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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2016 7:53 pm 
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Overview
The "abase" baseset is a 32bpp graphics baseset, that is a fork of zBase baseset. The graphics are built upon zBase. It's licensed under GPL v 2.0 license as it's ancestor. The graphics are reworked and reintroduced by me (lukasz1985).

Goals
The project itself is certainly a long term goal. This set aims at following goals: to create a graphical replacement but that wont fully reflect the original game graphics in 32bpp; to be precise it will reflect the original game graphics to the extent where zbase sprites will be reused (what is in my arbitrary judgement). My aim is to give a certain feeling to the game, that will make it immersive and a pleasurable experience.

Status
Currently the project contains new and enhanced graphics for the toolbar GUI (and as a side effect - those new graphics are also available in some other windows).

Roadmap
The next are in (the most probable) order:
- more GUI work(like the minimap button's and fonts)
- fixes of missaligned sprites
- enhancements to terrain graphics
- enhancements to vehicles
- -- || -- buildings
- ... will see..

Requirements for growth
If you want this project to grow, donate: link to donation page
Every single sprite takes a lot of time to make (about 1-2 hours for a fine-tuned GUI icon). My strategy here is that for every single hour of my work on this project I'll "bill" you $10. As far as I see that amount of funds come to my paypal account - I'll act accordingly - bring you another sprite.
Keep in mind though:
- I dont work on saturdays (my time) and I won't update this thread on saturdays
- Because you supported money doesn't mean I will do whatever you wish - by donating you are not buying my soul.
- You wont get any refunds.

If you can't donate - the simplest thing you can do is spread the word - give links to this thread on social media, on your personal blog or elsewhere; posting help, references, suggestions or even bugs - also counts, because it streamlines my workflow; anyway without financial support the project wont move a step further.

Repository
In order to comply for the GPL obligations, the source code is available at BitBucket: https://bitbucket.org/luke1985m/abase-main (the link is also available in the readme of the grf).
This repositories are updated at each realease (immadiately before a new version is pushed to Bananas).

Other
If you see something missing, mistakes that are not strictly related to the graphics: like something wrong in the readme or messed changelog - let me know about that.


Last edited by lukasz1985 on Sat May 21, 2016 8:09 pm, edited 15 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2016 8:02 pm 
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So that was an initial post, now for the reall, stuff: I've started with GUI, below is a screenshot of what was done lately - the pause, fast-forward, settings, load/save, minimap, towns, subsidies, and awards(the cup) icons have been reworked. The settings "cog" icon was made from scratch. What I decided to do was to create a margin around the button's images, what will make in my opinion the gui look less cluttered. The funny part - were actually the pause and fast forward icons, which took significant amount of time to get right; still, I guess the "pause" button could use less spacing between the vertical bars.


Attachments:
File comment: First gui workings.
GUI1.png
GUI1.png [ 102.66 KiB | Viewed 24480 times ]
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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2016 4:06 pm 
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I've done some more work on the GUI. There is a comparison of the original zBase toolbar(on the bottom) with the updated one(on the upper side) in the attachment.

The heavy task was to get the stuff up to the BitBucket, but the repo is out there. The first release will be probably in few (4-5) days when I actually finish the GUI and polish it.

Comments are welcome.


Attachments:
more_gui.png [79.3 KiB]
Not downloaded yet
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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 9:12 am 
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Oh, c'mon people, gimme some feedback :P if I knew what's wrong with that, I could improve :)


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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 1:14 pm 
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Your progress is like 10000 times better than zbase is, of that I have zero doubts.

I personally would not try to replicate the same icon however, I would try to draw a completely new one.

Regarding design, I think it should be either detailed - but done properly, or simplistic - but almost in a kind of minimalistic way.

The current versions, both zbase and yours, are to me an attempt at making a detailed icon, but I find the style primitive looking.Just a relatively random gradient with black outlines is like it has been done in kindergarten.

I understand this isn't easy at all, and you are doing good progress.

I personally would make 3D models for the icons and render them, but that is very time consuming and requires some experience. However, for icons it might also be a great idea to start from photos which you heavily edit in photoshop. The design elements like pause keys, etc. just need careful playing with shapes. Maybe they are just super large, and the gradients aren't helping at all.

I absolutely do not mean to be offensive or dismotivating, at all. I appreciate your work and effort a great deal. Especially since I totally feel you when people don't reply to your posts when you spent dozens or hundreds (thousands in my case) of hours with doing things for OpenTTD, it consumes you and you work on it for days in a row, you know the progress you did is great and you assume people will like it, or hate it, but at least say it! And nobody in these forums gives a s*** enough to write a sentence to reply what they think, when someone is finally trying to build upon zbase and improve it. Perhaps it just reveals the sad truth that people who actually play the game instead of using it as screenshot program, aren't to be found on tt-forums anymore.

Enough rant, if you would like to build upon what you have now, I would suggest picking up some images of things, and putting them over areas of what you have with for example some overlay blending mode, in order to break the primitive gradient which kills everything.
OR if you want to be super brave, designing minimalistic icons would in my opinion be the best here. I might even do that for BRIX relatively soon to show you what I mean.

Regardless where you push the next iteration, the progress you are making is excellent, and in the right place where it is very needed in order to at least give zbase all sprites.

Hint: Joining IRC is helpful to get a more constructive group of people than this black hole. If I wasn't on IRC and I only used tt-forums, none of the things I did for OpenTTD would exist. You deserve more appreciation than this.

Thank you for what you do

V

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 2:39 pm 
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I agree with V that IRC may be more expedient and satisfying for feedback and staying motivated - though It also can be distracting. I agree with some of V's points from a graphic design standpoint, but have a few differences in opinion.

Personally I think gradients can be well suited to things like this, and in general, but they are very tricky to use well - if the whole style doesn't work with them they become distracting. I think at this point I would leave the more 'abstract' buttons of pause, FF, etc alone for now as they are good enough, and move onto the other more literal icons, as those are where you will face the most trouble in balancing detail, style, literalism etc. I like the choice to present the infrastructure tools as dimetric/isometric cartoon thumbnails, as this makes it more immediately easy for a new user to associate a something on the landscape with something on the tool bar. You may want to render these in the same style you use for your game sprites as V mentioned, but I think the cartoon look works too. I actually really appreciate the approach lights on the airport tool as without this the runway could look too much like a road. The outlier here is certainly the landscape tool - the pastoral "painting" scene is completely out of keeping with the other icons (to be fair it is in zbase too). It pains me to say because I can tell you spent a lot of time on it, but I think you should keep it simpler and in a dimetric/isometric projection. It could be a small hill and tree, just a tree on a grassy tile, or an excavator on dirt tile.

The town icon: I feel like the house is too narrow, or the eaves of the roof are too big, otherwise good take. One problem I have with the OGFX, and zbase town icons, is that one house does not make a town. The house with road works, but maybe one house and one shop works better?

The company owner: this is conceptually problematic to me, and I think there has been a gradual slide from TTD to ogfx to zbase to now. On the surface, a guy in a tie doesn't to me automatically connote the back office information of a railroad to me. I think the company owner name and picture is the least important item accessible from this menu, in most games I use this window to build or relocate the HQ, change color scheme, or get an overview of another company. In TTD this icon was a cartoon man in a tophat as a caricature of a 19th Century railway baron - maybe the only easy imagery where a transit company is symbolized by one man. To be distinct from TTD, ogfx changed this to a similar looking man without a hat, and zbase took this to just a bald guy in a suit. Maybe there is no way around using a person, and maybe to most players today a suit looks as odd as a tophat, but I think it would be interesting to explore other options to embody the company information. If there isn’t an alternative maybe you should try a cartoon Richard Branson? I won’t go too deep into the issues of politics involved with having only one person on the icon which symbolizes executive power, which then also tends to be shown as a white western male. Can side step those issues and also avoid trying to fit a human into the isometric style by showing a building or desk or something.

Other than the above, mostly stay motivated! The work looks great so far, I am often on IRC, as are better people to ask about this stuff. MY approach to graphic design is typically in service of telling stories about other designs, so you may want to consider the critical theory of others more focused on interface design.


Best, and thanks,

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 3:42 pm 
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I like the new look of railway/road/waterway/airport buttons, it now actually looks like a piece of road, instead of a random rectangle.
I'm not sure about the industries button, it has too many little details to fit into an icon. I would rather just have an image of a industrial chimney pipe puffing out cloud of hazardous chemicals and greenhouse gases, so you understand from a first glance that it's an industrial thing.

Now, if you'd redo those ugly pictures of an amputated train engine, a sawed-off ship nose, and a plane with half a wing missing, that would be awesome. The bus is eh, I can live with that, but I would prefer a truck, because it has more recognizable shape than a generic rectangle with windows.

The train engine, especially steam, is almost never depicted from the top as in the original icon, it's always three-quarters-front low angle, because it just looks better this way.

Same is usually true for ships, but the top-view is sometimes okay.

For trucks and buses, it's usually slightly angled side-view, and for planes, any angle will do, as long as the plane fully fits into the picture.


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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 3:46 pm 
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pelya wrote:
The train engine, especially steam, is almost never depicted from the top as in the original icon,


Every train, ship, plain and truck in game is shown from a top - isometric view.

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 3:50 pm 
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@V453000 :)

Thanks V, for some reason I had a feeling that I'll get some info from you :)

About the simplicty vs detail - you made a good point out there, because now I see some inconsistencies (some icons are just simple gradients, while others are more detailed). About the target, of how I want it to look - I like the vector art-like look you probably could've seen in the flash games. I'm certainly going for the detail.

I was thinking about rendering them from 3D models, but as far as my previous experience go with this, I'd rather want to stay with vectors (though I will most probably render the four "vehicle" icons).

I think it's actually a good idea to (re)join the IRC (I actually was there once, but it was a graveyard out there with zombie bots only :P).

About your rant - don't ya worry: though I appreciate a lot, that you came first and actually said something - and that's good because it is a real effort - I guess the reason is - people here are tired of unfullfilled promises (including my own failure, previously) and probably are sceptic all about and it will take them some time to regain that trust.

@supermop

Hmm... I got you :) to be honest, my point is that I would like to keep the UI as much reminiscent of the OpenTTD's classical UI, yet I would like to make it for an easy experience for new players to adapt. So there is a trade-off, which I'll have to think about and find out the best compromise.

You're probably right about the house in the towns icon - it, too appears to me a little bit too narrow - now I've realized what's wrong with that.. (though I would argue on the eaves :P) . You're right also about the landscape icon - I will give it a thought and try to come with something more meaningfull if something will come to my mind..

About the "company" figure it's certainly a good point; actually I was already thinking about making that sprite random (at each release or maybe some different way) for alternating between man and woman figure, now you've also pointed out also the race. It would be certainly an added value if there was some kind of variance.
The thing about the isometric view in the icons is that.. I don't necessarily want to force it too much, since it's what we already got in the viewport :) . Also, from what I've experienced - the GUI consistency is less of a problem, unless something is plainly wrong or ridiculous.
Speaking of the company icon in this context - maybe not an isometric(dimetric - technically, but hey, it's only few degrees missing :P) view will do, but I will certainly go after your suggestion and try to fit company HQ in the background somehow or add meaning by a different manners (though I'm very curious about it now).

Well, about your approach to design - it's what I need - clues and focused critique, so thanks a lot for your reply, I really appreciate that :)



Now back to Inkscape, which for some reason likes to eat half of my system's memory. :P


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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 4:03 pm 
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For a company owner face, I would suggest a top-hat and a tie with no face depicted at all.


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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 5:17 pm 
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Thanks peyla - the industries icon will probably stay like that - since it's a piece I really liked when I finished it :P. About the "vehicles" icons, I'm for isometric view as it is now, though a hi-res one, so new icons will most probably be included after I get to the vehicles (I'm actually thinking of doing some nice placeholders till then). About the hat etc. for the face - it would do the trick, and maybe I'll fall back for this if I had to, but for now I'm interested in keeping face somehow in there.


Last edited by lukasz1985 on Mon May 09, 2016 5:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 5:19 pm 
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lukasz1985 wrote:
The thing about the isometric view in the icons is that.. I don't necessarily want to force it too much, since it's what we already got in the viewport . Also, from what I've experienced - the GUI consistency is less of a problem, unless something is plainly wrong or ridiculous.


That is totally valid too - it is up to you to choose whether you prefer the strategy of matching imagery to what players see on the board, or match what might be some common preconceptions they might have about what represents trains, roads, etc. I would encourage choosing some set of visual rules or guidelines even if you end up needing to break them. From my perspective as an architect, we always want to make each detail a new custom solution to the problem at hand, but some of the strongest designs are those where the designer holds themselves to a set of ideas and the places where they deviate become special and deliberate, rather than whatever first came to mind. Holding yourself to a set of rules also can save time as for each image, you already know what the proscribed approach is, and you only need to start from scratch where you choose to be different.

I think it would be cool if you could have a random race, gender, etc for company icon, but it may be difficult to show in such a small space. There is also the issue that seeing a face, whether a white man, or black woman, or anyone else still to me just says "people", not company. The original TTD sprites didnt have this problem because the guy was in a top hat, which has become a cultural caricature of "rich guy, industrialist, capitalist, owner of the company" (look at early 20th century communist posters to see how oddly widespread this became). In the US and UK we also associate the top hat with the Monopoly board game - a game about exploiting capital to build an empire, so there are parallels. In the TTD sprite, the man has a connotation of "corporate power" not because he is a man, but because of the top hat. So maybe consider a means to put a random man or woman under the hat, or make the icon simply only the hat! Just some suggestions, it is hard really represent what this button does in a small icon.

For icons, if you are interested in moving away from isometric, and more to universal imagery, you may want to study way-finding and road signage standards. These are areas where people have put decades of work into refining how to convey transportation related ideas in a form that is as quick to read and easy to render as possible.

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 5:35 pm 
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Quote:
There is also the issue that seeing a face, whether a white man, or black woman, or anyone else still to me just says "people", not company.


Well, I'm looking at this from a different standpoint - as a mnemonic of the window this menu displays - where you can see and choose the face of your player. Also, usually the fact is that a person is identified with company, e.g.: you see Bill Gates - you think: Microsoft. So taking it this way - there is some sense actually. But your point on the other hand is still actually valid so.. now I've got a problem :D


Last edited by lukasz1985 on Tue May 10, 2016 7:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 5:42 pm 
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You can also go for a mr. Potato Face look for a face editor - a nose, an eye, and an ear, without a head.

Anyway, it's the least-used button in game, nice-looking vehicles are more important :)


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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 5:47 pm 
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pelya wrote:
You can also go for a mr. Potato Face look for a face editor - a nose, an eye, and an ear, without a head.

Anyway, it's the least-used button in game, nice-looking vehicles are more important :)



Haha, you nailed it with potato man xD LMAO xD, that would be hilarious :D And, yeah, I wlll most probably concentrate on vehicles icons next ;)


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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 6:28 pm 
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So, the toolbar is in a 95% complete state. Bellow is a look at it.

Actually I've tried to upload the bundled tar through Bananas as a base graphics set, but unfortunatelly I've encountered an error - just saying that the connection was interrupted. That's some funny error, because it uploads about 4-10MB of data and then dies. Anybody have clues for that? I haven't found any solution for this by first look.

I was thinking about uploading to third party server - so to say, but I guess no hussle is necessary. Anyway if there are brave souls out there, you can clone the repo from here https://bitbucket.org/luke1985m/abase-main and build yourself. I will update the original post a lot after the release with more in-depth info on this, but now, I need some way to get the Bananas swallow my tar... :( so, any help appreciated :).


Attachments:
toolbar_95.png [47.37 KiB]
Not downloaded yet
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 6:32 pm 
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Vehicle icons are absolutely perfect :) also I see you improved minimap icon.


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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 6:41 pm 
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I'm not so happy of the vehicles icons - they actually were a few pretty quick renders. Yes, the minimap was tweaked a little, and if you watch - some of the things that others mentioned, like the house in towns icon is wider, the floppy icon has some added detail, and the pause and ff buttons have outlines (thoug barely visible).


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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 7:28 pm 
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Looks very good, the "?" button jumps out for me, maybe the blue cirlce is too big?
Does it even need a circle?

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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 8:20 pm 
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Looks good, I think it is easily a good enough toolbar for a release. Only issue about vehicles - If you are not familiar with modern high speed trains, does that tgv shaped thing say "train" to you? Even for people living in a big city who ride some form of flat fronted EMU everyday and have never seen a steam locomotive, some kind if tank engine is still probably what they first think of as a totem for the concept of trains in general...

If you keep the electric locomotive, maybe make it more obviously a train and not a tram or van... maybe a wagon behind, or more obvious pantograph?

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