Thirr River Valley Visual Update

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Continuing disussion from this old thread.

We're looking into doing a visual update to the Thirr River valley. This update is being discussed, so input is welcome. Some ideas that have been tossed around in the previous thread include:

"Making the areas have more of an orange and green color scheme
Retexturing the ground and rocks accordingly
Changing the thick canopy trees into corkbulb trees or modifying their models (see this thread)
Texture updates to the thick canopy trees to reduce the leaf density and make the bark a little more alien
Removing some leaves from the thick canopy trees

While the Thirr River Valley is not expected to change wildly, ideas and inputs in the form of concept art and mockups would be welcome. "

 

"Exterior Changes: generally, nobody seemed to want to make extreme changes to the region. A few changes were discussed, however:
-giving the TRV a different colour palette, specifically the vegetation including landscape textures but probably not the rocks, to make it a little more alien and differentiated from the Ascadian Isles. Specifically a green-orange palette.
-in general improving the NDIB tree textures to make them look more at home in Morrowind. (The leaf textures look a bit too solid, for instance, and the trunk appears to lack vertex shading).
-possibly tweaking the models of the NDIB trees, for example giving them corkbulb-like growths on the trunk, trying to cut down on polygons maybe by removing some of the leaves at the top.
-possibly adding or replacing old vegetation with new vegetation models.
-possibly add a few trees nearer but not right next to Old Ebonheart, for example on the grassy ridge to the southeast or near the infirmary. "

 

"There are two fairly tedious changes I would like to see implemented in the TRV; probably more tedious to implement (on the CS end, at any rate) than what has so far been suggested here:

The first I consider pretty necessary, it's only a question of when we want to do it: the mountains to the east of the TRV need to be palette-swapped from West Gash to Ascadian Isles. Rather surprisingly, this will even make the border with inDev look better, as inDev already uses AI textures for the mountains. There will only be one disconnected patch of West Gash mountains left in the range, in TR_Mainland.

The second may well be a bit contentious; I think that Veloth's pilgrimage route should be widened to two tiles instead of one. Walking along it, it just doesn't feel like Morrowind's most important thoroughfare at the moment; I can't really visualize the constant throng of pilgrims and carriages bearing the dead. "

 

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My two cents so far: When I think of orange and brown and green as a color scheme, I'm not totally enthused (mainly because I think this is a rather ugly color combination). That said, I went around on the internet and tried to find examples of pictures that have, what is to me, an appealing color combination that we might be able to take inspiration from. So, here are some photos:

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The main thing to keep in mind with the colour combination is that it should provide a transition between the lush green Ascadian Isles region and the lush orange and brown Othreleth Coast region. How it does this is pretty open; we could emphasize greens, yellows or orange shades, as long as it isn't too heavy on either extreme. If the clash between green and orange is deemed too ugly, (not too surprising, as that clash is a reason for wanting the TRV to be transitional), a solution would be to focus more on yellow:

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EDIT: Uh, not sure why all the images are huge. Sorry!

Orange in the plants makes me think of fall weather, which would be a little weird outside of autumn...maybe it should be orange dirt instead? Just add lusher plant life, especially around the river:

Though I suppose we could go all warcrafty and make tree species with red leaves:

Still bugs me from a lore standpoint though. Why ARE all the leaves funky colors if it’s not autumn? Might have to make them obviously not trees, but a cross between trees and mushrooms or something...

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Kevaar

Snip Snip

Take this with a grain of salt, as my field of knowledge lies in geology and vertebrate paleontology, not botany, but the pigments used by protosynthetic lifeforms are based around absorbing an appropriate amount of energy from light. Not too much, and not too little. Green leaves cause plants to absorb high frequency light like blues, violets, and ultraviolets, as well as low frequency reds and yellows, but reflect the middling green wavelengths. However, plants (or a comparable lifeform) on a world orbiting a brown dwarf might well be black in order to absorb as much light as possible. Plants on a world orbiting a high energy star may be blue or violet, and would probably be under some protective medium like water, in order to not get fried by the high frequency waves.

So, one possible explanation for perpetual autumn colors could be that, at some time in the past, Morrowind received an anomalous amount of light compared to the rest of Tamriel. Say, Red Mountain and other volcanoes were more active, and put up frequent ash clouds that limited the amount of sunlight that could reach the ground. Plants switch to pigments that reflect longer wavelengths and absorb all the higher frequency (higher energy) waves. This could still potentially be going on, since the volcanism on Vvardenfell at least still seems quite active.

I'm not sure this is really an accurate model, since areas of high volcanic activity in real life haven't produced perpetually red/yellow plants, my little story about protosynthesis here is oversimplified, and I'm not sure how a large amount of ash in the air would affect what kinds of light reaches the ground.  Still, it’s a possibility.

Name is supposed to be RifleAvenger.  Oops!

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Yeah, naturally avoiding it just looking like autumn is important, but I think mushrooms and especially stuff like lichens and perhaps mosses should do the job. I don’t think the soil should be orange, unless we find a really good texture; I think orange-y soils will probably tend to look too arid.

Beyond that, not all trees on earth have green leaves in spring and summer, and Morrowind, as a world considered weird and alien by the standards of a fantasy world, that’s all the more the case. Morrowind flora is supposed to be weird and look different.

For the record, you need to edit the image size when adding the image; for some reason it doesn’t seem to save the size if you change it in the text field.

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Come to think of it, I’m….not actually sure if red dirt is possible outside of an arid climate. As the red comes from oxidized iron in the rock, which needs time and exposure. In wetter climates, the soil gets buried too often under rainwashed sediments or decayed plant material. Perhaps in a river valley, where the red rock beneath has been revealed by the river’s erosion:

Seems a rare occurence, though, and it’s not as bright of an orange. Still, maybe a few bands of orange-y rocks up the sides of our big canyons would help enhance the palette. I could see a lot of mesa-like places the further south the Thirr River goes, a good phase into the drier areas like Shipal Shin.

Ah well. Mushroom trees and weird lichens would be good, too, even the odd tree. Just not every single leafy bushy thing. I think that’s what makes me think of autumn in those earlier images.

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have you ever been to rpince edward’s island, canada? the dirt’s all red there, and it’s green there.

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Yeah, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of there being a good, not too arid-looking reddish or yellowish soil, but I’m having trouble finding references. Most fertile-looking reddish soils are too red to work for this region, in my opinion. If it can be made to look good, I’m certainly not against it.

As far as rocks are concerned, I really do think we should stick to the current Ascadian Isles rocks. There are already some mesa-like formations, mostly on the east bank of the Thirr.

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I agree with not using mesa-like rocks. I would personally avoid reddish soil as I think we’re doign a sort of grand canyon/mars crossover look for Shipal Shin.

Maybe yellower soil, though? (When you put in a picture, under the picture you can manually type in the sizes after you link the picture.)

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Maybe this idea could be used for roth-roryn region. As that is using the grazeland set and could look more unique I reckon.  

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Yeah, if all goes well I’d consider using these assets for both the Middle Thirr (still not satisfied with that name...) and Roth-Roryn. In general, I feel as though sub-regions are a good way to add variety without too much work; certainly I think the contrast between the arid canyon landscape of Roth-Roryn and the fertile river basin of the Middle Thirr will be strong enough to not make the assets seem stratched out.

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I stumbled upon this concept while looking at the Deshaan thread, and I think it’s more at home either here or in the Othreleth Woods:

The corkbulb variant could perhaps work as the timsa-come-by replacer.

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Many tropical soils are red – it’s a sign of nutrient drained oxide soils. Most tropical rainforests have red soil. In fact, the Thirr would be an excellent candidate for such types of soils. We know that due west are the thick subtropical jungles of Cyrodiil. The way the rivers drain from the Shipal-Shin and the Deshaan would give credence to a sandy, acidic soil structure. But you’d need it to be thickly vegetated too, or if not, cleared for farming. Poor soils lead to nutrients caught up mainly in the vegetation (or fungal growths in many parts of Morrowind). I imagine that good parts of Morrowind actually have much richer soil due to the layers of volcanic ash – see Hawaii. Enough ash, and you get Ashlands. But with just the right amount of ash and spread and utilized in wise and managed ways, and it serves as a package of energy for bursts of life.

/is a tropical forest scientist

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the time of the eldest fades
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True, I didn’t think of the tropical variation of poor soils and surface decomposition. That would be one way to go, and in some ways could work quite well with the concept of the TRV basically being fertile when properly cared for but quickly suffering through carelessness.

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As it seems the team isn’t in favor of the name Middle Thirr, I’d like to present a workmanlike solution. Let’s just call it River Thirr. In-game it would show up on the mini-map as the River Thirr Region, which has a good ring to it, I’d say. It’s simple, but not overly technical, and puts the region’s dominant feature front and center.

I really like those corkbuld tree concepts, Gnomey. Would it be possible to get a concensus on whether we want to use them? As for the region’s color scheme, I like the light orangish-yellow soil/rock present in Kevaar’s most recent post. Would anyone be able to mock up some textures that match it? I’d like to see how the combination would look in-game.

 

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What could be done to get work on this started again? I feel confident we have texture artists who could create a suitable color scheme based on pictures gathered above, Could we turn some of the Corkbulb concepts into objects claims? Asylum modeled a bunch of flora last month. Would he or she be interested in working off these?

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We need to get out this release first. I’m interested in making some mockups from screenshots and can easily do texture mockups, but I have to get a lot of other things off my plate first.

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I don’t want to be the guy who comes into this thread only to complain, but I am beginning to doubt whether this visual update is worth our time. Of course, as someone with absolutely zero modeling or texturing skills, I also do not want to sound like I am nagging other modders to do work that I am incapable of performing.  But  I have serious concerns about the long-term viability of our project if we are unable to implement these relatively modest revisions within a reasonable amount of time.

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To be fair, this topic is on the back burner in favor of other regions, primarily the Deshaan. Also right now it’s the end of the academic year, so anyone involved in that is overloaded with work.

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Not a college person myself, but I’m also not a modeler or texturer. I’m trying to help the region along by implementing more quests for it. If you have any interest in critiquing my ideas for those, I’d be glad for the help, Parker.

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I’m not quite sure if such an extensive makeover of the Thirr River is needed. The region otherwise coming up really nicely: there are NPCs, only some interiors are unfinished, and quests are being written. I feel like were creating an unnecessary bottleneck with this visual update.

Personally, I like the way the region looks. Sure, it’s not very bizarre and alien (except for the fauna), but it’s pleasant to look at: in my opinion that’s a nice way to signal to the player that this region is relatively safe.

That being said, I like many of the suggestions that’ve been made. Maybe some of them could be implemented. I did some experimenting with yellowish/orangish ground and rock textures, but they proved really difficult to pull of without looking cartoony. A new grassy texture with reddish petals/leaves seems to work okay, though. Here’s also a new corkbulb variant based on the concept art Gnomey posted.
  

Also, I think the Vhul-Dondril-OE axis is in desperate need of more caves/tombs for local quests (there are almost none). Those should be made a part of the update.

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I agree with Rats on this and like what he has offered here.

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Can I see some of your orange rock attempts? I live in an area with a lot of red rocks, so I’m curious if I can spot what’s making it look funny.

I like the petal ground texture and the corkbulbs. It’s subtle enough to not make it look like autumn leaves. And I agree on the tombs thing, if not for quests, then to keep to the Vvardenfell theme of not being able to walk a few yards without running into a dungeon of some sort.

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Well, the whole point of this was that we didn’t want or need the huge rework – just a flora and colour scheme dye job (plus the trees...).
I dig the work there too – very nice!
 

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Hey Rats, I like your ideas and mockups. We never were going for a huge update, just mainly some new paintjobs. And the trees got fixed, so they’re already done. We haven’t made much progress on this mostly because the artists who are needed to make mockups and post concepts have all been busy! So it’s nice to see something new develop on this front.

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Okay, so not that major an overhaul then. Some new paint sounds simple enough, so I’d be happy do implement those changes for the region. It’d give me to opportunity to add those cave and tomb entrances I so wanted.

Here’s some screenshots with new grass and ferns.
 

Here are the ground and rock textures with which I’ve experimented. I like the first four grassy textures, but the rest are still quite bad and I don’t really know what to do with them. For example, should the last rock texture be more saturated? darker? different hue altogether?

       

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That looks really nice Rats. Seems we'd need a good balance between the AI and new TRV rock, but I like the effect very much.

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It’s looking great Rats, I really like new Corkbulb variant and the colors in general, I’d just darken the stones a bit.

Could you throw in the brown mushroom I made, so that we can see how it would fit in with the rest? smiley

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Sure thing, Ragox! I’d wager it’ll fit right in. 

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Hum. Try removing the green tint in the rocks entirely, make them more a tan-orange-gray, and dull the contrast so it doesn’t pop as much.  A faint lining like sedimentary rock might work as well. Here’s some pictures with the colors and lines I’m thinking:


^ Notice the very faint lines. You probably wouldn’t have to do much more than this: less is more with textures. This might need a mesh that is more angular than rounded for the lines to not look too regular however.


^More orange than the first picture, but still muted, and the lines flow better.


^ Too bright probably, more for the example on making on curvier lines.

^ One with no yellow in it at all, also interesting lining. May look weird on the wrong mesh.

 

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