Author Topic: Quarter-heights  (Read 1963 times)

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Offline Spenk009

Quarter-heights
« on: January 18, 2015, 12:50:03 PM »
Running the risk of annoying the entirety of coders for both Standard and Experimental, I think that half heights are not enough height differences. I can't help but notice the half-heights change usually only affecting gameplay in terms of multi-level routing. The fact of more realistic physics is very positive, but currently the maps just feel a lot flatter than before. While the challenges should lie in alpine terrain and wallet management in construction, we can usually still get away with changing a single tile to enable a straight to continue further without any hindrances (in game).

The question I ask is, whether quarter heights, that are meant for vehicles that have trouble climbing steep inclinations, could allow for more difficult challenges in terms of routing/construction of ways. The effort behind this is not immeasurable, but large for the pakset artists who have to keep up with yet more images per variety of slope, season and climate.

Maybe an update to the map generation is in order, which produces a more varied landscape that features hills and valleys occasionally punctuated by full slopes and "harsh" drops. Or map generation in double height.

In essence, this post is summarized by my question: The world feels flatter than ever and are smaller steps in inclination a solution that challenges us or are the maps generated making life too easy?

Offline Ters

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Re: Quarter-heights
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2015, 01:56:51 PM »
First of all, I think the terrain in Simutrans has reached the end of what the graphics engine can handl0e. There are in fact already certain things it can't do right. Those I know of are that planes can't fly very high and some depth sorting issues on cliffs.

The other thing is some effect similar to the uncanny valley, which might be a subjective thing. As some things become more realistic, the remaining unrealistic things become more apparent and disturbing. I noticed this in Railroad Tycoon 3, that with the overall more realistic 3D landscape, it was very ugly to see trains move up 30-45 degree slopes. To the simulation, the grade was just 5%, but the fact that the map was much more compressed horizontally than vertically caused this disturbing (in my eyes) visual appearance. If the vertical scale was the same as the horizontal, the hills would almost be invisible. If the horizontal scale was the same as the vertical, the map would have been terribly huge (for both computer and player).

This scale aspect would apply to Simutrans as well. With quarter slopes, it would take many more tiles to reach an elevation where ways can pass each outer. This causes overpasses to be terribly space consuming compared to the general horizontal scale of the world.

Offline kierongreen

Re: Quarter-heights
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2015, 02:49:57 PM »
Double slopes are generated at certain map settings - try cranking height and roughness up and you should get a reasonable number. Technically I could have gone for 3 height difference slopes when I made the changes to landscape code (and perhaps in hindsight I should have at least allowed this as a possibility) but that would have resulted in an enormous number of landscape and way images being required. As Ters indicates though this would really be approaching limits of the engine and his point of the uncanny valley is well made. Really for beyond double height a move to a fully 3d engine is required, but that still has the uncanny valley issue.

Offline gauthier

Re: Quarter-heights
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2015, 03:14:49 PM »
Quote
try cranking height and roughness up and you should get a reasonable number
Just tried this. The problem is that the whole map is rough now. Map generator could generate flat regions and hilly rough regions instead of making the whole map with same settings. This could even go along with climate regions.

Offline Ters

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Re: Quarter-heights
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2015, 04:06:23 PM »
Just tried this. The problem is that the whole map is rough now. Map generator could generate flat regions and hilly rough regions instead of making the whole map with same settings. This could even go along with climate regions.

There has been some discussion on this before. (Not sure if all can see it.)

Offline kierongreen

Re: Quarter-heights
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2015, 06:18:54 PM »
Ideally a map generator would have some understanding of geology and erosion - forming cliffs, river and glacial valleys, including rias and fjords, beaches, bays, sandbanks, hills, plateaus, corries, ridges and peaks, with appropriate climates and resources underneath that influence industry placement.

Offline Sarlock

Re: Quarter-heights
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2015, 06:30:50 PM »
Indeed, double is certainly enough with regards to pakset development and ease of play for the players trying to arrange heights for bridges, tunnels, etc.

Switching to a 3D grid style like RT3 would have to maintain the same grade restrictions in order to avoid the uncanny valley... and may suffer the same problem with having very flat maps as a result.  It would probably also require rewriting massive parts of the code.

The map generator would ideally need to create specific hilly/mountainous areas in order to actually see significant elevation gains without making the map overall much too "bumpy".  This probably couples in with the many discussions had about making specific map areas geographically distinct -- flatlands/prairie, hills/mountains, etc.  It would certainly make the maps far more interesting, but is also a considerable programming task to get it right.  The loss of backward-compatibility to earlier map codes would have to be addressed as well.

Easiest way to resolve this is to use or design a height map that has been made with half heights in mind, that has the hills/mountains and valleys you suggest.
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Offline Ters

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Re: Quarter-heights
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2015, 07:27:24 PM »
Switching to a 3D grid style like RT3 would have to maintain the same grade restrictions in order to avoid the uncanny valley... and may suffer the same problem with having very flat maps as a result.  It would probably also require rewriting massive parts of the code.

Rewriting is not the right word. It would be writing a completely new game. Little code could be reused, and much of that is holding us back in other areas.

Online jamespetts

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Re: Quarter-heights
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2015, 09:38:33 PM »
I suspect that much progress could be made by improving the map generation to make it more likely to produce the double height slopes than it is now.
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Offline Spenk009

Re: Quarter-heights
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2015, 10:15:19 PM »
The idea of quarter heights was to complicate things and make routing more unwieldly. The intention was for a well planned road/railway (few gradients and long curves) to be a fast connection with high average speeds and resulting benefits. Changing the game to 3D is not a solution and luckily is unlikely to ever happen. Also, since this is a mainly European game, the real solution is obviously to make the inclinations in fractions of ten for accuracy and organization. :P

So the map generation is really what we might want to have a look at in this case. Could a slider like in photoshop programs to adjust colour curves be an addition? A simplification in the slightest sense could be an automatically overlaid preset, that is pak dependent and adjusted to replicate certain geographical features. e.g. z < 3 = 2z, 4 < z < 7 = 0.5z, z < 7 = 3z

slider mentioned