General Style - Guidelines

Discussion and contribution to game graphics and user interface.
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Trilarion
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General Style - Guidelines

Post by Trilarion » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:48 am

I want to collect general guidelines for the project in one thread. First there will be an overview and then following a discussion?
  • In the official Design document (Download) there is a graphics chapter with some guidelines.
  • ...
So, what do you like the remake to look like?

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Trilarion
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Re: General Style - Guidelines

Post by Trilarion » Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:33 am

For starting the discussion I just quote from the chapter in the Design document:
  • Style: early 1800s, authentic, water colors and pencil drawings (as in the original)
  • Format: Non-scalable, Lossless, Including Transparency (PNG)
  • Storage: Raw Format (Photoshop, ...) in the Artwork Archive
  • Map Tiles: 64x64 or 80x80 (probably latter)
  • Rivers as overlay: (maybe programmed instead of painted)
  • Tile background color: [208, 248, 123], ocean [0, 112, 158]
  • Panel backgrond color: [77, 26, 17] (are these from the original game??)
  • Resources/Materials icons: as overlay, size??
  • Battle Map tiles: 48x48 but more variation than the map tiles (Panzer General style)
So, what do you think? (btw. not really much of an artist myself :) )

Veneteaou
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Re: General Style - Guidelines

Post by Veneteaou » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:47 pm

A few notes:
Map Tiles: 64x64 or 80x80 (probably latter)
Since I'm doing watercolor/pencil artwork, the tiles will all be quite large initially. We can do some tests once I have a few completed and see what we like and what will work well.
Rivers as overlay: (maybe programmed instead of painted)
What do you mean by programmed? I'm unfamiliar with how that would work. I've looked over the assets for Imp1, and they had 16-20 transparent river overlay tiles. And somehow, they still needed to rotate those tiles to get them to all fit together. They are going to be a lot of work, but initially they won't be as high a priority as smooth shorelines will be.
Tile background color: [208, 248, 123], ocean [0, 112, 158]
Panel backgrond color: [77, 26, 17] (are these from the original game??)
I've been working with the original tiles blown up lately, and there is no one background color (except the ocean one, which is correct). The light-greenish background is some kind of watercolor wash, so there are several colors there.
Resources/Materials icons: as overlay, size??
Materials were overlayed in Imp1, as 64x64 transparent tiles. I can't think of an easier way for the art to be created, unless it's hard for the programmers to implement.
Battle Map tiles: 48x48 but more variation than the map tiles (Panzer General style)
I'm curious to know what exactly you mean with battle tiles (I've never played Panzer General). I looked at some screenshots (like this one, so I'm wondering if you mean you want tiled battlegrounds? Imperialism has full-image battle backgrounds (as seen here).

I know folks have wanted to move away from the exact mechanisms of Imp1 combat, but were there any technical reasons we would need to design a bunch of continuous tiles for our battle maps?


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I think it's important for us to talk about the non-watercolor artwork of Imp1: menus, GUI, buttons, sliders, the diplomacy and trade screens, and the animated factories on the industry screen. In Imp1 those were done in something like 3DMax and Photoshop. Do we want to repeat this? Would we like to take a shot at using watercolors for all of it? In any case, we should use placeholders for the GUI as my initial work is going to be on main screen terrain, resource, and unit tiles.

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Re: General Style - Guidelines

Post by Trilarion » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:42 pm

Thanks again Ven for the good comments.

I prefer 80x80 for the map tiles because then you make them more detailed and screen resolutions have increased so much since Imp1... Also I thought about having more than one drawing for each map type (like 2 somewhat different mountains, 2 plains, ...) and then in the map editor you can specify which variant of a map tile is displayed at each position. That should increase the diversion in the main map, where people will spend much time.

Rivers: I also thought about the many tiles you need to draw in order to make it work and then I thought maybe you can teach an algorithm to draw rivers for me. Given some parameters (the tiles the river crosses, a random generator seed for unique look) the programme would then paint the rivers upon loading a scenario by itself. I am not sure it will work but I would like to try it. However priority is low for this.

The same goes for shorelines or map tile transitions. Maybe I could invent a programme that generates not too dumb looking transitions. Otherwise I have experience with incorporating drawn shorelines. I already once programmed them for another 2D strategy game. Its some tedious work but not difficult in principle.

Basic tile colors:
Actually at one time I had the idea that we have a uniform tile background color and everything else on a tile like plains, mountains, forests, hills, ... is just an overlay. However if anyway the plains overlay covers the whole tile than the concept of tile background color has not much meaning.

But from a programming point of view the logic would be strikingly simple:
- paint tile background color
- above this paint tile type overlay
- above this paint resource overlay
- above this paint infrastructure/city overlay
- above this paint units overlay
...

Overlays are simple to be implemented. It's like the natural choice for doing such things.

Battle Map:
The Imp1 battle map was connected to the battle mechanics. Also it didn't offer much diversion. I wanted to change the battle (actually this would be the biggest change to Imp1) and go more in direction of Panzer General, one of my all time favorites. There a hex map is standard. By using tiles also for the battle map you can easily create many unique maps with only little effort. So in principe the battle map should look like the real map, only zoomed in. This means we have more tiles (smaller 48x48 (or anything that we agree on) and hexagonal instead of square). This way we could have unique battle grounds for every province easily.

Alternative: One could paint maps fully instead of composing them from tiles. What do you prefer? Would you be willing to draw a Europe in the 19th century map with unique shorelines, forest that grow over tile borders, ...? Or like 20 battle maps (30x30 tiles with a city in the center).

From a programming point of view we can easily support both variants: tile based or fully drawn background..
I think it's important for us to talk about the non-watercolor artwork of Imp1: menus, GUI, buttons, sliders, the diplomacy and trade screens, and the animated factories on the industry screen. In Imp1 those were done in something like 3DMax and Photoshop. Do we want to repeat this? Would we like to take a shot at using watercolors for all of it? In any case, we should use placeholders for the GUI as my initial work is going to be on main screen terrain, resource, and unit tiles.
I agree with you. The UI artwork can wait or we can work with placeholders. I have no real opinion how it should look like. If the map, resources, unit tiles are present the game will be playable and that counts much.

Veneteaou
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Re: General Style - Guidelines

Post by Veneteaou » Thu Sep 20, 2012 12:16 am

Multiple Tiles of the Same Type: I'm working on creating continuous terrain, in the same way it worked in the original Imperialism. If you know of games that you think did it better I'm game for doing some research, but Imp1 did incredibly well with continuous fields, mountains, and hills.

Tile Background Color: I understand how overlays can simplify the work needing to be done, but in our case I can save a base background color/wash and create layers on top of it straight from MyPaint. It shouldn't be any more work for me, and it's one less layer being generated and displayed in the game.

Hex Tiled Battle Map: I will look into the PG games further, but that could prove to be a pretty drastic increase in the amount of art assets we would need. Regardless of the eventual size of the image, I'm drawing assets that are all essentially the same size. Detail may be lower in stuff I know will be small tiles, but in terms of speed I can produce one of the large Imp1-style backgrounds in about the same time it takes to get one or two continuous tiles working. Also note that hex tiles mean that I have six edges that would need to be corrected for each continuous tile. That may change as I get into the swing of punching this art style more, so we can revisit the idea down the road.

I might be able to draw several dozen full battle maps. In the past someone had wanted full-size battle maps to reflect the status and surrounding terrain of the province being attacked. That may not be impossible to do.

I'm not picky and I'm happy to work on whatever the team wants, but personally I would like to see how multiplayer tactical battles function in the Imp1 system. There have been over the years lots of complaints about the weakness of the AI, but I would think human opponents wouldn't be making the same mistakes and it would drastically change the way we view the system.

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Re: General Style - Guidelines

Post by Trilarion » Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:50 am

Veneteaou wrote:Multiple Tiles of the Same Type: I'm working on creating continuous terrain, in the same way it worked in the original Imperialism. If you know of games that you think did it better I'm game for doing some research, but Imp1 did incredibly well with continuous fields, mountains, and hills.
I somehow assumed we would have non-continuous tiles. That's why I didn't understand you. But of course continuous terrain is much better. So please go forward and I am curious how it will look like.
Tile Background Color: I understand how overlays can simplify the work needing to be done, but in our case I can save a base background color/wash and create layers on top of it straight from MyPaint. It shouldn't be any more work for me, and it's one less layer being generated and displayed in the game.
Fully agreed.
Hex Tiled Battle Map: I will look into the PG games further, but that could prove to be a pretty drastic increase in the amount of art assets we would need. Regardless of the eventual size of the image, I'm drawing assets that are all essentially the same size. Detail may be lower in stuff I know will be small tiles, but in terms of speed I can produce one of the large Imp1-style backgrounds in about the same time it takes to get one or two continuous tiles working. Also note that hex tiles mean that I have six edges that would need to be corrected for each continuous tile. That may change as I get into the swing of punching this art style more, so we can revisit the idea down the road.
I agree that it means more work than the original. However hex tiles are standard for most good modern strategy games. For the beginning I would be happy with non-continouus tiles or only one battlefield. But I would say, we need to experiment more here.

The requirements for the battle field (from game design point of view) are:
  • adapted to general geography/map tiles of the province to increase immersion of player with game world
  • combination of different terrain (mountains, swamps, hills, rivers, ...) that have unique strategic properties (fast movement, slow movement, good defense, bad defense) and therefore pose different strategic challenges to the player
I also like the idea that the terrain of the battle map is adapted to the province a lot.

I think it can be done by non-continuous tiles or a small set of continuous tiles. Maybe one can use the map tiles and just modify them. Polishing the graphics we can later on. Heck, in case the programming should advance faster than anything else (which is unlikely) I would even use single-colored hexagons as placeholders. :)
I'm not picky and I'm happy to work on whatever the team wants, but personally I would like to see how multiplayer tactical battles function in the Imp1 system. There have been over the years lots of complaints about the weakness of the AI, but I would think human opponents wouldn't be making the same mistakes and it would drastically change the way we view the system.
Multiplayer is a topic I haven't thought about much yet. What do you mean by "like to see have multiplayer battles function in Imp1"? Do you want to have a MP battle system like it was in Imp1? If so, can you describe it?

However I think that hexagons are the best solution for a good strategy game.

Veneteaou
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Re: General Style - Guidelines

Post by Veneteaou » Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:35 pm

Multiplayer is a topic I haven't thought about much yet. What do you mean by "like to see have multiplayer battles function in Imp1"? Do you want to have a MP battle system like it was in Imp1? If so, can you describe it?
So here comes the truth about me: I really like Imp1. I mean, really like Imp1. If it were up to me, the only changes we would make would be stability fixes and multiplayer tactical battles. So, I would love to see how two players would compete against one another in the Imp1 battle system.

I'm not sure what it is you want me to describe though, it's just the battle system from Imp1 with a second player instead of an AI running the enemy.

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Re: General Style - Guidelines

Post by Trilarion » Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:28 pm

Veneteaou wrote:...
So here comes the truth about me: I really like Imp1. I mean, really like Imp1. If it were up to me, the only changes we would make would be stability fixes and multiplayer tactical battles. So, I would love to see how two players would compete against one another in the Imp1 battle system.

I'm not sure what it is you want me to describe though, it's just the battle system from Imp1 with a second player instead of an AI running the enemy.
Ah, so that's all. You're right. One could want a copy of the original Imp1 runnable on modern OSs with MP tactical battles. That would be possible to do.

I don't want this game here to be like this for several reasons. The original is still runnable. Some parts of the original I really don't like. I always wanted to design and realize a strategy game. Reprogramming the original would still require lots of time because one would have to reinvent it. So at least I will not spend time for this goal. But it doesn't mean somebody else might do it.

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How close to original..

Post by Trapets » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:21 am

How close to the original Imp we want the graphics to be?
Imho graphics of the original Imperialism is a perfect - tiles, army units, illustrations of technical achievements are class of their own.
I think we have a lot to do on the graphics side, that the end result would be worthy of the original.

When we want the game graphics and overall look to be different, we could animate also tiles (cows are moving ets.) and other stuff, however, there is a possibility that with such innovations we can kill this game for good. Personally i prefer to stick around as much as possible to original game graphics and consepts.

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Quite close..

Post by Trilarion » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:39 am

Hi

I would like to have a very strong similarity with the style of the original. As much as possible. Actually I hope that our graphics can look even better since the available screen resolution (Imp 1 had 800x600 iirc) is higher now.

The technical achievement illustrations were awesome. For copyright reasons we must recreate them, but I will jump up and down of joy if we ever get such drawings. :)

With animations we would have to experiment. Some could improve the game. But since they are also quite complex to make I would anyway wait until the development has progressed more.

Should I describe the style of the graphics I would do it like this: "Victorian era, water colors and drawings - all with a slightly modern, polished touch." Of course this is only my opinion. It depends very much on the people actually doing it.

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