These only show up when the screen is zoomed out to the max amount.
At the next zoom step from there, the normal stars take over.
...Actually, after more careful tests i think it would work best if the tiny stars were used for the 3 widest zoom setting-- all without rescaling.
Step # 4 is the first one where the normally displayed stars are bigger than the tiny-stars.
These graphics simply represent the smallest size we'll allow the stars to be... once we zoom out to that size, the stars don't shrink any more... but the space between stars contracts as normal. It should feel pretty natural.
Geoff the Medio wrote:
My intention is not so much to clearly show where which arm of the galaxy is, but more to show where the galaxy is and where background/intergalacic space is.
Why do you have background big-nebula-like-texture extending well out into intergalactic space? This distorts the gameplay-shape of the galaxy significantly.
I agree that it looks better and is easier to use if the nebula textures stick a lot closer to where the gameplay stars are.
Geoff the Medio wrote:
I'm arguing there shouldn't be an other stars in the galaxy. FreeOrion gameplay is restricted to ~500 stars in a galaxy. To be internally consistent in the most flexible way, we would want to elminate all other stars on the screen, so that there's no confusion (or story / setting restrictions) about what's different about those eye-candy stars and the ones you can actually fly ships to. This doesn't mean there can't be dust and nebulae and puffy volume-filling clouds... just nothing that's clearly a different class of star.
Incidentally, I'd be a bit happier if the background layers we have now had a few somethings that looked like other galaxies in there. That would at least make astronomical sense. It's a bit worrisome to imply that there's a bigger universe out there than the galaxy you're actually playing in - it diminishes the epic-ness - but we're doing that anyway, so it might as well be realistic.
I think actually including other galaxies in the far background layer will much more strongly diminish the epic-ness, and also bring up the annoying questions about "why can't i go there?".
When people think space, they think of blackness &
stars... And our scientist's best guess is (unless you are behind some sort of cloud) everywhere in the universe there are stars to see in all directions. As long as the "background" stars are distinctly smaller/dimmer/duller than our gameplay stars, I don't think it will really be a problem for anyone. But placing a full galaxy in the background, or extending nebulas far beyond where the player can go... these appear much more definitely like a "place"
where the player might want to go. That's what what we need to avoid... as long as all the interesting-looking stuff is part of our playable galaxy, that limitation will be much less likely to be noticed.
My pixel star mockup seems a bit confusing to everyone, which is why I've toned them down this time. I really want some pixel sized stars in there. They might however not be visible at the fully zoomed out stage.
I don't object to them on principle. As long as they don't show up until the playable stars are very much larger (something like 16x16+)... but i'm not sure it's practical. I think single pixel star textures would be enlarged in an ugly way by FO. But if that texture was at 100% at max zoom in, then it would probably have to be very high res to cover enough space.
In regards to your mock-ups, after looking at them for a while, i think you have too many layers. Your "gaseous substance", (which is more or less the same idea i was trying to get at with my mock-up of "blue blobs")
is visually about the same thing as your large nebulae with these differences:
1) "gaseous substance" follows the shape of the galaxy
2) "gaseous substance" is a uniform dull grey.
We can get the best of both worlds by using the multitude of small sprites to create the "gaseous substance" but we can include some tasteful color options. Then we code it so that in most cases the "gaseous substance" image chosen is of the same or similar color as any adjacent sprites. Then we can have the good aspects of your giant nebulas without the negatives:
1) excessively over-zoomed textures, and
2) galaxy boundary trespass.