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panzermartin

Improving the look of CM Normandy

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Obviously BFC dont have the resources for unlimited textures and art and frankly they have done a good job with CMSF's looks. However there is always space for improvement and let's not forget the game engine is already some years old and will definetely need some kind of face lifting ;)

Here is a list of my suggestions, that hopefully are not that hard to implement.

Vegetation

I've raised this before so just a reminder. I'd like to see some effort put in recreating a rich green environement with woods having a bit more volume especially in the distance (tree lods with underlying "wood textures" perhaps) and tree trunks coming in more variety (more sizeable, taller, less clone looking, white trunks, grassy trunks etc).

Some Normandy trees:

F0003096.jpg

3.trees-1-filtered.jpg

SL001897.jpg?size=67&uid=%7BAC8433E1-AEF3-4F9B-82D3-763CCCB0884E%7D

wallnut-tree.jpg

Above all I'd like to see woods having a more solid look without taxing the system. Also, contrast is important even from gameplay reasons. Would be nice if trees have a distinct darker color contrasting with the lighter grass, with a couple of exceptions of pale green trees. Also, grass in most photos appears quite vibrant. I dont expect a golf course grass like in CMBO but something less drab looking than in CMBB/CMAK. Btw saving private ryan has some good shots on Normandy landscape.

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Buildings

Normandy landscape will need a picturesque touch. Hope to see more pseudo-rounded constructions and no perfect straight lines. No complex balconies here so it would be nice to invest the randomness in chimneys, different roofs etc. Also, some characteristic buildings like a mill or a silo/farm would be welcome.

picture.asp?date=20030603&catalog=17073&gallery=111548&lot=00046&filetype=2

1667-3-moulin-d-ande-philippe-deneufve-jpg.jpg

A-Farm-In-Normandy.jpg

normandy-040501-01.jpg

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Atmospheric World Objects

Theatre of War has a nice range of those but even if 1/3 of them makes it in CM normandy it would be great. Most notably, hay stacks, wells, small warehouses, tractor, carts, hanged clothes and livestcok maybe.

normandy.jpg

11150008_old_tractor.jpg

farmaug17013.JPG

Well thats it for now..I may come later with some ideas for environmetal lighting / fires/SFX. Forgive my fixation with visual improvement of CM but being a kind of artist and a modder myself I have a passion with this kind of things :)

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Atmospheric World Objects

...Most notably, hay stacks...

normandy.jpg

Maybe round bales would "totaly ruin the game" because Wikipedia says:

...In the 1940s most farmers would bale hay in the field with a small tractor with 20 or less horsepower, and the tied bales would be dropped onto the ground as the baler moved through the field. Another team of workers with horses and a flatbed wagon with would come by and use a sharp metal hook to grab the bale and throw it up onto the wagon while an assistant stacks the bale, for transport to the barn.

...

A type of baler which is less common today in some places but which is still prevalent in many countries such as New Zealand and Australia to the exclusion of large bales produces small rectangular (often called "square") bales. Each bale is about 15 in x 18 in x 38 in (38 x 46 x 96 cm). The bales are wrapped with two, three, or sometimes four strands of twine and knotted. The bales are light enough for one person to handle, about 45 lb to 60 lb (20 to 25 kg).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baler

Just could not figure out how normandy hay stacks looked in June-July 1944 - till now...

57340178.jpg

?

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Yeah, but I would think this looks like 19. century no-mechanized-tec-agriculture.

I'm suspisious that for 1940 Normandy we need some kind of small mechanical produced bales that can be handled by one person with bare hands only but not hand-made stacks (or big bales which can only be practical handled with some other machines)...

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Would you have seen many haystacks in early June, though? That's quite early for harvesting hay even in France, me thinks. Then again, over here we're lucky if half of the snow has melted by then.

Fields in the bocage country itself were typically very small and poorly suited for mechanization, not to mention that French peasants had limited access to gasoline and spare parts. Occupation since 1940 and restrictions on movement in the militarily important and partisan infested areas would have caused additional difficulties for farmers.

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Hey, no big deal really :) I think the game will include even September if I'm not mistaken. Reardless of time/size/type I'd like to see them in along with some other "mid sized" objects. Apart from eye candy they can mask the approaches and offer some cover in an otherwise flat area.

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Would be great if we could have some railway objects too. Apart from tracks, some signs, and a wagon or two maybe. However I'm not sure BFC is willing to add extra code for LOS/LOF/damage for "doodads" that big.

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What about French women? Surely les belles filles would improve the look of CM more than a rusty tractor.

Ah, Wicky responded to my thoughts while I was still typing them. How touching!

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Ah, splendid pics Wicky. Especially that Renoir. Too bad he never met our Alizee :D

Time for some brutal shift of theme now..

Explosions!...and other SFX.

CMSF explosions are not bad and I like the fact that they are on the realsitic side of things, not holywoodish, but given the different terrain of Normandy I expect to see more dirt and dust following a very quick flash. I particulary like the blasts and concussion waves in this video:

I know it will take months to model something like this, just wanted to accompany my words with images.

Also, imo one of the weakest points of CMSF visuals are the burning wrecks of vehicles with fire columns looking a bit like multiple candle lights. Would be great if fire effects looked a bit like those from this pic (again not comparing a multi-$ title with CM, just my idea of more effective use of colors and less uniformed smoke columns) :

927618_20070531_screen003.jpg

Lastly I expect a dumpening of muzzle flashes and maybe tracers, although the latter are a good gameplay aid.

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We're confident that we can get the look and feel of the Norman countryside without major changes to the code we currently have. For example, the system is already set up to do things like haystacks, for example, as Flavor Objects. Flavor Objects in CM:SF are specific to that setting so pretty much all of them (metal barrels perhaps not!) will be tossed out and new ones added. We don't need air conditioners or ATMs for Normandy :D

Buildings do need to be a lot more complex/detailed than the ones in CM:SF. That's one of the many reasons we went with the arid Middle East setting for our first go around. Much easier from a graphical standpoint.

Special effects... well, there's only so much we can do with that. The Rise of Flight explosions involve a LOT of physics. They do look really cool, but not worth the programming time. Better effects for burning vehicles is something planned, though I don't know when we'll get it in. The screenshot is definitely Hollywoodish in terms of the way the fires are portrayed, but the different types of smoke are nice. And of course the millions of Dollars spent on the artwork definitely is noticeable. One great thing about artwork is that the more money you spend the better the screenshots. Which is why mainstream game companies spend more money on artwork than anything else other than promotion.

Steve

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Hmm, the third picture posted for Vegetation is eerily similar to one of the tree models already present in CMSF! Looks like Battlefront can check that one off their list... maybe I spend too much time looking at trees in the editor?:rolleyes:

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Some quick thoughts:

-two sizes of bocage hedgerows, perhaps 4' and 8' with mixed vegetation on top

-"normal" hedgerows (plants only, not built up earth)

-railway embankments

-small wood and stone bridges (road/rail)

-small steel and "modular" large steel bridges (i.e. end sections and middle sections that can be joined to make a longer bridge) road/rail

-a few "permanent" fortification "buildings"

-when a multi-story building collapses, rubble spills into adjacent tiles

-roads with drainage ditches on the sides

-AT ditch (could double as small canal with water in it)

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I'm much more concerned with the way the infantry can interact with the environment via animations (as per a similar thread of mine) than simply HOW things look. Even if there are only three types of fences in-game, I'd like to see some more sophisticated animations when going over fences than the "steeplechase hurdle" one we have now.

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We're confident that we can get the look and feel of the Norman countryside without major changes to the code we currently have. For example, the system is already set up to do things like haystacks, for example, as Flavor Objects. Flavor Objects in CM:SF are specific to that setting so pretty much all of them (metal barrels perhaps not!) will be tossed out and new ones added. We don't need air conditioners or ATMs for Normandy :D

Buildings do need to be a lot more complex/detailed than the ones in CM:SF. That's one of the many reasons we went with the arid Middle East setting for our first go around. Much easier from a graphical standpoint.

Special effects... well, there's only so much we can do with that. The Rise of Flight explosions involve a LOT of physics. They do look really cool, but not worth the programming time. Better effects for burning vehicles is something planned, though I don't know when we'll get it in. The screenshot is definitely Hollywoodish in terms of the way the fires are portrayed, but the different types of smoke are nice. And of course the millions of Dollars spent on the artwork definitely is noticeable. One great thing about artwork is that the more money you spend the better the screenshots. Which is why mainstream game companies spend more money on artwork than anything else other than promotion.

Steve

I was under the impression that currently doodads dont offer concealment or cover. Could be wrong though. A tall haystack for instance can offer significant concealment for a small team.

About the special effects. As I said, apart from the burning wrecks, they look quite satisfying. Just sharing here some ideas and inspiration for the graphs team. I dont want to see blast waves and effects, but I find more realistic the flying dirt with the short violent flash. Might be a thing that can be done with just the right timing and sequence of the right explosion bitmaps.

Saunders, the pic its from Company of Heroes, a great looking, but still arcadey RTS.

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After putzing around making a scenario in the editor in CMSF I did find that there were a few things I would like to see in the environment and I almost started a thread like this myself. I figured that BFC were probably already going to be making a bunch of changes though so I decided to hold my tongue. Now that the thread is here though :).

Buildings - with regards to buildings there is a lot of flexibility in them currently and they do a decent job of it for the basics - especially how far we've come from CMx1 in that area. However ... there are two building categories that simply can't be fudged with the current building selection in CMSF. I realize that the objective for the buildings needs to be 'generic' enough that you can simulate a wide variety of buildings but I think there needs to be three categories of buildings. The first category of buildings would be the ones already included in CMSF - square, rectangular, etc with your basic doors and windows. Another type would be some sort of 'round' type building set. This type of building would be used for items such as: Grain Elevators, really big ones for Oil Storage containers (with the roofs that float on oil), smaller ones for fuel containers, etc. There are lots of vertical cylinder type containers for storing fuel, water, milk products, etc located at train stations, farms, factories, and transportation hubs of various sorts. The third set of building types would be ... call it warehouse or industrial type of buildings. Warehouse and industrial type buildings would be buildings that could be multi story structures on the outside but optionally lacking a second floor or a third floor on the inside. They would have vehicular sized entrances and vehicles could enter or exit them. These types of buildings would be used for barns, warehouses, firestations, modern supermarkets or Walmart type structures, and that sort of thing. You could have loading docks and areas where trucks could back up to unload goods so they would have a platform of some type that was at the same height off the ground as a truck trailer so you can drive a forklift into the back of the trailer to unload it. This type of building would be necessary to simulate large factories too, such as an automobile plant or something like that.

Okay, as far as doodads go - yeah, more doodads for farms and industrial areas. There are plenty of doodads available for big cities with the street lights, stop signals, and all that. Although some random road signs would have been nice like stop signs, yield signs, or no parking signs or whatever, but the areas that are lacking are really farm and industrial doodads. The pallets, sacks, drums, and tires are okay but a few more things like overhead fuel dispensors, tractors, irrigation equipment etc would be nice.

One thing that I also ran into was a problem when making tall buildings. The problem is that you can't put a door onto a non first floor wall. You just can't do it currenly. So why would you want to put a door on say .... the second and third floor? Well, I made a seven story apartment complex that I put into an H pattern. Well I could elimate the end walls on the center part of the H where they connected to the two outer buildings, but I couldn't eliminate the interior wall of the two outer H buildings or you would have no walls on those parts of the H that faced each other so I had to put a wall there. However, as I could not put a door on any floor above the first floor there is currently no way for someone who is on the top floor on one of the outer buildings of the H from walking over to the other side of the H without going all the way down to the ground floor in order to pass through the center building of the H. I hope that made sense, because it's mildly annoying. Oh, and I also thought the air conditioner doodads were roof units so I tried to put the airconditioners on the roofs of my big apartment complexes but the AC units just ended up on the ground floor :(.

Oh, and I would still like to see castles in Normandy - it would be like having a cherry on top of the chocolate sunday that will be CM Normandy.

edited to add: Oh yeah, structures like cathedrals should be several stories tall but not have interior floors. Government buildings often have spacious interiors too - like San Francisco city hall with a high vaulted ceiling and a grand stairway at the entrance. Train Stations are another example. There was something else that I was going to add but "poof" it has escaped my mind :)

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Oh yeah, for effects I think the most significant effect that is lacking is star shells. Without star shells night combat is really ... dare I say it :)? Yeah, night combat is broken without star shells. Now I'm sure there are a lot of technical hurdles to put an object floating above the battlefield since we haven't seen any items of that nature yet in any CM game to date so I've long since accepted their absence. But yeah, Star Shells. I can't even imagine trying to do a Pacific theater CM without them (not that anything is planned for the pacific mind you - but since Japanese actively trained for and doctrinally encouraged night attacks it would be a painful absence in that theater).

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