Arcen Games

Games => AI War II => Topic started by: Sounds on September 12, 2019, 11:48:45 PM

Title: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: Sounds on September 12, 2019, 11:48:45 PM
Hi there,

I've not been around of late and whilst there been a hugh amount of changes since I last booted it up, I still see that the lighting and bloom effect is quite intense.

Is there any way to turn this type of thing down or off (my preference)? Most of the ships are so dark or inversely bloomed that all the detail is lost. The other reason I ask, is it a strain on my retinas to look at it for too long.

Thanks
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: Asteroid on September 13, 2019, 04:33:33 AM
I agree that ships are currently too dark, you can barely see them except when they're standing over the planet.
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: x4000 on September 13, 2019, 09:38:53 AM
Worth throwing into mantis, but I should be able to adjust the bloom based on player settings, yes.
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: Sounds on September 13, 2019, 03:59:23 PM
Worth throwing into mantis, but I should be able to adjust the bloom based on player settings, yes.

Done. Haven't added to mantis in a while, but hopefully I've put the right details in.

It would be great to be able to play it without the eye strain. Five minutes into play time and and the lighting / bloom effects (although nice) are getting in the way of actual play.

I'd also add it seems a waste not to be able to admire all the ship model effort that been done thus far.
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: I-KP on September 15, 2019, 10:59:32 AM
I'm glad someone mentioned this. The bloom effect is rather overbearing and the ships all seem to be almost black silhouettes as a result.
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: Sounds on September 16, 2019, 07:13:32 AM
I'm glad someone mentioned this. The bloom effect is rather overbearing and the ships all seem to be almost black silhouettes as a result.

Overbearing is also a good term. However I thought it was just a glitch with my Mac's graphics card, but I finally got around to testing it on my Win 10 PC and exactly the same issue.  :(

I'm surprised no-one had raised this issue it has been like this for a long time now - I'm guessing most must never zoom in or just have super retinas to put up with it. All I'd add is it gives me a headache to look at the screen more than ten minutes.

I'm sure there are higher priority items to address, but releasing the game in this state might turn off potential players. For myself I'll just go back to playing AIWC, which whilst has interface quirks, is a lot less painful to look at.
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: RocketAssistedPuffin on September 16, 2019, 09:15:28 AM
Strangely, I zoom in a lot to check model sizing and I have no issues. I find Classic to be painful and headache inducing after a while, while no such problem here, somehow. Even the shot effects in a large fight don't bother me.

Can see ships okay too without the planet behind them - dark backgrounds agreed in general (some ships are...silvery, grey, green, etc so they show up okay), but otherwise fine.

Makes me think of Overwatch...some can see everything fine despite all the effects, while others (me, weirdly included considering the above) struggle.

So...huh. How odd. I can only guess that's why it hasn't really been mentioned?

Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: Lord Of Nothing on September 16, 2019, 07:11:48 PM
Hmm. I wonder if that's just differences in people, or if it's somehow managing to look different depending on the machine?
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: BadgerBadger on September 16, 2019, 07:51:59 PM
Well, Chris is making things look better in any case, and I'm excited to see the results
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: Sounds on September 16, 2019, 07:52:53 PM
Hmm. I wonder if that's just differences in people, or if it's somehow managing to look different depending on the machine?

That's a very good point. I've attached several screenshots of what I'm seeing.

Curious to see if this is the norm.
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: RocketAssistedPuffin on September 16, 2019, 08:07:23 PM
Same as to what's on my machine.
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: x4000 on September 17, 2019, 10:30:48 AM
The visuals should be very consistent between machines, BUT monitors have a huge impact on what your eyeballs actually receive.  So does ambient lighting around your monitor.

The graphics cards and OSes are all extremely consistent in what they render, and if you take a screenshot, it will look "the same" between machines.  But even just taking that screenshot and showing it to you on one monitor versus another gives a really different feel.

My main work machine is a laptop that I sometimes work of, and sometimes hook up to a giant HDR TV.  There are some space backgrounds that on my laptop screen look basically black as a background, but have a really rich and varied set of dark reds on the TV.  If there's a lot of ambient light around my laptop where I'm at at the time, then the problem gets even worse.

There are a couple of different ways that lighting and color can be overwhelming:

1. The first is too much contrast, with really dark darks, and really bright brights.  That's the problem that this game has had for a while.  On my HDR TV, that actually looks pretty glorious since it has a much higher range of color draws and so the darks are visible but subtle, and the brights don't feel like they sear into my retinas.  But on my laptop, it looks like just blackness with giant searing lights in there.  If I was sitting in a dark room in particular, then the searing brights would be incredibly painful I imagine.

2. The second is not ENOUGH contrast, where there's just a riot of colors and motion, and everything is in kind of a middle-ground with no sense of color grading.  This bothers a lot fewer people and doesn't tend to cause pain, but can cause motion sickness or eye fatigue or similar.  This is something the first game had big problems with, since it was something that I developed on much older hardware (monitors and otherwise), and so the colors tend to be pretty bright and in a similar range in order to avoid issues of things being too dark on the monitors I had at the time.  What that means is that the first game actually looks kind of grayish instead of black on my HDR TV now, though, because almost no part of the screen ever goes truly into the darkest part of the color range.  This can lead to fatigue trying to read the text in particular, which starts looking like white on a middling blue-gray.

The optimal solution is something that is a bit more modern than #2, without relying on HDR in the way that #1 does.  A number of PS4 Pro games actually have HDR and non-HDR modes for different TVs, and I can definitely see why.  Bloom and tonemapping work completely differently on the two modes, but if they are on the appropriate hardware then the HDR version gives more richness and color without blowing out the whites/brights.  Versus the non-HDR versions look kind of bland and grayish/brownish by comparison on an HDR TV.  On the flip side, if you were able to turn on the HDR mode on a non-HDR TV, you'd get searing eye pain, be unable to see a lot of things that were too dark, and have large parts of the TV that were just rounded up to white.

The difference is how many colors can be shown on the screen in a way that we can see, and it's a relatively recent issue.  Before HDR there was still a wide range of brightnesses and contrasts on TVs, but there weren't entire color ranges that could look different depending on the type of monitor or TV you use.

Anyway, so I've been using my laptop screen as a re-grade the color here.  This will be more consistent for more people, and should look good and not be eye-searing for anyone.   My laptop screen actually has a really good color range (compared to my older monitors) despite not being HDR, and so AI War 1 looks washed out and bland on it as well.  The new look that I'm shooting for keeps enough range that I can see a full range of colors on my laptop screen, but without blowing out the brights or having lots of stuff trend to darkness too much.

Incidentally, even on the HDR TV the darks were too dark in the main, and the brights too bright.  Some of that was just some drift over time as various parts of the engine and post processing stack were upgraded and things changed without me noticing.  So even in the best case, the lighting was definitely off in this game.

What this will mean is that on most machines it should look really good now, and on HDR screens it will look a bit washed out but still not old school.

Hopefully this does answer some of the questions here, though. :)
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: I-KP on September 17, 2019, 10:31:13 AM
Those screengrabs match what I see; a mixture of some models being partially lit from the left but the vast majority being very dark silhouettes with only the neon parts being overbearingly bloomy/contrasty.
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: Asteroid on September 17, 2019, 08:02:11 PM
While we are on the topic of visuals, I feel like ships being very dark makes them nearly impossible to see in unexplored sectors, with the "dark static" overlay. You see a name that sounds scary like "Parasite Eye", you want to check it out to see what horror awaits you, but you can't see anything. Something to revise perhaps.
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: Draco18s on September 18, 2019, 07:25:36 PM
Those screengrabs match what I see; a mixture of some models being partially lit from the left but the vast majority being very dark silhouettes with only the neon parts being overbearingly bloomy/contrasty.

This, so much this.

I mean, I get that it's space and space is dark and hull lighting comes from lights on the hull, primarily, but man. Everything looks black all the time. If the glowy bits aren't glowing and you can't tell what a thing is, the ambient light is too dark.
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: x4000 on September 18, 2019, 08:37:25 PM
I guess my post above was waaaaay too long to be parse-able, which makes sense. ;)

Things are dark because:

1. I was doing the lighting and color grading on an HDR TV.  Most monitors, even really nice ones, are not HDR.  You get a much wider color range on that, and so I could see things on it that I can't even on my very nice laptop screen.  This is basically what happens when you show an HDR image on an LDR display.

2. I'm now re-grading things on my monitor.  This makes things look slightly washed out on my HDR display, but still visible, and it looks vastly better on every other screen in general.  So it should be the best of all the various worlds.

3. But even beyond that, it got extra dark at some point because of some changes in the engine rendering pipeline that made shadow calculations different.  So things got darker without me noticing it, and so even on the HDR display it's too dark now, to an obnoxious degree.  I spend most of my time focused on the icons and it slipped past me because I didn't expect that things would change like that.

4. TLDR of the TLDR, I agree with you guys and this was a couple of levels of unintentional.  :)
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: Sounds on September 18, 2019, 10:38:57 PM
I guess my post above was waaaaay too long to be parse-able, which makes sense. ;)

Things are dark because:

1. I was doing the lighting and color grading on an HDR TV.  Most monitors, even really nice ones, are not HDR.  You get a much wider color range on that, and so I could see things on it that I can't even on my very nice laptop screen.  This is basically what happens when you show an HDR image on an LDR display.

2. I'm now re-grading things on my monitor.  This makes things look slightly washed out on my HDR display, but still visible, and it looks vastly better on every other screen in general.  So it should be the best of all the various worlds.

3. But even beyond that, it got extra dark at some point because of some changes in the engine rendering pipeline that made shadow calculations different.  So things got darker without me noticing it, and so even on the HDR display it's too dark now, to an obnoxious degree.  I spend most of my time focused on the icons and it slipped past me because I didn't expect that things would change like that.

4. TLDR of the TLDR, I agree with you guys and this was a couple of levels of unintentional.  :)

All good; and I understood both posts.  8)

Glad I wasn't the only one seeing this. I was so surprised by the lack of posts about it, so hopefully some adjustments are on the cards. A part from myself and retina pain, this seemed like one of those off-putting issues for new players.
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: Asteroid on September 19, 2019, 02:04:49 AM
I checked latest SVN, and great work Chris. My first impression of the graphics was absolutely terrible, but now it looks rather good, even on planets overlaid by the "no current data" static.

I'd say job well done and time well-spent, even though it's a pity that just updating Unity can lead to a visual degradation like this.

EDIT: The only problem is that now that I want to zoom in more to look at the units, I notice more the spastic shaking a lot of them exhibit. Sorry.  ::)

EDIT2: The icons seem blurry/pixelated when zoomed out in the SVN build, I didn't notice this before?
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: x4000 on September 19, 2019, 03:27:53 PM
I'm not seeing the pixelated issue you mention.

As far as the rotation goes, I think we need to just make them only rotate if their movement target is a certain distance away.  That should be an easy fix for someone to slap in there, if anyone is inclined to look.

I notice also that explosions of ships don't seem to be happening now, sigh.  That's a frustrating one...
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: Sounds on September 20, 2019, 10:42:29 AM
Oh my goodness!!!! Why have you been hiding all this awesome detail on the ships? ;)

Still a little dark, and a tad too much bloom, but +99.99999% improvement over the previous releases.  :)

Thank you so much for these changes - it means I can actually start playing the game without pain.

Hey any chance of a switch to turn off the bloom / shadows completely?
Title: Re: Darkness of ships and bloom effect intensity?
Post by: x4000 on September 20, 2019, 11:53:20 AM
Glad you like it! :D

Turning off bloom entirely is something that would be possible, though the shots will look really strange without that on; those and explosions rely on bloom to look at all like shots or explosions.  Otherwise they'll look like strange polygon shards ala star fox on the SNES. ;)

The shadows are trickier, as those are something that are a complex interplay of how the shaders for each ship are individually set up at this point.  Usually it's not actually shadows that are the thing that's making a ship darker, but how I've chosen to configure the metallicity or reflections or even the actual diffuse power on a ship depending on which of my custom shaders is in play.  Generally speaking if something is on the darker side it's for good reason; typically the ones that still look really dark, like fortresses, are hiding the fact that they look like absolute rear-end if you see them with a full texture brightness.  Usually because I used a texture set from something else on a model that wasn't designed for it initially.