From: metro Chicago, Illinois, USA
Coder Diary #26 -- Highlights, Lowlights & Night Lights
Again, not so much text in this latest Coder Diary. Lots of pretty pictures! (And a few not so pretty.)
Several of us on the Dev Team are old-time board game geeks. Maybe that's why we're working so hard to get the New 2D Map Modes right. No slam against this game's 3D. Despite so many graphics advances over the past two decades, this game series' 3D graphics still compare favorably to many newer games on the market.
But 3D is not to everybody's taste. Especially for us board game geeks!
Here's a new feature, Infobox Counters:
(For best effect, I suggest that you maximize this and following screenshots in your web browser display.)
In the Hex Infobox, what's that?! 2D counters!
If you hit the U hot key to toggle off the map-edge Unit List, does the new Infobox 2D Counters feature apply also to the single unit "Roaming Mode" on-map Infobox. Sure!
This expanded roster of 2D views is a potential game changer. Many players will shift to playing entirely, or mostly, in 2D, with just the occasional switch to 3D to see those pretty pictures.
You no longer have to play these games with any 3D at all, if that is your preference. (Again, no offense to the game's very fine 3D.)
So many game play options!
Before moving on, let's pause a moment to admire Crossroads' fantastic new counter chits (not to mention Warhorse's splendid as ever NATO icons). I expect that Crossroads will post a Developer Diary about them before too long.
Let's pause another moment or two to confront some ugliness. The Campaign Series has traditionally employed a dotted overlay mechanism to shade hexes -- for night displays, also for displaying Visible and Reachable ranges, also the Command Radius. Unfortunately, that shading mechanism has more than its share of glitches, which we all know so well.
Still more examples viewable here.
Even outside of night scenarios, there is no escaping shading and its attendant artifacts. In this screenshot, we have hit the H hot key to show the selected unit's Reac(H)able hexes:
Circled in red, do you see the alternating hexside dashes/dark solid lines? Maybe you do, maybe you don't, maybe you're so used to this kind of thing that you no longer notice it anymore (if you ever did). These graphics glitches, this artifacting annoys the heck out of some people -- me! -- so for sure I wanted to do something about it.
These glitches are intrinsic to this dotted overlay mechanism. Try as I might, no matter how careful I am to prepare the dotted BMP images, or how clever I try to offset vertically or horizontally by pixel, there seems to be no escaping it. There will be artifacting! Artifacting that is exacerbated by the proliferation of 2D modes. Across three 3D modes and, now, as many as four 2D modes, there's plenty of opportunity for artifacting to show its many ugly Hydra heads. Cut one off, two more grow in its place! How do we slay this monster?
Here's one way:
We have implemented a new Hex Highlights mechanism: Hex Outline. Instead of most of the map going dark, we reverse the highlight by outlining the in-range hexes with the current hot spot Highlight color. Hex Outline highlighting applies to both 2D & 3D views.
Now, this way of showing highlights is not to everybody's taste; some people will prefer the old way of highlighting. No problem, to each his own, we now offer you a choice.
Um, there is one minor problem with Options > Hex Highlights > Hex Outline. It is this: Among that mass of highlighted hexes, which is the hot spot hex? It just so happens that in the screenshot above, I did the image capture at the moment the blinking hot spot cursor had switched off. So with Options > Blink Hot Spot toggled on, you would see a blinking square at the hot spot hex.
But what if you prefer Options > Blink Hot Spot toggled off? Well then, try this:
With Options > Hex Highlights > Hex Outline (Alternate), rather than the hot spot color (yellow in the screenshot), the hex highlights (orange in the screenshot) will be the alternate unit selected color (i.e., the halo color surrounding selected unit images in 3D mode).
If you think that the orange highlight in the depicted screenshot is a bit hard to see against the dark tan terrain background, remember: Using Options > Highlight Colors, you have sixteen different highlight/alternate color combos to choose from. Play around, experiment until you find a combo that works best for you.
Let's revisit the issue of night scenarios for a bit. Here is an old-style night scenario, with the H hot key toggled to show the selected unit's Reac(H)able hexes:
If you like such a display, artifacts and glitches and all, more power to you. As for me, I find the whole thing quite unattractive. (The brown Reachable range is, by the way, how night displays traditionally by default. The outer bluish tinge is the range shader overlay that applies in night scenarios.)
Here is the new-style way of depicting night scenarios:
No shading anywhere to be seen! (Unless you have selected Options > Hex Highlights > Hex Shading.) How is night therefore suggested? By darkening the BMP terrain tiles. Henceforth, the games will support two versions of the ground terrains, for both day and night (darkened) display.
In releases 2.00 & 2.01 of JTCS, we all -- developers and players alike -- missed the night visibility bug. At the time, I surmised that maybe it's because people don't play night scenarios all that much. Could it be because we have found them to be so ugly? If so, maybe the new night (and shader) displays will eliminate their (surmised) unattractiveness.
Oh, the Big Question: Will you be enjoying these new, larger 2D modes in the JTCS games (EF, WF & RS)? Yes!! Eventually, not soon, not until 2016's "mega patch". But it's coming!
Likewise, you will be seeing these new features (also the new, improved counter chits, etc.) in the JTCS games. But not until 2016!
Until the next time...
< Message edited by berto -- 12/22/2014 2:24:51 PM >