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
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
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.
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.
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)
- 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
Improved models with custom-made textures
- 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
(improve the geometry, change the unwrap)
- 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
- 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