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Author Topic: A dark mansion  (Read 1761 times)

WHAM

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A dark mansion
« on: 07 May 2011, 13:44 »
Desingning an interior for a new game project.

I think I need to clarify a little bit on what I am doing here:
The room background itself is drawn fully lit. After that I use one or more mostly black sprites to cover it up and to simulate the changes in lighting, I increase or decrease the transparency of these sprites. In addition, they usually have a few shapes built into them, to accomodate a light source etc.

1. A room in the dark
2. A room as lightling flashes outside
3. A room lit by a candle


I'd like some critics for:
The room overall (it is a small joining corridor between an entrance hall and a dining room)
The lighting (does it look ok?)
Anything else, really. Opinions are always welcome!
« Last Edit: 09 May 2011, 15:38 by WHAM »
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Khris

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #1 on: 07 May 2011, 15:05 »
I really hate to say it, but on my CRT, all I see is the window's white lines, a hint of candle and his sleeve and face (not in the first pic though, that one's essentially black).
Lightning would light up the room like a photographer's flashlight. The second pic isn't even close. Lightning generates sharp drop-shadows all over the place; this is usually stylized by using black and white.

Here's the histogram of all three combined:


As you can see, 95 percent of the pixels have a lightness value below 38/255.

Last time I posted a similar comment my monitor had a bad profile, it's the right one now though :)
LCDs tend to be set to way too high lightness levels, here are a few quick checks for LCDs: http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/

WHAM

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #2 on: 07 May 2011, 15:28 »
My own monitor is a pretty crappy one, so I checked the pictures on my GF's computer which has a more high-end monitor.

The result is pretty much the same on that as it is on mine:
1 - Outlines of the room are barely visible, fine details cannot be discerned
2 - Room well visible, though you are correct that it does not really seem like lightning
3 - Visibility somewhere between 1 and 2, right side of room lit slightly better by candle

I checked the LCD tests you linked to, and my monitor seems to be doing pretty fine. Blue shades were a little darker than they should have been, but otherwise all tests seemed ok.

I'd like more opinions from people on the visibility of the first picture, especially from people with flat-screen monitors, which are the most common platform nowadays. Meanwhile I will see about making the lightning look more credible.
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Matti

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #3 on: 07 May 2011, 15:48 »
1 - Outlines of the room are barely visible, fine details cannot be discerned
2 - Room well visible, though you are correct that it does not really seem like lightning
3 - Visibility somewhere between 1 and 2, right side of room lit slightly better by candle

Same here  :)

Anian

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #4 on: 07 May 2011, 16:06 »
I think the effects would be more interesting and more visible if you used color and detail tricks than actually making all the colors less visible. I'm thinking like room being in blueish tones when there's darkness, black and white (or similar high contrast) when lightning strikes and warm colors in contrast to cool colors where there is a candle light source.
Mostly it's because, at least for me, it breaks imersivness, since the gradient of black overlay doesn't fit with the style of the background (res-wise and style wise). The 3rd bg is fine though, but the 2nd one just seems like it lacks "power" and not really gives out an effect of a lighting as a solitaire light source.

But I guess it depends on how important the details in the room are, is it very important that the player doesn't see stuff, if it's just that you want the player to light a candle you could always add descriptions like "It's some rounded object, but I can't really tell what it is cause it's too dark, I better find a light switch or something", you can also add a lightswitch where interaction gives you "The power is out, maybe I can light that candle instead" (of course this is just blunt commands, not something you'd use in a text in the game).
« Last Edit: 07 May 2011, 16:09 by anian »
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WHAM

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #5 on: 07 May 2011, 16:12 »
What I'm planning for the game is this: the room is drawn in full light, and then an overlay representing the lighting is drawn over it as a transparent layer in AGS. This overlay is altered in transparency, colour and shape to represent different lighting, such as candles, lanterns, sunlight, electrical light and fire.

In the dark some hotspots and objects for small items and such are either disabled, or misidentified, wihle in more light the said hotspots and objects are correctly available.
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WHAM

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #6 on: 07 May 2011, 18:30 »
http://www.whamgames.com/images/mansion/lighttestroom.rar

You can see what sort of lighting I am working on. It's far from perfect, but it's a start.
Press number keys 1 or 2 to toggle the candles and space bar to trigger the lightning.
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Anian

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #7 on: 07 May 2011, 18:49 »
It looks good on my screen, not too dark.
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WHAM

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #8 on: 07 May 2011, 19:12 »
From these comments I get the feeling that the issue Khris encountered has to do with his CRT monitor. Those monitors work quite differently than LCD monitors, and since the latter are far more common nowadays, I will work with making it look good with those.
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NickyNyce

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #9 on: 07 May 2011, 21:21 »
Can't help you with the monitor issue but as for the lightning....When it strikes close by, its a bright flash...sacry looking bright like was mentioned before. I would Make it brighter at least outside the window.

WHAM

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #10 on: 07 May 2011, 22:49 »
I updated the picture in the first post.
Does it look more like a flash of lightning now. (I just realized I cannot find a single good picture of this type of event on google...)
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Atelier

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #11 on: 07 May 2011, 22:59 »
The lightning looks good but I can hardly see anything in the top picture now.

Babar

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #12 on: 07 May 2011, 23:19 »
I am having the same issue as Khris is, but then again, I am also using a CRT monitor- if I zoom into the first image, I can barely see the outline of the window, and a bit of her arm.


What I don't understand (and it's been done by others on these forums than just you, Wham) is that if your express purpose is to make the background too dark to see anything (for example like certain scenes in Fate of Atlantis, where the darkness serves a purpose for puzzles in the game), then the simplest method is just to have it pure black, perhaps with just the lightning flashes to show what's what and where. Because having it so dark that while you are putting in effort to put details into the game, then have it so that those details won't be visible at all, it seems a bit wasteful.


If darkness (and difficulty in seeing) is not a necessary or intentional part of the game, then in my opinion it is very wasteful, as much of the detail won't be visible at all. Then I'd suggest what anian said: you can use a dark blue to show the darkness (the first Monkey Island game was a very good example of this).
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Mr Flibble

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #13 on: 07 May 2011, 23:39 »


Just a quick and dirty paintover to show off some ideas.

In the first image I just played around with the values a bit. I made the scene a lot brighter than made it "dark" again by desaturating it. I feel that this makes it look pretty nighttimey without sacrificing as much visibility. That said, giving everything a blue or purple tint would also be good for that.

In the middle image I made everything pretty much black except for where the lightning was flashing. The lightning should probably light up a way bigger area on the floor, and illuminate part of the wall too. The way it is now, the light source looks pretty close.

In the third one I just did some pixeling around the candle to suggest how you could make the light from the candle feel warmer and make the room seem illuminated by it.
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WHAM

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #14 on: 08 May 2011, 00:17 »
@ Babar

The darkness and light thing will be a gameplay element. Candles will burn out and need to be replaced, and failure to do so will make some rooms impossible to solve until light is restored, creating an extra level of gameplay through resource management. As the player struggles to keep rooms lit, he will also be strugglin to keep all the pretty backgrounds I made visible as well!  :)

@ Flibble

I like the look of these edits and will try to take some pointers from 'em. Especially with the lighting around the candle, I believe I can do something like this with the overlays I am currently using, by editing the overlay sprites a little bit.

I think I need to clarify a little bit on what I am doing here (I will copepaste this to the first post as well):
The room background itself is drawn fully lit. After that I use one or more mostly black (will try to add blue hues now) sprites to cover it up and to simulate the changes in lighting, I increase or decrease the transparency of these sprites. In addition, they usually have a few shapes built into them, to accomodate a light source etc.
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WHAM

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #15 on: 08 May 2011, 00:59 »
I tried some stuff out, resulting in making (I think) the darkest picture ever so slightly darker, while sharpening up the others a little bit. Adding a blue hue didn't really work out, and at the moment the darkness I use on the overlay is 0.0.10 in RGB, with trancparency starting at 15% and going up as lighting is added. In the lightning strike the transparency is lowered to 5% to make most of the screen essentially just black with the lightning creating a bright while light in the window.

I would really like to add a shadow for the characters when the lightning strikes, but I fear that may be a little too complicated to do in AGS when I think about how rarely the effect will be seen. I would have to create an upside-down shadowy version of each character in the game (looking at about 5 characters, probably) and have those follow the characters around, animating with them frame for frame and only be visible for about a second at a time, possibly never even seen in the entire game. Gah!


In these pictures you can see all the different states of lighting the room can be seen in during the game.



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Shane 'ProgZmax' Stevens

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #16 on: 08 May 2011, 05:29 »
I have my LCD calibrated for the art I do so I can see all the backgrounds and details (even the latest dark version) without a problem.

Atelier

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #17 on: 08 May 2011, 10:37 »
That looks so much better however I think the window frames should be wood or black metal because white doesn't really fit an old house. Also shouldn't the panels be inset rather than emboss?

WHAM

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #18 on: 08 May 2011, 11:18 »
Took Atelier's advice about the room. Here's the room without the light / shadow effects added.

Added some decorations
Added curtains
Changed the wall paneling and added panels to left wall
Added a simple rug
Changed colour of window frames (I googled some mansions and houses and it seems Atelier's idea about the colours is correct. On the inside they often used darker colours, while on the outside the same windows often had white wooden edges to highlight them.)
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Anian

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Re: A dark mansion
« Reply #19 on: 08 May 2011, 11:55 »
Wow, that's a brown room if I ever saw one.
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