Arbogast wrote:I don't play the Trident set, so, my comment may fall into a minority.
I prefer by far the "Ugly, jagged, and visually distracting", it looks more "realistic".
Hans Lemurson's "RoundSquare Tileset" is too clean, reminds me of a crossword puzzle. Although it is a remarkable job.
You are absolutely right that there is an artistry in Trident that makes the terrain look more "natural" which I have nearly entirely removed. All of that effort to disguise the grid and make the land look partly realistic...gone.
When playing with Trident, there were three things that bothered me:
-The speckles (probably due to color palette limitation at the time of its creation)
-What the hell is up with those Pheasants and Buffalos?
-Tile boundaries are not clearly visible (a deliberate effort on the part of the artist).
I first set out to smooth the speckled grasslands, but found that the grassland texture was part of everything
, and so to create a consistent smoother aesthetic, I would have to touch nearly EVERY TILE IN THE SET. I then realized that if I was going to edit everything, I might as well fix some things.
My first changes were actually swapping in scaled versions of the Pheasant and Buffalo from Amplio. I made some tweaks to the irrigation and farmland graphics too, because I thought they looked messy and inelegant. I tweaked some resources to look better when a tile was mined, and then took a break for a while.
Re-doing the borders was a challenging process because I didn't have the original layers that they were made from. I did some clever cutting and pasting and was able to create blank borderless tiles, which I experimented with for making my own. I eventually settled on the rounded corner aesthetic as looking nice and clean without any jagged pixels, but still showing boundaries and delineations. Swamps actually use a different tile border that seemed too thick and was too obvious about tile boundaries, but I felt it looked right on the swamps.
All of the flatland textures I smoothed and blurred to eliminate all traces of distracting speckle. I didn't want any confusion between foreground and background. Maps can get VERY busy with 30pixel tiles, and being able to spot the important information quickly is important, since otherwise reading the map becomes mentally taxing, which is a problem I face sometimes.
Eventually I realized that the coastal borders were still using speckled grass, and I did not have the ability to blur that without creating graphical errors and smoothing out things that ought not be smoothed. I tried to select and modify just the grass, but it was a losing battle, and eventually just had to give up and replace the intricate and fancy coastlines with something that was within my capabilities to produce. So I made these curvy shapes. I tried making straight edges, but it didn't look quite right since flat coast also has to be applied to corners and small islands. Trident did a very good job of disguising the fact that its coastline always cuts across to the corners at tile boundaries. I needed to do the same thing, but I realized I could do that AND create a theme for my tileset. All squares are bulbous and round and this makes it easier to count tiles.
I then faced the dilemma of Hills, Forests, and Mountains. These had been carefully crafted to link to one another left to right to form smooth belts and chains. It looked nice, but as I tried making my own variants of these, I realized that the thing most pleasing to my eyes was the isolated graphics. So I eliminated all neighbor-interaction graphics for these tiles, and changed the tiles to "show the square" more. The forest I actually just stole from Sextant (which itself is double-sized Trident) and then carefully scaled it down. With the trees so small now, they fade into the background and don't interfere with the visual interpretation of foreground objects like Units.
And so, many of the artistic flourishes of the Trident tileset were systematically eliminated until I was left with something that is "Clean and reminds me of a crossword puzzle".