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Default The Escapist - Death to Good Graphics

May 26th, 2009, 11:03
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
The point is that in the average AAA production - and not Assassin's Creed because that's an extreme in terms of character modeling - the time it takes to do a model isn't NECESSARILY longer, and one thing to consider is that doing Quake-level models today would be lightning fast, not just because of hardware but also because of the tools available. THAT's what technology does. They could make a much more complex model in the same amount of time as they spent - back then - doing the Quake models. Those models weren't trivial and took a LOT of time, and though mr. ninja likes to pretend that the time it takes to render a complex model with textures doesn't speed up the process, it actually helps a lot when you're doing day-to-day work. Being able to see results faster makes the whole process faster, naturally.
This is what I don't understand. You apparently know something about graphics/modeling creation, so why do you continue to ignore that fact that unless you're stealing/copy'n'pasting other people's work then you HAVE to start from scratch when you make your models? It is true that the technology of today can render models 10 times faster than it could a few years ago but in the meantime the models have become 100 times more complex so you still end up spending 10 times longer on your models than you did before.

Another thing is that the placeholder and the object goes hand in hand, meaning that putting a Quake 2 model into the Quake 2 engine is fine but putting a Quake 2 model into the Unreal 3 engine will look completely out of place. The models have to fit the engine. I'm not saying that everyone should strive to match or even outdo Assassin's Creed, because it is indeed in the extreme, but if the engine is build to handle complex models, lighting effects and realistic physics, then you have to use some kind of complex models, lighting effects and realistic physics or you'll "break the mold" so to speak.

Then there is the problem with content, and I'm not talking about the length of the game or the story/quest elements here, but simple graphical content. If you remember the good old Return to Castle Wolfenstein by Raven in the Quake 3 engine, there is a level where you move trough a mountain village but indoors and outdoors. Inside these nice bavarian cottages the rooms a nicely decorated with bookcases, beds, dining tables etc. The bookcase is one single model, the wooden frame, the books, the whole shebang. One model, because the Quake 3 engine didn't really have realistic physics in it and certainly not for environmental objects.

Enter a similar house in any Oblivion town and not only is there around 10 times more furnishings and details in the decorations but now the bookcase is one model for the wooden frame and one model for each of the books. In RtCW the level designer placed the bookcase in the room and Bob's your uncle. In Oblivion, each item had to be placed in the room and even though some of these routines, like choosing the actual books, were no doubt computerized, there was still a LOT more manual labor involved in creating a single town in Oblivion than the entire graphical leveldesign of the Return to Castle Wolfenstein game.

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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May 26th, 2009, 11:29
Since I feel this is taking up too much time, basically repeating the same points over and over again - I'll try to give a very simple explanation and then I'm going to have to move on. Yeah, I've worked with 3D studio - making some models (like wooden furniture, with animated drawers, HURRAY!) and I've studied 3D modeling on a strictly amateur level. I don't pretend to be good at it, and I'm NOT. I really don't know anything BEYOND the basics. That's why I like to focus on the basics, because when my knowledge is relatively secure - I really don't have to know more.

Also, when you've worked in a field for many years - you tend to forget that things can actually be done in many ways - and not exclusively like it's done at your workplace or how it's standard in the industry.

My personal "field of professional knowledge" is IT - as in IT-support. That means I know all kinds of crap about hardware and software, and how they interact. But even with all these years of dealing with that, there are things that I forget and sometimes those things are the most basic. It's about being human.

Anyway, to my point. Using your arbitrary numbers.

Yes, you're right the models are not 10 times more complex today, they're 100 times more complex. THAT's the problem.

That's also the reality of the business.

My point is this:

Since hardware and tools only result in 10 times the detail in the same amount of time - here's my CRAZY idea:

Why not JUST make the model 10 times more detailed - and NOT 100 times more detailed.

Now, I don't want to go into the process of converting a fully detailed model to whatever the graphics engine is capable of rendering, and I don't want to get into the whole "Doom 3" approach of actually reducing poly-count and mesh detail - and instead make superior models using texture/lighting related tricks.

Just try to focus on my very simple point, because that's all we can do if we're to have any hope of understanding each other.

So, let's say 10 people are doing models using this revolutionary thought process, and the remaining 90 people could be doing something entirely different with their time - like developing an actually interesting game.

But you'd have to get all the marketing people to make the casual audience "get" that deep gameplay and challenging stories are COOL. That's gonna be the real challenge. They haven't succeeded in Hollywood in all these years, and it's still movies like Spiderman 3, Transformers, and Star Trek that make it big - in most cases.

I'd just love for it to change, but I'm not expecting anything - nor do I think I have a right to demand it. I'm just bitching about it, that's all.
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May 26th, 2009, 12:57
Originally Posted by tolknaz View Post
You do realize that on the topic of how videogames or polygons work you are basically a polar bear trying to teach a chicken how to lay eggs, right? The guy develops his own game for crying out loud.
My thoughts exactly . . . he works for a large company producing highly polished releases with enormous labour input (even if not 3d or rpg releases) and is producing a game in his spare time with IIRC a team of only 2 people (one of whom is an artist?).

I've seen some of the screen shots for scars of war and they look bloody amazing for an indie game with that development team size. Based on what he seems to be accomplishing I think he's really cracked the art of doing more with less, I may not have had any experience with 3d modelling that would allow me to fully follow all the technical aspects but I'm still pretty sure that it's him who knows what he's talking about.
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May 26th, 2009, 14:09
Originally Posted by Benedict View Post
My thoughts exactly . . . he works for a large company producing highly polished releases with enormous labour input (even if not 3d or rpg releases) and is producing a game in his spare time with IIRC a team of only 2 people (one of whom is an artist?).

I've seen some of the screen shots for scars of war and they look bloody amazing for an indie game with that development team size. Based on what he seems to be accomplishing I think he's really cracked the art of doing more with less, I may not have had any experience with 3d modelling that would allow me to fully follow all the technical aspects but I'm still pretty sure that it's him who knows what he's talking about.
Sigh…

Is this a competition or what?

I'm developing my own game alone, so what does that make me? Right in everything I say about game design and the kind of art I'm doing? Hardly. Do I have to post screenshots or perhaps a demo of my engine to have an opinion? That's silly.

As I've said, there's no doubt he knows more about 3D modeling than I do, and it's not like that would be hard.

But the basics remain the basics, and he's dead set on the industry working the way it's working today, with an emphasis on the kind of content they're doing today. It was obvious from the start that it doesn't even enter his mind that it doesn't HAVE to be like that. He's thinking in terms of his own personal experience, and is unwilling to entertain other ideas - and he's right because that's how they do it in his company… Whatever - it's a waste of time to argue with someone like that, which is why he's on ignore. If the readers of this thread have to have a "winner" in terms of who knows more about 3D modeling, then I will glady concede the prize. You can clap your hands and pretend it means something in terms of what's POSSIBLE and how things COULD be, if that makes you feel better.

This entire thing is about miscommunication and the difference between what technology does and then what you actually do with technology.

But, really, what's the point of going on with this debate at this stage. It'd just be pages and more pages about the minute intricacies of how you go about doing a model - and that's so far away from the core point I was making, that we'd never get back there.

It boils down to whether you believe the kind of content they're doing for games is REALLY necessary at that level. Would Assassin's Creed be BETTER or worse - if they halved the amount of animations and spent that time on gameplay evolution instead. Who knows - but I know what I believe, and I know what my tastes in games are.
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May 26th, 2009, 16:00
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Sigh…

Is this a competition or what?
You come across as one of the most competitive and argumentative people on here in thread debates, in the news forum at least I'd say 80%+ of the threads that explode into massive long arguments have you heavily involved.

I'm developing my own game alone, so what does that make me?
Details?

Do I have to post screenshots or perhaps a demo of my engine to have an opinion?
Of course not, but you're arguing the finer points of design techniques that many people reading the thread will have insufficent personal familiarity with to be able to judge your arguments on their merits alone.

You may have some good points. I know fuck all about meshes or polygon counts, so I can't tell whether you actually know anything or are just sounding off. I do however know that NN is building one of the prettiest indie games I've seen to date because I've seen the pictures. You're both entitled to have your opinions, but he has more to back his up.

he's dead set on the industry working the way it's working today, with an emphasis on the kind of content they're doing today.
Huh? He's working on a game with a 2 person development team with graphics that for me don't feel like the usual indie game compromise. Sounds to me like he's making an enormous personal investment in an alternative business model. He may be working on the assumption that the broader industry will, in the medium term at least, continue working in the way it works today and trying to fit in around that, but anything else would be bloody stupid IMO.

It boils down to whether you believe the kind of content they're doing for games is REALLY necessary at that level. Would Assassin's Creed be BETTER or worse - if they halved the amount of animations and spent that time on gameplay evolution instead. Who knows - but I know what I believe, and I know what my tastes in games are.
Ironically, I think you're advocating exactly the kind of mid level graphics & high gameplay focus that NN's actually doing . . .
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May 26th, 2009, 16:25
Some valid points have been made, and indeed in many cases "working smart" can save a lot of time. With the last shipped game that I worked on we managed to achieve a quite amazing level of graphics quality with an extremely small art team - 2 guys on characters, about 5-6 on environments. The quality of game play can be discussed (but I had nothing to do with that ), but from a technical point of view the project was a great success for me. The game was "The Watchmen" and I was lead engine programmer on that project. A few shots:

http://www.shacknews.com/screenshots…0807#img130807

However - I still firmly agree with what Naked Ninja say. When everything is said and done it still takes a lot longer to create each individual model than before. There has been improvements to the tools available for us, but the bar for what is accepted as a bare minimum has crept so high that it is useless to discuss what would happen if we (the industry) tried to create a game without them. For example, on a character the following extra things are now needed as a bare minimum:

Model details: nose, ears, mouth, eyes, hands, fingers. It is simply no longer possible to ship a game with a box for a head and a claw for a hand, and then just slap a texture on it (which was often done in early 3d games). Unfortunately the features mentioned above is quite delicate and take a long time (and a lot of polygons) to make look right. No tools can *really* help here - in the end the 3d artist still have to move each individual vertex into the right place in the mesh.

Material details: Diffuse map, normal map, specular size map, specular power map. These are all expected as the basic material in any 3d game today. Previously only a diffuse texture was needed, which could basically be a photograph. The other maps I mentioned above *can* to a certain degree be auto-created by tools, but not to a final quality. And it still takes some (sometimes a lot) of time to tweak them and adjust them to fit the light model.

None of the things I've mentioned above are in any way extravagant graphics features anymore. They are the bare minimum.

Therefore, in my opinion it is entirely accurate to say that for *any* AAA production a much larger art team is needed than for the 3d games of yesteryear. I really don't feel I'm postulating anything here, only stating facts.

Many years ago I managed to be part of a group that shipped a demo for an indie RPG (Ultima 1 - A Legend is reborn). The graphics in that demo could, at the time it was released, actually compete with most commercial titles that came out. We did that with a core team of 2-3 guys, and in our spare time.

I've never given up on the dream of creating my own indie RPG, but honestly it seems almost impossible if we want to meet just the bare minimum of what people expect regarding graphics quality.
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May 26th, 2009, 16:29
Originally Posted by Benedict View Post
You come across as one of the most competitive and argumentative people on here in thread debates, in the news forum at least I'd say 80%+ of the threads that explode into massive long arguments have you heavily involved.
That's what happens when you combine minority opinion with an outspoken personality.

But that doesn't make me competitive, as I could care less about anything except speaking my mind. What happens, typically, is that people get enraged by my position - for one reason or another - and I end up spending the entire thread defending my position until someone concludes that I must be a Nazi or whatever.

This thread differs a bit, because it's diverged into some kind of technical show-off debate, long since I pointed out that it was a semantic issue. But no, it had to be about who's right or wrong.

Details?
I have two projects in development - one is a conversion of Middle Earth: The Wizards - a card game.

But the one I'm focused on at the moment is a "modern" Dungeon Master. Sort of like Diablo meets Dungeon Master, with turn-based combat.

Unfortunately, I haven't really had the opportunity to work on it seriously for a while, but I still hope to one day actually finish one of my projects. It's still in the early stages, but I did manage to get an engine up and running, but all it does is draw maps from an editor in "3D" and let you navigate the level. It's a step-by-step engine, and not a traditional 3D engine. It's a conscious choice, because it's the only way I could ever make something that looks half-way decent and still be able to finish it.

I've done a lot of design work, and quite a bit of UI art. I do most of my work in Photoshop, though, and I haven't done any 3D modeling for the project as of yet - but I'm considering getting back to that for the objects and monster art. I have a friend who's an excellent 3D modeler - but I'm not sure I can lure him into this yet.

But it's FAR from something I'd really want to show to anyone, and I don't really like to speak about it until there's something more to show. It's a huge undertaking for just one guy.

Of course not, but you're arguing the finer points of design techniques that many people reading the thread will have insufficent personal familiarity with to be able to judge your arguments on their merits alone.
Nah, I'm not really arguing any fine points. I'm trying to boil things down to basics, so as not to drown the debate in techno-babble. It's the only way of communicating that makes sense to me, because I don't think it's beneficial to go into complex texture-mapping techniques and what not, because not only don't I know much about that - it's also irrelevant to my basic point which is one of logic, not knowledge.

You may have some good points. I know fuck all about meshes or polygon counts, so I can't tell whether you actually know anything or are just sounding off. I do however know that NN is building one of the prettiest indie games I've seen to date because I've seen the pictures. You're both entitled to have your opinions, but he has more to back his up.
Basically, a mesh is the wireframe any individual object is built from. It's really just a bunch of polygons put together to form whatever object you're trying to make.

The point NN is making, basically, is that the more objects you add to something, the longer you spend on it. He's right - of course - but my point is that MAYBE you shouldn't add so many objects in the first place.

My point about polycount is that each mesh will consist of a certain number of polygons (polygons are really 2D triangles at the most basic level - and everything you do with them is really about math - as in vector calculations) - and as technology evolves - so will the capacity to manipulate meshes in real-time. This, coupled with advances in 3D rendering software - will naturally result in more detail in less time.

Huh? He's working on a game with a 2 person development team with graphics that for me don't feel like the usual indie game compromise. Sounds to me like he's making an enormous personal investment in an alternative business model. He may be working on the assumption that the broader industry will, in the medium term at least, continue working in the way it works today and trying to fit in around that, but anything else would be bloody stupid IMO.
I don't know anything about him personally, I only know what he's argued here. If he's doing something indie on the side, then one would think he'd have more sympathy for the art vs the business.

I can't really make any educated guesses about that, though, so I have to stick to his words around here.

Ironically, I think you're advocating exactly the kind of mid level graphics & high gameplay focus that NN's actually doing . . .
Judging from the screenshots - I'd call them the higher end of the low-end. Mid-level graphics is something like Drakensang. High-end is Oblivion or Assassin's Creed.

I'm arguing that Drakensang level graphics with an Assassin's Creed-sized team working on the gameplay is preferable to what Assassin's Creed actually is.

However, that's a useless example - because the whole point of Assassin's Creed is to be impressive in an aesthetic fashion - and that's really the kind of priority that I lament. Not that it HAPPENS on occasion, but that it's the kind of focus almost ALL AAA developers are having these days.
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May 26th, 2009, 16:31
Originally Posted by KasperFauerby View Post
Some valid points have been made, and indeed in many cases "working smart" can save a lot of time. With the last shipped game that I worked on we managed to achieve a quite amazing level of graphics quality with an extremely small art team - 2 guys on characters, about 5-6 on environments. The quality of game play can be discussed (but I had nothing to do with that ), but from a technical point of view the project was a great success for me. The game was "The Watchmen" and I was lead engine programmer on that project. A few shots:

http://www.shacknews.com/screenshots…0807#img130807

However - I still firmly agree with what Naked Ninja say. When everything is said and done it still takes a lot longer to create each individual model than before. There has been improvements to the tools available for us, but the bar for what is accepted as a bare minimum has crept so high that it is useless to discuss what would happen if we (the industry) tried to create a game without them. For example, on a character the following extra things are now needed as a bare minimum:

Model details: nose, ears, mouth, eyes, hands, fingers. It is simply no longer possible to ship a game with a box for a head and a claw for a hand, and then just slap a texture on it (which was often done in early 3d games). Unfortunately the features mentioned above is quite delicate and take a long time (and a lot of polygons) to make look right. No tools can *really* help here - in the end the 3d artist still have to move each individual vertex into the right place in the mesh.

Material details: Diffuse map, normal map, specular size map, specular power map. These are all expected as the basic material in any 3d game today. Previously only a diffuse texture was needed, which could basically be a photograph. The other maps I mentioned above *can* to a certain degree be auto-created by tools, but not to a final quality. And it still takes some (sometimes a lot) of time to tweak them and adjust them to fit the light model.

None of the things I've mentioned above are in any way extravagant graphics features anymore. They are the bare minimum.

Therefore, in my opinion it is entirely accurate to say that for *any* AAA production a much larger art team is needed than for the 3d games of yesteryear. I really don't feel I'm postulating anything here, only stating facts.

Many years ago I managed to be part of a group that shipped a demo for an indie RPG (Ultima 1 - A Legend is reborn). The graphics in that demo could, at the time it was released, actually compete with most commercial titles that came out. We did that with a core team of 2-3 guys, and in our spare time.

I've never given up on the dream of creating my own indie RPG, but honestly it seems almost impossible if we want to meet just the bare minimum of what people expect regarding graphics quality.
You're completely correct and nothing about my point contradicts all that.

I'm FULLY aware that AAA productions "require" a certain quality level of content. But that's not a set-in-stone law, that's the unfortunate tradition of the modern industry.

What I'm arguing is that maybe it's POSSIBLE to shift priorities and spend all that marketing cash on educating casuals about this new approach.

It's just a dream, basically, nothing more.

But at least we have a professional conceding that it's possible to make good-to-great graphics without these ridiculously sized teams. Thank you. That's my point about technology helping rather than hindering the process.
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May 26th, 2009, 16:37
Oh, and my own "clever" way of circumventing the ridiculous demands is to go back to mostly 2D art, where the expectations are very different.

I'm entirely conscious of the tiny market I'm targeting, as in a very exclusive audience - but they should be pleasantly surprised because as CRPG enthusiasts - the last step-by-step engine they saw was probably Lands of Lore or Anvil of Dawn.

Such games when done in high resolution and high color can still look pretty good to a CRPG fan.

But I can only get away with this because it's such a select crowd.
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May 26th, 2009, 16:57
Here's a few examples of my 2D art - note the drawings on the cards are not my work and are likely copyrighted:

Old images, though, but it's all I can find right now.

METW:





CharGen (VERY early version):

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May 26th, 2009, 17:07
Originally Posted by KasperFauerby View Post
Many years ago I managed to be part of a group that shipped a demo for an indie RPG (Ultima 1 - A Legend is reborn). The graphics in that demo could, at the time it was released, actually compete with most commercial titles that came out. We did that with a core team of 2-3 guys, and in our spare time.

*slaps head* Man, THAT is why your name always rang so familar! I followed your project for quite a while, and I was so bummed when you cancelled it. It was an amazing effort, as far as it went. It was also a nice warning how even the most promising project can suddenly go down the tube - one reason why I try (although sometimes fail) to keep my emotional investment for AoD, SoW and others small. Here's hoping you get to do your dream project eventuallly.

Sorry for the off topic, carry on :-)

Edit:
@D'artagnan: A middle earth card-game? Intriguing. Am I a character?
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May 26th, 2009, 17:20
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
What happens, typically, is that people get enraged by my position - for one reason or another - and I end up spending the entire thread defending my position until someone concludes that I must be a Nazi or whatever.
The point NN is making, basically, is that the more objects you add to something, the longer you spend on it. He's right - of course - but my point is that MAYBE you shouldn't add so many objects in the first place.
Forgive me, your first couple of posts at least did seem to suggest that firstly you thought that development costs spiralled because of marketing etc rather than graphics, and secondly that it doesn't take vastly longer to create high poly models because the tools are better. I agree with the point that you shouldn't add so many objects in the first place, but that's not at all what I (and judging by other replies, anyone else) read from your first few posts and so thought was your primary point.

Are you sure that what happens typically isn't that you say something silly, everyone points out where you're being silly and then you spend several pages doing anything you can to avoid backing down or admitting you were wrong or even badly phrased to start with?

I don't know anything about him personally, I only know what he's argued here. If he's doing something indie on the side, then one would think he'd have more sympathy for the art vs the business.
Ah fair enough, he's posted quite a bit on here & I'd assumed you'd read some of it and knew what he was developing.

Judging from the screenshots - I'd call them the higher end of the low-end. Mid-level graphics is something like Drakensang. High-end is Oblivion or Assassin's Creed.
Really? Playing drakensang at the moment and the scars of war screenshots look broadly in the same ballpark as that. Taking eschalon & spiderweb type games as the lower end I'd say that scars of war looks way closer to drakensang than to those.
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May 26th, 2009, 17:31
Originally Posted by Benedict View Post
Forgive me, your first couple of posts at least did seem to suggest that firstly you thought that development costs spiralled because of marketing etc rather than graphics, and secondly that it doesn't take vastly longer to create high poly models because the tools are better. I agree with the point that you shouldn't add so many objects in the first place, but that's not at all what I (and judging by other replies, anyone else) read from your first few posts and so thought was your primary point.
If you actually read my post, maybe you'd realise that marketing wasn't the only aspect of development costs spiralling out of control. But that's still my point, and that's why it's so unfortunate that the debate is now about 3D modeling.

My point was that production values and NOT technology is the problem.

I didn't bring up the expected level of 3D modeling detail in my first post, because frankly I didn't think of it. But it's the exact same kind of Hollywood obsession that I was talking about - and I detailed this in my further posts.

Polycount STILL isn't a factor, unless you want to talk about the COMBINED polycount of adding 100 times the objects to a model. But that's the additional OBJECTS and the time you spend on them, and not how many polygons they consist of. Get it?

Why don't you read my SECOND post, in which I detail that YES - if you generate A LOT more content, then you need more people. This has been ignored totally - and my repeating myself over and over is STILL ignored. People focus on the first post - and when I try to explain myself, they pretend my first post is all-inclusive. Oh well.

Are you sure that what happens typically isn't that you say something silly, everyone points out where you're being silly and then you spend several pages doing anything you can to avoid backing down or admitting you were wrong or even badly phrased to start with?
Well, you certainly seem very unbiased in relation to my posts. So, what you're basically saying is that all I'm doing is being wrong, and everyone else is being right.

That's nice - but I'm afraid I can't agree.

I even made a post detailing how we were talking about two different things and that semantics were the problem.

I think what YOU'RE doing is letting your bias against me cloud your judgment, but I won't hold that against you - because I have that effect on most people who can't get past appearances.

The reason some people think of me as whatever negative word you want to apply, is that unlike most people who hold minority opinions - I refuse to go out of my way to explain how I can hold a minority opinion, be honest about it, and yet not be some kind of evil Nazi monster. Most people care - deeply - about how others perceive them, and I don't. It's not that I DON'T care at all, it's just not as important as doing what I feel is right - which is to speak my mind without having to defend my position and be polite about actually having a different opinion.

Ah fair enough, he's posted quite a bit on here & I'd assumed you'd read some of it and knew what he was developing.
Nope.

Really? Playing drakensang at the moment and the scars of war screenshots look broadly in the same ballpark as that. Taking eschalon & spiderweb type games as the lower end I'd say that scars of war looks way closer to drakensang than to those.
I'd have to severely disagree. Drakensang is miles ahead of the images I saw - but maybe they were old versions. The UI looks downright crude - but I guess it's not their strong side.
Last edited by DArtagnan; May 26th, 2009 at 17:43.
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May 26th, 2009, 17:56
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
If you actually read my post, maybe you'd realise that marketing wasn't the only aspect of development costs spiralling out of control. But that's still my point, and that's why it's so unfortunate that the debate is now about 3D modeling.
I did read it . . . you listed a few things where costs were spiralling out of control and explicitly said that you thought the two big things were marketing campaigns & media manipulation. Apologies if that's what I took away from your post

My point was that production values and NOT technology is the problem.

Polycount STILL isn't a factor, unless you want to talk about the COMBINED polycount of adding 100 times the objects to a model. But that's the additional OBJECTS and the time you spend on them, and not how many polygons they consist of. Get it?
I do now, thank you for being so patient with all us thickos.

Personally i thought that NN's point was that when you have a high polycount then things start to look pretty shit unless you specify a lot more objects, with all the associated time costs. Soft focus hides a multitude of sins, even ugly people look good in the dark etc. So indirectly high polycount means more objects & more work.

Well, you certainly seem very unbiased in relation to my posts. So, what you're basically saying is that all I'm doing is being wrong, and everyone else is being right.
Pretty much Keep thinking that all you're doing is "speaking your mind" and all everyone else is doing is "not being able to handle alternative opinions" though if that helps you to get up in the morning

I'd have to severely disagree. Drakensang is miles ahead of the images I saw - but maybe they were old versions. The UI looks downright crude - but I guess it's not their strong side.
Each to their own, for me the screenshots look pretty solid. I might not be sitting back in my chair and just taking in the scenery, but nor would I be having to actively overlook the lack of graphics to be able to appreciate the gameplay, i.e. mid range.
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May 26th, 2009, 18:01
Originally Posted by Benedict View Post
I did read it . . . you listed a few things where costs were spiralling out of control and explicitly said that you thought the two big things were marketing campaigns & media manipulation. Apologies if that's what I took away from your post
You just re-read it, didn't you? Good job. Maybe if you actually read my posts in the future, and not just the parts you don't like - you might get me at some point.

I can forgive you, just this once.

I do now, thank you for being so patient with all us thickos.
It's ok

Personally i thought that NN's point was that when you have a high polycount then things start to look pretty shit unless you specify a lot more objects, with all the associated time costs. Soft focus hides a multitude of sins, even ugly people look good in the dark etc. So indirectly high polycount means more objects & more work.
Well, you certainly seem to have read his post in much greater detail than mine - but who's surprised

Pretty much Keep thinking that all you're doing is "speaking your mind" and all everyone else is doing is "not being able to handle alternative opinions" though if that helps you to get up in the morning
Nah, that's just the select few of you unwilling to entertain the possibility of having gotten the wrong impression.

It's hardly relevant to me getting up in the morning, though - but thank you for your concern

Each to their own, for me the screenshots look pretty solid. I might not be sitting back in my chair and just taking in the scenery, but nor would I be having to actively overlook the lack of graphics to be able to appreciate the gameplay, i.e. mid range.
I'm strange in the way that I have to see things in-game, before I know how I will really react.

I think they look fine - even good - for an indie production.
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May 26th, 2009, 18:22
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
Edit:
@D'artagnan: A middle earth card-game? Intriguing. Am I a character?
You never know
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May 26th, 2009, 18:26
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
You just re-read it, didn't you? Good job.
Of course . . . I read it first time, came away with an impression that I then responded to, then you suggested I hadn't read it and I went back and re-read it to see if my impression was reasonable, and IMO it was.

Well, you certainly seem to have read his post in much greater detail than mine - but who's surprised
I did actually read your posts as well, I just thought that he made good arguments as to why your assertions were wrong and you seemed to respond by saying that that wasn't your point anyway.
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May 26th, 2009, 18:29
Lol, am I the only one that think it's poor sportsmanship to put a fellow on ignore and then continue to make snide remarks about him? Poor sportsmanship and childish. But ah well, let's respond as if he was actually listening.

Your original point, and the point I was arguing, was not whether the mainstream industry has to make graphics of the AC level. Of course they don't. And it would be faster to make a quake 1 model these days than it was then.

But that doesn't change the simple fact that a "standard" model in a game these days, of the standard that your average gamer expects, takes longer than an "average" model of the Quake 1 days. This is simple fact, one you've tried to argue out of conceding.

You've also made a lot of statements like the following :

there are certain inescapable truths regarding 3D modeling, and one of them is that every single model is built from meshes - and those meshes have a number of polygons. No matter how complex, realistic, or beautiful that Altair guy is - when it all comes down to it - the wireframe is a bunch of meshes - or a single complex mesh made up of less complex meshes. When you model from the ground-up, it's very common to start with primitive cubes, spheres and so on. It makes no difference to me if someone has to blow his own horn trying to pretend that the basics aren't the basics.
Which is so meaningless to the point at hand as to be hilarious. Let me translate to non-technical speak for the audience so they can see the humor :

NN : More complex/larger houses take longer to build than smaller/simpler houses.
DA : But you have to remember this inescapable fact. Houses are made from bricks, and no matter how complex or large the house is the basic process of laying bricks down is identical, one on top of the other, with cement in-between to hold them together.
NN : …..

Do you see why I am amused? I've never claimed the basics aren't the basics. I'm saying the end product you're building has become vastly more complex/larger and so, despite it still being made of "bricks cemented together", that doesn't change the fact that "more bricks laid" results in increased cost in time and effort compared to a decade ago. The tools available have not eased the burden enough to compensate for the much, much higher quality expected. Your statement proves absolutely nothing at all, one way or the other.

Now, your original comment that I disputed was how the 450 people hired for AC weren't to support content creation, they were mostly for marketing and hype. They aren't and nothing you've said comes close to proving things to the contrary. No matter how many snide remarks you make about "Mr Guru Ninja".

(That's "Nr Guru Ninja SIR" to you, btw. )

Now, as to the point you are now claiming is what you were really arguing all along, why the mainstream doesn't move to older graphics and focus on gameplay, I believe you've been kind enough to answer your own question :

I'm entirely conscious of the tiny market I'm targeting, as in a very exclusive audience
Exactly. The older your graphics, the more of the market you cut out. People have different tolerance levels for old graphics, the group who tolerates Dwarf Fortress is smaller than the group who tolerates Spiderweb games, which is smaller than the group which tolerates Crysis. In fact, I doubt there is a single gamer who would turn down Crysis level graphics unless they didn't possess the hardware to run it. (Art style also comes into it, of course, but let's just focus on technical detail for now).

The problem with the mainstream is that, if every single game developer decided to sit and keep graphics at the level they are now that would only work in the short term. Eventually someone would break that agreement and try to distinguish themselves from their (fierce) competition by upgrading their graphics, to draw the mass market attention to themselves. Distinguishing yourself graphically is a lot less subtle than via different gameplay and I'd argue a lot easier to do, even if it requires more time and money. And gamers would flock to that title simply because it looks so much better than anything else, evidence shows this is a fact. Other developers, seeing this, would they try to follow suite. And the whole graphics arms race starts again and the bar just keeps getting raised.

Which is essentially how it ended up like this in the first place. And how companies like ID and Epic operate, by establishing their cutting edge tech as "the" thing to beat. And creating environments where the competition has to up it's ante to stay in the game.

Do they absolutely have to chase that curve? Maybe not. Would they be as profitable as they are chasing the graphics? I doubt it, sadly. I personally am following a different path for my indie dev but it only works because I accept that I will never see the kind of returns they do, and I'm happy with that. You say essentially the same thing for your stepwise engine.

The AAA developers are businesses first and foremost and they are trying to maximize profit for their shareholders. They make business decisions based around maximizimg profit, not necessarily creative satisfaction. A reason why I never tried to join the mainstream industry, despite having the qualifications to try and some of my peers going that way. If you're a passionate chef, you don't seek employment at McDonalds. But I don't resent McDonalds for choosing a profitable business model, or claim they are stupid for doing so. They simply understand the desires of the mass market.

I don't know anything about him personally, I only know what he's argued here. If he's doing something indie on the side, then one would think he'd have more sympathy for the art vs the business.
Being an indie or mainstream dev has no bearing on the technical accuracy of my argument. If I was the chief Art Honcho of EA itself, would you disregard my statements? If so then you're letting your emotions cloud your judgement. Mainstream developers are not fools and they aren't the enemy.

my basic point which is one of logic, not knowledge.
Oh man. Just…oh man. No. Technical discussions require technical knowledge to base them on. You don't get to just talk yourself into a position of authority.

But all that aside, nice card game though DA, I hope to see more of it, I love card games. And I built one of those step-by-step engines you're talking of in 'varsity, we called them "2.5 D" engines, they're actually quite fun to make. It was called "Dungeon of the Dancing Demons" because of the how my amateur animations appeared more like the monsters were dancing the jig than waving their claws menacingly.

@ KasperFauerby : Hey, nice screenshots, and nice to meet another dev.

I've never given up on the dream of creating my own indie RPG, but honestly it seems almost impossible if we want to meet just the bare minimum of what people expect regarding graphics quality.
Don't give up! It's do-able, just damn difficult. Vogel does it, Basilisk Games did it, The ITS team is doing it, Coyote is doing it, I'm doing it….it's a small movement so far, but I think it's the beginning of a groundswell. More developers are always welcome.

My main piece of advice that I can offer is to just start doing it, use as much middleware as you can, tailor it around what art and tools you can scrounge up or create and make sure to talk about it publicly and often, it attracts people who can help you develop it as well as interest and moral support.

Indie game developer.

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May 26th, 2009, 18:37
Originally Posted by Benedict View Post
I did actually read your posts as well, I just thought that he made good arguments as to why your assertions were wrong and you seemed to respond by saying that that wasn't your point anyway.
Yeah, and your point is that you don't believe me when I say that wasn't my point, right?
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May 26th, 2009, 18:49
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Yeah, and your point is that you don't believe me when I say that wasn't my point, right?
Heh.

My point is that the point you appeared to be making early on at least wasn't the same point as you're pointing to right now, a point that NN has pointed out was actually a pretty pointless point anyway, and there's little point in arguing with you on any point because you always just say that wasn't your point anyway and point the blame at other people who are apparently pointing at you and calling you a nazi.

I think anyway, now I'm confused!
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