How much is enough?

Graphics in EVN mods

Poll: Acceptable graphics for plug-ins: (29 member(s) have cast votes)
Acceptable ship models should be:
Teacup TC is great!
(4 votes [13.79%])
Percentage of vote: 13.79%
Original Escape Velocity (simple, untextured)
(5 votes [17.24%])
Percentage of vote: 17.24%
Textured, but it doesn't have to be the full monty
(14 votes [48.28%])
Percentage of vote: 48.28%
EVN level - banked turns, running lights, etc.
(6 votes [20.69%])
Percentage of vote: 20.69%

Hi all -

I'd like to start a discussion about plug-in development. My goal is to determine the level of effort I need to spend on the graphics (and where to focus that effort) for my own project. The basic question is this:

All other things aside (assume the story is great, the missions challenging, etc.) how basic is TOO basic for the ship models and outfit/SPOB/ship picts and other graphics?

When does it begin detracting from the storyline?

What are people's expectations?

NOTE: My own project has the universe 90%, outfits 90%, ships 20% (resources done with place-holder graphics only), story 100%, missions (2% - just starting this). I'm not really willing to talk about it until I get to a beta-testing stage. My tentative goal is September - expect more around then... and thanks for the input!

Nice graphics are great, but story and gameplay are more important. SOME graphics are a must (TCTC is great for what it is, but no one wants a black and white full sizer), and they should probably look better than EVC. Indeed, doing Nova-quality graphics may be easier now, 4 years after the release, as tools have advanced so much. Spening money on Maya for a TC is unreasonable, but Bryce is a good deal.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents.

Here's my thoughts on the matter:

Graphics quality should be the best you can manage. Ships should be Nova-quality or almost Nova-quality. Running lights aren't always necessary, but banking sprites are pretty necessary, especially for faster ships - otherwise the ship will stand out and look strange. A good rule of thumb is consistency - your graphics should fit well into the Nova universe, blending as seamlessly as possible with everything else. If you're making a new Fed ship, it should fit with the designs and styles that the Feds already use. If you're making ships for a new group of normal humans, their ships should be more similar to the Fed, Pirate and Auroran ships than to the Polaris or Vell-os.

Obviously not everyone is going to have the same level of skill, so some graphics will look better than Nova, and some will look worse - but as long as you aim for consistency, you'll probably do all right.

TCs are a different story altogether, since they don't have to blend with anything but themselves. They should, however, be roughly on par with the stock Nova graphics.

As vader noted above, though, story and gameplay come first. Additional graphics should only be there to support the story - so if the story just won't work without a particular new ship, weapon or outfit, add it and make it look good. But if the story doesn't need it, don't add it.

This post has been edited by albuminouslump : 05 July 2006 - 02:09 PM

I literally grew up with classic (and I know how hard it is to make decent graphics), so I'm content with something that looks nice enough to not be hard on the eyes. I am not in disagreement with those who say that all TCs must look as good as Nova, however.

EDIT: Oh, look. Post #400. I'm a tiga. Rawr.

This post has been edited by gray_shirt_ninja : 05 July 2006 - 09:28 PM

I think that either TCTC or EVN, nothing in between, are OK.
If you want something to look real and 3D, do it right, like EVN. I'm not particularly fond of graphics, like those from EVC, that are kind of 3D models, but are not truly 3D looking, they just look kind of weird, half finished. I do not consider them a step above TCTC, really, as they are not visually appealing to me in any way more than they would be if they were meant to be flat-looking. TCTC is really basic, you can tell that it is not really supposed to be real-looking... it is really basic.
As in, do really nice rendered 3D graphics or don't, not halfway there with funny colored textures and shading that isn't great... if you want to have realistic looking ships, do so, if not, don't try and leave the attempt halfway.

Sorry to anyone on the EVC-EVO team that might have offended, I recognize that that is very much a personal taste, and it definitly won't stop me from playing a game that has good gameplay, such as any of the EV's, but I really don't mind really basic graphics, and I am not a fan of untextured stuff in general. I actually kind of made my opposition to them seem worse than it is in this post. It's not like EVC-EVO burned my eyes, it was actually not bad for the time, but it is not my taste to do anything unless you can make it perfect... I'm not sure if that makes me a perfectionist or just a good procrastinator as an effect, but... I think everyone gets the point, right? I'm not really awake enough to put together anything less rambling and more coherent than this post right now, sorry...

By desc should look as good do you mean a well written landing desc or a decent Terragen picture for the landing shot? 'Coz if it wasn't for a lack of landing shots I could have something out the door pretty quick, in a serial-release of plot chapters kind of way.

If it is going to be an attachment or add on to the Nova universe it should be up to Nova levels.
There have been numerous plug-ins that I havent even bothered playing because they added
graphics that just don't fit.
However if it is a TC, in my opinion the graphics can be at any level you want them to be as long
as it is plain to see what is going on. I would be willing to to play something Nova sized with
graphics as simple as those of the Teacup TC as long as it was consitant.

It's a total conversion. It lacks many outfit pictures because modeling them is lethally boring. It lacks landscapes because Terragen is crap (no plants, no buildings, etc) and I never could do anything decent with Bryce, and besides, modeling that stuff is really boring. Aside from that I could definatly have a first release of a serial plot line out rather quickly.

@rmx256, on Jul 6 2006, 06:52 PM, said in How much is enough?:

It's a total conversion. It lacks many outfit pictures because modeling them is lethally boring. It lacks landscapes because Terragen is crap (no plants, no buildings, etc) and I never could do anything decent with Bryce, and besides, modeling that stuff is really boring. Aside from that I could definatly have a first release of a serial plot line out rather quickly.

I'd be willing to help with some quick renders for either landing or outfits. Those don't take me too long. And I don't use Terragen. PM me if you so please.

I find Terragen very useful, at least once one gets into the art of it, take Ragashingo's work for instance. Plus, it isn't that hard to photoshop or even GIMP some trees, or a simple structure perhaps, into a render. And Terragen 2, (if that's still going to happen) with model import and everything, will be an excellent tool for landscape pictures, look at just the beta images.

I personally find graphics a major part of a plugin or TC. I don't mind if the graphics are not good, at least from a TC level, but when they are good I am much more impressed.

I'd be comfortable with EVO quality for a TC. Decent enough and don't make graphics take nearly as long. EVO quality is at least what I want my graphics to look like for CTC.

For plug-ins, do your best to make the graphics match Nova's quality and style.

For TCs, I personally will go with "A bit better than EVO" for graphics. It wouldn't need to be much better- just using the full 16-bit colors Nova allows would likely be enough. Another thing that dramatically improves simple ship graphics is the addition of engine glows, as I discovered after adding the EVC Rocket's glow to the Hawk, and trying it out in Nova.

Note that this is only my opinion for TCs that use 3D models for their graphics. Other graphical styles, such as TCTC, or the "claymation" TC that was suggested a while back, would also work nicely, as long as they are internally consistent and show reasonable artistic ability.

Finally, I'm somewhat impressed that TCTC is holding its own in this poll against Nova. 🙂


@edwards, on Jul 9 2006, 12:46 PM, said in How much is enough?:

Finally, I'm somewhat impressed that TCTC is holding its own in this poll against Nova. 🙂

That's one of the things I was looking for- how much effort will be 'enough' to get people to look past the graphics and appreciate the storyline. Seems like there's a pretty good consensus on planets and outfits, but that people are willing to move a little on ship detail- thanks everyone for offering your thoughts!

First, you can never please everyone. Starting with that in mind, try to stick with whatever style you like through to the end. Nothing is ever enough. You can always add(up 'till the ressources are all used 😛 ). But doing your best is always enough. Think of a nice story. Make it interesting, give it some twists, make it funny, make it whatever as long as it's good and original in its "genre". Don't hold back with new concepts. You can even bring ideas that were already talked about, while many things about nova were thought of theorically, there isn't actually that much that has been released. TCs are few in numbers. Good plugs that add something to the story and other things that blend in with nova are rare, too.

Graphically, I'll stick with what was said already. Anything goes if it's consistent. Of course, the cooler the graphics, the more attractive it will make your TC. But if you think about it, you could be flying different sizes and colors of tomatoes and the game could still be fun. Make the story addictive. Make the outfits and ships customising and combat interesting through careful consideration and that is what will make your plug most fun to play. Also, avoid hurting people's eyes.

Log in to reply