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[WIP] High quality skyboxes


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#261 Kexikus

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 05:58 PM

More progress: I took a break from my dark side Juhani mod and instead of going back to the Onderon clouds, I decided to start working on the Dxun skyboxes. Skyboxes you may ask? Yes, there are actually two skyboxes for Dxun and I intend to make use of that fact. One is used for the biggest part of Dxun and one is used for the Sith tomb part.

 

I mostly worked on the "normal" one and both terrain and sky took quite a while before they were in the current almost finished state. Here's an in-game shot from a slightly outdated version and as always rendered in low quality:

 

5ErGJZdh.png

 

I really like the way the clouds turned out in the end, although they might need some more contrast in-game. The mountains (you can see only one in this picture) were changed since I took this screenshot and I will also move this big mountain more to the right so that it stays where it is in the vanilla skybox.

 

To show these changes. Here's a render of the latest version:

 

OxdFYPb.png

 

It's a little hard to see due to the low resolution but I changed the mountain color from grey to brown for it to fit with the modeled mountains in-game. Then I also made the mountain smoother, once again to better resemble the in-game mountains. And I removed the trees from the very top. This is now pretty close to what I had in mind, so I'll probably leave it for now and once I get back to it, I'll work some more on the colors.

 

And finally, here's a preview of some experiments I did with the stormy skybox for the tomb. I want this skybox to feel like a real thunderstorm so apart from using a different cloud setup, I figured it'd be nice to also see rain showers in the distance, which is what I was playing with when the following render was created:

 

SWkqS0G.png

 

The current clouds in this shot are taken straight from a post by rcalliotte on the planetside forums and I'll definitely modify them or create my own from scratch as I'm not very happy with those yet. But the important thing here is the red part: The rain. It's obviously not going to stay red. That's just for better visibility. But apart from being rendered with way too low AA and generally low quality settings, it does seem very promising. I'll have to play around with the height to make sure that the rain actually starts at the clouds and not below but then it should work quite well. For those interested: The rain is really just an inverted and vertically stretched cloud with a very small scale and masked by the actual cloud shader so that it appears only where those are thickest.



#262 Squall Lionhart

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 11:23 PM

Those Dxun skyboxes are the 'best' for editing. I will say though using VUE it was the easiest to make with no editing to fit the actual 'box'.


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#263 Kexikus

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 08:22 PM

More progress: I worked some more on the Dxun tomb skybox but I don't really have anything to show for it as I didn't quite get what I wanted yet. So instead, I started with Korriban. I was really happy with the terrain and lighting in my original K1 Korriban skybox, so I wanted to keep that. But the clouds looked really bad on that one, so I remade them using the EasyClouds feature from Terragen 4. I plugged in values similar to those I used in the original skybox with some small changes and the EasyClouds produced something fantastic. So I just added a layer of Cirrus clouds on top of that for additional variety and I was done. Without rendering, that took about five minutes... :D

 

On the left: The old clouds. On the right: The new ones.

 

ZLRvS2jl.jpg

 

With that done, I continued with TSLs Korriban and I have to say, that's one of the ugliest skyboxes in all of KotOR. The terrain is actually quite good, but the colors are sooo unnatural and for some reason the sun is invisible although it shouldn't be, judging from the shadows. So now I faced the difficult task of remaining somewhat faithful to the original (so that my new skyboxes don't clash with the prerendered videos for example), while also making it look good.

 

The terrain would obviously stay the same from K1 and so I did the first thing that came to my mind and I dropped the sun closer to the horizon, coming from the K1 version above. The thinking here was that the (inivisble) sun in the vanilla skybox is actually quite low and this purple-ish sky is also something seen close to sunset. And the result was really awesome, but far too red. This was due to the fact that I had colored the entire sky very red-ish for the K1 skybox but as I didn't want that here, I returned to the standard atmosphere with only a little bit more red. The result can be seen in the middle of the picture at the end of this post. I think it looks really good, but when I put this skybox ingame, it just didn't fit very well:

 

aBGypnPl.png

 

The area fog color would change of course, but even then, the area model doesn't feel as if it's that close to sunset. So I went ahead and moved the sun slightly upwards. I think that one is now pretty good already, although I will tweak it some more. Currently the area around the sun is too bright with the model self-illumination and I'll probably have to move the Cirrus clouds around so that they don't obscure the sun. But it does seem like a good fit:

 

RAq19Rvl.png

 

And finally, here's a comparison of the vanilla skybox (left), my first or actually second attempt (middle) and the latest tweak (right):

 

HlieBci.jpg

 

Please let me know what you think and thanks for your interest :)



#264 DarthParametric

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 04:37 AM

Hrm, the last one looks a little too blue to me. I think the middle one is closer to where it needs to be, personally.

#265 134340Goat

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 05:43 AM

I like how you can make out more detail in the third one, but I agree with Parametric, colour's definitely better in the middle one



#266 Sithspecter

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 05:47 AM

I think the middle one looks great.



#267 Sith Holocron

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 05:48 AM

I like how you can make out more detail in the third one, but I agree with Parametric, colour's definitely better in the middle one


I think the middle one is closer to where it needs to be, personally.


I think the middle one looks great.


I agree with this.

"Deadlines are for those that don't care about quality in mods." Or words to that effect. 

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#268 Kexikus

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 09:28 AM

I fully agree with you all when it comes to just the rendered image, but it just didn't look right when seen ingame. Maybe I should change the area fog to make it blend better and see if that improves it. Or I'll try a middleground between those two.

In any case, thanks for the input!



#269 DarthParametric

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 10:07 AM

One option may be to re-bake the level's shadow maps if you think the lighting is wrong.

#270 Kexikus

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 11:46 AM

One option may be to re-bake the level's shadow maps if you think the lighting is wrong.


Yeah, but I'd rather match my skybox to The level lighting instead of The other way around to Keep continuity with cutscenes etc.

#271 JCarter426

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 05:19 PM

I actually like the blue one. It reminds me of a cruder version of daytime Korriban I did a few years ago (as seen in KOTOR Episode III: The Circle of Fate™).

 

 

 

Although for continuity reasons as you say, I'd also vote for one of the others.



#272 DarthParametric

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 05:23 PM

I just watched the TSL landing/takeoff videos again, and wow the quality really is terrible. We must be to the point now where it's time to re-render all those as some sort of large group project. But in terms of the skybox, it's very orange.

#273 JCarter426

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 05:32 PM

I'd be up for pitching in with that sort of thing. The animation, anyway. But the game's Ebon Hawk model is of lower quality than the cinematic ones, so I'd say that would be needed before anything.



#274 Kexikus

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 05:41 PM

I just watched the TSL landing/takeoff videos again, and wow the quality really is terrible. We must be to the point now where it's time to re-render all those as some sort of large group project. But in terms of the skybox, it's very orange.

 
I've actually had contemplated remaking all the cutscenes as a large future project for quite some time now. But I really don't know if I'll ever get to it or if I even want to tackle something like that. But I'd definitely join any group project that tries to do this.



#275 Jenko

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Posted 09 December 2017 - 04:15 AM

The scope of that kind of project is very ambitious. I would also contribute if this was a group effort. There's certainty a few large obstacles to overcome, such as the Ebon Hawk model - or other models that we do not have access to like the escape pod and the ejection port on the Endar Spire, or the Taris city that can be seen during the escape.

 

The actual animation would not be terribly difficult per say, just time consuming. I made more than a few CGI sequences in KOTOR: Episode I: A Familiar Path™.

 

The trickiest cutscene ever to remake would be the KOTOR 1 Revan's death cutscene. It would require either substituting unique animations with generic game ones or hand animating new ones. There are unused animations found in the game files for the Dantooine dream (though unusable without a lot of 3ds work), but not for Revan's death.



#276 DarthParametric

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Posted 09 December 2017 - 04:51 AM

Q9lGFEi.gif

I was just talking about the landing/take-off vids.....

#277 Jenko

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Posted 09 December 2017 - 01:52 PM

Oh! Just the landing and take off vids?

 

That wouldn't be as bad, then  :P Kexikus was talking about all the cutscenes, but yeah, landing and take-off wouldn't be that massive of an undertaking, then.



#278 Kexikus

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Posted 09 December 2017 - 03:24 PM

Well, the others are equally bad / low quality so I don't see the point in doing only some cutscenes. But let's not discuss this in this thread. If someone wants to start such a project, he/she now knows that there are others who'd help and can create a thread for it.



#279 Sith Holocron

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Posted 09 December 2017 - 03:48 PM

 But let's not discuss this in this thread. If someone wants to start such a project, he/she now knows that there are others who'd help and can create a thread for it.


Done.


"Deadlines are for those that don't care about quality in mods." Or words to that effect. 

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