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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2006 12:36 am 
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When i've mentioned Gaian planets there has been confusion as to what they actually are in game. So i quote:
The Way It Is:
v.3 reqs wrote:
Gaia worlds are, despite the name, not exclusively paradise for Terran dwellers. They are sentient planets designed by long-forgotten ancient creators to reshape themselves to the whims of their inhabitants. Exceedingly rare, extremely valuable-- some cultures worship Gaian planets as gods.

If the planet’s environment = the race’s EP then environmental conditions are Superb.
If the planet’s environment = Gaian then the environmental conditions are Optimal, regardless of EP.

"Optimal" is better than "Superb." Personally i think this is a little confusing because "optimal" has a stronger denotation than "superb" but a weaker connotation. I would replace the term "optimal" with "perfect". Your unmodified homeworld is only "Superb," though the Homeworld special more than makes up for the difference. Unmodified Gaian planets usually can usually support +5 population relative to normal planets of your EP. The description makes it sound better than your homeworld, but it is not.

The Problem:
Currently the graphics for Gaian worlds looks like a shinier version of a terrain world. While that makes some sense when everyone's EP is "terran," it will make no sense once aliens are implemented. Why would the inferno-dwelling Zugiboli be perfectly at home on a planet that looks like earth? If these things "reshape themselves to the whims of their inhabitants" then the Zugiboli should get an exceptionally nice inferno world.

Solutions:
It's been suggested that there be a Gaian type counterpart for each world type. However, as an artist i can say it's not going to be possible to make planet graphics that can intuitively be identified as extra-nice versions of barren, inferno, etc. planet types. Even the current Terran-Gaian graphics don't stand out much under the wrong color of sun. Gaian needs to be indicated another way. A surrounding haze of green nanitesis one possible visual distinguisher

So i'm proposing that "Gaian" cease to be a planet type and becomes a planetary special. (One advantage is the frequency of Gaians could be adjusted by changing the freqency of specials.) This would allow the Zugiboli's Gaian world to be labled "Infero, Gaian" and look like a regular inferno world, as it should. If Humans took it from the Zugiboli, it would become "Terrain, Gaian" after it terraformed itself to human specifications. Essentially the "Gaian" special is free terraforming, and the "Optimal" rating.

However, for dramatic purposes i would like to see, non-instant terraforming. Once a new species colonizes, the planet begins to terraform itself, one step per turn, towards the EP. Each turn it's appearance alters accordingly, and in the sidebar it reports itself to be a different type of planet, because it is. There should be a sitrep message.

The delay is for dramatic value. Gaian planets are rare and cool. The fact that they terraform themselves should be empahsized so it can be savored, rather than happening so quickly that a player might not even notice. It would take 4 turns for the planet the humans took from the Zugiboli to become Terran.

The delay doesn't hurt colonization much. If fact if the rating is always "Optimal" humans would not be negatively effected by a Gaian in an inferno state. A possible bit of tweaking is instead of making Gaians automatically "optimal", they could be one step better on the Terrible <-> Optimal scale than a planet of that type would normally be.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2006 3:35 am 
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Perhaps something like the Genisis planet from StarTrek II is what we want, visualy the planet would look like a patchwork of all the other planet types. A ranbow patchwork would be unique as all the existing planets tend to be uniform and atmost have 2 dominant colors. These gaia pics would probably be a bit stitched together from existing planet images, or atleast a test model could be made in this way to see if the idea will go anyware. If it dose it will realy save a lot of time in making a gaian version of everything.

I like the idea of explicity changing states as a kind of free terraforming, the patch work could be the planets uncolonized apearance which would be some kind of nutral state thats at "adaquite" level for everyone. The planet could then go into a normal state matching your EP. When vacated for any reason the planet reverts to a nutral state after a few turns.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2006 12:00 am 
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hmm.... I still like tha pallete swapping idea. Give Gaia planets the bitmap used for the current Gaia, but swap the palette to match the new type.

Orr...r....r.... We could have all terraforming impose a pallette swap effect on the planet. Say you find a Terran planet and terraform to Inferno, the game would use the same picture but change the picture's pallette to match the new type.

While this would require the game to keep track of the original type, it seems to me to be a good idea to make deterraforming cheaper than terraforming.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2006 8:36 pm 
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I think the Gaia planet needs to have a graphics for each world type it can be, because that is what it is. If your race likes inferno planets, then it is the best looking inferno planet, so would look like an inferno with a 'halo' or something. If your race likes Terran planets, then it would look like a terran with a 'halo', etc.

I think when you first find the planet, it wildly changes between each planet type, as it spins it is a terran, then an inferno, then an ice world, then a swamp world, ocean world, etc.

Once your race colonises it, it does not change its planet type, but keeps your favourite planet type (maybe terran), ie it is trained. There is always the possibility that an enemy race with the tech could 'scare' your Gaia planet like a horse, making it jump up and have you fall off, er I mean making it change planet type for a while, hurting your population.

So yeah, this planet type, Gaia, is like an animal and a magnificant planet, so it should be allowed to have so many graphics in the game. Besides, it doesn't have to be much work. Use existing graphics and add a halo or something to make it stand out, some effect, eg brightness, overlay something.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2006 9:33 pm 
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impaler wrote:
Perhaps something like the Genisis planet from StarTrek II is what we want, visualy the planet would look like a patchwork of all the other planet types. A ranbow patchwork would be unique as all the existing planets tend to be uniform and atmost have 2 dominant colors. These gaia pics would probably be a bit stitched together from existing planet images, or atleast a test model could be made in this way to see if the idea will go anyware. If it dose it will realy save a lot of time in making a gaian version of everything.

As mentioned previously, nobody can "make a Gaian verions of everything" in a way that will be obvious to the player. Especially since Gaians are very rare, the player won't be able to train himself by rote to recognizes subtile variations in brightness or color that would indicate that This desert is a Gaian desert.
Gaians need to be indicated by something other than the texture map, like by a halo, or planetary special icons.

Image

This is at least a clever idea, and makes more sense that what's currently in game (Gaian=nice Terran). And it could be implemented with the least code changes. But i don't find it especially attractive. Obviously i didn't spend a lot of time on it, but i don't know how to make it look much better.


marhawkman wrote:
hmm.... I still like tha pallete swapping idea.

That's because you have no idea how it would look:
Image

Does this look like a barren world that's been terraformed into an ocean world? Or like a barren world that's been arbitrarily colored blue? How would you change the pallet to cover this world with water?
How do you use a pallet swap to add/remove features like continents, oceans, craters, magma rifts?

In short since the planets are more than colored balls with an arbitrary texture, that idea can't produce anything half-way decent.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2006 1:27 am 
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umm... the moon? hehe...

Pallette swapping isn't necessarily as simple as changing the shade of the pallette. But now that I think about it the pictures used wouldn't work well with it.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2006 6:06 am 
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Thanks for making a mock up, I agree is not very nice looking but it dose prove the visual destinctivness of the idea which was the main thrust. When the player sees the patch-work they know its a Gaia and they can very intuitivly SEE "this is a wildcard planet". To make it look better the patches of Terrain should be a bit smaller about half their current area and more blob shaped, aka not strait edged borders, the blending at the borders looks good as it is thouth.

I think that its a viable solution and I would encourage continued mockups or thoughts along these lines. Anyone care to second that notion?

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2006 1:16 pm 
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Impaler wrote:
When the player sees the patch-work they know its a Gaia and they can very intuitivly SEE "this is a wildcard planet". To make it look better the patches of Terrain should be a bit smaller about half their current area and more blob shaped, aka not strait edged borders, the blending at the borders looks good as it is thouth.


It is more obviously Gaian.

If i knew how to put a icosahedron or a truncated icosahedron or snub cuboctahedron onto one of our cylidrical texture maps, that would be worth trying.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2006 3:09 pm 
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Impaler wrote:
Thanks for making a mock up, I agree is not very nice looking but it dose prove the visual destinctivness of the idea which was the main thrust. When the player sees the patch-work they know its a Gaia and they can very intuitivly SEE "this is a wildcard planet". To make it look better the patches of Terrain should be a bit smaller about half their current area and more blob shaped, aka not strait edged borders, the blending at the borders looks good as it is thouth.

I think that its a viable solution and I would encourage continued mockups or thoughts along these lines. Anyone care to second that notion?
Do I count?

This version does seem more along the lines of an actual planet type and less of a special though.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2006 7:46 pm 
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Impaler wrote:
Thanks for making a mock up, I agree is not very nice looking but it dose prove the visual destinctivness of the idea which was the main thrust. When the player sees the patch-work they know its a Gaia and they can very intuitivly SEE "this is a wildcard planet". To make it look better the patches of Terrain should be a bit smaller about half their current area and more blob shaped, aka not strait edged borders, the blending at the borders looks good as it is thouth.

I think that its a viable solution and I would encourage continued mockups or thoughts along these lines. Anyone care to second that notion?


I agree that the patchwork design is an easy-to-catch indication of a Gaia planet, and would second that the patchwork should be used as the "neutral" (uninhabited) state of a Gaia planet.

A suggestion:

1. There will be a "neutral" state of a Gaia planet, which the planeet will always assume when uninhabited. This "neutral" state will be placed on the hub of the EP wheel.

2. A Gaia planet whose all inhabitants left or died will go back to the neutral state. If it gets colonized by a race, then it will move from the neutral state to the EP spoke of that race. If a planet was forcibly taken from one race by another, the transformation will be effectuated by the changes from the EP spoke of the subjugated race to the neutral state and to the EP spoke of the subjugating race. This process can be made to last 4 turns (2 turns to move from spoke to the hub and vice versa).

3. In terms of design, the "neutral" state will have the patchwork of blobs design. As the planet becomes inhabited, the planet display will change from the "neutral" to "middle" to "final". The "middle" step between the hub and a spoke will be representated by a bigger blob of the EP spoke the planet is moving towards. For example, if Humans are the new inhabitant, the "middle" step of the planet will be represented by a patchwork design in which the Terran blob is big but other blobs are still visible. The "final" step, i.e. the spoke of the EP, will be represented by a terran world surrounded by very thin border composed of the colors of the other EPs - essentially a rainbow halo.

Given that the artwork for "middle" steps are necessary under this suggestion, this may not be KISS, but I think this shows in an intuitive and continuous way how Gaia planet auto-terraforms.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2006 5:03 am 
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utilae wrote:
I think the Gaia planet needs to have a graphics for each world type it can be, because that is what it is. If your race likes inferno planets, then it is the best looking inferno planet, so would look like an inferno with a 'halo' or something. If your race likes Terran planets, then it would look like a terran with a 'halo', etc.

I think when you first find the planet, it wildly changes between each planet type, as it spins it is a terran, then an inferno, then an ice world, then a swamp world, ocean world, etc.

Once your race colonises it, it does not change its planet type, but keeps your favourite planet type (maybe terran), ie it is trained. There is always the possibility that an enemy race with the tech could 'scare' your Gaia planet like a horse, making it jump up and have you fall off, er I mean making it change planet type for a while, hurting your population.

So yeah, this planet type, Gaia, is like an animal and a magnificant planet, so it should be allowed to have so many graphics in the game. Besides, it doesn't have to be much work. Use existing graphics and add a halo or something to make it stand out, some effect, eg brightness, overlay something.

Any comments on my idea, depicting a Gaia as a wild planet (changes between environments randomly), that is only tamed into one state (environment type) when colonised.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2006 2:07 pm 
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SowerCleaver wrote:
Given that the artwork for "middle" steps are necessary under this suggestion, this may not be KISS, but I think this shows in an intuitive and continuous way how Gaia planet auto-terraforms.

Additional art doesn't make an idea unKISS. However, transitional planet types are IMHO unKISS or at least inappropriate for this game.

Planet types are divided up into a few distinct states. There is no "dry terrain" or "cold barren" or "slightly radiated inferno." With limited types distinct graphics and names can make each planet type distinct.
However if we start adding transitional planet type graphics, it will imply transitional planet states, which are not, nor should be in the game.


utilae wrote:
Any comments on my idea, depicting a Gaia as a wild planet (changes between environments randomly), that is only tamed into one state (environment type) when colonised.

It's hard to imagine how terraforming could turn a planet from barren to swamp in a few seconds and then back again. But more importantly (from my perspective) is a constantly blinking planet would be annoying. This is a turn based game. Animation that occurs for a whole turn must be chosen carefully. And before you suggest it, animating it thus for a set length of time, and then stopping before the turn is over makes even less sense.[/quote]


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2006 7:24 pm 
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eleazar wrote:
SowerCleaver wrote:
Given that the artwork for "middle" steps are necessary under this suggestion, this may not be KISS, but I think this shows in an intuitive and continuous way how Gaia planet auto-terraforms.

Additional art doesn't make an idea unKISS. However, transitional planet types are IMHO unKISS or at least inappropriate for this game.
IMO the fact that terraforming will be eventually added will necessitate the addition of them.
eleazer wrote:
Planet types are divided up into a few distinct states. There is no "dry terrain" or "cold barren" or "slightly radiated inferno." With limited types distinct graphics and names can make each planet type distinct.
It's not hard to do the graphics really. If we do a cop-out and use the spot idea. terraforming wouldn't necessarily change the entire planet all at once anyways.
eleazer wrote:
utilae wrote:
Any comments on my idea, depicting a Gaia as a wild planet (changes between environments randomly), that is only tamed into one state (environment type) when colonised.

It's hard to imagine how terraforming could turn a planet from barren to swamp in a few seconds and then back again. But more importantly (from my perspective) is a constantly blinking planet would be annoying. This is a turn based game. Animation that occurs for a whole turn must be chosen carefully. And before you suggest it, animating it thus for a set length of time, and then stopping before the turn is over makes even less sense.
[/quote]I like it.Having Gaia randomly change in appearance at the end of every turn isn't really bad. Having it change while you're staring at the screen doesn't seem horrible either.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2006 7:41 pm 
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eleazar wrote:
Additional art doesn't make an idea unKISS. However, transitional planet types are IMHO unKISS or at least inappropriate for this game.

Planet types are divided up into a few distinct states. There is no "dry terrain" or "cold barren" or "slightly radiated inferno." With limited types distinct graphics and names can make each planet type distinct.
However if we start adding transitional planet type graphics, it will imply transitional planet states, which are not, nor should be in the game.


Hmm. I didn't think about the fact that the "middle" steps of a planet will always be inhabited and therefore will need to have a "planet state" - I only thought about the art aspect. I agree that separate EP(s) per each transitional planet state are totally unnecessary. Maybe we can set the planet state of the "middle" steps as "Superb" or one notch down from "Superb" for that race - an explanation would be that a pocket of environment resembling the inhabitants' homeworld are being created on the planet and the inhabitants have the means to migrate to that sweet spot.

On the other hand, the "neutral" state will not need a planet state and will need art only, since it is attainable only when no race is inhabiting that planet.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 1:24 am 
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I like this idea Eleazar, Gaia does make more sense as a planetary special. I also like your idea of a surrounding halo of terraforming crystals or something similar.

I've added it to the programming work page, with a link to a sourceforge feature request:
http://freeorion.org/index.php/Programming_Work


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