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Graphical feedback

Discussion in 'Release 7 Feedback' started by Lord_Darkmoon, Jun 27, 2014.

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  1. Lord_Darkmoon

    Lord_Darkmoon Avatar

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    After reading that the devs plan to "improve visual quality ... until we have highly competitive visuals" I thought about what graphical elements would need improvement. We all know that the faces of people in the game need tweaking as well as their hair and of course animations. But as I was looking at the screen I thought that there are indeed some things I noticed that could be improved.


    1. The sky - I wrote in some other thread that the sky we have now looks like a flat animated texture and clouds look more like fog. There are some really great Unity assets that could improve the sky with realistic looking 3D clouds etc. I think this could significantly improve the visual quality of the game.

    Unity 3D cloud asset:
    [​IMG]



    2. Also I think that one of the problems are the trees and plants. Some of the trees and bushes as well as grass do look really strange. Could it be that some of the plants are not affected by lighting and shadowing?

    [​IMG]

    3. More plants - I think there needs to be much more plants and more dense grass/flowers as well as maybe some rocks and roots on the ground. Some of the areas in SotA do not look very detailed and I think that such elements could enhance the game. Also I think that there should be more objects in houses, on balconies etc. Depth of field could also add to the visual quality.
    As an example just compare those two screenshots (both Unity engine), on both there is not much going on, yet still both create a totally different atmosphere:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    4. Laser cut edges - I realized this while looking at the screenshot below and also someone else mentioned it some time ago. The castle in the screenshot has laser cut edges in corners as well as on every stone. This doesn't look natural at all. And this is the case with many buildings and objects. Many objects and also landscapes look a bit too symmetric and angular.

    [​IMG]


    5. Water – The water looks ugly – sorry. But it doesn't even look like water at all, more like oil or something like that. So I hope that the devs will use another water system for the game. There are so many cool water assets for Unity, Triton for example. This could also enhance the look of the game.

    Unity Triton water asset:
    [​IMG]

    6. Shadowing - Sometimes I think that shadows are not pronounced enough or are missing at all? More pronounced shadows could enhance the game.

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Kleshar

    Kleshar Avatar

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    Wow, we've the same ideas :p . We've been talking about the same things (water+skyboxes) for months. ^^

    Take for example Frontiers, the game on kickstarter:



    ^ ^ ^ Go to 2:20

    this is what we've been talking until now. Basically, the sky in Frontiers is alive: that's exactly what SOTA is missing right now. (and I'm talking about the colour palette not about the bloom effect). The same argument can be done for the black-oiled water.

    p.s.: triton package has an outstanding water asset D: Also, the sky in that pic is better than the one we've now even if, like I guess, it isn't related to the the asset itself :S
     
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  3. Findibus

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    Of all the improvements you mentioned, clouds and water will take the immersion a long way. The other stuff needs improving (and I would love to see more brush), but those two things would really look fantastic.
     
  4. Bubonic

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    good notes and suggestions
     
  5. Carlin the Druid Archer

    Carlin the Druid Archer Avatar

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    I tend to agree, the environments seem a bit bare - I want outdoor scenes to feel more lush and detailed.

    I posted a long while back about the lack of atmosphere in the taverns and I think my opinion on that remains.

    Hopefully just and alpha thing though! Otherwise, loving the progress... nice work team Port!
     
  6. Sir Seir

    Sir Seir Avatar

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    Great examples and direction, Darkmoon! Hopefully they will continue to improve these kinds of things even if it's only during the polish releases.
     
  7. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer Ambassador

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    1. Absolutesly and we definitely will improve it. I think we just got things far enough along that we quit noticing it. Weather changes effects is also on the list as well so we will definitely be revisiting the sky elements.

    2. Known issue that our new tech artist is tackling right now. There are some issues with lighting and bill boarding that started causing problems when we switched to the new lighting model. These will definitely get addressed in short order. :)

    3. Oh God, you pulled shots from our generic plains and road encounter scene. I HATE that scene and swear I will find a way to replace it with something not totally crappy! :p We definitely can do better. The screen shots you showed has a LOT of vegetation and it is tough to pull that off in a real, MMO game. Even in the best wilderness scenes, they tend to use tricks like large plants blocking view of further small vegetation so you can keep cull distances down and grass densities high. Ferns are your friends! :) We absolutely can do better and that scene you show is pretty much our low bar for quality.

    As for depth of field, absolutely can do it and have used it in the past on some stuff. Unless there is some justification for it (heat, fire, swamp gas, etc) we've been avoid it because having it in some scenes but not others feels a bit weird. We can easily add it in for all scenes but then you start losing vistas. I will definitely re-evaluate using it as I'm a huge fan of full screen post effects.

    4. Laser edges. Yah, agree and we have gone back and smoothed a lot of these but not all. We'll get those in particular in a polish pass soon.

    5. Yep, we have actually switched water about 3 time so far. As with many things, we have some challenges that aren't obvious and end up destroying visuals. First, is changing light direction. Having a scene that can smoothly transition from day to night and have the water hold up visually is extremely challenging. People know what it should look like and are quick to criticize visual glitches.

    Another one of our challenges is that due to the large number of dynamic lights, we pretty much have to use deferred rendering mode. Many of the waters only look correct in forward rendering.

    I've looked at Triton, EzWater, Suimono, and a few others and all look great in screen shots and fall apart when they get into a large scale game with lots of lighting challenges, and a camera that can get bot really close and really far from it. I will definitely go give them all another look soon but this is WAY harder than it seems.

    6. So the cost of rendering shadows is HUGE. Don't believe me? Go into Owlshead and turn on and off shadows and watch the frame rate! We have to be really careful on limiting what things cast shadows and which ones just add light. As we continue to do more performance work, we can start enabling more shadows with lights but till we get later in development, please be patient and know that this is just a matter of flipping a switch... and we're intentionally choosing NOT to do it at this time. :O


    Also, on the "Frontiers" video, they are actually using the same skybox system we're using. We've added onto it quit a bit since then to make it more flexible and tuneable to get the exact. They tuned everything in their game for a more over bright with bloom look. If you do /bloom 3 in SotA now, you can get some of that same effects. Moderate bloom plus depth of field makes SotA feel very Fable like, which isn't a bad thing, but not what we've been shooting for. I exposed a bloom feature last release, I'll try to get in a command line for enabling depth of field so you can play around with it and see if you can find a value you like. :)

    Good feedback overall and we'll definitely improve most if not all of them before ship. I think R10 is supposed to be a "Polish" release so we'll probably hit some of them for R10.
     
  8. Kleshar

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    Thanks to you for your kindness ^_^
     
  9. mike11

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    One area that isnt really working imo is the graff mines wall textures. Very low quality looking.

    Sent from my GT-S5690M using Tapatalk 2
     
  10. Bubonic

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    depth of field is a great thing to add - but unless it can be restricted base off distance to camera (ie only items within 1 foot of camera get blurred out), it should probably never be used outdoors -

    with the noteable exception of npc conversations! ;)

    Other than that, limiting depth of field to claustrophobic interior scenes is probably the way to go IMO
     
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  11. Lord_Darkmoon

    Lord_Darkmoon Avatar

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    Thanks Chris for the detailed feedback. Looking forward to how the visuals will improve over time :)

    Also looking forward to trying out the bloom and depth of field settings... Maybe these would be possible as options for the graphical settings?

    Also as for shadows would it maybe be possible to have some kind of "ultra shadows" options with more shadows per scene for those with good enough PCS?
     
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  12. twobells

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    It is rather strange how the game consists of two distinct levels of quality, one level where the graphics are acceptable and just around the corner.....abysmal, usually underground I'm afraid, and thats where the graphic quality has to be at its best not the worst because players will be eager to explore these caves and dungeons. None of the dungeon's I have yet visited are of a quality that was acceptable back in 2002 let alone 2014-2015.
    The Gem Mines are particularly bad, seemingly reminiscent of a game from around the turn of the millennium, with ugly-looking mineral deposits etc. Some of the creatures are shockingly poor while others (The Satyr and the Undead) are acceptable, the Liche was by far the worst game enemy I think I have ever seen in a pc game post 2000. I am starting to get the impression that content is just being purchased and dropped in willy nilly, there seems to be no game director bringing the world together seamlessly, rather it is very obviously stitched together; take the resources, they are so obviously not integral to the environment, the ore looks like it has just been pasted onto the walls.

    The buildings are another area that needs considerable work, Darkmoon touched on the laser-cut square edges of the walls, well the buildings look generic, again.
    However, I have high hopes for the game and I know the devs listen to us and read what we have to say.
    The project is huge but it is so important to get it right and if the devs need the extra time to get the look and feel right including the gaming atmosphere then so be it.

    [​IMG]

    Beautiful, if ONLY the rest of the world was as lovely.
     
  13. High Baron O`Sullivan

    High Baron O`Sullivan Avatar

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    Thanks for the feedback Chris!
     
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  14. Retro

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    Great constructive post OP and awesome response Chris, this is the type of interaction that makes me proud to be part of this community.;)
    Keep plugging away Dev's, good job.

    Patience twobells, we will get there.
     
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  15. Bubonic

    Bubonic Avatar

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    I do not disagree with your statements, but quite often marrying styles together cohesively is a last minute task, to avoid having to rebalance things over and over.
     
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  16. Duke Lorimus

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    Fantastic Feedback Chris. I know you are more than busy but this is what makes me smile from the spectating backer seat :) @Darkmoon Great post bro .
     
  17. Kaisa

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    The cave areas definitely need some work, as well as some of the creatures like the Lich I definitely agree with Twobells there. Ore needs to look better as well. However I am sure in time these issues will be addressed. They have already made some improvements to the graphics and I think have made it pretty clear they are far from done. They are aware that as a whole SOTA isn't graphically competitive with modern games yet. They have mentioned though that that is their eventually goal. It will just take some time and work.
     
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  18. Floors

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    I'm not saying Sota is where it needs to be but go back and play Morrowind sometime. Graphics in 2002 were not as good as you remember. :)
     
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  19. Lord_Darkmoon

    Lord_Darkmoon Avatar

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    Hi,

    I experimented a bit with bloom and i think that it adds A LOT to the game. I used the bloom setting 2, so that it is not too bright.

    [​IMG]

    I think it definitely adds to the visual quality and the atmosphere. I will experiment a bit more with it later.

    Now if there would be depth of field, too, I think it would look fantastic! :)
     
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  20. Carlin the Druid Archer

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    Maybe they could offer that in the game settings so people can set it the way they prefer?
     
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