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The "clean" looking graphics?


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The core of the issue (and what really causes the "clean" look I originally referred to) has to do with the LIGHTING in the game and the way it makes everything look sharp, less featured and whitewashed.

Fully agree. The lighting is too harsh, and the shadows are too hard (and can look nasty). The problem I guess is that it relies on one programmer getting around to tweaking/adjusting/rewriting the good-enough code while there's a pile of other more urgent things to do. So all the texture artists can do is try to make the textures look as good as the current engine can display, which hopefully we are doing. With luck, one day a patch will suddenly change the rendering for the better; I can't see it changing for the initial release. Would love to be wrong.

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We've had discussions internally whether we're supposed to be shooting for art that looks like reality or art that matches player expectations based twenty years of washed-out grainy war movies. Compare a photo still from Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brother to any sunny day Google Earth Street View shot of Normandy. Hey! Green grass is actually green! Blue sky is actually blue! Who would've imagined! What people are complaining about as 'clean' is actually real-world coloring. If you knock back the saturation on everything by 2/3rds and spike the contrast then you'll find yourself comportably in 'movie reality' color zone.

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We've had discussions internally whether we're supposed to be shooting for art that looks like reality or art that matches player expectations based twenty years of washed-out grainy war movies. Compare a photo still from Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brother to any sunny day Google Earth Street View shot of Normandy. Hey! Green grass is actually green! Blue sky is actually blue! Who would've imagined! What people are complaining about as 'clean' is actually real-world coloring. If you knock back the saturation on everything by 2/3rds and spike the contrast then you'll find yourself comportably in 'movie reality' color zone.

Just about every WW2 themed game sees this same complaint and imho it is about as silly as requesting the game to be in grainy black and white.

Not to say there can't be improvements to shading and whatnot. World of Tanks has some very good looking effects that take the look of tanks an extra mile.

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If you knock back the saturation on everything by 2/3rds and spike the contrast then you'll find yourself comportably in 'movie reality' color zone.

Is there any way this can be done effectively by the user? Or is this realistically in the hands of the developers?

I can only imagine how badly you're chomping at the bit to satisfy your mod cravings on this one...

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Yeah but have you ever thought that there is actually a reason why visuals in retro themed games and movies dont look 100% real? Because we are not visually connected with the 40s via HD video cameras and 20MP digital photos. We'll never be. We are more familiar with the sepia tone, grainy photos/docus. So, a very realsitic approach on the graphics defeats any atmosphere and connection with what is going on.

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Is there any way this can be done effectively by the user? Or is this realistically in the hands of the developers?

Well, if you own Photoshop and you know how to batch process files. A simpler solution to do would be to lay off the war movies for awhile and wander the back roads of Normandy in Google Earth Street view, accustom your brain to what reality really looks like. I don't mean that as a knock, I joked recently that its hard making this game in the depths of winter because you forget what green grass and leaves on trees look like! :)

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Or take a walking tour of same. My experience with rural France is limited to the Loire Valley, but I've toured the Ardennes and it really gave me a feel for what a hellish place that was to fight in in spite of the picture postcard charm of the towns in peacetime.

I remember walking into a dense stand of young pines near Buccholz (along the KG Peiper advance route) to answer nature and stumbling across a little plaque in memory of a US captain who had died on that spot 45 years earlier.

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Yeah but have you ever thought that there is actually a reason why visuals in retro themed games and movies dont look 100% real? Because we are not visually connected with the 40s via HD video cameras and 20MP digital photos. We'll never be. We are more familiar with the sepia tone, grainy photos/docus. So, a very realsitic approach on the graphics defeats any atmosphere and connection with what is going on.

And speaking of WW2 film convention: Sounds should travel at the speed of light!

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Well, if you own Photoshop and you know how to batch process files. A simpler solution to do would be to lay off the war movies for awhile and wander the back roads of Normandy in Google Earth Street view, accustom your brain to what reality really looks like. I don't mean that as a knock, I joked recently that its hard making this game in the depths of winter because you forget what green grass and leaves on trees look like! :)

No thanks...I'm more than happy with what y'all have done with the game as it is...it really does look amazing and, according to the flood of information from the AARs to date, it's got incredible gameplay! Well done!!

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But as Battlefront said somewhere above (and I can appreciate the obvious) increasing the viewing elevation and maintaining clear contour definitions is not simple. I would just really like 3 to have a better perspective of elevation.

The ultimate, to me, would be a function key that let you toggle contours on and off -- they'd show as bands of elevation or depression superimposed over the 3D map. Another good method is the "area LOS" toggle from games like Conquest of the Aegean and Battles from the Bulge -- you select a spot on the map, toggle the function, and every bit of terrain that can be "seen" from that point is highlighted wherever it is on the map.

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Hi Marco. Long time since I heard your name, back in the glory days of CMBO, one of the best modders there was!

When I first titled and started this thread, I guess I wasn't exactly able to put my finger on exactly what it is about the CMBN graphics that kind of annoyed me. I did use the phrase "clean" looking graphics, and yes some of the textures do look a bit too clean (as in not dusty/dirty). I also used the word "clean" to refer to the clean sharp edges to everything, in particular the shadows.

But I realise now that any "clean" looking textures aren't really at the core of what gives CMBN a look and feel that is really not to far removed from what we had in CMx1 (and far removed from other modern games).

The core of the issue (and what really causes the "clean" look I originally referred to) has to do with the LIGHTING in the game and the way it makes everything look sharp, less featured and whitewashed. This is what makes even dirty textures look "clean" or even highly detailed 3D models look simple and flat and their edges and shadows razor sharp, because that is what basic simple direct lighting does. It's like an infinitely large halogen floodlight drenching the battlefield, whitewashing textures on detailed 3D objects so that both subtle colour and shade differences in the textures and fine detailed shapes in the 3D model become indistinguishable, all the time casting harsh sharp shadows. It essentially makes the environment look overexposed, flat and clean, less 3D and more 2D.

The bottom line is that had more effort gone in to the lighting/rendering system employed in CMBN (at the expense of highly detailed 3D models and even fancy textures (modders would attack the textures anyway)), I am sure the whole look and feel of the game would be completely different, in a better way.

Regardless of what 3D models you use or what textures you put on them, the most critical element to how a 3D game/environment/scene looks ultimately is the lighting/rendering system used.

I think Lt Bull is right about the lighting. I recall a discussion years ago in relation to the use of CGI vs models in movies. I think the discussion was in relation to the CGI graphics used in Babylon 5. Even though the space ship models were awesome, there were some complaints that the graphics looked too clean:

b5epsilon.jpg

The problem was lighting. One of the reasons models were still being used in movies is that real world lighting is so complex. Everything that reflects light (that is everything you can see that isn't perfectly black) is a light source. So every real world scene has millions of light sources. Also objects of different colours reflect and absorb different wave lengths of light, etc.

There are also some odd things going on in the brain when it interprets a scene. For example, a black object outside on a sunny day is actually brighter than a white object seen in a dimly lit room. So GCI lighting is not merely a question of calculating how much light is reflected from an object and assigning a brightness value to it. It's about creating a two dimensional image corresponds to a real world scene.

I don't understand much about computer graphics but I understand the DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 video cards have hardware that solves some of these problems. I imagine it would take a lot of programming hours to implement these lighting solutions.

Having said all that, I like the way the game looks. I hadn’t even heard of combat missions until 24 December 2010. For years I have wasted so much time and money on RTS wargames. I wanted a turn based wargame. I had reinstalled Steel Panthers and was grumbling about the graphics (wondering why no one had made a 21st Century version). So I used the Google machine and found this: http://www.battlefront.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=274&Itemid=457

I was so excited I almost wet myself. I don’t care that CMBfN doesn’t look like call of duty black ops. CMBfN has little people in it, and tanks and guns and terrain. I don’t care that a CMBfN tree doesn’t look like the trees outside my window (which are eucalyptus trees by the way). I wouldn’t even care if the Tiger tanks looked like M48s with stick on fibreglass mudguards. CMBfN is a game and I intend to play it with my brain. But (as a Steel Panthers veteran) I think the game looks awesome and I would like to say a big thank you to Battlefront for making this game for me.

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Lovely spaceship graphic! Reminds me how much it would be fun to see a weird version of CM - like the previously mentioned CM:ZOMBIES or an Orson-esqe "War of the Worlds" with WW2 technology battling the tripod Martians.

Has no one else noticed the irony of a game being dissected and discussed as if we were tasked with solving a really serious situation - like the nuclear power plant crisis in Japan?

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Reminds me how much it would be fun to see a weird version of CM

A couple days ago my graphics card decided to crap out on me and for awhile the interior walls of one building was made up of brightly colored tiny cascading images, Matrix-like. It was cool. :D

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The only aspect I don't like is from a distance it looks like WWII fought on a golf course. Very smooth surface, I have to go down to the surface and remind myself there are doodads there:) But as Steve put well the pixel limitation gives us a limited view and not a big deal for me. I imagine when CM2 goes to snow terrain it will be outstanding. I especially enjoyed CMBB with the snow coming down for added immersion. Snow camo stugs sitting in the snow waiting to pounce!

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Agree with the snow battles looking good.

Nearly all my favourite ops/battles were Eastern front in the snow so I am definitely looking forward to winter weather.

It was mentioned earlier but large parts of the country side and many villages in Normandy/Brittany do make it look like an artificial toy town in real life. It is very green and pristine.

No real comment on the naturalness or not of the rendering but until it got levelled by HE the countryside would have been very perfect looking.

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Is there any way this can be done effectively by the user?

Depends on your monitor/vid card setup. With some you can play around with brightness, contrast, and gamma setting to get a limited effect. Probably not as much as you'd like. Won't do a whole lot for the sharpness of shadows. But if you like to experiment...

Michael

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A couple days ago my graphics card decided to crap out on me and for awhile the interior walls of one building was made up of brightly colored tiny cascading images, Matrix-like. It was cool. :D

When CMBB came out I bought a new card to use with it and for a while there were some driver conflicts that produced some very weird results. Like, the terrain looked natural but troops and vehicles in some views were in this peculiar psychedelic coloring. Often they were sky blue. It was actually rather pretty although not at all what I wanted the game to look like.

And by the way, while I am willing enough to criticize the look of the game when I think there is room for improvement, I want to keep that within perspective. I recall some 30 years ago watching some miniatures gamers playing a tank battle on terrain where hills were modeled by stacking layers of unpainted styrofoam etc. Compared to that, even the unmodded CMBO was gorgeous and real-looking.

:)

Michael

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You gentlemen who brought up snow, I hate you. :D

It's been quite a spectacular and long winter here, with several weeks of continuous -30C or below temperatures and record breaking amounts of snow (there's literally a feckin' mountain of it outside my door. Should it topple over my house would implode.)

It's spring and that crap should be melting away. But oh no, more just keeps coming from the sky. It's been an effing apocalyptic ice age for over 5 months now!!!

Then I log in on my favourite forum on the whole Internetz and what do I see, some buggers clamoring over snow like it's the next best thing! :mad: :mad: :mad:

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You gentlemen who brought up snow, I hate you. :D

It's been quite a spectacular and long winter here, with several weeks of continuous -30C or below temperatures and record breaking amounts of snow (there's literally a feckin' mountain of it outside my door. Should it topple over my house would implode.)

It's spring and that crap should be melting away. But oh no, more just keeps coming from the sky. It's been an effing apocalyptic ice age for over 5 months now!!!

Then I log in on my favourite forum on the whole Internetz and what do I see, some buggers clamoring over snow like it's the next best thing! :mad: :mad: :mad:

Move to Sydney. A cold winter day is 15 degrees C.

The Australians that ended up in Northern France WWI would have been in for a nasty surprise as even the spring/autumn weather is lot colder.

Shudder to think about the Eastern Front WWII winters.

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