Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Unhappy with lighting stuff

I did some campaign stuff today, but also tried to finish off my weekend stencil buffer fun, had a brief flirtation with shadows, and got loads of stuff working, but was not happy. Basically my plan was to be able to take an image and draw it so it only appears on the ships. This would work for light sources, as well as shadows.

It worked! using pixel shader version 3, mind, but that would be togglable. The downside is, it looked crap, mainly because the ships are just sprites, and shadows therefore just splat over them rather than ‘rolling’ and it looked fake, and maybe worse than none. The lighting glows stuff looks better, but still bad. Using normal maps for the ships is theoretically possible, but insane amounts of grief, especially because it wouldn’t work on the turrets without re-doing them all. Bah.

Here is how it looks, if you can even tell. There is a brighter light glow around the laser bullets, as they move over the ships.

It sucks, and I am determined to get the game looking better than this. Also looking at other potential effect improvements…

14 thoughts on Unhappy with lighting stuff

  1. It’s true that with the huge zoom and the possibility to slow things down that it’s less forgiving but maybe it’s just the quality of the YouTube video or me being a bad judge but it didn’t look that bad.

  2. No, it didn’t look too bad to me either

    Granted it’s no ultra-3d-gears-of-war-style but it’s a 2d game, it’s not supposed to be :-)

    (hmm… that was supposed to be a confidence boosting comment… :-))

  3. I think, it looks just allright. The visual quality of the battle as it is right now is fine with a few ships tearing each apart, but in really big battles it’s just pure chaos. I like it big, so I made the reloadtimes for weapons half of their original value and doubled the damage. Yeah, I know this changes the gameplay, but looks sooo much better to me and even the big battles are not so messy. The reason why I am bothering you with this long comment is, that in my opinion in larger scale battles there will be no chance to see your efforts in improving visual quality, because of the reasons stated above.
    Btw. you made me to buy a game after nearly 6 years. Good job Cliff!

  4. A suggestion about the shadow rolling over the ship. What you could do is adding 2 layers to the sprite, giving the orientation and slope of the hull at this point, or obe with the elevation only and use these to display how the shadow spreads on it.

    It is not real 3D and shadow casting as you don’t check how the different ship parts cast shadows on themselves, but for the shadow of another object, it might do the trick.

  5. OMG! I wrote it all wrong ;-) reloadtimes doubled and damage doubled aswell, I was dreaming or something….

  6. I like it, Cliff. Does the colour change depending on the weapon fire? IE, red glow for red weapons fire?

    I’m on a terrible connection at the moment so I can’t watch the vid in HD but the low qual version shows the glows nicely. In fact, I’d be tempted to suggest you could reduce the size of the glow a little as it looks a little distractive and overdone compared to the tiny lasers being fired. It’s a neat effect though. :)

  7. lord_nicon, could you go into how you modified those values in a little more detail please? :) sounds like a mod I’d like to make to the game on my own machine.

  8. to lazarus:
    as example take the cruiser_laser.txt located in data\modules\ and change values for damage = 20 to damage = 40 and fire_interval = 430 to fire_interval = 860. This way you casn alter all weapons in that folder and you will get the same damage per second as original, but visually you have less mess in large scale battles.

  9. Seriously, just play Homeworld 2 Point Defense Systems. That’s all the inspiration you need.

  10. I thought it looked pretty good – It might have just been youtube quality, but it looked as though you would have to zoom in real close and set the speed slow before the seams would start showing.

  11. It’s a point light source effect too so that would be additional tricky to get working well with normal mapping compared to the simply directional global light.

  12. Oh and remember effects look way different in the eyes of creator and average user for better and worse, since you know exactly whats going on and they don’t, among all the other perception differences.

    And at the end of the day it’s a game, sometimes it’s not the that bad if it looks a little bit fake, it might even be better that way. Look at Blizzards graphics for example.

  13. I really like that effect – and, like the others, I thought it looked good in that video. If anything, it’s not subtle enough. I like the idea of having different colors for different weapons, and I wonder if having them less-than-white would help with it seeming too bright per shot.

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