Author Topic: Criticism and ideas about graphics  (Read 5991 times)

Offline mlaskus

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Criticism and ideas about graphics
« on: February 12, 2011, 12:14:15 PM »
I know it is still quite early to provide feedback, and that's not why Arcen is releasing the pre-alpha footage. Though reading all those extremely negative comments about AVWW graphics on RPS(they are a lot more positive now, since the last video got released) I thought, it could be helpful to provide some feedback already.

I know that many of the ideas are going to be obvious or simply things that you haven't had time to take care of yet, but if we come up with even a few good ideas or ones that you could have overlooked then it's worth it.

I really love how the foliage looks in motion, and I think that this and similar effects could very well draw people's attention away from the, still criticised, character animations which, according to Chris's blog post, won't see much more polish.

I'm trying to think of stuff that could be reused and modified easily, so that a single solution can provide a variety of effects.

Small objects being carried on the breeze, mostly some absolutely miniature stuff, just a pixel or so on the screen, like wind pollination or single leafs. This could produce a subtle effect that you could use in most outdoor areas, modifying the speed and the types of objects.

Moving clouds are a nice idea, but I think they would be more effective if they weren't visible themselves, only casting the shadow on the ground instead. They could be bigger and thus provide more variation in colour to the scenes, without obscuring the view.

Some simple and subtle post processing, for example; increasing the temperature of the colours in the areas that you have already explored and secured. Of course, those wouldn't have to be tied to gameplay in any way, they seem like a simple way to introduce some more variation to the scenes with little effort.

Inside the old abandoned buildings there could be some dust particles flowing slowly in mid air. A lot more visible if there is a sunbeam coming through the roof perhaps. Also, as the character moves, there could be some subtle particle effect, looking like the dust got disturbed slightly. I realize this is quite specific, but I'm afraid that the indoors may look a bit poor without all that lovely foliage to liven it up.

I had thought of more stuff before, that I forgot now, oh well, it's a wall of text anyway.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2011, 12:16:39 PM by mlaskus »

Offline x4000

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Re: Criticism and ideas about graphics
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2011, 03:56:43 PM »
In today's batch of rps comments, it was about 80% positive from what I saw. There will always be people who hate the look, so I'm really happy how good the percentage of good comments are.

That said, there are some quite good ideas in this thread. I hadn't thought about doing floating dust or leaves, but hose are quite good ideas. For the shadows of clouds... that's also probably best, to just make it larger and more amorphous shadows. Good thoughts!
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Offline TechSY730

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Re: Criticism and ideas about graphics
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2011, 04:00:25 PM »
In today's batch of rps comments, it was about 80% positive from what I saw. There will always be people who hate the look, so I'm really happy how good the percentage of good comments are.

That said, there are some quite good ideas in this thread. I hadn't thought about doing floating dust or leaves, but hose are quite good ideas. For the shadows of clouds... that's also probably best, to just make it larger and more amorphous shadows. Good thoughts!

I'm glad you have such an open pre-alpha process. It allows really good ideas from the community to seed into the game very early in development. Another thing I love about Arcen games. :)

Offline mlaskus

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Re: Criticism and ideas about graphics
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2011, 04:01:51 PM »
Good thoughts!

I'm glad you like them, I wasn't sure if I'm being helpful.

Offline SRombauts

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Re: Criticism and ideas about graphics
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2011, 06:03:40 PM »
Yes, I think that particle effects like dust always add to the atmosphere.

What about some really small animals, like rats, many insects, or even birds.

And what about some animals tracks?

Offline x4000

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Re: Criticism and ideas about graphics
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2011, 07:56:00 PM »
Yep, various things like that add polish, but there's a limit to how much we can do on that earlier while still building the main game itself on a reasonable schedule.
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Offline mlaskus

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Re: Criticism and ideas about graphics
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2011, 04:20:04 AM »
Link

Starky makes some good points in the RPS comments.

Quote
Buildings have shadows in one direction, and one next to it the opposite. The small building with the red and white barbers pole on it casts shadow to the right (lit on the left), while the windmill clearly casts to the left (lit on the right). this it what makes it look so unsettling to see, why everything seems to clash and look wrong.

Tree’s cast no shadows, and the direction of the light as shown by the shading on the trunks varies from tree to tree, see http://www.arcengames.com/w/images/stories/avww/v003/PreAlpha-v003-TeleportWinter.jpg
Look at the shading on the tree trunks, the dark side alternates clearly from mirrored images.

EDIT: Corrected the link above
« Last Edit: February 14, 2011, 06:20:57 AM by mlaskus »

Offline x4000

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Re: Criticism and ideas about graphics
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2011, 10:14:55 PM »
All the buildings and other objects have shadows going the same direction.  However, I flip the textures on the Y axis for the sake of variety.  With buildings, I may need to stop that, because it's too easy to see and a bit jarring.  With the trees, I think it matters less.
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Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: Criticism and ideas about graphics
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2011, 11:50:07 PM »
Mhhhhhhhhh, shadows are noticed by the brain to calculate perspective. Wrong shadows will always be noticed unless there are absolutely NO shadows. Although often people don't know "what exactly" it is that they find wrong with an image with wrong shadows. But never the less - for trees theres no reason to do that - you can just rotate the tree model and render it out in 60° steps (with the light source remaining where it is) - that gives you 5 variations from 1 tree mesh. And if you got 3 or 4 tree meshes then thats all variation you need. Humans are generally bad at telling apart trees. ^^

You could even apply an procedural mesh noise at high scale so that the trunk and leafs are also bit different each rotation but thats just extra and depends on what you render the trees with.

There is only 1 situation where it wouldn't matter and that is if you would have no directional shadows at all.

Edit: by the way, i am not saying this out of the blue - often when i do render images people ALWAYS comment on the shadows. Its stuff that people will see and comment on.

But indeed, i only want to be helpful ;) If the shadows are wrong the first comment relating graphics is gonna be that the shadows are wrong (by reviewers in worst case). I've had it happen so often to me that i always do proper shadows nowadays ;)
« Last Edit: February 14, 2011, 08:09:25 AM by eRe4s3r »
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Offline yllamana

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Re: Criticism and ideas about graphics
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2011, 03:46:06 AM »
I think in "2d" art terms a bit of clever dynamic lighting and shadow goes a long way in making a scene look believable and interesting. Some games like Ferazel's Wand (which sadly seems to have been lost in the sands of OS updates) or Aquaria have really used it to great effect. Well-done particle effects make a huge difference, too, as the OP mentions! That said, my big concerns about the graphics mostly went away when I watched the video instead of the scaled-down screenshots - it looked so much better in motion.

As a post-script, though, please keep in mind we provide feedback because we love you! :) Even if you decide not to act on it, that's okay too.

Offline HitmanN

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Re: Criticism and ideas about graphics
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2011, 08:24:56 AM »
Now now, shadows are noticed by the brain to calculate perspective. Wrong shadows will always be noticed unless there are absolutely NO shadows. Although often people don't know "what exactly" it is that they find wrong with an image with wrong shadows.

Was going to mention that sooner or later, but looks like you beat me to it.

Despite this game not trying to be a masterpiece of art, shading is one of those things that easily get critiqued first in any artwork, if applicable. Quite often shadows are considered more important than, say, colouring in general. As en example, colours can vary, and you can always paint a red apple blue if you want a blue apple. It may look odd, but it's not impossible for such to exist. But shadows... you can't make a pile of objects each cast a shadow or be shaded in different directions. At least not without some optical illusion or really peculiar setup of lighting. Shadows are the sort of thing that has a very steep curve from being plausible to being illogical.

There is only 1 situation where it wouldn't matter and that is if you would have no directional shadows at all.

It also helps if the shading is at the bottom side of an object, as if the light source is directly above. Then you could mirror the object without the shading mattering much. In this case, it could work very well, since the objects don't cast shadows to the environment. And even if they did, blob shadows would be more plausible, with the assumed light source being directly above.


With all that said, the current shading might not be as bad with trees, I guess, but the buildings should definitely all have same direction of shading. Although I'd personally rather just have less variance in trees, but have a unified shading for them all.

Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: Criticism and ideas about graphics
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2011, 08:36:06 AM »
Hehe, how high is the chance that just when i edit my comment you quote it and use it in your reply 20 minutes before i hit edit? ;P

What you say is the truth however, as i mention in my edit. Shadows are always the first thing critics criticize. If you look at this (shamless self-plug) -> http://www.deviantart.com/download/185560544/heavy_float_under_fire___mk2_by_ere4s3r-d32h7fk.jpg the first comment was how the laser *beam* (not the 10 times more obvious *hit*) doesn't cast shadows (or light) in the area around it. You'd think thats not something people usually would care about given the size of the image. But yeah.. they do.

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Offline x4000

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Re: Criticism and ideas about graphics
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2011, 09:06:52 AM »
Very nice image there.

Okay, you guys have sold me.  Incidentally, if I wanted to render out lots of tree variants it would be easy since I'm using the SolidGrowth stuff with Vue (just hit a new procedural generation seed for something way more different than just rotating, or even tweak the procedural settings to get something even more crazy), but the nice thing about the horizontal mirroring is that it doesn't require extra load time or RAM on the client machine.  Or extra texture swaps on the GPU.  So most likely I'll just go with less variety, ignoring the flips.
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Offline mlaskus

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Re: Criticism and ideas about graphics
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2011, 09:07:32 AM »
Nice tank. :)

I agree about the shadows. They are extremely important, even more so if you are using a perspective that seems very flat in the first place.

Offline Ixolite

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Re: Criticism and ideas about graphics
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2011, 03:25:04 PM »
even more so if you are using a perspective that seems very flat in the first place.

I find the perspective to be very odd and disturbing - from the movement of characters, and now the shadows as well, it feels like it is isometric(ish). But a lot of objects break away from that, the car for example (http://arcengames.com/w/images/stories/avww/v004/PreAlpha-v004-Summon-Tree.jpg) looks like it was seen from a side view, just as all of the taller buildings. Smaller structures however land anywhere in between, not a sideview but not quite isometric(ish) yet.

It is really weird to look at: http://arcengames.com/w/images/stories/avww/v004/PreAlpha-v004-Teleport.jpg - some of the tires are in a side view, the ones to the right seem to follow the (correct?) perspective and the cargo containers just feel like cut-outs, especially the ones with shorter edge facing the camera. Logically some of them should intersect, like the ones on the right hand side, next to the tires.