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    Nathaniel3W
  Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:46 pm
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Location: Washington, DC
So a long time ago I came in here with some really crappy mountains on my world map and I was wondering what I should do about it. I tried using a mountain pack from the Unity Asset store, but it didn't give me quite what I wanted. For one thing, I didn't have the original textures for those mountains so I couldn't blend them into my existing landscapes. And I didn't have splat maps for them, so I was dependent on the single texture that each mountain was covered in, and as I scaled up the mountains they got blurrier. And they were just kind of an inconvenient shape and scale for what I needed.

Eventually I tried out World Machine and started making entire levels there. But that takes a long time. And when I import the World Machine level into UE3, I have to do a lot of touch-up to make it playable anyway.

What I needed was the speed and convenience of placing features in the game editor, but with all the detail and control of what I can get from World Machine. I want to be able to scale features to any size without worrying about mismatched texture density. And I want to have all of the original textures so that I can put them into the landscape editor and have everything match. And so today I put together everything that I've learned about World Machine and made these:

Image

Those are four meshes ranging from about 1500-1800 triangles, with 1024x1024 normal maps that give sufficient detail. (And you'll never know how low-poly they are in my game, which will have kind of a faraway tactical camera.) The shader blends three textures together according to a splat map for each mesh. And with a little bit of shader magic, I made the scale of the textures independent of the scale of the mountains, so I can scale them up or down and the textures stay the same size. (The big green valley is actually just the foot of a mountain offscreen that I blew up really big.) Any time I want a new landscape palette or textures, I keep the same splat maps and just change the textures they use. And I can load those textures into the UE3 landscape tool and hand-draw any details I want, and it all looks perfectly blended. If I want a new mountain shape, I already have a template saved in World Machine, and I can crank out more with very little effort.

It feels good to get something done that I know will help me to do stuff better and faster.

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    Nathaniel3W
  Tue Aug 29, 2017 7:37 am
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Splat maps blending some cartoonier textures on the mountains, plus some hills that I covered up with trees, so you can't see those, but I promise they look great. :sad: Triplanar projection and constant-scale texturing on everything made of grass, dirt, rock, or water, so you can scale it up or down, and everything stays consistent.

Image

And that is the most complicated water shader I've ever done.

Image

That's over 300 instructions to make the water flow in 8 different directions or just sit there, to get the normal vector and blend the flow based on which way is downhill, to switch to a waterfall when the surface is steep, to reflect the sun and the sky (simulated, because as you can see in the top gif, there is no sun or sky), to fade the opacity near the edges, to distort the shallows, to displace the pixels with a combined normal map and bump map (bump saved in the alpha channel of the normal to reduce total texture count) and animate the displacement to simulate waves.

In my earlier builds, a lot of people complained about inconsistent art direction and 3D backgrounds that clash with the 2D characters. Hopefully now I have the right look to make a bunch of cartoony 2D sprites feel at home. And hopefully now that I have the right building blocks for the world, I can crank out better-looking levels faster. The pixel-density difference between the characters and the world will still be an issue, but I'm just going to have to press on.

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    ZenVirZan
  Tue Aug 29, 2017 8:09 am
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Nathaniel3W wrote:
The pixel-density difference between the characters and the world will still be an issue, but I'm just going to have to press on.
Try rendering the background at a similar resolution to what the sprites use.
Pokemon D/P/P pulled it off, and they didn't even use the same res either.


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    Nathaniel3W
  Tue Aug 29, 2017 8:15 am
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ZenVirZan wrote:
Nathaniel3W wrote:
The pixel-density difference between the characters and the world will still be an issue, but I'm just going to have to press on.
Try rendering the background at a similar resolution to what the sprites use.
Pokemon D/P/P pulled it off, and they didn't even use the same res either.


Thanks for the advice! I wonder how I can do that... I tried earlier with reducing the texture resolution and then forcing the game to use the nearest color instead of interpolating. I haven't tried that in a while though. Maybe there's something I haven't thought of. Maybe there's a post-process effect I could use...

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    Xilef
  Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:03 pm
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Nathaniel3W wrote:
Thanks for the advice! I wonder how I can do that... I tried earlier with reducing the texture resolution and then forcing the game to use the nearest color instead of interpolating. I haven't tried that in a while though. Maybe there's something I haven't thought of. Maybe there's a post-process effect I could use...

Post-process down-scaling does not work; I wrote a shader for RPG Maker VX Ace a while ago to do this (and later MV).

The problem is that if you're down-sampling 2x then you've got yourself 4 pixels (2x2 grid) fighting over 1 pixel, so that 1 pixel blinks constantly if the camera moves even slightly - adjusting the pixel boundary. If you decide to smoothly interpolate the pixels instead of having them fight, then you'll end up with a blurry mess. Don't even think about using post-processing to down-sample anything more than a static-image, its more trouble than you imagine.

If you're going to lower the texture resolution and use nearest-neighbour sampling, then you should probably attempt to go after the PS1-style aesthetic and use affine texture mapping and a lower-resolution buffer.

I think what I'd try is up-scaling the sprites to match the background. I've already mentioned a few times the billboarding problem, that would solve the disconnected-style.
Try Waifu2x on your sprites and see how they look in-game: http://waifu2x.udp.jp/


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    BizarreMonkey
  Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:38 pm
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So I spent most of today and a lot of an earlier day on it but I made a large performance update for PFC, which was sorely needed.


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    Hybrida
  Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:46 pm
••••••• Ultra Ego Maniac •••••••
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I added a character selection screen for Omega Force Hybrida. I added a new battle mode, and boss battle mode. Although the artwork is inadequate, my animations and SFX are epic.

Currently I'm trying to balance a character named Alice Veen. She's an Angel/Demon. Alice can transform into a demon or an Angel mid battle. Her entire move set, attribute, and appearance changes. I believe she's overpowered in demon form. I may apply slip damaged to her in demon form. 5% HP every turn sounds about right. Oddly enough Alice is the narrator of the story and only playable in battle mode.

(Unfortunately I can't screenshot. Photobucket is lame...)

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    BizarreMonkey
  Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:41 am
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Been having fun working on Fantasia and it's rather minimal as it stands, but intriguing mechanics.


Having fun developing the story and characters, too.


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    Nathaniel3W
  Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:49 pm
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New starting town. Trying to get the lighting right.

Image
Image
Image

I'm also trying to bake the lighting, but it's crashing my editor. The error message is completely meaningless to me, but if I had to guess I would take a look at my lightmap UVs. Maybe some of those are messed up and the toggleable lights don't like that.

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    BizarreMonkey
  Sat Sep 16, 2017 6:33 pm
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D'awww, i like that. Make me think of Warcraft II. Everything is so cozy looking!

I've been doing some minor (so far) updates to PFC, Soulcatchers are getting better AI in the next build, and will be a fair bit more dangerous, their appearance is also receiving an update.
Image
After a couple concepts and such, this is how it's gone.


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    Sated
  Sat Sep 16, 2017 11:28 pm
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Location: Manchester, England
That looks great Nathaniel.

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