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  #1  
Old 09-23-2011, 01:59 PM
Herra Tohtori Herra Tohtori is offline
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Default Support for 24-bit custom skins?

Hello Mr. Team Daidalos and everyone else.

I'm intrigued by the following dilemma.

The custom skin system in IL-2 only allows for 8-bit, 256 indexed colours in the skins. This poses serious limitations to the types of skins that can look good when they are indexed - specifically, all types of gradients are harshly treated by any imaginable indexing methods; either you get hard lines between colours, banding of variable degree, or dithering. None of this is really ideal, so that means custom skins have to have rather simple colour schemes and even then, the quality is always decreased in comparison to true colour, 24-bit depth that pretty much every image editor uses by default and which is usually used for editing the skins (indexing is what I do at the very end of the process, and it always breaks my heart a little).

After familiarizing myself a bit with IL-2's internal workings, I discovered to my puzzlement that the game itself has no problems using 24-bit (or rather, 32-bit) textures. In fact, every default skin seems to be a 24-bit colour TGA file with 8-bit alpha masking for damage holes and canopy transparency.

The game even goes so far as to make a 32-bit, cached TGA versions of the custom skins that you select, and then it uses them for the graphics.

The way I assume it does this is that the game engine reads the bitmap data from the 8-bit skins, converts it to 24-bit and slaps on the alpha channel appropriate for that plane.

Now, I understand that there has been a lot of effort into improving the default skins in the game by both TD and modders alike, but these only really improve the default skins shown by the game. Custom skins are left with the, frankly, inadequate option of 256 colours, and since the graphics engine itself has no problems dealing with textures of higher colour depth, this somewhat frustrates me.



So, with that background I come to thee with these questions three:

Are there, or has there been any plans of expanding skin support to allow for 24-bit textures?

If not, is there some technical obstacle for it (such as not being able to do engine modifications on that level)?

If it were possible to do, would it be doable for the 4.11 patch?


Allowing for TGA or even PNG textures would be a great boon for skinners everywhere. However, I understand completely if no such modification is planned, or if it's impossible; I merely wished to express my interest in the topic and ask if anyone has considered this kind of thing. If it's not in your list of priorities, or is impossible for you to do, then so be it.


On a related topic, if you're able to upgrade the graphics system, support for Direct Draw Surface format with DXT compression could reduce video memory usage by a factor of six for RGB, DXT1 textures, and by factor of four for RGBA textures that require an alpha mask. I know the game supports S3TC compression which is technically the same as or very close to DXT compression; however as it's done on the fly, the compression quality is typically by far inferior to the compression done by dedicated utility such as nvDXT.

Of course, video memory is rarely the bottleneck for IL-2 1946, but regardless it could be a nice option to have, say, a compressed texture pack around somewhere that could be installed on older PC's with something like 128-256 MB of dedicated video card memory... or even PC's with integrated graphics cards where every piece of VRAM saved can increase performance...


Thank you for your time.
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  #2  
Old 07-06-2012, 10:06 AM
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Spudkopf Spudkopf is offline
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I’ve been AWOL from the forum for some time only dropping in on and off to check on the progress of TD’s superb patches, only recently getting back into the enjoyment that is IL2-1946. As such I missed out on some pure gems that have been raised by members of this forum.

Always looking for ways to enhance this enjoyment I recently pulled some defaults skins out of the game to use as base layers to create some personal skins, I was somewhat bemused (surprised in fact) to learn that the defaults skins were actually of RGB quality and not indexed, and as I have mentioned in another posting I've since been frustrated in my attempts to try and then use modified efforts due to major loss of quality that indexing delivers.

I was just about to ask some questions to TD in regards to the restriction of indexed colours for users skins when thought I take another look at former post to see if anyone else had raised the issue when I found Herra Tohtori posting that put the whole issue up far more skilfully and technically than I could.

Elation turned to despair to learn that the questions (a real revelation in my mind) asked in the above post seem to have gone by unanswered via any official response and worse still that the notion was not championed by any other members here (not even a casual +1), as it would seem on the surface to be a fairly reasonable and achievable request from my non-expert and uninformed standpoint. In my humble opinion these questions were then and still are very pertinent in regards to this excellent sim’s ongoing future.

Just like native wide screen support, if higher bit value images could be implemented then this would greatly enhance the ongoing enjoyment of the sim and may even revitalise the non-hard core custom junkies of the community. Personally I'd even settle for 16bit .BMPs (which seems to have very little loss effect on the altered default skins by the way) .

So please excuse me for dredging up this topic back up from some 10 months ago, but I for one wish to bring this post back to the forefront of the discussion and hope that it may receive more attention this time around.
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Last edited by Spudkopf; 07-06-2012 at 01:46 PM. Reason: garmmer or lack there of :)
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  #3  
Old 07-06-2012, 12:59 PM
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Mysticpuma Mysticpuma is offline
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Well worth a +1 from me
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  #4  
Old 07-06-2012, 07:42 PM
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A very well-expressed post, Herra Tohtori.
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  #5  
Old 07-07-2012, 07:12 PM
Ace1staller Ace1staller is offline
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Yes we need support for those skins, or other wise, the skins we made in 24 bits. Then we convert it to 256 bits will make our skins look terrible

Last edited by Ace1staller; 07-07-2012 at 07:13 PM. Reason: fixing the post
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  #6  
Old 07-07-2012, 10:50 PM
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My guess is the skins were limited solely for dial-up multi-player. The problem with that is to this day most servers don't allow skin downloads because of perceived download lag (or, they just don't like bozo skins - sorry, bozo). I've never really experienced it and personally would actually like to see more skins.
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Old 07-08-2012, 02:28 PM
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I would love to see higher resolution skins in a higher color depth. And high-res bump mapping.

Though I'm afraid that, even though it could potentially make the planes themselves look even more fabulous, it would contrast so much from the look of the rest of the game that it would be a distraction, actually. One would have to significantly upgrade the fundamental rendering of the entire environment to balance things out.
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Old 07-08-2012, 08:11 PM
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It's a risk I'd be willing to take
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  #9  
Old 07-08-2012, 09:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Treetop64 View Post
I would love to see higher resolution skins in a higher color depth. And high-res bump mapping.

Though I'm afraid that, even though it could potentially make the planes themselves look even more fabulous, it would contrast so much from the look of the rest of the game that it would be a distraction, actually. One would have to significantly upgrade the fundamental rendering of the entire environment to balance things out.
The thing is I'm not asking for a higher resolution, I can still live with 1024 x 1024 (just) but what I am asking for is to have the same colour depth for the user skins as we already have assigned for the default skins, so if anything the look would be more uniform and less of a distraction (for my eyes anyway).

As said in my original post, I'd even settle for 16bit, anything to ditch this reliance on 8bit index colours for user skins, which the more I think about just plain sucks.

As far as resolution goes I think the only resolution upgrading required is to progressively ditch anything that is still using 512 x 512 or at the very least any aeroplane that still is.
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Last edited by Spudkopf; 07-08-2012 at 09:23 PM. Reason: grammer
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  #10  
Old 07-11-2012, 07:10 AM
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Spudkopf Spudkopf is offline
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Simple facts:

Default skin for Hs129B2, native game RGB.




Now exactly the same skin reduced to 256 index (8bit) colour depth the only (non mod) way to use a custom skin.



I know I said I could live with 1024x1024, but one can just imagine how much better the view from the cockpit would be if the resolution was only doubled to 2048x2048.

Those who can remember the Jane's WWII fighters days can probably recall the difference that higher (multiple) res' skins made to that sim (especially on hammered's K4), in fact it was enough to keep many from switching over to Il2 for quite some time. But there-in lies the crux of the problem, it’s simply in 1c’s best interest for us to move over to COD and not stay with 46 even though there is still so much for 46 to offer.
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