Asset Update to Ogre3D Discussion Thread

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Berandas
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Re: Asset Update to Ogre3D Discussion Thread

Post by Berandas » 27 Aug 2014, 21:22

Hello, Pherim!

You have a valid point about the trees and objects like that, that's definitely a thing we should discuss about.
Practically I agree with the fact that trees should be "updated" both in polycount and overall shape, but don't forget, that Vvardenfell isn't the only place where the meshes are used, if we change the shape, we can also affect some mods, where the authors used the trees in some specific way.
For example, when I was using some tree replacer that was working fine on Vvardenfell, I encountered some trees on MW mainland, that had their canopy growing out of the ground. I believe that some trees there were simply submerged by the exterior designers a bit to the ground, so they have some specific look. When you use a different mesh, you simply change that and create errors.
So, this creates a conflict between "being updated" and "being flawless".

Talking about weapons meshes - many object textures in MW are simply projected from the top. When I was talking about correcting flaws, I also meant improving unwrap of these side faces so it's actually mapped on the texture in some reasonable way. I didn't know that your meshes have new UV layout though. As you pointed out, some objects would probably need a new unwrap and this puts us before the decission again - "being compatible" (with other texture replacers) or "being updated"?

As for the MW mod being discussed mainly here - I intend to have topic on the official forums, since that's the base of the modding community, but not sooner than all the things are settled, managed and set up properly. It was mainly discussed here, because the project originated here.

We should deciede, how we're going to solve problems like this.
Thanks for your input here! ;)

tronvillain
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Re: Asset Update to Ogre3D Discussion Thread

Post by tronvillain » 28 Aug 2014, 04:45

Now, virtually everything I've ever done for Morrowind has been derived from existing Morrowind assets (though Better Skulls really benefits from connary's textures), so perhaps I should be considered completely unqualified to comment on this, but I just wanted to mention what occurred to me while reading through this thread:

A complete set of independently made high quality assets will be amazing, but it seems like the project should at least consider existing assets when selecting what to work on first. That is, even if existing mods aren't available (hopefully some are) or "good enough" to incorporate into this asset update, they still exist for people to add to their own games, and many might be worth considering as "good enough until the rest is done."

Just a thought.

Deonsion
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Re: Asset Update to Ogre3D Discussion Thread

Post by Deonsion » 28 Aug 2014, 06:15

You are completely correct. I have been admittidely concentrating on the site right now. It is ~80% done I want to say.

Berandas has been helping me out with the details of getting higher quality meshes working in the current version of OpenMW, along with the short guide we currently have up.

See: http://www.inglip.org

I just got ~1200 tasks added to the claims tracker. Tonight I should have the rest of them done.

Messages/emails should be going out soon to people who have already made replacement packs/similar projects.

At the rate things are going I should have that done this week.

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Pherim
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Re: Asset Update to Ogre3D Discussion Thread

Post by Pherim » 28 Aug 2014, 07:52

@Berandas: You are certainly right about the trees being problematic in some cases like mods, and maybe it is not such a bad idea after all to remodel the original tree shapes, so that they have their trunks and branches in the same place, and then additional branches can be added as well as a lot more foliage, that should make them look a lot more natural, I suppose. It's probably a good thing to have such a "basic" tree replacer, and people can still install other tree replacers above that, if they wish. Maybe someone should make some updated vanilla trees to show what it could look like, and then I will change my opinion.

About the weapons: Yes, you are right that the vanilla meshes use simple projection techniques in many places which leads to ugly stretching, and I tried my best to correct this in my meshes. But that is just the point: I would like to use cylindrical projection and other advanced uv mapping techniques on them (and in some cases, I did), but often the textures simply do not allow it - the result would be ugly seams instead of ugly stretching. So this is something that only new textures can really fix. As I said, my new steel meshes are compatible with vanilla textures and in fact, I adjusted them specifically to work best with Darknut's textures, but in fact I don't like Darknut's textures all that much because most of them are just enlarged vanilla textures with some relief and sharpening filters applied. Sure, they are a huge improvement above the originals, but they don't really add detail and in many cases it doesn't look like the material it is supposed to be, but more like stone or something. So new weapon meshes will only truly shine with completely new textures made specifically for them. Though as you can see in my iron weapon retexture, I might diverge from the vanilla look in some cases with them. If you look at this image, which shows my new steel mace mesh with custom textures (it is included in my iron weapons retexture), and that is the style that I want to go for with the other steel weapons, too.

Also, in addition to the replacers you already mentioned, you should take a look at Apel's Asura Coast and Sheogorath Region Retexture, which includes many new meshes, for plants and other objects, but they also use their own textures. They look absolutely awesome, though. However, this is also a prime example for new meshes not being compatible with all uses, and in this case it is already in the vanilla game: Some of the rock meshes have a quite different shape than the vanilla ones, and as they are also used in places like the urshilaku burial caverns as rock platforms, this is problematic, since the items that are placed on them in the vanilla games cannot be reached any more as they are now inside them. So it is extremely important to consider where these assets are used in the game and then to make sure that replacer meshes still fit everywhere. Apel "solved" this by creating an .esp that moves these rocks to be compatible with the new meshes, but this is certainly not a valid option. I, for once, use everything from this mod except the rocks for this reason.
In any case, I believe it would be a good start to make all replacer meshes so that use the same collision nodes as their vanilla counterparts, that should ensure universal compatibility in most cases.

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lysol
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Re: Asset Update to Ogre3D Discussion Thread

Post by lysol » 28 Aug 2014, 09:30

Personally I think it's a waste if the vanilla textures are used. Their color palette and style of should obviously be used, but not the textures themselves. They can of course be used as placeholders, but in time they do need to be replaced IMHO. Not only because they're low res, but, as Pherim is pointing out, the UV maps suck and can't be fixed without new textures since the vanilla textures aren't made for cylindrical projections and so on.

That said, replacing all textures too takes a loooong time, and unless a large number of people join this project, maybe only making the meshes is best to begin with, and then start to make new UV maps with new textures when all meshes are done.

Just my opinion on the matter.

EDIT: Just to be clear, I might have misinterpreted some posts now, maybe no one was planning to use the vanilla textures for a final release anyway. I should just read more carefully before I post, haha.
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Berandas
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Re: Asset Update to Ogre3D Discussion Thread

Post by Berandas » 28 Aug 2014, 19:12

Okay people...we have to talk...
After yesterday's conversation with Pherim and today's experiments with meshes, I'm getting the impression that creating new unwrap on meshes cannot be avoided.
Adding more geometry, while keeping the original unwrap as much as possible usually ends up with very unpleasant texture seams, since the original unwrap is sometimes done in the most weirdest way. This can be quite easily solved by creating new and proper UV unwrap, but as mentioned before, some texture replacers can be messed after that. Noone will probably notice that some tileable rusty iron texture is moved a bit to the right or left, but some more patterny texture replacers, or the ones depicting some speciffic geometry or painting can have problem with this.
In return we would gain better texture mapping with less seams and probably simplier and faster workflow, also we could add more already finished replacers.

The question is...should we go that way? What is your opinion on this?

SquireNed
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Re: Asset Update to Ogre3D Discussion Thread

Post by SquireNed » 28 Aug 2014, 19:19

New models are best with entirely new textures; trying to keep 1:1 compatibility somewhat ruins the point of new models, as they could otherwise include new texture space that isn't the same on the old model.

If our goal is to replace with stuff that can be used in non-Morrowind content, we may as well have incompatibility, because we don't want someone using a Morrowind-derivative texture and then getting people confused over our stuff's legal status.

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Re: Asset Update to Ogre3D Discussion Thread

Post by Berandas » 28 Aug 2014, 19:38

Yes, but there are not entirely new models, these are mostly enhanced original models.
Also the goal of this Morrowind mod is not to create content for non-Morrowind games or mods. As is stated in the guide and was mentioned in this thread several times, when our aim is to keep the original feel of Morrowind, everything we create, no matter in what way, is considered to be a derivative work. So it cannot leave the waters of Morrowind modding.

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Re: Asset Update to Ogre3D Discussion Thread

Post by domsson » 28 Aug 2014, 22:20

Pherim wrote:I must say that making just mesh replacers which use vanilla texture mapping so that they can be used with the vanilla textures is maybe not enough to make the game look like a newer one
Well... shit.
Pherim wrote:A two-step approach, like I intend with my improved weapons, where I first adjust them to work with vanilla textures and then create new textures which allow better uv mapping, could be a good idea
Agreed!
Pherim wrote:It's probably a good thing to have such a "basic" tree replacer, and people can still install other tree replacers above that, if they wish.
True!
lysol wrote:That said, replacing all textures too takes a loooong time, and unless a large number of people join this project, maybe only making the meshes is best to begin with, and then start to make new UV maps with new textures when all meshes are done.
Agreed. See Pherim's two-step approach.
Berandas wrote:I'm getting the impression that creating new unwrap on meshes cannot be avoided. Adding more geometry, while keeping the original unwrap as much as possible usually ends up with very unpleasant texture seams, since the original unwrap is sometimes done in the most weirdest way.
Well... fuck.

Okay, some interesting points have been raised. So far, I've only looked at some buildings and their textures. I was amazed by how versatile the textures are. Recreating one Balmora building, I noticed lots of horrible (projected) unwraps, but the textures easily allowed to fix that. Although that changed the original unwrap quite a bit, the model appears almost the same (just less buggy), works perfectly with the original textures and probably would with all possible replacers (though it's impossible to say for sure). Now, it didn't occur to me that all of that might not hold true for other objects, like weapons.

I'm still for going with models that will work with the original textures (and therefore most replacers). As someone mentioned, this could, of course, be just a first step and once we've got most stuff done and have some amazing new textures at our disposal, we could easily and rather quickly change the model's unwraps to make use of them in what could be called a second step.

In any case, one thing is sure: We should take our time discussing this and not rush to a decision, as this might easily be the most important decision for all of the upcoming work. Therefore, I think a pro / con list couldn't hurt? Let me get it started. Please add your pro / con points and we might figure this one out. :)

Improved models with vanilla-texture compatibility (improve the geometry, fix bugs in the unwraps)

Pro:
  • The modeler's and texture artist's objective is clear and easy = quick results
  • No dependency between models and textures; no coordination between modeler and texture artist required = easy and quick workflow
  • The project's progress is easy to track ("1337 / 4718 models done, 312 / 518 textures done")
  • Visual consistency is easy to maintain as texture artists will simply improve the vanilla textures
  • Information on how to improve the geometry can often be taken from the texture's details
  • Compatibility (to a degree, at least) with already existing texture replacers
  • Option to use original textures with very-close-to-original models ensures improved vanilla experience
  • Modeling very close to the originals will ensure that there is no bleeding, no flying objects and so on
  • We can be sure about the amount of textures there will be = ensured performance
  • Adding normal and/or spec maps can further improve the looks
  • It will make the game look less old but not new
  • Users can still choose to add additional mods, for example to replace the weapons
  • ...
Con:
  • Some bugs in the unwraps might be impossible to fix, since the texture does not allow for an improved unwrap
  • Some textures from already existing replacers might not work as expected anymore
  • Possibilities to improves models are limited (although this is kind of intended)
  • We won't be able to recycle as many already existing content as we otherwise could = more work
  • It will make the game look less old but not new
  • Users might fell like they still need to add additional mods to improve the rather ugly parts
  • ...
Improved models with custom-made textures (improve the geometry, change the unwrap)

Pro:
  • Texture flaws can be fixed entirely as custom textures and unwraps can be used to improve the models
  • More freedom on how to improve the original models, as new geometry can make use of new textures
  • We can recycle a lot of content from already existing mods (given that we'll get permission)
  • The potential to improve the visual quality is theoretically unlimited
  • If done completely and properly, users might be happy with this and this mod only
  • ...
Con:
  • New models need new textures in order to be usable
  • There will probably be a need for more textures (new geometry demands additional 2d art)
  • Coordination between modelers and texture artists, depency of models and textures
  • Organization, coordination and progress of the project will require more work
  • We could more easily drift off from vanilla Morrowind's look & feel
  • No compatibility with already-existing texture replacers
  • We might quickly accumulate a huge amount of textures, many of them huge compared to the originals = performance hit
  • ...
Now, I really want to stress one point - my main concern: performance. If you inspect the vanilla models and textures, you'll notice that quite few textures have been used to cover vast amounts of geometry. This is done by intense texture re-use; few textures are being used in lots of places in different ways. To that, add the fact that all the textures are plain, often seamless; no baked AO or what-not. They are not "texture maps", but good old textures. That's one reason they are as re-usable as they are. Now, from my experience, I expect that once we open the door for custom-textured models, we will not only end up with less visual consistency (contributor A decided to bake a bit of shadows on his textures, contributor B did not, ...) but especially with a huge amount of texture data, most of them being used on only one or a few models at best. Of course, modern systems have lots more graphics memory and are more powerful in any other way, too. But a horrible texture overkill can still drag performance down where it would really not be necessary. Bethesda did a really good job on keeping the texture footprint down, and we can inherit that if we go vanilla-texture compatible. Also, keep in mind that especially not-so-experienced 3D artists love to equip their models with huuuuge textures, and maybe even several of them, simply because they want their assets to look awesome and they are not aware of the performance implications. Once we start adding normal / spec / whatever maps, the problem could multiply.

Still, I see what Pherim and Berandas said about the impossibility to really improve some meshes in this way. Therefore I feel that the suggested two-step approach is a really good idea. In addition, we could think about going with custom unwraps and textures for only certain groups of models. Let's say buildings, furnitures and the like will be done vanilla-compatible, but weapons and creatures/humans are okay to be done with more artistic freedom, as they are often close to the screen/user and much more in his/her focus. What do you think about that?

Last, let me give you a second reason I'm still rooting for vanilla-compatible: it's a unique characteristic for this project! Think about how many mods are already out there. A lot of them have a different approach / style. Mixing them can work but can also be a mess. In any case, most probably try to improve the assets as best as possible, hence are not too close to the originals. Now, with having the clear goal to replace *all* assets in a consistent way and, most importantly, very close to the vanilla assets, is probably something you won't find out there and therefore attract a lot of users and contributors alike. I might be wrong, as I don't know too much about existing mods - please correct me then.

EDIT: I might have misunderstood most of the recent posts, too. I thought people are rooting for going with models that have a completely new unwrap + custom textures; but I think we're still going for "just fix problems in the unwrap", which should still leave most models compatible with the vanilla and some to most of the replacers out there. Hence I feel like deleting this huge post, but, erm, well. I'm not a friend of censoring myself, so... :P

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lysol
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Re: Asset Update to Ogre3D Discussion Thread

Post by lysol » 29 Aug 2014, 06:35

domsson wrote: EDIT: I might have misunderstood most of the recent posts, too. I thought people are rooting for going with models that have a completely new unwrap + custom textures; but I think we're still going for "just fix problems in the unwrap", which should still leave most models compatible with the vanilla and some to most of the replacers out there. Hence I feel like deleting this huge post, but, erm, well. I'm not a friend of censoring myself, so... :P
Please don't delete it, you have many good points anyway. I didn't delete my post. ;)
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