Overall "look" of the game

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Lyx
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Overall "look" of the game

#1 Post by Lyx » Sun May 02, 2004 11:02 pm

Hi,

Even if i begin this topic with a specific question, i dont intend to limit the topic of this thread to just that - but instead what the title says - "the overall look of the game". This means that i'm less talking about specific details but the look as a whole. I have some ideas which i would like to bring up, but to not discuss dead topics i would first like to ask something to get a better picture of what you're aiming for.

In the development/graphics forum i did read the following in the general guidelines:
We aim for realistic and original feel on graphics with quality comparable to commercial releases. I've noticed that browsing trough animal-books, architecture, history, art-history and contemporary art helps finding inspiration and new ideas, and of course movies, games, books and comics of sci-fi genre.
What exactly is meant with "realistic and original feel" and "comparable to commercial releases"?

I'm asking because one of the things which i liked most about orion 1 and 2, and which i missed in moo3, was that slight fantasy-art touch in the graphics. It did look sci-fi but at the same time it had a fantasy-touch. Imho, this did give the game a more personal and individual look - it made it feel more "organic" - as i mentioned already in another thread, that was imho one of the reasons why in orion 1 and 2 it didn't feel like that you're just on a computer-terminal and moving "numbers" around. Instead, it felt like a living universe with real "organic" lifeforms. The fantasy-influence imho also resulted in giving an instant feel of the "culture" of the different races(just like art often is the expression of culture in the real world).

Contrary to that, most "modern" nowadays games shoot for a more "synthetic", "computerized" and "shiny" look which may be "in the trend" but also feels very impersonal.

So, are you aiming for the look which defined the original orion 1 and 2, or shooting for the "modern" synthetic look of todays commercial games? Or is that issue still open and nothing decided on yet?

thanks,
- Lyx

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#2 Post by leiavoia » Mon May 03, 2004 5:28 am

personally, i like the sleek professional look it's already taking on. MOO1 had a pretty straight forward "we skimped on the UI" look. MOO2 had the artsy-fartsy look. Not that either was bad, but they were both somewhat predictable. For this type of game, that's a good thing. You shouldn't actually notice the UI, you should be in it. If it tries too hard to stand on it's own, it's taking away from the game and getting in the way.

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#3 Post by Lyx » Mon May 03, 2004 10:24 am

leiavoia wrote:You shouldn't actually notice the UI, you should be in it. If it tries too hard to stand on it's own, it's taking away from the game and getting in the way.
Yep, thats what i loved so much about its look: it was unobstrusive and detailed at the same time. It wasn't bumping in your face saying "look at me", so if you didn't want to you wouldn't notice it - but at the same time you could take a more close look and find lots of details and beauty. What i meant was not that i would like the graphics to bump in your face and call for attention(rather the opposite - i hate those effects-overloaded and shiny look of todays games because of this reason), but more beauty and a personal organic feel in an unobstrusive way.

And: even when you were not noticing the graphics in orion 2, the organic and individual feel had an subconscious effect on you.

- Lyx

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#4 Post by Velizar » Mon May 03, 2004 11:22 am

One of the many reasons I 'disliked' MOO3 was right that, the lack of 'feel' it gave me, the irritable number crunching and sheet looking, but most of all, the thing that made up for like 40% of 'why I hated MOO3' was the near-complete absendness of the RACIAL FEEL.

(OK, maybe its because on the Atari forums me and a bunch of other guys ran a MOO related RPG game that gave us much more insight in the races and their stories which kinda made the actual game a bit of a dissapointment, but it's not just that.)

For instance, I take the Raas. I like their history (as shortly depicted as it was), I like their stats, and they look kinda cute. Now for the entire game the only place where I will actually see a picture of me wee Raas is when I train them to be spies (or a jackpot leader hits me). The stats run in the background. Those enemies that hate me, they say that they hate me cuz' they hate me, not because of bad blood, not because of ancient rivalry or vengeance, not even a single personal 'you're a smelly, stupid lizard and you disguist my fishy guts' but more like 'aaah, we impose an embargo at you. Period.' See where I'm going?

Now don't get me wrong, I am sure that the stats do make some difference at some point. But like this, it's all the same to me whether I play the bugs or the lizards, the rocks or the gasbags, or even the over-inflated harvesters. It has no feel. It's too impersonal for me.

I want to see really different colony, ship and other graphics for different races (why on Earth would the Psilon and the Evon sport the same ships? Because they are the same species they have to have the same ships??? Arrrgh!). Different cultures, histories, ways of life and understandings of world, ways which would sometimes be so opposed as to completely disallow any agreement. Ancient feuds which burn the blood of your race so strongly you think you might actually die when seeing the dishonorable foe for the first time in 1000 years. I want to learn to love my allies and hate my enemies for what they are. Stats which would really make the feeling of playing with one race completely different than playing with another. A Senate which could be so expanded to really mean something in the game instead a bunch of unimportant gibberish. Complex galactic politics go without saying. Imagine a gigantic combat, thousands upon thousands of ships covering the sun of Realas, a battle which would forever reshape the galaxy as you know it between yourself, your ally whom you've pleased by aiding him in a previous bloodful war that eradicated a whole specie, ancestral enemy who hates you because your great grandfather ordered 10.000 of his race slaughtered at the Battle of Hrek II and his ally, whom you provoked by taking Obylon VI and generally making an overall pest of yourself. And at the very least, I want to see the DAMN PICTURE OF MY RACE AT NEAR EVERY CORNER!!!

Some of these could, would and probably are hard to implement I know. But as a player who plays a game more for its story and feel then the shiny graphics, the fancy tables or the pretty planets, it is just something which I think would be amazing to see in any game of today. Especially one destined for such glory as FO, where we can actually influence the decision making.

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#5 Post by drek » Mon May 03, 2004 12:06 pm

FO might not have the resources to have completly different art for every race at v1.0, unless we focus in one just two or three different races. Or maybe a miracle flood of talented artists will be inspired to join the cause.

I agree with the rest of your post. Each race/empire should have it's own unique character--something I think moo3 botched almost entirely.

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#6 Post by noelte » Mon May 03, 2004 12:31 pm

I don't see race specific art as an issue. These artwork could be moddable so anyone can modify them. The big issue for 1.0 might be that every races should introduce a different style of how to play the game (as in moo2 and not moo3)

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#7 Post by Lyx » Mon May 03, 2004 4:31 pm

Hmm, if resources is the problem, then maybe it would make most sense to have less races at 1.0 but detailed and individual ones. One of the advantages of a project like free-orion is that it is "never finished" - so, there is no problem in just having 3-4 Races at 1.0 an then adding additional ones slowly.

Imho, the artwork at the beginning is important, because its style and quality, will inspire the "modders". So, if there would merely "placeholder" graphics then the initial level will be low(with placeholder i mean putting some graphics in just to have some graphics). Contrary to that if at the beginning (1.0) there will just be 3-4 races, but with good, suitable and individual art(and race-histories, etc.), then modders and contributors who add more races will be more motivated to also reach that level, because otherwise their races would look ugly compared to the existing ones.
Also, having lots of races in the beginning, but with less good graphics, detail and individuality, will result in exactly the problem which was described above: races will just seem like "shells" with different names and some pictures exchanged.

In other words: more races but with less details would make the races kinda unnecessary - because it wouldn't really add more "races", but just more "spreadsheets" instead.

I guess the major problem about art and resources are the objects which need to be in 3d. Because with 2d-graphics, you don't really need that many graphics to make a race feel individual(some painted race-portrais(for diplomacy, spying, etc.), one ship-picture(which can be rotated) for every ship-class, some slight UI-decoration-changes, etc.).

Contrary to that objects which you want to be in 3d will probably need more work and polishing to look as organic as a painted 2d one(since "rendered" graphics tend to look synthetic and "impersonal"). Most affected by that would probably be space-ships, since you want space-combat to be in 3d. You could probably save alot of art-resources by giving all races the same graphics for buildings(i don't know if you want to do that).

Seems to me like the best idea would indeed be to start out with only 3-4 races, make those detailed and individual, and then after 1.0 add more races slowly one by one.

Hmm, but the original question which i was asking myself - do you want an "artistic-organic"-look or a "modern-rendered-realistic"-look - is still open. I mean, it wouldn't make much sense for me to think about how to make the game look good in an artistic-organic way, when you guys already decided that you want something different for freeorion.

- Lyx

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#8 Post by drek » Mon May 03, 2004 9:03 pm

viewtopic.php?t=383&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15

Take a look. Hopefully, Obi-wan's quality can be matched by other artists, it's certainly a good benchmark for how I'd like the race art to look.

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Something that helps...

#9 Post by guiguibaah » Mon May 03, 2004 10:04 pm

There are a few other subtle things one can do to give the impression they are 'playing that race' which wouldn't require a lot of artists's time and effort..

A few that come to mind...

1. Base UI sound effects. Clicking on a button may make a 'Poink' sound, or a soft "hmm" sound, even if the UI is graphically the same.

2. Tech Descriptions / siterep emotional emphasis.

3. 2D pictures (IE: Obiwan's Advisor).

etc.. etc...

= = =

Other things can also influence the style of play. EG: UI & Combat Music, Ship details, Building pictures, etc...

Or, my favourite... different viewpoints on historical data. Race A may 'remember' history a lot differently than race B, especially if race B "Wrote" history.

I see it as not being one big thing, but a combination of a bunch of little well-thought out things that make the difference..

Of course, I could be wrong :)
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#10 Post by Lyx » Mon May 03, 2004 10:16 pm

drek wrote:viewtopic.php?t=383&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15

Take a look. Hopefully, Obi-wan's quality can be matched by other artists, it's certainly a good benchmark for how I'd like the race art to look.
One word: wow! Usually, i'm not that much a fan of (partially) "rendered" images - but obi-wan's work seems like a perfect symbiosis of an organic-painted look and a more realistic look. Never thought something like that would be possible. *big smile*

- Lyx

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#11 Post by drek » Mon May 03, 2004 10:20 pm

Lyx wrote: One word: wow! Usually, i'm not that much a fan of (partially) "rendered" images - but obi-wan's work seems like a perfect symbiosis of an organic-painted look and a more realistic look. Never thought something like that would be possible. *big smile*
- Lyx
Obi's got plenty of talent, but he's not alone.

Check out the galleries at zbrush.com for starters.

Guessing you haven't trolled through the graphics board. Check em out, yes?

Also here: viewtopic.php?t=312

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Re: Something that helps...

#12 Post by Lyx » Mon May 03, 2004 10:35 pm

guiguibaah wrote:1. Base UI sound effects. Clicking on a button may make a 'Poink' sound, or a soft "hmm" sound, even if the UI is graphically the same.
Yep, i thought something similiar, but you were faster than me :-) One can definatelly do alot with simple 2d-images. Anyways, most of your ideas are great, but i think the UI deserves special mentioning: The UI is maybe that part of the game which the player sees most often. So, even a slight subtle change to the UI-design would change the overall mood. Heck, even just changing the hue & saturation would have a big impact. This, would not just be interesting for races, but also for in which situation the empire is..... hmm.... here's an idea:

Additionally to the standard-ui there could be some slight variations of it.... nothing big, just adding/removing some decorations - to fit different moods like "war", "after taking a heavy defeat/catastrophe", "peace", "poverty", "rich", etc. - the ui and its colors would basically stay the same, but depending on situation some decorations would be removed or added - this can be acomplished with really simple methods.

The colors of this standard ui and its variations, would then get a HSL-modifier (hue, saturation, lightness) depending on the played race.

thoughts?

- Lyx

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#13 Post by miu » Tue May 04, 2004 12:41 pm

I'm certain we will have enough resources to do graphics for ~8-10 races. We will need per race different shipdesigns (different ship-icons are easy to do based on these), diplomatic pics/anis, advisor pics/anis and character pictures for campaign. We will not do as varied diplomatic animations as in MOO3, few speech-animations per race will be enough. Different cityscapes per race as well are planned - note that Obiwan is overdoing the detaillevel in his current citypic.

About UI customisation per race - not really a timely issue yet. Sidepanel-background will be a darkish picture/pattern instead of single color as in current sketches. This picture will differ by each race. I'm not certain about modifying the UI-colors per each race/situation, this might turn out being an annoyance - we'll test and discuss this more when we start working with races.

About general feel, it is more rendered than 2d - and I dont see this conflicting with organic-feel when needed. I really liked how the "realistic" race graphics worked in MOO3, but I want in little cheese(=classical fantasy/scifi elements) that it lacked on purpose. Immersion is very important, the issue that mostly turned me off in MOO3. So don't worry - you will see enough(=lots of) pictures of your citizens, cities, buildings, techs etc. and with proper variation for each race when suitable.
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#14 Post by Daveybaby » Tue May 04, 2004 1:49 pm

So are you planning to produce a ship style specific to each race (similar to Moo3), or produce a number of ship styles which the player can pick from, independent of race (as in Moo1/Moo2)?

I would suggest the latter, since you can then decouple the number of races from the number of ship designs. Sure, give AI players a preference of ship style based on race (Moo1 did this) but dont make it a fixed 1:1 ratio. This way people can add new race or ship styles without having to do both. I can think of nothing worse than somebody giving up on implementing a cool new race because they cant come up with a suitable ship design (or vice versa).
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#15 Post by miu » Tue May 04, 2004 9:04 pm

Exactly. Each race will have a default ship-style, but this can be changed if player likes, and more styles can be added. Detail to be discussed and to decide later, can't remember who exactly brought this up earlier: Should the ship-type be selectable when playing with premade race, or only when playing with custom race. Benefit of having non-selectable shipstyles with premade races is strong association and slight add to immersion of galaxy, but then again, having them always selectable is player-friendly.
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