During a talk at GDC London titled "High-Def Outdoors Environments," Crytek art director Michael Khaimzon revealed secrets of the environmental development for the company's impressive upcoming first-person shooter, Crysis, including details of a Tahitian trip taken by the development team during the pre-production phase.
The point of the trip was to photograph and gather a library of tropical textures for the Frankfurt, Germany-based developer, as such environments do not exist in the region.
"We worked our asses off for seven days," said Khaimzon, giving several examples of photographs taken by the staff, including shadow details of live trees, village houses, and cut leaves against a homemade blue screen - the act of obtaining which was illegal.
"In Tahiti it is illegal to chop down even one leaf from a palm tree," said Khaimzon, "but we did it anyway."
"It was scary."
Ultimately, Khaimzon admitted, such measures may not have been completely necessary. When rendering vegetation the Crytek way, he said, it is more important to render one leaf accurately than to attempt to render an entire branch. This way, he said, each leaf will bend realistically from environmental affects, be it wind or destruction.
Khaimzon's fascinating but extremely visual talk also touched on the importance of shaders, real-world architecture, and how game models are created in order to be destroyed in Crysis.