look really nice when flying low over undulating terrain.
  • Light Cloud - this is a transition between clear and overcast, there is no real impact in the game, although you may not be able to take reconnaissance photos through cloud. A nice effect during this phase is 'god rays', or crepuscular rays, which come from the correct angle of the sun for the time of day.
  • Overcast - the cloud layer is in full effect, and you can hide in it from enemy planes. If flying below the cloud, you cannot see the sun, and you cannot dive out of the sun on the enemy. Above the clouds, it is as if the weather is clear.
  • Rain - Flying below the cloud, in the rain, affects visibility - yours and the AI.
  • Storm - Visibility is even worse, and you also get lightning, which currently has no effect in the game except for briefly lighting up the sky.

Here is an animated gif of the full night / day cycle, and you can see the effect on the shadow of the plane:

Image

Future improvements:

Given time, I'd like to implement:

  • Fog - really just a cloud layer at ground level. It could look nice, and add a danger element to the game.
  • Snow - I haven't really implemented seasons yet. Snow would need new textures etc.
  • The shadows cast by planes are kind of a cheat, they don't look good when large planes fly low over undulating terrain. While this almost never happens (large planes tend to fly high), I'd like to implement even nicer shadows. Given shadows are there for purely aesthetic reasons, this may or may not happen.