The stand-alone mod S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Anomaly aims to be the most stable and customizable experience for fans of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games. It's powered by the Monolith 64-bit engine, a custom fork of the X-Ray engine.
--- Includes: Stalker outfits/armors (and backpacks), your arms/hands, all the various popular characters. --- 3x AI upscale of the original 'Stalkers' textures, (to get enough pixels to work with), followed with methods to bring out all those fine details, (hair, dirt, scratches...), while also removing unwanted noise/blurriness/pixelation. -- An attempt at 'photo-realism', (existing 3D models and lighting pose a certain limit on this). No change in art style. -- Much more details, 'rough' surface on outfits, masks. ------- READ THE FULL DESCRIPTION BEFORE ASKING QUESTIONS. --------
For those who are in a hurry, five links with screenshots, (best viewed at full resolution):
-- Imgur.com -- ( -'Level of detail' endgoal, and achieved.)
(A very small patch, 10MB, (install it last), -- Drive.google.com --
- the added 'R' blends better in 'Exosuit ContRol'
- small edits to the shape of the fingernails and glove on the Berill.)
IMPORTANT UPDATE, larger patch, (873MB), ( -- in addition to the base addon of 3.16GB)
-- updated the two files from the previous small patch, (the fix for the weird 'sweater-skin', and Owl's face; -- remove those now, I added an even better skin texture)
- further edited and improved all the ARMS/HANDS, (103 existing textures)
- also some heads/faces
- areas that needed it: greatly improved focus, decreased noise
- added R in the 'Exosuit CONTOL'
(Hands/arms are pretty important, since you are seeing them all the time, and upclose.)
------- Drive.google.com -------
'Photo-realism' continued to be the goal here also.
- even more details: rough details, fine details
- materials look appropriately: leather, metal, textile
All together 'covered' with Stalker's signature: scratches, dirt, grime, stains, scars, worn out...
-- HINT: when without ANY outfit, observe very closely the sweater, hands, fingers. - "Stalker in a nutshell". --
( ---- For some more comprehensive, relevant info, read on ----- )
SMALL EDIT: -- having installed all 'FIVE-PART' texture addons in the 1.5 beta (RC17), (SKY,WORLD,WEAPONS,MUTANTS,STALKERS), with their .DB files in the 'Anomaly\db\mods' folder, (16.1GB total) -- stability remains at 100%, and FPS remained unchanged, provided available RAM/VRAM capacity are not exceeded. -- Expect around 50% more of both utilized, compared with default Anomaly textures.
First things first,
Just as a 'glimpse': 90-100GB of temporary data-files were created during the process, in going from 500MB to 4.54GB.
------- A few examples of the LEVEL OF DETAIL I was aiming for, (VIEW at FULL RES; all are 100% screenshots): -- Imgur.com -- ---------
And with no FPS change, only somewhat higher RAM/VRAM requirements.
There are links with hundreds more screenshots at the top, with arms,hands, whole outfits and popular characters. -- Nothing was excluded.
P.S. scroll to the end section for some relevant info about AI and processing/upscaling.
-------------- Relevant details follow ------------------
All textures were carefully examined and: upscaled, edited and filtered, for max quality and min performance impact.
The hands/faces/heads got a little bit extra attention.
I also succeeded, (after a substantial effort), to remove the heavy pixelation on the Exo parts and gloves, which will greatly benefit them, the Nosorogs and the Radsuits.
I am very content with the improvement on the faces of the popular stalkers in the Zone. -- Damn good result.
The hands/arms are now a great joy to look at. -- Damn good result for both.
And, of course, the stalker armors/outfits are now much more detailed, sharper and with rough surfaces, very closely approximating the appearance of textile, leather, metal, glass... and worn-out, battle-weary armors, full of scratches and tears..
( Use your binocs and/or 'demo_record 1' and see for yourself. )
( --- NOTE: for best results, the 'Texture Quality'-slider needs to be at the higher settings; -- although, all will benefit from the improvements. --- )
An example: Sid, Sakharov, Beard, Noah... - 'revitalized': hair (on face,head,hands), wrinkles, skin details, clothes.
( - Can't do anything about their 'dead-eyed' look, unfortunately. )
IN SHORT, you can be certain that I've done as much as I can, to improve the Stalkers visuals as much as possible, (incl.: upscaling, with various parameters, selective sharpen and focus, denoise and other methods), whilst keeping the filesize and performance impact minimal, (as possible).
The appearance of the characters in Anomaly/Stalker is of crucial importance, considering that you are seeing them all the time, and even upclose. -- Your hands,fingers, even more so.
( Making STALKERS' importance on par with the Sky,Weapons,World, and of course, the Mutants. )
My ENDGOAL for the Stalkers appearance was/is 'photo-realism', as close as possible. -- Not the resolution or whatnot.
( This necessitates, among other, removing pixelation/noise, and focusing on and bringing out all those fine details, -- (hair, wrinkles, dirt, grime, mud, scratches, flakes, textile fibres/threads, even fingerprints), -- that we are used to seeing in RealLife. )
( --- Needless to say, the 'Texture Quality'-slider needs to be set at max, to fully see these. --- )
P.S. If someone else can do this better, I will honestly be pleased. -- Endgoal: 'much,much better visuals, retain art style'.
To be clear, this is for Anomaly 1.5 Final/beta versions, and U4H8.
It is a part of the 'FIVE-PART' (apparently), upscaled textures for Anomaly: SKY,WEAPONS,WORLD,MUTANTS,STALKERS.
( I am putting this as a clear info for those who are concerned about missing out anything important. )
IMPORTANT NOTE: when installing this addon for U4H8, the .DB files need to be in 'Anomaly\db\addons'.
---------- Details about why and what ----------------------
I was, initially, planning to leave the 'Stalkers appearance' to the 'Anomaly HD Models' addon.
- So that, when it is finished, this part of Anomaly will get a year-2020 level of quality.
And I put my attention and efforts into various other segments of Anomaly, (noticeable by the many texture addons), and now that they are done, I can focus on other important things IRL.
At the same time, as many rightly pointed out, not everyone likes the new Outfit Models or even like the change in art style, and considers them not really 'fit' in Stalker. ('Tacticool' look, too smooth, etc.) --- A plethora of legitimate factors, to say the least.
Another thing is, that addon, afaik, doesn't address the appearance of Sid/Doc/Sakharov/Beard/Barman, etc.
( - These characters, in particular, need an improvement. )
So, for me, not including the Stalkers would make the 'texture-overhaul' incomplete.
( SSS, i.e. 'SubSurface Scattering of light' is another graphical feature that makes CG human skin's appearance go in the 'photo-realism' direction.
- Examples: -- Steamxo.com -- -- Tryingtobeananimator.files.wordpress.com -- -- I.pinimg.com --
"NOTE: this addon does NOT contain any configs/scripts, ONLY textures.
So, there should be no incompatibilities with other addons.
Further more, putting any textures in the "\gamedata\textures" folder will override the appropriate ones within this addon.
Includes: Stalker outfits/armors, your hands/fingers, all the various popular characters.
Endgoal: as close to 'photo-realistic' as possible. (Resolution and similar stats are of secondary importance.)
Original textures: -- 713 files, ~500MB;
This addon: -- 4.54GB; -- packed into 3.64GB .DB0-7; -- 3.15GB .7zip file for upload.
SUGGESTION, if you have a HDD, (regardless on whether you have this addon or not):
- defragment the drive/partition where Anomaly resides. Result: drastically shorter loading times.
( Raxco 'PerfectDisk' 13 is my choice. )
Simply unpack into your main Anomaly folder. ( --- For u4h8, move the .DB files as instructed. --- )
A few words about AI and processing:
To start with something very simple and very clear,
- that 'entity' that is known as 'Google' IS an AI. Literally. Artificial, and Intelligent. -- Much more intelligent than an ant, to say the least.
In fact, it is an advanced level of AI. Not conscious still, though. -- And gets more intelligent every single day. ( It upgrades its software with iterations, and with every bit of data it assimilates. )
( Further more, anyone who knows about 'Data' from StarTrek, he is an AI, in an android body. Literally. -- Moriarty, in 'Ship in a Bottle', also an AI. )
Now that that is out of the way,
AI upscaling is NOT the same nor similar to 'resizing'.
- resizing extrapolates neighbouring pixels to fill out the new pixels, (using various 'named' math algorithms) .
- AI is TRAINED and smart enough, (when given the proper parameters), to recognize most shapes in the image what they are, and fill out the new pixels accordingly. -- ESRGAN/Gigapixel AI can do much in this area.
Anyone who is interested in this, might look into them, as they will be more and more utilized and perfected in the years to come.
IN SHORT, AI needs to be trained first for it to be able to do the things it can in the end, (same goes for people).
( Typically, AI is best trained by doing tasks in iterations, and with each subsequent iteration, its software
becomes better. -- This also, typically, occurs in 50-100 thousand iterations. Done very,very fast by the AI and its hardware. )
Currently, there are two, lets say, 'popular' applications of AI upscaling or AI processing.
- Gigapixel AI (Topaz) -- is pre-trained for some specific scenarios, and it can do them very well, when given the proper parameters from the human-user, and considering its capabilities and limitations.
-- Has good potential/capabilities, not overly demanding on the human-user side. Moderate effort and skills required.
- ESRGAN and SFTGAN AI -- are 'partially' trained, and need to be further 'trained' by the human-user, by giving it some custom models, etc. -- A change in art-style is almost always the endresult.
-- Great potential/capabilities, much more demanding on the human-user. More advanced effort and skills are required.
( It would be safe to say that, only a passion-project could get this much attention. )
Part of the workflow for me in the overhaul of the textures for Anomaly, were Gigapixel AI, and AI Sharpen, and working within their capabilities and limitations.
Also: GIMP, Photoshop, DOS programming. -- And CUDA-enabled GPU, because AI processing is much faster when done on the GPU.
A very great, (and very time-consuming, almost 5 years of dedication and skills), example of applying ESRGAN/SFTGAN AI is the work of Halk Hogan, for the 'Witcher 3' texture-overhaul work. ( He also made much higher quality 3D models. )
In the media front, on the topic of AI, and its 'gradual' rise, I would recommend attentively watching these. (-- Several times, or 'in iteration'.)
- movies Tron 1982 and 2010.
- conversations with the Geth, Legion and EDI (Mass Effect franchise) - also offer very useful info and points-of-view.
- Automata 2014.
- A short gem/wisdom from ME-Andromeda: -- Imgur.com --
And, yes, if anyone wonders, I do, on occasion, enjoy being immersed into the world of Stalker, Witcher 3 and Mass Effect.
All of them have a rich and detailed World-building and memorable characters.