STATE OF THE PROJECT
(and my life)
So as you may have noticed, this has progressed pretty rapidly with some rather neat jumps in quality and my personal satisfaction (a very important quality if you haven't noticed that either), and I can safely say we're getting pretty close to what many of you have been waiting for.
Unfortunately, my life has taken a bit of a turn for the worse (because of !#@(*&# course it has) and while the worse has not yet come to pass, there is a very real and present danger, one that I'm not entirely certain I'm going to be able to withstand. IE, becoming homeless again. While I've done a much better job of prepping myself to avoid this, and thus have some lead time to correct the problem, nothings for certain. Life is obstinate and unkind to me.
As such, thats part of the reason why these leaps have been happening, as the time I'm not spending looking for IRL work is basically able to be dedicated to this, and frankly at this point its just proving a much needed distraction that the keeps the panic attacks and rage away.
So we're going to keep plugging away. So far, here is the full suite of features:
Fully Revamped Land and Ocean textures: While inherently limited to 16k in resolution, the textures I think are pretty nice, and definitely do a lot more than the average mod does. Keeping with the original idea presented in KSRSS of having the worlds bodies of water besides the ocean able to "shine" with scatterer, a new map was applied to the texture that sizes these bodies of water much more realistically, and in fact covers a whole lot more of them (as in, all bodies of water on the planet). I am not a fan of the attempts to use EVE to circumvent the 16k texture limit, for much the same reason I was not a fan of the idea of using EVE to try to mimic "cloud glow". It isn't clean, and induces more problems that require more unclean things to circumvent the issue. That being said, you could attempt to use the 64K settings from KSRSS Reborn if you wish, but it will not be supported. It largely should be compatible, as most of the things it assumes are still true of this mod, but the colors will be wrong and you may well have other issues with it.
TrueSight Variant - True color across the planet; special attention was paid to make the overall look of each region match the so-called "average" look of each region based on photography from the ISS. Its difficult to determine what photographs have and haven't had any post-processing work applied to them, and this also has to be balanced against the fact that KSP is limited in being able to provide a photorealistic depiction of Earth, what with there being no infinite resolution or realistic atmosphere recreations and what have you. I like to think, though, that I nailed it given these limitations. Low orbits are going to be a bit blurrier than I'd like, but this is a result of a combination of things that, ultimately, all come down to limitations in either KSP and/or the mods that make this mod possible. You may notice though that Anartica is especially colorful, even for TrueSight. I just like it that way, so we're keeping it.
Vibrance Variant - This is based primarily on the coloring present in the imagery available 24/7 from the Himawari-8 satellite, which prominently features a starkly blood-red Australia. Like the other two Vibrance variants that will be available for Luna and Mars, this is meant to depict Earth in a "false color", which is only accurate to real life in the sense that the colors are derived from real properties of these bodies, but through filter or other post-processing display quite differently to what they would to the naked eye.
Clouds: Features a global cloud texture that has been retouched and carefully cleaned up to remove any seams or especially unsightly bits. A fully dynamic cloud system has been discontinued at this time until we either get more EVE features or I stumble into some other epiphany. While it works in theory, the inability to control how the clouds look when they begin to overlap leads to a lot of unsightly and, frankly, unimmersive (ie, unrealistic) sights that I could just never find true satisfaction with without depleting the planet of so much of the clouds that it doesn't look like Earth is supposed to anymore. Supposedly with what blackrack has been working on we may be able to return to this in the future.
Dynamic Cyclone: In the Indian Ocean, you will periodically see a cyclonic storm grow and dissipate at random intervals. Sometimes it will resemble a proper typhoon, and other times it will simply look like a peculiar string of clouds, while most often it just won't be there at all. While it would be preferable to have other such storms elsewhere, there is a limitation in EVE that prevents this, which also ties into why the "spinning" nature the storm isn't quite right either. It will look right enough if watching it closely in real time, but if you like to spend time in time-warp , it will look wonky. This could be fixed by being able to precisely designate where on the planetary body the texture is "centered", and thus the point around which EVE's rotation controls move the texture. EVE's offset tools do not do this, unfortunately, as while I can move the storm close to the needed location, inducing even the wonky spin is just not possible; any rotation applied will spend the entire texture around the planet rather than the point the storm was moved to.
Fully Revamped Aurora's and Citylights: nuff said.
Easter Eggs: Dynamics are used to provide little easter eggs that you might be able to spot while sitting in Earth orbit. This will be things like wildfires, oil fires, dust storms, a peculiar lake, and even meteor showers, which are going to be the rarest sight.
Vibrance Variant: This variant is essentially just the false color version of the Moon. As such, you'll see a lot of the browns and oranges that are technically present on our real Moon, but aren't actually visible unless you get up there and dig around.
Revamped Textures: As with Earth, Mars has been completely revamped, and just looks stellar. Nuff said.
TrueSight and Vibrance Variants: So Mars is a funky little planet. Strictly speaking, both TrueSight and Vibrance variants of Mars are "true color" in the sense that Mars can look like either one in real life. The reason for this is that the overall visual colors of Mars change depending on the time of year, the amount of dust in the air, and a few other factors. This is why whenever you search for true color photographs of Mars, you always get a hodgepodge of photos that range from the yellowy beige to the starkly orange-ish red. So, for these two variants of the planet, as trying to simulate the planets real behavior is just, not in the cards, you have the option between these two "extremes" if you will.
TrueSight will provide you with the yellowy-beige look. This was chosen as "TrueSight" because yellowy-beige is closer to what the planet is going to look like in person most of the time when you're on the surface. If you've viewed photographs from Curiosity or Perseverance, the yellowy-beige is the most common overall color of the planet that features in those photographs. Do note however that much of the effect was achieved through a clever use of clouds, TUFX, and Scatterer trickery; the surface will be a bit redder than orbit would lead you to believe, which is accurate to real life as well.
Thus, Vibrance will feature the more starkly orange-reddish variant of the planet. Simple as.
Clouds: Mars is funky ya'll, So Mars has quite a few different types of clouds. Some form from dust. Some from the sublimation of dry ice, others from water ice. Some are bright white, some are dusty, and some are iridescent and shine pretty brightly. Some hang low to the ground and others are practically out of the atmosphere. All of these are featured, and are dynamic. Unlike Earth, the Martian climate revolves what has or hasn't sublimated, and this is also why when viewing pictures of Mars sometimes clouds are conspicuously absent, while at other times the planet is covered in them. The difference is the time of year. The Martian winters provide relatively clear skies, while the summer is often cloudy.
However, as Mars has seasons similar to Earth (though twice as long), its seasons come with the peculiar problem that its northern and southern hemispheres are in different seasons. This summarily causes the global cloud coverage to tend to be centered on one of the hemispheres. Fortunately though, there is a few times of year where global coverage is evenly balanced, and thus our Mars' cloud map assumes this time of year as a constant (specifically, it was based around the time between the Summer Solstice and Autumnal equinox, which was the easiest to find photographs of). While dynamics could theoretically enable truer to life seasons, we of course still need a lot more EVE features. May be one day.
Scientifically Accurate Auroras: Mars, like Venus, doesn't have much of a magnetic field. As such, it doesn't have the near constant aurora's that we see in places like Earth or the Gas Giants. However, aurora's still occur. Mars' has a series of minor dynamos (that could occur for a variety of reasons that science doesn't seem certain on just yet) that sporadically generate the fields necessary to have aurora phenomenon show up. Where this activity occurs has been mapped, and Mars' Auroras in this mod are linked to these real locations, and through dynamics we can mimic their sporadic nature. Do keep in mind, Mars is funky. These aurora's are going to be strange to look at when you can spot them.
Sunflare: The mod features its own bespoke sunflare. This sunflare was designed to be accurate to life based on my own interviews with a number of astronauts, notable among them including Alan Bean (Apollo 12, Skylab 3) and Jerry Ross (STS-88). This means no accompanying lens flare, as that isn't something you actually see without a camera between you and the Sun. Likewise, the starburst pattern of the flare is based on how I estimated my real eyes would perceive the Sun if i were able to look at it from space. I determined this with small scale experiments with flashlights, as well as by staring at the actual sun. (not smart, but still valuable data)
I believe I will provide a Vibrance version of this sunflare, which will bring a lens flare, but will also carry on the spirt of Vibrance being the "false color" version of the Solar System, and as such, the Sun will be yellowy-orange.
The mod will provide its own bespoke TUFX profile, which while not required, is necessary to achieve the intended look of the mod. The settings of this profile primarily concern bloom and some other settings, and is largely tuned both to my sensibilities and to what the mod needed to enable city lights to look as they do. Thus if you want to add other settings you should be able to build on it. I won't shame you for wanting to deep fry your KSP.
Compatibility: As far as I know, the mod should work fine with parallax as far as being on the ground is concerned. Any parallax effects that take place in orbit of the above 3 bodies (I honestly don't know if there are any nor do I care to research that question) may or may not work. The mod as it stands now was built around KSRSS Reborn, but if you for whatever reason are still on the older KSRSS, it should actually work fine there as well with minimal issues, though you'll be on your own for making that sort of install work. Beyond these, anything KSRSS Reborn is compatible with should also be compatible with SOL. On that note, the other bodies in the system that aren't Earth, Mars, or Luna will still retain their original KSRSS Reborn visuals. Presuming things go better for me the idea is to eventually touch these bodies as well in the same manner as the initial release, starting the remaining two Inner Planets and moons and then working outwards.
The mod will also natively have a selection of texture options ranging from 2k-16k in both variants. In regards to performance and the like, if you can run KSRSS Reborn at its best, you can run my mod. While it may not look like it, what has been done for SOL isn't actually that that much impactful on performance than the original mod is, though it will hit your memory a bit more, so if you're already running into memory issues, that will be good to keep in mind.
Do note though that in general, this mod was never intended for people playing on potatoes. When I first made Ad Astra back in the day, my intention was always to push the graphics as hard as I could and that carries on in this mod. No proverbial holds were barred.
Soon (TM). As I've largely divested myself completely from the...entities...that caused so much drama in the past its highly unlikely we're going to have any issues this go around, but as I've alluded to above about my life, its very possible I may end up disappearing again. I don't want to, and I'm basically running myself ragged trying to avoid it, but I've been let down before.
But, I still have time, and a lot more time than I'm going to need to get to this mods Grand Re-Release.