Author Topic: Stairway to Hell - Going Down  (Read 374 times)

Online marainein

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Stairway to Hell - Going Down
« 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?

Offline Dinonykos

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Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
« Reply #1 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.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2017, 10:36:36 AM by Dinonykos »
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Offline manikus

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Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
« Reply #2 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

Online marainein

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Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
« Reply #3 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?

Offline Dinonykos

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Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
« Reply #4 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?
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Online marainein

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Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
« Reply #5 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.

Offline Dinonykos

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Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
« Reply #6 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...
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Offline manikus

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Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
« Reply #7 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. :)

Offline Dinonykos

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Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
« Reply #8 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...
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Offline manikus

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Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
« Reply #9 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

Online marainein

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Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
« Reply #10 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.


Offline Dinonykos

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Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
« Reply #11 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.
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Offline manikus

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Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
« Reply #12 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

Online marainein

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Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
« Reply #13 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.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2017, 04:33:17 AM by marainein »

Online marainein

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Re: Stairway to Hell - Going Down
« Reply #14 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.

 

anything