Author Topic: 9/29: Human "Light Capital Ship" visuals (for now).  (Read 1336 times)

Offline x4000

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9/29: Human "Light Capital Ship" visuals (for now).
« on: September 29, 2016, 09:13:15 PM »
Today was really enjoyable since I'm finally actually making ACTUAL progress on stuff, rather than trying things and then redoing them a few hours later.  Attached are the first screenshots of the "light capital ship," which is a human ship that is kinda like the "light starship" from AI War Classic.  Except this thing is WAY bigger, physically speaking.  Being able to mess with style in this way is such a wonderful thing.

Knock on wood, I'll actually have a video tomorrow showing this stuff.  It looks a lot better in motion thanks to all the rim lights.

I say "for now" about the visuals because they will almost certainly evolve.  But the Homeworld 2 influence shows well here, and it's nicely colored, etc.







« Last Edit: September 29, 2016, 09:30:15 PM by x4000 »
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Offline x4000

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Re: 9/29: Human "Light Capital Ship" visuals (for now).
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2016, 09:16:13 PM »
Then here we have a few more views from the current working copy.  You'll notice that the shadows are now harsher, which has to do with the custom shaders that I've created for this.





Graphics Jargon Stuff
I'm moving to a very texture-less model, overall, at the moment (which is what I had intended from the start with the ships in this game, but I couldn't get it to look right until today).  Instead it's all based on the normal map, rim lighting, and emission light.  It's using blinn-phong lighting instead of PBR-style lighting, and I'm doing some cool stuff with an ability to custom alter the rim lighting on the dark side of ships based on light attenuation.

All that can be done in one pass inside the shader, which means that it can be draw batched really well.  And we at most need to send a normal map and/or emission map to the GPU, no albedo texture or heightmaps or occlusion maps or anything of that sort.  It's not a true toon effect, but it's definitely more stylized than my earlier attempts.  One key thing is that even with this being a non-specular lighting approach, you get some degree of surface glint and gloss from the rim lighting.  It looks absolutely killer in motion, and it's all custom shader forge work by yours truly, so I'm really pleased about it. :)

I've attached the shader forge nodes I've used, just as a point of curiosity if you like.  It still has an albedo texture in that version, but I'm going to make another version that takes that out.





Far Zoom, Player Colors, Etc
One of the things that this one shows (poorly) is an early working copy of how far zoom mode will work -- really it's not a mode at all.  Rather, squadrons and capital ships and so forth have an icon above them in the y axis that is always there (I'm sure we'll add a toggle to turn it off for screenshots), and it shows you the information you need even when you're zoomed in.  It scales those things so that you can always see them, but it does NOT scale the ships themselves, and in fact they'll disappear if they get too small.

That way you have a nice hybrid view: small ships are small, which emphasizes the scale of the larger ships.  You remain able to see the large ships from very very far away, despite also seeing icons for them.  You're able to have all the information about the player color and all that while zoomed in or even looking sideways.  Basically all the information is available as much of the time as possible... AND it allows for much more graphical freedom with animations for ships.

Specifically, I don't need squadrons to really stay that close to their marker.  Their marker is kind of like those banners the roman legions used: you move those around (just like you always did icons in far zoom mode), and the ships that are under the influence of that icon are controlled by it, but loosely from a visual sense.  It makes things way more organic in a really cool way, but still keeps things super crystal-clear in terms of your forces, enemy forces, and what orders you can give.

The icon that is shown in that screenshot is just for the fighter, and is set up just as a mockup (with the billboarding and zooming code, but that's it).

Frankly the clarity of how you're able to play is just going through the roof here, the performance load this represents from a visual standpoint is scalable (and minimal for the quality that you see), and the many performance benefits to the simulation that we've already made go nicely with that.  For the sake of clarity more than anything else, I may be emphasizing larger but fewer squads when it comes to the smaller ships.  A single squad of 10 already feels pretty big, but having even larger squads that I can see the status of with one icon rather than 2 or 3 is something I'd definitely appreciate.

Obviously we'll tune to taste, and that's moddable anyhow.  I'm mainly just loving how uncluttered things are at the moment, and wanting to keep that as much as possible while still having battles that feel larger than before.  I think we're at a place where that's feasible, at the very least.  And no matter how you cut it, it's vastly better than the icon-gore that we had in the past.

(Side note: Bear in mind that the V in the mark V fighter icon is freaking huge right now, but that's because it doesn't have a border yet, which Blue has modeled and I'm putting in tomorrow).

Lots of exciting stuff. :)
« Last Edit: September 29, 2016, 09:36:59 PM by x4000 »
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Offline chemical_art

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Re: 9/29: Human "Light Capital Ship" visuals (for now).
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2016, 09:16:34 PM »
I feel that huge presence!
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Offline Captain Jack

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Re: 9/29: Human "Light Capital Ship" visuals (for now).
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2016, 09:19:23 PM »
!


Offline Misery

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Re: 9/29: Human "Light Capital Ship" visuals (for now).
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2016, 09:28:51 PM »
My only problem with it is that it's too dark.  As someone a bit nearsighted a see a spiky, shadowy blob with orange bits that blaze with the force of 1000 stars. 

Offline x4000

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Re: 9/29: Human "Light Capital Ship" visuals (for now).
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2016, 09:35:47 PM »
Cheers folks!  There's a second post that actually has text now, so be sure not to miss that one.  When you wrote your prior replies, I had not put in that yet.

I feel that huge presence!

Excellent!  That's the goal, for sure.

My only problem with it is that it's too dark.  As someone a bit nearsighted a see a spiky, shadowy blob with orange bits that blaze with the force of 1000 stars.

From a practical standpoint, you'll be looking at the icon for the ship to move it around anyway, so it won't impact your gameplay at all.  Visually speaking, it's something I'll want to tune for sure (or Blue will, depending).  I feel like the green thing on the front of it is too bright, and maybe the yellow stripes on the side, but the engines are good.  The body itself I'm okay with being dark in some cases, because I think it's thematically appropriate.  But it is perhaps a bit too much so at the moment; I have spent too long looking at this stuff.

Incidentally: my posts above didn't make it clear, but my plans are to have the ships themselves not show the player color.  That way we can use the full range of colors in ships themselves, and make them more vibrant and interesting without the inevitable color clashes.  Then the "medallions" above the squads are colored by player, and that's how you tell who is where and doing what.  It's very much inspired by the roman legions and how they held their standards.  That was a key realization I had today.
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Offline x4000

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Re: 9/29: Human "Light Capital Ship" visuals (for now).
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2016, 09:48:55 PM »
Here's a trio of images with the colors adjusted on there.  The green cockpit is no longer so darn bright, the side bars are also less bright, the rim lights are up in general thus illuminating more of the geometry (and normal maps) of the model, and the base diffuse color is both a brighter and more saturated blue.  Perhaps too saturated, I'm not sure.





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Offline x4000

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Re: 9/29: Human "Light Capital Ship" visuals (for now).
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2016, 09:56:44 PM »
Figured it out.  I was happy with the color on the far side (in the shadow), but the saturation bump on the sun-side was insane.  I set up the sun directional light a while back, and had it at 1.78 intensity and light blue.  I knew that would look slightly wrong for space, but I figured it might do well given our own atmosphere.  Overall I was correct... but it messes with saturation on the sunward-side in cases like now.

So I've now adjusted the sun intensity down to 0.91 instead, and have it set to a more salmon-reddish color.  That leads to a bit of a more serious look to things (I also went light blue before to give it a kind of "cool" color temperature look to it, which can look very sci-fi).  The reddish look is obviously a warm color spectrum instead, and it helps keep the saturation jumps less severe.  I like lots of saturation here, but not a feeling of crayola colors. ;)

Anyhow, I feel like the new screenshot here captures that well.

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Offline chemical_art

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Re: 9/29: Human "Light Capital Ship" visuals (for now).
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2016, 09:58:44 PM »
It is all really coming together and more important I am glad you finally had a breakthrough.
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Offline Draco18s

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Re: 9/29: Human "Light Capital Ship" visuals (for now).
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2016, 11:47:16 PM »
Looking good.

And rim lighting doesn't work very well on objects that are highly angular. You either end up with edges that get no lighting at all (one face is a back face and the next adjacent face's normal is pointing towards the camera).  But it is a nice effect when it works.

Offline Mánagarmr

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Re: 9/29: Human "Light Capital Ship" visuals (for now).
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2016, 02:41:47 AM »
Reminds me a bit of Planetary Annihilation. I haven't decided yet if that's a good or a bad thing.
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Offline Pumpkin

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Re: 9/29: Human "Light Capital Ship" visuals (for now).
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2016, 04:39:32 AM »
I like it, so far. You're doing a great job at figuring out what works and what doesn't, aesthetically speaking. I don't think I'll be very useful around here. Just contributing to the general cheering.

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Offline x4000

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Re: 9/29: Human "Light Capital Ship" visuals (for now).
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2016, 09:25:13 AM »
Thank you!
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Offline Yavaun

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Re: 9/29: Human "Light Capital Ship" visuals (for now).
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2016, 09:53:35 AM »
If I may add my personal opinion of the design - not the technical accomplishments behind it (they're way over my head - kudos to you). Just let me say no texture at all + the glowing parts turns out very promising and I'm looking forward to what you can do with it.

So now to the design:
It definitely has a human theme going and it has quite a few details to admire.
It's not too cartoony yet but since you brought it up I hope you're not planning on going into this direction too far.
The dorsel fins make it look a bit too much like an actual plane than a spacecraft but that is fine if it's supposed to be a fast fighter type of ship.
In order to get me excited it need way more visible weapon systems. I love spacecraft which are designed around the thought "how can we direct more guns towards the front" rather than what would make them aerodynamical in an atmosphere :P

All in all, I'd say it'd make a very decent human scout starship or as you said a light combat starship ( if you add more guns. ;) )

So I guess the question is: Will there be spacecraft inspired by ships rather than planes too? And, in general, how do you come up spacecraft designs?
« Last Edit: September 30, 2016, 10:13:41 AM by Yavaun »

Offline x4000

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Re: 9/29: Human "Light Capital Ship" visuals (for now).
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2016, 03:57:36 PM »
Cheers!

Overall there's to be a mix of design inspirations, and each of the races have their own themes even in classic.  For the larger ships, the capital ships (formerly starships), those are things that will be reinvented heavily from what they used to be.  Likely that will also be the case with the larger structures, the spire ships, and definitely a lot of the AI stuff.

In general, some thoughts:

1. The human stuff is expressed pretty well in some of the AI War Classic ships.  I'm hoping to carry that over into this game with some good thematic backing from the first game, but new flourishes.

2. Large ships in general need reimagining because they didn't feel particularly large in the first game (most of the time), and they were typically not actually as large compared to their smaller counterparts as they are in the new game.

3. The AI ships in Classic had the right feel overall, but were MESSY.  The texturing and so forth that I did on them is something that makes me cringe to see now, too.  So we're reinventing that a bit in a few ways, but also trying to get a classic feel to stay with them.

4. That said, also one of the big limiters in the old game is that everything had to be pretty monocolor in order to have the player color accents.  So there's some degree of reinvention going on now with a fuller color palette.  The golems in Classic did that already to some extent, and they were the most visually interesting ships because of it.  The AI ships in Classic were overly reliant on being just black, black everywhere, and I want to get more across with shape and let them not be so monochrome this time.

5. For the spire, the overly-glowing white ships will remain, although probably tempered with some parts that are not that way just so that you can freaking SEE. ;)  Since the glows are now a literal thing, it would be too easy to go overboard with that and no longer be able to see the details of them at all.  They also had a really pipe-y appearance to their larger ships in the past, which was honestly a reflection of my artistic hurry/limitations at the time.  In SBR we started reimagining them to a slight degree, and we'll do that a lot more here.

6. The Zenith had a pretty cool vibe going in Classic, but it's one that was vague enough that it could be interpreted a few ways.  Old and rusty stuff?  Grass and plants in space on rocky ships?  Etc.  In SBR the Zenith really took on a character of their own in their buildings that I think is gorgeous, and that I want to try to replicate here.

7. The Neinzul are a strange bunch, and I'm not sure what to do with them fully yet.  I like the way that they evolved in SBR... but I feel like overall there is even more that can be done here.  I'd really like for these to feel as fleshy as we can make them, so long as it doesn't conflict with the style of the rest of the game.  In order to make this visually cohesive that might mean that these are tentacle-prone or blobs-based or who knows.  There are a number of ways that we could take this, and to me it mainly depends on what looks best as we experiment with it.


My biggest goal of all, though, is to make sure that each race has its own flavor AND that we do away with the bland grays and other neutral colors in favor of something more visually interesting.
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