User talk:Zombie

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Ping ponging with PNGS

Zombie, while you're replacing some of the jpegs with higher quality png's, might I recommend using an optimizer to crush the file size down? Ken Silverman's PNGOUT is one compressor that I've been using (as it has an irfanview plugin). Takes a moment to compress each image, but it does shave off some kb's on larger images. -NKF 01:11, 19 July 2009 (EDT)

Sure, I ran a few of my HQs through just now and it averages a 80% drop in file size. It's slow going though doing them all one by one in a directory. --Zombie 01:38, 19 July 2009 (EDT)
Just uploaded PNGGauntlet (a front end for pngout) to StrategyCore's files section here. The nice thing about it is that it is windows-based and allows drag-'n-drop. ;) --Zombie 01:53, 25 October 2009 (EDT)

Here is a recent discussion from the main page about images. Instead of deleting it, I decided to add it to my talk page. Conclusion reached was that PNG's are the preferred image choice for the wiki as most X-COM screenshots are well-suited to this format and are smaller than a GIF. JPEG's should only be considered for pictures as the quality sucks. --Zombie 13:45, 25 June 2006 (PDT)

Image Types

I was fooling around with images today and decided I should show everyone what an image looks like in a particular format. Just for this example, I used the Level 0 view of the Small Scout. Here are the images (don't peek, just look at them and try to figure out which is which for now):

GIF image PNG image JPEG image

From what I can tell, the image quality of a GIF and a PNG is minimal. Both look very good. The PNG image seems a tad bit lighter over the GIF, though. Not bad. But compare either a GIF or a PNG with a JPEG and there is a huge difference. The JPEG has "artifacts" strewn all over the place and has a "mottled" appearance. Ugh! Terrible! That's all for the image quality aspect. (So does anyone know the technical difference between a GIF and a PNG? Please explain.)

Let's move on to size. The GIF image is usually the largest in size. In this case the GIF image of the Scout example is 7897 bytes. The JPEG is 6784 bytes (or 86% of the GIF) while the PNG is 6090 bytes (or 77% of the GIF).

Finally, compare size against image quality. PNG wins hands down. Not only is it smaller in size, but it also has an image quality equaling that of a GIF. JPEGs are smaller than a GIF but the image quality sucks. Granted, in some instances a JPEG is fine (especially if the background is a dark color), but in all the comparisons I did they were bad.

So, have you figured out what is what? The first image is a GIF, the second is a PNG and the third is a JPEG.

I implore everyone to consider uploading either a GIF or a PNG image type over a JPEG. The quality is better in those formats. If you have a choice, PNG is better because of the size on disc. --Zombie 19:40, 11 June 2006 (PDT)

The most important difference between PNG and GIF is GIFs can only use 256 colors. I think most graphics from Enemy Unknown are in 8-bit color, so it doesn't cause a problem, but if you ever converted a normal photo to GIF, it'd look horrendous. PNGs can handle "truecolor" (24-bit), and as you said, they tend to compress better too.

JPGs can have different "quality settings" which reduce the artifacts but increase file size. JPG tends to compress photos better than PNG, but PNG is great for non-natural images, such as cartoons or computer graphics. For graphics pulled from X-COM, PNG is probably best.

--Ethereal Cereal 21:43, 11 June 2006 (PDT)

PNG's can vary in size depending on the size of the palette used. A standard 256 colour image would allow PNGs to be more or less the same if not better than GIFs. 'True Colour' PNGs are generally abominations.

For more information on the PNG format: Portable Network Graphics

GIF and PNG provide lossless compression while Jpeg's offer lossy compression. GIF and PNGs are best used when the image is generally small and contains a limited number of colours. X-Com screenshots fit this bill perfectly.

Jpegs tend to lose image accuracy every time you save the image and it gets worse the higher you set the compression. However, that said, Jpegs are best used when your image is full of colour and minor losses in image quality will not matter.

For example, the above pictures are best done with GIF/PNGs (especially if you intend to include transparent pixels). However if you had a cut out shot of the action in the battlescape, it probably wouldn't matter too much if it were saved as a Jpeg.

Now if you want an image with transparency pixels, you will most definitely pick GIF and PNG. I actually hadn't realised the PNG format allowed tranparencies, but it does.

Just use what's best for the occasion.


In Which an Uneccessary Discussion of Formats Ensues

PNG's not only do transparency, but they are capable of doing alpha channel-- that is, partial transparency. A GIF can only do normal colors (completely opaque) or complete transparency. PNG's can do all this, as well as allowing color that are partially transparent (say, a red tint with the background showing through).

I put this in mostly to hear myself talk. There are two limitations to these neato PNG effects:

  • For X-Com screen shots, it's not needed-- X-Com 1 and 2 never did such fancy tricks.
  • Alpha channel PNG's are, last I checked, not supported by Internet Explorer-- IE will let PNG's mimmick GIF-style transparency (that is, an 8-bit palette with all-or-nothing transparency), but nothing more sophisticated. Firefox and the Mozilla-derived browsers can do them (including Safari, I think), but it's not much good when most of the traffic is still using IE. Yes, I'm bitter about this.

PNG's are in every respect superior to GIF's. In matters of compatibility and filesize, the PNG can be set to work just as well or better than GIF). The only reason you use GIFs is to cater to people with seriously archaic browsers. Widespread PNG support has been around for several years now.

PNG transparency test

Edit: IE7 does complete support for PNG alpha, but of course it's still in beta testing. Even when it's out of beta, sensible web designers will have to wait until the majority of users switch over to it to start designing with it in mind.

--Papa Legba 20:36, 14 June 2006 (PDT)

GIF was originally made waaaay back in the late 80's. The format recieved an update around 1990, but has not been upgraded since. (Although Microsoft Paint will save lossy GIFs, I don't think this is an attempt to restandardise the format).

Later JPG came along, which really made high color images practical because it compressed so well. That compression came at a cost, however - quality is lost when you save a JPG file, no matter how high you set the quality.

PNG was designed with the intention of replacing GIF. A lot of people started using it once the original GIF copyright ran out - It was re-registered by a company who demanded royalties for anyone who used the format! (Which would only have affected you if you lived in America - of course.)

Although I gather that bit of patent madness has been overthrown, returning GIF to the populance at large, a lot of people still use PNG when possible. JPG files still yield better compression when images have a lot of color depth, however, PNG files do not lose color information, so it's the best format to use whenever quality is important.

I'm not sure if PNG supports multiple images in the one file, however. We've all seen animating GIFs, but I'm sure I've never seen an animating PNG.

One feature I've always wanted added to web browsers is the ability for HTML to referrence individual images loaded into GIF files. That way, you could put all the images into one file, as opposed to lots of little ones. This would improve page load times no end. One example where this would be useful is your average forum skin.

- Bomb Bloke

One attempt to animate PNG is MNG. However, development on that appears to have stopped in late 2004 when Mozilla abandoned the format (only one implementation, so hard to catch bugs in the specification).

Regarding PNG transparency/IE5,6: I don't think this is completely portably solvable in MediaWiki. Even if (contrary to what I would expect; need to check documentation for other reasons) JavaScript was enabled in MediaWiki, the general solution is to use that JavaScript to define whether to use HTML-standard, or IE extensions that do render PNG transparency. I haven't tested how to do this with inline images [img tag], but it should be possible to do this inline. Background images require using the JavaScript to define a CSS class, which should be done in the head tag: disallowed.

EDIT: MediaWiki Technical FAQ intimates that JavaScript should be stripped. So, cross-browser PNG transparency not possible by legitimate design for security.

--Zaimoni 11:49, 17 June 2006 (CDT)

I just started a discussion on the main page about this--people are still adding nasty JPGs to the wiki, and I thought we should add a notice somewhere obvious. Phasma Felis 10:57, 12 June 2008 (PDT)

Super-old, but wanted to chime in in case you or anyone is curious on some technical details:

  • .gif is, basically, the image format that early game developers would want their sprites saved as: the file information only holds the colors used in the picture, so it's great for images with a limited palette of swatches with common colors (ie; game sprites), as gifs are limited to a 256 color swatch limit in a 24-bit RGB pallette. Like any screenshot tool from a game emulator that's for the 16-bit era and earlier might save as .gif, and the file will only be like 20-50kb max. Find any gaming site like Spriter's Resource or a sprite-based webcomic like Bob & George, you'll typically see gif or png. Even Shovel Knight screenshots might not exceed 50kb, and 15-second animated clips might not even break a megabyte.
  • .png is a fatty of a file format, designed to be a loss-less rasterized format. Anyone's got Photoshop, 'rasterizing' a vector line prolly gets what this means: it saves a lot more information, so it's good for artists and, say, the Enemy Within/XCOM2 screenshots. However, it saves every bit on information as a rasterization, hence why the files are typically much larger.
  • .jpg - putting compression as a priority, it often blends or degrades images in order to save space. That weird speckling and duller colors often result.
  • .bmp - Hell no.

--Xuncu (talk) 07:01, 11 May 2016 (UTC)

Zombie: Just so you know, armor for aliens is only one of two values. In Beginner, it's 50% the base armor score listed in the game files; in Experienced/Veteran/Genius/Superhuman, the armor rating for aliens is the base listing. This is also why Chryssalids spawned from Zombies are actually MORE dangerous than mission-spawn Chryssalids in Beginner mode, because the Zombie-spawned critters have twice as much armor! (In all other difficulties, Zombie spawned Chryssies are weaker; the armor is the same, but they don't get the above 100% modifiers for their other stats, like TUs, Stamina, Psi Strength, etc.) Arrow Quivershaft 00:43, 29 October 2008 (CDT)

Why do you mention this? I of all people should know about Alien Stats. Ahem. ;) --Zombie 01:02, 29 October 2008 (CDT)

I thought you did, but your comment to the Stun Rod page about "Veteran-Superhuman" Sectopods kinda threw some doubt on it; so I figured that it was better safe then sorry. Guess I jumped the gun, apologies. (Also, I need to try that "Aliens Own Earth" thing.) Arrow Quivershaft 01:04, 29 October 2008 (CDT)

Sorry, it was a mistype. Experienced it is. :D --Zombie 01:09, 29 October 2008 (CDT)

Sorry for jumping on you like that. >_> Arrow Quivershaft 01:17, 29 October 2008 (CDT)

I probably deserved a good beating for a rookie mistake like that. If you catch me doing strange stuff, feel free to edit. --Zombie 01:28, 29 October 2008 (CDT)

New Milestone.

With my previous edit, I now have 2,000 contributions to the Wiki. :) --Zombie 22:25, 20 December 2008 (CST)

A little over twice as many as me! (This'll be edit 1010). Incidentally, looking at your recent record, it seems you've had a few days off. Busy Zombie, you definitely don't sleep. Wanna leave some editing for the rest of us? ;) All you need to do is ask...or point. Arrow Quivershaft 23:34, 20 December 2008 (CST)
Do we get a counter? Never noticed that before. One thing about the millions of recent edits: Some of the older and probably less visited articles are brought to the surface again. Some of them are long overdue a bit of preening and pruning. -NKF 01:42, 21 December 2008 (CST)

I didn't realize there was a counter till the last upgrade to the wiki software. If you go to My Preferences and look at your user profile it'll say how many edits you have under your screen name and ID#. @AQ: Yeah, I had a couple days off in the last week due to finals and a heavy snowfall which basically stopped everything. All I've been doing here recently is updating the pages to reflect the nomenclature in-game. Maintaining this consistency is necessary for people trying to find something in a hurry. And my work ethic has always been that if I want something done, I might as well do it myself. With an aging mind, it better to get stuff done while it's still fresh in my memory too. Don't worry, there's still plenty to do around here. There are a lot of articles floating around with little to no text, which need a spell checking, or even a rewrite. TFTD in particular needs some attention. --Zombie 16:35, 21 December 2008 (CST)

I got that same snowfall, still being only a few hours north, and yeah, we got shut down too. :) As for TFTD, I know it needs attention, but I've never been able to get TFTD to run half-decently. Arrow Quivershaft 16:49, 21 December 2008 (CST)

And now I'm up to 3000+ edits. :) --Zombie 01:01, 19 July 2009 (EDT)

The New Templates.

Hey Zombie, great job on these new templates, and now we even have a stub template! If possible could we get a template about adding more pictures? If so, thanks! If not, oh well, it wasn't the biggest deal here yet. It would be nice if we did have pictures for every page though. Muton commander 19:35, 8 January 2009 (CST)

Thanks, the stub template already existed, I just reused it to create pages which needed something in them. The reason for the other templates is to aid in navigation and also cut down on the number of orphaned and dead-end pages (currently 7 and 60 respectively). Eventually I'd like those numbers to be as close to 0 as possible. Anyway, I created a stub picture template out of some of our other table templates. All you need to do is put {{PicStub}} in a page and it'll show up to the right side of the screen. If there isn't much text in the article, you may want to put a clearing break ( <br clear="all"> ) after it to keep the template from continuing into the "See Also" heading, for example. Other than that, it's pretty simple to use. --Zombie 23:10, 8 January 2009 (CST)

Site database problems?

Hi Zombie

Some weird stuff going on with the site I think. I got an email saying you posted an Update to Talk:Incendiary, but when I view the page there is nothing there, nothing on the history/diff since Jasonred's post about 8 hrs ago.

I'd been noticing a lot of slowness with the Special:Recent Changes page and wondered if the database needs maintenance. But then I put it down to my flaky internet connection. Now I'm not so sure.

Spike 17:05, 13 March 2009 (EDT)

Yeah, I posted an update to the Incendiary talk page, but now it's gone. Ah well. Anyway, as you may know, StrategyCore is hosting UfOpaedia now. Pete (the admin and owner of StrategyCore) switched hosts for SC about a week ago and mentioned this wiki would also have to be moved to the new location. I asked him to kindly give me a heads up of at least 24hrs so that I could mention it here. Well, this morning I briefly saw a message saying something like the site is down for maintenance and should be up again on the 14th (I think that's what it said at least). I know Pete was talking about putting a message up so I figured he just shut the site down and moved it to the new host. Have no idea if that actually happened as he hasn't contacted me at all. Might have been a dry run, but since my post disappeared I'm thinking we are on the new hosts server. I'll try and send him an email to confirm what is going on. Looks like everything is showing up in the Recent Changes now, so the worst is probably over. One contribution missing by me is a small price to pay. ;) --Zombie 18:44, 13 March 2009 (EDT)

I'm still unable to post to Talk:Incendiary, I get a 500 Server error. I've tried rebooting my computer, using IE instead of Mozilla, logging out and in from the Wiki, no joy. I seem to be ok to post to other pages, but maybe that's a coincidence. Spike 07:59, 15 March 2009 (EDT)

I also have email alerts for another update that is not visible on the wiki, suggesting the database is still in flux:

  • Talk:Firing_Accuracy_Testing by Bomb Bloke at 02:05 GMT, 03:05 system time (10 hrs ago - the server must be on British Summer Time)

Spike 08:08, 15 March 2009 (EDT)

The talk page for Incendiary is 40kb long (huge), so maybe we should cut some of it back. That may be what is causing the problem, especially if you are attempting to add long rambling posts to it. The email thing is probably a delayed reaction after the move. The site probably generated the emails before the move, then were unable to be sent out. When we moved over and everything was running again, it probably sent those emails out, even though the id code for the contribution didn't exist anymore. That's my guess. --Zombie 11:17, 15 March 2009 (EDT)
That sounds right, I was trying to add a lot of text. Should be ok to clean up the older part of the discussion. I will do that if I get time. Spike 12:13, 15 March 2009 (EDT)

The server change must've occurred just before I went to bed last night. Thought I'd give the recents a scan and was rather dismayed to see a whole day's worth of edits just go. Spent some time reinstating the few of mine that I could remember. This morning those edits were gone and the old ones were back. Strange experience indeed. Shame to see some of the new material that was added during the "lost" day that we just lost again - didn't get round to reviewing it. Oh well. -NKF 01:01, 16 March 2009 (EDT)

Shame indeed. In hindsight, and in future, during maintenance can we put a big notice on the home page so that people can wait to post until after the maintenance is done? Spike 01:45, 16 March 2009 (EDT)

Well, there was a message telling people the site was having maintenance done. The only problem was that it only was up for 5 min at most. Supposedly Pete had put some locks down to prevent people from posting but those didn't work for some reason either. In addition, I never received a message from him telling me the move was happening, otherwise I would have plastered a big "Do Not Post Today" banner across he front page. So it was a "Perfect Storm" of unfortunate incidents which led to this. I made it perfectly clear to Pete that issues like this CANNOT happen ever again. I don't like to see stuff like this and I'm sure most of you feel the same way. On the positive side, this is the last server/host move we'll be making for a long time. At least I hope so, as this move was a total disaster in my book. --Zombie 02:08, 16 March 2009 (EDT)

Welcome back!

There's a name I haven't seen in a long, long time. I thought you'd gotten out of the game. Glad to see that isn't the case. :) Arrow Quivershaft (talk) 22:33, 3 May 2016 (UTC)

Yep. I concur! Nice to see you here! #OldXCommersNeverDie --IvanDogovich (talk) 23:08, 3 May 2016 (UTC)

I was surprised too. Pleasantly. You know more about the guts of X-Com than anyone besides the Gollops, methinks, and it's been like a dark age without you around. Magic9mushroom (talk) 04:01, 4 May 2016 (UTC)

Thanks guys! I haven't given up on X-COM, it's my favorite game of all time! To be honest, I haven't contributed here for a number of reasons, primarily because I felt like an old relic now that XCOM/XCOM2 came out and also because my mother died late last year. I either couldn't contribute anything new or didn't feel up to it. I began to realize though that there is still work to be done in the X-COM area and that I could be of assistance. Hehe. So yeah, for a while there I just lurked. As always though, you can find me at StrategyCore. :) --Zombie (talk) 02:55, 9 May 2016 (UTC)