Call For Space Backgrounds

Thinking about improving the Artwork in Vega Strike, or making your own Mod? Submit your question and ideas in this forum.

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Call For Space Backgrounds

Postby pyramid » Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:38 pm

There is this german phrase which comes to my mind when I open VS and engage in exploration of space unknown to me: "Das Auge isst mit", which is more or less synonymous with the english phrase "The sizzle sells the steak" however more visually representative, literally saying "the eye also eats". From food to cosmos... I already find the VS universe extremely engaging, Nevertheless, being a visual being, I love good visuals and have set myself the target to contribute to the further development of some of the art used in Vega Strike - Upon The Coldest Sea.

Today I have posted a completely new contributor guide to creating space backgrounds and a corresponding task list.

Now I'd like to call all you artists and especially space artists to help fill in existing gaps.

To my knowledge, there is no style guide for planet backgrounds, but since we are talking about replacing current backgrounds, unless the minister has something to say on this matter, the best guideline we can use is try mimic the style of the existing background and
be guided by its name.

Besides improved game play, as a member of the VS community, I can only offer you a place in the credits. You will be remembered for generations... :idea:

Should you have any questions or comments, please post in this thread.
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Postby ()Alf » Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:10 pm

Well, there are nice backgrounds already, they made me stare for a while and look around, even died by enemy because i tried to take a good externcam-shot with the nebularic atmosphere ;)
Enjoy the Tri p :shock:
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Postby rivalin » Sun Jan 27, 2008 3:06 pm

I think I can help with this, but just to clarify a few things;

1. In the guide it says textures should be png but should be BMP. What does this mean? Should textures be made as PNG and then the file extension changed to BMP? The way it's written is slightly contradictory.

2. In the summing up section you then mention the textures should be DDS, mildly confusing to put something in the summing up section when you don't appear to have mentioned it in the article up until that point, am I missing something here?

3.When you talk about the resolutions are you talking about the resolutions are you talking about the original image you make the faces of the skybox from, or are you talking about the resolution of each individual face? Does that mean for high quality maps that the basic image from which the faces are cut is going to need to be rendered to a ridiculous size like 64,000 x 64,000?
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Postby loki1950 » Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:22 pm

The master images should probably be png they will be DDS in game though which is most likely what pyramid meant.

Does that mean for high quality maps that the basic image from which the faces are cut is going to need to be rendered to a ridiculous size like 64,000 x 64,000?


most likely 8) with so scalability for low end hdw :wink: so you can play at least.

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Postby pyramid » Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:58 pm

Hi rivalin. Glad you are willing to help and my apologies for any confusion introduced into the guide.

1) Your guess is correct. VS engine automatically recognizes the image format. This means that you can e.g. save your image in png format and then rename it to bmp and it will be internally recognized as png. The name change is required because you cannot specify it in the system description file and VS assumes the images are named with bmp extension.

2) You are not missing anything. Actually I forgot to edit this part correctly. I have replaced this section by a reference to the requirements summary.

3) I am talking about per face resolution. This point could be explained better. What you usually would do is to map an original image (if you choose use real universe imaginary, though I would recommend to make sure that the original image is not copyrighted) to the inner side of a sphere and then rotate a 90º angle camera four times around one axis (faces 1-4) plus another two times (faces 5-6). This means that at current minimum resolution of 1024x1024, in order to get the same quality without enabling texture interpolation, you would require an original image with at least 4096 pixels (1024 x 4 (one-axis rotations) and truly ridiculous 32768px for 8192px faces. Here we have two good reasons not to use original images as the basis for our space background (copyright and high original resolution). It is rather essential (and my recommendation) to create your individual space background to use in Vega Strike. Resolution should be no issue with any 3d rendering programs.

Thanks for the comments. A second look always helps finding errors and inconsistencies. The guide is now modified accordingly. Hope this clarified the things for you.
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Postby rivalin » Tue Jan 29, 2008 9:36 am

Just one more question, is it preferable to do the backgrounds with or without stars? Does the game generate the stars itself?
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Postby pyramid » Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:04 pm

The game generates stars with low density, uniform distribution, without anti-aliasing, and without lens effects (except for the in-system stars). My recommendation would be to try both approaches (with and without background stars), compare the results, and choose the best one. Vega Strike engine will always render it's stars on top of the background texture.
A general recommendation cannot be given since it will very much depend on the density and size of the stars that you will make, as well as the amount of lens effects you apply.
As with any other art for VS, it may be an iterative approach of creation, review, and improvement until approval.
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Postby jackS » Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:36 pm

Actually, if you get near Sol, VS can (configurably) generate stars based on a map of 4000 nearby stars that we found and processed a few years back. I think we have an even bigger list sitting around in my gmail inbox, but it hasn't been a priority to implement, as even the bigger list would still only have stars in something resembling a sphere around Sol.
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Postby pyramid » Tue Apr 08, 2008 1:50 pm

A funny thing happened to me today when I ran my POV-Ray. A nice space background appeared on my rendering screen and I thought I'd commit it as the missing red_galaxy1 background. Too bad, the image doesn't very well represent its magnificence :lol: due to the small size and high compression.

Image
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Postby loki1950 » Tue Apr 08, 2008 1:58 pm

Nice one pyramid as you said funny what coincidence can do

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Postby pyramid » Sat Apr 12, 2008 1:24 am

My comp is not behaving. The other day he shot one of my network drivers, and this morning when i opened it he showed me the plasma_galaxy background. Seems to be in orange mood lately.

Image

A close up shot of one face
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Postby Turbo » Fri May 02, 2008 9:27 pm

In a few months, you'll have all the real astronomical images you want, using a free service called the World Wide Telescope.

Demo is here:
http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/224
When development is complete, the site will be located at:
http://worldwidetelescope.org/

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Postby safemode » Sat May 03, 2008 6:05 am

the problem with real images is that there exists no telescope in space away from earth taking 360 degree images.



The only thing i see as an issue with these images is all the burned in stars. small stars. Not the somewhat larger ones, but all the tiny ones are probably gonna look pixelated when scaled to a screen resolution from 1024. We have a star generator, perhaps it needs to be tuned and take arguments per-background so that it generates a field more in-tune to what the artist wants.

Plus, i'm not so sure most stars are visible to the eye with such bright objects in the view. When you get space earth images, you never see any stars. nearby really. And a nebula is sure gonna be bright.
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Postby DualJoe » Sat May 03, 2008 4:10 pm

safemode wrote:Plus, i'm not so sure most stars are visible to the eye with such bright objects in the view. When you get space earth images, you never see any stars. nearby really. And a nebula is sure gonna be bright.


I think you're seriously underestimating the human eye there, by even comparing them to cameras. Unfortunately no photocamera exists today (or filmcamera for that matter) that even remotely comes close to the capabilties of the human eye.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naked_eye
There are a number of articles on the net that go into much detail than that wikipedia article with a lot more research and results if you care to compare.

Take in account there are also some people who are very light sensitive and who can see almost twice as much detail as the current average, like me.

Even with a full moon in a big city with an enormous amount of light-polution, because of the huge greenhouse-area bordering my city, I'm still able to discern constellations of stars and planets.
And this while I'm simultaneously seeing quite a few details on the moon surface itself.

How much more should be visible in more ideal situations?
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Postby safemode » Sat May 03, 2008 6:14 pm

You aren't seriously trying to say that people see as many stars in the city (no smog) that they would see out in south dekota. That's rediculous. I dont care how sensitive someone is to light. What i'm talking about is the difference from being able to see the milky way vs simply being able to see the big dipper.

This is less of a matter of realism as it is that there should be no reason to burn in all those stars. The game should be able to generate most of the background field. If it cant to anyone's satisfaction then it should get on the Todo List.
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Postby Turbo » Sun May 04, 2008 2:16 am

safemode wrote:the problem with real images is that there exists no telescope in space away from earth taking 360 degree images.

That's only a problem if you need VS to accurately portray the galaxy, which it currently does not. Most of the VS 0.5 systems seem to be located inside of nebula clusters, where a black sky is the exception instead of the rule. These "inside the nebula" stellar backgrounds are dfficult to believe, navigate by, or appreciate for more than a minute or two. It just becomes colorful background noise, not to mention making it hard to read the HUD.

What I hope the WWT can do is provide real images of "features of interest" such as nebulae, galaxies, areas of slightly denser starfields, and a nova or two. Those can be used as interesting features for building star system backgrounds. The average star system should have no more than one or two interesting features. Beauty is easier to appreciate in moderation.

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Postby safemode » Sun May 04, 2008 7:39 am

it could be that wormholes only form in interesting parts of the universe.
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Postby Turbo » Mon May 05, 2008 3:54 am

That could explain why the game crashes any time I try to jump to the Sol system, on either of my computers.

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Postby safemode » Mon May 05, 2008 6:01 am

Sol system crashes may be due to a typo or other fubar related to having to fix sol system _alot_ to get it to behave practically. Does it crash if you try loading straight to it from the command line or save-game edit?
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Postby ace123 » Mon May 05, 2008 10:48 am

crashes in Sol could be because the system takes a lot more memory than most systems (a lot of really detailed planets units?)

When I was trying it, it seemed to need about 200 MB extra just to load sol
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Postby 2asueekim » Sat Jun 07, 2008 9:42 pm

what is the procedure for generating the starscapes, step by step, and creating the cubemap?
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Postby Fendorin » Sun Jun 29, 2008 3:03 pm

Hello

i have new background little bit colored and without "starprinted"
i hope it can be nice in VS
is representing the mytic "bellybutton of this galaxy"

I post a little picture, the source files is 65MB in BMP format i will post soon but i don't know what kind off format is better JPEG? PNG?,TARGA? TIFF?

And i m not sure if exist tool for cut automaticly this picture in 6 square part and a good "unseams" effect
but see below if you are interested i will try to find web site for stock it

i tryed to render a "horizon line" in space i ever think is better for gameplay no?? it s like have some point for orientation
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Postby chuck_starchaser » Sun Jun 29, 2008 8:10 pm

ATI's CubeMapGen does cross-cube-face filtering and padding, to make cube map seams smooth.
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Postby Fendorin » Mon Jun 30, 2008 5:51 pm

Thank chuck

this tool is very helpfull for render and cut
I will post soon the new one i made but

Thank a lot
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Postby chuck_starchaser » Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:22 pm

You're very welcome.

Note that right now the engine uses 6 separate square textures, without mipmaps, instead of a cubemap, which it uses for drawing the background; and then produces a spheremap with mipmaps from them at run-time, which it uses as the environment map for specularity.

This is going to change soon:
The new standard will be to have an actual cubemap with mipmaps for both the background AND specularities.

You might as well use CubeMapGen to produce a set in the new standard, as safemode was considering getting cubemap support into the engine, but he has no cubemaps to test the code with.
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