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Loading Screens Topic

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24 days ago
So, since I don't like waiting for answers and doing nothing I decided to download source from GitHub to have a first glance at some of the issues I mentioned in my initial topic. I also decided to organize it into more specialized topics.

This one will be about LOADING SCREENS:

Let's look at what we have first. Majority of the loading screens are basically tutorials and they look decent. There is a question though that I want everyone to answer for themselves (I honestly don't know the answer, can't make up my mind in this matter). The question is:
- Are loading screens a good place for detailed features tutorials? Or should loading screens feature only small "tips" instead?

But let's assume for a moment that loading screens should be tutorials as they are now (which again, I'm fine with since I don't have an opinion on this matter). What should be changed then? Well here it goes:

1) Any non-tutorial loading screen should be removed for the sake of consistency. Those are the little things that make or break the first impression and since game is on Steam the ambition should be for the game to feel as polished as professional-made title. Ugly and childish "jumpjets" loading screen need to go, hand-drawn "unitguidewarrior" and "resign" need to go BUT they could very well be used as background for game menus since they are consistent with main menu background art.

2) Digging into even smaller details: UI elements (unit paths, etc) on tutorial loading screens should only be present if tutorial description justifies it. Otherwise they look bad. This means that:
- Selection circles under 2 bots in "cloaking" loading screen need to be removed (or new screenshot made without those present).
- Healthbars in "markers" loading screen need to be removed (or new screenshot made without those present).
- Shooting range distance circles in "skydust" need to be removed (or new screenshot made without those present).

With those changes it's the least-effort approach to have a consistent and good looking loading screens.

One thing I'd add subjectively (no idea if others like it): I feel like divided into three sections style of loading screen present in "forceforemods" is the one best looking and if new loading screens were to be made to replace all existing ones I feel they should all replicate this style for even better look and even greater consistency. But that is just personal, maybe it's just me liking this style of collage screenshots.
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Improvements are welcome. Here is the previous thread. It contains sources and is an example of a successful loadscreens thread: https://zero-k.info/Forum/Thread/25080

The loadscreens were left slightly incomplete, as you can see from the last thread. Not everything was polished. Here is a more complete list of things to do:
  • Avoid UI. I got the range ring in the terraform screenshot but must have missed the build ranges. I assume that is what you are talking about.
  • Avoid LOS. See the windgen loadscreen. The groundscar is also a bit out of place.
  • The old loadscreens use the old shield shader. The chicken loadscreen is the worse offender and should probably be redone. The amph loadscreen contains shields too.
  • The map markers loadscreen should just be remade.

If you want to put the work in to make more 3-split screens then go ahead. I think that style risks being a bit noisy, but the current one works. I think some other loadscreens are better visually, in part because they show a large battlefield.

I only see the consistency argument for removing jumping scythe. Are you saying that it looks bad? I think most people would disagree.

My intention with the loadscreen tips is to give people new features and things to explore once they are a few dozen games in.
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24 days ago
That's why I said I have no personal opinion on whether loading screens should be tutorials or not. If You feel it's a good direction You have my full support. Those loadscreens look decent as I already said. Non tutorial-ones are in minority and look inconsistent. If screenshots are to be loadscreens than ALL screenshots has to be screenshots. If tutorials are to be loading screens than ALL loading screens has to be screenshots.

As for doing those, I already volunteered to do several things and I can't vbelieve You suggest me to that myself too. Is there a single thing that current Zero-K devs are willing to do based on forum responses? Because from several quotes of Yours:
quote:
Nobody had enough time and motivation to write a story for the campaign

quote:
Improvements to unit icons and other graphics is a matter of a motivated person putting in the work in this particular area.

quote:
In any case, this isn't a democracy.

...I start to feel like noone gives a damn. I started writing here because I expected a community driven project with several devoted devs hands-on-deck to push the project forward to perfection until it's Blizzard-quality or better.

When I initially volunteered to do something and instead of "hurray, we have some outdated 2d graphics and someone volunteered to make new, how can we help You make that happen, so nice to have You" I got impression that You guys don't want my contribution at all and just want the discussion to end.

So what's the deal here? Is it a community-driven project or not? Is it alive and kicking or not?

I honestly want to help make some improvements (at least in areas I feel competent in) but:
- I want someone to cooperate with me, either by providing information I need when I need it, providing feedback, etc.
- I don't want meddle with any sort of programming or compilation. I will provide the art, implementing that in the game (after it's approved of course) has to be someone else's job.

So please tell me:
- Do You want my help or not?
- Are You willing to cooperate with me in making 2d graphics better (in ways I described above: providing information and sources, providing feedback to mockup designs I will post on forums and test versions of my art, implementing my art at the end)?

AS FOR THIS TOPIC which is LOADING SCREENS:
- I'm not currently planning to do loading screens myself. Maybe someday maybe not.
- I provided feedback and logical arguments, based on industry standards, potential marketing impact on the game and my own impressions and experience. Consistency, attention to details, good taste!
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24 days ago
Good question. I suppose I may have been a bit pessimistic, perhaps due to similar conversations I've had along these lines. I also assumed you wanted to pick up the loadscreens task since you've been talking about doing similar tasks. We appreciate help and contributions but there is a limit to how much I can coordinate them before it eats up too much of my time (I don't think I'm close to that limit yet). It helps if you're willing to learn the basics across a few domains so that you can answer more questions and do a bit more integration (you've made a good start by searching through Artwork). I'll be happier when I see something concrete.

I'm wary of being optimistic because speaking too enthusiastically feels unethical. If someone makes a contribution that initially requires a lot of revision I want them to know that this could happen from the start. Otherwise it feels too much like spec-work.

Anyway, you seem to be on the right track. Keep asking questions, do some things, get feedback.

The question of community contributions and curation is a more general one. Consider that the jumpjet loadscreen was initially created by a community member. Some people said it would make a good loadscreen, @zenfur added the border and tip, and I added it based on the generally positive thread. Which parts of the community are right? What demarcates the community? In a sense everything is community-driven because there isn't anything beyond the community.
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I am willing to refresh the topic of loading screens and do the corrections if we agree upon what is to be corrected and how. I'll probably also create few missing ones that I planned to do.

What if loading screens were unlocked at player levels and the jumping one would be the last to unlock? That would solve the problem of wrong first impression.

quote:


...I start to feel like noone gives a damn. I started writing here because I expected a community driven project with several devoted devs hands-on-deck to push the project forward to perfection until it's Blizzard-quality or better.

When I initially volunteered to do something and instead of "hurray, we have some outdated 2d graphics and someone volunteered to make new, how can we help You make that happen, so nice to have You" I got impression that You guys don't want my contribution at all and just want the discussion to end.

So what's the deal here? Is it a community-driven project or not? Is it alive and kicking or not?

I honestly want to help make some improvements (at least in areas I feel competent in) but:
- I want someone to cooperate with me, either by providing information I need when I need it, providing feedback, etc.
- I don't want meddle with any sort of programming or compilation. I will provide the art, implementing that in the game (after it's approved of course) has to be someone else's job.



These are also my problems with community and contributions to zero-k. It can be hurtful and demotivating (actually I still feel disgruntled, hurt and demotivated by my history of trying to get any response for change/discussion). However I think this can be partly explained by the time investment.

When someone new comes around and says hey this this and that needs correcting - we hooray at feedback and start discussion. When that someone also states that he can improve himself X and Y, we also hooray, but usually with high odds it's only hot air balloon that deflates fast and motivation for change drops fast as well. That's the reason why many ignore/don't invest themselves until they see any first signs of results of said motivation to do any change.

The picture changes a bit when someone more invested (with at least 100 hours of play time or 6 months of on/off playing the game) suggests the same - there is clear evidence that backs the person's investment and love for the project (time spent with the game) so it's safer to treat it seriously.

Another aspect of not a loud "hooray" response is that we don't have any evidence that what you provide is improvement over the existing ones - often people either fail to deliver or it's the matter of taste. As AUrankAdminGoogleFrog said, you are targetting low hanging fruits that are pretty easy to improve upon so you don't have to worry about that. I hope you can see why the responses are overall not so enthusiastic and reserved.

By the way the "hooray part" was the amount of upvotes that you got. Average good posts gets less than 5 - so 10 and more is very hooray by the looks of it.

Answering your questions



* It is a community-driven project with dictature of the Core Devs that have limited time to discuss/read/code and have to confirm all changes and suggestions.
* It's alive, but I wouldn't call it "kicking" all the time - it has more intensive and more relaxed development times.
* I can/want to cooperate with you.
* Art is often easy to link and replace. Regarding icons - just take the already generated ones as source and put them on some grid and provide your replacements with side by side comparison.
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24 days ago
To both Zenfur and GoogleFrog (responses in no particular order):

a) You're not going to see any amount of "hours played" on my account ever, or maybe tiny minutes due to mistake. Why? Because I play 100% offline most of the time using portable version.

b) I'm going to work on some mockup designs today/tonight (definition depends on Your region) and will post those in real time whenever I got something :-)

c) Thanks for agreeing to cooperate. I can understand Your reaction based on previous experiences but I also can't stress enough how demotivating and off-putting it was at first. I am resilient to that kind of stuff, most people are not. And You are faces of Zero-K and Zero-K Community, which means You have to act nice, motivating, optimistic and sparkling even if You happen to be so dead inside that top-notch necromancy wouldn't help You. That's PR basics for You :-)

d) I managed to download Art package from Git. It appears initially I got broken archive that's why it asked for nonexistent password.

That's it for now, I'll comment on other points of Yours when I post some designs of mine.
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23 days ago
Zenfur, is there any chance I could ask You for several screenshots? I need to test some idea I just got regarding loading screens - it might be epic.

What I need exactly let's say 6 screenshots from the game itself (no menu) with:
- All ultra settings,
- No UI elements whatsoever, no selections, no range rings no nothing,
- Need to be as pretty as possible.

I don't know all the maps and units well enough to pick the best looking ones. Thanks in advance.
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Any specific things to include in them? I didn't feature any superweapon, new funneleweb or any nuclear explosion yet.
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23 days ago
Anything that have a WOW factor really - nice looking terrain, many units/buildings. If You guys like the design than we will talk about specific screenshots :)
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23 days ago
I made some new ones but if it's only about testing something I can give you the backgrounds for existing ones as well.

Previous screens were directed and designed to preview the mechanics that they are discussing - they didn't have only to be good looking. I'll provide them tomorrow or today at night. In the mean time you can check my steam screenshots if anything catches your eye from what I've published in the past: https://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561198078997349/screenshots
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23 days ago
As someone whos not into the discussion:

"And You are faces of Zero-K and Zero-K Community, which means You have to act nice, motivating, optimistic and sparkling even if You happen to be so dead inside that top-notch necromancy wouldn't help You."

Sounds a bit like blackmailing.


"That's PR basics for You :-)"

exept this is a non-profit-project.


i really like your passion for the game. but be told that in my eyes, this is an undead-game. it strictly refuses to die
for over 6 years now, simply because we have a super-dedicated playerbase that doesn´t really care for the things people expect from official releases.
I stress again that this is not an attack on your person in any way. i just want to make clear what zero-k is in MY opinion.
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This bug a bit spoiled a lot of my shots :(

https://github.com/ZeroK-RTS/Zero-K/issues/3580

I've screenshotted some ai vs ai games and some random games going on at that time. Not high quality stuff. I liked the "Funnelweb selfie" screenshots though. Many unit models look very nice up close.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1mppfvqP42QZ0XQ-OBVODpj28YBGLMvdP?usp=sharing

I also loved the screenshot where ducks were following the next one's footsteps - just like ducks irl :3

Above are some of screens I made for selection. Maybe some of them can be used. Really if you want to demonstrate a concept you don't need a great art - you can do it on any decent screenshot and swap the image later. I can make more later. You really need to make a lot of them or have a good idea to get good looking ones. It takes a lot of trial and error.

If you want to do some yourself:

  • F5 disables overlay - don't have anything selected so it wont show orders
  • Ctrl + L/ or L - disables line of sight/shadow
  • If you are in local game with bots you can get a lot of control to order both your and enemy units with:
/cheat /godmode /globallos commands in chat. You can do them online as well with "!hostsay /cheat" ... etc.
  • Enable COFC camera in settings to be able to tilt/zoom freely.
  • Good looking maps are some of those that @TheMooseisLoose updated recently
  • F12 / Ctrl + F12 takes a screenshot - set camera in one place and take a lot of them in succesion with game speed slowed down and select best of them
  • press F10 for options - search "icon dist" and change it to maximum

@edit:

I challenge every chronic zero-k spectator to experiment and try to get a good show/shot of what is being watched :)

ps: I'll upload new ones there. Wasps look sexy
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22 days ago
Also, if you want to keep the DoF effect many of the loading screen shots have without doing it in GIMP, the DoF widget settings let you set the focus manually. I would recommend turning "Apply DoF" OFF unless you are planning to use manual focus to get a specific shot with a specific depth of field, since these are supposed to be super nice screenshots and you'll want max control of focus.
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22 days ago
Oh nice, I was doing it manually in GIMP as you've guessed it :)
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22 days ago
Another thing to avoid in screenshots is the sky and any map edges.
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honestly I love the ZK loadscreens, it's part of what gives the game its charm.

That said, if people really want to do a rework, the best approach likely isn't new loadscreen screenshots. It's actually no loadscreen screenshots.

There's been a trend in the last few years toward minimalistic loadscreens, or sometimes just a black screen with a tip and a loading bar.

For example:

The Witcher 3:

Skyrim:

Breath of the Wild:

Apex Legends has a very well-polished character select sequence that masks some loading, but when it has to go to a loading screen, it just shows a black screen with a logo animation in the corner:



If the goal is to show something slick and improve the game's perceived polish, maybe some well-rendered text, a nice loading animation, and a minimal background will go further than a new set of carefully framed screenshots.
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My intention isn't to replace them but to expand on them/tweak. Right now it isn't even that - it's getting some new decent looking screenshots.

Also GoogleFrog in general I agree, however some maps have so beautiful sky it's a sin not to include it. Many map edges can be obfuscated so you don't realise that's what it is.

If we were to change it to small tips the loading code would have to be replaced so that background can change independently from the very short tips to iterate over the loadtime. Background could be either good looking screenshots or say rotating 3d models of units with some basic info (most of them look good).

@edit:

quote:

Digging into even smaller details: UI elements (unit paths, etc) on tutorial loading screens should only be present if tutorial description justifies it. Otherwise they look bad. This means that:
- Selection circles under 2 bots in "cloaking" loading screen need to be removed (or new screenshot made without those present).
- Healthbars in "markers" loading screen need to be removed (or new screenshot made without those present).
- Shooting range distance circles in "skydust" need to be removed (or new screenshot made without those present).


"unitguidewarrior" - I don't think I touched that one
- selection circles on cloaking loading screen are very intentional and were added after making the screenshot - they demonstrate how decloak UI circles look and that they are visible only when units are selected. I've drawn them manually and can be easily removed.
- I agree that marker screen could be replaced - it brilliantly shows however how messy team games are and communication within them. It'll be easy to picture some clusterpot
- by "skydust" you mean sky Warlord and sky Annihilator? There are no shooting range circles - just builder circles and I agree I forgot to deselect. It's very minor and they are subtle. I can't easily remove them I'd have to redo the screen
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22 days ago
Here's the first mockup design of Loading Screens. I used one of Zenfur's screenshots and there's no Tutorial section yet but I wanted to get feedback on the overall design first. Mind that all layers there are custom-designed filters and I can easily switch places they will appear in (different corners, different % of screen covered, different color etc.).



I also have a question. Do I have to use the low quality logo that's on GitHub or can someone provide me with transparent background version of below logo:

Zero-K HD Logo

Or is it obsolete/old/whatever? It seems of absolutely superior quality to the one on GitHub (it's also slightly different though, it's the logo from trailer).
+0 / -0
Have a look at this old thread.


Feel free to add some outer glow if you want it to look like the site logo.
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What tools are you using? I've made a custom filter-script for gimp to get the tips boxes style consistent. I could pack you up the original 2.10 xcf from gimp but it weights about 500 MB.

I've actually thought to generate the overlays over pictures in modern CSS.

I've also experimented with the same design as I had to use hexgrid generator from GIMP for the tips boxes. I didn't pursue it as I wanted to reuse some of the old screens without remaking them totally... which I ended up doing anyways.


Regarding logo: AUrankAdminGoogleFrog asked for the old one for consistency - I am not against updating the logo for new, better looking one everywhere. Logo on screens also had shadows for contrast. Also the work CHrankAdminDeinFreund did with blender is amazing. I also liked the explode-k logo :) What happened that it wasn't updated in any way?

I put new screenshots on google drive.
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