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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 12:38 am 
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Vezzra wrote:
I appreciate your optimism :D

Unfortunately I think it won't be so easy. While 2000 sign-ups sounds impressive, keep in mind that this is the total number of accounts registered in 10 years (AFAIK even including all the zombie accounts created by spambots). Two third of that have less than 5 postings, less than 400 have more than 10 and only ~120 more than 50 postings - during the course of a decade! I'm bad with estimations, but judging by gut feeling I'd say there are roughly a dozen people actively participating in the discussion (maybe a bit more?) with up and downs over the course of time. This would fit with the numbers I just gave.

Of course there are very probably much more people just silently following the discussions, but I'd rather estimate them to be in the hundreds instead of thousands, the vast majority being gamers who are interested in the progress of the project, not programmers with OGRE skills ;) And among those few who actually fill that profile there have to be some who are both willing and have the time to put the effort required to develop a 3d space combat engine into an open source project. We are talking about some serious commitment here...

That said, I don't think we shouldn't try to recruit programmers with OGRE skills, I just think it won't be easy at all. AFAIK someone tried something like that already (attracting more programmers to the project) a few years ago (I think it was MikkoM, the veterans here probably know more), but not very successfully. It will certainly require some serious and persistent effort.


I actually had no idea how long I'd been following this project until I realised that the version I started with had features that were abandoned in 2008. I'd have been submitting stuff back then, if it weren't for the fact that it looked too difficult to contribute and seemed like there wasn't much of a need for what I had to offer. In other words, it took me more than 5 years to submit something just because I didn't know I was needed. The roadmap would be one place to loudly proclaim what type of contributions would be needed. "Tactical combat has stalled because we need help with OGRE. If you have experience with it and would like to contribute to this aspect of the project click here."

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And if you happen to be on Win or Mac, you don't need to bother with FO's dependencies at all, as we provide SDKs for these platforms, for use with build environments you can get free of charge (Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2010 on Win and Xcode 3 or 4 on OSX). These SDKs include all dependencies and are really straightforward to use, more or less download, unpack and you're ready to go. The biggest problem is that building FO is very memory intensive, most complaints we get from people trying to build FO on their own are that the build process crashes.


It was Visual Studio that was giving me problems. Couldn't seem to download it without it telling me to buy it. I'll give it another look later.


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 Post subject: Robotic Hull Concept Art
PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 1:15 am 
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Robotic Hull concept art
Image

As before, still a very rough idea of a possible approach for the robotic hulls. Blame my childhood, but when I think robotic, I think Transformers and Robotech so I've imagined something with lots of moving parts that can reconfigure its shape. Before you ask: No, it doesn't transform into a giant battle mech!

In keeping with the idea that this is a ship that can repair itself, I've given it 6 tentacle-like arms that are positioned around the hull so that at least one arm can reach an area that needs maintenance. Only two of the arms are deployed in the image above. I've justified their inclusion by working on the idea that they're a militarised version of industrial robotic ships that are used in a variety of applications from construction, repair and field manufacturing. I've taken one major liberty with the design in deciding that the ship is automated, but not completely autonomous. It still needs a (minimal) crew to direct it and make decisions and override any detrimental actions that the AI may attempt to engage in. The crew compartment is attached to the hull during space flight, but detaches from the hull before battle so that the crew can remotely control it from a safe distance.

As for the colours, I opted for blue lights on a white metal frame for the concept art. I tried to steer away from the malignant red lights that are so common, mostly because they are so common, and because the blue conveys a more passive sense of high technology. I'm sure that in the future the colours of features like that would be pallette-swapped to match the empire colour, but that's still a long way off, but in the mean time, I'm trying to establish colour themes that extend along a line of ships to distinguish them from the other lines.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:39 am 
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BraveSirKevin wrote:
In other words, it took me more than 5 years to submit something just because I didn't know I was needed.
Now that sounds familiar :lol: IIRC I discovered FO some time after the dev team made the move from CVS to SVN (I vaguely remember reading respective posts when I first browsed the forums). That must have been back in 2003 or early 2004. I actually began to contribute at the end of 2011...
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The roadmap would be one place to loudly proclaim what type of contributions would be needed. "Tactical combat has stalled because we need help with OGRE. If you have experience with it and would like to contribute to this aspect of the project click here."
Hm, I wonder, if we want to do something like that, if it wouldn't make more sense to place such an appeal even more prominent (how many people actually take a look at the roadmap?). Maybe dedicate a section on the main page for that purpose ("WANTED! OGRE programmers [...]")?


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:47 am 
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BraveSirKevin wrote:
Robotic Hull concept art
Again, very nice :D

Now I'm very curious what you're going to come up with for the energy hulls. I imagine those being the hardest to do...


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 6:39 pm 
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Vezzra wrote:
Hm, I wonder, if we want to do something like that, if it wouldn't make more sense to place such an appeal even more prominent (how many people actually take a look at the roadmap?). Maybe dedicate a section on the main page for that purpose ("WANTED! OGRE programmers [...]")?


I'd say put it in as many relevant places as possible. As you said, you can never be sure whether someone will land on the page so you have to cast a wide sort of net. The roadmap's just a very appropriate place to put it because it tracks the progress and informs people of what's planned. It's the place that dictates what sort of work should be focused on and what sort of work should be prepared for, so it's the natural place to talk about obstacles to the progress of the project and call for help in overcoming them.


Vezzra wrote:
BraveSirKevin wrote:
Robotic Hull concept art
Again, very nice :D

Now I'm very curious what you're going to come up with for the energy hulls. I imagine those being the hardest to do...


Thanks!

You're right, it is the trickiest. I've got some thoughts and I've already started playing around with them. Sure I'll have something up here soonish. Will probably move on to buildings or go back to the ship parts for a while after that's done, as I think I've gone about as far as I can safely go on the ship designs for now.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:37 pm 
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I don't see there's any reason to not have something in game, or at least on the loading screen, pointing to a file that says something like "built by volunteers in their spare time, team currently needs more help in:" and list specific areas along with a "we'll help you get up to speed" encouragement &c.

Although my coding skills are minimal and I'm entirely self taught I'm finding more things I can do around the edges of the project that saves better coders than me, etc. Plus I can write text fairly well when I'm in the mood. There's no way I could learn OGRE, not for the foreseeable future anyway, but there might very easily be someone out there impressed by the game, DLing it regularly who never looks at the forums and could easily learn the relevent skills. I only started looking here recently but I first installed it back when I was using Ubuntu on the computer I've replaced three times since.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:33 pm 
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BraveSirKevin wrote:
Here's the organic hull art to use if anyone wants to. Obviously this is more like a WIP mod than official content, and is just meant to add something fresh to the game while replacing old graphics that don't fit well. Final artwork will eventually replace this.

Committed
revision 6375.

BraveSirKevin wrote:
The hull design image is scaled to 2000 x 1000 px, to match the existing asset. The new asset has a file size more than 3 times that of the existing one. This is because the existing asset was saved as an 8-bit PNG with a very small colour pallette (possibly as few as 11 colours) and the new asset, while also an 8-bit PNG, has a pallette of 128 colours to preserve its detail.

In-game, the asset is not used at the full size of 2000 x 1000 px. but actually appears considerably smaller. It is being reduced by code, but a considerable saving of both file size and memory resources could be made by saving the PNGs at the resolution that they are intended to be used at. A 1000 x 500 px image would be a quarter of the current size and even as a 24-bit image would still be under 200kb. In light of this, and the fact that the game is already very resource hungry, I think we should ascertain the maximum image size required for the game and resize all the hull design PNGs to conform to that maximum. Even better would be to crop the images tighter and use code to position them on the screen, as a 500x1000 rectangle of transparent pixels is 500k of wasted RAM with an 8-bit image and four times that much with a 24-bit image.

Saving Kbs isn't a huge priority, unless is relates to speeding the game up, and the future of screen-sizes is a bit murky, and this is a long-term project, i'd rather err on the side of making files too big, rather than have to redo everything if retina displays become the norm.

Still it is no problem to crop the blank part out if that actually improves performance.

Also feel free to save your files as full-color 24bit PNGs. I'd rather have something with full color for possible future editing.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 4:54 pm 
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BraveSirKevin wrote:
Robotic Hull concept art


Stamped: "Approved!"

...with one caveat, the front module seems rather suggestive of a face, weather intended or not, i don't know. Since we have other ships concepts that are living and or sapient, it would probably be best to save this subtle "humanizing" touch for those ships.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:56 pm 
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Superb - dare I say brave drawings SirKevin, very detailed concepts.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:18 pm 
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Image

This one is a little less developed than the others because it's the least straightforward of the ship lines, so I'm trying to avoid getting to tangled up in details too early on.

''This fast hull is comprised entirely of compressed energy and has a single external slot. Structure is low, but stealth and speed are very high. This hull requires a great deal of energy to construct and can only be built at a system with a star of type White, Blue or Black Hole," is the lore I had to work with. As usual, I took a little licence while interpreting that to try and imagine how something like this might be built and used by the race that created it.

In trying to imagine the science and engineering of these, I considered the idea that the hull was essentially raw energy contained and manipulated by electromagnetic fields. The pressure of the energy in the confines of its intangible forcefield container emulate the effects of surface tension, creating something that has all the benefits of a solid object, and none of the downsides like inertia.

I also took some inspiration from the few examples of energy structures I've come across in sci-fi, namely forcefields and Green Lantern's projected manifestations.

As with the other concepts I've put up here, the way these actually work would depend on who is creating them. A pure-energy species, with their natural affinity for manipulating raw energies, would likely manifest the ship around themselves using their own essence to shape and control it. Other races tied to the physical world with their matter-based bodies would need some sort of projector. The projector would contain a massive battery to contain the energy that will power the ship and create the structure. It would also contain the powerful magnetic field generators that would shape the energy. From this idea I decided that the core of the ship, including the cockpit and weapon installations would be akin to standard constructed parts and that the energy hull would form around it when "turned on". Energy would constantly be expended by the processes and some would inevitably leak out, so there is a need to regularly recharge the battery by harvesting energy from stars, but if for some reason that is not possible, the hull-projection can be deactivated leaving the core in a low-power, life-raft mode that will keep the pilot alive and allow for short-range travel.

Where I'll likely go from here is in refining exactly what shape the projected hull might take and how the surface of it would look.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:19 pm 
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Adrian wrote:
Superb - dare I say brave drawings SirKevin, very detailed concepts.


Thanks! Very much appreciated. :)


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 3:18 pm 
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Quote:
Structure is low, but stealth and speed are very high.


Great concept BraveSirKevin, I like it.
But this very high stealth is bothering me, maybe to change colour to darker, or make it a bit transparent? (this variation is glowing so not very stealthy I guess :) ).


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 4:21 pm 
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biza wrote:
Great concept BraveSirKevin, I like it. But this very high stealth is bothering me, maybe to change colour to darker, or make it a bit transparent? (this variation is glowing so not very stealthy I guess :) ).
Trying to come up with a drawing that is realistically high stealth but yet actually interesting might not really be do-able and I don't think that should be a requirement. But making the surface a bit more transparent and less glowing-green, as biza suggests, might be an improvement.

Regardless, it looks great, and if necessary we could just add some technobabble to the description about how the fluctuating energy surface impairs detection & tracking. Or note that the surface takes on high energy emission characteristics (displayed) when in the vicinity of a stellar corona but can also take on low energy emission characteristics in other settings so as to facilitate blending in with distant nebulae. That's also kind of a nice forward hint towards the successor Solar hulls which actually enter the star for greater stealth. I think it only takes the barest thread of plausibility to reasonably anchor a description in this setting. If you push me on it I'll say that the thread of plausibility can even be merely implicitly asserted and need have no 'actual' plausibility backing it up :D

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:05 pm 
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Wasn't overly fond of the current Dimensional Rift overlay, so I made a new one that looks a little more like rips in the fabric of space time. The Void special didn't have an overlay so I made my own.

They don't play as nicely with the atmosphere and shadow shaders as I'd like at the moment, and getting the most out of the overlays would require some animation. Fixing these issues will likely involve messing around with some stuff in the source, but I have no idea where to look if I'm going to effect some changes there. If anyone knows which source files control the revolving planet graphics in the UI, please point me in the right direction.

If you want to use them in your own games:
Image
Replace FreeOrion\default\data\art\planets\overlays\rift.png

Image
Save as FreeOrion\default\data\art\planets\overlays\void.png

Add the following after line 910 in \FreeOrion\default\specials.txt
Code:
   EffectsGroup
            scope = Source
            effects = SetTexture name = "planets/overlays/void.png"


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:28 pm 
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biza wrote:
Quote:
Structure is low, but stealth and speed are very high.


Great concept BraveSirKevin, I like it.
But this very high stealth is bothering me, maybe to change colour to darker, or make it a bit transparent? (this variation is glowing so not very stealthy I guess :) ).

Dilvish wrote:
Trying to come up with a drawing that is realistically high stealth but yet actually interesting might not really be do-able and I don't think that should be a requirement. But making the surface a bit more transparent and less glowing-green, as biza suggests, might be an improvement.

Regardless, it looks great, and if necessary we could just add some technobabble to the description about how the fluctuating energy surface impairs detection & tracking. Or note that the surface takes on high energy emission characteristics (displayed) when in the vicinity of a stellar corona but can also take on low energy emission characteristics in other settings so as to facilitate blending in with distant nebulae. That's also kind of a nice forward hint towards the successor Solar hulls which actually enter the star for greater stealth. I think it only takes the barest thread of plausibility to reasonably anchor a description in this setting. If you push me on it I'll say that the thread of plausibility can even be merely implicitly asserted and need have no 'actual' plausibility backing it up :D


Thanks a lot guys. The fluff explanation for the stealth that I had in mind was that the electromagnetic fields can be fine tuned to bend light around the ship itself rendering it more or less invisible, but as Dilvish said, it's pretty tricky to draw something that's both uniquely interesting and invisible. Naturally, this is just a bit of quickly-sketched concept art... It may be possible to get some interesting cloaking effects on the 3d model if the engine allows it.


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