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The "clean" looking graphics?


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Hi

I essentially switched off CM since CMSF (though continued to play CMAK) and it's good to see CM:BN is nearly complete.

I want to understand why the graphics in the screenshots all have that "clean" un-textured look about them? It's that same thing you see with CMSF. It essentially makes scenes look flat and washed out with little depth of field. I understand that the 3D light/shadow effects/shaders used seem to be generated by a very low level basic 3D graphics engine which doesn't help.

Is it a coding limitation, or is it just that all the graphics textures are "vanilla" clean. You could also argue that maybe CMx1 also had that same clean look about it but a few good mods kind of made things better.

How can we expect modders to improve the visuals in CM:BN?

Cheers

Bull

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I noticed that the tanks, especially the Americans, looked like they had just been driven off the boat. Don't get me wrong, I think the artwork is terrific. They just don't look like they have seen any combat or even been driven very far on dusty roads. But I am confident that the modders will soon take care of that.

Michael

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It's all a matter of personal taste. Some people prefer the clean look, others don't. Some of the "dirty" mods I've seen over the years are absolutely terrible IMHO because they look like some sort of cartoon impression of what the battlefield looks like. But each to his own :D

Almost all the graphics seen at this point are final and will be in the shipping game. Theres still a few rough edges that we're ironing out, but then again these are the things you guys aren't likely to see in screenshots at this point.

Steve

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Some of the "dirty" mods I've seen over the years are absolutely terrible IMHO because they look like some sort of cartoon impression of what the battlefield looks like.

I know what you are talking about. But fortunately we have not been limited to using only those mods. Thank whatever gods rule this particular corner of the universe.

:)

Michael

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Hey, it was pretty rainy in Normandy in June 1944. So we can pretend the rain just washed the dust off and enjoy those amazingly detailed 3D models, clean as they may be. Muddy ground troops would be pretty cool, though, and while you're at it, how about some "Willie & Joe" style beard stubble on those dogfaces?

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Almost all the graphics seen at this point are final and will be in the shipping game. Theres still a few rough edges that we're ironing out, but then again these are the things you guys aren't likely to see in screenshots at this point.

Steve

OK. But there is something peculiar about the 3D graphics engine being used (also with CMSF) that contributes to the "clean", flat, sharp, washout look you see in the screenshots. It is very noticeable in the shadows that get cast for example. The shadows look very "harsh" as opposed to being soft around the edges. Is it because the graphics engine only uses basic "flat shading" rather than true ray tracing with all the fancy trimmings (like ambient occlusion. etc) that you might see in other games?

The 3D models themselves look great and have lots of detail. It's just that when they are placed in that 3D world, the limitations on the lighting effects don't really do the models full justice. I am quite sure there is no "distance falloff" effect in the game so depth perception is limited. For example look at this screen shot:

5544421122_cb68d88699_b.jpg

The lighting on the grass is essentially flat and constant and does not give any depth effect.

Here is an example of two scenes, one without distance falloff and another with distance fall off. Note how the illusion of depth can be achieved by just using shaders.

2squares-1.jpg2squares-2.jpg

Would be good if some kind of "filter" effect could be activated to maybe break the harshness of the graphics.

A few links of interest related to what I am talking about:

3D Graphics

Shading

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Is it because the graphics engine only uses basic "flat shading" rather than true ray tracing with all the fancy trimmings (like ambient occlusion. etc) that you might see in other games?

To the best of my knowledge there isn't a game on the market that uses ray tracing.

I do see what you mean about the grass looking flat. That could be due to the time of day (sun directly overhead) or the ground may not be self-shadowing (someone who owns CMSF may know?)

Of course this was also true of the CMx1 games, and is why grid mods were popular. Without them it was near-impossible to see small undulations in the terrain when zoomed out.

Are there any grid mods for CMSF? I have a feeling that's going to be one of the first things I look for when I get CMBN.

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As far as I can see the pics are pretty decently compressed JPGs which often get a sharpened washed out look.

Cranking up AA and anisotropic filtering within the game should make things look different compared to the screenshots.

I think they're good, it's not CRYSIS but then it's not the same type of game.

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Agreed Praetori, you have to remind yourself that this is a table top war game, not a first person shooter graphical game engine. Rest easy knowing that all the nuances of combat will be accurately modelled, and with this game that is the most important factor. The game engine just can't cope with the eye candy that well, and most likely never will.

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For anyone still doubting what I am referring to, perhaps these examples will highlight what I am talking about.

Here are a few in game screenshots form other games (similar in theme and scale to CMBN) that have what I refer to as "soft" shadows and lighting. The overall effect gives a realistic natural look much more pleasant to the eye. In fact, it allows lower quality 3D models to actually look quite good just because of the way the lighting/shadows/shading works.

screenjp.jpg

Now here is s screenshot from CMBN that I found that best matches the scenes above.

pvmb1.jpg

Note how sharp the shadows are like a floodlight/halogen light shadow and how whitewashed it looks. Even though the 3D models are much more detailed/more polygons than those in the screenshots above, the inferior lighting effects arguably make that distinction irrelevant, and in my opinion, inferior.

I have also got one from CMAK for comparison. Notice that even though the CMBN models are actually fully 3D models (including the boogies), if you look at the boogies of the Stuart, you will see that in this lighting environment, they actually almost don't look as real as the superficial "decal" BMP boogies on the CMAK Stuart. The lighting simply just does not do the high grade models used in CMBN any justice.

cmakc.jpg

The point I am trying to make I suppose is that high grade 3D models don't by themselves make graphics in a game look any more realistic or pleasant to look at. Without the right lighting/rendering effects, no amount of improved 3D model detail will make things look overall any better.

It seems to me that BTS took a very narrow and simplistic approach/strategy when considering HOW to improve the graphical look of the game from CMx1 to CMx2/ CM:BN -> lets just increase the detail in our 3D models. This focus on maxing out the 3D detail seems to have come at the expense (ignorance?) of any real improvement/consideration of the quality of the lighting/rendering/shadow/shading effects in the game. As a result there seems to be a very obvious imbalance between the high quality/detail of the 3D models and the way they end up looking in the game based on the lighting effects employed. I really can't think of any other modern game that uses the same basic lighting/rendering effects employed in CMBN.

If I were to consider rating the improvements in a) 3D model detail and B) rendering/lighting/shadows/shading effects (two completely independent graphical elements) between CMx1 (CMAK) and CMx2 (CM:BN), from 1 (no improvement) to 10 (massive improvement) I would rate them as follows:

a) 3D model detail: 9

B) rendering/lighting/shadows/shading effects: 2.5

OVERALL LOOK: 5

Personally I think that had more effort been made to improve the lighting/rendering effects in the game, at the expense of overly detailed 3D models like we see currently, then I believe a following could have been achieved.

a) 3D model detail: 6

B) rendering/lighting/shadows/shading effects: 6

OVERALL LOOK: 8.5

As a matter of fact, it is probably true that in general HIGH quality rendering/lighting + LOW level 3D models will ALWAYS trump LOW quality rendering/lighting + HIGH level 3D models.

A great example is this small game I recently discovered: Tricky Trucks. Not only is it a great little game (brilliant imho), but the 3D game graphics are just so pleasant and fantastic to look at DESPITE the fact very simple 3D models are used. Why? Because it has a well developed lighting/shading/rendering engine. Here is a screen shot (play it or look for more screenies to get a better idea):

79155875.jpg

Now tell me if you think, overall, that the much higher 3D model detail in CMBN makes it a better looking game than this low polygon, high lighting/rendered quality game?

Bull

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There's a choice to be made – do you model ten thousand square metres (100x100m - still bigger than most FPS stages) and 40 units in extreme detail and gorgeousness or do you do one hundred million (Dr Evil laugh) square metres (10,000x10,000m) and 1000 units in lesser detail?

The engine can do it. My PC would probably catch fire mind.

Give it 20 years though…*drool*

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There's a choice to be made – do you model ten thousand square metres (100x100m - still bigger than most FPS stages) and 40 units in extreme detail and gorgeousness or do you do one hundred million (Dr Evil laugh) square metres (10,000x10,000m) and 1000 units in lesser detail?

The engine can do it. My PC would probably catch fire mind.

Give it 20 years though…*drool*

I don't think the OP is talking about making the environment more detailed, in fact I believe he is arguing for the opposite but with improved lighting/shadow effects to make the game look less cold and clinical.

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I don't think the OP is talking about making the environment more detailed, in fact I believe he is arguing for the opposite but with improved lighting/shadow effects to make the game look less cold and clinical.

Exactly! :D It's amazing just how good low level/detailed 3D models can look in the right environment as per my examples (and how ordinary highly detailed 3D models can look in the wrong environment :/ )

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