I had another go at the grass. Last time it ended up very “crazy” looking. It was doing lots of different things, in lots of different colours, pointing lots of ways and generally being a real mess and bizarre. I fell into this trap by trying to make a very small amount of grass look interesting, and repeating it a lot. I also fell victim to trying to make something as efficient as possible by prioritising performance bang-for-buck with artistic decision-making. I therefore made patches too dense and just generally tried to do too much with too little.
So this time around, my bakes were much simpler, and the textures much less complicated – it doesn’t even have a normal texture. The result is a much less remarkable-looking set of grass patches.
I set about scattering them throughout the level by painting them onto the landscape. By controlling their size and the density of placement, I was able to make interesting patches of grass without them looking quite so nuts as before.
I added a gentle wind to the grass without the use of texture lookups. Although it uses a lot of nodes, the instruction count isn’t too high and it’s a lot cheaper than using a texture lookup. (incidentally, the tree wind is done in a similar textureless way).
The grass also grows and shrinks with the seasons. This is done by making the grass both thinner and shorter using the texture.
It’s not the best grass in the world, but at least it isn’t an eyesore any longer. If I get time, I’d like to add some more plants: daisies and dandelions which will be most visible during spring and summer, but also medium-sized plants to fill the size gap between the tiny grass and the large trees. Edit: not going to have time :(