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Author Topic: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing  (Read 16985 times)

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Offline Swordmaster

Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« on: October 29, 2012, 08:18:01 PM »
So, I spent the weekend laying ballast.



Okay, not really like that. . . Think shunting engine and stuff.

Now this is an unusual job for me at best; yet, our infrastructure company has manpower problems, so they sent me. Unfortunately, I couldn't take any pictures because it required my full attention. However, it got me thinking of SC4 (as usual). That's the great thing about these jobs - you get some new ideas every day.

What I realized more than anything, was that the available track textures aren't very realistic. Despite great efforts by Dedgren, SFBT and others, the basic premise laid out by Maxis is still adhered to: ballast is grey, rails are white, and sleepers are black. None of this is really the case in reality. (At least not my reality.)



Not even in Uruguay, apparently. . .

In my book, ballast is brown, sleepers are either made of timber (brown) or concrete (light grey), and rails are made of steel (greyish). Wooden sleepers are also very irregular in color. They also don't stick out of the ballast, they lay partly covered in it. You certainly cannot count them, even from zoom 5.

Any quick glance on Bing or Google maps will tell you the same thing. Whether it's Europe or North America, rails don't look like we see them in SC4. In fact, even from zoomed out you recognize them by their brown hues.

So, today I started fiddling with the GIMP and try if I could get something done. Here's the results of that, compared to the available textures:



It's quite a step away from it, but I like the direction it's in. Needs a little more shadow to give the illusion of dimension, I think. You be the judge.

Here's a quick run of memo's GIMP script:



And here's some in-game pics:







Now, I don't have a lot of experience in transit modding, so I don't even know what I'm stepping into. I'd be going through with this depending on whether there's any interest in it, and if folks would want to cooperate on this – I can't use gmax, and I guess you need that to make overpasses (and all of that is in NAM territory anyway). What with David on break and the RAM team being inactive, I don't even know who to ask and if there's any development going on at all.

Cheers
Willy

Offline rooker1

Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2012, 08:22:02 PM »
WOW!!!!
That looks super and I would switch in a second.

As far as I know there is nothing going on right now with the RAM Team nor David on this front.

Robin
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Offline Tarkus

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Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2012, 08:47:10 PM »
I'll second Robin here--that looks phenomenal!  I definitely think the browner look is a more accurate depiction of reality.

The RAM development group has been inactive since about March.  Triple-Track Rail development was going at a rapid pace, but then there were some odd path/automata jumping glitches discovered with some of the Triple-Track curves and switches, and it derailed the entire project.  The RAM is part of the NAM Team, so we have been handling the support side of things in the RAM group's absence.

Fortunately, we actually don't have to do much in the way of Gmax/3ds Max work on overpasses--it's largely a Reader/Model Tweaker-based operation at this point.

-Alex

Offline noahclem

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Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2012, 09:42:08 PM »
That is really an awesome -and radically different--texture. I'm very curious to see what it looks like surrounded by other buildings or flora in game, as well as the DTR version. It's certainly a project I'd love to see you pursue, though I think it will take quite a bit of work.

I'll be watching very closely  :thumbsup:

Offline Flatron

Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2012, 03:44:10 AM »
Finally some realistic rail textures. &apls The other ones look like fairly new ones, but most rails were built many years ago and the ballast was coloured by the rust falling off the train. NICE! :thumbsup:

Offline MandelSoft

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Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2012, 04:24:47 AM »
Well, that's certainly some talent you're showing off there. Excellent work, Willy :thumbsup: I'd like to see more...
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Offline art128

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Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2012, 04:33:35 AM »
whether there's any interest in it

You bet! I'll be the first one to use it when it is out!

Really nice work with the first texture, I can definitely tell that you are on the right track! (dohoho)

Not only in Europe or North America, but also in Japan [shinkansen are a bit different "A combination of ballasted and slab track are used, with slab track exclusively employed on concrete bed sections such as viaducts and tunnels." ]

If you need someone to test out your work, Feel free to ask, I'll gladly help! ;)
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Offline FrankU

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Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2012, 05:36:45 AM »
Hi Willy,

The color scheme is fantastic!
What I miss in the images as I can see them here is that the tracks look a bit hazy, a bit unsharp. Maybe it's my eyes or my computer or the size of your uploads, but it might be even better if we can see some graininess. Although in reality we could never see individual ballast stones from this distance, in game you have to exaggerate certain aspects in order to achieve a good looking effect. I think a bit of graininess would make the ballast even better.

But you are certainly on a good track!  &apls

Offline Swordmaster

Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2012, 06:34:18 AM »
Thanks for all the positive response! Very encouraging :)

Fortunately, we actually don't have to do much in the way of Gmax/3ds Max work on overpasses--it's largely a Reader/Model Tweaker-based operation at this point.

Good news! I'll need to delve a little deeper into the NAM texture structure, though, see how the puzzle pieces are arranged and such.

That is really an awesome -and radically different--texture. I'm very curious to see what it looks like surrounded by other buildings or flora in game, as well as the DTR version. It's certainly a project I'd love to see you pursue, though I think it will take quite a bit of work.

You'll see how it looks among buildings. . . in PSC $%Grinno$%

If you need someone to test out your work, Feel free to ask, I'll gladly help! ;)

Thanks for the offer! I'll certainly want to ship this out for people to evaluate it in-game - I need an honest opinion on it.

The color scheme is fantastic!
What I miss in the images as I can see them here is that the tracks look a bit hazy, a bit unsharp. Maybe it's my eyes or my computer or the size of your uploads, but it might be even better if we can see some graininess. Although in reality we could never see individual ballast stones from this distance, in game you have to exaggerate certain aspects in order to achieve a good looking effect. I think a bit of graininess would make the ballast even better.

I was hoping for someone to start this discussion! Good of you to notice it, since I was unsure of the sharpness I need to aim for. I wouldn't want to give it the edge the original textures have, though, because that was one of my peeves. But I understand folks like you have a lot more experience in things like this, and I certainly want to make sure I can release this for all purposes to be suitable.

Here's some tweaking I did; more shadows and some grains added:



I could run a sharpen filter over it, or add some more pixels, but I think this is quite near to what I'm aiming for.

Cheers
Willy

Offline rooker1

Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2012, 06:43:31 AM »
You can upload a few of these pics as png if it means you get better quality, just keep them to a minimum please.

Robin
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Offline FrankU

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Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2012, 06:54:13 AM »
Yessss..... I..think.....this is getting better.
Not completely sure, but it looks like there is a bit more depth and contrast.

I think png's should be allowed for this kind of tricky little details.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2012, 10:05:58 AM by FrankU »

Offline Silur

Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2012, 10:01:09 AM »
I think - this is an excellent idea ...
But I think - this is an unreal work for one man, You need a command for it ...
Thank You, it's a real good idea ...

Offline Simcoug

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Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2012, 10:23:02 AM »
I definitely like the older look to those rails - very impressive start!  I have no experience in textures, but you seem to have a good grasp of what to do.  Perhaps a shot of the tracks at all 6 zoom levels would be nice.  The closeups look great though.

Offline Swordmaster

Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2012, 11:57:12 AM »
I think - this is an excellent idea ...
But I think - this is an unreal work for one man, You need a command for it ...
Thank You, it's a real good idea ...

Not really an unreal task - getting the basic textures right is toughest. Once that's done, it'll speed up.


Some more doodling. . .

Comparing DTR with the original, several zoom levels per Simcoug's request:











So, clearly, from zoom 3 and onwards, my textures become just a brown blur. The question is, of course, whether this is acceptable/desirable/unfancy/too much realism.

Next, I've discovered memo's script lightens the textures a little:



But at least, I understand the puzzle pieces now.

Cheers
Willy

Offline rooker1

Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2012, 12:28:32 PM »
Even at zoom3 I'm still more than happy with the color. 
I love it!!

Robin
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Offline art128

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Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2012, 12:41:53 PM »
Even at zoom3 I'm still more than happy with the color. 

Same here, wonderful!
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Offline Tarkus

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Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #16 on: October 30, 2012, 12:59:57 PM »
Next, I've discovered memo's script lightens the textures a little:

Actually, the game itself handles shading differently on puzzle pieces and model-based items, versus draggable/fully texture-based items.  Technically, the draggable/texture-based items get darkened a bit by the game engine, while the puzzle piece versions are represented exactly as they were.  Most transit texturers compensate for this by darkening the puzzle piece version.  There's a lot of debate as to the correct settings, and it depends on the program you're using.  I've typically done a -15 brightness adjustment.  I know jondor's recently found a method using alpha correction that works especially well.

-Alex

Offline MR.Y

Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2012, 01:19:08 PM »
It looks a little bit like old wild-west-tracks...I would change it, so that the basalt has the same texture under the tracks like next to them...

but great work...

Offline Flatron

Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2012, 01:38:35 PM »
I find that great!
@MrY: It's ballast(Schotter) and not basalt(a dark sort of rock that is seldomly used as ballast) Most of  the tracks in my area have that rusty colour. ICE-tracks on the other hand seem to be very clean, but that's because they are new and/or made of concrete.

Offline io_bg

Re: Willy's attempts at railroad retexturing
« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2012, 04:43:17 PM »
This is very interesting indeed. It really made me think a bit more about railways in SC4 and in RL. Most of them here look just like your textures. The rest which are newly(-ish) reconstructed though have grey-ish ballast, dark brown (rusty) rails and concrete sleepers. Maybe that's what Maxis were aiming at ;D
« Last Edit: October 30, 2012, 04:45:45 PM by io_bg »
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