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Graphics: how far would you take it?


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Just chatter here, no need for devs to panic or moderators to consider this a suggestion.

 

Assuming you could rub a lamp and wish for improvements, and the first wish was that everyone have the very best bleeding edge computers, video cards, network connections, etc.  to run the very best games out there:  How far would you wish the graphics in this game to advance?  Would you keep it with the current look but advance it with sharper resolution, more street-level details, etc.?  Would you take it as far as the very best equipment would allow and attempt something nearly photorealistic?  Would you come up with something else?

 

Why the question?  I was watching a recently released YouTube video over breakfast this morning, one that was noting that the graphics of Star Wars Battlefront (2015) were ahead of their time.  It got me wondering if I'd really want to take the look of this game to that level, or more, if a miracle opportunity presented itself.  I still don't know.  I must admit, watching the sequences in the Endor forest, I did think it would be fascinating to see the Eden zone rendered to that detail, complete with insects and hummingbirds, and potentially really nightmarish razorvines and eminators.  But I also like the fact that the current graphics are somewhat comic bookish, and might prefer an improvement that leaves that element in place.

 

Where does it fall for you if limitations were set at the bleeding edge of known technology?

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There are upscaler converters, right?

 

  1. player costumes
  2. aoe effects (especially player toggles) (might clean em up enough to not be so annoying)
  3. contacts
  4. general npcs
  5. enemy groups
  6. bases likely use the same as zones.. maybe some select base items.

 

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I'd make some of the older power effects match the visual quality of the newer ones. For example, Time Manipulation looks noticeably better than most of the older power sets.

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Personally, I wouldn't want graphics improve to photo realism.  I'd want the graphics improved to comic style anime level quality.   Think Arcane not Avengers.   

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1 minute ago, Shred Monkey said:

Personally, I wouldn't want graphics improve to photo realism.  I'd want the graphics improved to comic style anime level quality.   Think Arcane not Avengers.   

 

Much as I love the animation style used for Arcane, I'm in the opposite boat. I'd like to see full tilt photo realism with appropriate gore levels.

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I'd want all sorts of visual improvements, but I'd also want them to maintain the sort of cartoon-ish feeling we have as the game stands. I think a lot could be done and still retain that.

 

I'd probably have my fantasy visual effect team start with a thorough texture/clipping/draping pass on all the costume parts and costume rendering. 

 

Then I'd have the team go over the animations and make all sorts of state transitional animations and extra emotes and stuff.  Make it smooth and seamless and proportionate.

 

Then I'd go over the streets and architecture, just to clean up the goofy stuff. Keep the basic styles and such, but add more varieties and reduce the copy/pasta.

 

Finally, I'd have them go over the mission maps and make them feel a bit more realistic in layout, and less like mazes. And can we have destructible interiors in offices and banks and so on? My fantasy team says yes!

 

Then we'd be ready to go after my real goal -- merging CoH with a city simulation game, but that's out of scope for this thread. :D

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I want fingers.

 

That aside, getting up to "nicer" detail would be nice. I mean, I played Aion while the game was live and it was night and day (plus, the sort of watercolor backdrop was gorgeous.) There's no need to try to melt video cards these days to get decent looking characters and environments. I wouldn't argue at all with a graphical update - but I also know it would be a *huge* amount of work.

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1 hour ago, Bill Z Bubba said:

 

Much as I love the animation style used for Arcane, I'm in the opposite boat. I'd like to see full tilt photo realism with appropriate gore levels.

Same. While I enjoyed reading the comics, it would be far less immersive. I remember watching my screen when I was installing the CoV edition. I thought the graphics were going to get this major realistic upgrade! And then, that turned out not to be the case. 

I do not want the game to look more comic book like, rather less so. As an example - in this image below, Batman looks a lot more realistic (to me) than Wonder Woman. That would be what I would prefer. 

image.png.137faa30c662f9d29077baffc2889f8c.png

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Photorealism is unnecessary if you have a good game, and we already have that.  Photorealism is a ghost for designers to chase and boast about because it's an easier goal to throw staff at than telling a good story is. 

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Wouldn't it be cool if we were offered the choice of rendition? Like go Arcane, Batman Animated (circa 90s???), Anime Fan Service, or realistic like more recent games. There's a game I used to play that I loved the look--Torchlight. Not sure if it'll work for this one. So we're all playing the same game, but my view of Paragon City is different for yours. Of course, I wouldn't know how feasible that would be, just a pipe dream.

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Yeah, I'd settle for the current semi-cartoony style, just higher resolution models and textures. Too many "realistic" games look alike with no style or substance.

 

At the very least, upgrade the older stuff to more recent standards. Like, compare the female hairstyles "Long" and "serrated sugar". Night and day, quality wise (even if you don't like the S.S. hairstyle, it has more polys and color-blend detail)

 

And oh yeah, fingers!

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12 hours ago, Troo said:

There are upscaler converters, right?

 

  1. player costumes
  2. aoe effects (especially player toggles) (might clean em up enough to not be so annoying)
  3. contacts
  4. general npcs
  5. enemy groups
  6. bases likely use the same as zones.. maybe some select base items.

 

 

 

As a general point.  The 'MK ULtra' pulsing outward circles on many of the eg. Rad/Fire/self buff powers dry me cookoo.  (Headache inducing.  I'd have them 'still' or strip that pulsing outward part of the graphic OUT.

 

As for improvements to CoH graphics.  If they air dropped the whole engine into eg. Unreal 4, might that see a large uplift?  Just as 'Ultra Mode' by devs gave the graphics a boost.

 

Keep the mitten hands.

 

Azrael.

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10 hours ago, Ukase said:

Same. While I enjoyed reading the comics, it would be far less immersive. I remember watching my screen when I was installing the CoV edition. I thought the graphics were going to get this major realistic upgrade! And then, that turned out not to be the case. 

I do not want the game to look more comic book like, rather less so. As an example - in this image below, Batman looks a lot more realistic (to me) than Wonder Woman. That would be what I would prefer. 

image.png.137faa30c662f9d29077baffc2889f8c.png

 

I think it will be a while before CoH HC goes full on Alex Ross...

 

As an aside.  I've recently turned on the Cel Shader and I love it.  Given the visual look (to me) a new lease of life.

 

Azrael.

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8 hours ago, Clave Dark 5 said:

Photorealism is unnecessary if you have a good game, and we already have that.  Photorealism is a ghost for designers to chase and boast about because it's an easier goal to throw staff at than telling a good story is. 

 

Amen.

 

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Having just gotten a system that can run ultra settings quick-n-easy, I'm quite content with the way the game looks, as is. My suggestions would have nothing to do with rendering, but rather, the ability to tone down others' effects if they're exceptionally bright (for example). Oh-and PLEASE get rid of that splootchy AoE rock power in the newest set. It just fills up the screen with a massive wart. Thanks.:-)

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2 hours ago, Six-Six said:

Wouldn't it be cool if we were offered the choice of rendition? Like go Arcane, Batman Animated (circa 90s???), Anime Fan Service, or realistic like more recent games. There's a game I used to play that I loved the look--Torchlight. Not sure if it'll work for this one. So we're all playing the same game, but my view of Paragon City is different for yours. Of course, I wouldn't know how feasible that would be, just a pipe dream.

I was thinking initially of the idea of player choice settings: pushing the envelope of what can be done visually, but also leaving a toggle so that those with lesser systems can still enjoy the game in the "old style".  However, since this is just a discussion exercise, I threw in the bit about all things being equal.

 

2 hours ago, Golden Azrael said:

 

I think it will be a while before CoH HC goes full on Alex Ross...

While I agree, remember this is just a discussion exercise.  I'm not saying "want it NOW!" I'm asking for viewpoints of how players would like it to go, if the potential existed for the most remarkable graphics without handicapping player's experience in any way.

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35 minutes ago, Techwright said:

I'm not saying "want it NOW!" I'm asking for viewpoints of how players would like it to go, if the potential 

 

Yes.  I know.  You said as much in your post.  'What if.'  'If you had the power....to re-imagine it...' *Waves wand.  As such, I gave you my viewpoint.  Potential.  Yadda, yadda.  We get it. 

 

I think the biggest up lift in the near future would be 'air drop' the entire system into Unreal Engine 4.  CoH 1.5.  

 

I think part of the charm of City of Heroes is the graphics engine the 'way it is.'  So moving it to a new engine would retain it's charm whilst returning some bang for buck on a 'lustre' upgrade.

 

Even in 'Fantasy' land, full on Alex Ross is probably CoH 2 or a whole nuther game. 

 

Mind you.  Transplanting to Unreal 5's 'Lighting Engine' and even mitten glove low poly stuff might look crazy good if you re-bake the textures with a scaled up texture, painted and scaled down and rebaked into the model.  Only HC dev's know where they could take this.  And lots of games use all sorts of tricks to keep geometry economic.

 

WoW.  An example of an engine that has been upgraded.  But it's kept its cartoony fantasy look.  And it's charm, such that it is.

 

'It's just code' as someone once said.

 

To go full on 'next level' Ross.  From what I've seen of Unreal 5 looks amazing.  COuld the CoH engine be dropped in as is?  Brain transplant?  That's one for HC's Devs.  I think the visual returns of such a transplant would look pretty dramatic, even without re-working the geometry and textures.  UR5's Lighting Engine looks immense.  And for that Alex Ross flavour.  It's lighting that is key.  That 'HDR' look.

 

Maybe between Unreal 5's avatar system and whole landscape system it has and some moody Mignola shading you might be able to approach Ross's work.  (Although, credit him, I thought he was just re-working the pulp/Loomis era visuals.  Which stood out in the dark and gritty rut comics got stuck in.)  


That said, I remember tech' demos done by the Atlas Reborn contingent showed what was possible if you put the maps/models/textures into Unreal 4.  And it did give the visuals a new lustre.

 

There's probably low hanging fruit in the near future.

 

But after that.  Could be a lot of work depending on the technical feasibility of keeping the asset's charm whilst upgrading them.  ie.  Higher res models.  Higher res textures.

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I would like to see some of the costume options expanded like how Champions Online does it, (not saying I want to emulate their graphical style, only the options available).  For instance, different materials for all pieces, (matte, glossy, metallic, etc).  I'd also love to see upper arm, forearm, and gloves broken into their own categories.  I'd also love to see hair that flowed and moved.

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I'd like to see the API updated to something current. This would allow for newer technologies that would support better performance.

 

As I recall the engine is dx9.

 

 I get this would entail a lot of work. Once the api is modernized lots more features would be available to update textures, models, etc. 

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21 hours ago, Techwright said:

How far would you wish the graphics in this game to advance?  Would you keep it with the current look but advance it with sharper resolution, more street-level details, etc.?  Would you take it as far as the very best equipment would allow and attempt something nearly photorealistic?  Would you come up with something else?

 

Overhaul the entire animation system to allow mobile combat (having to stand still, or joust, is lame), add terrain deformation so we could do things like knock holes in walls, redesign the character mesh and morph systems so we could have moving mouths/eyes/fingers/toes and realistic knockback effects (not ragdoll post-KB/KD/KU, rather something like an enemy folding in half at the midriff when kicked in the stomach, flying backward, impacting a surface and splaying out on impact), refine the character creator/editor color options, and make all animations customizable in respect to whether or not they're even visible (NO MORE TOGGLE SPAM).

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Taking a step back from the full-on engine revamps, I think there could be some improvements found in expanding the use of more modern textures and assets. For example, I wouldn't mind seeing some of the older building/zone textures updated with the newer ones, if at all possible. Costumes advanced a lot over the years, but the vast majority of the zones have remained the same. No idea if it's even possible to replace some of the original building textures with the Kallisti Warf ones, but it might be worth looking into?

 

Also, having mentioned costumes - revamp the civilians/older contact models using player pieces. Just about every civilian/contact NPC can be remade using much better player accessible pieces. A lot of the original NPC models, especially the ones that were in at launch, a looking really long in the tooth. <.<

 

Edit: Made a quick comparison of an updated take on Azuria.

 

Azuria.jpg      image.thumb.png.b0e1211c663857be4853c407010d20d4.png

Edited by El D
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I make my costumes as overly detailed as everyone else - but no one else sees it.  In combat about level 20 I barely see anything besides auras, defender given shields, and aoe explosions.

 

Making the characters look more detailed would probably have no effect on actual gameplay.  We would just spend longer designing our costumes.

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16 hours ago, El D said:

Taking a step back from the full-on engine revamps, I think there could be some improvements found in expanding the use of more modern textures and assets. For example, I wouldn't mind seeing some of the older building/zone textures updated with the newer ones, if at all possible. Costumes advanced a lot over the years, but the vast majority of the zones have remained the same. No idea if it's even possible to replace some of the original building textures with the Kallisti Warf ones, but it might be worth looking into?

 

Also, having mentioned costumes - revamp the civilians/older contact models using player pieces. Just about every civilian/contact NPC can be remade using much better player accessible pieces. A lot of the original NPC models, especially the ones that were in at launch, a looking really long in the tooth. <.<

 

Edit: Made a quick comparison of an updated take on Azuria.

 

Azuria.jpg      image.thumb.png.b0e1211c663857be4853c407010d20d4.png

 

Excellent point and example.

 

You've kept the flavour of the original and upgraded her.  Bravo.

 

Azrael.

Edited by Golden Azrael
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