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Messages - SilverAgeFan

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Especially interesting about the Sport glove, do I see boots for hands in the future?  ;)

haha! no!! But I do want to eventually loop back to glove diversification for a second round. It would take custom mask maps on all the other models I've identified for the system, but I'd love to liberate those spider plates from the Sinister gloves for use with other parts!

All told I took notes on like 15 more possible candidates for the system in gloves alone.

As far as boots (for boots, not gloves!  ;) ), I anticipate those getting diversified after we've implemented asym boots on Rebirth.

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Hi all. The kid gloves are coming off and the diversified gloves are going on!

Today, in advance of the BIG Ri2 REVEAL, I'd like to take a little time to talk about Glove Diversification (what it is and how it works) and couch that in the notion of thinking about our beloved costume creator library from a systems based perspective.

I know when you read systems based perspective, some of you may immediately think I'm talking about anything but art. And SAF is an artist, not an engineer or coder. Believe it or not, systems informed art making became quite a thing in the fine arts over the last 50 years--be it social or environmental systems, self-propagating artworks or things that eventually become subsumed by the space around them, or even temporary interactions of a happening that then ricochet through an environment.

But enough high minded speak. Let's get down to what this means here on Rebirth and in our costume creator. Hopefully by now, you've all gotten a chance to play with some of the new content offered in Rebirth Issue 1 - Guardians Rising. One major cosmetic component of our new release is what we are calling Glove Diversification.


This new feature allows you on about a dozen different glove options to now mix and match things like wristbands and bracers or small 3d gloves and elbow pads with a majority of our existing glove and wrist pattern library, essentially creating hundreds of new costume parts. While working on a smaller project, I recognized an opportunity within the way our game engine allows for compound textures to take a systems approach and potentially open up a multitude more options than I would if I had to craft every single new option by hand.

Here is an explanation of how glove diversification works:

As you may already know, every 3d object you see in game has a texture applied to it. Every texture is actually a composite of several graphic files, stacked on top of each other. There is the base texture that has things like shading for fabric folds and rivets and a touch of figure shadows. Then there is the normal map which is a fancy name for a more modern version of a bump map, a graphic used for more detailed shading and determining the shininess of a surface. And lastly, you have the dual color map. This is what gives you the player the ability to set different colors to different parts of a costume. Those patterns you select for your tights? All of them are dual color maps. Those new cape patterns? Dual color maps with an alpha channel cut out. Chest emblems? Same thing.

What you might not have known is that the City of Heroes engine allows you to combine two of each of these in what CoH devs sometimes refer to as tricks, texture tricks, or X_ textures. These X_ textures also have a few additional options, like adding a multiply layer (commonly used for reflections) and a glow map. Things like the Metallic and Bioluminescence textures already were using these fancy X_ textures.

In order to combine two sets of textures, we have one more graphic. A mask. If you've ever done any intermediate or beyond Photoshop work you've probably encountered a mask. But if you haven't, here is a quick explanation of how they work.

Take any two arbitrary images.


Pretend each of these images represents a stack of in game textures I described earlier, the base texture, the normal map, and the dual color map. Then say you wanted to combine parts of these images in the same way CoH does it. To do so, you'd need to make a black and white graphic for your mask layer. This is as good an example of a mask graphic as any.


When applied to the two stacks of textures, the blended channels using that mask would look like this:


With this in mind, I want to loop back one last time to the glove diversification. In a very similar way, I found that I could take what were more basic single stacks of textures and use masks (some already in game, some custom) and get them to relatively quickly play nice with other existing textures in game. It took a decent amount of time and care to set the files up. As well as a bit of a curatorial eye to weed out combinations that just didn't makes sense in certain contexts. But the ultimate result is a new costume sub-system that allows us to have small gloves and tai padding on our stoney characters!


And of course since I was already deep in X_ texture land, it seemed like a no brainer to create a few custom graphics to add glows and metallic sheens to some of the options where it made sense.


An addendum to this all: If you've played with the Glove Diversification, you may have noticed the conspicuous absence of a few prominent texture options for wrists, such as Metallic, Muscular Bodysuit Shiny, and Chainmail. These are absent because unfortunately, the way these textures create their luscious surfaces require usage of BOTH stacks of textures. So it is like the game is combining one picture of lemons with another picture of lemons (only adding a slight, selective reflection to the second stack of lemons). In the end, there is NO ROOM for the puppies! Which means no diversification for those specific textures.

And an EDIT: All this is possible because Paragon in their wisdom or by chance decided to standardize how most of the costume parts textures unwrap. For example, the knuckles and fingers fall in exactly the same place on the texture map for almost every glove in game! (Except the dreaded Sport gloves which are mapped to a boot texture because :o ?!)

What's next for systems based costume improvements after Glove Diversification?

Glove diversification is only the first big step in opening up hundreds if not thousands of new options for Rebirth's costume creator. In coming issues, I will where possible, be proliferating the technique to other costume parts. We also have some more obvious asymmetry work planned including asymmetric boots and gloves which have been proven elsewhere to be fully possible--albeit with a bit of labor on the geo models to split the left and right pairings.

But the big news, which I can't reveal quite yet, is we have something really special coming to Rebirth with Issue 2. The astute forum reader may have already discovered an image or two of this feature tucked away in plain sight on this forum. But for those of you not wanting to engage in the egg hunt, I promise my NEXT diary will be all about this new feature that represents not only a Rebirth first, but a first across the entire CoH community!

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General / Re: Don't know about you all...
« on: April 26, 2021, 01:35:58 am »
In the patch notes above, I did not see the change to Practiced Brawler to a toggle listed, is this still going in?

And the other (this one isnt in-game, but here on the forums), it seems while I am able to reply to a post, I am unable to initiate a thread. Is this due to needing a post count before starting a topic, or a bug?

Farm Tank has added this to the patch notes. Good catch. The SR changes worked out by Paragon before shutdown were indeed included in Ri1.

As to the latter, I don't know the current restrictions set on the forum. I can check with forum admins.

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Developers Diary / Re: SAF's Dev Diary no. 1
« on: April 23, 2021, 01:42:19 pm »
but I need to figure out something to do with that pangolin cape because I love it!!

You are in luck!

You might recall that during Issue 1 testing, I asked for input from our players regarding which of the five capes people would like to see expanded into full body skin designs.

Pangolin made the list of the first five that will get that treatment! So you will have additional options across the whole body to mix and match with the cape, whatever you decide to do it.  :D :D :D

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General / Re: Don't know about you all...
« on: April 22, 2021, 02:08:22 pm »
I hear you! The new character and costume options have me excited but I've also got 5 characters I'd like to get to 50 before I invest in any new alts.

We are, for better or worse, getting a total of 96 slots per account with this issue.

Even so, it will be fun if there is a lot of new activity on the server as I continue advancing the small handful of classic characters I'm focused on. Plus they can always take advantage of a few of those costume options!  :D

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General / Don't know about you all...
« on: April 21, 2021, 08:09:17 pm »
...but I'm crazy excited for THIS SUNDAY and the release of Issue 1!

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Developers Diary / SAF's Dev Diary no. 1
« on: April 21, 2021, 07:59:12 pm »
Hello and welcome everyone!   :D

I'm one of the art devs here on Rebirth and this is my inaugural dev diary. My current primary focus is on player cosmetics. If you know me from the Discord, you'll recognize me from copious screenshots of things like emblem and cape pattern development, and more recently the glove diversification feature that made it into Rebirth Issue 1.

In the future, I'll be using installments of these diaries to share screens of works in progress, new or expanded features, and open up about my creative process in general.

I want you all to think of these diaries as a good place to get in touch with me regarding concerns, requests, and feedback. These are also places you can come to share your enthusiasm, screenshots, or just your love of the costume side of the game.

Know that it totally fuels me to see all the creative things people are doing with new options. As more and more costume options make it to either our Public Test Server (PTS) or Rebirth Live, consider dropping in on any of these diaries to share a screen of your latest creation made possible by parts old and new! Seeing parts in action, and used in both intended and unexpected ways can help guide me in future efforts to keep making Rebirth an amazing place for character costumes!!

Until the next diary, I'm going to leave an image here as an attachment and a tease. A few of you have already seen this elsewhere (along with maybe a few other peeks that were promptly deleted  ;) ). But I'm going to add a little more info this time: this is a screen shot of all the contents of one of three key .geo bundles that is the backbone of a MAJOR improvement coming with Rebirth Issue 2.

Going to leave the major reveal for our admins in the coming weeks. :-X But once that reveal drops, will be sharing oodles of images and insights! So definitely stay tuned. I think many of you are going to like what we've got cooking!

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(Almost Tested) Bug Reporting / Issue 1 Costume Feedback Thread
« on: March 17, 2021, 01:35:54 pm »
Hi all. I've been taking feedback on the Discord mostly, but opening this thread here for any who prefer using forums.

Please post any concerns, bugs, general feedback to new costume options included in Issue 1. These include the new chest emblem, glove diversification, new capes, the Paragon Halloween pack from 2012, and the small handful of NPC items unlocked with this update. (Check patch notes for a detailed listing of all the new options.)

And of course, screenshots of showcasing your creativity with these new parts are also always welcome.  ;)

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