Author Topic: First art look: Buzzing Bees! Those are icons!?  (Read 2339 times)

Offline Blue

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First art look: Buzzing Bees! Those are icons!?
« on: September 12, 2016, 03:58:53 PM »
Actually, yeah!

Okay, so Chris and I have been working on designing and figuring out a way to relay information in a way that isn't nearly as overwhelming as it was in the original, and still keep it to something attractive. Ideally, we'd like to have attractive looking ship icons with detail and color.

That's a hard task to complete when so many things come down to it.

Goal: Icons that represent ships that will be laid out in mass. These ships must represent a player color as well as their current mode. (Attack, passive, ect ect.) Oh yeah, and their levels! Sheesh.



In the original, things got crazy busy.



While it works, it's not very attractive.

So why are bees relevant here?

I think I've come up with an idea that I like to refer to as the Bee Colony Affect. Basically we reconsider the way the game renders these. In the screen shots of the original game, it looks like each ship is rendered and treated as it's own identity. These mocks treat each ship like a bee in a bee colony. On their own, they're individual. Together, they're one.



With some thought, I think we've figured out that we can set these in a layering system where the command colors render beneath and creating one single outline when they're bunched, rather than overlapping like they do on the left side of that image there.

So I think that's one problem solved. But what about player color?

I thought about a two dot system as well as glows to represent player color, but I think it looks kind of confusing really when there gets to be tons of them.

I'd also considered simply using a color over lay when the ships are at their smallest.



I think we've come to the conclusion that we should use the second smallest, and second largest of those ships as far as zoom goes at the very least.

Ultimately the double color border to represent both player color and command color doesn't work either.

It's really super visually confusing.



But I think I have something!

A little of column A, a little of column B!

Instead of specific glow dots for the ships to represent player colors, I painted in details of the ship and gave it a modified glow and a little over glow to bring out the color.

And then a semi outline backdrop to rest beneath these ships that would be treated with the 'Bee Colony Affect'.

What comes of that is something I'm pretty satisfied with.



I'd love to hear your opinions on these!

-Blue





« Last Edit: September 12, 2016, 08:28:23 PM by Blue »

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Buzzing Bees! Those are icons!?
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2016, 04:16:09 PM »
Beautiful! I love these colorful icons! Great job.

Shiny neons! Yay!

Could that kind of thing be integrated in AIW1? I would happily pay for a "last DLC" with these neon-colored icons!
« Last Edit: September 12, 2016, 04:34:18 PM by Pumpkin »
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Offline Draco18s

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Re: Buzzing Bees! Those are icons!?
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2016, 04:18:05 PM »
Bee colony effect: absolutely.
As for player color, I'm not sure what I'm looking at in that last image.

Offline Captain Jack

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Re: Buzzing Bees! Those are icons!?
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2016, 04:37:48 PM »
Bee colony effect: absolutely.
As for player color, I'm not sure what I'm looking at in that last image.
The base ships all the way zoomed in and at max -1 zoom, in multiple different colors.

Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: Buzzing Bees! Those are icons!?
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2016, 05:39:46 PM »
Some of your image links are broken (not valid imgur links, not even valid links) be sure to click on the image in imgur and paste that, not whatever it gives you as share link

in a 3d game this issue becomes less one of player color, and more one of "dozens overlapping icons" which requires intelligent merging of icons.... or better said, a fleet icon. This is because GPU's are not made for rendering 15000 icons with alpha and blending. It is a huge performance problem, and was the reason the glow was not implemented for AI War 1 icons (to answer the question as to whether this can be ported into AI War 1 ;p) believe me, if you can think of a graphic feature missing in AI War 1, I already requested it years ago and was shot down ;p

I really like your approach for 2d sprites actually but I wonder how much of that can apply to the 3d scenes. The reason I say that is that GUI considerations should not come before we know how the game actually looks and plays in motion. What is needed as visual feedback can only be decided then. And I would think there'd be less work intensive ways to show player colors in a 3d game. What I am saying is that I first would look at the 3d ships and the action that a battle generates before I decide whether Icons could fit that or not. You see the original problem with glow around sprites was that sprites are not blended together like you show here.... there are tons of "sorting/blending" issues to consider that go beyond photoshop mockups (sadly, believe me I tried ;P)

Btw, we also have a 2nd set of icons in AI War 1 (the planet info tab) where the various dots and shapes were supposed to inform you of the type that this icon is and the icon border shows you whom it belongs to. (turret/cap/building etc.)  I know because I made them and showed them x4000 to implement (dunno if my specific icons are still in the game though ,p), mainly because I couldn't tell what my ships/turrets/engineers/stations and what the enemy stuff was... I still consider this the "worst" of all possible solutions, but it was the only one I could get implemented ,)

So your solution is a ton better, but it also uses blending modes which I was told are out of the question for GUI elements (icons specifically) as they interfered with effects (partially it is also a question of what kind of "engine" level AI War 2 uses, specifically whether it uses complex shaders, HDR image space and color grading, exposure control, TAA with sharpener and all those other things.

Last thing I wanna mention is that in a 3d engine we also have a perspective, that can change, meaning icons either rotate or they are fixed orientation.. any decision on that yet?
« Last Edit: September 12, 2016, 06:11:08 PM by eRe4s3r »
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Offline tadrinth

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Re: Buzzing Bees! Those are icons!?
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2016, 05:48:26 PM »
They're so cute! I just wanna send thousands of them to glorious death in battle. 

So the ship itself is colored to indicate player, and the subtle halo effect around the edge indicates their current behavior?

Offline x4000

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Re: Buzzing Bees! Those are icons!?
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2016, 07:43:58 PM »
Various notes from me:

1. Oops on those imgur links.  I can't see how to fix them, though.

2. Yes, we're able to do waaaaaay more in terms of the sprites now.  This is leaping forward from the equivalent of think PS1 to PS4 in terms of what we can do shaders-wise.  We were using legacy vertex-lit with no actual lighting in the past.  Now we'll most likely use Forward.  There's quite a lot we can do with shaders, although I'm not yet committing to more than DX9 and equivalent (still a ton you can do there).  Shader model 4.0 I'm willing to state as a min req, though.

3. At any rate, blend modes and a whole bunch of other stuff is possible nowadays.  On a case-by-case basis in terms of determining our performance budget.

4. As for the GUI itself, bear in mind that these are far zoom icons and the thing that you'll see most of the time unlike zooming all the way in.  Obviously the two things need to blend together okay, and some of the larger ships may not actually have far zoom icons anymore (instead just continuing to draw the freaking giant 3D model -- we shall see; it might do both, since a giant thing disappearing into a tiny icon can feel so strange, but not having an icon for it can be equally inconsistent).

5. So yes it does need to be complementary to the graphics that are 3D, but that kind of goes both ways.  We want to be serious enough in tone with these that they are attractive and don't seem like they are a different game, but we also don't want them to be super bland in order to be serious enough.  There's some sort of middle ground there, and we're not to that point yet.  I'll be showing off some of what the 3D stuff will likely look like soon, although bear in mind that how those are shaded and lit and colored will still be very much up in the air until we get performance test results from a variety of machines, and as we try to make both that style and this style of the 2D icons move toward one another.

6. Overall I think that the far zoom icons are the harder part, because the density of information they have to convey is just insane, whereas the ships themselves in 3D are mostly "pretty things to look at."  Same as the close-up shots of ships in AI War Classic were.  The tiny icons that have to show owner, ship type, mark level, orders, and health are by far the harder thing, heh.  So she's been starting from that as a baseline goal, along with just generally trying to make these look better than the prior game did.
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Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: First art look: Buzzing Bees! Those are icons!?
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2016, 08:11:30 PM »
Yep I am kinda curious how the 3d graphics are going to look, from my work on Star Ruler I can tell you that you will want to have self-shadowing, AO and proper color grading + HDR image space for that color grading... space tends to be very dark, and you really need those contrast ranges ;) Also shadows disabling specular effects and stuff like this ;)

Btw, are you still wondering how to fix weird artifacts with TAA? Shift models 1 pixel left/right alternating between frames apparently (thanks to Doom graphics reconstruction, now we all know......) ;p

http://www.adriancourreges.com/blog/2016/09/09/doom-2016-graphics-study/
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Offline Cyborg

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Re: First art look: Buzzing Bees! Those are icons!?
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2016, 08:19:39 PM »
These look great, but I don't know how everything on the screen would look if everything is glowing.
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Offline Captain Jack

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Re: First art look: Buzzing Bees! Those are icons!?
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2016, 08:27:08 PM »
These look great, but I don't know how everything on the screen would look if everything is glowing.
Like the Spire but Christmas light colored.  ;D

Offline Blue

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Re: First art look: Buzzing Bees! Those are icons!?
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2016, 08:37:19 PM »
Apologies on the broken link. I fixed that.

Beautiful! I love these colorful icons! Great job.

Shiny neons! Yay!

Could that kind of thing be integrated in AIW1? I would happily pay for a "last DLC" with these neon-colored icons!

Thank you! :)

And I'm not sure that will be a thing, sorry!

Bee colony effect: absolutely.
As for player color, I'm not sure what I'm looking at in that last image.

The glowing color inside the ships are player color. The lines outward are the command colors.

Btw, we also have a 2nd set of icons in AI War 1 (the planet info tab) where the various dots and shapes were supposed to inform you of the type that this icon is and the icon border shows you whom it belongs to. (turret/cap/building etc.)  I know because I made them and showed them x4000 to implement (dunno if my specific icons are still in the game though ,p), mainly because I couldn't tell what my ships/turrets/engineers/stations and what the enemy stuff was... I still consider this the "worst" of all possible solutions, but it was the only one I could get implemented ,)

Chris pretty much beat me to it here in explanations!

Thanks for the thoughts though. Definitely appreciated.

These look great, but I don't know how everything on the screen would look if everything is glowing.

The idea is that the glows are subtle enough that at their smallest zoom and busiest nature, the glows look more just like color overlays then 'glows'.

Thanks guys!

Offline x4000

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Re: First art look: Buzzing Bees! Those are icons!?
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2016, 08:54:50 PM »
Yep I am kinda curious how the 3d graphics are going to look, from my work on Star Ruler I can tell you that you will want to have self-shadowing, AO and proper color grading + HDR image space for that color grading... space tends to be very dark, and you really need those contrast ranges ;) Also shadows disabling specular effects and stuff like this ;)

Yes, I plan on no specular highlights, for sure. ;)  I plan on using a shadow-less model, but AO instead.  AO gives almost as good a result for a fraction of the CPU/GPU cost, which is important here.  That will mean less dramatic lighting on ships, but that's fine with me.  I'm not going for full PBR, most likely.  I mean, we'll see what I can get away with -- I'm considering flat shading all the way up to some version of lightweight PBR.

HDR and color grading are nice for sure, although I'm not sure that they will be needed in this case if the design of the core pieces is good enough.  I'm looking at using skyboxes that are more muted but not black, which makes it nice for vibrant foreground stuff without being on such a high-contrast background.  For true "max cinematic shots" I'd obviously want some form of color grading, and I'm not sure if I can really bring myself to avoid doing it in general along with a few other effects.  But no, I won't be subjecting you to SSR. ;)

Btw, are you still wondering how to fix weird artifacts with TAA? Shift models 1 pixel left/right alternating between frames apparently (thanks to Doom graphics reconstruction, now we all know......) ;p

http://www.adriancourreges.com/blog/2016/09/09/doom-2016-graphics-study/

Nice!  I'll let the guys at Livenda fix their own thing, though.  And I see no need for TAA and deferred in a game like this, fortunately.
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Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: First art look: Buzzing Bees! Those are icons!?
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2016, 09:27:30 PM »
Yeah you have the full range of graphic options available, PBR would be overkill and, imo probably not even the best looking option for massive space battles. Something along the lines of Homeworld 2 would go a long way though... especially if you wanted to do a kickstarter and maybe drop the line "Homeworld 2 inspired graphics" ;P

Which most definitely means, beautiful exaggerated engine trails, bright space, bright colors and bloom based on illumination map brightness index. And massive flak explosions dotting the sky... hehe, probably would be overkill too.

That's just something to think about ;P No doubt you don't need to hear it from me again, but I'll say it anyway, since 99% of AI War 2 is gonna be combat, combat is what has to look the most awesome of all. Doesn't matter how anything else looks, as long as combat has some visual oomph... ;P Which means employing all the tricks and methods that were not open to ye in AI War 1.. especially AI War 1.000 (can you still remember, no additive blending for explosions????!!!!) :D

Anyhow.. this is gonna be very interesting to see where you go with this, I always wondered how you'd made a space game look in 3d. All I can bring to the table is that it is a good idea not to subject me to SSR (in fact, the one in Doom is the first implementation of this I found exceptionally well made) ;P
« Last Edit: September 12, 2016, 09:34:27 PM by eRe4s3r »
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Offline Cyborg

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Re: First art look: Buzzing Bees! Those are icons!?
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2016, 09:39:18 PM »
No doubt you don't need to hear it from me again, but I'll say it anyway, since 99% of AI War 2 is gonna be combat, combat is what has to look the most awesome of all. Doesn't matter how anything else looks, as long as combat has some visual oomph...

The core game mechanic is war. It has to look as awesome as possible, that's the main game feedback loop. Need the right look and the sound variation to back it up.
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Offline Mánagarmr

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Re: First art look: Buzzing Bees! Those are icons!?
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2016, 01:53:12 AM »
Positive feedback from here. Looks clear and consise without being cluttery. Good job, Blue!
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