Elvas Tower: A Plea For Trees - Elvas Tower

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A Plea For Trees

#1 User is offline   jamesc25313 

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 07:44 PM

Hello,
I wanted to bring to the attention of the devs a problem that has been around for quiet some time and that is trees. In particular, tree visuals and tree flashing in general. This particular thread from over three years ago and happens to be a pinned topic on the Open Rails forum at TS, discusses tree appearance and how trees of "forest region" type seem to lose detail as the camera backs away from the image. The issue remains and is of great hindrance to those of us who care about this sort of thing.

Below is a image that illustrates this once again with the lower trees looking normal and the upper trees which are "forest regions" using the same exact image looking drastically different and obviously something is wrong.


https://i.imgur.com/kffBtEz.jpg
Trees of "forest region" type look like sticks and lose much of their detail at a short distance away from them. The detail seems to come back as you come closer, but the image is still distorted in color (usually darker) as you zoom closer as shown below. You will also notice that the tree with more detail are tree objects and the trees with less are "forest objects" but have less detail even though they are the same texture image:

https://i.imgur.com/jarfmqC.jpg

As you can see being closely zoomed in, the trees in the foreground blend well and in the distance, they look like sticks again. Let me point out for my own sake that I have exported these images many, many different times as well as other tree images with multiple image programs, with the same result. If it were the image itself, then it would almost certainly look odd with the tree object as well. Bigger fuller trees dont show this effect so much, but it is still there and is especially pronounced on winter type trees, or thinner trees. I hope that the answer to this question isnt to simply settle and thats why I bring it up ever-so-often.

It seems as well, the tree object has more white around it as the "forest region" tree is more crisp and has no white edge. This is most certainly the alpha, but shows they're probably being applied differently? This most likely would explain why one tree looks darker as it is an optical illusion, but still doesnt account for image quality loss and how both look vastly different from close and from afar. I think its fair to expect as a user that both tree types would look the same and thus blend seamlessly, making forest regions, or forward facing trees an attractive option for mass tree placement to cut impact on FPS.

The issue of tree flickering also reported by me here and here has gone unaddressed, but I only bring those issues up as they may be related to this issue as well and may add to this particular conversation. I understand this comes down to time, knowledge and want to on behalf of someone who wishes to take this on, but all I know is trees are getting no love.

As far as this being a alpha blending issue with forest objects is beyond my control as a user since those parameters seem to be hard coded? If this issue doesnt matter to you then I ask that you keep it to yourself as we all have our wants and wishes and these issues have been confirmed issues/bugs for quite some time. Thanks for reading.

#2 User is offline   Jovet 

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 09:48 AM

This sounds to me like an issue with anti-aliasing.

All too often, I see "alpha" textures poorly designed. It's imperative that the color channels fill out the not-transparent areas, or "edges" will show up wen the alpha channel does its work. This problem is exacerbated by anti-aliasing.

#3 User is offline   ErickC 

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 11:18 AM

Possibly less-than-optimal mipmaps, too? Perhaps a lack of mipmaps? Agree that care must be taken when making transparent textures, this is true on locomotives as well. I think this image of the lift loops shows the problem well:

Attached Image: CP-5577-v2-7.JPG

For whatever reason, when I drew the texture, I made the boundaries of the alpha channel the boundaries of the texture as well, and you can see a very clear white edge around it. I'll be redrawing that.

#4 User is offline   Genma Saotome 

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 11:45 AM

Reminds me of something I noticed w/ tertex: When you've got detail in the art instead of the model I think you are likely to lose that detail from mipmapping. This observation came to me when attempting to paint a road into tertex and have it run off into the distance. The road never made it to "the distance", it just blurred away. Placing road shapes at the same location produced a very different result -- the road was clear well into the distance.

To be clear I do not know why the two trials came out so differently, only that they did. If there is actually something going on that diminishes the clarity of the art then it's plausible that whatever does that is at play in these trees you posted.

P.S. Those are really nice looking bare trees.

#5 User is offline   Jovet 

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 12:18 PM

My suggestion would be to create a version of the texture without MIP maps and see how it performs. It's very likely that the static trees are setup to bias the MIP-mapping which encourages more detail at a greater distance; the forest regions surely don't have that luxury.

The light-grey ghost auras around the trees in the foreground of the final photo won't be solved with that, which is what I still consider the problem there per my previous post.

'Forests' and 'static trees' are "treeted" completely differently, so it sure looks like there can be an improvement in the forest region rendering.

#6 User is offline   jamesc25313 

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 06:54 PM

First picture is of tree using ACE file no mips. On the left side of the first picture is forest region and on the right is regular cruiform trees. Second picture is using DDS, DXT1, no mips using same tree as first and is to simply illustrate my point. What I see is when using DDS, forest regions and user created cruiform type trees look basically the same, but when using ace file you get different results. Could it be the differences between the two file types as to why one looks good and one doesnt? Maybe, but ace files used in forest regions in MSTS arent a problem (Im sure someone has a problem to enlighten me to) and in OR they look funny. Simple as that.

This same topic is actually pinned to the OR forum at TS.com and was explained to me by James Ross that there shouldnt be any real difference in the two file types once loaded into game. So, my question is why does it look different? Its not a bad alpha job, or mip maps. Thought of that a long time ago, thanks anyway.

https://i.imgur.com/9FBgX9Z.jpg

https://i.imgur.com/RL8zrpq.jpg

#7 User is offline   jamesc25313 

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 06:55 PM

View PostGenma Saotome, on 25 November 2017 - 11:45 AM, said:


P.S. Those are really nice looking bare trees.


Thank you.

#8 User is offline   Jovet 

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 09:30 AM

View Postjamesc25313, on 08 December 2017 - 06:54 PM, said:

Its not a bad alpha job, or mip maps.

On the contrary, I still have a hunch about the MIP maps. Did you put MIP maps into the .dds file? In your second screen shot, where they're missing, the forest region looks good as it should.

It is possible that MSTS does not use MIPs for forest regions but it's more likely that it uses them differently than OR does. As it's hard-coded into MSTS, it might not be obvious how they're employed.

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