Author Topic: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?  (Read 11310 times)

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Offline Mobius

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Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
What the title says. I liked the idea behind the creation of the new starfield(adding various colored stars) but they're not prominent at all. The stars can be barely noticed and, in other words, there virtually is no difference between the new starfield and the default option with white stars.

The old one was incredibly better, IMO, but the new one could be easily improved by adding more prominent stars.
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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
You know, when I look up to the nightsky, I do not see that much of prominent stars.

 

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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Where do you live? I live in a pretty isolated place so I can distinguish many prominent stars. In space they should be even more prominent.
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Offline phreak

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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
I just think some of the colored stars are too big when compared to the other "point" stars
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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
In other words, there are nearly invisible stars.
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Offline phreak

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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
no, i think the big ones are a bit distracting
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Offline Herra Tohtori

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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
First I need to ask if your in-game brightness setting isn't too low, and that your display gamma is correctly calibrated (or close enough), because there sure as hell is a difference between this starfield and the default bright stars. The Beta starfield was uniform gray stars if I recall correctly, and the one in 3.6.8zetas was the infamous splotchy blob starfield...

Incorrect gamma settings can cause stuff like starfields to becomes much less or much more prominent than the creator of the texture saw on their display, so make sure your display's colour settings are at least close to good (LCD's are never ideally calibrated) and that your brightness settings are not wrong. And that there's no rogue starfield texture somewhere in your installation. You could also open the starfield in the image editor of your choice and confirm what you see is what you get...

Assuming that your display and game brightness settings are correct... there are prominent stars on the starfield, pretty much on the same ratio as there are significant, noticeably bright stars on the sky. There's even different shades of yellow, red and blue stars just like in reality. The problem with making bright coloured stars is the resolution of the texture, pixel size of the display and the contrast ability of the display technology.


The thing is, brightness does not make stars grow in diameter. Background stars are always point sources of light; it's the intensity that changes the brightness. This means that every star should ideally just be a dot (pixel) that has a colour value corresponding to the apparent colour of the star in question. On grayscale starfields, this works well enough.

But here's the kicker - with computers screens, if you change the colour of a star from white, you lose some brightness. The brightest pixel you can have is always white, but with stars it's often the other way round - the brightest stars tend to have identifiable colour to them. This poses a problem - how to give stars some character aside from those 255 different shades of gray? You can either use something like colour #aaaaaa for the brightest non-coloured stars, and that'll give you leeway to give hues to the brighter stars, or you can give some faintly coloured pixels around the stars you want to be the brightest ones.

The first option limits the brightness of the normal, non-coloured "standard" stars, so it's not always useful... gray stars tend to look worse than bright white stars for obvious reasons.

So, this starfield uses the second option by having bright pixels surrounded by some coloured pixels. But here's where the resolution problem comes in; if you do that, the point becomes a blob and some of the star-like effect is lost. In this starfield that's pretty well balanced out; the brightest stars have a very thin coloured area around them, which makes them look like a bit brighter without obviously increasing their diameter.

The reason you don't especially want to increase the diameter of the stars any further than in this starfield is because many people use -fov options and when the texture is stretched, any blobs in the texture are affected much worse than the stars that are just one pixel on the texture. Default field of view doesn't stretch the texture nor notably contract it, but when using the zoom, it does stretch a bit.

As a whole, I wouldn't describe the starfield as "meh". ;7

Feel free to experiment ways to increase stars' brightness without getting the blob effect on lower field of view settings, though. Aside from inventing a new display technology that allows using grey stars as "normal" stars and add colour to brighter stars, I can't really see any way to improve the brightness of stars in the starfield, at least if you want it to look good slightly stretched as well as default field of view.

And adding the number of prominent stars would just be dumb. After that they wouldn't be prominent at all, they would be normal.


phreak: The coloured stars are as small as I could make them, and still retain both brightness and colour comparable to bright colourless stars. Making a pure-point greyscale starfield is a piece of pie, but coloured stars add some variance to the starfield that intensity alone can't do.

Making grayscale starfields is a piece of pie, though, just make some noise and adjust brightness/contrast until you have a satisfying number of pixels on good brightness range visible.
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Offline Mobius

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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
I've just checked the effect. Again.

All I can say is that you didn't get my point of view, surely because I didn't specify what I should have specified at the beginning of this thread.

In the new map there are stars of various brightness. The brightest ones are ok and work perfectly, IMO the problem is that there are too many nearly-invisible stars which can only be barely noticed, especially when turning. IMO it's only a matter of making the little stars a bit brighter(30-50% of the brightest ones) - it shouldn't much of a problem. :)

Useless to say that despite these few glitches(not everyone is supposed to share my opinions, of course) the FSU team did a great job with the new Media VPs. :)
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Offline Dark RevenantX

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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
A bloom shader would fix this if we made the glow small enough...

 

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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
The stars look great to me...
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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Guess what? With the heightened density of stars clustered in this starmap, you get the same exposure volume as you did with the old one. Difference being, the old one being all shades of white and grey had more of a contrast for the more prominent stars making them seem like they were more brilliant.

If the color is distracting, good thing your not an astronaut.

And the colored ones? They are not any bigger than the white ones were in the beta ones.

So, based on the Pepsi challenge, look closely and tell me which is prefferable:

« Last Edit: December 14, 2008, 12:01:28 pm by Zacam »
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Offline Herra Tohtori

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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Would you care to explain why you think it needs to be different?

Simple. It's not a step ahead, it's more a regression. Having colored stars turned out to be a realistic choice, but the low prominence of all stars makes the new starfield map similar to Retail backgrounds with a n. os stars of 200 or below.

...what. :wtf:

On a random 128x128 area of the map, I count 40 observable stars. The texture has 256 times that random tile of stars. That makes 10240 stars on the 2048^2 texture.

The texture is wrapped to the sphere from six directions. Each "projection" cuts out the edges of the texture, so I'd say about 8000 stars are observable per direction (up, down, north, south, east, west). That means that you should, without nebulae, be able to observe about 32000 stars. Even if you would be able to observe only ten per cent of them you would see about 3000.

It seems to me that something really is wrong with your screen calibration, because you certainly should be able to see more stars than what you describe. Are you using any desktop gamma utilities? Are you using -no_set_gamma in your command line?

How many stars do you see in this image when viewing it unresized? Does this look like what you get while playing the game?






Quote
The old map was greatly superior especially when combined with nebulae backgrounds. That doesn't happen anymore.[/mobius]

Which old map exactly are you referring to? 3.6.10Beta, or 3.6.8zeta starfield?
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Offline captain-custard

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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Herra Tohtori thanks for the info , could you post your gamma settings or a small how too

ive tried i can see lots more stars but afterwards i end up with a little to much light and maybe a little too much red canal , im not used to  messing with these settings ;

im using an nvidia card , if that helps any
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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?


Honestly, I wouldn't rely on that. I've just opened the window and...frak...it's cloudy...well, I can ensure you that IRL stars are much more prominent than they are in that pic. In space they should be even more prominent...although I live in a pretty isolated place there still are many artificial lights on the soil compromising the brightness of all stars I can see from here.

And do we have to stick with realistic brightness values? I think it'd be better to focus on the graphical effects. :D
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Offline phreak

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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
phreak: The coloured stars are as small as I could make them, and still retain both brightness and colour comparable to bright colourless stars. Making a pure-point greyscale starfield is a piece of pie, but coloured stars add some variance to the starfield that intensity alone can't do.

I like the colors, but I think my problem is that I'm playing on a laptop (1280x800) until the end of the week since I'm on travel.  I will try it out on my monitor (1920x1200) when I get back home, it will probably look better there.
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Offline Herra Tohtori

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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Herra Tohtori thanks for the info , could you post your gamma settings or a small how too

Okay. IF you want to apply your desktop gamma settings to FreeSpace 2, you need to use the -no_set_gamma command line option. This will prevent FS2_Open from using it's own gamma settings, and your desktop gamma settings will be used instead. In most cases, you should not use this setting though, especially if your desktop gamma settings are not correctly configured.

When it comes to correct gamma calibration, you need preferably something that can not only edit the gamma settings, but also save them because otherwise you'll lose your settings every time you update GPU driver (and because NVidia's latest control panel incarnation is just slightly above useless when it comes to gamma calibration stuff). I personally use RivaTuner's "Low level desktop color schemes" feature.

You also need some reference images and information on how they should look like. I think it's perhaps best to start from here, it's a pretty comrpehensive guide on colour calibration on liquid crystal displays. Or if you have a clue of what you're doing, this image will tell you what to do - basically every diamond should blend into surrounding square when you squint your eyes and look at the screen from your normal point of view. The grey is usually the most difficult to get even close to correct, but trying is a step into correct direction... ;) I won't post my gamma settings because they are very very dependant of your display type and manufacturer, so you'll just need to take the high way and calibrate things yourself.

http://img147.imageshack.us/img147/5897/starfieldtestoe8.png

Honestly, I wouldn't rely on that. I've just opened the window and...frak...it's cloudy...well, I can ensure you that IRL stars are much more prominent than they are in that pic. In space they should be even more prominent...although I live in a pretty isolated place there still are many artificial lights on the soil compromising the brightness of all stars I can see from here.

Er... I've lived most of my life in Simo. In the middle of a forest, too, so the closest disturbing light sources are the lights of some paper factories in Kemi some 25 km away and those are only visible when it was overcast or foggy so they reflect from clouds, so the skies are really dark at winter time when it happens to be clear skies. You can pretty easily see the Milky Way, and on rare occasion the sky gets really awesome looking in a "My God, it's full of stars..." sense. So I've seen my share of stars IRL as well, and when I compare the maps in the side-by-side shot posted by Zacam, the new map is what looks more like stars to me. The other looks like the stars as seen through a thin sheen of cloud in the upper atmosphere. In fact, the stars in the new map look brighter to me than in the old one, so I don't know what you want really.

To be honest though, stars aren't as bright as we see them. They only appear thus when our dark vision really gets going and there's no disturbing light sources around. There's plenty of light sources around in FreeSpace environment (thrusters, beams, SUNS, and other fancy stuff). Realistically, you couldn't see the stars most of the time because your eyes would be in day mode. In a mission where you could see the stars, you should technically see everything else in low intensity grayscale, much like you would see in the dark. Which brings us to the point...

Quote
And do we have to stick with realistic brightness values? I think it'd be better to focus on the graphical effects. :D[/mobius]

That's exactly what we're doing! FS2 graphics are rather unrealistic if you think of them as a whole. The stars and suns included. Like said, most of the time in the missions you see plenty bright objects in the view. Realistically, your eyes would accommodate to the amount of light so that they could see the, say, Aquitaine accurately so while you would be looking at bright stuff, you wouldn't likely even notice stars. They would only be visible in missions with low intensity light sources.

Also, I fail to see how exactly the older starfield would be graphically better looking than the new one anyway.


Besides it's not such an arduous task to replace the new starfield with the old one, if you seriously think it's better. Thus far I haven't seen a horde of compaining customers telling that the new starfield looks bad, so I think it's not gonna be changed in the patch.


phreak - it is possible that small resolution displays could show some contraction of the texture. You could try reducing the field of view to find a setting that shows the starfield at as close to original size as possible. And it will very much likely look better with the big screen, like most things. ;7
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Offline Zacam

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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Honestly, I wouldn't rely on that. I've just opened the window and...frak...it's cloudy...well, I can ensure you that IRL stars are much more prominent than they are in that pic. In space they should be even more prominent...although I live in a pretty isolated place there still are many artificial lights on the soil compromising the brightness of all stars I can see from here.

And do we have to stick with realistic brightness values? I think it'd be better to focus on the graphical effects. :D[/mobius]

We did focus on the graphical effects. Apparently, some people are missing that fact. And that pic is a compressed level shot, apparently you didn't look close enough at it, or at the Pepsi challenge pic I posted. Zoom it up some.

Unless a whole lot more people with a whole lot more weight start throwing their own with your bandwagon, the starfield is not changing. If you would like technical assistance for how to use the old one in your own personal game, more than happy to assist.
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Offline Mobius

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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Since someone hasn't excluded the release of a patch, would you like to make edits to the starfield map and add it to the patch?

No doubt the player doesn't have enough time to take a "closer" look at the map, especially with all the battles raging on, but when it happens(campaigns are full of chats and moments of relative calm) it's easy to realize that something is missing. The first impression is that there's no starfield...when I watched it for the first time I thought the coders somehow made sure that random-generated stars(whose number can be easily set via FRED) show off various color glows. Really.

By reading a few comments here and there I realized that most stars are nearly invisible. It'd be nice to solve the problem and have an enjoyable starfield. I don't do that myself since I have no texturing skills, I would have been more than glad to create samples. :(
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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Since someone hasn't excluded the release of a patch, would you like to make edits to the starfield map and add it to the patch?

No, actually, I would not like to make edits to the starfield. Or add any version of one to the patch.

Boomerang is flawed and needs to be corrected. Open the missions and you will see this:

;;FSO 3.6.0;; $Skybox Model: starfield01.pof

People can't see the MediaVP starfield because the MediaVP POF is not loading.

*snap*
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Offline Herra Tohtori

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Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Since someone hasn't excluded the release of a patch, would you like to make edits to the starfield map and add it to the patch?

Unless a mass of complaints or some technical explanation for the mysteriously lousy starfield appears, no, the starfield will remain as it is in the VP's. It was a bit tricky to get right, both from artist point of view and from technical point of view - ask Zacam what kind of hoops he had to jump through to get the filesize reduced to measly 8 MB instead of 12-14 MB.

Quote
No doubt the player doesn't have enough time to take a "closer" look at the map, especially with all the battles raging on, but when it happens(campaigns are full of chats and moments of relative calm) it's easy to realize that something is missing. The first impression is that there's no starfield...when I watched it for the first time I thought the coders somehow made sure that random-generated stars(whose number can be easily set via FRED) show off various color glows. Really.

By reading a few comments here and there I realized that most stars are nearly invisible. It'd be nice to solve the problem and have an enjoyable starfield. I don't do that myself since I have no texturing skills, I would have been more than glad to create samples. :([/mobius]

Thank you for the link. That image in that discussion does not show the starfield as it should, so it might be a sign of something going wrong at some point; I don't know where but I would certainly like to. Like I said in the first message I suspected something was wrong in your case, but if this is a sign of a wider problem it's definitely worth taking a closer look at.

Could you post a screenshot of your gameplay with just the starfield, no nebulae? I'd like to compare what you see to what I know you should be seeing. If these two vary, then we have a problem. And just for the fun of it, post a debug log while you're at it...

...and Zacam was faster and actually posted an explanation. Wrong skybox doesn't show up, so the starfield isn't active in that shot. Please double-check that there isn't any extra stuff in your installation mixing stuff up... :blah:
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