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Cryptic Studios Team
Join Date: Jun 2012
08-15-2012, 08:55 AM
The fact is, black space, with a few visible stars, is rather boring.
Nebulae, asteroids, planets, etc. are added to maps for many reasons. They could be there because that's what that system is shown as in the show, or described as containing. However, yes, most of the time, those things are added as visual interest, to keep the background from being quite so dull. They can also serve as reference for motion.
Now, just because we don't want ALL of our maps to be black space with stars doesn't mean that more couldn't be. I wholeheartedly agree that the early work on STO involved way too many nebulae and other space effects. I would prefer to return to more 'realistic' space as we move forward. However there are plenty of instances from the show of non-black space, and plenty of times in the game where something will necessitate nebulae and the like.
As for lighting, it drives me nuts when there is a light coming from nowhere. However, it is well established canon as the enterprise was nearly always lit, and you rarely, saw a nearby star. Still, I prefer to make sure that any maps I make, do have a visibly significant star in them, that can be plausibly lighting the map/players.
I'm sure some of you have heard my sun rant before, but suffice it to say that I have tried to introduce some more realism to space maps through the use of more proper suns (yes, with lens flare), fewer nebulae, and making planets feel larger by putting them into the background (like was done for UPS). The last point means that you won't be able to approach the planet. It will always appear to be the same distance from you no matter where you go in the map, but it does give them a much more significant feel than in game geometry does. This won't be done for all planets, but when/where it makes sense.
Lt. Miller has picked up on my approaches to space, and has been following suit for some of his work on S7 already, so you'll be seeing this trend continue into the new sector, as well as a couple other places that we hope to get out to you at some point. . .
I can't say that space will be a perfect recreation of the reality, especially as artistic license does need to be taken in some cases, but we will endeavor to bring future space maps more in line with realism than previously.
ETA: As for performance, space in our game, even with nebulae etc. is very empty. There is little that will have much of an impact on your system's performance compared to say, ESD. That's not to say never, and there are instances where, when something breaks (like the recent white blobs) they do take a toll, but for the most part, space is not very performance intensive.
-The Artist formerly known as Tumerboy