Your game needn't be a blockbuster in order to look impressive. Case in point: Kingdom Come: Deliverance, the Czech-made game from Warhorse Studios. This is the medieval role-playing game with no fantasy - but a lot of mud.
In an impressive 1080p60 recording from the Tech Alpha, posted at the weekend by a backer, the game's near photorealistic textures are shown in all their glory. The detail on the ground, on roots and on debris is particularly eye-catching. When the pale - not overly golden - sunlight hits a tree it's terrifically convincing. The only real giveaways are the not-quite-as-real leaves and bushes.
"The method we're using is internally called 'a crazy load of work'," lead 3D artist Jakub Holík explained to me.
"Every big asset has three UV coordinates in a way. The fist one is for the standard tilable or unique textures containing diffuse, gloss, normal and eventually height channel and those are done per material (so the wooden wall would have it's own, the shingle roof have one and so on). Then we multiply these UVs for high frequency detail maps (diffuse, gloss and normal channels) that blends with the standard textures so they don't look as blurry at the close-up. So far this is a common procedure in AAA games."
I know right - obvious!
"But then we add per-asset UV coordinates and create a unique texture that blends with just the diffuse channel, breaks the tilable textures and add some low frequency definition (mainly some dirt, wear and tear). The technology behind this isn't anything new or revolutionary, but our 3D artists can make the best of it, so it looks nice."
So just a lot of old elbow grease.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance isn't a one-person or two-person job. It's got a considerable team behind it already, with plans to number around 60 when the game comes out. That release date is a hopeful December 2015, on PC as well as PS4 and Xbox One. I'd take that with a pinch of salt, or perhaps cross your fingers for a PC and Mac release first, console later.
So far $2.27m has been pledged to its cause, but there's also a private investor involved, lurking in the background. Kickstarter helped convince that person to go forward.