A question about levels of graphical details.

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MrT
Posts: 101
Joined: Mon May 24, 2021 5:48 pm

A question about levels of graphical details.

Post by MrT »

This is an easy question really and it is more to appease my own curiosity than anything else.

While I had not played Links for nearly 25 years before discovering it again a short time ago, I never forgot how the game was already quite a bit above the competition in terms of quality of graphics even back in the late 1990s. And, when I started playing it again, the level of graphics I was surprised to find out that the level of graphical details has gone up quite a bit more. I grant that as my last memory of the game itself dated back to the late 1990s, I could be considered easy to impress. Be it as it may, a few days ago I was about to start a game and there was a beautiful opening picture of the course on which I was about to play and I got all excited. Then the game started and while the quality of the graphics was pretty good, it was not picture like.

This caused me to wonder "wouldn't it be nice if the entire game looked like a picture?"

So here is my question: would it even be conceivable to create courses with a level of details to make them look almost like pictures? And what would the main challenge(s) be? Would it be just an incredible burden for the designers or would it be that really it cannot be done?

I have not failed to notice that already some courses in HD are way more detailed than the non-HD courses. So, it seems that there is some ability to influence the quality of the graphics for the game. Yet, at the same time, some non HD courses, are nevertheless graphically very pleasing as well. What would be required to make the courses, if not exactly photo-like, nearly photo like? In essence, while I am more than willing to admit that some courses are particularly beautiful as they stand, still they are not quite picture like.

Would a UHD version of courses even be possible and if it were what would it be like?

And, if I may, I would like to inquire about one other related aspect. Some courses have very nice panoramas, others ... not so much... I mean you see it and you know that it is not really that great (I would not say ugly or anything like that, just it looks a bit, for lack of a better adjective "cheap"). What is causing that big difference between different panoramas? Is it the quality of the picture a designer gets to work with? Or what?

Thank you.
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Danny D
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Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2019 12:09 am
Location: SE Missouri

Re: A question about levels of graphical details.

Post by Danny D »

MrT wrote: Fri May 06, 2022 6:02 pm "wouldn't it be nice if the entire game looked like a picture?"

So here is my question: would it even be conceivable to create courses with a level of details to make them look almost like pictures? And what would the main challenge(s) be? Would it be just an incredible burden for the designers or would it be that really it cannot be done?
I have not failed to notice that already some courses in HD are way more detailed than the non-HD courses. So, it seems that there is some ability to influence the quality of the graphics for the game. Yet, at the same time, some non HD courses, are nevertheless graphically very pleasing as well. What would be required to make the courses, if not exactly photo-like, nearly photo like? In essence, while I am more than willing to admit that some courses are particularly beautiful as they stand, still they are not quite picture like.
Unfortunately, we are limited on texture sizes. The larger the textures, the sharper the images can be. The new 1.07 upgrade allows a maximum hi-res size of 1024x1024, while the earlier pre-1.07 only allowed 512x512. That would explain the main difference in the older vs the new HD versions. Plus some other minor details with the 1.07 upgrade such as seam blending, allows us to blend the textures together where they join, which adds a more realistic look.

Another thing that makes a course not appear as sharp is your monitor. The larger the monitor, the larger the texture will be stretched out, and as you probably are aware, the more you increase the size if an image, the more pixelated, or fuzzy it becomes. In the early years we all had small monitors, which made the low-res textures actually appear sharper.
MrT wrote: Fri May 06, 2022 6:02 pm Would a UHD version of courses even be possible and if it were what would it be like?
Not possible with the program as it currently is. My understanding is the "coding" for the existing program has been lost, and nobody can do any upgrades to it without the coding. :sad:
MrT wrote: Fri May 06, 2022 6:02 pmAnd, if I may, I would like to inquire about one other related aspect. Some courses have very nice panoramas, others ... not so much... What is causing that big difference between different panoramas? Is it the quality of the picture a designer gets to work with? Or what?
The pano is a much larger texture which can only be used as a pano, and no place else. The level of detail of a pano depends on the level of detail that the designer can put into it. Some images can be very sharp, and some are pixelated. The biggest problem is that It's hard to find ultra-wide pictures that make a complete 360 degree background view to go with a course. Especially a real course. Some of us can only do screen captures from Google Earth, and those are not always in the highest graphic detail. Some better than other, but none are "photo quality". Hope that makes things more clear for you.

Best wishes,

Dan
Completed Courses
Real Courses: The National Golf Club of Kansas City - Wakonda Club - Coeur d'Alene Resort Course
Fictitious Courses: Northern Lakes - Golfcom Tees
Southern Oaks - Hometown 9 hole real course with a fictitious back 9 added
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Adelade
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Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2019 9:24 am

Re: A question about levels of graphical details.

Post by Adelade »

Hmm... I could write a 10 page long wall of text going into all the aspects that are at effect in the scope of this question... (how would we even exactly define your phrase "almost like pictures"?) but instead Im going to sum it up with this:

How to create a course where everything looks like a picture?
1. Spend the hundreds or thousands of ordinary hours that it takes making the skeleton of an ordinary beautiful course.
2. Use a time machine to go back in time to when Mike Jones, Robert Miller, Wayne Hewitt were active and convince them to share with you all their gorgeous textures that they never shared.
3. Spend a couple years making thousands of extra seamblends in APCD to make all ground surfaces have lots of natural subtle gradients in colours/lighting.
4. Spend hundreds or thousands of hours making or editing gorgeous 2D objects, or be lucky that enough available ones with a similar theme of colours/lighting are the ones that suit the type of course you want to make.
5. Be a genius at coding/hacking, or find a willing such genius with loads of free time, then somehow manage to extract the code of Links 2003, spend ages making a functional update of it so that the game can handle thousands of seamblends without crashing. Also, crucially, you must completely build a whole new system for how shadows and lighting work in the game. Oh and if your course area features any more water than some tiny pond which could get away with looking completely still like a mirror, you probably also must build a completely new graphical system for water as well.

I think thats all :tongue:
Finished main APCD Projects: Amedal (own design), Nine Bridges (real course). Joint effort: Kauri Cliffs HD. Updates: Whirlpool, Royal Lytham, Royal St George's, Chicago, Chambers Bay
Working on: 2 fictional courses + Austin CC + a couple things...
morvio100
Posts: 52
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2022 10:02 am

Re: A question about levels of graphical details.

Post by morvio100 »

re@Adelade...mucho respecto....to all you guys who put in them endless hours...played a round of Pine Valley by Rob Miller the other day, just phenomenal level craft there...it is however a bit of a shame he never passed on the terrific textures he created to you guys who are still designing, I don't think I've seen a better shadow file on any course than that of Pine Valley, I was unsure as to whether the engine generated those shadows or if R Miller actually incorporated/painted those shadows on to the grass textures and bunker lips, regardless some of the up and coming designers I'm sure will inevitably reach perfection,...well done to all who have kept this great sim alive and well.... :clapping:
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MrT
Posts: 101
Joined: Mon May 24, 2021 5:48 pm

Re: A question about levels of graphical details.

Post by MrT »

Thank you for the replies.. It makes sense now.. I was not aware of the limitations although, knowing the age of the program, I was somewhat suspicious.
ChuckH
Posts: 86
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2020 3:48 pm

Re: A question about levels of graphical details.

Post by ChuckH »

There is a golf game that does rely on pictures and it's called WGT or World Golf Tour and it's been around for a while. It is also free and worth looking at. They have taken thousands of pictures of real golf courses and made them into a golf game. There are about a dozen or so courses and some well know ones such at Pebble Beach and St. Andrews. They try to bait you into buying some things but you can play the courses for free if you want. It's surprising how close Links courses can come close to the pictures. To me, it's worth it to play Wolf Creek alone as it's a very unique golf course and not available in Links. There is a version for TW08 though. Gameplay for playing the courses is a little clunky I think, but you can quickly get used to it I found. It's a little bit of a cross between RTS and Click.
Chuck
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