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General Category => Stars Beyond Reach... This World Is Mine => Topic started by: x4000 on November 11, 2014, 09:53:29 AM

Title: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: x4000 on November 11, 2014, 09:53:29 AM
Original: http://arcengames.com/sneak-peek-at-5-leaders-in-stars-beyond-reach-plus-a-couple-of-screenshots/

STARS-BEYOND-REACH-cropped

New details for you, and some new art!

A bit more than a week ago, I announced Stars Beyond Reach, which you can read a lot more about at that link.  The very-short explanation is that this is Arcen's first true 4X title: think Civilization meets SimCity meets AI War meets New Stuff.

A much longer while back, I did a preview of the races that are going to be in the game.  There are 14 races overall, 8 of which are playable by you, and 6 of which are always AI-only.  The AI-only ones work completely differently from all other races, using their own unique set of buildings and their own rules for how they grow and expand and so on.  Adds quite a bit of variety.

One of the things that adds even more personality and variety to each game is that there are 3 potential leaders for each race.  Each leader has different bonuses (like leaders and civilizations do in Civilization or most RTS games), and different dispositions (that are still fitting into the larger general framework of their race as a whole).  Each one of those leaders gets their own portrait, so that you can tell them apart well.  Here are previews of a few of them:

preview_Andor1Boarine1One Andor leader and one Boarine leader.


preview_acutian1burlusts1and2One Acutian leader and partial views of two Burlust leaders.


I'm really happy about how those are progressing -- it's so much more fun and unique than just doing lots of human leaders, because with alien races like this, the races themselves start out with such distinct visual personalities.

With the Burlusts, you can see that the top guy is more of the scheming sort, and he has a slighter and more youthful build.  I actually scaled the bottom guy down a bit too much, but he's excessively burly and more your "traditional" Burlust warlord who rules by strength.  Suddenly I'm wishing I hadn't cut off his biceps so much in the preview picture, but oh well.

Distinct personalities to the races and the leaders are a big thing to me, and something that I know was a big complaint for a lot of people with Civilization: Beyond Earth.  I think we're definitely on track in the visual portion of what we're doing here, at least.

Hey, while I'm sharing art, here are a few partial screenshots of other things we've been up to:

partialscreenshotSBRThis Boarine city is just a test one, so it's not really organized in any sensible way.  But you can see some new buildings in it!


Each of the races also has multiple unique types of terrain that are specific to them.  In the past I've shown screenshots of kind of the "vanilla" world terrains that are native to the planet itself.  However, the competing races are terraforming as they go.  As you approach their cities, you first start seeing their very distinctive terrains.  We still have a lot of artwork left to complete in that department, but it's coming along really well, I think, and is another thing that really helps to bring out the personality of each race just when you're looking at the area of their city alone.


thoraxianravinsSBRAbove is the Thoraxian "ravines" terrain type.  Very evil and green-glowing.  Just getting near the Thoraxians is kind of a Mordor sort of feeling for me.


burlusttentaclefieldsSBRThe Burlusts, on the other hand, have a very blood-red sort of terrain that reminds me a bit of War of the Worlds.  This is the "tentacle fields" terrain type that they have.


That's all for now!  Although I imagine that some more questions may pop up in the official forum thread, as usual, heh.  There has actually recently been a really good thread called eXplore, the first of the X's, where a lot of questions have been answered.


UPDATE: I had been having various troubles with the z-buffer and alpha transparency, which is a very common problem in game development.  Previously my solution left a lot of ugly aliasing around the edges of buildings and some terrain.  That is now fixed as of this morning, so here are some new screenshots showing buildings without the aliasing!


city1Click the above for a full-resolution view, or check out the two below halves of it which are embedded at full resolution.


city1b


city1a


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Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: chemical_art on November 11, 2014, 09:43:08 PM
Those TLF pictures are certainly...different.
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: Coppermantis on November 12, 2014, 02:14:07 AM
It's strange--I'd have said the exact opposite for the Burlust leaders. The top guy looks more brutish, while the bottom appears cunning. Perhaps it's the partial view, but the guy on top is at an angle where he's looking down on the viewer, making him look larger and more intimidating. He also has broader shoulders and looks all around beefier, especially with what appears to be a rambo-esque ammo belt and larger hairdo.
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: wwwhhattt on November 12, 2014, 05:22:33 AM
I reeeaally like that Andor portrait  :D

I also wouldn't have thought that the top Burlust looked that cunning, but it's hard to imagine them looking anything other than supremely pissed off.
Is that bottom Burlust wearing a tiara?
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: nas1m on November 12, 2014, 06:25:40 AM
This is the first time that the Boarines do not look slightly ridiculous to me, which was a pity because I like their fluff a lot. Nice :D!
Any chance to get a similar artwork into TLF some time later?
The Boarine imagery is kind of a negative outlier to me there. They just look too much like an animal there to me, while the above picture definitely transports the notion that you are looking at a sentient lifeform - at least to me...
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: Draco18s on November 12, 2014, 08:48:12 AM
Ah, aliasing problems. :)
I actually wrote a couple of custom shaders (https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/en/#!/content/16429) to handle similar problems.
(I've made like $10 too! :P)
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: x4000 on November 12, 2014, 09:33:00 AM
@Draco18s: Nice stuff!  And yeah, I saw you in one of the threads I was reading, actually. :)

@nas1m: Regarding the boarines, the animal-like nature is intended.  Why can't an animal like that be sentient?  I like the disconnect between that sort of alien and what we expect to be more normal, if that makes sense.

@wwwhhattt and Coppermantis: I can see what you mean with the way those are cut about who looks Burly versus cunning.  Well, anyway, it's just a preview. :)



Also, for anyone who might be concerned about how... messy... the cities look in terms of the buildings being all slammed on top of one another, that's something we are actually working on today.  Basically getting the buildings a bit smaller and with some negative space in there, with also some race-specific accents to boot.
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: nas1m on November 12, 2014, 10:12:17 AM
@nas1m: Regarding the boarines, the animal-like nature is intended.  Why can't an animal like that be sentient?  I like the disconnect between that sort of alien and what we expect to be more normal, if that makes sense.
Fair enough. Maybe I can patch something into my local copy once SBR is out ;).
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: Zebeast46 on November 13, 2014, 08:13:08 AM
I'm just noticing that the Andor leader's eyes make him sort of look like a crazy person. But I love the Acutian and Boarine portraits.
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: Coppermantis on November 13, 2014, 06:57:04 PM
My biggest gripe with the cities is the big mish-mash of architectural styles. The whole thing doesn't look very consistent. Race-specific accents would go a long way towards fixing this issue, though that depends on how significant you'll make them. I would expect a Zenith city to look a ton different from a Spire city, you know, that sort of thing.
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: x4000 on November 13, 2014, 07:25:15 PM
There's really one main style for the 8 playable races, and the Zenith are included in that.  We are making some changes to add more spacing and to have some racial accents, though.  For the other 6 races, which the Spire are included in, they look remarkably different from anything else.  The Spire cities are floating sentient spaceships, for instance!
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: wwwhhattt on November 14, 2014, 08:24:29 AM
I'm just noticing that the Andor leader's eyes make him sort of look like a crazy person.
It's sort of like a cross between a stern grandmother and Mr. Burns. I imagine their peace brokering technique involves getting the two warring leaders into a room and frowning disapprovingly until they hug and make up.
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: x4000 on November 14, 2014, 08:45:48 AM
I'm just noticing that the Andor leader's eyes make him sort of look like a crazy person.
It's sort of like a cross between a stern grandmother and Mr. Burns. I imagine their peace brokering technique involves getting the two warring leaders into a room and frowning disapprovingly until they hug and make up.

This is brilliant, I love this.  Spindled fingers and cookies for you!
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: DrFranknfurter on November 16, 2014, 09:09:42 AM
The Andor leader caught my eye too. A beautiful and amusing mix between scary and nice.

I'm wondering how important leader choice will be on how a race plays. In TLF Andor could never bomb or capture enemy worlds. Nasarog asked if each leader gets their own AI subroutines. Is one of the three Andor leaders Evil, with a capital E? (for example). Or do all Andor leaders share most traits/personalities (pacifist), but get a different bonus/focus (+1 energy/prefers wealth vs +1 research/prefers science) or is more significant (cannot commit atrocities, can and will... happily).

He also asked if any of the art will be 3d/animated. I said I doubt it considering the number of portraits required. (Though it does add a nice touch to Space Rangers 2/Galciv3, perhaps not enough to justify the cost).

Also, I really want to see the Yali. One quote mentioned they have underwater stuff, are unplayable (aww) and have lots of snake-related features. Concerning underwater someone said the water tiles look a little more like sky, floating islands, or FOW... I'm not sure I agree but I just thought I'd mention it.

Hope all is going well.
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: x4000 on November 17, 2014, 10:26:30 AM
All is well, thanks. :)

Relating to the main questions:

1. Leader choice will be important, but not overwhelmingly dramatic.  It will affect things like bonuses and foci, for sure.  Will it affect personality?  Yes, to some certain extents, but I'm not exactly sure how far.  You won't see anything deviating TOO far from the norm, because I feel like that breaks down the archetypical nature of the races, if you see what I mean.  If sometimes the Andors are Evil with a capital E, that just doesn't really sit right with me, and gets super confusing.  But sometimes they might be nice our of genuine caring, or more nice in a "do what we say because it's good for you" way, or whatever.  It's possible for the good-hearted to do fairly bad things in the name of making things better, really.

2. We don't do any 3D in any of our games at all.  In terms of racial portraits, they won't be animated, no -- that would be immensely troublesome to do in 2D in general.  Honestly in Civ that always creeped me out anyway, but that's just me. ;)

Cheers!
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: eRe4s3r on November 26, 2014, 11:21:12 AM
2. We don't do any 3D in any of our games at all.  In terms of racial portraits, they won't be animated, no -- that would be immensely troublesome to do in 2D in general.  Honestly in Civ that always creeped me out anyway, but that's just me. ;)


If not animating the figures themselves, at least animate the window they appear in. By having background stuff, particles flowing about, or leaves, or water bubbles or what not. And add a slight tone map so we can quickly discern their mood. You don't need 3d to reach Hearthstone levels of animations ;) It just needs a certain amount of "fx fluff" to look pretty.

Ps.: In CIV5 the leaders looked exceptionally good imo... it's just that they didn't really do anything with that...
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: x4000 on November 26, 2014, 11:24:00 AM
We'll see!  Our aim is to have a certain amount of time where our artists at the end of the project don't have anything core that they HAVE to be doing, and thus can work on purely-visual-fluff stuff.  That will be really nice to be able to do, and your suggestion here is definitely one that we'll look at.
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: eRe4s3r on November 26, 2014, 11:46:22 AM
Well you know me ;) To me visual fluff is important. It's what draws the line between good 2D (Stronghold 1) and bad 3D (Stronghold 2/3 / Crusaders 2 etc.) Fluff being simple graphical extra stuff that serves no gameplay purposes, it's just that there to add more density and life to a scene. ;) That adds variation and dynamic to your art assets that they can't have by themselves. Always with the goal that it does not affect anything gameplay wise.

If there is time to do it this can't hurt ;) 2D doesn't have to mean "static" ;)
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: x4000 on November 26, 2014, 11:49:40 AM
Oh yes, very much agreed.  We did some of that in TLF in a few areas (ship flybys in the background of menus, little satellites flying around planets on the main view), but we're trying to make time for more of that here.
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: madcow on December 30, 2014, 09:24:10 AM
I'm a little late to this thread, but it's cool stuff!

Also, even moreso than in the Last Federation, the Acutian leader here really reminds me of the robot from Mystery Science Theater 3000. The face has a strong resemblance!
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: x4000 on December 30, 2014, 10:13:27 AM
One of the other Acutians is a really pudgy CEO-type robot, it's really funny how different they are in personality while still being the same race. :)
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: doctorfrog on December 30, 2014, 07:43:40 PM
We'll see!  Our aim is to have a certain amount of time where our artists at the end of the project don't have anything core that they HAVE to be doing, and thus can work on purely-visual-fluff stuff.  That will be really nice to be able to do, and your suggestion here is definitely one that we'll look at.
This is going to sound naive, because I'm the furthest thing from a developer, but what about a shader to go over the portrait? Depending on the shader/combination, you could visually communicate:
You'd probably want the effect to be pretty subtle, if you decide to employ it at all. Just a thought. I guess I just picture a marketplace where 3rd party dudes have shaders for sale, cheap!  :P
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: x4000 on December 30, 2014, 08:29:55 PM
The shaders generally are applied to 3D meshes to get the sort of effects you're talking about.  We do use shaders for 2D effects as well, but it applies to the whole image, not to parts of geometry like you are thinking about.

It's the difference between painting colors on a real car, or having parts of a real car sparkle, versus making a picture of a car look different ways.
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: Draco18s on December 31, 2014, 12:03:14 AM
Yeah, if you want to do shaders on a 2D image, you'd actually be applying the shader through a masking layer (yet another texture).  You can do some awesome stuff (http://s29.postimg.org/heen4rxdx/masks.png) that way, but it gets CPU/GPU intensive and fast.  Especially since it doesn't like to batch, statically or dynamically.

(The link there is an example applied to a 3D object, but could be applied to a 2D one as well; the orange part animates, swirling over the surface.  That object requires 3 textures to work correctly and a really complicated shader (http://s28.postimg.org/h1hwylral/complicated_shader.png))

Link to that project (http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~mmj29/temp/pgtd/pgtd.html) (development on hold)
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: doctorfrog on December 31, 2014, 01:57:53 AM
Ah, thanks for explaining that, fellas.
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: Kingpin23 on January 05, 2015, 03:11:13 PM
Like what iv seen so far.
Looks like a huge project and cant wait to try it out when its finished.

Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: Zebeast46 on January 10, 2015, 05:07:16 PM
Can't wait for the Beta, I really like 4x games but sadly I only have civ 5 because I have not really found any others that I want to play
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: x4000 on January 10, 2015, 08:50:36 PM
Things are coming well!  It's going to be a bit of a while, though.  I still feel like we're on target for a full 1.0 in May, but I'm looking at having a much more complete/polished beta in early March rather than a more partial/early one before that.  It's something that is just feeling more appropriate for this game, so that the feedback on the beta is more focused.
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: ElOhTeeBee on January 11, 2015, 09:40:46 AM
I'm sure it'll be worth the wait.
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: DrFranknfurter on January 12, 2015, 04:48:34 AM
Glad to hear work is still on track for the target May release. I hope you've all had a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. I'll be looking forward to the next sneak peek. Good luck with everything.
Title: Re: Sneak Peek At 5 Leaders In Stars Beyond Reach (Plus A Couple Of Screenshots)
Post by: x4000 on January 12, 2015, 08:26:07 AM
Thanks very much!