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Heroes Community > Heroes 4 - Lands of Axeoth > Thread: New Town Screens Previews
Thread: New Town Screens Previews This thread is 2 pages long: 1 2 · «PREV
kkfkkkfk
kkfkkkfk


Adventuring Hero
Nothing is impossible
posted September 13, 2020 06:24 AM

Are there any more new towns?

Maybe the menu needs to be redrawn, too

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Baronus
Baronus


Promising
Supreme Hero
posted September 13, 2020 06:40 AM

New towns but with old units only.  maybe neutral and buidings only. Besides opposite to H3 city looks are very similiar.
New town in H4 is more work than in H3. And will be good mod something eg. add unit growth to castle and citadel. 25%,50% as in HIII.

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PandaTar
PandaTar


Responsible
Legendary Hero
Celestial Heavens Mascot
posted September 13, 2020 09:25 AM

NimoStar said:

anyways the music pack is optional and H4 original terrain themes weren't by Romero, they were taken from a generic music library AFAIK

It seems the melody is traditional, used in many other works. One of the songs we can find when playing Witcher 3 also, Skellige ambiance song.

Quote:

For example I see that the sharpen level of my buildings isn't consistent with how far they are, however I have really tried to make judicious use of blurring and sharpening, but the eye still notices the lack of uniformity. And the base images have their limits...

There are few elements that make those buildings feel displaced:
1  Their art styles differ one from the other
2  Some have a different perspective from the background they were applied
3  Their color nuances are still clashing
4  The natural light of the background feels like it is a cloudy weather, the sun almost on the top and going to the east, so buildings must have shadows following that pattern, and few are not
5  Sharpness and Blurs, as you said, didn't work properly
6  By looking upon that image, I don't have much of a clue what is what. I would need a list of buildings to be able to help more. One thing that got my attention, though, is that looking upon your line up, it's still the same? Pirates, Ghosts, Mermaids, Ballista, Ice Demons, Titans, Evil Enchantress and Sea Monster. So, based on them, I don't know where you would hire Mermaids and Sea Monsters, for example. A suggestion to make Sea Monster's dwelling, if possible, is using a whirlpool, and their shadowy silhouettes underwater rounding it (thinking on animation), and their small lights glowing through the water

So, some tips or advices regarding these topics:

First of all, if you have freedom to position buildings freely around the background, things get a lot easier. Define the main art style you are going to use, and try not to mix more than 2. There seems to have 8-9 styles currently. To define the main style, you can choose which building will stand out the most, because it would dictate more or less how the rest would follow. That's not concerning dwellings that much, though. But you have 4 human-like units and 4 non-humans. And the town is pretty big and feels totally human, you see. That's one thing I would rethink, if I were you. Now then:

1   Select one building of your list, then imagine places where it could go. Then you look for it. Select and take as many as you can, place them on the background without cropping, editing, just look at it and see if it goes ok. When I am selecting for my fanwork, I mostly think on perspective positioning at first.

2   Selecting an array of arts for a single building helps finding the right perspective. But you need to flexible on where that building will be positioned. Sometimes, the best art might fit in a rather unexpected position, and you may be required to 'complete' it. There's a building on the left that seems to be following the uneven ground, for example. It looks kind of odd that way, or perhaps I am not seeing something. Another thing is this building on the foreground. We cannot see much of the ground there, so it is difficult to judge that this place is closer than the background, it makes the forebuilding feel displaced, also because there is not a strong edge separating these planes.

3   Sometimes, you can check and try using the Match Color tool. You use the background as base, and the layer you are trying to match its color will take new hues. It can either help or not (hoorraay). Most likely, it tends to make colors look a bit similar (but can screw with lighting or give a burned look). You can also use Brush, select the 'dominant color' and the filter Color. Not much opacity, only enough to overlay the clashing color you want to get hid off and see how it goes.

4   This cloudy-looking lighting does not feel friendly for a composition. It sort of makes everything you add stand out too much, so you cannot actually use shadows to hide imperfections or connect bits of graphic, or even help with contrasts, interaction between added buildings, etc. So, when you pick buildings, you have to try and find those that have not strong shadows on the wrong angles. Also, be careful when using the Burn tool. Sometimes you have a better result only by duplicating part of the layer you want to make a shadow, add a color overlay on it (i.e. black) and set to multiply, which usually does the job. Then tweak transparency and maybe a feather-like effect to unsharpen the edges of the shadow. The Burn tool can make things look really burned, inside out and colors get screwed up. It seems you used this tool on the light-brown building on center-right, so you can notice that the shadow is not even, it has a burn in it.

5   Sharpness only takes you so far. Surface and Smart blur usually create an effect akin to those of artworks such as that backgroung. Sometimes adding Noise also helps when you want it not to look washed out or too blurry, use noise before blurring to give an aspect of pixelation, which might work better when the background looks that way too.

6   So, the list of buildings would allow me to envision something else I could help with.

Quote:
DO you have resources for ultra high res images to use, BTW?

For fanstuff, the best resolution ones usually come from Artstation. Then you have a second place Deviantart, which I think you got this background you use (I found it there when I was looking for the examples below). But you can consider free stock image sites, if you happen to need some textures or background filler, like skies, oceans, mountains Pixabay is quite decent.

The thing is that you seem to need Elmorian fantasy art style. I usually look for a bit more realistic stuff for townscreens, less restrict for units and heroes. And fantasy art is not so easily found in high resolution.

I do like  matte paintings. But if you happen to consider using them, you would have to start your town again, because it would be much harder try to adapt that one. I could help here and there.

Today, I was selecting some other stuff and found some images that looked sympathetic for your project, especially if you combine them. Mainly for reference, few examples:
Example 1
Example 2
Example 3
Example 4
Example 5
Example 6
Example 7
Example 8

If you have questions, just ask. Might have gotten confusing here and there.
____________
"Okay. Look. We both said a lot of things that you're going to regret. But I think we can put our differences behind us. For science. You monster."
GlaDOS Portal 2

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Karmakeld
Karmakeld


Responsible
Famous Hero
posted September 13, 2020 09:43 AM

NimoStar said:
The second one is made mostly of my edits, yes, though the first one is also edited compared to original pic.

As for karmakeld - you mostly worked adding buildings to map. Other object files work differently and I am 100% certain need to be packed to function - not just hanging .h4d data

Plus other game errors, such that two sound effects (not tracks) in music.h4r h4r arent music, thus encoded differently and why the original file cant be replaced until someone figures it out  (my music file needs a "new" slot just to not overwrite these two). Otherwise the game crashes as well ( i havent tested music as .h4d loose objects but i dont think that would work either, plus that would affect separation with the original game in my mod which i think is still flawless up to know, allowing to play both separately in the same install thus economizing hard drive space)


True most of my modding work has been working with adding new buildings, but I've also worked with layers, such as combat screen objects, town buildings, splashscreens, portraits, and my memory tells me I was able to read all of those by simply adding the new files to the Data folder. But most layers should be h4l files not h4d, in order to be read without packing.
Also delete the path name, so eg. combat_object.obstacles.rope06.h4d should simply be rope06.h4l

As for music files, I don't recall what data format they should be in, but there should be a tread on CH about how to change music files or replace them. As for adding new, you already know the case there.
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Baronus
Baronus


Promising
Supreme Hero
posted September 13, 2020 10:28 AM

All files are mp3.
Ive wrotten here how easy change music.
H4music
Best solution is a tool automatically added header its easy but I cant do this ofcourse.
Manualy is tiredfull...

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Karmakeld
Karmakeld


Responsible
Famous Hero
posted September 13, 2020 10:43 AM

Will it only be 1 town screen or will.you consider it should adapt to ground surfaces like lava, grass, dirt etc.?

As for Panda's comment regarding building placement and instinct type" recognition, one could take a look at the existing town screens, look for patterns, so there would be a connection between each town in where eg. The Town Hall, the Fort, Tavern, lvl 1-4 dwellings, magic guild etc are placed. That could help guide the player. Or consider consistency if you plan on redoing all of them.
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Baronus
Baronus


Promising
Supreme Hero
posted September 13, 2020 12:02 PM

If you want only new city look its not needed changing all objects. I invented this procedure.
1. Make completly black townscreen..
2. Open game with completly builded city.
3. Capture screenshot.
4. Image editor: make black as transparency color.
Now you have all buldings on the transparent. You can work with warious backgrounds to fit these to buildings.
Its can be done 6x times for all city. And these 6 transparent can be used for new looks.
It shouldnt be a lot of work. But if you want to have changed buildings you can use these screens too.

In this way you can made a lot of new backgrounds. If you want all grounds too. But if you mod exe changing all ground town screen names to one, one is enough. As you wish.

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NimoStar
NimoStar


Responsible
Supreme Hero
Modding the Unmoddable
posted September 22, 2020 06:21 AM

Quote:
Are there any more new towns?

Maybe the menu needs to be redrawn, too


All the towns will have new town screens, as every town has a different look and feel to the original one, with different magics and creature lineups. Magic in concept 100% done including all images for spells in the new schools. It's just on hold because of life situation.

As for menues, I had planned taking the H3 look for the UI.

Quote:
Will it only be 1 town screen or will.you consider it should adapt to ground surfaces like lava, grass, dirt etc.?


The adaptation to ground is not practical without having 3D models to do renders. Even then, there is just 1 file for building that will be put on all backgrounds... which makes lighting effects difference impossible. Standarize 8 backgrounds with same lighting = not worth the trouble.

Probably the bad thing is repeating the background 8 times, waste of space. But then again, there is no sensible alternative.

I already have all the new buildings in the PSD and can easily change backgrounds while keeping all buildings. Its the lights that do not fit. So if this background is bluish, all the backgrounds have to be bluish... and have roughly the same terrain features to put the buildings into the same location. As you can see, this isn't really achieavable without 3d modelling. And even with 3D modelling original H4 has all towns as mostly flat lands with the near exact same layout.

Response to PandaTar will have to wait.
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NimoStar
NimoStar


Responsible
Supreme Hero
Modding the Unmoddable
posted September 22, 2020 06:38 AM

Quote:
6  By looking upon that image, I don't have much of a clue what is what. I would need a list of buildings to be able to help more. One thing that got my attention, though, is that looking upon your line up, it's still the same? Pirates, Ghosts, Mermaids, Ballista, Ice Demons, Titans, Evil Enchantress and Sea Monster. So, based on them, I don't know where you would hire Mermaids and Sea Monsters, for example. A suggestion to make Sea Monster's dwelling, if possible, is using a whirlpool, and their shadowy silhouettes underwater rounding it (thinking on animation), and their small lights glowing through the water


This is impossible, that would require full 3D animation modelling and rendering, not to mention water simulation and the sea monster models... given that i'm the only one making this mod, I can't do all that, for all like 30 buildings in every town, for all 6 towns.

The H3 vbuildings are also not all instictual really. Dwarves in Rampart come from a hobbit-like house, not a dwarven mine. Unicorns are just a Forest.

My take is that you know what building is what from the "Build" image, and also from looking at it being built. So this does not concern me - it will be learned as will all other installments. I did make things like the Mage Guild more "obvious" like making them towers, these are on the top left.

***

The other asked criticisms were valid, but as for the corrections, I tried most of those. "correct color" for example, automatic contrast, etc. These were of limited use. Getting PNGs for buildings is exceedingly hard, so that explains the different styles (and most I had to cut manually, anyways).

Keep in mind, the image here is way overloaded compared with ingame. I'm showcasing 8 creature buildings while actually in normal circunstances you would be able to build only 5. In H4 regular these buildings frequently overlap on the same spot, but I took precautions to not do that - Because of supporting scripts that build both creature options.

As for their perspectives - I made intense use of PS toold such as perspective and deform. Results are barely acceptable as these affect the blur of the image.

I think in the future, I will work with way higher resolution to try to avoid this, and then compress to actual size. But resolution of most images available are also quite meager, as you mentioned.

All in all, I am not looking to redo this town for now. Rather, the councils will allow me to create better other 5 towns. If anything, then I will remake this and compare the progress.
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PandaTar
PandaTar


Responsible
Legendary Hero
Celestial Heavens Mascot
posted September 22, 2020 07:22 AM

Let me know if you need some specific help with that. At least during the quarantine I am staying a lot at home, and some different things to do help keeping the mind busy. Right now, I am spending a lot of time doing my proposals.

A question regarding animation on those townscreens: is it necessary using 3D modeling? I was wondering if added gifs or something of that ilk could work? How's that implemented? If PNGs are used, would GIFs also be possible?
____________
"Okay. Look. We both said a lot of things that you're going to regret. But I think we can put our differences behind us. For science. You monster."
GlaDOS Portal 2

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NimoStar
NimoStar


Responsible
Supreme Hero
Modding the Unmoddable
posted September 22, 2020 07:35 AM

Not gifs. Animated PNG. Though the tools we have are... pretty rough in that regard.

It can be done, but perspective is a complex thing. Basically even if you rip a 2D animation from another place, it is very likely to be on the wrong perspective (probably di-isometric like the H4 world map), and not fitting to be used in the town screen view. And then, it becomes a matter of using animations of fitting style and perspective for each and every one of the buildings in the town... this seems like an impossible task unlike the town itself is di-isometric.

I have considered making isometric towns, but I don't think the players would welcome that. After all, eyes need a break from not only isometric map but also isometric H4 combat.

* * *

For now I am not working into this as I need to move first, at the moment I don't even have broadband - I use cell phone connection in my laptop.

But if you *really* want to help, I could let you do Inferno town, since I was having trouble getting architectural ideas for that one. You would be provided with a named list of buildings, and the actual functions of those buildings, and you would have to make a PSD or GIMP layered file where every building is a named layer. I can provide this town's PSD for reference. This is my "offer", and given the circumstances, you have as much time as you like to consider it. I think your inferno was cool (pun unintended) and this would be a chance for your town screens to actually be used. You would have full artistic liberty besides the preestablished and already working building functions to use any style as you like.

Alternatively it would also maybe helpful that you give images as you did but for future towns. Those images you found are very nice, and, interestingly, not amongst the literal hundreds I searched up and saved (I have "Nautical" and "Seafaring" folders which are like 1000 images together, not counting pre-cropped material). However, as you have read, I am unable to work on them at this time, so, that would have to be for some time later.

In any case, thanks for the feedback and advice, seemed thoughtful.
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PandaTar
PandaTar


Responsible
Legendary Hero
Celestial Heavens Mascot
posted September 22, 2020 08:41 AM
Edited by PandaTar at 08:54, 22 Sep 2020.

NimoStar said:
Not gifs. Animated PNG.


That would do, actually. At least it's PNG. If we get the base image on the right perspective, animating it through manual gimmicks would be a thing. For example, the example I gave on that Sea Monster dwelling? A maelstrom is sort of easy to create. Animating it would not be difficult, making PNGs of small details, reflexes. Fixed buildings could be easier. But that's all supposition and theoretic on my part, because I never animated things with PNGs, only GIFs. PNGs composing would be better, of course, not as limited with colouring as GIFs.

Quote:
This is my "offer", and given the circumstances, you have as much time as you like to consider it. I think your inferno was cool (pun unintended) and this would be a chance for your town screens to actually be used. You would have full artistic liberty besides the preestablished and already working building functions to use any style as you like.


Sounds fair. At least I can evaluate if I can be of any actual help than just speculating how to help without knowing limitations, right? A PSD file would be best, because I don't know GIMP. Might learn, but PSD will be faster.

Speaking of my townscreens, starting Dungeon now, but just finished Feywoods, or Rampart. ^_^ Rivendell used as base, although not ideal.

Quote:
I have considered making isometric towns, but I don't think the players would welcome that.


I believe that the problem with doing Isometric work without actually creating the art directly is that Isometric material is very hard to come by. For instance, that Example 6, its horizon line is way higher than most of the buildings would be. Most of artists make most of their art in a similar perspective as shown in Example 8. However, Isometric art allows you to show a bit more what buildings are here or there, sacrificing basically only the grandeur of the background. Still, I prefer a non-isometric approach, which allows you to do some impressive background work (like adding dwellings of top tier units, Grail structures, etc.) and ambiance, the feeling of a world ahead. It also allows you to actually hide parts of buildings that are not usable, (less work with cleaning and cutting too).

But the main issue is that of a lack of usable material.

That Feywoods townscreen was a bit tricky to deal with because of that, lack of materials in the right perspective, so I had to try and 'induce' some terrain elevation, such as on the left side of it, to be able to add those giant monoliths (also had to make them bleed beyond the artboard, because the horizon line was somewhere in the middle of it, so I hid the topmost part, which showed a vision from below, messing up with its perspective).

Quote:
In any case, thanks for the feedback and advice, seemed thoughtful.

Anytime! You can also use CH's H4 subforum to discuss this, considering we have not much activity there and it should be less problematic to debate and post in a thread without having to resort to PMs or something like that. Be it at your leisure. Let me know when I can start.
____________
"Okay. Look. We both said a lot of things that you're going to regret. But I think we can put our differences behind us. For science. You monster."
GlaDOS Portal 2

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NimoStar
NimoStar


Responsible
Supreme Hero
Modding the Unmoddable
posted October 03, 2020 02:03 AM

APologies for not responding for some days, I had to move and not everything is sorted out yet. I will have proper answers and such soon. Plus finally I have an internet connection so I will also be able to search for more images.
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PandaTar
PandaTar


Responsible
Legendary Hero
Celestial Heavens Mascot
posted October 03, 2020 02:51 AM

Not to worry. Life happens, luckily. Hope you have things sorted out properly meanwhile.
____________
"Okay. Look. We both said a lot of things that you're going to regret. But I think we can put our differences behind us. For science. You monster."
GlaDOS Portal 2

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