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April-05: Ghost Hack!
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MarcC



Joined: 25 Apr 2005
Posts: 46
Location: Auckland, New Zealand



PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

love the textures of those images. The lighting makes me like it more because it reminds me of alot of post-apocalyptic cyber punk games.
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Konedima
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

have a look at the internet in the futurama episode "a biclyops built for two"... go to www.gotfuturama.com go to the frame grabs section and go to the episode... need i say more?
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DanDanger



Joined: 09 Nov 2004
Posts: 4



PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 2:18 pm    Post subject: Happy lighting. Reply with quote

Oh please, please use a version of the "happy lighting" and not that dreary looking "moody lighting". I am sick fed up with gloomy looking pc games and having to up my desktop gamma setting just to play them.

As a side note: I used to develop games for the xbox, and microsoft had us analyse histograms of screen-shots. The point of this was to compare real world images (what us humans are used to seeing) with game images and see if we could fill in the blanks from the real world images (our game had a cartoony look but the process was still valid).
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Fost
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 7:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Happy lighting. Reply with quote

DanDanger wrote:
Oh please, please use a version of the "happy lighting" and not that dreary looking "moody lighting". I am sick fed up with gloomy looking pc games and having to up my desktop gamma setting just to play them.

I know what you mean about dreary looking PC games, and I wonder if that's what has everyone worried. I would have to disagree that the moody lighting in the included shot looks dreary - there has been a lot of effort put into picking out colour schemes for the rooms so far and making sure they aren't dull looking, and I certainly don't expect people to be starining their eyes to pick out what's going on.

Take a look again at the two shots - the 'happy' (bad description Embarassed ) lighting is ok, but it's pretty bland. The 'Moody' lighting is actually the more colour rich of the two, and lighting is placed to provide the most interesting modelling of the room and its contents. Both shots exhibit a higher contrast range than a lot of pc games (reason I went for X2 lighting in the first place as it provides overbrightening of the model's textures.)

Anyway, it's odd - but the more people comment on this, the more I'm convinced we have gone down the right road - I think you'll all be less worried when you see the game in action and the lighting variation in each room - and if you don't, then you'll be able to vote with your wallet Wink

The thing that made this concrete in my mind was the really insightful (I thought) comments above by Doom III about Snow White (isn't it odd that this should come from someone with an alias of 'DoomIII' which is such a dark game Smile ). It is a dangerous and scary world you will enter onboard the Eidolon, but Asimov and his friends will have a robotic innocence and single minded pursuit of protecting the humans onboard that they will provide the light.

PS: Moody != Dreary. Very Happy
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Weeble
Starscape Jedi
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Joined: 25 Apr 2003
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Location: Glasgow, Scotland



PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never done much low-level graphics programming, but I'm curious if the lighting modes you talk about are the reason that so many games have such miserably low contrast. Whenever looking at natural objects with an eye to drawing them or photographing them, I am always struck by the depths of the shadows. Now, admittedly, the human eye can cope with contrast differences vastly greater than a computer screen is capable of showing, and can further accomodate to brighter and darker environments, but I can't help but notice that the textures of rocks and grass and bark and so on in games tend to have little in the way of dark shadows at all. Why is this? Would higher contrast reveal the low resolution of the textures? Would it be harder to light?

Weeble.
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Fost
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Weeble wrote:
I'm curious if the lighting modes you talk about are the reason that so many games have such miserably low contrast.

That's quite a tough one to answer - there's a couple of issues really.
The most basic kind of lighting you can do is vertex lighting - essentially setting a colour per vertex based on lighting. The major limitation of this is no shadows (although they can be pre burned into a model - I know of several recent PSII games that do this) and a light sampling quality based on the mesh density: Higher mesh density = more accurate lighting.
I was quite surprised how well Mr. Robot turned out - but that's because the mesh density in the rooms is really high and very evenly spaced - more so in fact than any recent first person shooter environment would be (of course, they have lots of rooms). Most first person shooters use a solid modelling approach that optimises the mesh - this makes for really uneven vertices and is terrible for vertex lighting. Mr. Robot uses an editor based approach to place lots of objects on a grid to build up a room. This is less efficient, but not a problem because we only display one room at a time. It's also the perfect scenario for vertex lighting.



The next most obvious issue is how that lighting affects the texture on the model.

Again, the default thing that many games do is modulate the texture with the vertex colour (set by vertex lighting). Modulate just means multiply. the problem with this - is that the brightest anything will ever be is the colour of the texture. This is why many games have looked pretty dreary in the past. Modulate2x multiplies the result by two - so you can overbrighten the texture with bright lights. This is how a lot of games worked on Playstation 1. You have to be more careful when setting up your lighting here - 50% grey lighting will show the colour of the texture, white will oeerbrighten it (white is essentially now a lighting value of 2 or twice the brightness of the texture). This is how Mr. Robot works, and is a nice simple way to avoid that generic drab look that has plagued many games.

Beyond that, I think the two most important issues are light color and radiosity. White light doesn't really exist in the real world - but we sometimes assume it does because our brains automatically adjust ambient light colour. Take a picture indoors with a film camera and no flash (not a digicam as most have automatic white balance) and you'll get an orangey glow to the picture. Tungsten light has an orange tone, direct sunlight a yellowish-purple tone depending on the time of day, skylighting is bluish and affects shadows thus.

Radiosity provides the most accurate lighting by taking into account reflected light (e.g - sit a white box on grass and look closely - you will see a green tint to it caused by light reflection off the grass). This will probably be what you are seeing in the richness of real world shadows. Unfortunately radiosity is extremely computationally expensive. Up to recently it has been pre generated into light maps (quake 1-3 half life etc), so it has been difficult to incorporate real time shadows. Doom III seems to have completely dropped radiosity in favour of per pixel realtime lighting and shadowing - the result looks a lot like pure raytracing without radiosity. Half Life 2 uses a clever mixture of both radiosity, shaow projection and vertex lighting (there's better info on valve's site.) I must admit I prefer the HL2 look over DoomIII - although I've seen lots of explanations that the DoomIII system is technically far superior. I just look at the end result, and I think radiosity is king.

One final note about lighting is HDRI (High Dynamic Range Imagery) This works (Goober will correct me hopefully if I'm wrong) by calculating light values beyond 1 and rendering the screen out with this data stored - because you know which bits of the screen have gone beyond white (as is possible in the real world) you can play with exposure and/or add screen blooming glows. Even simulating effects such as your iris contracting as you enter a bright room, or openening as you enter a dark room. Without HDRI you have fixed exposure levels - unlike your eye, which reacts to your surroundings. (Much more in depth info on HDR and its uses can be found here)

These images from the Half Life 2 HDRI update illustrate this better than words:






Technical issues aside - it eventually comes down to the artist's eye for detail and the love they put into a project.
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Konedima
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 8:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i've never done any programming (except simple basic programming like 5 years ago - and thats pretty good cause i'm around 15 now) but personally i like the happy lighting - maybe after playing star wars: kotor 2; that thing was just so dreary and didn't have much to its colour palette. maybe an option for happy lighting or moody lighting (probably too much effort)
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

konedima wrote:
maybe after playing star wars: kotor 2; that thing was just so dreary and didn't have much to its colour palette. maybe an option for happy lighting or moody lighting (probably too much effort)

yes - it would involve lighting the game twice - it could be done quickly, but then that defeats the point of going in and hand editing all the lighting to maximise it's effect (i.e- it would look far worse).

The comment about KOTORII not having much to it's colour palette confuse me - that's the point with the moody lighting!!! There's far greater colour range than the happy lighting. I'm worried people are getting hung up on words here - maybe subconciously everyone is thinking if they don't get the happy lighting they won't be happy Very Happy

So from now on - I'm calling it boring lighting and exciting lighting. Wink

I'll strive to put some more lighting shots into the current dev diary I'm writing - it should give you a good idea of where I'm going with it - the green room is the most extreme example of trying to make a room scary - and most of the other rooms aren't like that. Might be better for everyone to base their thoughts on a more complete set...

Having said that - I'm going to dig up some shots of KotorII - it always helps to have lots of examples of what people are talking about -thanks for that. Very Happy
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Fost
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Useful pdf guide (6.5 meg) to how HL2 does it's lighting (not sure where we got this from)
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jollyreaper



Joined: 20 Jun 2003
Posts: 181



PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The happy lighting looks a lot better than the moody lighting. It fits more with the whole design of the game. Everything you've shown so far seems to fit that "happy" look.

I do think "happy" and "dramatic" are ****** terms to use for it. But I will make a comparison I think is more apropos: Sonic the Hedgehog. I'm not really a fan of the newer 3D games they came out with. They look gorgeous but the character is just too difficult to control. Sonic needs to be a 2D game. Anyway, in Sonic 1 and 2 the level designs were very innovative. You had Emerald Hill, Aquatic Ruin, Chemical Plant, Casino Night, Oil Ocean ... all of these zones have different pallates, deisgn sensibilities, and music, but they all feel like Sonic. It has that right look.

I think you guys should feel free to play around with the lighting from one part of the ship to another but you should keep that same "happy lighting" vibe. I think the reason why I'm having a poor reaction to it is that the colors just don't look right.

Incidentally, have you given much thought to the music and sound effects?
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jollyreaper wrote:
The happy lighting looks a lot better than the moody lighting.

I disagree (of course Wink) , and I've started to think the 'happy' lighting is pretty dull, but then I've seen it in the context of the rest of the rooms. We always realised it might be a move not everyone would go for, because traditional casual game portal mentality likes a bright and colourful game. You know what though: I don't buy into any of that, sometimes the world is a cruel place, and the bunny rabbits must die Twisted Evil Muhahahahaha!

All joking aside - this is one room, and I think the important thing is that the lighting is varied within a room. Despite pretty much everyone prefering that one room example, I'm not too worried; I think you'll like the end result and of course if you don't, you can vote with your wallet Shocked

jollyreaper wrote:
It fits more with the whole design of the game. Everything you've shown so far seems to fit that "happy" look.

I know, that's exactly how we started off thinking, but then somewhere along the way our dark sides came out, I'm sorry about that. It;s weird though, but every time someone brings it up, I become more convinced that the game needs to look a little scary at times - I don't mean it will be a horror! but you'll have to blame Doom III - I really liked his Grimm Fairytale comments, and they catalyzed the idea for me.

jollyreaper wrote:
I think you guys should feel free to play around with the lighting from one part of the ship to another but you should keep that same "happy lighting" vibe. I think the reason why I'm having a poor reaction to it is that the colors just don't look right.

I think I meant to put up some more pics of the lighting in various rooms, but as yet, still haven't had the time - I've still got a lot of lighting to do anyway - the key point will be tweaking it all to bring it together - right now I'm only going through setting up rooms on an individual basis as I see fit.

jollyreaper wrote:
Incidentally, have you given much thought to the music and sound effects?
Music is finished, and is along the lines of Starscape but chilled out. Sound effects are going to go in pretty late. We've been making them as we go along so we aren't short on sounds, but it's not the ideal situation and I'd have prefered they went in earlier. Hopefully we'll get some in soon.
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Doom III



Joined: 20 Apr 2004
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2005 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fost wrote:
the bunny rabbits must die

yes! bunnies have had it coming for a long time Smile
Fost wrote:
but you'll have to blame Doom III

no! its not my fault! im still in the green room camp. its not dark when you look closely but has more varations in the lights.
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jollyreaper



Joined: 20 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2005 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I understand that one screenshot isn't much to base an opinion on. I thought the new batsuit was going to be underwhelming in Batman Returns but on-screen, it worked well. It's not just the costume but the man who wears it and Bale did a killer job with the role.

From my initial reaction to the game, it just seems like the design sensibility was captured perfectly in the original images, the cutsey Japanese curved robot design with cheerfully useful industrial areas and comfortable living quarters onboard the ship, but now things have gotten a bit deadly. I like how famous robots of the past are harkened to, like the Black Hole bots.

http://www.gizmodo.com/gadgets/robots/japanese-robot-suit-106978.php

Not a robot but a powered exoskeleton. Has that same rounded design aesthetic to it.

I'll reserve final judgement on the lighting until I see the game in action. I'm am a strong believer in the theory that with visual arts, style is everything. Would Star Wars have been anything as cool if the X-Wing didn't look like that? Yeah, you can go on about storytelling and acting and all that rot but I tell you what, I wouldn't have been running all over the house making whooshy laser and engine noises if I didn't have an X-Wing in my hand. Would the Millenium Falcon be as loved as it is if they went with the original production design sketches? (Same B-29 cockpit but not built like a saucer, just a generic junky "longer than it is wide" spaceship.) Would you have been in terror of the Star Destroyers if they didn't have that dagger-like wedge shape and ominous rumble?

Even if you have a good model, the lighting can ruin everything. Look at photos of beautiful women. A bad photographer can take that woman and make her look middling, uninteresting with bad lighting. At most the viewer would say "That looks like a pretty girl, too bad she was done wrong by the photographer." But with the right lighting, the right composition, you're no longer thinking, at least in words. Some of the best fun games I've seen grabbed your attention the moment you saw the screen flicker out of the corner of your eye. Say you were walking through the mall intent on hitting the food court. Scratch that, you now have your face glued to the window of EB as you're drooling over the marvelous flickrering images of the next hot thing(tm).

I have no idea what areas of the ship you have planned, but if I were desiging the game, these are the areas I'd create:

Crew Quarters -- full-on happy lighting, everything looking warm and comfy
Botanical Gardens -- a tropical biosphere within the ship, complete with animals and robot tenders. (I don't think all of the other robots on the ship should be enemies. Some should be window dressing, just going back and forth trying to do their original jobs but obviously doing them poorly. Could you imagine the topiaries that crazy robots could create in the gardens? Imagine one of your standard robot models wielding over-sized hedge clippers and a chainsaw, zooming about and carving up shrubs to look like more robots. Imagine another one of the bots pushing along a floor scrubber, muttering to itself about germs in a robot voice. "Clean....clean...must..get...clean! Dust kitties! Aaaah!")
Powerplant -- industrial look with lots of sparks and glowing light, dancing shadows and arcing electricity
Cargo hold -- catwalks and levels, the floor would show miles-deep drops to the bottom of the hold, boxes going all the way down. Take the scale of the warehouse from Raiders of the Lost Ark, then stretch it vertically.
Cryo-bay -- where all the sleeping humans are
robot maintenence bays -- where damaged robots are repaired, custom robots created. Lots of assembly lines whirring back and forth. Asimov can get upgrades here (can he get upgrades?) pick up allies (does he get allies?) and fights the robots coming off the lines.
Computer core -- harkening back to the days when computers had doors so you could walk inside and work on them, it's towering electronics, glowing screens, and synthetic voices jabbering back and forth.
Flight Bay -- lots of shuttles and transports, robotic arms on tracks moving back and forth ferrying supplies.

I could imagine each of these areas looking like part of the same ship but having a totally different ambience and feel.

One last comment, sound design is probably one of the most overlooked areas in gaming. Some of the most memorable work I can remember are Star Control 2 and the Warcrafts/Starcraft. Everyone here familiar with the video version of Metallica's song "One?" They put a bunch of clips in there from a WWI anti-war movie "Johnny Got His Gun." Between the original vocals, you'd get quotes from the most powerful parts of the movie. Well, some wag decided to do the same thing but use Starcraft as a source instead. I gotta tell you, it's funny and great all at the same time. Those sound effects are so distinctive, I can see the units that make the noises and see what they'd do to make it! The voices, the sounds, they're all so distinctive that you recognize them without prompting. Can you think of many other games or movies like that? Star Wars is one of the few that spring to mind. A TIE Fighter roar, a lightsaber hissing to life, Darth Vader's breathing, just a snippet of the sound brings it all back.

Trying to imagine what the game would play like, I've got a lot of sound effects buzzling in my head. That's a good thing. I suck at sound work, never been good at it, but I have immense respect for those who are.

Sure, sound has nothing to do with gameplay, but it adds to the experience immensely. Along those lines, the radio stations in Grand Theft Auto were great. It completely sold me on the idea of Liberty City being a real place. Lazlo's callers on Chatterbox, genius! The radio commercials, the crazy DJ's... perfect. Those little attentions to detail, that's what gets the player sucked in.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2005 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jollyreaper wrote:
Crew Quarters -- full-on happy lighting, everything looking warm and comfy
Botanical Gardens -- a tropical biosphere within the ship, complete with animals and robot tenders. (I don't think all of the other robots on the ship should be enemies. Some should be window dressing, just going back and forth trying to do their original jobs but obviously doing them poorly. Could you imagine the topiaries that crazy robots could create in the gardens? Imagine one of your standard robot models wielding over-sized hedge clippers and a chainsaw, zooming about and carving up shrubs to look like more robots. Imagine another one of the bots pushing along a floor scrubber, muttering to itself about germs in a robot voice. "Clean....clean...must..get...clean! Dust kitties! Aaaah!")
Powerplant -- industrial look with lots of sparks and glowing light, dancing shadows and arcing electricity
Cargo hold -- catwalks and levels, the floor would show miles-deep drops to the bottom of the hold, boxes going all the way down. Take the scale of the warehouse from Raiders of the Lost Ark, then stretch it vertically.
Cryo-bay -- where all the sleeping humans are
robot maintenence bays -- where damaged robots are repaired, custom robots created. Lots of assembly lines whirring back and forth. Asimov can get upgrades here (can he get upgrades?) pick up allies (does he get allies?) and fights the robots coming off the lines.
Computer core -- harkening back to the days when computers had doors so you could walk inside and work on them, it's towering electronics, glowing screens, and synthetic voices jabbering back and forth.
Flight Bay -- lots of shuttles and transports, robotic arms on tracks moving back and forth ferrying supplies.

I could imagine each of these areas looking like part of the same ship but having a totally different ambience and feel.

Wow - some great ideas! We actually have already built some of those things (you've seen the Nanomeks - they are intended to be biosphere hydroponics maintenance bots; gardeners like in silent running. However I'm a little hesitant to talk about some scenery, because it might not even make it into the final game - the real problem we have is that building good and fun rooms takes 500 times longer than we had imagined Sad but the good thing is they provide far more playtime than we initially thought. So, I've been holding off showing some robots and scenery until we are sure they will be able to go in. I'm pretty sure once the game is finished, we want to do a little bit of work streamlining the editor (at which point we'll make a decision on releasing the editor too), so we can make perhaps a nice expansion pack using all the additional art we have Smile I certainly hope that turns out to be possible anyway.

jollyreaper wrote:
One last comment, sound design is probably one of the most overlooked areas in gaming.

It is a concern right now - because we currently have zero sound in the game. What we normally like to do, is put sound support into everything from the start, so you can keep working on and refining sounds - it gives you the time to get everything right. All we can do for now is maintain a list, and build up a catalog of audio to go with it. It will then be a mad rush to get everything in. This is probably the one aspect of the project that hasn't gone to plan - but there are always compromises in any project and I think we have done pretty well. Like you say, it is a shame audio design is not a priority for everyone, and even though we haven't started yet, we're hoping to get some good work done on it ASAP Smile
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jollyreaper



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2006 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool, cool. I'm looking forward to seeing your first playable demo.
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