Friday, 18 July 2014

What Did We Learn Today

Another week, another build, and for this week perhaps another lesson. A question was put to me today, backed by the feedback since we launched the game demo. Should we pull the demo off the site?  Personally I think it's a great demonstration of game play and what anyone can do with Reloaded in a very short amount of time, but it seems the wider world are looking at it as a direct comparison to any other FPS game out there. Certainly for the modern FPS games such a comparison is not complimentary for us, and may even damage future pledges. I am interested to hear what you guys think, keep it up there as a demonstration of where we are now or pull it and only return it when it 'looks' better and has more 'game' in it. Opinions welcome.

Is it something as simple as adjusting the gamma, brightness and contrast, improving the render and assets themselves or is it more about improving the game play?

The current game demo for Reloaded

For a quick preview, I used my favorite art package to play with the colour balancing of the current opening scene, producing this:

Increased gamma correction by 1.6, brightness up 33 and contract up 55

I recall a few requests for a 'brighter, crisper' visual, so is this something we should be spending a little time on?  I am also looking into the modern methods of lightmapping games these days, whether it's radiosity mapping or something more advanced.  Might spend a few hours over the weekend experimenting with some lighting effects to see if we can get the visuals up a notch without re-doing the entire asset set.

On today's news, the build is almost ready, just doing the last few hours of testing now. Hopefully the alpha testers will approve :)

30 comments:

  1. +1 brighter/crisper
    and regarding the demo, how about lettin ppl download it without fuss, just skip that email and so on part, as soon as you overcomplicate the whole thing - potwntial users will get turned off. Regarding the gameplay demonstration of the demo itself, well its a straight forward fps showcase but for the future it might just be better to pick a urban theme with a city in the background and some green, something like a playground. This way you can showcase that it can do more then just a desert.

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  2. The demo is fine. In my opinion, you guys should focus on developing a FULL fps game using the engine. This way, everything you need to further along the project, you add. Whether it be objects, lines of code or even terrain smoothing tools, the result will end up in the engine being polished and ready to make a COMPLETE game. At the moment you are focusing on EVERYONES needs which isn't ideal. You can't possibly focus on what is necessary and what people want at the same time. After all, isn't this how most great engines are made? With a specific feel and genre? Fpscr may not be the best tool on the market but I sure as hell see it as a contender and with extra features, shouldn't be far off.

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  3. I liked the demo, If you want to improve core and stuff you should check this out.
    http://voxelfarm.com/vfweb/engine.html
    It said this can be worked into any good game engine.

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    1. I dug a little, found this "We have looked at Voxel Farm and we have even talked to Miguel about his engine. It looks like a cool engine but we were never able to get a technical demo from him to review and the price is quite steep (around $50,000). We're not quite in a position to spend that kind of money on any single component presently". The voxel editing is similar to what the construction kit will be able to do :)

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    2. Ha! Similar? I think not. Voxel editing is considerably more than just plugging meshes together. However, I'm not saying you should be adding voxel support, only that it doesn't compare to the construction kit.

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  4. The demo its self is good and it does what it is intended for the problem is it starts on low and looks pants on low i believe if you were to work on performance and able to run it at high at 60fps it would give a much better game experience again performance is key.

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  6. There should be an option to change direct x like some game I played like mount and blade warband.You should be able to which between direct x 7, 8, 9, and 11.

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  7. The reworked image above looks a lot better! It looks a lot more HDR. I like it.

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  8. The reworked image does look much better.

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  9. Lee there is a very easy solution to improve the FPSCR visuals quickly.

    You need to add better post processing support so users can just go ahead and use sliders to change the saturation, hue, gamma, RGB, contrast etc within a test game and export those settings into a built game. We also need to be able to script with this.

    For me the 2 main things lacking with Reloaded graphics is lighting which is still in the FPSC Classic dark ages (except for the shadows) and shader support. It really adds a lot if you have touches like Depth of Field when aiming a gun and such.

    The core lighting needs to be improved then artists need to able to use post processing shaders to alter the scene as they wish. This is what allows unique looking games and games which need a moody atmosphere etc. The Reloaded look is just too generic at the moment.

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    1. I don't like DoF when aiming at all, so I hope that's an option at the user end.

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  10. I think the demo was good, but I did have it freeze on me in the middle and I couldn't complete it, but that was with an earlier version than the release so I don't know if it happens on the release. Anyway, I look at demos like The Escape and they aren't game demos in my opinion. Running around shooting things up with the end goal just being to get to the end of the level isn't a game as far as I'm concerned. You really need to create a demo with a full story-line, goals throughout the level, and a clear end goal as well. It should take you through various stages along the way and have more than just constantly fighting the next set of bad guys. I think once the contest winners have entries done then we will be able to showcase what's possible with reloaded as a game making tool. No offense intended and I hope none taken. Keep up the great work on improving the core engine.

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  11. The "brighter, crisper" example is a GO! The game demo should either be referred to as "Escape demo" period or removed for now. Presenting it as a finished game only opens the flood gates of -" I want this or I want that or you should look at this...." We all want this and we all want that but - not yet. If the decision was mine (As king) I would direct that time be spent on improving the manipulation of terrain elements,
    shaders, FPS at Min of 60 and entity placement.

    My personally think the demo was instructional and showed good character interaction I never once thought it was meant to indicate Reloaded had reached its goal if being a complete game making tool. TGC needs to set the goals to reflect their mission statement. Our input is valid but the directional goals should come from you and your organization.
    Hang in there ...

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  12. Brighter and Crispier it is. Post process contrast and brightness will be added to next build :)

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  13. Well, as far a a demo goes it is okay. As said performance is the biggest issue I think. If, as most gamers will do, they compare the look of The Escape with other games, they will notice it does look more basic than most commercial offerings. That in itself wouldn't put people off Reloaded I think (or not many), but combine that with the fact it runs so slowly, even on lowest settings and people will moan, and indeed have.
    I noticed several people commenting that they can make more impressive things in Classic. Well, I've seen some nice stuff on Classic, but I don't think I've seen anything that beats reloaded as yet, bar the fact that it has more stuff you can do in comparison. The AI in classic was never great, and even now Reloaded's seems on it's way to being a lot better.
    We need more speed for FULL, large levels, or we need multi level support so we can get levels made that work with smaller scenes and switch between them. Although that would take away from the open world system a little of course, but would give us options. Many games use tricks to keep speed up and look amazing, at the moment we are all trying to actually MAKE the world we see, so you can spot something and walk across the map to it. Many games do not allow this and have restricted areas so backdrops can be replaced with planes, or even a smaller skybox, or simply fog.
    The speed is certainly improving with each release, but with any version once we get object heavy and the poly count/draw calls go up it can get really soupy. For instance in my latest project at points I can see a poly count of over 800,000. That seems excessive still to me, occlusion does not seem to have ever affected this so far. I'm not sure how many polys the top expensive engines can throw about, but I would imagine they try to keep scenes down from that sort of count!
    Personally, if it ran well for everyone, I'm sure most interested game makers would be interested. I don't think they would be too worried about a great story etc. You just have to show the potential that it is possible, and that they could make it themselves.

    Considering you are not an artist you managed to give the level a nice Wizard of OZ feel in the pictures there!

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  14. Second screenshot looks better for the bright desert setting, mid-day sun. The first one looks like it is dusk, starting to get dark. Maybe the lighting changes could be used for a day/night cycle.

    Also I would say there are too many perfect straight line edges both vertically with the walls and buildings but also the ground texture. The ground to wall edge shouldn't look so hard and fake, maybe some grass or dirt ground texture running along the bottom of the walls and the other entities. I haven't pledged yet so I don't know if the ground texture can be finely detailed in the editor but it would make a difference I think.

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    1. Here's a good example screenshot to show what I am talking about. Notice how you can't see the bottoms of the walls, no hard lines. It's broken up with uneven natural looking mounds and other details. Also there are no perfectly straight ground to top vertical line.

      http://cdn.akamai.steamstatic.com/steam/apps/730/ss_ccc4ce6edd4c454b6ce7b0757e633b63aa93921d.1920x1080.jpg?t=1404760172

      Obviously in the desert setting it the mounds would be sand and maybe some stone or grass but still not so straight and perfect.

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  15. I agree that the second improved screen shot image is far better as a default. Of course as always flexibility is the key and so user ability to alter the scene to suit their game, time of day, mood, atmosphere and so on as we already have to some extent in various settings is really helpful and the addition of post process brightness and contrast will make things even better presuming they wont be fixed and hard coded at specific settings range and will be user changeable.

    I also agree with most of the other comments here many of which are very helpful and valid. The users certainly know what is needed and two heads as it were are better than one - sometimes at least :-)

    I hope TGC wont take any recent critisism, harsh feedback and or comments to heart as meant in an offensive way as users are only trying to help and it seems to work with Reloaded improving as it goes given selective implementation of users suggestions where appropriate.

    As to the Demo personally I can appreciate it is what it is but from the point of view of being the definitive public face of the product as a promotional item as it were I think it could certainly do with being a better Demo and there are again some good suggestions here as to some things that could be consider in improving a product Demo over time. Whatever point being any Demo should contain the very best examples of all of the elements included in the product at any stage and any Demo updated regularly to keep up with development adding new features to it as they are added to the engine so its always up to date with where the product standing is. If a Demo is necessary for commercial reasons and as a promotional item now then keep it, if its not necessary then don't and wait until Reloaded and any Demo can show the product in a better light by making a much better Demo to showcase what after all is a game maker defined by stated vision and other statements to be better than what the Demo actually shows. I think TGC have to decide given their internal understanding of all things if the current Demo will do more harm than good as we cant really make such assessment.

    Keep up the good work everyone.

    Looking forward to V1.08 now and then the new post processing as herein to follow.

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  16. I might have to take credit for the brightness/contrast/saturation feature ;)

    Making it LUA scriptable would be fantastic. I remember for FPSC Bond1 (or someone) created that adaptive bloom shader that changed the bloom levels depending on what you looked at - in a lot of modern games hue and saturation levels change drastically as you move through levels, indoors and outdoors and even into seperate rooms.

    But yes, cranking up the brightness and the contrast makes the game look 100% better instantly.

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    1. Also, a good video to watch on the subject of radiosity rendering is this one:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8730SR1POk

      Here the rendering is done in real-time, which probably would (and should) be beyond the abilities of FPSCR, but it gives a good idea of the merits of lighting scenes with that method where the radiosity is pre-baked.

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  17. The 2nd screenshot is a lot more inviting.

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  18. Its a long road,we will get there.

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  19. I'm personally really hanging out for the construction kit, because at the moment I am having no luck importing third-party models into the engine. I would love to see an update on how the conkit is coming along.

    Which brings me to my second point. TGC really needs to move on from just using .X files. At the least, could we also use .OBJ files, if even just for static objects?

    Thirdly, and I've seen it mentioned a few times, we need to be able to use a LOT more textures on the terrain. I want to be able to create terrains similar to how Blizzard texture theirs.

    Finally, I just want to say that I appreciate all the hard work the TGC guys are doing. I know how easy it is do be knocked down from negative comments/critisms. I have faith that FPSCR will improve significantly over the next few months. =)

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    1. Its not too hard to import models into Reloaded. You could just use blender to open your files and get an X exporter plugin.

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    2. Most of my third-party models use multiple textures which just don't work in .X. I've followed all the methods described in the forums, using Blender, Milkshape etc. etc.; leaving the "Textured =" field blank in the FPE and it still doesn't work.

      This is the reason I'm waiting on the conkit, so I can at least build some of the static objects myself without having to mess around with UV unwrapping (of which I really really suck! lol).

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  20. In my opinion it was a bit too early to release a tech demo for Reloaded as a tech demo should demonstrate the "power" and capabilities of an engine but really, The Escape show nothing interesting or engaging feature. The level design is not that great, the textures and buildings are not very detailed the shaders looks good though. The AI very basic, the weapons feels not real especially the rocket launcher. It a joke, and the performance is poor. When 5 enemy is about to attack me at the same time, the FPS dropped dramatically.

    I don't know if you should remove the demo or not, but you definitely have to release an other tech demo when the engine is complete and you can release something that more closer to a AAA title in terms of graphics, performance, gameplay and level design. The demo also don't have to be a traditional get from point A to point B, you can be a bit more creative. For example in Shiva3D tech demo (The Hunt) we have to survive waves of zombies as long as we can, after every waves we get a new weapon and we have an online leaderbord too:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UCgMCupq_x0
    In the old FPS example of Unity3D 1.x (I can't find it) we had to fight a huge robot, basically a boss fight which was impressed me at the time.

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  21. I asked my 19 year old son to check out the game, and he wasn't impressed at all. He didn't even understand that it was an engine he was demo-ing, not a game. And I think that is your biggest obstacle in demo-ing at this stage of development. Unless you're a pledger, you won't appreciate what it is you are looking at.

    Regarding the two images above, it should come as no surprise that the 2nd looks better.

    I think you need to hold off on doing much more until you decide what it is your engine is going to be able to do. My opinion is that if you are showing off the engine at this stage, then you must be thinking that it is starting to look polished enough to be considered Beta (or late alpha) and you want positive feedback because you are proud of what you have achieved. Well, so you should be.

    Unfortunately though, my view is that if the engine is now just going to be polished from here, then I don't think you will hit the target. You need to make big changes to how the terrain looks, how it is built, and what the engine can do in the way of realtime weather, realtime deformation, realtime lighting changes (think lightning at night), moving water, caves, roads, bridges (that work) and the construction kit.

    People need to be able to add items to their map even if they can't afford 3DS Max. Mapping tools need to randomise as they go. You need to be able to set a theme. Jungle, Ice, Meadow, Desert, Urban.
    If you draw ground with Meadow theme chosen, you would expect random flowers to be added along with the grass.
    If drawing ground with desert theme, you would expect the occasional tumble weed or tufts of grass.
    When using urban theme, pieces of trash or potholes or splotches of oil should be placed randomly.

    The sky needs a real moving sun (and/or moon).

    You need to be able to set each character as one of the following:
    Ally (Actively protects you)
    Friend (Helps you)
    Ignorant (Ignores you)
    Enemy (Attacks you)
    Enemy of my friend (Attacks your friend, but leaves you alone)
    Friend of my enemy (Helps your enemy, but ignores you unless you help your friend)

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  22. Possibly one problem is the textures are not high enough res? Maybe? Every texture (except for small items, possibly) should be at least 512x512. I don't know what res they are, though.

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