Planet/Nebula View Distance

Tips, tactics, and general discussion for Evochron Mercenary and Evochron Legacy.

Planet/Nebula View Distance

Postby Dragon » Tue Nov 07, 2017 1:10 pm

I actually bought Evochron Legacy a while ago but only started playing yesterday, I always buy new Evochron games on release even if I don't always play them immediately.

The thing is, I noticed that celestial bodies still has no distant LOD models or sprites allowing them to be visible from vast distances like in real life, it's pretty immersion breaking to make a short jump only to turn around and notice that the massive planet/nebula you just jumped from has disappeared. I do not expect celestial bodies to be visible from across the quadrant but, it would be nice to park above a system's star and have a nice view of planets and nebulae in the local star system at least.

Now I know that increasing view distance of celestial bodies without using 2D sprites as distant LOD objects will impact performance but, is it possible to modify this in order to experiment a bit?

Thanks!
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Re: Planet/Nebula View Distance

Postby Marvin » Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:14 pm

Since there already exists an algorithm which determines which star is closest, I can envision making use of the algorithm to display that same star until another star is calculated to be closer. Anything more complicated would probably require major changes in the program.
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Re: Planet/Nebula View Distance

Postby Vice » Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:39 pm

Unfortunately for the idea, no, there isn't a way to modify or change how the entity selection and rendering system works internally to function in an alternate way such as that (beyond what it already does anyway). At least in terms of rendering them as dots of light at however much farther out you might want to see them. The current systems are designed to operate in specific ways to facilitate different functional priorities and to fall within required performance and memory confines along with other structures and objects that need to be rendered. So they remain as actual entities as far out as the engine is designed to render them.

Now if you are primarily interested in seeing such objects as realistic points of light when at long distances, it might be feasible to try and develop an additional rendering system that uses dedicated textured surfaces for those dots of light with a minimal impact on performance. It would take some time to develop and test as it would require interlinking between the existing full entity system and a new one written from scratch for distant objects (and how those systems would need to transition from one to the other based on range and also share common values/conditions). But it might be feasible to do, especially since my list is pretty clear of things to work on for the game at this point. I can probably set some time aside to explore some ideas along these lines.
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Re: Planet/Nebula View Distance

Postby Dragon » Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:17 pm

It won't be necessary to make it too technical and detailed, something simple would suffice, if there is such a thing as "simple". It's usually easier said than done in the world of games development.

I think the engine currently stops rendering planets and nebulae at around one sector distance, it would be nice if this could be increased to 5-10 sectors via graphics options for example. Rendering distance do not have to be unlimited or so far that planets/nebulae are still visible as a dot in the distance from lightyears away. It would be awesome enough to have 3-4 planets visible at the same time in systems where planets are clustered closer together, or standing on the surface of one planet and enjoying the view of other nearby planets/nebulae.

Anyway, modding it is not possible so I'm just throwing ideas around. I have no idea if such additions would receive high appreciation from the larger Evochron playerbase to make it worth the effort.
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Re: Planet/Nebula View Distance

Postby Vice » Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:16 pm

It's something I'd like to see in the game and think it would make a nice addition to have visual cues of objects in the area. What I'll plan on doing is rendering all objects within the same system. Basically, whatever can be detected on the longest range nav sensor setting is what can appear visually (visibility out to around 20-30 sectors). So in a binary system like Sapphire, you'll also be able to see both stars and their planets. The textured 'points of light' surfaces will align with the reflective or emissive properties of their respective objects. So a blue haze atmosphere planet will provide a blue point of light in the distance, stars will also match their colors in the distance. All of the points will be a bit larger and have a slight glow effect to them to help make them stand out a little more, with stars being even larger and more pronounced. Nebula will be rendered with a more shaped look, likely a slightly dimmed nebula cloud texture. The system will transition to their respective entities once the player gets close enough for the engine to begin rendering them. I may also include a way to customize the scaling of the effect, in case the player wants the surfaces to be larger or smaller than their default scaling.

If you'd like advanced access to a test build that includes this addition, send me a quick e-mail (starwraith.com > contact) in a few days to remind me.
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Re: Planet/Nebula View Distance

Postby Dragon » Thu Nov 09, 2017 8:10 am

Thanks a million man! I will do that. I hope it's worth the effort to others and yourself.
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Re: Planet/Nebula View Distance

Postby Marvin » Thu Nov 09, 2017 4:18 pm

8) It was worth it for me.
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Re: Planet/Nebula View Distance

Postby Dragon » Sat Nov 11, 2017 3:51 pm

I gave the beta build a go and it's a pretty neat way of doing it without affecting performance. Where you would normally have nothing but your ship and skybox background on-screen, you can now clearly notice stuff going on around you if you just look around a bit. Exploration also becomes more interesting, where you would normally miss an uncharted system by a few sectors, it is now possible to spot something in the distance if you keep your eyes peeled, this is especially true for non-Mantis equipped ships.

Sometimes you also do get that Freelancer-style "space scenery" effect, an example of this is planet E870 and it's nearby nebula in the Emerald system or similar in the Atlas system, in which case the nebula is clearly noticeable with the planet right next to it. It also gives a much clearer impression of just how vast in scale the Evochron quadrant actually is.

I am still relatively early in the game, now in the process of outfitting my ship with all the needed stuff (Mantis drive, constructors, terrain walker...) so I haven't been moving around the quadrant a lot. I might want to do a sublight planet-planet trip next time I'm having a cup of coffee and taking a smoke break to see how everything transitions in realtime.
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