Author Topic: Game brightness  (Read 348 times)

Offline BadgerBadger

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Game brightness
« on: May 20, 2017, 11:49:02 PM »
I spent a while playing AIW2 this afternoon/evening to see if any interesting bugs could be found with a slightly longer playthrough, and to see how the game was feeling. And I had an unexpected takeaway from it. AIW2 is a much brighter, more vibrant game than AIWC. Where AIWC had a cool, dark, metallic sort of look, AIW2 is a riot of colors and glowing effects.  It feels like in AIWC I am staring up into a dark night sky, whereas in AIW2 it feels like a bright day. And I kinda think I prefer the darker version.  I feel like a more "nighttime" character is more suited to a slow, thoughtful, strategic gameplay.  It's certainly easier on tired eyes; I can't imagine wanting to stay up late and stare at a really bright computer screen in a dark room. How do other people feel about this?


« Last Edit: May 20, 2017, 11:57:43 PM by BadgerBadger »

Offline lagomorph129

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Re: Game brightness
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2017, 01:12:02 AM »
This doesn't have anything to do with how bright the skyboxes in particular are, does it? I recall AIWC being dark too, but every so often, there was that "oh so" unthematically bright planet that blinded me and didn't allow me to see my units as well as I would have wished. Here in AIW2, there is sometimes very little contrast between the skybox, the planet, and the unit colors, it makes some of my work difficult.

As for the bright; you sparked within me an idea. What if they add a "thematic" color chooser for the skyboxes. Perhaps a checkbox that allows a range of colors (such as [blue variants] [red variants] [green variants]) to be used or not.

Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: Game brightness
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2017, 12:27:38 PM »
So it turns out that the list of all Spaceboxes (ie the background for planets) is in XML, specifically in GameData/Configuration/SpaceboxDefinition/CMP_SpaceboxDefinitions.xml. There's about 30, split between  "Light", "Bright" and "Dim" categories. I went in and commented out all the "Bright" and "Light" ones and now all the planets are nice and dim. It's pretty great.

Four comments. First, I'm a huge fan of the modding-centric nature of this game, that lets me just go in and futz around with things and solve my own problems. It's deeply appreciated.
Second, it would be cool to have a spacebox that looks "more like staring into deep space", with stars in the background behind the planet. I don't see an obvious way to make something like that for myself in the AIW2ModdingAndGUI subdirectory though, alas.
Third, I think we should consider making the galaxy screen a bit less glowy.
Fourth, as lagomorph suggested, having the ability to dynamically change the range of spaceboxes available in game via a menu would be awesome.

Offline x4000

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Re: Game brightness
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2017, 12:44:33 PM »
It's definitely something I can look into, sure.  It would be a good one to throw up onto mantis.

My main gripe with AIW Classic is honestly how darn dark it felt most of the time.  Maybe it's just because I had so many thousands of hours looking at it with all the playing and coding for it, but basically it was just a depressing darkness all the time for me.  I got so very bummed out by it. ;)

The other thing is that it shows super poorly on Steam screenshots and videos and the like, because there was just so little to see except icons moving around against inky blackness, and then explosions, etc.

THAT said, after that stream-of-consciousness response:

1.Some darker skyboxes as options is not a problem for me to create.

2. Some options on which skyboxes can be used shouldn't be a problem.

3. That said, I'd appreciate some help from those opposed to the "riot of color" in finding a middle-ground that will be at least mostly-pleasing to you, but also something that would show well in screenshots and videos and be more likely to entice someone.  You don't have to actually use these ones when you play, but if they're the sort of things that are not making you cringe while watching a video -- while making someone like me not depressed at the blackness while watching the video -- then I think we'll have a good middle-ground for promotional purposes.  If that makes sense?

4. Basically #1 and #2 address your actual in-game experience, whereas #3 is aimed at promotion.
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Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: Game brightness
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2017, 01:01:16 PM »
I'm happy to poke at brightness numbers if you can give me controls for them.

If you can make some of the "tweak numbers/XML from in game" code in external, I'll even offer to help out writing it ;-)

Offline x4000

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Re: Game brightness
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2017, 10:27:45 AM »
Cheers. :)

I have to think about best methods on this some.  I'm a little bit concerned about tonemapping and the overall effect that I'm having with the game right now because of the lack of HDR and tonemapping.  Bloom being excessive on the skybox is just one of the many cases where the LDR color range makes things kinda nuts.

The galaxy map lines glowing all nutsy is another one.  As much as it pains me to consider redoing ALL of the materials on all ships again (not recoding shaders or anything, but just tuning every freaking value, that may wind up being needed.  On the plus side with that, I could potentially get a better bloom effect that uses fewer draw calls to get the gaussian effect I want.

And even more on the plus side, the actual brightness of the background and certain other things could be clearly set to less than one, and thus not cause the same sort of blooming-out that I'm seeing right now with anything but the defaults.

It may be as simple as making it so that we can use different LUTs on the game itself, excluding the icons and the GUI, and thus people can choose something that works for them.  It's possible to do quite a few different moods with that sort of thing.

I have a few other birds to kill first, mainly in the performance realm, but then this is something I want to look into.  Not using HDR is something that just gives me the willies and make me think I'll really regret that choice down the line...
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Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: Game brightness
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2017, 11:26:27 AM »
I think the game brightness is a nice thing to have, but performance is definitely a higher priority (and maybe getting some progress on making the UI happier?). See 0019124 for an example of a fun performance/scaling bug I hit over the weekend.

Offline x4000

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Re: Game brightness
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2017, 03:26:23 PM »
Yep, that bug you hit is likely tied in with the rest of them.  I watched all the tickets go by, even though I haven't filed them or addressed them yet. There's a lot of great ones in there to get to soon. :)

Keith has managed to absolutely slaughter the CPU usage during combat as far as the sim goes, which is fantastic.  My instancing stuff really slaughtered the draw call count and thus the bottlenecks on the GPU bus and the CPU rendering thread.

Now there's a couple of main things left that are still major problems on my end.  One is inefficient nesting of game objects, leading to expensive movement/rotation commands, and the other is over-reliance on renderers rather than direct instance calling, because that leads to massive waste on the CPU render thread for frustum culling.

At this point, in that slow battle savegame, if I send my fleet through to that planet and don't send the camera after it, the battle gets fought on my machine at 200fps with no noticeable hitches.  Previously it was something very low and choppy with noticeable huge hitches even when I wasn't on that planet.  All of this is Keith's handiwork in improving things.

If I go to the planet, there is now a very rough and hitchy 20-30fps performance going on there due to the rendering issues I've mentioned above.  It's kind of ironic that the actual framerate hasn't gone up much at all after all these improvements, but then again I was getting sometimes multi-second spikes, and long periods of 5fps in that previous scenario.

I don't really know what to expect long term, once I get my things sorted out.  But I have high hopes. :)
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