FRUA & DUNGEON CRAFT Community Forums

Dungeon Craft => Dungeon Craft - Artwork => Topic started by: marainein on March 24, 2017, 11:22:31 PM

Title: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: marainein on March 24, 2017, 11:22:31 PM
So I want to build some stairs. A whole map level in fact, of stairs. And not just to take the party from level 1 to level 2. No, these stairs are going to lead from the bright skies of the surface world all the way down to hell (with some side branches). So we're talking big. Really Big.

And I'd like the party to see just what they're getting themselves into - to emphasize as much of the vertical aspects of the stairway as possible.

Is there anything we can do with special wall sizes and backdrops, anything else to make them look cyclopean, epic, massive etc?
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: Dinonykos on March 25, 2017, 04:02:26 AM
I have thought myself about doing a city at the side of a mountain. I think it can indeed be done. You could either only use backgrounds to achieve this. Or you could do special walls, but the problem is that you have only two slots for most distant walls and only three for the distant walls. Therefore, you cannot achieve something with a steady slope. However, something stairlike could be achieved as long as you leave the most distant walls out (you could either do the latter by not using areas longer than two squares or by doing a kind of fog or darkness effect for the most distant walls).
Or perhaps you can make Manikus and Paul support a wall format with 5 distant and numerous most distant walls - than it would be relatively easy to do a slope...  :)

The big alternative would be to use multiple levels to achieve this - then I think it can also be done in a very convincing way, but it would be a lot of effort both in terms of graphic design and level organizing.
Look at http://ua.reonis.com/index.php?topic=3070.15 - the "rooftop technique" Manikus and I discuss there would be the base of what I would try to do. The great advantage is that you can do this already with the existing wall formats.

EDIT: I thought this over, I guess you can also use the rooftop technique within the same level if you want to, but it might be difficult to keep the overview then.
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: manikus on March 27, 2017, 01:24:20 PM
I think I get what you are both saying...but I am not sure what is meant in part of Dinonykos response - the line:
Quote from: Dinonykos
...the problem is that you have only two slots for most distant walls and only three for the distant walls.

I think you can actually mix backdrops and walls to achieve a lot. :) I have used special walls where the Far Away side walls extend to the horizon, and when you get close enough to the spot where it would matter, you go back to a regular wall.

A lot depends on your layout. In fact in this type of design, it almost all depends on your layout. Anything you can draw in a viewport, we can do as a wall and/or backdrop. Anything. :D
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: marainein on March 27, 2017, 10:06:09 PM
Do we have any examples of stairs lying around? It's hard for me to visualize exactly what we're talking about here with these techniques.

Also, since I know both of you are artists - how do you make something look epic sized on the screen? Is it useful to have some sort of visual cues that can help the player understand the size of the structure?
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: Dinonykos on March 28, 2017, 12:15:02 AM
Well, your vision is something special. I think Manikus had something like open stairs in his Academy Demo. I am not sure, though, what you exactly want - you mean big stairs in a sense that they are covering a whole level, but every step of the stair should be normal size? And there shall be nothing else, no buildings? Maybe you can make a few sketches?
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: marainein on March 28, 2017, 04:44:49 AM
Well, your vision is something special.
I don't really have a vision - I'm trying to get some ideas. Maybe a square spiral stairway, winding down the inside of a pit. Since DC doesn't do 3d maps, I'd have to teleport the party at the end of each layer of stairs to the next layer.

I think Manikus had something like open stairs in his Academy Demo.
Do you have any screenshots? I looked around for some, haven't found any yet.

I am not sure, though, what you exactly want - you mean big stairs in a sense that they are covering a whole level, but every step of the stair should be normal size? And there shall be nothing else, no buildings? Maybe you can make a few sketches?
I guess the stairway can be one square wide and the steps of normal height - it's the idea of the length/height of the stairway I'm trying to get across.

There are stairs included in the default art, but when i try to put several in a line (to make a long, continuous stairway) they cover each other, because the distant wall images are at the wrong height for this sort of thing.
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: Dinonykos on March 28, 2017, 06:38:13 AM
There are stairs included in the default art, but when i try to put several in a line (to make a long, continuous stairway) they cover each other, because the distant wall images are at the wrong height for this sort of thing.
For that, as well as for the "stairs inside pit" thing, you would need a lot of additional art. I like the idea to have stairs inside a pit particularly much. It would not be that difficult, particularly if the steps were only half as wide as the 3D screen...

I have attached a sketch of another concept - such a concept would still need new art, but not as much as others...
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: manikus on March 28, 2017, 12:51:05 PM
The style of wall that I have made is in the default art...I have variations on this never released, but you will get the idea. I don't know about Dinonykos, but I have only used walls that goes up/down one floor at a time. I don't think it would be terribly difficult to go up two or more floors, but it depends on how you envision the stairwell.

Dinonykos, I love your sketch. I would play that design and be dazzled by the artwork. :D :D :D
Totally not what I imagined, however. I pictured open stairs, leading to open platforms with diverging side paths (that may or may not be stairs). If you have read the Robert Jordan "Wheel of Time" series, I am picturing some like The Ways. Or conversely, something omore akin to an MC Escher painting.

How to do epic art? For something like this, with open or closed or whatever stairs, I think it is about Depth of Field. You Up Close and Near By walls are crisp and fairly well lit, but your Far Away walls are darker, less detailed (ehich happens anyway), and then you use backdrops to sho the area beyond as darker and less detailed yet. You could also do something with color scheme - the lower you go, more red the backdrops, or seomthing like that. :) Now for me, I would also change the viewport. I think it is well known that I do not like th edefault viewport, but for this I might consider not using the square, but a viewport that is wider than it is tall. Or if you don't want to do that, consider using a lot of small pics and sprites that extend outside of the frame with the occasional big pic. You could also have "viewing platforms" with a spot to look down and images that show the stairs going down into the depths, etc. :)
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: Dinonykos on March 28, 2017, 03:14:04 PM
The style of wall that I have made is in the default art...I have variations on this never released, but you will get the idea. I don't know about Dinonykos, but I have only used walls that goes up/down one floor at a time. I don't think it would be terribly difficult to go up two or more floors, but it depends on how you envision the stairwell.

Thanks to DC interesting combination of perspectives, it might be a little challenging (see below) - probably a mixture of perspectives would be a good way.
I still like the pit idea most...
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: manikus on March 29, 2017, 12:56:13 PM
seeing things in this style of game is always problematic. You are always looking straight ahead. If you turn, you are still looking straight ahead, just in a different direction. :D
You oculd do parts in the rooftop style, which would help. But largely, I think to to convey the depth, you are left to using tricks. :D
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: marainein on March 29, 2017, 01:23:53 PM
Lots of excellent points and information here that I'm still thinking on. Can someone explain Dinonykos's perspective diagram? I have no experience with such things.

My current idea for the stairs layout - a flight of stairs 3 squares long on each of the north, south, east and west sides of the pit. The NE, SE, SW and NW corners would be landings/platforms, maybe 2x2 squares in side (that'll make the pit a 7x7 square). The stairs and landings would be open on the side facing the pit. Tunnels leading off the landings and perhaps the stairs to dungeons. Various encounters on the stairs. The pattern can repeat itself for about 16 levels.

By changing the height of the near and distant images for the stair walls, I was able to make them appear to be one long staircase - it's not perfect, but it's a start. One problem I have is there are no graphics for when the party is standing on the stairs looking sideways.

Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: Dinonykos on March 29, 2017, 01:37:43 PM
Lots of excellent points and information here that I'm still thinking on. Can someone explain Dinonykos's perspective diagram?
Ahem, sorry. The red frame reflects the 3d view window. What I tried to show is that if you do a ramp (reflecting simplified stairs) from the floor where the nearby walls are to the top of the distant wall, and then from the top of the distant wall to the top of a double-height far away wall, the perspective changes. (I guess this is not really clearly explained...)

The point is that the combination of different perspectives in the 3d view window makes very long ramps (and thus also stairs) seem like they have a bend.

One problem I have is there are no graphics for when the party is standing on the stairs looking sideways.
Yes, that is something that would demand even more additional art.

Generally, I quite often think about how things like stairs, bridges, enormous trees and so on can be achieved in DC, but even though I think I could come up with acceptable solutions, I always decide in the end that the effort is not worth the result.

However, I think the pit idea is a good one that can be done.
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: manikus on March 29, 2017, 01:43:11 PM
I was thinking about the side-view this morning and how that might look. In theory, the middle of the viewport is the average eye level of the party, and center-bottom becomes the average spot of their feet (or since we don't show thier feet, that spot right in front of them ;) ). If you are on the stairs turned towards the wall...stairs going up and down from center with each stair extending to the viewport border.

I think I will make one of these, well two of them since you won't always want to just turn to your right. ;)

Something else to consider, aside from if the stairs are open or not, is how wide you want them - they can be narrower or wider than one wall-width.

What do you want your walls to look like? I have done walls for the grey stone and for the red dungeon. Are you wanting to use either one of those, or something else? I am willing to make some extended stairs to your specification, if my stairs are the style you want to use. :D
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: marainein on March 30, 2017, 04:28:39 AM
What do you want your walls to look like? I have done walls for the grey stone and for the red dungeon. Are you wanting to use either one of those, or something else? I am willing to make some extended stairs to your specification, if my stairs are the style you want to use. :D
Manikus, thank you for volunteering to help out here :)

I don't mind how they look - whatever you prefer. I do have some suggestions though for other issues:

(1) since the stairs are open on one side, how should they look from the outside on that side?
(2) When going downstairs, you can't see any actual stairs with the existing graphics (I presume this is because the viewpoint is horizontal and the stairs are beneath the line of sight) - can you think of a way to make the stairs visible when going down them? Maybe assume the player's viewpoint is tilted down slightly?

Edit - after looking again at Dinonykos's perspective diagram, maybe you guys understand all this at a far better level than me, and have (2) figured out already.
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: marainein on March 30, 2017, 04:43:58 AM
Generally, I quite often think about how things like stairs, bridges, enormous trees and so on can be achieved in DC, but even though I think I could come up with acceptable solutions, I always decide in the end that the effort is not worth the result.
Now this has got my imagination all fired up - I'm imagining an adventure based on the giant cosmic tree Yggdrasil, with dungeon levels spanning entire branches, and the tree as an ever present backdrop.

BTW, have you ever thought about how to do the visual effect of shafts of daylight in a dark cave? That's one thing I've been thinking about.
(http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2015/08/23/17/2B98342300000578-3207915-The_stunningly_chilling_cave_is_lit_up_by_an_opening_above_it_wi-a-3_1440347252367.jpg)
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: Dinonykos on March 30, 2017, 05:49:02 AM
Now this has got my imagination all fired up - I'm imagining an adventure based on the giant cosmic tree Yggdrasil, with dungeon levels spanning entire branches, and the tree as an ever present backdrop.
With enormous tree, I rather meant a tree covering several squares. :) The Yggdrasil idea is great, in any case, though my understanding of Yggdrasil was that it is outside the perception of normal beings (last not least due to its size).

BTW, have you ever thought about how to do the visual effect of shafts of daylight in a dark cave? That's one thing I've been thinking about.
This is another great idea and Manikus light demo goes a little in that direction. In this context, it may be interesting to know if the auto-darken viewport function could be influenced in game via a script...
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: manikus on March 30, 2017, 01:34:27 PM
Yggdrasil is normally not visible to humans, or to other beings for that matter. Humans can see it if they are taken to it, or if a god wants them to see it. :D

How will stairs look form the open side? Depends on whether or not it is solid underneath, eg stairs carved into a cave wall, or if there is space underneath, eg wooden porch steps with no flashing.

Stairs down? The perspective in DC means the stairs down are invisible to the viewer, or more correctly would be a thick line.

Will the regular perspective work? No.
I've attached an image to show what things look like using your image. The reason I haven't done any "on stairs" images is that in our regular perspective, which moves or down one whole floor at a time, in the cell with the stairs, the viewer's head would be at stair level. I really don't want to change the head height relative to the level, so the solution seems to be moving the stairs. Right?
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: Dinonykos on March 30, 2017, 02:22:15 PM
Schlau!
:hello2:
I wonder why I didn't think about this earlier.
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: marainein on March 30, 2017, 03:02:31 PM
This is another great idea and Manikus light demo goes a little in that direction. In this context, it may be interesting to know if the auto-darken viewport function could be influenced in game via a script...

There's an auto darken function? Where? Also do we have any screenshots of the light demo? I'll download it later today and take a very good look.
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: marainein on March 30, 2017, 03:17:00 PM
Yggdrasil is normally not visible to humans, or to other beings for that matter. Humans can see it if they are taken to it, or if a god wants them to see it. :D
Everyone's an expert on interdimensional travel except me :P

How will stairs look form the open side? Depends on whether or not it is solid underneath, eg stairs carved into a cave wall, or if there is space underneath, eg wooden porch steps with no flashing.
For the pit, I envisaged stairs carved into the cliff like sides of the pit - so no space, just rock.

Stairs down? The perspective in DC means the stairs down are invisible to the viewer, or more correctly would be a thick line.
Do you think it's feasible to draw the downward view as if the viewer had tilted his gaze down (which I think people naturally do when descending stairs)? Maybe the rocks or bricks on the wall next to the stairs would have to be redrawn at an angle. If the stairs aren't visible while descending, it's just going to look like the party is walking on air.

Do you think it would be a good idea to have some sort visual cue that the player is descending? Rocky outcroppings or something on the cliff wall ahead that rise as the player descends?
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: manikus on March 30, 2017, 04:58:14 PM
Yggdrasil is normally not visible to humans, or to other beings for that matter. Humans can see it if they are taken to it, or if a god wants them to see it. :D
Everyone's an expert on interdimensional travel except me :P
I just read Neil Gaiman's new book on Norse Mythology last week. :D

Quote from: marainein
How will stairs look form the open side? Depends on whether or not it is solid underneath, eg stairs carved into a cave wall, or if there is space underneath, eg wooden porch steps with no flashing.
For the pit, I envisaged stairs carved into the cliff like sides of the pit - so no space, just rock.
This is going to be 12 walls or so for when the player is on the stairs and another 2 to 4 for when they see it in the back ground.

Quote from: marainein
Stairs down? The perspective in DC means the stairs down are invisible to the viewer, or more correctly would be a thick line.
Do you think it's feasible to draw the downward view as if the viewer had tilted his gaze down (which I think people naturally do when descending stairs)? Maybe the rocks or bricks on the wall next to the stairs would have to be redrawn at an angle. If the stairs aren't visible while descending, it's just going to look like the party is walking on air.

Do you think it would be a good idea to have some sort visual cue that the player is descending? Rocky outcroppings or something on the cliff wall ahead that rise as the player descends?
No need to tilt. :) In one point perspective, standing on the stairs, you can see them going down, though they will be greatly foreshortened.

Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: manikus on March 31, 2017, 02:31:20 PM
Okay, doing an "on the stairs" image was not too hard. :D

For "facing up stairs", "turned left on stairs", and "turned right on stairs" will take 4 walls each assuming that you want to stick to the three stories format, and it is scalable up, like twelve stories, with no extra walls needed. This is just a stright stair, nothing fancy.
I haven't started on the "facing down the stairs" wall yet.

I am currently using Dinonykos "wya_Stonewall" as the wall to put with the stairs, and the stairs are drawn, but not textured.

Here are two shots - ss01 is on the stairs facing right, and ss02 is on the stairs facing up near the top (this uses an already existing backdrop, but I'll need to make some new ones with a lower horizon line for higher up the stairs like this).
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: Dinonykos on March 31, 2017, 02:38:44 PM
Nice! I think that works.
 
(I totally forgot about that wall, by the way...)
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: manikus on March 31, 2017, 03:09:02 PM
I dont think i had noticed the wall in a while, either. :D I was going to use the earthen wall, but thought this looked more like a rockrface.
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: steve_mcdee on March 31, 2017, 03:09:57 PM
Nice! Good work with the perspective on those stairs. They look pretty steep, but I guess that's what you need to ascend a standard wall's height in one cell.
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: marainein on March 31, 2017, 03:11:13 PM
Alright! Excellent! :icon_cheers:
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: manikus on March 31, 2017, 03:28:39 PM
Walls that are 45 degrees are at a 1:1 ratio, while these stairs are at a 69:56 ratio due to DC stretching on the vertical axis.
And you are correct, this is due to onestairs fitting into one cell.

A square viewport will make them look more climable, and a viewport with width larger than heighth will make them look better yet. :D
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: manikus on April 12, 2017, 01:24:59 PM
I had come up against something with doing the second story of stairs. This won't be news to Dinonykos, but DC is not actualy one point perspective. Of course, Dinonykos and I treat the inner part like one-point perspective.

The attached image shows my dilemma.
If you do one-point perspective for one story of the stairs, you get a particular slope (the green line). If you do the second story, you get a very different slope (cyan line). And if you do two sotries at once, which seems better, but is differnt from the previous two (purple line). You can only imagine that the problem gets exponentially larger when you figure in a third story. ;)

Thoughts?
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: Dinonykos on April 12, 2017, 02:01:27 PM
Actually, I tried to say something similar with post #8 in this thread...  ;D

My guess is that this issue is not so obvious if you draw real stairs instead of slopes, so I am not too much concerned about it.
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: manikus on April 12, 2017, 02:21:51 PM
Well, if you do it that way, the top step of the first floor blocks the bottome step of the secon floor. You are probably right that no one will notice. I actually thought while posting above that you and I are likely the only two to care about this, and then only in an aceademic sense as this is not our design. ;)
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: Dinonykos on April 12, 2017, 02:39:45 PM
In addition... there are so many other graphical compromises you have to make in DC/FRUA anyway...

To come back to Marainein's special case: I would expect a stairway to the underworld to look quite irregular, anyway, so making, for example, the steps of the stair look a little broken or variable in size could help mask the prespective issue. In addition, one could make several different versions of the stairs which alternate when walking downstairs (or upstairs).
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: manikus on April 12, 2017, 03:43:07 PM
In addition... there are so many other graphical compromises you have to make in DC/FRUA anyway...

To come back to Marainein's special case: I would expect a stairway to the underworld to look quite irregular, anyway, so making, for example, the steps of the stair look a little broken or variable in size could help mask the prespective issue. In addition, one could make several different versions of the stairs which alternate when walking downstairs (or upstairs).

I am sure you are quite correct. But, that is way more work than I want to do on this. :)
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: steve_mcdee on April 12, 2017, 04:44:03 PM
Well, if you do it that way, the top step of the first floor blocks the bottome step of the secon floor. You are probably right that no one will notice. I actually thought while posting above that you and I are likely the only two to care about this, and then only in an aceademic sense as this is not our design. ;)
I care. I was generally aware of these sorts of problems, but (a) never got to the point where I could actually articulate the problem or illustrate it diagrammatically, and (b) was pretty sure I wasn't the person to work out the solution. That is why I always use spiral staircases in a stairwell, instead of grand open staircases.
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: manikus on April 12, 2017, 05:25:52 PM
Good to know. :D

At some point, I had done some fiddling with wall sizes to actually fit a one-point perspective in the "x" and some work to making it one-point outside of that. I think I will look into that idea again now that I n=know more about what is going on. If I come up with anything, I'll start a thread for it. :)

I think that I will end up using bothe the fist floor and the both floors options and one not shown for all 3 floors. I think it will be more congruous that way.
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: Dinonykos on April 13, 2017, 01:28:04 PM
I care.
I was aware that there were others in addition to Manikus and me...  ;)

At some point, I had done some fiddling with wall sizes to actually fit a one-point perspective in the "x" and some work to making it one-point outside of that. I think I will look into that idea again now that I n=know more about what is going on. If I come up with anything, I'll start a thread for it. :)
As much as I like the idea to have a real one-point perspective in FRUA, I wonder who would invest time to do the additional walls needed. I am sure some of us could do it, but I personally would probably rather stick to the default mixture of isometric and one-point perspective and further enhance the variability of available wall themes.
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: manikus on April 13, 2017, 01:44:17 PM
At some point, I had done some fiddling with wall sizes to actually fit a one-point perspective in the "x" and some work to making it one-point outside of that. I think I will look into that idea again now that I n=know more about what is going on. If I come up with anything, I'll start a thread for it. :)
As much as I like the idea to have a real one-point perspective in FRUA, I wonder who would invest time to do the additional walls needed. I am sure some of us could do it, but I personally would probably rather stick to the default mixture of isometric and one-point perspective and further enhance the variability of available wall themes.

A very fair point. :) I expect no one to actually do it. I have interests in this because, while I can render walls/overlays/doors to fit with the current wall layout, they are greatly distorted. I would like to have some renders that weren't so distorted.
There is also the issue of rendered backdrops never working for indoor settings because you can't render in pspective and isometric. ;)
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: marainein on April 21, 2017, 06:08:18 PM
I do read this thread, interested in any progress that's been made, but I don't usually have any useful perspectives to offer on perspective problems :P

One thought I did have - if it's a problem of stitching together several stairs at near/medium/distant ranges, why not ignore the medium and distant ranges and have the view of looking down a long stairway entirely on the near wall image?
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: Nol Drek on April 21, 2017, 11:44:43 PM
Could a stairway going straight up or straight down be done with a backdrop better than a wall, as chutes & ladders are done?
Title: Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
Post by: manikus on April 24, 2017, 02:33:15 PM
Progrress has beeen made - I haven't said anything because I have had to start over a couple of times. ;) I have all of the up close walls done, and for some of the views, there are only up close walls. I am not going to post any screenshots until I am done, but I am still working

Nol, anything you can do as a wall, you can do as a backdrop and vice versa.