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Author Topic: Multi-Z-Level View  (Read 1748 times)

Mobbstar

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Multi-Z-Level View
« on: September 10, 2021, 06:18:28 am »

Context: "Spiral Entrances" announcement, 2021-09-09

Several commenters have expressed confusion at the multi-level view.  With great elevation differences such as in the demonstration, lower levels become blue enough to get mistaken for water.

Proposed changes include:
  • add an inset drop shadow (one or two sides of the wall cast a shadow)
  • change the hue to foggy gray
  • darken the hue for each additional level of depth

I tried my hand at making a mock-up for the latter two suggestions.

Spoiler: Original (click to show/hide)



Personally, I dislike the brightness of the original, but believe that the cyan/teal hue should be kept, at least aboveground.  In my mock-ups, the first two layers below the current one are misty, all below that rapidly turn dark.  The gray variant looks too stormy for my tastes, the teal one looks pleasantly nightly.
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Rekov

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Re: Multi-Z-Level View
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2021, 12:28:09 pm »

I think part of the problem is that the z-level view has to accommodate fairly diverse scenarios.
darken the hue for each additional level of depth

In the given example, that of a pit dug into the ground, I think that having each subsequently lower z-level appear darker makes sense. So increasing darkness instead of or in addition to increasing opacity of the overlay.

But what about when you're building a castle on the surface? If you're looking down multiple z-levels constructed in the open air, darkening them as you go further down no longer makes as much sense.

It's also not necessarily easy to visually see each step down:


It's very easy to tell 0, -1, and -2 apart. -5 is clearly separate from the other z-levels as well. This is because you can see these z-levels up against each other without shaded ramps in between.

The transition between -2 and -3 is hard to see because the shading on the ramp is in the way. The two different overlays aren't up against each other, so the change is difficult to notice (magenta). The current overlay works well when you can see to z-levels right next to each other without ramps in between. If I dug two separate pits down, one 2 levels deep, and the other 3 levels deep, I don't know that I would actually be able to tell the difference just from the overlay.

Also, and this is probably an unfortunate coincidence, the shading on the ramp between -3 and -4 is such that it appears to be shaded the same color as -5 (yellow). It may be worth using a different color scheme for z-levels than is used for terrain shading to prevent this from happening.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2021, 12:30:00 pm by Rekov »
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Mr_Crabman

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Re: Multi-Z-Level View
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2021, 12:40:32 pm »

I completely agree; edge shadows like in TWBT seem essential to make drops more distinct/obvious (I can't comment much on the discussion of hues other than to say it does look a bit like water).

Notably, while I know strictly speaking that in Rekov's images it's a sudden drop on most of section -1 and all of -2 and -3, it looks a lot like you could just walk onto from the surrounding grass. The color tint just isn't enough to make it convincingly "deep", and certainly isn't enough to distinguish easily between multiple Z-levels (it's been like this in all of the images showing z-levels IMO, it's just been brought to attention again with this news post).
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Pillbo

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Re: Multi-Z-Level View
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2021, 03:13:07 pm »

I also don't like the blue, it does look like water and I was kind of hoping it was a stand in. I'd prefer non-tinted a dimming/darkening. Potentially a gradual blurring effect could help by creating a point of focus, the further from the z-level of focus the softer the image. I'd try to mock something up but I'm crap at photoshop.
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Rekov

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Re: Multi-Z-Level View
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2021, 08:18:19 pm »

I think the primary thing that could be done to improve multi-level view is adding a drop shadow as Mobbstar suggested.

This image is of the TWBT multi level, screenshot courtesy of thurin:


Here you can see the effect across more z-layers. I don't think it needs to be anywhere near as extreme (the first screenshot is fine), but it makes a huge different in reading where the different z-levels are:

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thurin

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Re: Multi-Z-Level View
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2021, 07:55:58 pm »

Just to clarify, that last picture was me setting the fog density really high (0.75 instead of default 0.15) to show how you can overload the effect.
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Rekov

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Re: Multi-Z-Level View
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2021, 09:07:37 am »

I couldn't really tell if the multi-level view has been changed, but it was a lot easier to read what was going on in the recent desert fort video. It could be that the context of a larger environment goes a huge way toward helping the player figure out what is on what level. Reading normal DF landscapes is pretty easy.

Possibly it's just odd scenarios like the demo gif here that are harder to read.
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Uthimienure

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Re: Multi-Z-Level View
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2021, 11:42:47 am »

Removed, posted in wrong thread.
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A_Curious_Cat

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Re: Multi-Z-Level View
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2021, 11:30:12 pm »

I donít know if the problem is just me, but Iím unable to see the ramps in the first two posts as anything other than chasms.
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