Idea for cool 3D effect on SNES

​So, I’ve just considered that Mode 7 also uses 8bpp 256-colours like Mode 3, which means you could create all kinds of pseudo-3D effects alongside the 8bpp 256-colour palette cycling I’ve mentioned previously for some amazing results.

My first idea is a 3D waterfall effect that combines the kind of thing Kulor is doing below along with the palette cycling to have the water animated and actually streaming down the 3D scene too:

Note: I sent Kulor a wee message about potentially adding in additional shading to the wall sections of his scene that aren’t flat, where there would be less light hitting them (assuming the light source in the scene is somewhere above and in the distance), which would sell the 3D effect even more, and I would definitely apply that to the waterfall scene too.

So, imagine a multi-level waterfall plus some landscape sections that’s rendered similarly to Kulor’s scene, which could be in a shump level where you either fly up the scene over the waterfall like in Kulor’s example or horizontally across the scene as in most shmups.

Here’s a simple scribble of the idea I had that I jotted down a while back:


And here’s a very basic example of moving across a Mode 7 water background, just to hint at how the side-scrolling version might start, but it would be a lot more visually appealing and sophisticated as I imagine it:

Now, the Mode 7 tilemap would consist of what looks like some patches of brown ground or rocky areas broken up by water sections that are drawn as if they are flowing down parts of the scene, so it’s not all just water. Everything is technically static outside of the actual entire scene scrolling relative to the player, but the water is animated as flowing using the palette cycling. This way, you can have the pseudo-3D scene scrolling entirely in whatever direction or even completely static, and the water would still flow correctly irrespective.

Super Off Road: The Baja comes to mind for the general effect, where the road there would be replaced by the flowing water in my example, and the height difference between each flat and vertical section of the scene would be larger and more pronounced like Kulor’s example, to really emphasize the 3D effect of it being a waterfall flowing over land areas and cascading down walls and the like:

Also, as seen in Mark Ferrari’s examples, you could even bake in the animated mist at the bottom of the waterfall sections using the palette cycling too, and maybe even a few sections with some swaying tufts of grass here and there (7:30):

And, because this is all currently done entirely with backgrounds, there would also be plenty of sprites left to use some of them for little scaling rocks and tufts of grass at points, so the whole scene has a little more 3D height and depth too. A bit like scene in Panorama Cotton on Genesis, but maybe a bit more subtle and taking up less sprites overall, so there’s plenty left for the actual player and ships and so on (from 6:24):

In fact, that Panorama Cotton level above with the water is kinda a much more simplified-looking version of what I’m thinking about actually (at least for the vertically scrolling version), where the water would look much nicer and the landscape would both be able to be fully textured and have big sections where it drops down before going flat again and so on, all because of how Mode 7 works.

On top of that, any part of the scene above the Mode 7 waterfall would be a background mode switch and could use say the full three layers of Mode 1 for some overlapping mountains and clouds in the distance and have lots of line/row scrolling applied to really sell the whole 3D effect of the scene even more. And, because I think it’s possible to do this based on chat in SNESdev and also this, it could even be that the main sky and clouds are done with their own Mode 7 section too, and made to scale towards the view much like this lovely effect (at 22:48):

I think that would create an amazing 3D effect on SNES. And, because it’s ultimately just a “relatively simple” Mode 7 effect plus palette cycling (and the palette cycling really doesn’t cost much at all), it could be done alongside a hectic shump or whatever and just really make the SNES look like it’s doing something very impressive visually.

So, there it is, it’s out there. If I could program for SNES then I would implement this into my own shump tests, but I can’t, and I can’t do most of this in Game Maker 8.1 mockups either, so I leave it in the ether for someone else to try if it so takes their fancy.

Note: If anyone wants to talk to me more on this, give me a shout. And I’d be up for doing the art too.

And here are my own tests again, just in case you’re wondering if I have a clue what I’m talking about and/or any artistic skills whatsoever:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s