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Community Projects => The FreeSpace Upgrade Project => Topic started by: Mobius on December 14, 2008, 03:30:22 am

Title: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Mobius on December 14, 2008, 03:30:22 am
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.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: -Joshua- on December 14, 2008, 04:33:21 am
You know, when I look up to the nightsky, I do not see that much of prominent stars.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Mobius on December 14, 2008, 04:39:23 am
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.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: phreak on December 14, 2008, 09:38:32 am
I just think some of the colored stars are too big when compared to the other "point" stars
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Mobius on December 14, 2008, 09:40:32 am
In other words, there are nearly invisible stars.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: phreak on December 14, 2008, 09:43:12 am
no, i think the big ones are a bit distracting
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Herra Tohtori on December 14, 2008, 10:33:27 am
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.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Mobius on December 14, 2008, 11:27:19 am
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. :)
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Dark RevenantX on December 14, 2008, 11:31:08 am
A bloom shader would fix this if we made the glow small enough...
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Droid803 on December 14, 2008, 11:50:03 am
The stars look great to me...
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Zacam on December 14, 2008, 11:55:07 am
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:

(http://img517.imageshack.us/img517/3882/starshotqu0.th.png) (http://img517.imageshack.us/my.php?image=starshotqu0.png)
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Herra Tohtori on December 14, 2008, 12:19:55 pm
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?

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




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?
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: captain-custard on December 14, 2008, 12:46:53 pm
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
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Mobius on December 14, 2008, 12:48:32 pm
(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.

And do we have to stick with realistic brightness values? I think it'd be better to focus on the graphical effects. :D
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: phreak on December 14, 2008, 01:19:49 pm
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.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Herra Tohtori on December 14, 2008, 01:26:58 pm
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 (http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/), 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://www.av8n.com/imaging/img48/gamcal.png)
http://img147.imageshack.us/img147/5897/starfieldtestoe8.png (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
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Zacam on December 14, 2008, 01:33:28 pm
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.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Mobius on December 14, 2008, 01:41:00 pm
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 (http://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php/topic,58351.msg1177834.html#msg1177834) 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. :(
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Zacam on December 14, 2008, 01:51:26 pm
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*
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Herra Tohtori on December 14, 2008, 01:53:44 pm
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 (http://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php/topic,58351.msg1177834.html#msg1177834) 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:
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Admiral Nelson on December 14, 2008, 01:57:05 pm
Yes, the Boomerang issue was my mistake, not Herra/Zacam's.  This problem has been resolved.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Charismatic on December 15, 2008, 10:37:53 pm
Another mystery under the belt!
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: sfried on January 05, 2009, 03:04:37 pm
I think the main reason why the new starfield feels "meh" is because of the lack of light trails when you move your view. It was a nice touch that sort of made a very convincing "spacey" motion feel that I felt Volition wanted to capture from Star Wars movies/games.

I don't find anything wrong with the starfields per se, but without the light trail effects, it just isn't the same.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Rodo on January 05, 2009, 03:11:53 pm
I would only complain about the lack of bigger stars... but those are kind of hard to include since the skybox will always be the same and making big stars will make soo much obvious that everyone is using the same starfield.

Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Herra Tohtori on January 06, 2009, 09:06:58 am
sfried: The skybox starfield uses a completely different method from the retail streaky stars. The retail stars are basically a very rudimentary procedural starfield combined with an equally rudimentary motion blur effect (which only affects the stars, in a very fake way I might add but that's just my opinion about them). The starfields used by skyboxes are basically textures that are rendered onto the inside of a sphere, so it's pretty much impossible to have a similar streaky effect as with the retail stars.

Also, the dominant opinion (iirc) is that the retail stars and starfield textures don't mix well, so the number of retail stars was reduced to zero for the mediaVP retail missions.

It is a trivial matter to specify a non-zero amount of retail stars (in mission files) to be used in addition to the skybox starfield texture, but it'll look strange as some stars streak and most don't. Having a shader based motion blur effect is probably what would make the starfield effect more similar to retail, but again personally I would likely not use it, unless it were configurable to adjust the strength of the effect... and to be honest, there are other things I would rather see in the engine than motion blur/bloom effects or post-processing filters in general. Like shadows. I want to see shadows. :p

Rodo: Lack of bigger stars? What do you mean? There's a distinct lack of "big stars" when you look at both real life night sky, and when you look at the retail FS2 stars. The retail starfield consists of equally bright pixels.

If you mean having more suns in the background, that would be bogus... The backgrounds are made based on what we see in FS2 retail backgrounds. And at any rate, it's better to keep the background starfield as background starfield, and add everything else on top of it as background elements via FRED2 background editor. And yes, making too prominent constellations will make it obvious that all missions use the same background, but a bigger problem would be that the starfield tiling gets waay too obvious... You'd see the same constellations repeated six times.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: aRaven on January 06, 2009, 04:21:47 pm
I think the main reason why the new starfield feels "meh" is because of the lack of light trails when you move your view. It was a nice touch that sort of made a very convincing "spacey" motion feel that I felt Volition wanted to capture from Star Wars movies/games.

I don't find anything wrong with the starfields per se, but without the light trail effects, it just isn't the same.

i agree! i want streaky stars! don't care about shadows...we don't need them ^^
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Lukeskywalkie on January 06, 2009, 05:24:52 pm
I'm a fan of the new starfield. just noticed it today - I understand the limitations of the retail star effect, and yeah, it's a shame we can't have our cakes...stars...and..something something them too, but I feel that the new details prevalent in the startfield, and the media vpa in general, more than offsets the loss of an effect primarily designed to simulate speed. with the fov completely configurable, its not hard to get that woosh! effect without the old (sparse, boring, 1 pixel) stars. the only thing I really miss about the blur effect is the jiggle when you hit the afterburners.

Thanks for all the hard work.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Rodo on January 06, 2009, 06:14:24 pm
Rodo: Lack of bigger stars? What do you mean? There's a distinct lack of "big stars" when you look at both real life night sky, and when you look at the retail FS2 stars. The retail starfield consists of equally bright pixels.

If you mean having more suns in the background, that would be bogus... The backgrounds are made based on what we see in FS2 retail backgrounds. And at any rate, it's better to keep the background starfield as background starfield, and add everything else on top of it as background elements via FRED2 background editor. And yes, making too prominent constellations will make it obvious that all missions use the same background, but a bigger problem would be that the starfield tiling gets waay too obvious... You'd see the same constellations repeated six times.

I ment bigger spots of light, like a far away mega cluster of stars or something like that.

Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: sfried on January 06, 2009, 09:05:28 pm
...but I feel that the new details prevalent in the startfield, and the media vpa in general, more than offsets the loss of an effect primarily designed to simulate speed. with the fov completely configurable, its not hard to get that woosh! effect without the old (sparse, boring, 1 pixel) stars. the only thing I really miss about the blur effect is the jiggle when you hit the afterburners.
Yeah, the new stars are really nice to look, but I still do like the light trails effect on the old ones, despite its somewhat "primitive" starfield. It really felt like I was in the cockpit with those effects. It's a shame that it isn't in this build.

Here's hoping for the next release to reintroduce it.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Herra Tohtori on January 07, 2009, 06:23:31 am
I ment bigger spots of light, like a far away mega cluster of stars or something like that.

The background editor is far better suited for this kind of background objects for various reasons - two most important ones being that the starfield is tiled to skybox, and the fact that that kind of objects would make it even more difficult to use any kind of compression on the starfield. The tiling causes any objects on the starfield to repeat six times when you look up, down, left, right, front and back. So the more you have "prominent items", the bigger the risk of players noticing the repetition and subsequently loss of immersion. The compression thing is another one; gradients are not easy to compress in any way. Uncompressed, the starfield would take about 12 MB of ram. Compressed as it is, it takes about 8 MB. Adding objects other than stars would, like said, make it even more difficult to use any kind of compression on the texture - ask Zacam for more detail if you want.

And at any rate, you don't really see that stuff when you casually look at the night sky. You need very dark conditions, clear sky, and then, MAYBE, if you know where you need to look at, you can see the Andromeda galaxy (M31) with bare eyes - but not when you look at it directly, because the center of your eyes is not sensitive enough for weak light to detect it; you need to use the sensitive cells next to the "yellow spot" on your retinas. Even then it looks like a fuzzy little smear in the sky, and you only see the core of the galaxy. Magellanic clouds would be visible in similar fashion, and the great nebula of Orion (M42) is somewhat visible as a bit brighter area around the stars it is accompanied with, but you can't really see details. You definitely wouldn't notice them in combat. Even in space. If you want that kind of objects in, add them to the background tables and use them as background bitmaps, it's easier for all parties involved.

And, like said, streaky stars are trivial to get back (just change one value in a mission file and they be back). They are not related to builds (FS2_Open executables) in any way, they are a retail feature that can be turned off in mission files. You can specify the amount of retail stars up to 3000 IIRC. Personally, though, I would prefer a proper motion blur effect that would also work on textured starfields... The retail stars don't mix very well with the stars in textures, because textured stars don't streak and thus it makes things a little weird looking.

Perhaps you should get a bad quality flat display with a prominent afterimage, just for playing FS2_Open with streaky stars?  :lol:
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Col. Fishguts on January 07, 2009, 10:58:02 am
I for one don't like the streaky retail stars, static skybox stars are way more realistic.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: castor on January 07, 2009, 12:04:07 pm
FTW!
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Aardwolf on January 07, 2009, 01:00:52 pm
(http://i93.photobucket.com/albums/l77/Aardwolf001/Planets/somestarfield.png)

I made this in like two minutes (actually longer but only because I got sidetracked fooling around with hue/saturation).

As for the topic of streaky stars: only the brighter stars would look like that (and even then, not as much as they did in retail)... but since the skybox texture is not an HDR-texture (note I mean more data than 255 colors per channel, not "Blooooommmmmmm!!!111111111eleventy"), and since it would require post-processing shader effects, it's not likely to get done that way.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Mobius on January 07, 2009, 01:16:28 pm
Rodo: Lack of bigger stars? What do you mean? There's a distinct lack of "big stars" when you look at both real life night sky, and when you look at the retail FS2 stars. The retail starfield consists of equally bright pixels.

Too bad that most missions, both canon and custom made, don't take place in Sol...to bad that this search for reality has negative effects on eyecandy.

Bigger stars are considerably plausible for other systems adn really improve the effect. As I said at the very beginning of this thread, most stars can't be noticed that easily. :(
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Herra Tohtori on January 07, 2009, 02:15:54 pm
Too bad that most missions, both canon and custom made, don't take place in Sol...

Yeah, it would be possible to research the overall background starfield conditions and make a tailored starfield background for each of them. However, I'm gonna make a rude guesstimation here and say that vast majority of the systems are located in relatively similar surroundings as the Sol system - outskirts of Milky Way. You would pretty much see similar starfield everywhere unless you're orbiting a star that is immediate part of something like M13 star cluster.

I don't remember any systems in FS2 that would be part of open cluster like Pleiades or Hyades either. And, even if they were, it would be better to deal with that kind of environment through the background elements.

If there are some systems whose surroundings completely vary from the "milky way galactic norm", you can do the research and substitute a different skybox for those missions, but I'm really not going to bother doing that kind of research as it will not be worth it. Space tends to be quite similar looking, so unless you get into the Galactic Core (in which case you would see some more stars but probably not as much as you would expect) or into intergalactic space... the amount of stars seen in the background would be more or less the same. Most of the stars we can observe actually blend into milky way fog anyway, and same would happen everywhere in the galaxy.

I guess you could try something like Celestia to move from system to system and observe how the background starfield looks like.

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to bad that this search for reality has negative effects on eyecandy.

Matter of opinion almost completely. If you preferred the old starfield, by all means use it. Or make a better new one - I'm not even sure what exactly you're after at this point (see below)... More of the blurry stars?

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Bigger stars are considerably plausible for other systems adn really improve the effect.

Arguable to a very high degree - feel free to do the research and show how much the background starfield consistency would vary between systems. I seriously doubt it would be enough to warrant more than one 2048^2 sized texture to hog hard disk and bandwidth...

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As I said at the very beginning of this thread, most stars can't be noticed that easily. :(

Again, if you have trouble seeing most of the stars in the current mediaVP texture, there's something very special about your monitor settings, because they certainly show up very well on both my home PC and my parents' home PC. They are definitely more noticeable and better defined than the 3.6.10 beta VP starfield, as you can see simply by looking at the comparision shots posted by Zacam. And they are a far cry from the 3.6.8 zeta starfield.. :ick:

If you want to increase the amount of stars that are >1px in size, I'm not gonna do it. I have tried a lot of stuff when I was making this starfield, and the end result in the mediaVP's is what by my judgement (and as far as I know, other FSU team members as well) was about the best working compromise between variety and keeping the stars from not becoming annoying blobs.

If you want to increase the portion of the stars that are bigger, by all means feel free to do it. Then deal with the fact that the stars stop looking like point sources of light like they are supposed to - especially in space - as well as the fact that you see the same stars projected to six directions of the skybox, so if you put something like Orion or Big Dipper or some other recognizeable constellation shapes on the starfield, you're gonna see them everywhere very soon...  :sigh:

But seriously, though, check your monitor settings and driver-level gamma settings... If you can, check things on a different monitor. I don't know how things look on your monitor. I don't really even understand how you're seeing what you're describing, so I don't know if you're seeing the same as I, and thus it's a bit difficult to respond in any meaningful way. Hell, take a photograph of the starfield on your display (keep the view still, no flash or other lights in the room, use smallest aperture and sensitivity settings available, and then adjust the exposure time so that the image is accurately lit) and show that to us if it helps to convey what exactly are you seeing.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Jeff Vader on January 07, 2009, 02:19:08 pm
Again, if you have trouble seeing most of the stars in the current mediaVP texture, there's something very special about your monitor settings, because they certainly show up very well on both my home PC and my parents' home PC.
Confirmatory. Show up just fine. Purdy.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Mobius on January 07, 2009, 02:23:16 pm
To be honest it's pretty useless to keep discussing, I know you won't change anything.

The only good thing is that I'll do whatever it takes keep the old starfield map in INFA and INF SCP or, at least, hire someone able to work on the old starfield map and keep its style. Such is liberation.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: captain-custard on January 07, 2009, 02:32:27 pm
if you dont like the new ones cant you just crack open the media vps and put the old ones in there and remove or rename the new ones?

ive been following this thread and at the beginning i was more for keeping the old ones but taking the advice and adjusting my monitor settings i now prefer the new ones .....as for the streaky stars i never felt that these were that great ,......
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Mobius on January 07, 2009, 02:37:57 pm
if you dont like the new ones cant you just crack open the media vps and put the old ones in there and remove or rename the new ones?

Yeah, something like that.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: sfried on January 07, 2009, 06:58:17 pm
I wish modders would be creative enough to implement replacement light trails, not necessarily the 1-pixel ones used in retail, but perhaps create a form of alpha-blurring that would only apply to the starfield.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Aardwolf on January 07, 2009, 07:02:03 pm
That would require changes to the engine itself, at least until fullscreen postprocessing gets in.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: blowfish on January 07, 2009, 07:02:15 pm
I wish modders would be creative enough to implement replacement light trails, not necessarily the 1-pixel ones used in retail, but perhaps create a form of alpha-blurring that would only apply to the starfield.

This has to do with code, not modding, and it isn't really a question of creativity :rolleyes:  Motion blur, which would make a lot of things look better, as well as making backgrounds blur when you moved, may be added at some point, but the truth is, the SCP is a little short on talented graphics programmers, not to mention the current code freeze.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Mobius on January 08, 2009, 12:16:17 pm
I wish modders would be creative enough to implement replacement light trails, not necessarily the 1-pixel ones used in retail, but perhaps create a form of alpha-blurring that would only apply to the starfield.

No.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: -Joshua- on January 09, 2009, 03:51:01 pm
In other words, there are nearly invisible stars.

There are nearly invisible stars down here too...
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: sfried on January 09, 2009, 10:09:48 pm
I still wish light trails could return. Nothing really fancy, but just enough to give the Star Wars woozy effect.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: blowfish on January 09, 2009, 10:13:04 pm
It's just not as simple as "making them return"

Retail stars are just white points stuck on the background.  As you may imagine, it's pretty easy to generate trails from points.  The mediavp starfield is an actual image mapped onto a sphere which makes up the background of the sky.  This looks much better, but it really requires some sort of motion blur if light trails are to appear.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: sfried on January 09, 2009, 11:23:14 pm
It's just not as simple as "making them return"

Retail stars are just white points stuck on the background.  As you may imagine, it's pretty easy to generate trails from points.  The mediavp starfield is an actual image mapped onto a sphere which makes up the background of the sky.  This looks much better, but it really requires some sort of motion blur if light trails are to appear.
Can't they simultaneously generate white points that match the positions of the brighter stars in the image map along with the new starfield? That way it would be natural that bright stars generate trails while fainter stars would generally not be as prominent during motion. They could figure out the algorythm that produces the retail stars and just recode it to predeterminedly match points in an image.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: blowfish on January 09, 2009, 11:39:20 pm
If you think it's that simple ... go code it yourself :rolleyes:
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: sfried on January 09, 2009, 11:40:33 pm
If you think it's that simple ... go code it yourself :rolleyes:
I don't know how to code for Freespace 2. Is it C++ or some other language?
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: blowfish on January 10, 2009, 12:32:49 am
As a general rule, never say something is easy to code unless you are a coder.  And Freespace is C with some C++.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: -Joshua- on January 10, 2009, 05:49:42 am
As a general rule, never say something is easy to code unless you are a coder.  And Freespace is C with some C++.

One can combine programming codes?
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: CaptJosh on January 10, 2009, 12:00:24 pm
Not inside the same source file, no. But sources using different languages can be combined as long as the compiler knows they are and can handle the different languages.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: blowfish on January 10, 2009, 12:12:06 pm
Well, yeah, actually, since the C++ compiler understands C...
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Mongoose on January 10, 2009, 03:02:25 pm
At its core, C++ is just what its name implies: C, plus a bunch of other stuff.  Most (if not all) basic C content is used by C++ as well.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Aardwolf on January 10, 2009, 03:28:04 pm
The only thing I know of that C++ can't do which C can is something about kernel something.
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: CaptJosh on January 11, 2009, 04:09:27 pm
Isn't C++ object oriented where C isn't really?
Title: Re: Is It Me Or The New Starfield Is Kind Of Meh?
Post by: Mongoose on January 11, 2009, 05:27:17 pm
Isn't C++ object oriented where C isn't really?
That's right; C++ adds in the elements of what is generally considered object-oriented programming that C did not include.  (Just don't ask me what those elements are, since I don't really remember those classes. :p) However, you don't have to use the object-oriented side of C++ to accomplish most relatively simple tasks.  I haven't poked through the FS_Open code myself, but from what I remember hearing, there isn't a massive amount of OOP-ish content as a whole.