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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2004 7:52 pm 
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Found this old thread:

http://www.freeorion.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=323

The thread is about "Sectors", but I'm mostly pointed out the map image in it (by Obiwan):

Image

Which some nice looking stars, with fairly solid middle dots, and a rather nice variety of star sizes as well, which might be worth emulating.

Brainstorming Aside: I'd also like it if we could replace the current randomly placed nebulas with something similar to the sector blobs in the image, though not actually based on player-marked sectors. Instead I'd like some game-generated blobs based on random or procedural map terrain generation. The major groupings of stars in a galaxy could have blobs on them... as the central core and arms of a spiral galaxy, or the clusters of a cluster. This would flesh out and reinforce the nominal galaxy shape, making things cooler looking, imo.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2004 1:20 pm 
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I really like his starlanes. It would also be cool to have some faint decoration stars. Could keep the furthest background layer, and replace the other other two with a dozen or so smaller stars, various distances from the camera.

It would be neat if flares, etc, were animated based on the movement of the galaxy map. Stars in dead center of the screen would have flares at max opacity, and perhaps halos as well. Stars near the edges of the screen would have very faint flares and no halo. As the map moves about, the flares would "swim" a bit, rotating very slightly as they move towards and away from the camera.

Obviously, this would only occur at closer zoom levels. Further out, stars would just be dots. The flares would change size with the zoom level, even at close zooms; the center star would remain the same size.

Too much of a performace hit to rotate a bunch of flare bitmaps?


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2004 1:59 pm 
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I like the idea of named 'geographical features' like sectors (also nebulae, voids/rifts etc could be named). It adds flavour and immersion.

I dont have a massive problem with allowing players to rename sectors (say, if they controlled more than 50% of systems in the sector), but i dont see much benefit in allowing players to redefine their boundaries mid-game (this is what empire borders are for) - surely that would just remove the feeling of immersion that youve tried to build up?

Sectors boundaries should be defined at map creation time - a simple region growing algorithm can achieve this:

(1) Create spawn points for sectors randomly (but at fairly even distribution) around the map. Initially each sector has 1 star assigned to it.

(2) For each sector, grow in size by 1 system: Find a (currently unassigned) system which is connected to the sector by a starlane (i.e. pick one of the connected systems at random). Assign this star to the sector. If there are no more unassigned stars connected to the sector then stop growing this sector.

(3) Repeat step 2, growing each sector by 1 star each time, until no unassigned stars remain on the map.

(4) If, due to some fluke of galaxy layout, you have some piddling little sectors not worthy of the name (i.e. just 1 or 2 systems) then delete that sector (i.e. unassign the stars) and return to step 2 until all remaining sectors are fully grown again.

(5) Name each sector randomly from a pool created by FO contributors. Possibly some algorithmic naming could also be applied, e.g. sectors in some areas could be biased towards certain names - e.g. there is a 50% chance that the sector closest to the middle of the map will be called 'Galactic Centre' or 'Central Sector' or somesuch, OR you could somehow identify sectors at the ends of spiral arms and name them appropriately.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2004 12:37 am 
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I definitely vote for smaller stars, or in the very least smaller halos.

Image

I did a bunch of my own stars for MoO3 a while back that I liked, so I added a bunch of blank space to make them all 64x64 (from 32x32), made a few variations, and threw em in FO to see what it looked like. They look pretty good at medium levels of zoom I think. I dunno, if you all think it'd be worth it I could spend some time and see if I could make something work. Here's the files I'm using:

http://www.ecst.csuchico.edu/~breadman/files/stars/


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2004 12:49 am 
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Hmm, thinking about it a little more. I think having the halos/flares and the hotspots scale separately is the way to go. Anybody here messed with Celestia? The way it's done there, if my memory doesn't fail me, is at far distances the hotspot stays as a constant point and as you get closer the halo expands, til it reaches a certain point at which the hotspot becomes an actual glowing ball which grows as you zoom and the halo remains a constant size. If the hotspots were a 32x32 texture and the halos a 64x64, you'd only be adding 1/4 more texture memory, right?


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2004 1:16 am 
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Those look really good, imo. Especially the blue one on the middle-right side with the big flare things sticking out. I really like how the flares aren't quite passing through the star's centre, but sort of spiraling. Also the slight nonsymmetries of all the stars is nice.

Thought: Stars could illuminate space dust / nebulae around them.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2004 9:02 am 
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Quote:
Anybody here messed with Celestia?


Celestia is actually exactly what I was thinking of when I suggested seprately scaling flares.

Your stars do look a little better than the present stars, I think, with the exception of your blackholes.


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 Post subject: Re: Stars v3
PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2004 9:57 am 
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drek wrote:
A couple of ideas:

1: Empire colors instead of star colors. Star color has very little effect on gameplay. While the star on the sidebar would retain it's color, the stars on the galaxy map might might instead reflect empire color, giving an insta-poltical map. (blackholes and nuetrons would still be different sprites, but colored by empire) If more than one empire owns planets at a star, the empire with the larger population in system would determine the coloration of the sprite.


The cake idea, or based on Stars! - allow player to easily switch between several modes of 'star viewing'. One would concentrate 'on pretty star picture', other would show which empire has control or on special buildings/resources/wonders or fleet strenght in the system (those could be noted by several abbreviations next to star as in SE4).

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 Post subject: Re: Stars v3
PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2004 5:40 pm 
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Prokonsul Piotrus wrote:
The cake idea, or based on Stars! - allow player to easily switch between several modes of 'star viewing'. One would concentrate 'on pretty star picture', other would show which empire has control or on special buildings/resources/wonders or fleet strenght in the system (those could be noted by several abbreviations next to star as in SE4).


Yes, good idea! That would get my vote.

(you stole it, but it's no less good!)


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2004 9:35 pm 
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BreadMan wrote:
I definitely vote for smaller stars, or in the very least smaller halos.



I like your stars very much and the general idea how they should scale. Size of stars is issue of zoom level/how close the stars are each another. Your shot has ~right size for the stars in that zoom level, but still I want to be able to zoom really close to see the star to shimmer in 128x128 :)

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2004 10:17 pm 
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Quote:

I like your stars very much and the general idea how they should scale. Size of stars is issue of zoom level/how close the stars are each another. Your shot has ~right size for the stars in that zoom level, but still I want to be able to zoom really close to see the star to shimmer in 128x128 :)


I agree. Like I said, they only look good at around a medium zoom level, but kinda loose their luster when zoomed out far or zoomed in close. I think working out some celestia-style scaling would be the best solution.

Also, about black holes. Something I discovered, by mistake actually, is that adding some black around the edges makes kind of a cool effect, because background stars will seem to dissapear as they get close to the hole. Unfortunately you kinda loose the effect when you get one in a nebula and there's all this black around it, but I was thinking...anybody remember that screensaver you could have, I think it was Windows 98, where it would make this glass ball bounce around your screen and distort your icons and wallpaper like a lense? Wouldn't it be cool if that effect could somehow be applied to black holes?


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2004 1:39 am 
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Quote:
I think it was Windows 98, where it would make this glass ball bounce around your screen and distort your icons and wallpaper like a lense? Wouldn't it be cool if that effect could somehow be applied to black holes?


I think that would require backbuffering. You'd render the scene on the video card, pull into memory (instead of the monitor), perform the blackhole distortions, then push the finished image on the video card as a texture. There's a whole heaping drekload of cool things we could do with backbuffering (like motion blurring when the map moves).

Problem is older motherboards suck at pushing (and pulling) large chunks of data from video cards. And many older cards simply can't handle a texture the size of the screen. There'd have to be a way to disable the fx.

A cool idea, but probably too problematic to implement.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2004 5:57 am 
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I realy like the Idea of having seperate "hotspot" and "Halo" for stars. I sugjested it myself a ways ago purely for visual purposes, the ability to mix and match a these elements would make each star that much more Unique. Idealy you should be able to recognize a star by its Brightness/Halo/Color Combination alone their would not be another star on the whole map that was a perfect match. A lot of nice Stars have been made by a lot of differnt people and we should try to include as much of this work as possible for variety along with any public Domain pictures of real stars (modified ofcorse). I think we should be looking at something like 16 different Halos each able to apear as any color and with any Hot Spot.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2004 6:55 am 
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drek wrote:
Problem is older motherboards suck at pushing (and pulling) large chunks of data from video cards. And many older cards simply can't handle a texture the size of the screen.
Uhm... so then how was this running fine in Win98, five years ago...?


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2004 8:20 am 
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Probably at a purely software level, within directx. In hardware rendered openGL you dont have that option.

Personally i dont see why it would be such a big deal to allow users to enable/disable such an effect. If someone was going to actually go to all the trouble of programming it, then its not a significant amount of extra work to make it switchable.

Ideally, most of the graphical flashiness would be toggleable (e.g. rotating planets, parallax view on galaxy map), so that it would be possible to play FO on a very low spec machine - but i guess that sort of thing can wait.

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