AuthorTopic: Game map landscape critique  (Read 4441 times)

Offline Macattackk

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Game map landscape critique

on: August 12, 2017, 07:17:50 am
I have a procedurally generated landscape system for the strategy game I'm working on and would like some critique on how I can make it better. Please let me know if anything stands out as looking incorrect or any tips on how to enhance any parts of it.





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Offline Lustxful

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #1 on: August 12, 2017, 08:48:29 am
I'd say it looks great. Maybe adjust the lakes blues? It feels flat.
On another side note, a lot of the rivers don't make a ton of topographical sense.

Great work tho!
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Offline Macattackk

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #2 on: August 13, 2017, 07:01:04 am
Quote
I'd say it looks great. Maybe adjust the lakes blues? It feels flat.
On another side note, a lot of the rivers don't make a ton of topographical sense.

Great work tho!

Thanks! Yea I agree with everything you're saying.

For the lakes, I want them to feel dynamic but also to feel still at the same time. It's a bit of a conundrum. In the game, the lake waves have a downward scrolling effect to help with that but I'm not 100% happy with it. Maybe it needs a bit more contrast. Are you mostly saying that just the color of it is off?

Is there anything specific you can say about the river topography? They currently start from mountains and either end in the sea or end in a lake if they don't make it to the sea when it's generating. They also can pass through lakes on their journey. Perhaps they seem off because they snake around too much and I should have a straighter path to their destination?
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 05:55:15 am by Macattackk »
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Offline Sersch

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #3 on: August 13, 2017, 09:44:57 am
looks good!

the sand "tiles", even if they are placed next to each other there seems to be a little bit of green separation between them, i think it would look better if you manage to get rid of that

Offline Macattackk

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #4 on: August 14, 2017, 05:54:18 am
looks good!

the sand "tiles", even if they are placed next to each other there seems to be a little bit of green separation between them, i think it would look better if you manage to get rid of that

Thanks for the critique! I tried to fix the green poking through the desert that you noted. I took the opportunity to improve the sand dunes while I was working on the desert. I also noticed the lighting direction on the desert ripples was wrong so I flipped it to correspond with general direction that the light comes from.

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Offline Macattackk

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #5 on: August 24, 2017, 02:31:31 am
I tried fixing the rest of the critiques that were in this thread. Ive changed the color of the lake and river to try and be a bit more realistic. I also changed how the rivers generate. Instead of wildly swerving around the landscape, they generally travel in the direction of the closest ocean coastline. I think this makes them more topographically realistic.

A new addition to the landscape are waterfalls which occur where rivers start at mountains. Previously there was no connection between rivers and their source mountains.



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Offline Ashedragon

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #6 on: August 24, 2017, 04:37:59 pm
Not bad at all!

But... question... how is this pixel art?

Offline Magpie

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #7 on: August 24, 2017, 10:17:36 pm
Not bad at all!

But... question... how is this pixel art?
This isn't in the pixel art section of the forum.

Offline eishiya

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #8 on: August 24, 2017, 10:19:27 pm
Not bad at all!

But... question... how is this pixel art?
This isn't in the pixel art section of the forum.
The mods moved it. It was in the PA section when that post was made.

Offline Macattackk

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #9 on: August 24, 2017, 11:14:41 pm
Ah I guess I didn't understand the categories correctly. The individual assets are pixel art sprites but I suppose it is in a pseudo 3d environment so it should be here. When I submit individual pixel assets for critique Ill post those in the pixel art section.
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Offline eishiya

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #10 on: August 24, 2017, 11:59:42 pm
A pseudo-3D environment is fine. This art doesn't look like pixel art at all. Is it perhaps scaled down a lot, blurring it?

Offline Macattackk

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #11 on: August 25, 2017, 12:29:44 am
Here is an example of one of the textures. This asset is strictly a bitmap texture I made that is thrown on to a plane in the 3d environment. For some of these textures I make and render them in 3d then scale them down in Photoshop and paint over them a bit. In the end, they are 2d textures when put into the game.

« Last Edit: August 25, 2017, 12:32:21 am by Macattackk »
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Offline eishiya

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #12 on: August 25, 2017, 12:57:05 am
Pixel art is not a synonym for raster 2D art, but a subset of it. What you've got there isn't pixel art. This tutorial explains what sets pixel art apart from related media pretty well.

Fortunately, that's why we have this section for all the non-pixel art 2D (and 3D) stuff!
« Last Edit: August 25, 2017, 01:11:43 am by eishiya »

Offline Macattackk

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #13 on: August 25, 2017, 01:49:38 am
Aha I see. I'm sure this mistake is made annoyingly a lot on this forum, sorry about that! I suppose that means none of the stuff I'm making will belong in the pixel art section because of the process Im using to create it. I'm sure my thread will comfortably find its new home here! I do think my assets could use more crispness like with the techniques listed in the thread you posted but I don't think Im going to reach the level of pixel perfect art assets.
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Offline yrizoud

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #14 on: August 25, 2017, 01:52:24 pm
Not everything needs pixel-level assets, the landscape has a lovely painterly look as-is. I can only see two defects :
- the base of your mountains seem to have the remainder of a darker outline, you may want the even the colors and possibly "feather" those edges (alpha < 100%) to blend them more.
- beaches are very visibly textured using a wave pattern aligned horizontally, instead of following the curves of the coast. It's very wrong for vertical coasts, and even on mostly horizontal costs, it's not so good that it doesn't follow the coastline. If your engine generates the beaches (you don't draw the individual tiles) then you should at least use a solid sand color instead of the texture.

Offline Magpie

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #15 on: August 25, 2017, 01:57:38 pm
I have a few suggestions for improving the "crispness" of th mountains. Firstly, what file format are you using for the images, and what import setting are you using for whatever game engine you're using? The images look compressed and blurry, which is contrasting with the sharp edges and making them look like paper cutouts or stickers. Assuming this isn't the look you're aiming for, you might want to either save your mountain sprites in a non-compressed format, or (especially if the map can be zoomed in and out of) increase the size of the image.

Also watch out for the line around the edge of the image. That might be caused by settings in your game engine, or you may need to continue the images further outside the line where the alpha cut-off is, so that the image compression at the edges doesn't "bleed over" into the visible part of the image.

You might also want to try removing some of the mossy texture and bumpiness and focusing on making the 3d shape more readable, like with your sand dunes.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2017, 01:59:46 pm by Magpie »

Offline Macattackk

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #16 on: August 29, 2017, 10:46:09 am
These are fantastic critiques thank you!

Not everything needs pixel-level assets, the landscape has a lovely painterly look as-is. I can only see two defects :
- the base of your mountains seem to have the remainder of a darker outline, you may want the even the colors and possibly "feather" those edges (alpha < 100%) to blend them more.
- beaches are very visibly textured using a wave pattern aligned horizontally, instead of following the curves of the coast. It's very wrong for vertical coasts, and even on mostly horizontal costs, it's not so good that it doesn't follow the coastline. If your engine generates the beaches (you don't draw the individual tiles) then you should at least use a solid sand color instead of the texture.

You're right I've been meaning to feather the edges of the texture in the mountains so there isn't that dark outline. Unfortunately I can't have a soft edge on the mountains specifically because in order for the sprite shader to cast a shadow in Unity, it must use a cutoff alpha which means only alpha that is 0% or 100%. I may be able to figure out a way to cheat by using a multi-pass shader and have a semi transparent texture render over the bottom of the mountain to blend it in better. What I'll do first is feather the edges in the diffuse part of the textures so there is no black showing through from the background.

I never thought of that fact about the sand. It would be rippling in the direction that the water is coming in from the ocean. What I can do is make an omni directional sand texture to fix that.

I have a few suggestions for improving the "crispness" of th mountains. Firstly, what file format are you using for the images, and what import setting are you using for whatever game engine you're using? The images look compressed and blurry, which is contrasting with the sharp edges and making them look like paper cutouts or stickers. Assuming this isn't the look you're aiming for, you might want to either save your mountain sprites in a non-compressed format, or (especially if the map can be zoomed in and out of) increase the size of the image.

Also watch out for the line around the edge of the image. That might be caused by settings in your game engine, or you may need to continue the images further outside the line where the alpha cut-off is, so that the image compression at the edges doesn't "bleed over" into the visible part of the image.

You might also want to try removing some of the mossy texture and bumpiness and focusing on making the 3d shape more readable, like with your sand dunes.

I am currently using 64x64 Targas for my images. 32 bit when with alpha and 24 bit for when without alpha. For the mountains I am importing them uncompressed so that they look as crisp as possible. There is no zooming in and out so it is kept at the same distance from the camera. What I can do is import them without any sort of filtering. Below is a side by side comparison with filtered textures(left) and non-filtered textures(right). Which one do you think looks better? I'm starting to warm up to the idea of using non-filtered now that you mention ways of improving the crispness.

Continuing the image past the alpha cutoff is something Ill definitely fix next. As far as the mossy texture, Im meaning those to be trees that are scattered across the mountains. Those are the only parts I painted myself, the rest was done in 3d. I tried making the tree parts in 3d but it ended up being tedious and not looking as good as I wanted so I settled on painting them. I suppose they may need more work or maybe less trees on them like you say. Ill see what I can do to make the rocky parts of the mountains have more deliberate shapes to improve the readability.

« Last Edit: August 29, 2017, 10:51:20 am by Macattackk »
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Offline yrizoud

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #17 on: August 29, 2017, 02:00:51 pm
On the crisp versions, it becomes visible that many of your assets have a lower resolution that the tile size, and not even an exact multiple of it : Some pixel columns are doubled, some are not and the effect can be jarring.
If you can't get tiles that map 1:1 with screen pixels, well, you'd rather keep the overall filtering : it will help a lot blend images of different qualities together.
The "scattered dots" and "marsh symbols" seem to be overlays of a monochrome texture. It may not be too hard to increase their native resolution, and the result will look quite sharper, even with an overall filtering on top.
Strangely, the "stone deposits" seem to be natively higher-resolution than most of the rest, as it doesn't show the same kind of issue.

Offline Magpie

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #18 on: August 30, 2017, 02:31:19 pm
If you're not zooming in and out, you should be able to match the size of the sprites displayed to be exactly the size of the images, which will give you better control over how they look in-game. What engine are you using? The only one I have experience with is Unity.

The green patches don't really read as trees, especially when compared to the scale of other parts of the map. Maybe try adding faint tree shapes?

Here, I did a quick sketch to demonstrate:
without trees:

With trees:


you could also add snow to the top of the mountain to make it stand out more:
« Last Edit: August 30, 2017, 03:08:40 pm by Magpie »

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #19 on: August 30, 2017, 04:10:22 pm
I like it how itīs generated,
but could you make somethings with this little Lake Things?
Make some bigger together or such :o
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Offline Macattackk

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #20 on: September 03, 2017, 01:24:10 am
Here's an update pic based on critiques I've received. I made the beaches omni directional to fix a critique posted earlier. I'm going to do more work to polish them later but I feel this is a good start to illustrate the new look.

Thought I'd include some of the buildings that can be placed in the game in order to show off more of the new pixel perfect direction I'm taking.

Be sure to click on the larger image to get a pixel perfect view of it as it is scaled down a little bit when posted.





On the crisp versions, it becomes visible that many of your assets have a lower resolution that the tile size, and not even an exact multiple of it : Some pixel columns are doubled, some are not and the effect can be jarring.
If you can't get tiles that map 1:1 with screen pixels, well, you'd rather keep the overall filtering : it will help a lot blend images of different qualities together.
The "scattered dots" and "marsh symbols" seem to be overlays of a monochrome texture. It may not be too hard to increase their native resolution, and the result will look quite sharper, even with an overall filtering on top.
Strangely, the "stone deposits" seem to be natively higher-resolution than most of the rest, as it doesn't show the same kind of issue.

So I've spent a ton of time figuring out the best possible way to get things to be pixel perfect and I've settled on having images popping out of the landscape(which are flat to the screen) to be non-filtered images and everything that lays flat on the ground to be filtered. Since images that are flat against the ground are tipped at an angle, they will always have artifact lines when non filtered.

The good thing about this is that my mountains and buildings which stick out of the land look nice and crisp. I also made the rocks that lay flat on the ground to be non-filtered as it makes sense for them to be crisper as rocks and they have less of a visible artifact. They are not any higher resolution than anything else as you say, so its interesting that they seem that way.

If you're not zooming in and out, you should be able to match the size of the sprites displayed to be exactly the size of the images, which will give you better control over how they look in-game. What engine are you using? The only one I have experience with is Unity.

The green patches don't really read as trees, especially when compared to the scale of other parts of the map. Maybe try adding faint tree shapes?

Here, I did a quick sketch to demonstrate:
without trees:

I've made the mountains to be the exact right pixel/tile size for the screen and made them non-filtered to give them a crisper look. I also took some of your mountain tips and applied them. I think they look a lot better. I am going to have seasons in this game so I'll have more or less snow on the mountains based on what time of year it is. I'm using Unity for this.

I like it how itīs generated,
but could you make somethings with this little Lake Things?
Make some bigger together or such :o

Thank you. I actually have it so that lakes are able to combine together to form larger lakes via the tile system. Hopefully my new screenshots illustrate that.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2017, 01:34:49 am by Macattackk »
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Offline DawnBringer

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #21 on: September 03, 2017, 11:38:31 pm
Interesting work. May I ask what's the basic algorithm you've used for the landscape creation?

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #22 on: September 04, 2017, 12:45:58 am
Thank you! The terrain is tile based and is generated via random number ranges to determine what tiles become what land type. The first thing I make is the oceans in order to know what tiles are land and which are not. Then I create biomes which have different source amounts and size ranges. There's multiple forest biomes, mountain biomes, etc that get created around the map. Some biomes are able to render on top of each other, like forests and rocks, via a more complex shader. The only other part that isn't biome based are the rivers. They always source at mountains and try to snake their way to the nearest edge or ocean shore. Rivers have a shader which allows them to overlap other biome textures. I never have extra landscape game objects that get created on top of the base tiles. Everything uses a single game object tile with shaders that allow for texture overlapping.
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Offline Macattackk

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #23 on: September 10, 2017, 02:54:49 am
Taking a break on the landscape and making the art better for disasters which strike it. I've added forest fires which only occur on fully forested areas and I've added hurricanes that strike on the shorelines. Any critiques on how I can make them look better/more realistic?



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Offline Macattackk

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #24 on: September 19, 2017, 11:15:02 am
The previous ocean texture I was using was just an image I got off the internet and edited. So I made my own to replace it and did some messing around with the ocean shader code as well.

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Offline yrizoud

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #25 on: September 19, 2017, 12:34:20 pm
The moving shadows makes it really obvious that your raised sprites (mountains, buildings, and flat textures (dunes) don't follow the sunlight. If you don't don't have normal maps for those sprites, you should probably keep a fixed sun angle.

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #26 on: September 20, 2017, 11:35:18 am
Yea that's a huge reason why the mountains still sort of look like cardboard cutouts. I have all the textures flat lit from the front but when the sun is at an angle it can look inaccurate. I'm thinking of implementing something like this using normal maps to my sprites:

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Offline eishiya

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #27 on: September 20, 2017, 01:53:19 pm
While normal maps will help with shadows on the mountains themselves, they will not help the cast shadows to look less flat. A fixed sun angle would help with that, but if the sun is fixed, you don't need normal maps and can just paint the textures to match the sun in the first place.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2017, 01:59:55 pm by eishiya »

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #28 on: September 21, 2017, 04:40:22 am
I really like the idea of having a full on time of day system to make the game view more dynamic and exciting. I'm going to try to make it work as well as possible. What I've done is lowered the resolution of the shadows in order to make them less defined so it seems like they aren't as flat. I hope this achieves the desired effect. Unfortunately it is causing some shadow flickering which I'll have to fix.

Here is a rough draft of using normal maps with the lighting system. Still haven't added the trees into the normal map, that would come in a more final polish pass.



« Last Edit: September 21, 2017, 10:07:14 am by Macattackk »
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Offline Macattackk

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Re: Game map landscape critique

Reply #29 on: September 22, 2017, 04:27:09 am
Adding normal maps to more textures. Does it help make the scenery look more dynamic and alive?

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