Author Topic: The Art Pipeline For A Valley Without Wind  (Read 6994 times)

Offline x4000

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Re: The Art Pipeline For A Valley Without Wind
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2011, 09:33:18 PM »
Well -- in general, it's meant to be viewed in motion.  In terms of the perspective, it's the same perspecetive used by a ton of SNES games, including Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger.  For examples of what I mean:

SoM: http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=secret+of+mana

CT: http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=chrono+trigger

Both use a straight-on, very fakey perspective, as did most SNES games.  The characters and a lot of other elements are 100% side view, as are buildings, while a lot of other stuff is top-down or at a sort of straight-on variant of a 3/4 view.  SoM had some very loose blob shadows, and some even looser boxy shadows for buildings, but most of the time CT did not even do that.  And in my opinion, CT was the much nicer-looking game.

To some extent, you're seeing things a lot out of context, here, which is regretful.  In a lot of senses, I want the outside areas of the sort shown in that latest thread to look muddled and confusing -- rather like happened in Far Cry.

Far Cry screens: http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=far+cry+jungle

The effect is to mask the visibility of enemies, and create a sense of tension and unease.  I spent half of my youth outside in the woods (the other half inside playing video games), and I can tell you that in summer or spring this is exactly how forests at least in my area are.  They are dense, you can't tell one plant from another, and you find yourself climbing as much over and through bracken as you do around it.  It's very disconcerting, especially when you run into a sunning snake or a pissed off raccoon.

This sort of feeling is something I'm really trying to capture with the outdoor plants, where it's really a riot of movement and tendrils, and you can't see your legs, let alone your feet.

By contrast, the inside areas will be a mess as well, but more the typical rubble-and-trash-underfoot type of mess that doesn't restrict your visibility of yourself or enemies.  Whereas the more high-tech areas will be very smooth and clean and sci-fi.  And more wintry areas will be more about larger expanses of snow, etc.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of generic "grass is green and flat, let's walk on it" RPGs and adventure games.  Zelda 2 gave the illusion of high grass in its side-view areas, but it was only a backdrop.  I want to see that more as it would actually have been could they have done more.  Same with Far Cry, I love how the jungles there restrict visibility and create new challenges and opportunities when it comes to combat with my enemies.

We'll see how it all shakes out, but I will say that since it's all procedurally generated is is pretty easy to make sweeping changes to the game.  Anyway, I'm going for an odd mix of cartoony and realistic, and I haven't fully figured out all the bounds with it.  But in terms of the plants, that's definitely something I've always been wanting to do something more like a modern 3D game with, in terms of creating a sense of realism there.
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Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: The Art Pipeline For A Valley Without Wind
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2011, 10:38:31 PM »
I see, well the reason you want it this way wasn't clear before you said it now. Tis actually a good idea then.. ;) Needless to say that my only fear is that the forests become un fun. Though you hinted at some interesting new death mechanic so that fear might be without reason and if you allow us to "destroy" forests with fire as keith hinted then things should be much less confusing and much more fun ;)

Is just so hard to wait patiently to see what you post about the progress of the development... ;)
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Offline x4000

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Re: The Art Pipeline For A Valley Without Wind
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2011, 10:48:54 PM »
Yeah, to some extent this is why I'm wary of saying/showing too much too soon.  It's really hard to for you folks to know where we're headed, and we also have certain parts that we're still figuring out, too.  In terms of burning forests, etc, that was planned but now I'm thinking not, for various reasons.

Anyway, I don't think the forests will be un-fun any more than the stuff in Far Cry is, but we shall see.  It's also intended that there's enough variety that you can spend the bulk of your time in the sort of regions you prefer, rather than having to just play through every region.  So if you do turn out to dislike some sort of region, whatever that is, it's not like you'll be stuck in it much during the game.

More to come later. ;)
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Offline HitmanN

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Re: The Art Pipeline For A Valley Without Wind
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2011, 11:00:05 PM »
("while you were typing 2 new replies have been posted.")

Right, I'm a slow typer. x3

The thing with SNES era games and the perspective is that back then every pixel made a difference. The objects were easy to recognize because they were made of of only a few pixels, so you could hardly go wrong guessing what object each pixel belongs to. Things rarely blended together, which made understanding things much easier. Then there was the contrast. The difference between a color and its next step darker tone was immense, due to a limited palette. With the 'painterly' style used here, the contrast is limited. Good or bad, depends.

One issue with the dense forest atmosphere is that it's creating atmosphere at the cost of gameplay and control. It's a great goal immersion-wise, but it shouldn't make the player guess what is happening on the screen in life or death situations.

In this case, there's a very limited range of visibility. In Far Cry, the way the enemies blended in the forest scenery was not very effective at close range. It was easy to start seeing what is what at the range where the enemies became a serious threat. It allowed surprises to happen, but was rarely lethal. In here, the same amount of blending looks to be constant throughout the gameplay area. It can be as much exciting as it can be a killjoy.

I'm not saying it can't work, just that it really needs to be thought out thoroughly. When it's about graphics, the shortest route often leads to the messiest outcome.

I just think that something is missing here, and I'd still go for shadows as solution. I'll leave it at that. No need to reply or anything. I think I've made my opinion clear enough by now. ;) I'm off to sleep now. xD

Offline Teal_Blue

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Re: The Art Pipeline For A Valley Without Wind
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2011, 11:04:27 PM »
This is just a thought, and as i am not an artist maybe completely off track here, but is it possible to have some trees and or boulders or whatever with the 'shadows' attached?

In other words the shadows are part of the drawing.

But not everything will have it. perhaps just a general area where the sun is shining over the hills and down through the trees?

In this way perhaps you don't have to apply a general filter that gives shadows to everything.

Just use the 'shadowed' objects in places where the sun is shining through.

Or moonlight for that matter. 

(now i 'really' have gone and made this complicated.)

:)

Though i can see that it might be crazy having to create sets of art with and without shadows, and from varying angles as well, but i am thinking you could label them 12, 12a, 12b, 12c, etc for each piece, though i am guessing if you did have them, the game engine might be able to figure out which ones to use and where according to the angle of the sun in your game window. (if it has to calculate that)

Or maybe i'm not seeing something here.

Like i said, i'm not an artist, but i thought having the shadows as part of the drawing, might avoid the whole 'filter' thing.

But, it might be a ton more work. I am not sure this is really a good work around for the problem of added graphic strain or limited memory though.

Just a thought,

:)

-Teal

« Last Edit: February 06, 2011, 11:09:41 PM by Teal_Blue »

Offline x4000

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Re: The Art Pipeline For A Valley Without Wind
« Reply #20 on: February 07, 2011, 10:31:19 AM »
See, this is very much the sort of debate I didn't want to get into with the gameplay, and we've gone and gotten into it on the art. I value you folks's opinions and enthusiasm, and in the case of the artists your expertise, but right at this moment there's just rampant speculation. On a still screenshot, as well. Having everything in motion in the game really makes a difference.

In terms of monsters, there aren't any in game yet so it's pretty hard to comment, no? In terms of buildings, the single one that is there I've noted is temporary. I intend to add some more fakey perspective there. I still need to experiment to see what will work best. But right now it's just endless speculation on stuff that isn't finished, which wasn't at all the goal of sharing the screenshots. Some good stuff came out of the comments -- the blending and borders, etc -- but in terms of shadows it's just way too early. If at some later point it just really seems the game needs shadows, they can be added in. Until the art is further along, I'm not goig to consider it. It's like adding detail paint to a car that doesn't have a full base coat yet. ;)

Also, I stronly suspect shadows would be unworkable here, unless they were very loose blob shadows, becauseof the nature of the complex undergrowth, the buildings, etc. If a shadow crosses a building or other vertical object from a vertical object in front of it, you expect that shadow to bend. But with a flat image, it won't. That in turn makes the building look like it is lying flat on the ground. And other similar issues.
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Offline HitmanN

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Re: The Art Pipeline For A Valley Without Wind
« Reply #21 on: February 07, 2011, 11:51:27 AM »
I suppose what I've been trying to say all along, is that I think everything should be considered placeholder, until the final decision about style is made, and everything's been tested thoroughly. An open mind across the board at this point. :)

I also can't resist pointing out though, that still images must be easy to view and understand too, since that's a huge marketing factor. Some (I suspect quite a few actually) people don't bother viewing trailers if even the screenshots don't please them. In my case, I found the AI War screenshots to be more pleasing actually, because the trailers at that time (early 3.0) were somewhat blurry and made things look a bit messy. Good still-shots just may have got me into AI War to begin with. ;)

Also, I stronly suspect shadows would be unworkable here, unless they were very loose blob shadows, becauseof the nature of the complex undergrowth, the buildings, etc. If a shadow crosses a building or other vertical object from a vertical object in front of it, you expect that shadow to bend. But with a flat image, it won't. That in turn makes the building look like it is lying flat on the ground. And other similar issues.

Regarding the way shadows behave, that's not really important, IMO. The point is that if there is any kind of shadow at all, the player can easily see that that shadow belongs to that object, even if it looks weird or bends unrealistically. The presence of shadows is more important than their visual looks, because their role is to help define the perspective, which in turn helps separating foreground objects from background. :) That's why we have a variety of suggestions here, from blobs to masks and blenders. Any of them would cover the essentials, I think.

Blobs might actually be a good way to go. An area dense with trees would have a lot of shadow covered ground, maybe even overlapping shadows, which would darken the atmosphere nicely. Some creepy enemy type could maybe enjoy living in dark forests, pouncing on the player from the shadows. ;)

Offline x4000

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Re: The Art Pipeline For A Valley Without Wind
« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2011, 11:56:21 AM »
Fair point on the still screens.  At any rate, I think they will show much better than they do now when all is said and done.

In terms of the shadows -- we'll see.

In terms of the placeholder-ness of the art... well, everything is always up for potential changes later, as we've seen with AI War, but in general past some certain point I have to call it done.  I intend to create between 1 and 3 thousand sprites for this game, and so far I have done about 20ish.  I expect to have near to 500 by alpha, if I can.  I'm trying to "finalize" the style in the sense of finding a pattern and a look that works, so that I can get cranking on all that content.  If I'm 500 sprites in and then suddenly realize I want to redo the entire thing in a different look, that's going to be prohibitively expensive.  Unless the game is already hugely popular.  In which case apparently the art wasn't a big problem.

So to a large extent... the "placeholder" nature of the art is fleeting at best.
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Offline HitmanN

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Re: The Art Pipeline For A Valley Without Wind
« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2011, 12:16:30 PM »
Don't let me eat up too much of your time. ;) I'll wait for a bit more content for now and see how things look then. I think I've made my views clear more than once. Perhaps seeing some more gameplay content will make me reconsider some. :D

Offline x4000

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Re: The Art Pipeline For A Valley Without Wind
« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2011, 12:18:55 PM »
Well... to some extent yeah, it just needs to be a little further along before any real discussion can happen at this stage.  But I understand what you're saying, and your goals.  And for the record you were right about the glowy borders on the spire ships. ;)
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Offline HitmanN

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Re: The Art Pipeline For A Valley Without Wind
« Reply #25 on: February 07, 2011, 12:57:11 PM »
Wait, what...? *goes read patch notes*

Neat. I haven't had time to play LotS since the early betas, so I didn't know. Hehe. Glad to hear it fits. ;) I'm a sucker for glow. Whatever art I make, I try to add a bit of glow somewhere if there's even a hint of light source somewhere.

I've been saving LotS for a co-op LAN session with my cousin. Bought a key for him a little while back, but we didn't have time to start playing yet. Here's hoping he has time to visit again soon. :P

Offline x4000

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Re: The Art Pipeline For A Valley Without Wind
« Reply #26 on: February 07, 2011, 01:05:07 PM »
Hope you have a blast with it -- it improved a lot since the early versions. :)  And yeah, the glow really was a good call!
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Offline CoyoteTheClever

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Re: The Art Pipeline For A Valley Without Wind
« Reply #27 on: February 07, 2011, 05:51:28 PM »
I personally really like the fakey perspective, and to me this is a really nostalgic style with all the tricks from the golden age of SNES rpgs, but I think some of the newer gamers or computer players who won't touch consoles won't really get the whole nostalgic feeling. 

Offline BobTheJanitor

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Re: The Art Pipeline For A Valley Without Wind
« Reply #28 on: February 07, 2011, 06:18:07 PM »
In my day we walked two miles in the snow to kill our rpg monsters. And it could have been uphill both ways. You can't tell with a 2-D flat perspective. Get off of my lawn, you 3-D kids. It's a two dimensional lawn. You don't even fit on it.

Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: The Art Pipeline For A Valley Without Wind
« Reply #29 on: February 07, 2011, 06:28:29 PM »

I'm a sucker for glow. Whatever art I make, I try to add a bit of glow somewhere if there's even a hint of light source somewhere.

Glow is greatest invention of humanity. Just see my explosion revisions for AI War in the mods if you ever play it and want glowing explosions as well ;P
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