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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 3:40 am 
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This arguably should go in the brainstorming forum, but it has a graphic element, and this forum supports uploads, so i post here.

In various threads (some of which i started) such as, Terraforming Tech Tree, Gaian Planets (a modification), and Environmental Tech(s) / Planet Status, there is interest in varying the quality of available planets, and terraforming them.

This thread isn't about the specifics of what specials do, or what techs can terraform to what degree. Instead it's about providing a expanding existent game concepts to offer a better framework for specials and effects that change the general quality of a planet for habitation.


What we have now:

There is a concept named in the DD "Environmental Conditions"which i will hereafter refer to as "Habitability", since IMHO it's clearer. The Habitability of a planet is primarily determined by the distance along the EP Wheel of the planet's environment from the colonizing specie's EP. Habitability is a 5 step scale thus:
    Optimal
    Superb
    Adequate
    Terrible
    Inhospitable

Planets higher on the Habitability scale can support more population, have higher health, and produce more food. Each Environment has a permanent "Habitability" rating per EP, however techs may adjust the effect. I.E. for terran-dwellers, Inferno planets are always "Terrible", however techs (i.e. environmental encapsulation) may soften the negatives of "Terrible".

The Gaian special is (theoretically) the only use of the "Optimal" habitability level, however the most of effects of the "Homeworld" special nearly replicate "Optimal".


My Proposal:

1) Expand and re-label the Habitability Scale.
I don't think the labels are clear. Confusion between "Superb" and "Optimal" has not been uncommon on the forums. Also "Inhospitable" is not unambiguously worse than "Terrible".
My List:
    Paradise— "Tamed" planets, such as Gaians. Controlled & regulated so that dangerous weather and unusable environment's don't exist.
    Excellent— Homeworlds and rare, similarly choice planets
    Good— Most planets of your EP
    Fair— ...
    Harsh— ...
    Terrible— With current technology only a small token colony can be established
    Uninhabitable— Colonies cannot be established, life cannot be supported

The Scale would have the same function. planets of higher habitability can hold more people, have higher health, and can grow more food.

2) Make wider use of the Habitability scale to show changes in tech, effects, and specials.
• I.E. instead of duplicating the effects of "Excellent Habitability" in the "Homeworld" special, instead invoke "Excellent" as part of "Homeworld".
• Instead of making tech advances change the qualities of "Terrible" planets, rather make advances redefine which planets are "Terrible". Since the Habitability label prominently displayed when deciding what to colonize, this makes things clearer. Tech advances could make previously uncolonizable planets useable, and increase the habitability of non-EP planets something like this:
Code:
steps away  tech 1            tech 2         tech 3      tech 4
from EP     
    -1      Harsh             Fair           Fair         Fair
    -2      Terrible          Harsh          Harsh        Fair
    -3      Uninhabitable     Terrible       Harsh        Harsh
    -4      Uninhabitable     Uninhabitable  Terrible     Harsh

Since Initial (if not all) terraforming techs would first require a colony, potential terraforming targets could be gradually revealed without the need of keeping track of how much a planet has changed.


3) Use standardized planet graphics for the 3 levels of quality in each EP

Attachment:
File comment: These planet types are not actually adjacent on the EP wheel, they are just examples
qualty.jpg
qualty.jpg [ 129.36 KiB | Viewed 2690 times ]

For 5 or 6 of our current EPs it should be pretty easy to indicate the intuitively difference between high and lower quality planets of the same EP by including more of the element(s) that make that planet distinctive and by increasing interesting detail. I.E. it's blue water and green plants that make terrain planets distinctive, so the "Paradise" Terrain has lots of water and plants, while the merely "Good" Terran is rather dull and has less water. Similarly the Paradise for Inferno-dwellers has the most glowing lava chasms.

The planet textures would come in sets of 3, i.e. a Terran planet with roughly the same continents would have a Good, Excellent, and Paradise version so that if was changed by tech or building, it wouldn't shift around irrationally.
Needless to say, i can make these graphics.

The planet types which are by definition a more or less undifferentiated mass of a single thing, i.e. sand, ice, or ocean, etc. however to not lend themselves to any sort of distinction between better or worse.



I'm certainly not including many of the reasons i think this is a good idea.
Basically it's a more comprehensive, consistent platform to mess around with these aspects of planets.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 6:29 am 
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eleazar wrote:
Habitability is a 5 step scale thus:
    Optimal
    Superb
    Adequate
    Terrible
    Inhospitable

This has been changed to
    Good
    Adequate
    Poor
    Hostile
    Uninhabitable
by me (in SVN).

Quote:
The Gaian special is (theoretically) the only use of the "Optimal" habitability level

Optimal isn't actually in SVN at the moment. Gaia planets were previously an environment type that had habitability Optimal, but Gaia was changed to a special, so that habitability level was removed.

Quote:
I don't think the labels are clear. Confusion between "Superb" and "Optimal" has not been uncommon on the forums. Also "Inhospitable" is not unambiguously worse than "Terrible".
My List:
    Paradise— "Tamed" planets, such as Gaians. Controlled & regulated so that dangerous weather and unusable environment's don't exist.
    Excellent— Homeworlds and rare, similarly choice planets

These two are also / still ambiguously ordered.

And regardless of naming, is there really need for both "Paradise" and "Excellent" levels?

Quote:
Harsh— ...
Terrible— With current technology only a small token colony can be established
Uninhabitable— Colonies cannot be established, life cannot be supported

These are also ambiguous... especially Harsh and Terrible.

Also, it might be better to not have "Uninhabitable" as an habitability level. Depending which part of your post one reads, and definitely in code, effects can act on "Uninhabitable" (big U label) planets to increase their population capacity, seemingly making them not uninhabitable (small u practical consideration; ie. it has max population 0). A more elegant solution would seem to be having just "Terrible" be the lowest level. Terrible would actually be uninhabitable in practice, with max population of 0, though techs could make it habitable (but still labelled "Terrible") by increasing the max population above 0 with effects.

Quote:
• I.E. instead of duplicating the effects of "Excellent Habitability" in the "Homeworld" special, instead invoke "Excellent" as part of "Homeworld".

Habitability should really be independent of homeworld. A homeworld could be altered so that it's no longer suitable for a race, or a race homeworld could be, due to their backstory, terrible for them, or even "Uninhabitable" if it is a rating. If we have a habitability rating above good for Gaia planets or those homeworlds that actually are extra-well suited to a race, a separate set of specials of some kind could be used to apply this label. These could be "best for race X" specials or "environment subtype Q" specials which race R really likes even more than standard environments that are "Good" for it, both of which have been suggested in brainstorming.

But regardless of the above, having just "Excellent" above good would be fine.

Quote:
...techs (i.e. environmental encapsulation) may soften the negatives of "Terrible".
[...]
• Instead of making tech advances change the qualities of "Terrible" planets, rather make advances redefine which planets are "Terrible".

This is contradictory; either techs improve planets with a given habitability rating, or they don't. Having fixed meaning for each habitability rating throughout the game would be clearer and simpler, although this might be too restrictive... And in practice, it's probably not that beneficial, since lots of effects alter the meters of planets, including the meters affected by habitability ratings. As well, not being able to improve the population capacity independently of the habitability rating would make techs like habitation domes impossible; instead you'd have to bump up the rating, and in doing so increase everything that the improved rating would affect.

It might be better to have every environment type have a fixed habitability for each race for the whole game, and to alter the meaning of the habitabilities, rather than to change which habitability is given to which environment over time. At the least, fixed habitability for each race would be simpler to program.

Quote:
The planet textures would come in sets of 3, i.e. a Terran planet with roughly the same continents would have a Good, Excellent, and Paradise version so that if was changed by tech or building, it wouldn't shift around irrationally.

This might be confusing in practice (more so than the rest of this will be). Remember that an empire can have multiple races in it, and the habitability and other statistics of a planet can change between races. We'll need the UI to update these according to which race is being used to colonize. This is a bit awkward, but can be dealt with... However changing that actual appearance of the planet depending on which race is selected is a bit more confusing and hard to explain / understand.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 7:38 am 
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Some input on the visual side: This has been bothering me for ages, but it's not that important, so I never mentioned it: The textures used for planet rendering are quite intense in terms of color and brightness. Yet the resulting renders are quite dull. Slightly increasing the brightness, contrast and saturation(postwork) shows how planets should look:
Image
I'm saying this to prevent desaturating the planet textures, which will result in even more dull planets.

Is it possible to do a brightness, contrast and saturation adjustment on the ogengl rendered planets by code? I believe increasing the intensity of the lightsource will have a different effect.

edit: On some further thought, I realize, that the dullness might have to do with the way the atmosphere textures are put on top of the planets, because they include quite some darkness, where the transparency fades. Something similar as with the star glare effect in the Ogre demo(tzlaine) should perhaps be done. Speaking in photoshop terms, that would be a screen blending mode.


Slightly related: The mapwindow could need some more contrast as well:
Image
However, this could perhaps be achieved by tweaking the nebula and star graphics in the first place.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:16 am 
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pd wrote:
Some input on the visual side: This has been bothering me for ages, but it's not that important, so I never mentioned it: The textures used for planet rendering are quite intense in terms of color and brightness. Yet the resulting renders are quite dull. Slightly increasing the brightness, contrast and saturation(postwork) shows how planets should look:
Image
I'm saying this to prevent desaturating the planet textures, which will result in even more dull planets.

Yeah, this rendering issue would need to be dealt with before the 3 distinctions i proposed could be easily distinguished.

You can try replacing the atmosphere graphics with an empty PNG, to see how much of the problem they contribute.

I think the biggest cause is the way the model is lit and the reflective properties or other properties the surface is given. Each different star color uses a different color light defined in "planets.xml" which is probably part of the problem.




Geoff the Medio wrote:
This has been changed to
    Good
    Adequate
    Poor
    Hostile
    Uninhabitable
by me (in SVN).

That's certainly more clear than what we had.


Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:
The Gaian special is (theoretically) the only use of the "Optimal" habitability level

Optimal isn't actually in SVN at the moment. Gaia planets were previously an environment type that had habitability Optimal, but Gaia was changed to a special, so that habitability level was removed.

I said "theoretically" because there is no longer any Gaian special in trunk. I presumed the removal of "Optimal" was an overzealous part of the not-yet-complete redoing of "Gaian".

Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:
My List:[list]
Paradise— "Tamed" planets, such as Gaians. Controlled & regulated so that dangerous weather and unusable environment's don't exist.
Excellent— Homeworlds and rare, similarly choice planets

These two are also / still ambiguously ordered.

And regardless of naming, is there really need for both "Paradise" and "Excellent" levels?

Ambiguous? You think many people would assume a "Paradise planet" inferior to an "Excellent planet"? It's possible a better term could be found for "excellent", but "Paradise" seems exactly the right superlative for a place perfectly attuned to the needs of a particular species.

However, the need for something like these 2 levels seems clear. Gaians are described as something better than any natural homeworld should be. Homeworlds are better than common planets of the same EP. What sense does it make to have a 5 level habitability scale, and while looking to colonize present a Gaian, Homeworld (or equivalent) and an ordinary planet all of the same EP as all "Good"? There is a large difference in the actual habitability of these 3.


Geoff the Medio wrote:
Also, it might be better to not have "Uninhabitable" as an habitability level. Depending which part of your post one reads, and definitely in code, effects can act on "Uninhabitable" (big U label) planets to increase their population capacity, seemingly making them not uninhabitable (small u practical consideration; ie. it has max population 0). A more elegant solution would seem to be having just "Terrible" be the lowest level.

Read the bold headings in my post. "Uninhabitable" planets have strictly 0 population. They cannot be colonized If technology would allow colonization of a formerly "uninhabitable" planet, then the UI would no longer refer to it as "Uninhabitable". Actually the UI doesn't need to refer to them as "uninhabitable" it's fine to do as we currently do and simply not offer the option of "Colonize".
Gas Giants and Asteroids currently also use the label which you recently renamed "uninhabitable". I think there is a use (at least in early game) for a status that means, "No you absolutely may not colonize that planet!"


Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:
• I.E. instead of duplicating the effects of "Excellent Habitability" in the "Homeworld" special, instead invoke "Excellent" as part of "Homeworld".

Habitability should really be independent of homeworld. A homeworld could be altered so that it's no longer suitable for a race, or a race homeworld could be, due to their backstory, terrible for them

That's fine. My point is instead of making specials which duplicate the effects of the habitability scale they should instead invoke habitability level, whenever that makes any sense.


Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:
...techs (i.e. environmental encapsulation) may soften the negatives of "Terrible".
[...]
• Instead of making tech advances change the qualities of "Terrible" planets, rather make advances redefine which planets are "Terrible".

This is contradictory;

Not it's not. In one part i'm describing the way things are now. In the other i'm describing the way i'd like it to be. Again Note the bold headings in my post.


Geoff the Medio wrote:
either techs improve planets with a given habitability rating, or they don't. Having fixed meaning for each habitability rating throughout the game would be clearer and simpler, although this might be too restrictive... And in practice, it's probably not that beneficial, since lots of effects alter the meters of planets, including the meters affected by habitability ratings. As well, not being able to improve the population capacity independently of the habitability rating would make techs like habitation domes impossible; instead you'd have to bump up the rating, and in doing so increase everything that the improved rating would affect.

It might be better to have every environment type have a fixed habitability for each race for the whole game, and to alter the meaning of the habitabilities, rather than to change which habitability is given to which environment over time. At the least, fixed habitability for each race would be simpler to program.

The above quoted section is confusing to me, in part perhaps because it's a response to a misunderstood version of my proposal.

Again i'm not saying that only by changing the Habitability can the max population, health and farming be adjusted. Certainly by the end of the game a "good" planet (via techs and/or wonders) will be able to have higher meters in all 3 of these areas. But the major advances and technologies or catastrophes should effect the habitability meter directly to keep things organized and clear.


Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:
The planet textures would come in sets of 3, i.e. a Terran planet with roughly the same continents would have a Good, Excellent, and Paradise version so that if was changed by tech or building, it wouldn't shift around irrationally.

This might be confusing in practice (more so than the rest of this will be). Remember that an empire can have multiple races in it, and the habitability and other statistics of a planet can change between races. We'll need the UI to update these according to which race is being used to colonize. This is a bit awkward, but can be dealt with... However changing that actual appearance of the planet depending on which race is selected is a bit more confusing and hard to explain / understand.

I never forget that an empire could have multiple species. ;)

OK, i see that i haven't made this part clear. The Habitability scale is completely subjective, and yes we'll need to adjust the UI according to the species of the colony ship(s).

However the three levels of graphic don't change if the viewer is changed. They are assigned according to potential. I.E. if a planet is potentially "Paradise" for somebody (even if it's not you) it will appear with the best graphic. I.E. if you are a terran-dweller and explore a system with inferno-dweller colonies:
* a inferno Gaian.
* recently conquered (and yet unchanged) homeworld of some Toxic-dwellers, now occupied by inferno-dwellers
* an ordinary inferno

No matter who the viewer is, the Gaian uses the best graphics, the toxic homeworld uses the middle graphics, and the ordinary inferno uses the worst graphics.


I forgot to make this clear, but i'm assuming that the "Good", "Excellent", and "Paradise" ratings are only in effect when the planet type matches a specie's EP. I.E. a Swamp-dweller receives no extra benefit from an "Excellent" Terran planet relative to an ordinary "Good" Terran planet.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 3:31 am 
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eleazar wrote:
pd wrote:
The textures used for planet rendering are quite intense in terms of color and brightness. Yet the resulting renders are quite dull. Slightly increasing the brightness, contrast and saturation(postwork) shows how planets should look:
Image

You can try replacing the atmosphere graphics with an empty PNG, to see how much of the problem they contribute.

A quick test attached...


Attachments:
File comment: Top two planets have atmospheres in one case, and don't in the other. Greying / desaturation is a significant part of the effect.
atmospheres_comparison.png
atmospheres_comparison.png [ 122.45 KiB | Viewed 2506 times ]
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 8:41 am 
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We are going to replace those atmosphere overlays with the same shaders, that are used in combat. They work really well, so this won't be an issue anymore. Also, I had to use desaturated surface textures to make the planets look more realistic in the Ogre tech demo, so there is a lot of room to make the colors more intense, if desired.

Here is a screenshot:
Image
Kudos to Zach!


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 3:39 pm 
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pd wrote:
We are going to replace those atmosphere overlays with the same shaders, that are used in combat. They work really well, so this won't be an issue anymore.

The shader in that example does indeed look better than our old atmospheric layer.

pd wrote:
Also, I had to use desaturated surface textures to make the planets look more realistic in the Ogre tech demo, so there is a lot of room to make the colors more intense, if desired.


While saturation is involved in the quality scale at the head of this topic, it's not so much a global change in saturation, as greater use of the saturated colors. I.E. the Terrain Paradise has a lot more plant coverage (i.e. green-ness), and the paradise inferno has a lot more lava chasms.

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PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 5:33 pm 
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Eleazar - it seems to me that you are introducing new concept to the concept of "habitability".

The way I understand it, EPs are objective and habitabilities are specific to each race. Especially when the player has mutliple species in the empire, it would be convenient to be told how friendly/hostile a specific EP is with respect to a species. Hence, the planets that have the same EP as the relevant species' homeworld is Good (or whaterver the correct term is for the homeworld habitability), and the habitability progressively deteriorates as you move farther along the EP wheel from the homeworld.

Therefore, based on this understanding, any habitability that is better than the homeworld habitability is referring to something other than the EP distance. It may still be information that the player would want to know, but the "better" habitability is something like planetary special, not the EP distances.

Am I understanding your proposal correctly?


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PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 7:43 pm 
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SowerCleaver wrote:
Eleazar - it seems to me that you are introducing new concept to the concept of "habitability".

The way I understand it, EPs are objective and habitabilities are specific to each race. Especially when the player has mutliple species in the empire, it would be convenient to be told how friendly/hostile a specific EP is with respect to a species. Hence, the planets that have the same EP as the relevant species' homeworld is Good (or whaterver the correct term is for the homeworld habitability), and the habitability progressively deteriorates as you move farther along the EP wheel from the homeworld.

Therefore, based on this understanding, any habitability that is better than the homeworld habitability is referring to something other than the EP distance. It may still be information that the player would want to know, but the "better" habitability is something like planetary special, not the EP distances.

Am I understanding your proposal correctly?


I'm not trying to add anything radically new to the concept of "habitability". I am trying to make it a little more comprehensive and complete.

Homeworlds have always been better than the ordinary planet of the same EP, and Gaians have always been better than Homeworlds. Until the reworking on Gaians was began they always had a Habitability label that was higher than the homeworld EP.

The most obvious and intuitive definition of "habitability" would take into account the position on the EP wheel as well as any specials. It would be unnecessarily confusing to label a potential colony as having "terrible" habitability if other factors than EP made it equivalent to a planet 1 step up on the habitability scale.

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PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 10:41 pm 
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eleazar wrote:
I'm not trying to add anything radically new to the concept of "habitability". I am trying to make it a little more comprehensive and complete.

Homeworlds have always been better than the ordinary planet of the same EP, and Gaians have always been better than Homeworlds. Until the reworking on Gaians was began they always had a Habitability label that was higher than the homeworld EP.

The most obvious and intuitive definition of "habitability" would take into account the position on the EP wheel as well as any specials. It would be unnecessarily confusing to label a potential colony as having "terrible" habitability if other factors than EP made it equivalent to a planet 1 step up on the habitability scale.


That all makes sense. A species is evolved in homeworld, and its homeworld is probably better than most other planets with the same EP. I agree with your proposal then.


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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2008 8:50 am 
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One thing,

If we're going to include a 'Uninhabitable' status, that should probably be a symbol, since it's going to move about the most when you change one colony pod for another, with a differnt race.


Also this sort of thing would make an excellent information overlays, A La,
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=2202&hilit=

Best wishes


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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2008 2:35 pm 
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Robbie.Price wrote:
If we're going to include a 'Uninhabitable' status, that should probably be a symbol, since it's going to move about the most when you change one colony pod for another, with a differnt race.

Habitability is displayed on a planet-by-planet basis in the side-bar. It only going to "move around" if you happen to have two colony ships of different species in the same system.

As for a special overlay view that emphasizes systems with good planets, yes it will need to have a setting for each EP. But there's no need for special symbols, we just use the smallest circle (or whatever) when the whole system is uninhabitable.

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