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Offline Sarlock

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Graphics and textures
« on: October 29, 2012, 11:58:19 PM »
Been studying Simcity 4 graphics a lot lately:



Biggest thing I notice is the use of textures... the textures are quite varied in dark/light/hue areas, especially on the rooftops.  The roof on the bottom left commercial building has a lot of brown/grey variations in it.  Rooftops of the top left and middle left houses have a lot of variation to the texture light/dark.

Check out the front "bricks" of the commercial block middle-right.  You can't even see the brick texture yet you know it's brick (or assume so).  What is noticeable though is how it's not an even texture across the surface of the building, it has light/dark splotches across it.  This simulates the look of water stains on buildings... even a brand new building has some colour variation to its surface/roof.

I'm going to play with some of my textures, especially the brick I used for my commercial block, and see what I can achieve with light/dark variations in the texture tones.  Same with the roof material.  It adds a high level of realism by just doing this.  When you really look closely at the Simcity graphics they lack a lot of detail (most of what you see here is custom made) but the effect works because of how varied the texture is.

Check out the lawns on the houses bottom right.  Look closely at them and they are quite "smudged" yet the effect works when zoomed out.

Keep in mind that these came from a JPG image originally, so some image loss occured in translation...

I feel inspired when I see this because I KNOW we can achieve this level of beauty with our graphics, just need to pick out those key ingredients to add.  I think using more aggressive textures is the first big step.

Offline sdog

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Re: Graphics and textures
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2012, 12:44:29 AM »
what is the equivalent to our pixel per tile in this? or was this from a 3d engine?

Offline Markohs

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Re: Graphics and textures
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2012, 12:52:01 AM »
AFAIK that is a 3D model rendered to a 2D image. That 2D images (the game manages that models as "props, bat, lot" never knew exactly what was that) are rendered in-game in top of a 3D world. Like we are trying to do atm in Simutrans with OpenGL.

Here you can find lots of them from the community:

http://community.simtropolis.com/files/

 About if this community is capable of making graphics of that quality... I'm pretty sure of you all can too, but it's a hard and long project I think. The community has to agree in common textures, sizes, scales.. and write lots of buildings. But atm simutrans is mostly limited to 1x1 or 1x2 buildings, in SC4 2x3 is the most common building fundation, can be from 1x1 up to 4x3, so a lot more of variety can me made, and graphics have more freedom, to make parking lots or house gardens, etc.

Offline Sarlock

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Re: Graphics and textures
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2012, 01:10:38 AM »
Simcity is kind of a 2 1/2D.  It's a 2D/3D hybrid.

When zoomed at a "pure" zoom level, the tiles are around 103 across by 72 deep.  You can zoom in closer but it extrapolates the pixels (same as full zoom on pak128) to expand the view.  The tiles are tilted at a different angle than ours: Our tiles are centred in the middle and are equally long on each side while the Simcity tiles have a different viewing angle/tilt.



pak128 has more detail per tile being 128x128 but Simcity uses multiple tile combinations for most buildings.  Either way, we can certainly achieve that level of graphical quality with some work.  It's my goal.

Offline sdog

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Re: Graphics and textures
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2012, 01:31:05 AM »
how many tiles are shown in th images above? For example, the blue blocky building in the centre, is it 2 by 2?

They are using a dimetric perspective with second axis contraction of sqrt(2)? (stirs some things i learnt half a lifetime ago in school, that better stay burried -- before the memories of ink pens come back with force)

It's a much more pleasant/natural view. It also helps a lot with showing cities with dense buildings, since one has an almost frontal view on the facade. This effectively gives them also more space to draw. Since we view things on edge you have to half the tile size for the effective number of pixel for one facade.

Offline Sarlock

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Re: Graphics and textures
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2012, 02:54:54 AM »
The blue blocky building is about 1 1/2 since the parking lot to its left is also part of the 2x2 grid.  Simcity is modular in that a single building can be combined with different props, like a single residential house design can be shown with several different backyard combinations.  The house itself can also be placed at different locations in the residential block, whether it's 1x2 or 1x3.  It could be at the front, in the middle of tile 1/2 or somewhere else in that area.  It makes for combinations of the same house to appear a bit different due to positioning and props.

Regardless, we could easily draw to this level of quality, we just have to master a few tricks.  I think the texture variation is a huge one.  We have just as much detail with our buildings as Simcity buildings, it's just the textures that are different.  Our buildings look very "pure" (which also has its own appeal) and look more like models than real buildings.

You're right about the visual angle allowing for more of the front of the building to be shown, though when the building is turned the other direction you can barely see the front at all and instead get a big view of the side.  I think the camera angle in the sky is about the same as we use (45 degrees or so).

Comparison:

Mine: Simcity:

Fundamental differences?  I added some soft spotlights to the roof to create light/dark patches.

[EDIT]

I modified the design using a more "mottled" brick texture for the building sides and reduced the size of the bricks so that the brick pattern is gone.



[EDIT #2]

Modified more textures.  White on front and dark on top rim.




This is perhaps not the best example because it is intended to be a run-down building...

Offline mEGa

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Re: Graphics and textures
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2012, 12:43:47 PM »
Hi Sarlock,

This project is nice.
But I said myself that this set of buildings seemed a little bit too "anglo-saxon" for pak128. I don't know if most commercial buildings must be like this because there is the other paks for it.
My opinion is to have several buildings like this but not exclusively.
May be I'm wrong. Why do you mean about it ?
Set apart it, your work is really excellent.

Offline Sarlock

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Re: Graphics and textures
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2012, 03:51:21 PM »
I know what you mean... there are so many different architectural styles to choose from and pak128 is a mix of a lot of them.  Perhaps it's time to hone down in particular style choices for the majority of our newer buildings.  This particular building is certainly North American for sure, it was a very common design in the middle of the 20th century.

Maybe we should choose a specific city to try and do most of our future models after, to retain a bit of consistency with our styles.  Paris is nice  :)

With Google Street View, I can easily model anything anywhere.

Offline mEGa

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Re: Graphics and textures
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2012, 05:14:57 PM »
Yes you understood what I wanted to say.
Paris is too frenchy may be. I thought more of an European mixed style because Fabio's new 'RES' buildings are in european style, old tourist attractions are in North american or European style and my last contributions are rather "french/european" (except Skylon Tower ;) )
Some others houses are Asian too.
So we can add a little bit of American north buildings as you created (and will be created) too.
I know it's difficult to find a unique style with much mixed kind for constructions.

Offline sdog

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Re: Graphics and textures
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2012, 09:56:41 PM »
i like the mix in pak128. Just look at the vehicles, they're also from all over the world. +1 for inconsistent architectural styles in the pak.


ps.: mEGa, with the large Matériels Français thread and it's formidable output, is there any form of dedicated pak containing it?

Offline greenling

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Re: Graphics and textures
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2012, 04:16:30 PM »
Sdog
I like that too.
i like the mix in pak128. Just look at the vehicles, they're also from all over the world. +1 for inconsistent architectural styles in the pak.