Author Topic: Shadows, Traps, and Particles, Oh My!  (Read 5912 times)

Offline Zhaine

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Re: Shadows, Traps, and Particles, Oh My!
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2011, 02:19:24 PM »
Looking good, congratulation on the level of progress  :)

Will XP and health be 'bars' rather than the current placeholder text. I think it's always better to be able to see the level of health at a glance rather than having to read X / Y (especially as this looks like quite a fast paced game). And I also love seeing XP creep up towards that next level rather than it being some abstract number.

No mouse support is the first thing that's made me a little sad, but then I am very much a PC-only gamer, and it remains to be seen from actual play whether this is something I'll miss or not. Tab targeting for spells does sound good. . .

More random questions, feel free to ignore:

How is the camera working now? Does it move as soon as the player does? I can see this is being steadily tinkered with in order to get the right feel.

Will you be able to set of your own traps if you're not careful?

As always, thanks for sharing, can't wait to get my hands on this!

Offline BobTheJanitor

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Re: Shadows, Traps, and Particles, Oh My!
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2011, 02:37:51 PM »
Wait, "points of interest?"  Does that mean this game will have places awesome in some way, and you get experience points just for managing to find them?   Because I like games that truly reward searching every nook and cranny.  Few games these days do.

I love this idea. Some massively popular MMORPG (which shall remain nameless) gives you a pittance of XP for uncovering an area of the map you have never seen before. While this is fun, it really has no bearing on the game since the amount of XP you get really isn't enough to have any effect. If there were special out-of-the-way locations that gave an extra XP boost for discovering them, that would really be a neat mechanic.

Unrelated, I also noticed one of the new screenshots actually has a shadow stretching across the sky. Not to harp on it, but I just want to be sure someone's aware that the shadows are acting a little wonky right now.

Offline x4000

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Re: Shadows, Traps, and Particles, Oh My!
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2011, 02:48:21 PM »
Nope, that's how many EXP was remaining.  So it's new in 15 EXP points.  The exp is gained solely from actions you take in game: finding "points of interest," killing monsters, completing little jobs, and doing other things like that.
Wait, "points of interest?"  Does that mean this game will have places awesome in some way, and you get experience points just for managing to find them?   Because I like games that truly reward searching every nook and cranny.  Few games these days do.

Well, having awesome vistas and interesting places is a major goal of the procedural generation overall, but that's not really related to the POI system.

The POI system is relating to how much you've explored a given region.  Rather than tracking your explored-percentage as a "fog of war" type effect that is very precise, it's just got a few POIs scattered around the chunk and when you get near them they get activated, given you an EXP boost and increasing your explored-percentage.  The fow-based approach is annoying because it's so precise: sometimes you can wind up at 99% explored in an area in some games, and finding that 1% remaining is like looking for a needle in a haystack.  We wanted to keep it a lot simpler and more flexible.

The idea, though, is that the POIs are related to other features of the map in some way, stuff that is notable at least in a minor sense: clusters of buildings, a little junk pile, an old campfire, whatever.  Lots and lots of possibilities, of course. 

This is one way that you can level up while avoiding combat partly or completely, and just exploring the game and dodging enemies, for example.  It also provides at least some reward to exploring around, even if you don't find the materials or treasure you were hoping for.  It's also in some cases going to be related to erecting wind shelters on a region tile on the world map, I think. 

The game is very exploration-focused, and the POI system is one subsystem among several that ties in with that.
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Offline x4000

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Re: Shadows, Traps, and Particles, Oh My!
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2011, 02:51:28 PM »
Unrelated, I also noticed one of the new screenshots actually has a shadow stretching across the sky. Not to harp on it, but I just want to be sure someone's aware that the shadows are acting a little wonky right now.

Hmm, I didn't see that screenshot, I'd meant not to include any that did that.  But the shadows are actually working perfectly fine, they are 100% done.  We just can't have things that cast shadows too near to the sky.  You mentioned that they cross buildings and other stuff a bit oddly at times: that's also unavoidable, as these are not literally shadows (this isn't a 3D game).  So we can't  do shadows that bend or do other crazy effects. 

This was, in fact, my original argument for not including any shadows in the game at all, but all the artists that are fans ganged up on me and assured me how the slight wonkiness wouldn't bug people as much as having no shadows at all.  I decided that they were right.  But, the wonkiness isn't going anywhere, those shadow effects are final. :/
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Offline x4000

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Re: Shadows, Traps, and Particles, Oh My!
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2011, 02:58:30 PM »
Looking good, congratulation on the level of progress  :)

Thanks!

Will XP and health be 'bars' rather than the current placeholder text. I think it's always better to be able to see the level of health at a glance rather than having to read X / Y (especially as this looks like quite a fast paced game). And I also love seeing XP creep up towards that next level rather than it being some abstract number.

I haven't fully decided yet.  To some extent, some abstract bar is kind of unhelpful too, because you can't tell your relative health.  But doing a bar would probably show a lot better and be a lot easier to understand, for both this and the exp.  I'll have to experiment with it and see, but I think that's a good idea.  If someone winds up wanting the numbers, they can always look at the character stats page, or if they need it in the HUD we could make an option for that.

No mouse support is the first thing that's made me a little sad, but then I am very much a PC-only gamer, and it remains to be seen from actual play whether this is something I'll miss or not. Tab targeting for spells does sound good. . .

I grew up playing games like Demon Stalkers on the PC.  You don't need a mouse to be a PC gamer, unless that game is in 3D with head control.  I really dislike games like Diablo where you are just ordering your guy around by clicking, it feels very disconnected to me.  Granted, that's what is awesome for RTS games and other strategy games, but when I'm one character I don't like issuing disonnected orders, and that's basically all the mouse is good for in my experience with that sort of thing. 

Of course, you could use it for moving and then firing spells, but then you only have one or two buttons, yadda yadda yadda. ;)

How is the camera working now? Does it move as soon as the player does? I can see this is being steadily tinkered with in order to get the right feel.

It moves when you do, at about twice the speed you move until it gets suitably far ahead of you, and then it moves with your speed.  That way it winds up leading you most of the time, but it doesn't flip around crazily when you're changing directions a lot.

Will you be able to set of your own traps if you're not careful?

Yes, it is super easy to do that, actually.  If you press the button for a trap as you are running, you wind up stepping in it instantly.  Don't do that! Heh. :)

As always, thanks for sharing, can't wait to get my hands on this!

Sure thing!
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Offline BobTheJanitor

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Re: Shadows, Traps, and Particles, Oh My!
« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2011, 03:19:43 PM »
This was, in fact, my original argument for not including any shadows in the game at all, but all the artists that are fans ganged up on me and assured me how the slight wonkiness wouldn't bug people as much as having no shadows at all.  I decided that they were right.  But, the wonkiness isn't going anywhere, those shadow effects are final. :/

Of course I have no clue about the complexity of getting it into the game, but being an ignorant onlooker I have to ask, couldn't the shadows be put on their own layer, and then that layer be put above the ground layer but below everything else? Sure you'll still have shadows continue 'underneath' buildings, but it would look better than having them overlay the top of buildings. If this is one of those technically incredibly difficult things that I just don't understand, please don't hit me.  :-X

Offline x4000

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Re: Shadows, Traps, and Particles, Oh My!
« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2011, 03:28:29 PM »
That could be done, but it would largely destroy the point of having the shadows at all, because they would be invisbile under... pretty much everything.  Even the grass, etc, is all done in a pseudo-3D fashion with the other things like buildings, etc.  There's nowhere better to slot the shadows than what we're doing, I'm pretty sure, and a big feature of having shadows is making it so that the player, etc, show up under them when you are in them.

This is a pseudo-perspective, it has to be emphasized.  It's not true 3D, any more than any other top-down 2D game is.  That's an important note, because in all these games that means that something is always slightly to majorly wonky.  It's literally impossible to get rid of all those sorts of wonky things without moving to true 3D (which has a host of other drawbacks).  This is okay, though, because human eyes and minds are built to find recognition and patterns in things that look slightly off.

Anyway, so the challenge becomes not "remove all wonkiness," but "choose the wonkiness that gives you the highest-fidelity, most-descriptive, most-pleasing result."  When it comes to shadows, I think this is pretty much the sweet spot on that scale.
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Offline getter77

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Re: Shadows, Traps, and Particles, Oh My!
« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2011, 09:40:11 PM »
Congrats on the robust slate of progress indeed.

Random question:  Did the recent Unity 3.2 update happen to result in any particular AVWW-centric elation with the team or was it just a bunch of generally "thumbs-up" improvements that makes everything roll a bit better?  Unless I've completely lost the thread on it all and AVWW is using something other than Unity....   :P
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Offline Teal_Blue

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Re: Shadows, Traps, and Particles, Oh My!
« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2011, 12:40:53 AM »
Just saw the new video Twice! and it is Very, Very, Very Cool!!

The shadows look amazing!! And make everything look even more realistic than before, very 3 dimensional, though i am sure it is just a trick of the eye, it is still a very, very nice effect. You have done a really, really good job on this.

I like the light on one side of the buildings and the shadows on the other, or the tree shadows along the ground from trees you can't see yet. Even the sloping shadows of one junkyard container that overlaps the other, it makes it look very realistic.

And i am guessing it might be possible to see an enemy coming at you before you see them, just from their shadow. Terrific Work!! And Beautifully done. :)  Am looking forward to new progress as you and Keith move forward. Very Nice Effort!  :)

AVWW is looking Fantastic!!

:)

-Teal

p.s. Oh i almost forgot! The different kinds of crafting you spoke a few posts back really has me intrigued. Am looking forward to that alot. Someone also mentioned spouses and pets, which also sounds like a wonderful thing to add to make the story seem even more real, but will wait and see in beta if it still is possible. But wanted to put my vote for it, if you do decide to do it.  :)

« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 12:44:34 AM by Teal_Blue »

Offline mlaskus

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Re: Shadows, Traps, and Particles, Oh My!
« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2011, 03:50:37 AM »
Hmm, I guess you are getting a bit fed up with all the talk about the shadows already, but bear with me for a minute.

Have you thought about making the shadows a bit shorter? The sun seems to be very low in the video.
This seems like the simplest way to minimize the amount of wonkiness in the scene. If the shadows are short, the problem of them overlaying over objects in a jarring way becomes less common.

How about separating the objects into two layers, tall and short(mostly grass), and use them when applying shadows?
As in, if a shadow falls on a short object, you leave it as is.
When it falls on a tall object, you split the shadow into two parts, the intersection and the rest.
You leave anything but the intersection as is, and apply a reverse transformation to the intersection, making it vertical again.
Oh and there is a convenient restriction to be applied here, only intersections that include the bottom of the object have to be transformed like this. Otherwise, the shadow falls behind the object, so it simply gets layered below.

Effectively, the shadow is a middle layer with the exception of shadows intersecting the bottom of tall objects.

EDIT: A small improvement, when you have a valid intersection, you check the how tall it plus the top of the shadow would be after applying reverse transformation to them.(which is simply length from the bottom of the intersection to the top of the shadow times a constant value)
Now, compare it to the height of the object. If the shadow is taller, you only transform the intersection. If the object is taller you transform the intersection and the top of the shadow.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 04:07:01 AM by mlaskus »

Offline yllamana

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Re: Shadows, Traps, and Particles, Oh My!
« Reply #25 on: February 19, 2011, 05:46:57 AM »
Clearly you need a 2d height map for all your objects that you can use to do realistic per-pixel shadows despite having 2d object graphics.

*ducks*  ;)

I'm looking forwards to seeing it live. :)

Offline x4000

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Re: Shadows, Traps, and Particles, Oh My!
« Reply #26 on: February 19, 2011, 09:56:11 AM »
Thanks, all!  To the questions/comments:

- Unity 3.2 looks fairly interesting, but we haven't upgraded to it yet.  Past experience has taught us to wait just a bit when we are in a position to do so to avoid potential new bugs coming from the engine.  It seemed like a lot of the biggest improvements were for the mobile platforms, but things that were of relevance:
-- Having a newer version of FMOD and better sound playback efficiency sounds quite nice, though it's not something that's been a big problem for us.  The streaming improvement on www.audioClip is particularly nice, as we use that for all sound and music playback.
-- The new debugger/profiler stuff could be interesting, although the debugger nor the profiler tends to work with our games because we have "too much" code.  Since they store all their profiling data in memory in the same process as the game, which is a terrible way to do it.  Perhaps this will actually let us use the profiler, we'll see.
-- Some of the editor crash fixes sound nice, though we've mostly learned to work around them.
-- There are some rendering performance optimizations that aren't just related to OpenGL ES, so that could be quite nice actually.
-- The ability to disable log files, and thus have compatibility with the Mac App Store, is wonderful.  Waiting to see if Apple rejects things for any other reason, though.
-- It's actually really annoying that they added a watermark to development builds on standalone, but we can work around it.
-- Their "other fixes" section has a number of other fixes to things that we haven't really run into, but which sound like they might fix things customers of ours could run into.
-- Beyond that, there's not a lot, because we don't use Unity's physics, networking, gameobjects, editor-for-anything-but-compiling-and-editing-the-GUI, IDE, 3D shaders (we use our own), or 3D assets (water, trees, any of that).  So there's quite a lot there that's exciting to many Unity developers, but not so much to us, heh.

- Glad the crafting and such sounds interesting!

- In terms of sorting shadows into layers, note that short stuff doesn't have shadows.  Grass, bushes, and so forth don't cast shadows at all.  Those are what we refer to as "doodads" in the game.  The larger "game entities" all cast shadows, though.

- In terms of making the shadows shorter, that certainly would make them less dramatic, and mildly pointless since they would tend to be too close behind their object except in the case of something like trees.  If we're going to have shadows, they're going to be flipping dramatic. ;)

- Note that "splitting shadows" and "detecting the intersection" are ridiculously impossible to do in a realtime context.  We can't chop up images or detect per-pixel image collisions in a realtime sense.  And even if we precaclulated it, the hit to memory would be absolutely astronomical.  As in, hundreds of megs of memory.  I appreciate that the approach could work in a non-realtime renderer, but there are very good reasons why there is a lot of stuff that is possible in Photoshop isn't possible here.

EDIT: And note I do appreciate the suggestions on the shadows, that probably came out sounding way harsher than I meant it.  It's just extremely out of bounds of what can be done in a raster environment.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 09:58:08 AM by x4000 »
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Offline Ozymandiaz

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Re: Shadows, Traps, and Particles, Oh My!
« Reply #27 on: February 20, 2011, 11:46:50 AM »
Looking forward to getting my hands on this more and more ;)
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Offline Zhaine

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Re: Shadows, Traps, and Particles, Oh My!
« Reply #28 on: February 21, 2011, 01:55:28 PM »
Quote
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No mouse support is the first thing that's made me a little sad, but then I am very much a PC-only gamer, and it remains to be seen from actual play whether this is something I'll miss or not. Tab targeting for spells does sound good. . .

I grew up playing games like Demon Stalkers on the PC.  You don't need a mouse to be a PC gamer, unless that game is in 3D with head control.  I really dislike games like Diablo where you are just ordering your guy around by clicking, it feels very disconnected to me.  Granted, that's what is awesome for RTS games and other strategy games, but when I'm one character I don't like issuing disonnected orders, and that's basically all the mouse is good for in my experience with that sort of thing.

Of course, you could use it for moving and then firing spells, but then you only have one or two buttons, yadda yadda yadda. Wink

You're right of course, PC doesn't automatically mean mouse, I just meant I don't have the NES/SNES background of many people here (but phrased it very badly).

I just don't like the idea of navigating an inventory or other bits of the interface without my trusty mouse, especially if I'm doing lots of things like crafting and trading (is there trading?). But I hasten to add this is just my first impression on hearing about no mouse support, I don't want to push the issue or get into a big debate until I've actually had used the thing myself, and if you say that it's the right way to go and the interface will work perfectly well and intuitively without a mouse then I'm more than happy to reserve judgment until I can play :)

Offline x4000

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Re: Shadows, Traps, and Particles, Oh My!
« Reply #29 on: February 21, 2011, 02:14:57 PM »
All good. :)
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