Author Topic: Back from the dead. ;)  (Read 970 times)

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Administrator
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,082
Back from the dead. ;)
« on: September 11, 2016, 10:25:33 AM »
Hey folks,

I kinda crashed out yesterday during the time I had planned to get some work done.  Most of the time I spent with my wife and son, but during his nap and later in the evening I'd been planning on working.  Slept instead, which was probably for the best.  I've been burning it pretty hard.

This whole process is so much fun and is exhilarating with everyone being so excited about what is going on and so helpful in figuring things out quickly, but it's also mentally exhausting.  There's the ever-present anxiety of not getting things done in a timely-enough fashion to launch the kickstarter before the last of the existing funds leaks out of the bathtub so to speak, etc.  We're not rushing anything, but trying to find the middle ground between being fast and being both faithful to the existing game while fresh is... well, that part can be stressful.

Obviously I'm super behind on the graphical load tester thing.  Blue and I have had some long talks about a number of things relating more to far zoom mode, trying to figure out a balance between performance and clarity there.  I think that we may wind up using something approaching my prior graphics pipeline that I created that's used in Starward Rogue for that layer of the game, but we'll see.  That would be a triple-hybrid graphical pipeline for the game (a version of my own dynamic batching for sprites layer, the unity gui for that part, and then a more traditional unity layer for 3D), but ultimately I think that will help us to get the best performance at all layers.  We shall see.

With Release Raptor, I spent a couple of months just focused on performance at all levels, from physics to simulation to graphics.  I want to do that same thing here, and I will have PLENTY of time to do so if the kickstarter succeeds, since those areas plus general gui functionality will be my main programming focus on this project.  But I guess my stress comes from trying to show you something that is representative of what the final graphics will look like, but without giving you "bullshots" of things that look too good to be practical in the end.

Ultimately there might be quite a few gradations to what we do in general, I'm not sure.  Basically some "cinematic" modes where you can see some (comparably) super detailed stuff and record what is happening, but it's not remotely at that detail most of the time.  I think that would be fun for times when you've already basically set up your ships in such a way that they are just blowing the enemy to bits, and you want to watch that happen "from the trenches."  That seems like a really satisfying place to watch from, and nice and immersive.  With that sort of approach I'd have a pretty huge "budget" in terms of GPU power in particular, because I can use all sorts of tricks to make that scale as needed for your hardware.

That stuff has been weighing a lot on my mind more than anything to do with the actual gameplay, to be honest, because in order to do a compelling kickstarter video I need to have some "flash in the pan" exciting graphics that show what a difference this is from the prior game.  I'm just so worried about giving something misleading by accident, though... or on the other end not really stretching our legs enough (so to speak) and showing the sort of thing that we can REALLY do if given a proper GPU budget for those cinematic moments.

I guess one way to handle that would be to design some of those things as cutscenes that are definitely 100% in the game either way you cut it, but are on the main menu basically.  So it's realtime graphics and we get to show off what we can do when we fully open the throttle up, so to speak.  And you get to see that sort of thing in the game itself in the form of cutscenes for things like story and end-of-campaign stuff (that will be such a huge improvement in general, too, eh?  Compared to "you win" in a really cruddy font).

Anyhow, I am alive and am going to be back working on the design document again. :)
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline Cyborg

  • Master Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,921
Re: Back from the dead. ;)
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2016, 11:19:30 AM »
I think you could potentially open up the throttle on specific events that don't involve thousands of ships. Recognizable events, such as the Dyson sphere. Or the avenger.

I understand your concern though, not being able to show the appropriate battle without first having gotten into the weeds of programming the game. Better not to oversell.  But what you can do is compare old footage to new footage, show recognizable events, maybe some spire units… get the nostalgia going with some explosions, and that would probably be okay. Or even,  something with a little bit more emotion, such as a relatively calm home planet. And then,  the wormholes start flooding in AI units. Show the destruction of the home planet. End with a heroic silver lining, you are the fleet commander.

What I mean to say is, you need a script if you don't have a full game program yet.
Kahuna strategy guide:
http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,13369.0.html

Suggestions, bugs? Don't be lazy, give back:
http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/

Planetcracker. Believe it.

The stigma of hunger. http://wayw.re/Vi12BK

Offline Draco18s

  • Resident Velociraptor
  • Core Member Mark V
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,058
Re: Back from the dead. ;)
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2016, 11:22:23 AM »
Show the destruction of the home planet. End with a heroic silver lining, you are the fleet commander.

"...and then spawn the avenger."

(Or that was my initial response, re-reading to trim down the quote made me realize you were talking about a human homeworld)

Offline Misery

  • Global Moderator
  • Core Member Mark V
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,099
Re: Back from the dead. ;)
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2016, 11:56:13 AM »
Ultimately there might be quite a few gradations to what we do in general, I'm not sure.  Basically some "cinematic" modes where you can see some (comparably) super detailed stuff and record what is happening, but it's not remotely at that detail most of the time.  I think that would be fun for times when you've already basically set up your ships in such a way that they are just blowing the enemy to bits, and you want to watch that happen "from the trenches."  That seems like a really satisfying place to watch from, and nice and immersive.  With that sort of approach I'd have a pretty huge "budget" in terms of GPU power in particular, because I can use all sorts of tricks to make that scale as needed for your hardware.

I'll just say that this sounds pretty awesome.  I'm normally not one to focus on visuals, but one way or another, part of the satisfaction of the first game is watching huge piles of ships smash each other and seeing your own fleet victorious in that particular battle as a result of your planning.  Even in fully zoomed out mode this is entertaining, if you can show it in a more close-up fashion that'd probably be pretty darned neat.

Is there a particular timeframe as for when the kickstarter will begin?   May have been answered already but I cant keep up with everything flying around the forum currently, ugh. 

Offline Captain Jack

  • Hero Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 808
  • Just lucky
Re: Back from the dead. ;)
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2016, 02:05:26 PM »
That stuff has been weighing a lot on my mind more than anything to do with the actual gameplay, to be honest, because in order to do a compelling kickstarter video I need to have some "flash in the pan" exciting graphics that show what a difference this is from the prior game.
I... don't think so, Chris. The most important thing to make a compelling Kickstarter video is YOU. You are Arcen's best spokesman and the way to sell the internet on AI War 2 is by sharing why you're excited about it. The updated graphics are part of that! But don't think they're the biggest part.

And you get to see that sort of thing in the game itself in the form of cutscenes for things like story and end-of-campaign stuff (that will be such a huge improvement in general, too, eh?  Compared to "you win" in a really cruddy font).
Does this mean... ending screens?! Hooray!

...Cutscenes? Eh yeah those can be cool.

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Administrator
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,082
Re: Back from the dead. ;)
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2016, 03:41:46 PM »
Cheers guys.  It's a good point on some recognizable bits in particular getting some effort.

And yeah, certain special things will get an unusually high polygon budget, like the dyson spheres for sure.  I imagine that we'll use LODs for that to make it reasonable in far zoom, etc.

The tricky stuff is that Keith has actually coded quite a bit of the game already (in terms of the lowest-level mechanics) including things like multiplayer, the new multithreading, the modding, and so on.  But we've not gotten into any GUI coding yet, and all my graphics coding is in a completely separate project from his right now.  The effort to bring those together isn't exactly intense, but it's a week or so of work I'd say.

The timeframe for launching the kickstarter is basically before the end of September.  But I am _aiming_ for sooner rather than later, so that hopefully as that schedule slips it still winds up within the window. ;)  So I'm feeling stress as if the due date was half a week from now, when really I have 2.5 weeks.  That bit isn't healthy, but at least I'm properly homed in on the aggressive deadline to thus allow for slippage.

As for selling the game, I agree that flashy graphics aren't the biggest selling point, but it's one of those immediate "do I watch more or do I stop watching" moments in the kickstarter video, and certainly on the kickstarter page.

I've been feeling really stuck today, despite the fact that I'm pleased with what happened with the 7.c. triangle design section, so I'm going to just work on graphics some since that's been a hangup for me.  Having some of that more prepped will help me calm down.

A big part of kickstarters is people being able to SEE something, and thus get excited about that.
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!