Feedback & creative advice for dungeon graphics needed

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Hi guys!

I would really appreciate some feedback and advice from you guys on the game I'm developing :)

The game I'm working on is a 2D ARPG single/multiplayer using my own custom engine which is a 2D OpenGL engine inC++.

The game have two distinct areas: outdoor world environments and dungeons. Right now I have reached a point where I'm starting to feel quite satisfied with the outdoor environments but the dungeons feel very lacking right now. Whereas the outdoor environments have at-least somewhat of a depth feeling to them the dungeons just feel... flat... :|

I am not sure how to improve the graphics in the dungeon areas to get a bit more depth and/or vivid feeling. Outdoor was easier as I could play a bit with sun-shadows and parallaxing but I cant quite use that in the dungeons which is causing problems.

I have posted a few images below on both the outdoor world and the dungeons for comparison as well as a small update trailer if you want to just get a feeling for the current dynamics of the game. Any feedback or ideas on how to improve upon the dungeons would be greatly appreciated. This is the first real game I have developed so I'm sure you guys have a lot of ideas I haven't really though about yet ;)

 

Best Regards BG109

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Trailer/Update Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZthsgv1zPg

Edited by BG109
Trying to add link to youtube trailer, fail

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First off nice job. The game is looking really good and is something I would definitely play. 

The dungeon seems fine to me...

However, if you want some more depth you'll probably have to create more detailed and or darker textures for the floor at least. Maybe the brightness of the silver/grayish tiles are taking away from the dungeon vibe? Feels more like a facility than a dungeon. Dungeons are dark and dreary I suppose. 

Also lighting will be key too. You'll need to use the right light colors to create the mood you want  e.g., darker dungeon textures with soft green lighting juxtaposed with red lighting.  Maybe have those lights coming off wall fixtures or other objects.  Afterwards see how the level feels with and without the flash light.

Just some suggestions because you asked....honestly though, what you showed so far looks very cool.

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What exactly is your dungeon supposed to be? A crypt, a prison, a castle, a cave? Since the floor is tiled and so clean it kinda makes me think it's some kind of temple or maybe a lab facility. Depending on what type of dungeons you'll be providing, maybe add some small items or details that either make the place look like it's being lived in or hasn't been lived in for some time.

I'm also wondering how the third image might look if the floor looked more like the dirt from your second image.

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The main issue for me is that the walls and  such in your dungeon look sorta painted onto the floor. The walls and obstacles in the outdoor locations have directional light shadows that give them a sense of depth, but that is missing in the dungeon. It might help to add those in, even if it doesn't technically "make sense" to have directional shadows inside. 

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First of all a big thank you for providing feedback! :)

#JTippetts:
Yes I totally agree. The issue was with the shadow rendering I wrote it allowed blocks to only cast shadows on the map grounds. The world is built up from four layers more or less, ground, floor level blocks, player level blocks and "ceiling" level blocks. The blocks do have different heights but are still sort of locked in this layered structure. Since the current setup only allows block to cast shadows on ground and not other blocks means that the walls (which are player level) dont cast shadows on the floor blocks thus the wall shadows and perspective disappears. Huh.. I hope that explanation was not to confusing :) But what I will try to do now then is to rearrange it so that I sort the blocks according to height before drawing blocks and their shadows. By doing this I think I could get the blocks to shadow each other. That way I should be able to have dungeon walls to get a little bit perspective when drawn. 

So a good observation which I will try to fix now!

 

#kseh
A fair question :P The dungeon in the picture is from an optional introduction dungeon which is supposed to be a lab/training ground environment designed to provide some of the initial backstory as well as going through the basic gameplay elements one at a time. Its a bunch of different rooms connected by corridors. All the custom (i.e non procedural) areas in the game is designed with the built-in mapeditor so I have different styles of blocks depending on the style of the dungeon but this one is "supposed" to be a lab/complex type area

I guess it looks a little bit vacant, I have tried placing a bit more "stuff" in the rooms of the dungeon but I think you're right in the sense that I should try to add a bit more small details somehow. I will try to think of some way of doing this. On the map groundlayer I use some doodad palettes as well as a transparent "dirt" layer to get a bit more non-uniform structure. Maybe I could use some similar way of adding a very weak overlay to break the uniformity of the floor patches somehow and anew doodad palette for floors... Hmmm I will have to think a little bit about that one but it could work well

 

#a_insomniac
Thanks for the appreciation, being a solo hobby-developer it's always nice to hear from time to time that things might be going in the right direction :)

You might be spot on when it comes to the lighting. I thought about it and I will try to add a a specular layer to the blocks. If I could manage this I hope I could use it to provide some light reflection imitation on blocks which could be a very nice touch! I will try this!

 

 

So, again thanks for the advice guys! During the weekend I will try to implement the three following parts and provide an update back here and the end of the weekend so you could get a chance to see how it panned out :) So I will add:

1) Updated shadow-rendering

2) Specular maps for blocks

3) Trying to add some doodad for floor tiles. I can't promise that I will pull that of this weekend though since it also includes drawing all the doodad graphics for different style of floor blocks, but I will try!

 

Thanks guys!

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I think the biggest issue is what was mentioned...the floor is shiny bright.  When I think of dungeons, they are typically caves or similar, and that floor is not of a cave.  The other option...does your engine(or can you add on) more lighting.  I'm thinking maybe you have torches on some walls flickering, and similar things that might be found in a dungeon.

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Ok so I spent the weekend trying to implement the points listed before. :) In the end I have made two changes:

1) Added fixed shadowing in dungeons to get some depth. This was relatively easy since all I had to do was to set a fix "sun" position and then use the same rendering as for the normal outdoor areas

2) Adding specular light on blocks. I spent a fair amount of time trying to add this. In the end what I have right now is better although not quite as good as I would like it. Doing the specular maps was straightforward although some specular maps could be improved, since I draw all the block graphics myself I have right now about 1600 different blocks for different floor elements, ceilings, playerheight etc (most belong to a decorative class which only differ by graphics  not by block functionality) which means having to prepare 1600 matching specular sprites.. uhmpf... But I did some layer "magic" on entire sprite-sets to get it roughly there and some after touches. This at least got me to something usable.

The engine is based on OpenGL and it took me some time to find a suitable blending combination to add on the specular. I found one blending combo that worked well for player height but then the floors got a bit to dark (#1 below), the next combo  (#2 below) was fine for the floor but did not "pop" as much on other blocks so in the end I use two different blendings for floor and player+ceiling (named #3 below)

 

As for the doodads I planned on adding there was unfortunately no time for this.

 

I think its definitely better but:

I would really like to have the specular reflections to actually reflect as a function of angle. As can be seen in the pictures below right now they are only a function of distance to light-sources and the light intensity. Things is I have no idea how to get a directional fading/gradient on the speculars without it looking strange. If I try to just draw the specular overlay as a alpha gradient it works fine for single blocks but for tiles blocks or for items consisting of several blocks (such as floors, beds etc.) I would get a ugly edge in the drawing between the two blocks. So I might leave it as it is for now unless you guys maybe have some idea on another way or drawing the specular overlay? (using OpenGL functions)

 

I draw a few different floors and items in the map editor just to be able to compare the impact on different environments in the picture below. The lighting in the editor is not exactly the same as in the normal game but close enough. I hope the picture is not too big :)

Also two pictures at the end on how the changes affected the intro dungeon.

 

Reply to #kburkhart84:
Yes I agree. I actually just recently added support for colored/flickering/animated lightning, however right now I only have a few light-sources which does not have much of this functionality added. I intend to expand upon this as soon as I have the time and it should hopefully further improve the atmosphere :)

Ideas suggestions? (I really appreciate the advice so far :) )

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20180924-7.jpg

 

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Thanks! :) I agree with the coloring not being fully cohesive, right now it's sort of a two fold problem: 1) When I started I unfortunately did not really know about the concept of/value of having a properly segmented color palette for different gameplay elements which I am paying for now, and 2) I'm simply not quite accustomed to my own map maker to make the most out of the level design yet :P 

I'm working on adding more colored lightsources right now since I think #a_insomniac was right to point out the importance of this. Like mentioned earlier the functionality is there I just have to make the pixelart for a bunch of sources now to make use of it. My plan is to make a special block which has subtype "lightsource" and will be a animated blocks with something like 8 frames. The different sub-types will then be linked to some base light-effects sort of like "glowing-pulsing", "flickering" etc. Since the lightning supports animated/dynamic lightsources I have to try to make the blocks also a bit animated I think. I estimate it might take me a few days to get all the graphics drawn up. I am very interested to see myself how it will affect the overall feel of the areas

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Posted (edited)

So I finished adding the new dynamic lightsources, took a little longer than planned largely due to the fact that I decided to go with 30 frame animations instead of 8. At least i drew up 19 new lightsources which mostly turned out very good I would say. I linked those to the dynamic lightning and it all turned out quite well :)

I post a screenshot as well as video below for the results. I apologize for the somewhat bad quality of the video,I managed to export it a bit shoddy and I am now to tired to fix it right now :) But I think the quality is good enough to show the dynamic behavior of the new lightsources.

With those parts done I think I am finished for now with the dungeon improvements as I have to focus on some other parts of the game but I really appreciate your feedback guys, it was very valuable and made a lot of difference! Big Thanks!

20171002-1.jpg

 

 

Please note that I do not actually enable the lightning effects in the map-maker until about 40 seconds into the video :)

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Edited by BG109
Youtube link fail

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