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hazeron with good graphics
hold on, are you guys telling me you dont want hazeron with good graphics?
(08-31-2018, 01:01 PM)Slaxx Wrote: hold on, are you guys telling me you dont want hazeron with good graphics?

"Good" is relative.
Shores of Hazeron Wiki Moderator User: Deantwo
I think we're saying we want Hazeron to have a clear, beautiful and readable art style, but we also want it to continue rendering situations more dynamic and complex than most games dare to, while keeping a low impact on hardware. No one is really looking for real-time ray tracing. In a word, stylization.
[Image: 7JQk4bf.jpg]
The graphics in SoH have improved steadily over time.

SoH makes no false claims or representations about its graphics. Even splash screens are screen grabs, not artist paintings. The web site shows only screen grabs, no artist paintings. Primeval world gives a free preview of what the player is going to experience graphically. If SoH graphics are not good enough, then the player hasn't spent any money yet and they can move on to the next carefully staged and rendered rail shooter.

As much as I avoid the use of infinitives, SoH graphics will never compete with mainstream games, ever. The scenery is too dynamic. The lighting is too dynamic. The story is too dynamic. The player has too many options for looking at the scenery from every angle under constantly changing lighting and atmospheric conditions. Lights and atmosphere in the scene change in every render frame; they never stay the same.

I dwell on this because it is the precalculated lighting and shadows that give many mainstream games their stunning appearance. With the work load of calculating lighting done in advance, the lighting and shadows become simple textures on the polygons. This enables them to render a lot more polygons in a scene and they look awesome. Shadows and soft lighting are incredibly CPU intensive, far too much work to do on the fly.

People challenge me, who won't even try the game without better graphics. I have long believed that people have a threshold of tolerability for the visual quality of games. If a game doesn't cross that threshold, then they are just not interested. My challenge is to continue making improvements in hopes of crossing that threshold for a larger and larger audience of potential players.

I will continue to make improvements to the SoH scene. It isn't easy. I have no fabulous graphics hidden under my hat, waiting to be pulled out like a magician's bunny. I am drawing the best picture I can.

If we ever started making a profit, the first employee to be hired would likely be a graphic artist, one who can wear many other hats as well, lol.
I think everyone here recognizes that, and for most of us the graphical "mechanics" - the lighting model, the technical stuff you'd fiddle with on a game's graphics menu - more than meet that "threshold". The fact that when the game looked considerably less polished (free-to-play era) it had still more players than it has now, demonstrates that, for a considerable audience, it met that threshold a while ago.

Competing with mainstream games - or big indie games like Space Engineers - is not even something many of us are looking for. If you do hire an artist some day in the future, all we'd probably want from him are a bold and unified sense of style for plant and animal generation, a few more interesting details and planetary features, plus some of the things we've talked about above. We wouldn't be looking for any drastic revamp of how the actual scene is rendered - except insofar as performance can be streamlined, of course.

I, for one, don't need my cities to look like this:

[Image: hasN8PE.jpg]
(Assassin's Creed: Origins)

I'd actually be happier if they looked more like this - it's easily more characterful, in the hands of a good artist:

[Image: Y0DSgUI.jpg]
(Asterix and the Laurel Wreath)

Graphics are there to evoke and atmosphere and convey information. There's just a whole lot of technical stuff you really don't need in order to achieve that (though, of course, other developers should be commended for their own approach).
Maybe I am easily amused, but the scenes in SOH amaze me. This game feels alive and that is what keeps me here.
(09-01-2018, 11:06 PM)xxqpxx--PMW Wrote: Maybe I am easily amused, but the scenes in SOH amaze me. This game feels alive and that is what keeps me here.

I agree absolutely.

My comments here are only for what we would improve if we really wanted to. Hazeron is more than enthralling enough already. That sense of being alive is so rare and so elusive. We're lucky to have it in spades.
(08-14-2018, 02:21 PM)Vectorus Wrote: I was thinking about this recently while trying No Man' Sky. Fancy lighting and effects aside (which we neither need nor want), Hazeron stands up pretty well, though, as Dean says, there is scope for serious improvement in certain areas. Our great advantage is that every beautiful scene is the result of meaningful and dynamic interactions between its elements. In this landscape, one of my favourites, the composition is due to a well-made simulation of orbital mechanics, atmospheric density, stellar spectral class, and so on. The beauty is "earned".

[Image: GWi0xCH.png]

 I find the fact that every planet has a bewildering number of landscapes which actually vary based on elevation, latitude, biome, and temperature preferable to the somewhat "gimmicky" (though genuinely beautiful), static feel of No Man's Sky, where one gets the sense that the beauty is contrived from someone's very artificial manipulation of colour palettes, skyboxes and terrain generation, to arrive at a premeditated result.

Now, some suggested improvements:

  • Stylization. Hazeron's overriding problem is the uncanny valley. Glabrians are the most obvious example of unintentional creepiness, but lots of things count. We don't need more graphical fidelity: we need to embrace the low-fi style as an artistic choice in itself, not a limitation. Take trees for another example. The trunk colours are dark and grungy: they're supposed to look "realistic". If instead they were solid pastel colours or had geometric pattern, for example, the low resolution wouldn't matter. Nor would it be any more demanding on the hardware.
[Image: Proteus-7-Autumn.png]

These trees are from "Proteus". They are probably even simpler than Hazeron's, but they're easier on the eye, because they don't aim at any kind of realism. Hazeron does, and it sometimes falls down because of it.
  • Rocks and terrain. The terrain is very smooth; excessively so. I took a look at No Man's Sky's landscapes, again. The textures repeat almost as often as Hazeron's. The actual mesh generation is not much more detailed. The main difference is that the visual line of the composition is broken by lots of boulders, cliffs and sharp edges. Hazeron's planets sometimes feel very "generated", like a height map, simply because there's nothing to redirect the eye or break the flow of the smooth, repetitive hills. Just throwing in some polygonal boulders and sharp cliffs here and there would make a big difference. Other "solid" visual elements like fungal growths, crystal clusters, coral and barnacles, tree stumps would help to break up the composition in interesting ways. Caves would be fun too, but not really a graphical thing.
  • Fade-out plants. When flying, or in overhead view, the rendered foliage around you has a very obvious circular cut-off. It's jarring. I'd suggest that, instead of a hard border, plant density should decrease semi-randomly after a certain point, and that vegetation should be rendered in a very basic, infrequent way to a significantly larger distance than it is now (if the player chooses). It's good to see at a glance if a distant mountain has any trees at all. At that distance, you could render an aggregated "copse" sprite for, say, every 50 trees, with a limit of 1 sprite per square km. Or something like that. Graphics are, ultimately, a symbol, and it's irritating in any game when they fail to symbolize something that's actually there, or when they symbolize something that isn't there. It doesn't matter, by comparison, how much that symbol looks like the real thing.
  • Foam Where the sea meets the land, the way the water just stops feels a little spare. Just adding a margin of white, without any particle effects or wave motion needed, would make a big difference. The water feels sadly insubstantial at the moment.
  • Rivers Rivers are a romantic's best friend. They make a landscape. Right now, we have some long, thin, bits of sea, which is not the same thing. Upland lakes and mountain streams would take sightseeing to a new level, for not much cost. The infrastructure for water above sea level also prepares the way for lots of uses in building and spacecraft models.
  • Seasons! My personal obsession. Haxus' too, I hope, as a keen kitchen gardener!
  • Obstruction. It's very immersion breaking when you walk through a tree. It makes me sad every time it happens, since it jolts me out of my explorer's fantasy. So as not to kill the servers with pathing problems, I'd recommend trees (not bushes) and boulders should obstruct avatars (in a fairly approximate way), but not the AI. Trees are concealment not cover, in any case, so the fact projectiles pass through is no problem.
  • Ambient occlusion Not necessarily anything scary or GPU intensive. If you fly near a bright star, you find the walls of your spaceship get totally washed out. In a cubic room, you can't tell where the corners are. A bit of pre-baked shade where faces meet at an acute angle might make all the difference. You could even choose which edges get the effect in the designer, to reduce the load and prevent it appearing where it isn't wanted. In blender, for instance, it's a very lightweight, static effect meant to help with modelling itself, rather than rendering - and it's very useful.
  • Stars. They're sprites, and it's fairly unpleasant for the brain when you are trying to manouevre near them. Is it hugely difficult to make them spheres instead? They can revert to sprites when you're not in close orbit.
On the whole, though, the fact that Hazeron manages to generate scenes worthy of an emotional reaction, purely on the strength of its simulation (rather than set-piece design), is commendable. I would say Hazeron + balancing + fewer bugs + OK graphics = best game ever, already. "Good" graphics are just overkill at that point! If every other game on my PC disappeared permanently, I'd be mildly put out. If Hazeron went, all the others wouldn't even start to make up for it. That time it actually happened....shudder.

If this is going to be a useful graphics suggestion thread, rather than, erm, another "make Hazeron better" thread, perhaps it should go in the Arena of Ideas?

If Hazeron could get its own stylized low-fi graphics, similar to Proteus or Stationeers or Astroneer or, better yet, something uniquely Hazeron, I would come back to the game and I could get many people that I know to play it. I've always loved Hazeron and the depth of its features and game world, but the graphics are just hard to stomach.

I saw a post where Haxus was trying to promote the game on Facebook to get new players; a post on Facebook actually brought me back to the forums today. However, as it stands now, until Hazeron gets a better stylized graphics style that works and looks amazing, it just isn't going to attract many more players than it has now. Graphics may not matter as much to the current lot that play Hazeron, but it matters a lot to the large majority of people that play video games. It doesn't have to be amazing, Crysis or Star Citizen level of graphics, but it does need to look appealing to the eye. It needs to be beautiful, unlike the current 90s level video game graphics it has now.

See this video for a somewhat scientific explanation for why beauty attracts people: Kurzgesagt: Why Beauty Matters

So, Vectorus, I hope your post brings about a good discussion and helps Haxus know that while the game does not need good graphics it does need something that is stylized and beautiful to attract more people. See you guys in another 6 years, or however long it has been!

P.S. Good job adding features and fixing bugs Haxus!
thank you jalaris, just what i wanted to say.

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