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Starsector 0.95a is out! (03/26/21); Blog post: Of Slipstreams and Sensor Ghosts (09/24/21)

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Author Topic: Portrait Hegemonization  (Read 12735 times)

David

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Re: Portrait Hegemonization
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2018, 09:21:13 AM »

Shredder with spikey helmet resembles Doomguy's evil twin.  I like Doomguy best.  Doomguy appears rather generic compared to other Hegemony portraits, unlike Ryu (guy at the upper left) or Adama (or Q3A's Sarge).  If I did not see Doomguy next to other Hegemony portraits and used by Hegemony, he could easily pass as a generic mercenary, unlike Blue TriTach power ranger helmet boy.  I would not mind seeing an evil red power ranger pirate guy to compliment Shredder.

The visual archetypes you've chosen are not intentional*, but somehow I know exactly what you're talking about with all of them.

(*Alright, Doomguy is very intentional.)

Will there be specific portrait variants for different ranks within a faction? For example, the admiral of a huge fleet probably has a ton of medals and a fancier uniform compared to a patrol commander.

This could be kinda cool! It's a bit fiddly though at this point, and it'd definitely drive expected asset range way up so it's probably best avoided - it's like, oh, if there are only 2 admiral portraits you've got a very good chance of getting two clones leading adjacent fleets. If you then have 4 admirals and 4 others from a pool of 8 faction portraits, then your generic portrait range is way down, so now you need way more overall and it kinda spirals away like that.

(That said, I do love doing portraits so it's not like I'm not going to sneak some in at every big update.)

Flipping the new portrait horizontally has got to be the fake moustache and glasses of portrait edits

No idea what you're talking about.
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SafariJohn

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Re: Portrait Hegemonization
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2018, 09:54:40 AM »

it's like, oh, if there are only 2 admiral portraits you've got a very good chance of getting two clones leading adjacent fleets.

Ah, but if you go low enough the viewer can suspend disbelief again. If all Hegemony admirals or whatever use 1 portrait then they become generic like crew instead of being weird clones. Though, of course, having a face gives them way more character.
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Megas

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Re: Portrait Hegemonization
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2018, 10:29:38 AM »

The first guy at the upper left in the current portrait select appears rather generic, but clearly in Hegemony uniform, just like Ryu from the Street Fighter games.  Well, with the uniform, he appears like a cross between Ryu and M.Bison (dictator), or maybe one of the Star Destroyer captains in the Star Wars films.  If Starsector was a Street Fighter game, that pic would fit Ryu or whatever default generic fighter well.  I am aware that Ryu may not be the perfect fit, but it feels close enough.

I remember when Adama/Sarge appeared more like a sick-looking creep back in Starfarer, sort of like Palpatine or Uncle Fester.  Now he looks like some admiral you do not want to mess with.

I wonder would kind of silly nicknames I might come up with the new or updated portraits after 0.9 hits.
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steelwing

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Re: Portrait Hegemonization
« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2018, 07:21:29 AM »

Loving the art style of the portraits in this game.  It feels kind of like... "Space-impressionism". :)
I do like potatoes.
Cool, this will be great for immersion
Having these two comments in sequence was completely awesome.  ;D
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Deshara

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Re: Portrait Hegemonization
« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2018, 09:11:34 AM »

RE: the distribution & adherence to faction uniforms; ARMA3('s cartel DLC) did it pretty well; the base game implemented a couple of pretty good & distinguishable faction uniforms for each of the game's Official Militaries, then iterated on them a little to fill out appropriate roles, and then the DLC used those uniforms' parts as a basis to create different non-uniform outfits that fit in with the base game pretty well because of the civilian/rebel/neutral factions using parts of the militarys' uniforms to tie them in.
Like, one of the "Rifleman" variants of the Cartel faction is named "Desserter", and his base outfit is half of a set of military fatigues, with civilian casual attire on the other half. Combined with him being one of the only 'classes' of the faction equipped with just a regular military main-battle rifle, the name and outfit of the 'class' itself tells a story and it's really good world-building. It doesn't just tell you something about that character, but also intrinsically ties what could have been an out-of-place Cartel faction (in a game otherwise entirely about conflicts between globe-spanning military forces and their proxies) in directly with the Actual Military factions.

If put in the artist seat in charge of making portraits or outfits for an open world game with a series of factions where the player can flip between them (I scream at the thought) with Independents and Pirates being separate factions from both Militaries and Civilians, I would take what I learned from ARMA3's DLC, and divvy up my work thusly; half of all the assets would fall under the category of Faction Uniforms and the other half would be Non-Faction Outfits.
Of the Faction Uniforms would be everything that would be appropriate working attire of the various Militaries and Factions (including explicitly military Independents assets, but not Pirates or Civilians). I'd make a handful of base assets for each faction, rework them a little to taste, and then identify visual signifiers of each faction from what I'd made thus far. I'd write down a list of said visual signifiers for each faction that had occurred during the initial mockup phase and then add to that list aesthetic themes extracted from them, all for later brainstorming, then fill out about half of each of those faction's planned assets while iterating on said established themes. Thus far the process would likely result in the same sort of set as SS has so far.
Then I'd start the Non-Faction assets. I'd do an initial handful of very different Civilian assets, based loosely on the Independents faction but without any of the military aesthetic, just to set up a baseline for the rest. After setting up the baseline, I'd do another assets review, then start filling out about half of the Non-Faction assets for the first pass, doing both utterly non-military Civilian assets but also doing Pirate assets which would be a mashup of Civilian-style assets with themes and visual signifiers of the Faction Uniforms assets mixed in but generally worn wrong or casually. After that last first-pass is done, I'd re-review all I'd made so far and update my themes & signifiers brainstorming lists, then sit down and fill out the assets lists doing some occasional factions cross-ups.

So like, the pirates in mine wouldn't be "what would Jack Sparrow look like in space," but would be, "what would it look like if a Hegemony Officer who wore army fatigues defected, took his uniform with him and continue to wear in his pirating career his old fatigue top and cap, but out of regulation-- wearing the jacket open over a casual shirt, with the cap improperly placed and his facial hygiene neglected?" or, "what if a Tritach Gunnery Officer was court-martialed, stripped of his military duty and took a career in private security work -- wearing militarized civilian gear-- but the Tritach military couldn't/didn't bother to revoke his cybernetic implants, which grew aged and outdated without military maintenance standards?"
but also, in the second-pass after the Pirate non-faction first-pass had been done, I'd get to do cross-faction mashups like, "What if a character grew up as a civilian on a tritach world where cosmetic cybernetics were frequent, but took up military service in the Syndrian system, where his augments were well-maintained & clean but clearly outdated & approaching obsolescence without frequent updates & replacements?" Or, "what if a high-ranking Syndrian military official defected to the Hegemony, but valuing the lax standards of the Dictat, negotiated a clause in his defection that allowed him a lot of leniency in his facial hygiene?" Or, "a Luddic devotee who enlists with the Hegemony with a religious uniform exemption that allows them to wear a faith icon as a pendant that is tastefully understated and barely --but definitely-- visible in their otherwise regulation uniform". Or, "Luddic fanatic whose smoldering scowl conveys visually that they are completely comfortable wearing day-to-day the inherent contradiction of openly wearing the icons of their fanaticism on the uniform of a career tritach officer"
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Gothars

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Re: Portrait Hegemonization
« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2018, 10:51:03 AM »

Flipping the new portrait horizontally has got to be the fake moustache and glasses of portrait edits

(...Not sure what I meant by that. Nothing bad, honest!)


What have you done! Look at David's picture! xD
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PCCL

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Re: Portrait Hegemonization
« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2018, 02:02:46 PM »

Goddammit... Well played David
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Chronosfear

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Re: Portrait Hegemonization
« Reply #22 on: October 19, 2018, 12:44:57 AM »

Hey David,

thanks for your Blogpost (But WHY isn't it mentioned in the news "headline") I nearly overlooked it.

You sure do some impressive and important work to the immersion of the game.
I really hope your profile pic is in the game, too
Some Pirate lord veteran guy a civilian who thinks to be powerful might just fit  ::) ;D


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RusMolot

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Re: Portrait Hegemonization
« Reply #23 on: November 03, 2018, 05:55:59 PM »

Why not make a random portrait generator for the game, and throw in some assets for it to pick out of?

The first example that comes to mind is Battle Brothers, they generate their characters using several layers - face, facial hair, hair, head gear, armor, damage, weapon, shield. Really you can make it as complex or as simple as you would like, but it would be a whole lot easier to draw several items in each category, and use a random generator to create  random portraits. Would require less resources to be stored in the game as well.

To prove the point:
Say you have 3 eyes, 3 noses, 3 mouths, 3 chins, 3 ears.
That's 15 assets.
But using those 15 assets you can make 3x3x3x3x3, that's 3^5, that's 243 portraits.
To draw 243 portraits, you would need 243 assets that are 128x128, but all of the above assets can have smaller dimensions.
For instance, there's no reason to have the eye layer be 128x128 if you can make it 60x30 and paste it on the face at coordinates x=34,y=60 (or something).
This way you save time drawing individual portraits, you save on resources by using random generation, and save resources again by making each of the assets smaller.

Some ideas for layers
  • You have a base head
  • You add facial features (eyes, ears mouth, etc) from a selection of 3-5 mouths, 3-5 eyes, etc.
  • You add accessories (Piercings, tats, etc)
  • You add hair
  • you add head gear/masks
  • For each of the above, you change the hue/color/theme
  • Throw down shading (again - could be 3-5 shading variations)
  • Throw in a background
  • Add background accessories
  • Base uniform (i.e. armor, uniform, civilian clothing)
  • Uniform accessories (Armor plates on shoulders, ranking chevrons, civilian bdazzle)
  • Uniform colors/themes/etc
  • Other accessories (something the character is holding, a pet, etc)

That's 13 categories. If you have 3 assets in each, that's 3^13 = 1594323 possible portraits, but you've only drawn 3*13=39 assets.

Cheers,

RusMolot

P.S. you could also configure the portrait generator so that certain factions only use certain assets. This way, your random portrait generator will still stick to making faction-themed portraits.

P.S.S. Alternatively, you could have a faction theme (uniform/background) and have the generator focus on the face. Just throwing down ideas...





P.S.S.S. Now that I think about it.... weapons can be done the same way... It needs way more thought about balancing though. You could for instance balance DPS vs energy drain per shot vs turret rotation speed vs rate of fire vs range using some balancing formula. The turret base and turret "barrel", and projectile can be chosen by the generator based on the specs of the weapon. For instance high damage per shot would require a rather large projectile, something with long range generally means a longer barrel, something that shoots rapidly would need a beefy base, etc. You could get a lot more bang for the buck by drawing weapons in this manner - more weapon varieties, a lot more weapons in general, without putting so much work into drawing the assets for them. Would allow players to finesse their ships better as well.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2018, 06:30:19 PM by RusMolot »
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Voyager I

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Re: Portrait Hegemonization
« Reply #24 on: November 03, 2018, 06:41:40 PM »

The Mr. Potato Head method works for Battle Brothers (and works well for their needs) because they use one general structure of face that only ever gets seen from a single perspective.
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RusMolot

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Re: Portrait Hegemonization
« Reply #25 on: November 03, 2018, 07:52:51 PM »

Well, so do the portraits in StarSector. I mean yeah one can argue that some face right, some face left, but you can mirror the assets for those purposes. IMHO tilting the head a little up, down, left, right really isn't worth fighting for.
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Alex

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Re: Portrait Hegemonization
« Reply #26 on: November 03, 2018, 09:18:51 PM »

(Disclaimer: I'm not David, and he may have a different perspective.)

I think it just depends on whether you want to have more different portraits or more art. Personally, I prefer more art - each portrait is a little window in the world of Starsector, and tells us a little more about the people that live there, the factions, and so on, and each one is nice to look at on its own.

Could easily make an argument for either approach, though, so I'm definitely not knocking Battle Brothers for doing it that way, and it looks like they did a very nice job with it.
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Tartiflette

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Re: Portrait Hegemonization
« Reply #27 on: November 04, 2018, 01:01:16 AM »

Another possible flaw of that technique is that you will quickly recognize the main different assets (eyes, mouth, nose, hair) and then the potato-head system becomes _really_ uncanny. Instead of X thousand discrete people you see puzzle pieces.
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David

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Re: Portrait Hegemonization
« Reply #28 on: November 07, 2018, 06:34:45 AM »

... Also. You have to plan to do the modular thing from the very start of development, plus it's a bit more up-front investment to see any kind of decent results. It'd be fun to do someday! But for Starsector at this point, in any case, we're pretty well committed to the current path due to the amount of work already done.
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