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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
03-13-2010, 09:27 PM
(continued)

Generic Technical Set
This is the set that is used for exploration or patrols where you need to beam down and collect computer data or the jem-hadar jump you or whatever. It is characterized by hard lined shapes, gray textures, boxy consoles. etc. It is very techy looking, and overall I like it. I think the theme is well carried out. the couple of problems I have is, it is over-lit. Its too bright. The colors are right, cool colors, make it feel very techy. But there is too much. The light cones are some of the worst in this game. Hard edges models with no gradient whatsoever. If people are not sure what light cones are, ill explain. When you look up at the florescent lights you see a ray coming down from the light to fake the light having some kind of directional aura. This is a good technique when executed properly, and I personally use it all the time. I have a very simple shader that makes use of alpha opacity and a simple gradient. UV mapped the surface of the cone you get a great effect. The problem here is the gradient is either not there, or too subtle. So the cone has this hard edge where it comes to an end. Another problem is prop layout. The terminals are just placed in weird nonsensical ways. Some you cant even stand in front of. I have to assume this is some sort of procedural world building system that is generating these dungeons because It doesn't make sense any other way. Some of the large cylindrical terminals are actually z fighting because they are placed on top of one another. That being said, the textures, the hallways, walls, floors, ceilings are are pretty good. This set could be spotless with some relighting and touch-ups.

Romulan Set
This set isn't bad. I don't have a lot to say on it. Nothing stuck out to me as particularly annoying. Windows, odd console placement and so on seem to plague most of all the sets (except DS9). The lighting, color choices, textures all seem appropriate and I feel as though I'm in a romulan base or ship. Mostly watch out for too much reflection on surfaces and watch window problems and that's about it.

Cave Set
Lots and lots of lighting bugs. The dev team might be using portals or some kind of other stream method which just doesn't work well with this set. Often I will be running down hallway segments and see a completely black room up ahead. The room wont zone in until I'm inside the black area. Some segments of the room will remain black, as if lighting was broken and needs to be re-baked. Model wise its not the best cave set I have ever seen, but its also far from the worst. Lots of undulation in the surfaces help to sell that its made of rock. The biggest issue I have is how absurdly mathematically square the hallway segments and rooms are. They may have a reason for this, but I'm personally not fond of it. Secondly is the ground texture. its the same as the wall texture. Not only does this make everything kinda blend together killing the illusion, it also makes nasty UV seams. If it were me I would probably try to do a gravel texture where it went from the current rock into gravel in a gradient. I'm not sure if this engine supports vertex painting with shaders, but it can come in handy. If not then 2 additional textures might come in handy. One that is mostly gravel with some rock, and one that is mostly rock with some gravel. Mapping this so that there is little to no seams, covering seems with prop rocks and so on. The lighting isn't bad but it might also be worth it to add more stalactites and stalagmites, and then making it look as if the light is emanating from the ground up, the ceiling naturally being nearly black with the rock formations pocking out to pick up some mood lighting. This brings me to my final crit for this set. Where is the light coming from. There is a fair amount of light, but mostly the rooms are vacant. one terminal, a couple of plants. that's about it. Maybe I am missing something here.

Other Sets
Other sets exist in the game but haven't caught my eye really. But some generic comments for all dungeons are to watch out for windows, use them for nice cool looking vistas. Watch lighting, Lighting can really sell a map. make sure that light comes from light sources as much as possible. You cant always do this, but as often as possible, make sure the light comes from some place. Watch for UV seams, mesh seams, z-fighting and so on. What I like to do is create a quick check list. Run through the completed level, then hand it off for a quick pier review. This can help to fix some of these placement problems. If the placement is some sort of procedural world building tool,maybe it might be good to have a human make a final run through and adjust anything that seems illogical.

In closing I know that some of this probably sounds like preaching or maybe like I might be a little self-righteous. The fact is I love the game you guys have made and have a lot of respect for all you have done int he short time you have done it in.Its a big accomplishment to crank out that much content that fast AND make it fun. Then follow it up with content patches and raids. My hats off to all of the dev team and a special bow for the art team. However I feel compelled to say a few simple things in hopes that it might stimulate some conversation among the team and perhaps help to make the game I am enjoying that much better.

-P81