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Coder Diary #26 -- Highlights, Lowlights & Night Lights

 
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Coder Diary #26 -- Highlights, Lowlights & Night Lights - 12/22/2014 1:21:54 PM   
berto


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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!



quote:

ORIGINAL: berto

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.

For example:



And another:



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.

quote:

ORIGINAL: berto

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 >


_____________________________

Post #: 1
RE: Coder Diary #26 -- Highlights, Lowlights & Night Li... - 12/22/2014 6:04:23 PM   
Crossroads


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Joined: 7/5/2009
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Thanks again Berto! I am really enjoying the new Hex Highlights option. So much easier to plan movement, for instance, when all the terrain and unit details in adjacent hexes outside the range are crisp and clear

_____________________________

Visit us at: Campaign Series Legion
---
CS: Vietnam | CS: East Front 1939-1941 IN-THE-WORKS
CS: Middle East 1948-1985 Fully reimaged v2.0 available now!

(in reply to berto)
Post #: 2
RE: Coder Diary #26 -- Highlights, Lowlights & Night Li... - 12/22/2014 6:11:49 PM   
wings7


Posts: 4608
Joined: 8/11/2003
From: Phoenix, Arizona
Status: offline


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Please come and join and befriend me at the great Steam portal! There are quite a few Matrix/Slitherine players on Steam! My member page: http://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561197988402427

(in reply to Crossroads)
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RE: Coder Diary #26 -- Highlights, Lowlights & Night Li... - 12/23/2014 6:28:37 AM   
Crossroads


Posts: 16208
Joined: 7/5/2009
Status: offline
quote:

ORIGINAL: berto

Several of us on the Dev Team are old-time board game geeks.


Dang right!

quote:

ORIGINAL: berto

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.


Thank you Berto. What you see here at the moment are the current candidates for counter chits. A bit larger than the legacy counters which were 40x40 pixels, these little things measure at 44x44. Still not too large as to cover too much ground detail, but large enough to stand out a bit more. And while the legacy counters very much blend with the original terrain color pallette, these ones are just a bit brighter so they appear more as separate counter chits on a map, like, err... you would see in your favorite board game...

Still, less-is-more is the design principle here so I try not to go overboard. No shading, no light reflections, simple they are.

As for a Developer Diary, yes, why not.

You see, not only are there a few board game geeks in the crew, modding is very close to our heart as well. We try to make everything as modder friendly as possible, where we can. Not everything can be an option, not everything can be modified, but we try.

My Developer Diaries have been more about what can be modified within the game, so I am planning to continue on that path. With this in mind, I will post a few entries one of them talking about the 2D counter chits and what files you need to touch if you want to create a wholly another type of look-and-feel into this game.

Not quite yet though. In a couple of weeks time.


_____________________________

Visit us at: Campaign Series Legion
---
CS: Vietnam | CS: East Front 1939-1941 IN-THE-WORKS
CS: Middle East 1948-1985 Fully reimaged v2.0 available now!

(in reply to berto)
Post #: 4
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