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Nebula Zen

#1
LT is fraking gorgeous. However, that beauty needs to be respected, to be valued, to not be taken for granted until it falls into the trap of boring procedural sameyness. The beautiful Nebulas that LT will probably become famous for should be both rare and meaningful.

Rarity:
In the 16th century, Rikyu was a tea master for the warlord Hideyoshi Toyotomi, a difficult and powerful man. Hideyoshi heard of the wonders of Rikyu's garden of morning glories and expressed a desire to see the flowers. As a result, Rikyu invited the warlord to tea. When Hideyoshi arrived and walked down the path to the tea house, not a flower was in sight. Upon entering the tea house, Hideyoshi saw a single, beautiful morning glory displayed on the alcove. Rikyu had cut down all the other morning glories so that full attention could be focused on one single blossom.
Like the morning glories, the beautiful nebulae should be an infrequent experience, islands of beauty in a sea of stars. I personally think that those beautiful nebula skyboxes that have been featured in the screenshots and later videos should only make up around 5% of systems, with a small percentage being much more dusty, and a large percentage having little to no nebulae whatsoever. Though this exact ratio will probably need to be tested.

This will mean that at least skybox-wise, most of the game will be less beautiful but it will make those few systems that much more gorgeous in contrast. They won't fade into "whoop dee doo, pink nebula #29378" but will always give a player that "Wow!" feeling when they come across one, even if they've played for a thousand hours.


Meaningful:
Even then, when nebulae are rare, they may still be taken for granted. That cannot be permitted. The only real way for them to always be noticed by even a veteran player, is for them to actually mean something, to have an effect on gameplay or to convey broad information about the system at a glance.

Just as a couple examples of possible ways to make the skybox more than just pretty:
A rich and beautiful Nebula will have a small, but noticeable, effect on your scanner range and on the space-drag coefficient. Whereas in that empty sea of stars your Long Range scanner is 500,000u, in a nebula, it's 400,000u.

Space-drag isn't real except that Josh says it's so. We don't want drag to affect combat speeds very much, but it should affect larger ships, going at cruising speed; The faster you go and the bigger you are, the greater your drag. The presence and density of a nebula is just a multiplying coefficient of that drag, so in open space the coefficient might be 1, in a sparse nebula it might be 1.2 and a dense nebula, 1.5.

When skyboxes have an affect on gameplay, even if small, it can be important for different strategies, so it makes them always worth paying attention to.

Just a thought. :monkey:
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Re: Nebula Zen

#2
I disagree with this entire post. :ghost:
I don't go listening to bad music before I listen to good music to make my good music better either, and a large field of pretty flowers is waaaaay prettier than a single blossom.
I mean, while we're at it, let's make all textures lo-res except for a select few ones, make the GUI look like AOL except in certain systems and make all the ships boxes except for rare good ones. :P
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Re: Nebula Zen

#4
Hmm my comment was tongue and cheek. Let's try a little better one this time:

I see both sides of this argument, and I think I'd come down on "I'd like to see it more often than less". I also like the idea of having a horrible looking "bad lands" and an empty black "null space" area. I agree that meaning can come from the skybox. But don't make pretty rare :).

There, a better response!
Shoot ALL the things!
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Re: Nebula Zen

#5
I like this idea of making nebula more a rare surprise than a common occurence, but the systems without nebula shouldn't just be dark, there should be something like what you see in a city on earth, a couple of stars maybe, or something else that graphics Josh could have some fun on.
A life well lived only happens once.
Seems deep until you think about it.
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Re: Nebula Zen

#6
I think there's some merit to both sides, but ultimately disagree with you Hyperion. Having fewer pretty systems would make me appreciate them more, yes. That's the idea behind No Man's Sky's "hundreds of boring planets and rare awesome ones". Theoretically, that works okay for an exploration game, because you're less attached to the planets you visit and more encouraged to look at new ones. However, in actuality, you gain the impression (from all the boring ones) that the whole universe is boring.

From another perspective, let's say I'm playing LT, and I want to settle down in a single system to build a base, colonize a planet, and gather an army. Choosing a pretty system will most certainly not be my priority here: as I'm working towards a goal, I'll almost certainly choose a system well-equipped to help me reach it. With your example, that means there's only a 5% chance that it's actually worth looking at. Staring at a dull brown, dusty fog for the next 5-20 hours will feel depressing and annoying, and when I finally leave my system, it'll be a breath of fresh air. It would discourage me from actually wanting to settle down anywhere besides a pretty system - regardless of how ill-suited it might be to my gameplay style.

Ultimately, I think some variation is important, but I don't think it would actually help anything to make systems ugly. I think it would only hurt things.

Note: this post doesn't necessarily reflect Josh's thoughts, just my own.
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Re: Nebula Zen

#8
I agree with Hyperion. This is the aesthetic version of "if everybody's somebody nobody's anybody"

Think of it this way: would you expect every planet you encounter to be resource-rich, every asteroid to be a money-maker? No, and while you might say this is for reasons of mechanics, why should the philosophy not also apply to beauty?

He's totally right. This isn't a case of artificially lowering our standards everywhere else, it's a matter of aesthetic diversity.

+1
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Re: Nebula Zen

#9
IronDuke wrote:
Talvieno wrote: Note: this post doesn't necessarily reflect Josh's thoughts, just my own.
You should probably sig that or something. "This user's posts do not reflect the views, thoughts, opinions, or general sanity of Josh Parnell unless explicitly stated" or something like that. :monkey:

--IronDuke
idea: begin with "community manager hat off"
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Re: Nebula Zen

#10
Scytale wrote: Think of it this way: would you expect every planet you encounter to be resource-rich, every asteroid to be a money-maker? No, and while you might say this is for reasons of mechanics, why should the philosophy not also apply to beauty?
Because for me something pretty doesn't get less pretty because something else is also pretty, whereas something that gives money becomes automatically less valuable when it's abundant by basic rules of economy - you will already have way more money, and therefore the amount of money it produces is relatively less.

TLDR: beauty is absolute, wealth is relative
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Re: Nebula Zen

#11
(With my community manager hat off (doesn't have the same ring to it))
Scytale wrote:I agree with Hyperion. This is the aesthetic version of "if everybody's somebody nobody's anybody"

Think of it this way: would you expect every planet you encounter to be resource-rich, every asteroid to be a money-maker? No, and while you might say this is for reasons of mechanics, why should the philosophy not also apply to beauty?

He's totally right. This isn't a case of artificially lowering our standards everywhere else, it's a matter of aesthetic diversity.

+1
Disagree. This is apples and oranges. I'll explain.

Let's go for the extremes. Extremes always make it a lot easier to figure something out and get a point across. (Einstein did it a lot.)

Let's say we have one planet that's resource-rich - you have any mineral you could ever want there, and in near-infinite amounts. Then you have nineteen planets that are completely resource-bare and all but worthless except as places to build on/around. That's okay. That's just gameplay. The other planets might look neat, but it's the "super planets" that will become hubs of activity. They'll be fun to fight over, but the other planets still add some feeling of life to the system and let you make outposts/settlements.

Now, let's say we have a system that is absolutely stunning visually - you could show it to anyone, anywhere, and their jaw would drop. "Is this for real?" they'd gasp. "This is in a game? I want this game!" You'd see pictures of this amazing system appear on desktops everywhere. It'd be almost standard.

And then every other system is muddy, gray, and you can't see more than a few meters in front of your ship. It looks like vomit, so bad you can almost smell it. This is 95% of the game - swimming through vomit-systems. It's bad enough that it makes the game almost unplayable.

If we assume four planets per system, that's about 20% of all systems having a "superplanet". That's okay, I'm fine with that. Makes those systems fun to fight over, and you could use the other systems if you want to stay out of everyone's way. If 95% of all star systems are hideously ugly, though, I'll either avoid them and stay with the pretty ones, or (more likely) get tired of searching after running through five disgustingly-ugly systems and quit the game.

If we combine the two, that makes only 1% (20% of 5%) of all star systems actually worth looking at. And that's terrible.


In summary: Gameplay mechanics and graphics are two distinct, incomparable things. Having bland, resource-poor areas is a gameplay mechanic. Having ugly star systems is not - it's just an eyesore.
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Re: Nebula Zen

#12
Talvieno wrote:(With my community manager hat off (doesn't have the same ring to it))
Scytale wrote:I agree with Hyperion. This is the aesthetic version of "if everybody's somebody nobody's anybody"

Think of it this way: would you expect every planet you encounter to be resource-rich, every asteroid to be a money-maker? No, and while you might say this is for reasons of mechanics, why should the philosophy not also apply to beauty?

He's totally right. This isn't a case of artificially lowering our standards everywhere else, it's a matter of aesthetic diversity.

+1
Disagree. This is apples and oranges. I'll explain.

Let's go for the extremes. Extremes always make it a lot easier to figure something out and get a point across. (Einstein did it a lot.)

Let's say we have one planet that's resource-rich - you have any mineral you could ever want there, and in near-infinite amounts. Then you have nineteen planets that are completely resource-bare and all but worthless except as places to build on/around. That's okay. That's just gameplay. The other planets might look neat, but it's the "super planets" that will become hubs of activity. They'll be fun to fight over, but the other planets still add some feeling of life to the system and let you make outposts/settlements.

Now, let's say we have a system that is absolutely stunning visually - you could show it to anyone, anywhere, and their jaw would drop. "Is this for real?" they'd gasp. "This is in a game? I want this game!" You'd see pictures of this amazing system appear on desktops everywhere. It'd be almost standard.

And then every other system is muddy, gray, and you can't see more than a few meters in front of your ship. It looks like vomit, so bad you can almost smell it. This is 95% of the game - swimming through vomit-systems. It's bad enough that it makes the game almost unplayable.

If we assume four planets per system, that's about 20% of all systems having a "superplanet". That's okay, I'm fine with that. Makes those systems fun to fight over, and you could use the other systems if you want to stay out of everyone's way. If 95% of all star systems are hideously ugly, though, I'll either avoid them and stay with the pretty ones, or (more likely) get tired of searching after running through five disgustingly-ugly systems and quit the game.

If we combine the two, that makes only 1% (20% of 5%) of all star systems actually worth looking at. And that's terrible.


In summary: Gameplay mechanics and graphics are two distinct, incomparable things. Having bland, resource-poor areas is a gameplay mechanic. Having ugly star systems is not - it's just an eyesore.
This is a good explanation but I object to the comparison of beauty.

In beauty, the comparison isn't between pretty systems and hideous systems: it's between pretty systems and "indifferent", average, systems. I would be happier with a game where 90% of systems were indifferent, and the remaining 10% were stunning. Certainly more than if all 100% were "stunning" - because then I'd get used to it and fail to appreciate the beauty.
TLDR: beauty is absolute, wealth is relative
I struggle to see how you can say this. Having zero money or resources is a pretty absolute statement. Having "no beauty" is a matter of taste.
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Re: Nebula Zen

#13
(OPINION POST) (wow, that sounds weird)
I agree with you that every system shouldn't be beautiful. There should definitely be variation - but I really don't think we should go out of our way to make most of them boring by comparison. Make the prettiest ones diamonds in a sea of rubies, not diamonds in a sea of muck.
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Re: Nebula Zen

#14
Talvieno wrote:(OPINION POST) (wow, that sounds weird)
I agree with you that every system shouldn't be beautiful. There should definitely be variation - but I really don't think we should go out of our way to make most of them boring by comparison. Make the prettiest ones diamonds in a sea of rubies, not diamonds in a sea of muck.
I guess I agree, really, except for me I want a sea of semi-precious stones :P

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