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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 5:11 am 
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Witch is a bad idea, since it makes it hard to truly believe that you really are dealing with a truely unique alien species, even there is a good fluff reason for it.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 12:24 pm 
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Zanzibar wrote:
You really should look at how they did thier ships...

I did take a look at them. Actually those ships look stylized and cartoon like. IMO the designs aren't very well proportionated and are way too busy, especially the Zuul ships.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 3:45 pm 
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pd, we / you may need to accept some degree of cartooniness in ship designs due to the practicalities of this being a game, and not a sci fi tv show or movie. We don't have to get as cartoony as Spore, or as "chunky" as most GalCiv2 ships, but it may not be pratical for FreeOrion for all ships to be smooth like Vorlons or Star Trek Federation ships or essentially smooth and lacking in functional features but with lots of greebles like Star Wars ships...


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 5:08 pm 
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Why is that? Has it been decided that ship components are visible now? The ship designs from Homeworld were pretty nice, without beeing cartoony. I intend to do similar stuff, but much more variety(as mentioned: plant ships and such).


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 5:58 pm 
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pd wrote:
Why is that? Has it been decided that ship components are visible now?

No, but it might be best to do so, even if it means ship models can't look as would be preferable if there were no other considerations besides how they looked...

Quote:
The ship designs from Homeworld were pretty nice, without beeing cartoony.

How does the ship balancing in Homeworld work, and what information does the appearance of a ship need to convey?

From what I've read, it seems that each Homeworld class of ship has a counter class, and that there's not a lot of detail below the level of what class a ship is that's important. In particular, there doesn't seem to be a vareity of weapon types balanced against eachother that a similar-looking ship could have, as there is in FreeOrion. Essentially, it's like a normal RTS, but with predefined ships instead of humanoid-scale or tank-scale predefined units that are balanced against eachother. As such, there's no need to show sub-unit-class details on a Homeworld ship - the overall class is readily apparent and that's all that matters.

For FreeOrion though, the player will want to know what sort of weapons or defenses or other parts a ship has, since it's rough outline (presumably) won't provide this information. (If this isn't an accurate description of how Homeworld works, then someone please correct me...)


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 6:18 pm 
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MoOII didn't provide this information either. I know, this is not a reason to do it the same way. But isn't ship design a way to surprise the enemy? I mean where is the fun, when I can instantly see, what weapons my enemy has? The player sjhould be able to see what weapons the enemy has, while combat occurs and not before it even starts. So, I'd prefer, if the weapon types were either hidden or if they were only roughly indicated(see one of my previous posts).

eleazar wrote:
Besides, who wants to see a bunch of ships that look identical but really have different powers?
Not only is it boring, it's confusing. There's no better way to indicate that a certain ship has a stellar destroyer,

Well, I want. It might be confusing, but this is a good thing in my mind, especially in a game like this. If there is a stellar destroyer on one of your ships, you don't want the enemy to know this, so he can focus his entire attack on this single ship right from the beginning. Instead you want to use that ship as a trump.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 6:36 pm 
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pd wrote:
...isn't ship design a way to surprise the enemy? I mean where is the fun, when I can instantly see, what weapons my enemy has? The player sjhould be able to see what weapons the enemy has, while combat occurs and not before it even starts.

We don't need to let players see details of other empires' ship designs before they get into combat range with those ships (in a battle or peacefully the same system typically), but that doesn't really say anything about how ships should appear to players once they are in combat range, does it?

Being able to distinguish one ship design from another easily is most important during actual tactical battles, which is when the players have already "shown their hand" and revealed (at least some of) the details of their designs. At that point, information hiding (about desgins) isn't a very convincing reason to make ships hard to tell apart... particularly since they'll look the same to their owner, not just other players.

Imagine playing StarCraft, WarCraft, Wesnoth, or chess where you had to click on or pick up a piece and examine it's label every time to tell apart the unit types... Granted, there are some games where information hiding is the whole point, eg. Stratego, but the analogy to those other games seems more appropriate given the relatively complicated designs and various weapon types that are possible. Also, in Stratego, you can at least see what type your own pieces are at a (semi-) glance...

One thing we could do is allow the player to add "fake" parts to ships, that appear to be something they aren't, even after the ship has been seen. Another possibility is to have visibility on the surface of a ship be an important consideration when designing. Some parts might appear on the surface, and thus be visible to enemies, but other parts might function similarly from internal design slots that aren't so visibile.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 8:45 pm 
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Well, I've proposed a way which allows nice designs and still provides an indication of the weapon bellow. Any thoughts about this?

I guess, I just can't live with having big turrets and other stuff mounted on the hull. It's not just about beauty, but about successful design in general.

Ship creation(next to race creation) is one of the major parts, that I'm looking forward too and where I can actually contribute some useful stuff. So, what's been decided here will affect my future with freeOrion. I am aware, that you can't consider this, but I thought you should know.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 10:03 pm 
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Do you mean this...?
pd wrote:
What will be possible is to have relativly small 'gun emission points', which could be placed pretty much freely on the surface of the meshes. So that if the player decides to put a laser weapon somewhere on the left side of the ship, it will actually fire from there. Those should be relativly small and simple, so that they're not much of an effort to create and fit to the racial designs.

Was that a question? If so, yes, I believe this is possible. It'd probably be simpler to implement than larger "turrets" or similar.

Before dismissing turrets or other large visible parts or the smaller weapon points pd described in the quote, perhaps some example images / renders should be made?

Similarly, easily visible parts, even if not small, probably don't have to look cartoony to be useful to tell ships apart usefully.

There might be a usable middle ground, or the degree of disagreement might be less than it seems from text only.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 10:24 pm 
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It's a question, but a proposal open to discussion.

I'll provide some images on the weekend.

Quote:
Similarly, easily visible parts, even if not small, probably don't have to look cartoony to be useful to tell ships apart usefully.

They'll become cartoony, when they are too big, because the proportions are off, especially when they can be placed pretty much everywhere.

Quote:
There might be a usable middle ground, or the degree of disagreement might be less than it seems from text only.

I hope so.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 6:40 am 
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Well personally I don't see pd's small gunports being that useful for telling what a ship can and can't do. But then I didn't think big gunports are that useful either. So add them if you think they'll improve the appearance and ignore them if you don't.

My personal vote is for pd and his art team to have full control over the appearance of ships. The rest of us design a way of gathering information about ships under the assumption that ship appearance wont give any info.

And don't forget, its not real time so the speed of accessing info isn't life or death.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 7:56 am 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
(If this isn't an accurate description of how Homeworld works, then someone please correct me...)
It's been several years, but that's how i remember it.

Tortanick wrote:
My personal vote is for pd and his art team to have full control over the appearance of ships.
It's not merely an art issue but one that involves Design and Code as well. If it were purely an aesthetic question, then sure, it should be handled by Art, or the appropriate subdivision, but that's not the case here.

Tortanick wrote:
And don't forget, its not real time so the speed of accessing info isn't life or death.
Not True. For purposes of info access it is about the same as realtime. I.E. there are turns but they happen at a set pace (probably 3-5 sec each), and pausing may not be possible in multiplayer. In other words, if info is not very quickly available it is life or death.


:arrow:
The aspect under discussion here is almost certain to be a long process for art and code. Rather than guessing at what manpower we'll have at a future point and declaring this or that "too much work" or "do-able"— it makes more sense to me compose a list of priorities. This list will start with the elements most necessary to make the game playable and progress toward less vital and more difficult elements. Whenever possible development can follow the progression of priorities so space combat has the maximum playability for the minimum amount of effort right of the bat, even if it starts out ugly. FO needs to become playable as quickly as possible in order to build support.

Here's how i'd prioritize.

  • Color differentiation between ships of different empires.
    even if all ships look the same we need to know who owns them. Ultimately i think we've already discussed a Homeworld-like coloring system as idea

  • Size differentiation.
    different models for the different size classes

  • Basic classes of weaponry, scanner, etc added to exterior
    For example PD, SR, LR weaponry, and scanners would each be represented by a single model.
    (priority could arguably be switched with the following item)


  • Tech differentiation
    major advances in ship technology could be represented by a different cooler looking hull model for each size class. After the size, the tech level is one of the most important pieces of info about a ship. Also it will be rewarding to "unlock" cooler ship designs.

  • Individual weapon, scanner, etc. differentiation
    different models for each externally-visible tech

  • V.8
    the following can't be implemented until v.8. because that's when different species are added. It's something i'd like to see, but i'm troubled by the counter-intuitivness of displaying the exact same ship with radically different models based on the species. But there's plenty of time to argue over this later. If we do it here's how it should be.

  • Race "group" hull differentiation
    it won't be practical to give each race their own style right at first, so they can be divided into groups that share a ship design or the player could choose his design, and AI get a randomly chosen design

  • Individual race hull differentiation
    or at least enough hull designs for max # of players if designs vary per species each game.

  • Race "group" weapon, scanner, etc. class differentiation

  • Race "group" weapon, scanner, etc. tech differentiation

  • Individual race weapon, scanner, etc. class differentiation

  • Individual race weapon, scanner, etc. tech differentiation

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 12:14 pm 
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If turns are 3-5 sec then its still a click-fest. Only slightly less so than with pure RTS. I thought the goal was to avoid one.

Heading back to the point: I do have a new proposal that I thought up while reading eleazar's above post. It dose require more work from the art department, but I think that if its possible to do enough work for this then the results will be good, unlike the modular hulls where the result will look cartoony and silly.

The idea is that you have a "primary focus" for each ship, be it long range combat, short range combat, support, civilian. The primary focus is determined by the computer from the components used. Each Primary Focus could have a different hull, sort of like MoOII where you had several hulls of every size.

It doesn't give as much info as seeing individual components, but what info it gives, it gives clearly even from a zoomed out perspective. And if you believe in not makeing the components too obvious that's an advantage.

now for the important question: what dose pd think?


Anyway here's my priorities:

Colour Differentiation (can be a surrounding ring rather than on the ship itself)

Size Differentiation

Race differentiation

Focus & tech differentiation. About the same for me.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 2:36 pm 
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Quote:
now for the important question: what dose pd think?

I'd prefer this, but I guess this comes down to the class model geoff was talking about and that's being used in homeworld.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 5:16 pm 
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eleazar wrote:
Not True. For purposes of info access it is about the same as realtime. I.E. there are turns but they happen at a set pace (probably 3-5 sec each), and pausing may not be possible in multiplayer.

I believe you are referring to this:
v0.4 Design Pad wrote:
The combat engine will be hybrid real-time and turn-based. Individual turns will play out in real time, but player input, through orders, will only take effect once per turn. During turns, between the times when orders take effect, the player(s) have no ability to alter the outcome of game events (other than orders given before the start of the present turn). Player(s) may request a pause at any time, but pauses only occur and the ends of turns. Current thinking is that a turn should be somewhere between 3 and 5 seconds.
Note that the time period of 3-5 seconds ("turn") refers to when ships move, and not the phase where the player is giving orders! It certainly wouldn't make any sense to limit the time to give orders to such a small amount of time as 5 seconds. Right now, there is no time limit on the order phase, so there is also no need to have all information directly accessible.

Eleazar wrote:
[...] the player will be much happier with an appearance that he had a hand in. The player wants to see what he did, see his mark on the game-world.
I agree, but from my experience with MoO1, 2 and 3 I know that this does not (only) depend on the ship model (these could not be modified in both games), but on the combat strentgh as well as the different rays and missiles that shoot from your creation.

Another thing that bothers me about showing components on the outside of 3D models is that it won't allow us to use models from artists that are not involved in the project without significant changes - when combat is taking shape I'll email several people who've created marvellous models and might contribute them if asked kindly.

Doing it "the usual way", meaning, just putting 3D models in the game that don't show anything of their interior, will allow a quick implementation and fast inclusion of new models. This has my full support.

It's not that I don't like to show components on the hull, but for the reasons stated above I'd consider that for after v1.0.

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