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Author Topic: WxTech's Environmental Mods  (Read 19148 times)

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WxTech

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WxTech's Environmental Mods
« on: April 21, 2014, 05:55:27 PM »

Sun Glare Mod

https://www.mediafire.com/?cv281msklzvhmn4

Now available to download.

Drop the WxTech_SunGlare folder into your MODS folder, or wherever your other mods reside.

It replaces the <\effects\SunGlare\glare01.tga_asis> image with my own creation, which removes the radial spikes and reduces the size of the central 'hot spot'.

A readme.txt file is included.

Tested by me only in 4.08, but I understand others playing more current versions have seen the same result.

While the effect of glare you get when looking into the sun is not at all bad, what I find a bit annoying is how the 'spikes' spin around as the sun's location in the FOV varies. I wanted to get rid of those spikes of scattered light.

Perusing the filelist.txt showed

</Effects/SunGlare/glare01.tga_asis> and <glare02.tga_asis>.

First I made plain black .tga's of each, 64 pixels square, at 24 bits/pixel, no alpha channel. In my MODS folder I created
</Sun_Glare/Effects/SunGlare/>
And put the two .tga files there.

Restarted the game and voila, no glare spikes spinning about.

BUT... the Sun's location was awfully weak, with no prominent central blaze, *especially* when nearer to the horizon (early morning/late afternoon). So a central bright spot is definately required.

During this testing I found than only the file <glare01.tga_asis> is used for sun glare. I was later informed that <glare02.tga_asis> appears to be used for searchlight glare.

I created a 1024 pixel version, with a central white circle 30 or so pixels wide. I blurred this with a Gaussian filter as much as possible while still retaining the full central brightness (255 for an 8-bit display.) Worked very nicely, with a more 'sun-like' size.

But an additional transition to create a more extended, far less intense glare was desired. To the image I added a white circle of perhaps 100 pixels diameter, Gaussian blurred with a roughly 60-pixel radius. This made a gradation which occupies about the central 1/2 of the image. It was dimmed further until no brighter than about 80 (of 255) immediately adjacent to the far brighter 'sun'.

That did the trick! No more annoying spinning spikes, a tighter 'sun', and a slightly reduced yet more realistic veiling glare near the sun.

After an initial release, it was pointed out that the image size could be significantly reeduced to no ill effect. A suggestion was to make it as small as 128 pixels, but I found this to cause too great pixellation of the small central hot spot for my taste, and so I settled on 256 pixels.

Some shortcomings of the approach Oleg and co. adopted:
- The .tga is always of fixed size on screen, irrespective of FOV. And so zooming in is a way to 'cheat' when planes are seen near the sun.
- While dimmed when clouds intervene, ofttimes the 'sun' still 'shines through' when it should not (like it does for edges of canopy framing.).
- The intensity is coded to vary with position, becoming less prominent the nearer to the screen edge it gets. Another way to 'cheat' when striving to see things near the sun.

In the end, though, I've somewhat improved (for me) the execution of this effect.











Big Clouds Mod

May 2, 2014. Updated version (#2). 627kB download, link below.

http://www.mediafire.com/download/7atts5hud8znah3/00_A_WxTech_big_clouds.7z

My variation on the Clouds Big 2.1a mod by MANYSH,
as well as adjustment of the clouds to improve brightness and opacity.

Drop the 00_A_WxTech_Big_Clouds folder into your MODS folder, or wherever your mods reside.
Overwrites the earlier version.
An extensive readme.txt is included.; read it to aid your own tweaking to taste.

Changes from first version:
- Improved cloud appearance. More structure and a bit of color variation. Visually much more interesting.
- Clouds made even larger, using the same numbers of images. Thunder weather clouds go to 35,000 feet, with very nearly completely overcast coverage. (On my 6 year old computer, frame rates bottom out at about 20 fps when on top of those massive clouds, average 50-60fps underneath.)
- For those who want to see how clouds are built, the 'fake' clouds4x4.tga has been rectified (from former mirror-reversing) and colorized, for easier discernment of elements in crowded clumps.

The images formerly here were rendered obsolete, and hence removed. Currently representative ones...







Water Ring Speed Mod

https://www.mediafire.com/?0xxalcacrxc4x8o

Location:
3do/effects/explosion/WaterRing.tga

I've always thought the speed of expansion of the water ring to be too fast. In 4.08 (and probably for a couple more iterations) just one effect serves for all events that trigger a water ring, controlled by WaterRing.msh and WaterRing.sim. My fix involves resizing the graphic. It has a black surround, and all I did was increase the canvas size in Photoshop, with the background color set to black. Irfanview has a similar function. The image was taken from the recent #4.12 effects pack, and was 128 pixels square. I doubled this to 256. Now the same-size ring is surrounded by more black.

What this does is two things. 91) The ring starts off half the size as it did previously, and (2), expands at half the rate. The outer edge of the .tga  still expands at the previous speed, but the relatively now smaller ring within is lagging behind. (If one were to increase the canvas size to 4X, the ring would start out at 1/4 size and expand at 1/4 its pre-modded rate.)

I was tempted to bring the .tga's size back down to 128 pixels, but thought it best to not pixellate it that much.

This effect is representing the propagation of a predominantly mechanical wave, which is a not fast phenomenon. And its default manifestation is most certainly far too slow to suggest a sound-speed (in water) shock. Therefore my adherence to the more realistic rate of the mechanical wave. I make no claim on fidelity; my aim is merely a rate which is visually more in line with observation.

Try it yourself; I think you'll like the statelier expansion speed, compared to the default, almost cartoonishly fast rate.




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WxTech

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Re: How I modded sun glare
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2014, 09:27:15 PM »

I should clarify something. The sunglare effect is really an 'embellishment' on top of an underlying treatment which already treats the overall veiling glare which suffuses the full field. When the sun is high in the sky, the 'base glare' by itself is practically sufficient. But a low sun reveals that as the sky glow around the sun decreases (significantly), there really is a missing bright splodge of light where the sun should be.

In otger words, for some strange reason the sun is not directly represented as a disk as is the moon. Very odd. And hence the need for this graphical surrogate.
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WxTech

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Re: How I modded sun glare
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2014, 07:13:31 PM »

Malone,
Thanks!

I haven't got around to doing any SFS extraction of my own, and just perused a filelist.txt file *relatively* recently posted. It seems the same graphic is used in at least some later-than-4.08 versions. I tind that the bulk of mods which work for 4.09 do so as well for 4.08.

Given the vast range of mods made, it would astonish me to learn no one would have looked into this sun glare matter 'til now.

Incidentally, to give some idea of my other investigations...

For the Big Clouds 2.1 mod, I conducted some experiments. I fiddled with the Cloud.dat (going on memory at the moment, and may have names wrong), and found that a number of parameters seem to have no effect. Now, it could be a case of their not being implemented in older versions, but I recall a similar observation by someone here who almost certainly is mode current in game version.

To understand how clouds are generated, I made clouds4X4.tga and clouds4X4a.tga images. Instead of clouds, I made panels with big numbers 1-8 and letters A-H for the 16 panels. Now instead of puffy clouds, one gets clumps of characters at different size and orientation. This is how a single cloud is built up. Some have only a single element (say, the number 3), while others are a rat's nest of perhaps a dozen (often with repetitions).

This randomizing process makes the requirement for a wide variety of individual cloud images not necessary.even an identical cloud in all 16 panels--as long as that one has good variety of form around its perimeter--does a fairly good job. Indeed, I find the inclusion of the more elongated, or sparse patchy types to be detracting, they making too many detached, irregular elements which really destroy the naturally more uniform base of a cloud layer.

Another aspect which was instructive to have confirmed is that a few clouds are made with rather reduced opacity. This led me to address an issue which bothered me; the too-often semi-transparent clouds and parts of clouds. Especially egregious is a see-tgrough part in the middle of an otherwise dense cloud. The source of this anomaly? The imake maker's mistaken retention of shadows in the alpha channel.

In the alpha channel, less-than-white becomes partially transparent, full transparency occuring at black. What I did to address this is work on the alpha channel to increase to white those areas where the cloud should not be see-through. Furthermore, I reduced the contrast for the shadows present in the underlying clouds themselves. (Without this treatment on shadows, the resulting clouds built up from numerous images might have shadow aspects which can be bizarre. The result of this? Clouds which are now the brighter white of their real-life counterparts, and more solid where they should be. The overall contrast and cohesiveness of the land, sea and sky is improved thereby. As a weather observer in the past (and still am, really), clouds have been under my gaze for a long time.
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WxTech

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Re: How I modded sun glare
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2014, 10:10:33 PM »

Too bad; on the Cloudy Nights (astronomy) forum members can post images straight from a computer. Guess I'll have to look into free image hosting, which I would prefer to avoid...
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SAS~Malone

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Re: How I modded sun glare
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2014, 06:14:11 AM »

wow, that definitely looks better, mate! :D
now we just hope for a download link. ;)
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BravoFxTrt

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Re: How I modded sun glare
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2014, 07:17:45 AM »

This is very Cool Tech
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WxTech

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Re: How I modded sun glare
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2014, 08:27:59 AM »

I included the texture so that anyone could use it as a template to replicate their own, in case it takes me a while to get around to uploading stuff for folks to download.

I probably didn't make it sufficiently clear, so here's the full dope, for clarity. The texture has R, G and B channels, no alpha, 8 bits/channel for a total of 24. I made it neutral white, so as to kind of 'take on' whaterver hue it's superimposed against. Although the fully white central blob dominates when the sky and other underlying glare are more muted.

Even a top quality .jpg is probably not wise to use; the compression artifacts in the very low contrast halo might be visible in the game. But measurements of pixel brightness can be done on this image, to aid one's duplication effort...

I heartily encourage anyone to crank one out and make available it for all. No accreditaion to me is at all necessary.

I may soon start another thread to illustrate my adventures with clouds, both high and low...
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SAS~Tom2

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Re: How I modded sun glare
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2014, 01:09:47 PM »

That is a cool idea. Weird enough two weeks ago I played with the sun.tga myself-to make it even brighter..I like the sun horizon effect in IL-2 and its lighting around afternoon and wanted to make it more prominent.

Well, it did not work out the way I planned it.
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WxTech

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Re: How I modded sun glare
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2014, 02:54:31 PM »

Tom,
What would result from making the sun.tga black (no image to show up at all)? Have you seen the version supplied in the game? What does it look like? Is not the brightest part full white (hence your desire to make brighter)?

My first stab at the sun glare issue was to make a black tga (128 px square, if memory serves), so that I could see the result of the effect's absence. This guided me in making my version--which took several iterations on the way to converging toward my desired result (I cannot see the built-in images, as I'm not yet taking apart SFS files.)
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WxTech

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My treatment of low (cumulus) clouds
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2014, 07:03:12 AM »

Text removed to avoid confusion, as it has been moved to the first posting.
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WxTech

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Re: How I modded sun glare
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2014, 09:09:29 AM »

I wouldn't much like making it as small as 128 pixels, for the small central hot spot will reduce to just a couple or few pixels. Perhaps this is part of the reason for the large-ish hot spot in the stock image? I could try at least some degree of shrinkage ,though...
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Mick

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Re: How I modded sun glare
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2014, 09:23:06 AM »

... I just tested the 128*128 49 ko size and it works like a charm, no more sun spikes ...  ;)

Many THX again amigo, and welcome abord SAS ...!  :P
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