Increase visual quality in Fan-Ages !

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Re: Increase visual quality in Fan-Ages !

Postby Dulcamara » Wed Jan 21, 2015 1:01 am

Sorry that I am only now reporting on this issue.
The holidays are over and the real life takes me very complete.
Well, first I want to thank you for the interest in my Ages. :)
I am honored.
Janaba said:
It is great, Sirius, that you have chosen Elodea for your experiments, and it is also a wonderful compliment for Dulcamara that you did this, you as knowledgeable creative perfectionist

I agree with you wholeheartedly Janaba. :) :)

Sirius wrote:
And it's quite a shame: size is often incompatible with beauty, while maybe we could do something about it.

Yes, this is a big problem. Size and beauty are not always compatible.
I like to build large Ages. But a bigger Age with high quality is not the best for players with low power PC.
I myself have two PCs. A XP and Win 7 with better graphics card.
I like to work on XP and I am currently doing all Blender work with this system. But with XP and poor graphics card I have big problems to move in the final Age.
Quite different to the Win 7. There, everything is easily accessible, the interactions do not make trouble.
I fear that more players have such problems and do not want the situation deteriorates.

What I had in mind was to automate some things for Age authors

However, since doing things in Blender is not the easiest solution, I thought it could be cool if we could edit the Age after it's exported. Say, press a big, friendly button named "Make Age Better", that automatically builds light, without requiring to know anything about how light baking works.


This idea I find awesome and it would simplify my life a lot. :lol: :lol:
And I agree with Tach
This is gorgeous, Sirius. I'm impressed, really impressed.

Sirius said:
Annabelle wrote:If you say you are working with Dulcamara, does this means we will see your improvements inside her ages, a new Elodea sort of?

Well, why not, as long as Dulcamara is okay with it.


Well, I am grateful and open to any help.
Should it lead to more players find their way to Elodea. Every time.

Tweek wrote:
I welcome anything that brings better lighting to fan Ages.

It does seem like a lot of builders just drop a sun into their build and go "well...Age lit" and as a result there are a lot of bright..bright flat looking Ages. Most of the changes you've made to Elodea could have been likely solved with vertex painting and light maps and some tinkering with the FNI files. I do agree however that lighting in Uru is such a pain in the neck, having a easier way to do it with more options would be nice.


Oh Tweek, because you have really pretty. I tried to do my best. :lol: But I see that I'm not the best painter. I do not have the talent and would be grateful if someone would be interested in this work.
I do not want to invest more time in Elodea at the moment. My free time I put fully in my new project Alabaster.
Leisure is in short supply. How many of you I have a job on the side and my free time is limited. A maximum of two days a week. Rather less.

If it is necessary for the work, i will also like to publish the blend file.
Finally, it is still our all efforts that the story continues.

At the end thank you Goggle Translator for your help :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Increase visual quality in Fan-Ages !

Postby Sirius » Mon Jan 26, 2015 5:52 am

Dulcamara wrote:But a bigger Age with high quality is not the best for players with low power PC.

Performances, hmmm... That's another interesting topic.
I don't have performance issues on my new PC, however I know a few ways to increase performance in Fan-Ages.
In a lot of Ages, authors simply forget to replace Blender's default configuration for some objects (sometime they may not know how to do it). For instance, forgetting to disable shadows for a single object can cause heavy lag (even on recent PCs). A workaround is to disable shadows in the F4 menu (the overworld of Elodea doesn't have this issue, but I remember I had to do this at some point in ElodeasUnterwelt).
Fortunately, fixing most of these errors is easy and can be automated... Heck, it took only 10 minutes to add an option to the program to disable shadows and specularity !

Of course, when it comes to performances, it can also be a matter of number of vertices (even though Uru can handle a lot of them). Also, using dynamic lighting or multitexturing can decrease performance a bit, but they are rarely used anyway.
VisRegions can deal with all these problems and authors are getting good at using them. PCs that are not too old can handle it, as long as they can handle Cyan's Ages.
Although there are still optimisation options that PyPRP does not provide (such as hiding small objects when they are far away, or helping Uru deal with light detection).



Don't blame yourself about visual quality, Dulcamara. PyPRP is nice but it is old and hard to use. Comparing with nowadays engines, it's like PyPRP allows you to paint, but gives you neither brush nor paint to do so. Tweek does an outstanding job without these, but not everyone can, since it requires knowing a lot about how Blender and Uru work.

As I said, ideally, the author would simply place light sources in the scene, and PyPRP would take care of correctly creating lightmaps before exporting. That sounds like a tremendous amount of coding with the current PyPRP, though. That said, I wonder how difficult it would be to create such script for newest versions of Blender... hmmmm....
Either way, it seems fortunately some features like AlcScripting will be simplified in Korman, which should make puzzles a lot simpler to create.
But as you said, not a lot of people have time to spare for Uru. The low number of people creating Ages isn't very encouraging either... :?



And of course, thank you Tach for your kind words ! It's always encouraging to know when people appreciate what you are doing !



Dulcamara wrote:At the end thank you Goggle Translator for your help :lol:

It's quite a useful tool, isn't it ;)



While I'm working on improving the program to make it more user-friendly, maybe you guys would like to check the results in-game ? I will add a temporary download link to the modified Age, once it's done uploading.

EDIT: here !

Light effects are only applied to the overworld. I also included the underworld (without light effects) for people who can test it on older computers (since I don't remember experiencing much lag in the overworld).
Any remarks concerning lighting is welcome ! I'd be interested to know if the modifications also improve performances in these Ages.
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Re: Increase visual quality in Fan-Ages !

Postby janaba » Mon Jan 26, 2015 4:58 pm

I'm glad that I've looked again myself so I could see that you have secretly added that file lol ... :D

Sirius, you've done an awesome job with that again ... Dulcamara enhanced so much already, but with your improvements, refinements and polishing almost everything looks really gorgeous and more realistic right now, ... I was of course not looking, like some of our experts here, if all those lighting effects and shadows etc. really have a 'realistic' source lol, but by just seeing the whole picture in every frame everything looks just great and much enhanced and smoothed and fleshed out ... :P

The fog seems a bit too much for me and takes away some water color and from subjects in the distance, but you've answered that already before, and I believe you know this yourself, the wonderful 'ambient occlusion' and whatever else make some things a tad too dark, esp. in the underground passageways of course, where many of the shiny things and fresh colors are gone or even almost blacked out, although it still looks more realistic and refined, which starts already with the shiny elevator thingy at the beginning, and just look at the houses and the tower, they are very dark brown now, so they don't look beautiful and inviting as before anymore ... but those are just small things to adjust, I believe, the rest looks absolutely wonderful already ... I didn't see any difference in the 'Underworld' btw ...

Yeah, I'm glad that I still have so many pictures of Elodea so that I could compare everything, but those who know it will see the difference even without ... and it was fun to quickly switch from the old to the new version and back lol ... I saved a backup of the 'old files', of course, and copied your files in, and when I wanted to directly see and experience a difference I just had to put the backup in and log in again and then back to your new version, it worked like a charm, no sum files update or glitch or so ... I didn't experience any lag resp. decrease in performance at all btw ... ;)

I believe that was it so far, again, awesome job, Sirius, this your tool will be a great service and relief for many to come and maybe for some who feel inspired to try it out on their already created worlds ... Besides, just imagine if folks like you, Sirius and Tweek, Andy, Tach, Wam, Calena, dendwaler, Whilyam, Chloe, Dulcamara, Doobes, Karkadann, denost etc., everyone specialized in something, which is already the case, would together as a team create a comprehensive world, consisting of many worlds of course like Elodea or Uru or so, means more sth like an own game in itself ... Oh, wow, that would be something, right? ... :)
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Re: Increase visual quality in Fan-Ages !

Postby Annabelle » Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:24 pm

Elodea under Sirius' improvements:
I've tested the age with Sirius' improvements and it's really more enjoyable! It's like playing a Cyan's age. The feel of every locations*** is more realistic: when you are (let's say) in the dwarves mine tunnels; it's darker which tend to be logical since we are not in the open air. All the details are sharper than ever before***: the sardines in the boat, the linens inside the troglodyte houses, the objects spread everywhere, the vegetation like the water lilies, the contour of the hills, the clouds moving in the sky, the water, the vines island, the Jaroku fishs, etc.


***:
"There are some downfalls..." Show Spoiler


The bottom line is that everything that was "bright for a reason" under Dulcamara's current version of Elodea becomes completely dark under Sirius' improvements...


My recommendations:
To explorers:
I would definitely suggest anyone new to Elodea to stick to Dulcamara's current version of Elodea to be able to really understand the game and solve the puzzles but I would definitely suggest to any old timer or those with the solutions already written down on some papers to go for Sirius' improved version of Elodea. Once you played with this alternative version, you don't want to go back to current official version.

To Dulcamara:
Try Sirius' version and see what has to be reworked. There are not many issues and the main ones are exposed above. Maybe by bringing the said clues/"attraction"/buttons to a lower level of brightness will help when converting with Sirius' improvements; to make them look shinier and brighter.


And what about Elodea's Unterwelt?
Go for Sirius' improved version all the way! It's really more pleasant to the eye and you won't have any difficulties solving it under Sirius' improvements. :)
Annabelle ;)
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Re: Increase visual quality in Fan-Ages !

Postby Sirius » Wed Jan 28, 2015 2:15 am

Janaba wrote:The fog seems a bit too much for me and takes away some water color and from subjects in the distance
Ah, yes ! These settings are in the Elodea.fni file. You can safely overwrite it with the original file. (alternatively, the offline-ki provides functions like /fcol and /fdens, which gives you greater control over fog - for instance, /fcol 0 0 0 makes the fog black, and /fdens 0 0 0 completely disables it).

Janaba wrote:just look at the houses and the tower, they are very dark brown now, so they don't look beautiful and inviting as before anymore
Hmmm, these suffer from the issue Christian mentioned, the lack of sharp edges. This results in the back wall "bleeding" its darkness to every connected faces. This is fine for the terrain, but results in weird, dark shading on box-shaped objects.

Janaba wrote:I didn't see any difference in the 'Underworld' btw
No indeed, maybe I wasn't clear enough: this version of the underworld has no difference in visual quality; it's just a performance version. I didn't apply light effects (which add no lag), because I couldn't find settings that looked fine with it. The difference is that I tweaked some things which should avoid slowdowns on older computers.
Which makes me wonder about Annabelle's comment:
Annabelle wrote:And what about Elodea's Unterwelt? It's really more pleasant to the eye
:? Hmmm, technically, it's exactly the same :lol: The only difference is in performance, and in physics (since I removed the bumpyness from collisions).

Janaba wrote:Besides, just imagine if folks like you, Sirius and Tweek, Andy, Tach, Wam, Calena, dendwaler, Whilyam, Chloe, Dulcamara, Doobes, Karkadann, denost etc., everyone specialized in something, which is already the case, would together as a team create a comprehensive world, consisting of many worlds of course like Elodea or Uru or so, means more sth like an own game in itself ... Oh, wow, that would be something, right? ... :)
Well, that would really be something of course. In a way, that's what we're all doing building (or tweaking) Ages... Some of these people are already working together on Ages for DIRT, some others are working on realRiven, and there are also the coders doing a good job improving the Gehn Shard...
Although I have to say I miss some of the people who rarely come here any longer... Andy, for instance, was really a nice guy, and was really knowledgeable when it comes to 3d...


Annabelle wrote:I've tested the age with Sirius' improvements and it's really more enjoyable! It's like playing a Cyan's age. The feel of every locations is more realistic: when you are (let's say) in the dwarves mine tunnels; it's darker which tend to be logical since we are not in the open air
Glad you like it !


Janaba wrote:it makes some things a tad too dark, esp. in the underground passageways of course
Annabelle wrote:There are some downfalls but it's more the way Dulcamara built her age that makes up for them. [...] The main issues concern the puzzles which can hinder a newbie's progression a lot. I'm summing up here 4 of the main issues, there are some others though but with lesser importance
Ah, quite true. About the overall level of darkness in caves: this can be adjusted, and anyway I put a limit to the effects of ambient occlusion, otherwise it would be even darker in some places. This limit can be raised to a higher value if need be.
About the puzzles, it's true I slightly overlooked things, since at the time I was more interested in whether the effects were correctly balanced. However, the tool can ignore some objects, which is already done for the sky. I only need to have a look at the object names in Blender, and add them to this list. No need to re-export the Age.
...Of course, it's easier to see button colors when you have the KI light on. Oh wait, I didn't release that yet. Spoiler, ooops ! :D



Anyway, I managed to decrease processing time in the application quite a bit. Light is still almost as accurate as before, but computing takes only 10 minutes or so. The optimized versions of mathematical functions (such as arccos and sqrt) I found on Internet are really fast... and I don't even understand how they work :lol:
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Re: Increase visual quality in Fan-Ages !

Postby Dulcamara » Wed Jan 28, 2015 2:54 am

Hello Janaba and Annabelle
thanks for the review of the new version of Sirius. And of course thank Sirius for your great work. :) :) :)
I have made myself on the way. And I am quite of your opinion. :)
Sirius your work make Elodea definitely more realistic. Yes i realy like it. :) The sky is wonderful and he no longer glitches.
I agree with Janaba that the fog seems a bit too much. Thus, the fog is just a little odd when you walk along the long corridor at the beginning and once looking back. :roll:
In the corridors there is something very dark and I have constantly pushed me against the wall. :lol:

I also saw that you could not see the colors of the puzzle. Thanks for your excellent observations Anabelle. Everything you have described, I had noticed.So I did not have to enumerate in detail. :lol:
Sirius wrote:
I only need to have a look at the object names in Blender, and add them to this list. No need to re-export the Age.


This is great and I think should not be a problem. Tell me what you need Sirius.

Sirius wrote:
Although I have to say I miss some of the people who rarely come here any longer... Andy, for instance, was really a nice guy, and was really knowledgeable when it comes to 3d...

Oh i realy agree with you wholeheartedly.
Without Andy's tutorial I would never have made it this far.
Thanks Andy
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Re: Increase visual quality in Fan-Ages !

Postby Annabelle » Wed Jan 28, 2015 3:34 am

Sirius,

Maybe because I was so enticed and thrilled that I replayed Elodea's mainland & Unterwelt back-to-back last night so I was expecting them to be the same, when you are expecting something to be different you often think it is even if that's not the truth. And at the fast pace I'm running through Unterwelt, quite frankly I had hardly no time to stop and admire that part. I took my time in mainland though. I didn't keep on in the 2 other parts (Tunnelgang & Schatzkammern), I would had maybe see no difference with Unterwelt then. And obviously for those 2 parts I knew there were no change since you didn't modified any prp files...
Annabelle ;)
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Re: Increase visual quality in Fan-Ages !

Postby janaba » Wed Jan 28, 2015 4:32 am

At least it's yet another compliment for Dulcamara, Annabelle, that you realized and acknowledged once again the already inherent beauty and brilliance there to which I wholeheartedly agree, once again ... :P

Ok, I'd like to show you all a few exemplary before and after pictures so that you get an impression and can see that in some places it has become indeed very dark, but as I've said to one of the pictures, some might deem this even more elegant, I myself prefer fresh and warm colors and shiny stuff even in caves underground lol ... However, everything looks nevertheless much more realistic, substantial and polished and as you've said, Sirius, everything can be adjusted to everyone's liking and preference, which is just wonderful ... :)

Show Spoiler
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Re: Increase visual quality in Fan-Ages !

Postby dendwaler » Wed Jan 28, 2015 6:34 am

hi Sirius , i am very happy to see you still discover so many possibilities to improve agebuilding quality!

I will give it a try soon in my own builds to see i can use it or not.

Oh and in case you did not read it yet.
Read the roadmap http://www.blender.org/press/18-anticipated-blender-development-projects-of-2015/
for Blender for what is up for the coming year.

It involves Ao and real time lightning for the game engine, but because its open it might give you an impressiion on how its done.
The next realease of blender (only weeks away) will support a stereo view! I am very curious to that.
bye
Those wonderfull Worlds are called " Ages" , because that is what it takes to build one.

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Watch my latest Video Or even better..... watch the Cathedral's Complete Walkthrough made by Suleika!
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