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Predator Pack: In The Mechbay With Mark Nicholson


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#41 TELEFORCE

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Posted 22 December 2021 - 09:37 AM

I'm waiting for that Shadow Cat to transform into an aerospace fighter. Shadow Cat LAM? Posted Image

#42 Mark Nicholson

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Posted 22 December 2021 - 11:02 AM

View PostTELEFORCE, on 22 December 2021 - 09:37 AM, said:

I'm waiting for that Shadow Cat to transform into an aerospace fighter. Shadow Cat LAM? Posted Image


My inspiration came from somewhere similar:
https://www.sarna.ne...ing_(BattleMech)
A couple years ago, I played a tabletop game where we got use whatever tech we could find, and I took my love of the Vapor Eagle and went nuts with pulse lasers and machine guns, and the ability to jump behind people from LONG distances. The Shadow Cat D reminded me of this, and looked like it could use some help flying.

#43 1453 R

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Posted 22 December 2021 - 11:02 AM

It's a Shadow Cat - it transforms into an aerospace fighter every time you press Spacebar :P Be funny to give this one jumpy-jet quirks though, go with that winged aesthetic.

#44 Mark Nicholson

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Posted 22 December 2021 - 07:30 PM

Here's an image with some alternate colors next to the default ones. The Shadow Cat is straightforward.

The Blood Asp isn't. It has a subtle tertiary color added, just to let you have some variation if you want. It's got bright green in it, and it's most visibly obvious on that dark section on the arm. The medium blue on the triangle scales is also only showing through in the dark areas, which is the expected outcome when trying to alter shiny things. I'm hoping to do a more in-depth write up of why that is tomorrow.

Posted Image

#45 Pariah Devalis

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Posted 23 December 2021 - 05:12 AM

View PostMark Nicholson, on 22 December 2021 - 07:30 PM, said:

Here's an image with some alternate colors next to the default ones. The Shadow Cat is straightforward.

The Blood Asp isn't. It has a subtle tertiary color added, just to let you have some variation if you want. It's got bright green in it, and it's most visibly obvious on that dark section on the arm. The medium blue on the triangle scales is also only showing through in the dark areas, which is the expected outcome when trying to alter shiny things. I'm hoping to do a more in-depth write up of why that is tomorrow.

Posted Image



Congratulations! By using those yellows and purples, you've just inadvertently made that a Xi Provisional Galaxy shadow cat. XD

#46 Mark Nicholson

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Posted 24 December 2021 - 06:37 PM

So here's the short write up I said I'd do on what's going on with 'Mech paint that's shiney, and why it doesn't change color.

I'm using 3DS Max for this example, but the CryEngine 3 material system works the same way. I also may use terms you might not understand, but they should be common enough that a quick search of the Internet will find you better explanations of each one.

Here's a sample of each of the texture maps used to put together the material on a Dire Wolf, and a brief description about what each of them is doing:

Posted Image

Normal: these maps allow the material to react to light on it PER PIXEL instead of PER VERTEX. Below is a Huntsman, with a normal map applied on the left, and without it on the right.

Diffuse: This is basically what we think of as color. However for 'Mech materials, this is the fixed unchanging color. Metals, sensors, scratches and minor details.

RGB: Red, Green, and Blue. When you separate this image out into their respective channels, you end up with 3 black and white images for how much red, how much green, and how much blue is in each pixel. Black means none, and white means all. This is what's controlling the 3 paintable colors on a 'Mech.

Specular: This is basically how shiney something is. a really white texture would give you a really intense highlight. The color being put in here is what helps things look like gold or metal, and is also the color you see that DOES NOT change when you apply different paint to your 'Mech.

Gloss: This is a black and white mask map that just defines how defined or rough a specular highlight is, which will probably make more sense with a picture example I'll provide below.


Here we have a cube, and the material editor in 3DS Max. You can see the object, as well as a sphere with the material on it, and the color or number values for diffuse, specular, and glossiness.

Posted Image

If we change the color, we can try our best to make gold, but it really just looks like a flat yellow.

Posted Image

Increasing the specular value, and a bit of gloss makes it looks shiny, but we're not there, it just looks like plastic. Note the really small intense highlight on the sphere, indicating a high gloss value.

Posted Image

And here, we've increased the specular a lot, reduced the gloss to zero again too get a soft, wide highlight, and adust both our diffuse and specular colors. The specular color is now doing the heavy lifting in terms of the color we see, while the diffuse being darker is what's allowing the metal to have dark areas at all.

Posted Image

Now, we change the diffuse to an intense green, and you'll see the kind of result common with the Jade Falcon skin, or the Marauder Bounty Hunter hero, which have intense gold sections.

Posted Image

Setting the diffuse color to black will get you something like the following image on those gold sections, depending on the skin.

Posted Image

Unfortunately, there's not a simple solution for fixing this, let alone that it would mean reworking thousands of skins. We're conscious of this limitation, and know that making intense specular colors leads to only limited ability to alter the color with paint changes. The recent Ambush hero is an example of me going all out to make the most intense shiny metal skin possible, and I knew it would lead to real limitations in altering the paint, like the Jade Falcon skin. The gold in the Predator Blood Asp skin is more muted, and should be kinder on coloring, like the gold in the recent loyalty skin was. It looks more bland, but it responds to color changes better. For those trying to change these metallic colors, I recommend sticking to dark, high saturation colors that are adjacent on the color wheel (orange and purple are adjacent to red). This should give you the most visible results without looking as jarring as the Blood Asp does with blue in my last post.

Speaking of last posts, it looks like questions are dying down, so this will be my last post. I'll still check this thread occasionally and answer any more questions though. I'll also leave you with one final image on Christmas Eve.

Posted Image

#47 Skydrive

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Posted 24 December 2021 - 06:57 PM

You know, I feel like the hands just being there in the picture actually adds to the menace, the look of a predator about to ruin the day of his prey.

#48 w0qj

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Posted 26 December 2021 - 07:28 AM

Oops... make that +2 Rivals Pack sales from our family... our new family member playing MWO for the very first time really loved the Sunspider Ambush... high cockpit level weapons = what_you_see_is_what_you_hit,and great maneuverability! Excellent quirks too... well done with this Rivals Pack!!


View Postw0qj, on 18 December 2021 - 10:36 PM, said:

...By the way, Rivals Pack sale +1 just now, directly because of your write-up!
Congrats, you're a great salesman too Posted Image


#49 D V Devnull

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Posted 27 December 2021 - 05:56 AM

View PostMark Nicholson, on 24 December 2021 - 06:37 PM, said:

So here's the short write up I said I'd do on what's going on with 'Mech paint that's shiney, and why it doesn't change color.

<<< snip >>>

I've read through your write-up, but I got left with more questions to ask due to some heavy confusion solely on my part. I am hoping you have not checked out on us, because I — and I would bet, many others — really do appreciate the communication from you. ^_^

Just for starters, what happens when you play around with the "Opacity" setting on those items? :mellow:

Also, what happens when you make the "Ambient" darker than the "Diffuse" when you're configuring the Color settings for these items? :huh:

I happen to be asking these questions because I have been remembering the visual effects on older Hero Mechs like the Sun Spider SNS-VG "Vanguard", the Roughneck RGH-PH "PowerHouse", and the WarHammer IIC WHM-IIC-BL "Bludgeon", as well as some of the interactions with Camo Patterns like the Ghost Bear Faction choice. I can remember many different methods of coloring would all be able to properly work with each of those older Mechs & Camo options which I've had the chance to personally check out, particularly darker options in their cases. I also noticed the trend through each of the steps you showed, and therefore the random possibility that the function uniformity might be messing with what you were trying to make available in the final result, unless I am horribly not understanding something here. I therefore am asking — because I really don't know what the outcome is, and I would appreciate learning — if any additional tweaking on variables like those might have some kind of useful desired effects toward goals that either you or other players are asking about, or if I've mentally tripped on the railroad tracks here only to get hit by the 5:15 train head-on? :o


Also, I guess this would be a good spot to wish you a belated Merry Christmas and hope that you have a very Happy New Year when it arrives! :D

~D. V. "asking questions about how Colors are applied, and wishing you more Happy Holidays too" Devnull

#50 GoodTry

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Posted 27 December 2021 - 07:08 AM

Wow, I've been "Checking back for future updates!" for days now with nothing, and now I see that the post was in the comments the whole time!

You guys should really put a link to the comments in the actual news post, or at least put in there that the content is in the comments. I wonder how many other people have been looking at the post without realizing that all of the action is here.

#51 Mark Nicholson

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Posted 27 December 2021 - 07:06 PM

View PostD V Devnull, on 27 December 2021 - 05:56 AM, said:

I've read through your write-up, but I got left with more questions to ask due to some heavy confusion solely on my part. I am hoping you have not checked out on us, because I — and I would bet, many others — really do appreciate the communication from you. Posted Image

Just for starters, what happens when you play around with the "Opacity" setting on those items? Posted Image

Also, what happens when you make the "Ambient" darker than the "Diffuse" when you're configuring the Color settings for these items? Posted Image

Also, I guess this would be a good spot to wish you a belated Merry Christmas and hope that you have a very Happy New Year when it arrives! Posted Image

~D. V. "asking questions about how Colors are applied, and wishing you more Happy Holidays too" Devnull


I said I was done posting images and new stuff. I also said I'd be around to answer more questions if people had them.

Regarding opacity, I'm not sure if your intent is regarding making it transparent, or making it less strong. There are controls in the material for both, though we don't use transparency on 'Mechs. There's a lot of stuff in the material to control the nature of the specular highlight, including making it weaker, or tinting the whole thing with a single color. My material example above is like that, using a color tint instead of an images with several colors in it. The problem with using a color tint is that it's uniform, unless you have a mask (like the RGB mask for colors), otherwise all the slightly blue tinted metal goes other colors and looks funny. Even then, this whole material system is no longer industry standard.

What happens when you make the Ambient value darker than the Diffuse value? This is a good question. The answer is go get Blender and try it for yourself! Blender is a free and open source 3D package, and I encourage everyone to go tinker in it if they find this stuff interesting.

#52 MrFatBard

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Posted 27 December 2021 - 08:31 PM

so uhh these are pretty nice not even gonna lie, but uhh when are we getting new mechs? like not just variants i need to spend more money Posted Image

#53 Mark Nicholson

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Posted 27 December 2021 - 08:48 PM

View PostMrFatBard, on 27 December 2021 - 08:31 PM, said:

so uhh these are pretty nice not even gonna lie, but uhh when are we getting new mechs? like not just variants i need to spend more money Posted Image


I see your interest in that, and I want you to know I'm VERY interested in making them for you, as are Matt and Daeron. However, it's not a topic I feel comfortable expanding on at this time, nor would this be the place for us to announce new chassis.

#54 Lionheart2012

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Posted 28 December 2021 - 07:12 PM

Just a thought, no reply needed:

MAD-9S as part of next pack after Predator Pack, possibly coupled with the COM-7S? Hardpoints of the 9S follow the MAD-3R with the addition of the 1E in the Head and the 1ECM in the CT (from the MAD-9M), and just 2B in the RT. Hardpoints in the 7S follow the COM-2D, less the ECM and adding the 2E in the LA (from the COM-TDK). No changes in the modeling needed (I hope).

#55 D V Devnull

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Posted 29 December 2021 - 03:36 AM

View PostMark Nicholson, on 27 December 2021 - 07:06 PM, said:

Regarding opacity, I'm not sure if your intent is regarding making it transparent, or making it less strong.

To answer your question, my thought was never of causing complete object transparency. Instead, the idea would be making such a specular highlight become less strong only when the player makes a choice of which color they wish to apply on that particular channel. That way, when the player has not made an intent to override, then the original visual stands out perfectly. But, the specular highlight would go more transparent and partially subside in a reasonable fashion should the player decide they want something looking a bit different. It would be sort of like how I've seen in one of 'Baradul's recorded battles that the Jade Falcon Camo on the SuperNova Mech has a particular reaction to a choice of purple & something darker having been applied by a player. :)

I think that my own words alone fail to give a complete useful description of this thought, so I tracked down that particular single video for a quick look at what I saw before...


(Source: 'Baradul's YouTube, "Machine Gun Mayhem with the Javelin 11F - Mechwarrior Online The Daily Dose 1469" @ "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSw5RbNQAm0")

...where you can see for near 45 seconds from about 8:10 to 8:55 in the video as to what kind of color effect which I'm talking about. If it doesn't jump right to the point in the video where I'm trying to make it go with either method of access, you have my apologies as that would mean having to move it to 8:10 manually instead. :o


EDIT #1 :: And you definitely have my apologies... The video would not put itself up without avoiding use of the time parameter, so it may be more useful to just click the Link to properly reach that, unless you don't mind having to manually move the time slider. :(

EDIT #2 :: And you have my total apologies again... The direct link would not go to the intended time because of rabid advertising, which left me having to strip the parameter and strike out part of my above text. They're forcing people to reach any intended viewing time entirely by hand. I am extremely sorry about this, as I can only imagine how frustrating it is to others when someone is trying to show them something! :blush:

EDIT #3 :: I can't believe these Forums tonight... They usually behave a lot better than what I encountered while typing this post, and I've just had to fix a lot of problems with getting this post to render right! I'll just go crawl under a cold rock now... :unsure:


~D. V. "hopefully not failing to provide a constructive picture of transparency on a specular highlight" Devnull




[Multiple Edits to this posting have occurred because the Post Author simply can not seem to Forum right at this time... They hate their own self right now...]

Edited by D V Devnull, 29 December 2021 - 04:15 AM.


#56 Mark Nicholson

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Posted 29 December 2021 - 01:03 PM

View PostD V Devnull, on 29 December 2021 - 03:36 AM, said:

To answer your question, my thought was never of causing complete object transparency. Instead, the idea would be making such a specular highlight become less strong only when the player makes a choice of which color they wish to apply on that particular channel. That way, when the player has not made an intent to override, then the original visual stands out perfectly. But, the specular highlight would go more transparent and partially subside in a reasonable fashion should the player decide they want something looking a bit different.


There's no changing how the specular highlight behaves when you alter the color in game. It's the same, the whole time, fixed and predetermined. There are 2 intensity controls for specular, but they're material-wide, which means if you turn it off, you end up with everything looking flat Take a look at the Viper's weapons on all but the loyalty skin, which is missing the specular map being applied, a bug I found while making the loyalty skin, if you want an example. So even if you dial down the spec, you do it on everything, even the bare metal stuff, and it looks wrong. I suppose it's possible to rebuild every mech material in the game and use the rgb masks to create extra controllers for that, and update the ui (a ton of work that isn't going to happen), but you'd also end up with a material with more draw calls, and this will start eating up a lot of render resources that at this point won't affect high end PC's, but will affect anyone on an older machine, and would require some resource testing before committing to this plan.

Really, it's just that the material/ui wasn't set up to handle really shiney specular materials well, and yet we've gone and made a bunch of them because they look cool. And if you swap to just using white, you end up looking like a weird plastic instead of metal. Anyway, it's my intention to dial them back more, like the loyalty skin where the gold is reasonably changeable. I think I didn't succeed as well with the upcoming Blood Asp skin, but it very specifically called for large gold panels where you can't hide as much as narrow lines do.

#57 martian

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Posted 29 December 2021 - 01:16 PM

View PostMark Nicholson, on 17 December 2021 - 05:31 PM, said:

For those feeling ambushed by recent events, I'm willing to share about creating the Rivals pack, if asked.

View PostMark Nicholson, on 20 December 2021 - 04:43 PM, said:

Yeah, I can't make it metallic/shiny without sacrificing the ability to change colors. In this case I went nuts with that, and otherwise I've been trying to restrain how much of it I use, so people can enjoy color swapping. The camo was inspired by jewel bugs.

View PostMark Nicholson, on 24 December 2021 - 06:37 PM, said:

The recent Ambush hero is an example of me going all out to make the most intense shiny metal skin possible.

View PostMark Nicholson, on 29 December 2021 - 01:03 PM, said:

Really, it's just that the material/ui wasn't set up to handle really shiney specular materials well, and yet we've gone and made a bunch of them because they look cool.


I really want to thank you for the "Ambush". I bought it because I love the Sun Spider and your Hero "Ambush" with its cool livery was the easy choice for me.

You really did an excellent job. Posted Image

Great 'Mech on the great new map.
Posted Image

I even put "Ambush" on my userbar. Posted Image

#58 w0qj

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Posted 29 December 2021 - 09:53 PM

+10000000000000000000000000 ;)


View PostMark Nicholson, on 27 December 2021 - 08:48 PM, said:

I see your interest in that, and I want you to know I'm VERY interested in making them for you, as are Matt and Daeron. However, it's not a topic I feel comfortable expanding on at this time, nor would this be the place for us to announce new chassis.


#59 D V Devnull

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 06:11 AM

View PostMark Nicholson, on 29 December 2021 - 01:03 PM, said:

There's no changing how the specular highlight behaves when you alter the color in game. It's the same, the whole time, fixed and predetermined. There are 2 intensity controls for specular, but they're material-wide, which means if you turn it off, you end up with everything looking flat Take a look at the Viper's weapons on all but the loyalty skin, which is missing the specular map being applied, a bug I found while making the loyalty skin, if you want an example. So even if you dial down the spec, you do it on everything, even the bare metal stuff, and it looks wrong. I suppose it's possible to rebuild every mech material in the game and use the rgb masks to create extra controllers for that, and update the ui (a ton of work that isn't going to happen), but you'd also end up with a material with more draw calls, and this will start eating up a lot of render resources that at this point won't affect high end PC's, but will affect anyone on an older machine, and would require some resource testing before committing to this plan.

Really, it's just that the material/ui wasn't set up to handle really shiney specular materials well, and yet we've gone and made a bunch of them because they look cool. And if you swap to just using white, you end up looking like a weird plastic instead of metal. Anyway, it's my intention to dial them back more, like the loyalty skin where the gold is reasonably changeable. I think I didn't succeed as well with the upcoming Blood Asp skin, but it very specifically called for large gold panels where you can't hide as much as narrow lines do.

Understood... I must have mistaken something that I was observing for being another way. ^_^

Thank You for the additional explanation and thoughts about how specular highlights are designed to function, and Thank You also for having great patience with my confusable mind. It is very much appreciated, and I'll be looking forward to all future content development posts... Particularly ones which I see from you, because they're very helpful & enlightening in understanding things! :D

~D. V. "thankful for both the understanding of things and your patience in spending time posting about them" Devnull

#60 ilKhan_OrHan

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 08:16 PM

2 questions:

1) What is the Blood Asp's back bolt-on?

2) Can we buy the omni-pods from these mechs for c-bills once this package is released, or is buying this package with real money the only way we will ever have to get these omni-pods?

I don't feel like scouring this site for the answers.

Edited by ilKhan_OrHan, 30 December 2021 - 08:20 PM.






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