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Reputation: 520 My posts turn threads into gold
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  1. In Topic: Scaling sprites by combining waifu2x and xBRZ output

    Today, 05:35 AM

    I played around with the method a bit more, (also with Daggerfall sprites) and came to the conclusion that it can be improved. Not only waifu2x doesn't process sprite edges properly, but it also creates odd colour artefacts near them, which then have to be masked by importing parts of the same sprite scaled up by xBRZ (which have lower detail anyway, even if it's just an outline that is several pixels thin). Why not eliminate the incorrect processing of edges altogether instead?

    Previously I played around with waifu2x and scaled up screenshots from different games, including The Age of Empires. This game me an interesting result, shown below and zoomed 2x (nearest neighbour) for better visibility:
    Posted Image

    It's plain obvious that the edges of the wall tower roofs are processed smoothly when they are against a noisy background (dirt tiles) and very poorly when against a solid colour (the horse's shadow).

    With the sprites easily extractable from the background using the mask, I decided to try scaling them up when not against the empty background but against a texture from Duke3D.

    Here's some sprites of Duke himself (cropped using this mask):

    no background pattern
    Posted Image

    wall texture
    Posted Image

    restroom wall tiles
    Posted Image

    The difference might not be immediately noticeable but there are artefacts around the edges,including some very odd stuff going on with the boots, when there's no background pattern, and much better results when there's one. Personally I like the restroom wall tiles result a bit more.
  2. In Topic: Command and Conquer Corner

    Yesterday, 04:55 AM

    I love Frank K's work :) But then again, I love Glenn Stafford's stuff from Warcraft II and StarCraft too.

    Admittedly, they're very different in style. Frank Klepacki's soundtracks stand on their own while Blizzard's stuff is more of video game music that is tied to the game itself (it's not like I don't listen to the tracks occasionally outside of playing too).

    I remember how when I first had enough broadband to listen to music from frankklepacki.com and checked out snippets from his non-game albums I was afraid that it would be different from his work on the games, more "serious" or something, and was relieved to learn that he's got a very consistent style :)
  3. In Topic: Is there a way to get the old expansions?

    Yesterday, 02:22 AM

    View PostFox, on 17 June 2018 - 03:15 AM, said:

    The add-ons are in copyright limbo, it's likely 3DRealms never had the rights to release them in the first place. It's unlikely that their legal situation can be cleared, and surely not worth the investment as Randy pointed out on Twitter.

    I know that this is mostly wishful thinking, but how about... recreating the add-ons from scratch and simply distributing these mods? Probably not very realistic for Caribbean because there's so much modified art, but I think Duke It Out in D.C. could be done this way. IIRC there isn't so much new art, and I think similar props and textures could be created.

    I mean, there are Doom community projects like the one where mappers recreated official levels from memory, or "in name only" projects where map design is inspired by the original map's title but not its content.

    If anything, it could become a tribute to the original add-ons even the same cannot be widely available due to legal issues.
  4. In Topic: Command and Conquer Corner

    Yesterday, 02:09 AM

    To be fair, I haven't played the post-Westwood titles to any extent besides the demo versions (not counting Generals, haven't played that at all) so it's not really easy to judge for me, but the Westwood era games are already very diverse, even though clearly all being developments of the same game mechanics.

    I'm thinking it would be reasonable to have a clear definition of what makes a "true" C&C game (apart from having Joe Kucan as Kane) because frankly I'm a bit at a loss here.

    From what I remember, the original C&C & Red Alert existed in the market where Blizzard's Warcraft games were the main competitor, with a fair number of clones of both C&C and Warcraft around to spice things up a little. Apart from the modern/futuristic setting, C&C was noted for asymmetrical tech trees of both factions whereas in Warcraft 1 & 2 the sides' units and tech basically mirror each other with the exception of magic (which does make a difference though). C&C also allowed for pretty complex in-game scripted events (even more so with Red Alert), which was something almost completely non-existent with Blizzard before StarCraft, although I'm not sure how evident this was for players altogether.

    I cannot tell anything about multiplayer capabilities of any of the games, but both Red Alert and Warcraft II support skirmish games versus the AI.

    Tiberian Sun built upon the foundations of previous games, adding new units and to extent new mechanics, and the scripting system allowed for more complex scenarios. StarCraft on the other hand was a complete overhaul of the 'Craft gameplay philosophy with three almost completely different races while a scenario scripting system was introduced for the first time. Interestingly both games shifted away from the player commander-centred storytelling in the singleplayer campaigns, with TS completely eschewing this (the player commander would then return in Firestorm while StarCraft introduced some very intense non-player character interaction as the main driver of the plot while keeping the Commander/Cerebrate/Executor with a more or less limited narrative function.

    Firestorm again built upon TS's foundations and as far as I can tell actually properly implemented some design ideas that were planned for TS but not fully realised as the development was rushed. Some very complex scenes can be played out in game, with dialogue voice-overs. Blizzard kinda-sorta caught up with this in Brood War. On the other hand, FS completely discarded the map selection routine making the campaigns completely linear but this could've probably been expected from an expansion pack. Notably, all previous C&C game expansions were simply "mission disks" with no overt campaign linking the individual scenarios (although some of the Counterstrike and Aftermath missions are linked chronologically, but can still be played in any order).

    Red Alert 2 pretty much refined the TS formula but I felt that some of the less trivial innovations from TS were discarded for the sake of streamlined gameplay, such as subterranean units and concrete that can be built to block them, mobile detectors, laser fences etc.

    All in all, there are several features characteristic of all Westwood era C&C games, summarised below:
    • there's only one resource type as opposed to 2+ in Blizzard titles
    • the base is built from the Construction Yard in a radius around it, no builder units and arbitrary structure placement anywhere on the map
    • you can only have one unit of a certain type (infantry, vehicle, aircraft) being built/trained at any given time, constructing several production buildings only speeds this up; 'Craft games allow to build as many units simultaneously as there are production structures
    • there are no unit upgrades to be researched during the game, units come out as good as they are (except the latter titles where units can gain experience and level up)
    • units generally don't have special abilities save for special/alternate attacks like the Commando's C4 or attack modes in a deployed state
    • you can capture enemy buildings with engineers
    • multiple weapon attack types that have damage modifiers depending on the target (infantry, light or heavy armour, building). In TS and later there are weapon/armour types defined in rules.ini. For comparison, StarCraft has three damage types (Normal, Explosive and Concussive) with modifiers versus three unit size types (Small, Medium and Large). I guess this makes sense where there's no clear distinction between infantry and armour for alien races
    • very flexible engine arrangements allowing for easy modding (lots of stuff offloaded into rules.ini and modifiable), but the map editor only allows to create multiplayer/skirmish maps, no single-player campaign-like scenarios (campaigns can only be created with third-party tools). This does not apply to the first C&C that has almost everything hardcoded though
  5. In Topic: Scaling sprites by combining waifu2x and xBRZ output

    21 June 2018 - 04:27 AM

    Thanks guys, I'll look into that :) (actually I imagined that handling this kind of stuff would be a bit easier that what it sounds now)

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