Author Topic: Much Progress On The A Valley Without Wind Art  (Read 4092 times)

Offline x4000

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Much Progress On The A Valley Without Wind Art
« on: February 06, 2011, 12:55:28 AM »
Figured out a lot of stuff today for improving the art, and actually improved the framerate massively while I was at it.  See above, and click for the fullsized screenshot (from the Unity Editor) if you like.

Instead of rendering quite so many short, tame grasses, I've taken the original renderings that I did and re-processed them at 4x the prior size, leading to a far more detailed (consistent with the rendered trees) look.  It's also something that comes up to the character's chest, rather than his ankles.  I figure that if these wild parts of the world are meant to feel post-apocalyptic and intimidating, the plants would really be taking over even more than I'd had them doing before.  And this is now much more like what I'd been imagining from the start, anyway.

The plants by the skyline are also similarly improved, and the alien-like strange reeds that pop up every so often near the cliffs in particular look even freakier.  I didn't re-render anything, I just went back to my source rendered images and then scale and post-processed them differently.  Even the post-processing is mostly the same technique, but it's applied in a slightly different way and has one critical new component: KillWhite.

Topaz Labs got back to me about their filters not working the way I want with complex transparent borders, and basically said that it isn't possible at this time, but that they'd talk to their dev team about it to find out if it's a possible new feature.  I thought that was quite fair, but needed to find a workaround (or permanent solution, even) in the meantime.  The Topaz filters work just great for things that I do want to keep the hard border on, of course -- objects and characters, for instance.  It's just when I want that painterly style all the way up to the edge of a plant that it gets troublesome.

But, KillWhite allows me to do the compositing and filtering on a plain white background, and then lift the white out afterwards.  When I have white elements that I need to preserve, I either have to have a duplicate layer for that part of the image (as with the birch tree trunks), or I temporarily invert the color of the object itself and then do the on-white processing, and then invert the color back (for the purple/white reeds shown above).

The end result is something that has the painterly styling all up to the edge, has much more natural edges in general, no longer has the white halo effect that makes it look like a magazine cutout, and has a graduated alpha feathering at the edge that gives the trees a slightly more three dimensional look.  Awesome.  I re-processed every plant and tree in the game using the new tools and technique.  As you can see in the screenshot above, the result is far superior.

We'll have a full batch of new screenshots later this week (showing off the first magic spell, too, actually -- among other new things), and I'm sure a new video, too.  But since there had been some concern over the other screenshots from some folks, I wanted to go ahead and share at least one new one early.
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Offline TechSY730

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Re: Much Progress On The A Valley Without Wind Art
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2011, 12:59:27 AM »
Dang, that is some nice looking foliage there. Good job.
Hope you can get those tricky filter issues sorted out somehow.

Offline x4000

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Re: Much Progress On The A Valley Without Wind Art
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2011, 01:05:37 AM »
Thanks -- and yeah, what I was trying to say in the above is that I've pretty much got the filters worked completely out.  It takes some hand-adjusting on every image I do, but that's always the case to really get the effect I want, anyway.  There's no one-size-fits-all "press this button and the prerendered 3D will now look nice and in this specific painterly style."  It seems like there would be, but based on image sizing, composition, shading, contrast, thickness, etc, the actual way the images have to be filtered to get a consistent in-game look can be pretty radically different.

Anywho, I meant to get the AI War beta out last night by the way, but all this stuff with the art really hit me hard and unexpectedly, and I've been pretty driven on finding a solution that would satisfy at least myself.  The beta on that is coming sometime soon, though -- probably Monday sometime, unless something else drastic happens. ;)
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Offline BobTheJanitor

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Re: Much Progress On The A Valley Without Wind Art
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2011, 01:15:43 AM »
That's a drastic improvement. Good work!

Offline Teal_Blue

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Re: Much Progress On The A Valley Without Wind Art
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2011, 01:24:05 AM »
This is simply BEAUTIFUL!!   :)

Very, Very, Very Cool!! 

:)

March then, or April for the Alpha release?
This is looking just stunning!!

:)

-Teal


Offline x4000

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Re: Much Progress On The A Valley Without Wind Art
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2011, 01:41:21 AM »
Thanks! :)

And yep, still hoping for march sometime for the alpha version. We'll know more as we get closer, of course -- still a long way to go!
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Offline SRombauts

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Re: Much Progress On The A Valley Without Wind Art
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2011, 03:34:09 AM »
Yes, that's great, it really is much better like this!

By the way, I am not fond of the look of the ground (too basic) : I understood that you will cover it with a lot more details, is that it?
With this new grass it's already far better :)

Offline Zhaine

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Re: Much Progress On The A Valley Without Wind Art
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2011, 06:48:16 AM »
Looking great  :D Hope it doesn't take to much time to hand adjust it all, but seems like it's worth it

Offline x4000

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Re: Much Progress On The A Valley Without Wind Art
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2011, 11:08:55 AM »
Yep, the ground is largely intended to be covered. It's more of a backdrop go the rest, and thus needs to be fairly basic to let you see the details on top. The snow is one exception.
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Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: Much Progress On The A Valley Without Wind Art
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2011, 01:23:44 PM »
Mhhh, now i find the grass way too "strong" , the black and very bright (yellow or bright green, haven't checked in ps) makes them pretty opaque and overwhelming and by far the strongest contrast in the image (even more contrasty than the character)...
« Last Edit: February 06, 2011, 01:26:36 PM by eRe4s3r »
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Offline HellishFiend

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Re: Much Progress On The A Valley Without Wind Art
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2011, 01:58:29 PM »
This game sounds right up my alley. Cant wait.  ;D
Time to roll out another ball of death.

Offline Nalgas

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Re: Much Progress On The A Valley Without Wind Art
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2011, 03:18:54 PM »
Mhhh, now i find the grass way too "strong" , the black and very bright (yellow or bright green, haven't checked in ps) makes them pretty opaque and overwhelming and by far the strongest contrast in the image (even more contrasty than the character)...

Heh.  I didn't even notice the character was in the image until seeing this comment and going back to look at it again.  The grass kind of ate him.  Other than that, though, the way everything blends together with the cleaner edges looks much nicer than before.

Offline Teal_Blue

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Re: Much Progress On The A Valley Without Wind Art
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2011, 04:08:06 PM »
Mhhh, now i find the grass way too "strong" , the black and very bright (yellow or bright green, haven't checked in ps) makes them pretty opaque and overwhelming and by far the strongest contrast in the image (even more contrasty than the character)...

Personally i disagree, I think this 'look' is way more detailed and in my opinion, more 'realistic', which i prefer. I know, at least i think that Arcen is going for a 'painted' style, but i really, really like this look. I didn't think any of it looked out of place or overdone. It seems to me that someone is always going to be sorta 'meh' about something. Can't please everyone. Though if it was an obvious visual problem i think it would be obvious to everyone, not just someone with a little skill that disagrees with the devs.

Anyway, that is 'my two cents'.  :)

-Teal


Offline Teal_Blue

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Re: Much Progress On The A Valley Without Wind Art
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2011, 04:31:59 PM »
Anywho, I meant to get the AI War beta out last night by the way, but all this stuff with the art really hit me hard and unexpectedly, and I've been pretty driven on finding a solution that would satisfy at least myself.  The beta on that is coming sometime soon, though -- probably Monday sometime, unless something else drastic happens. ;)

AI War beta?  I thought with LotS out, that things would be quiet on that front?  Haha, but whatever you think is good.

Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: Much Progress On The A Valley Without Wind Art
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2011, 05:07:40 PM »
Personally i disagree, I think this 'look' is way more detailed and in my opinion, more 'realistic', which i prefer. I know, at least i think that Arcen is going for a 'painted' style, but i really, really like this look. I didn't think any of it looked out of place or overdone. It seems to me that someone is always going to be sorta 'meh' about something. Can't please everyone. Though if it was an obvious visual problem i think it would be obvious to everyone, not just someone with a little skill that disagrees with the devs.

Anyway, that is 'my two cents'.  Smiley

-Teal

I am never criticizing x4000. He is the authority on the game he wants to make, and commenting this early is the ONLY time in the entire development were the basic framework for the looks of the entire game are laid out and can be still changed without going insane or bankrupt.

My suggestions and comments are like fruit baskets -> everyone can take what they want. ;) In the end all i want is to nudge the graphical quality a notch upwards (which is basically a 0cost improvement when its just improving/aiming at the art pipeline process).
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