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Pre-rendered backgrounds and blocking out the character

Hello! I’m interested in replicating the look of some classic PS1 games such as Resident Evil, Final Fantasy 7-9, etc. Specifically I’m interested in replicating how those games do pre-rendered backgrounds.

The actual background part I think I understand well enough. If I’m guessing right, you just need to match an image to each camera viewpoint in the level, and draw all of the operating characters/props on top of that image.

Where I’m getting stuck is working out how to block out those characters/props when appropriate.

image

As an example, you’ll see how the two characters in this screenshot are partially covered by the guardrail in the background. I’ve been looking into how to replicate this and I’m not having any luck.
Please let me know if there’s a method for this!

Hi there!

You’re exactly right about your first part

If I’m guessing right, you just need to match an image to each camera viewpoint in the level, and draw all of the operating characters/props on top of that image.

Totally correct. This is critical to how you’re going to end up with a similar visual style. This means: Building your scene, taking a screenshot then tweaking your lighting, etc.

There’s a couple of ways you can solve this but the first way you could “fake it”. What you do is place an alpha texture ontop of an appropriate block and just move it to the region you require the transparent layer to be.
Then you’re camera is looking at the character it will appear to be in front of the player as well as providing the appropriate boundary for them to not pass through (assuming you dont want your relative Ada Wong/Zombie to not pass by those pipes)