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#7601 Melan

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Posted 07 February 2018 - 03:59 PM

2.  A community that releases only a single, perfect mission every three years is highly unlikely to survive.  A community that releases missions of varying quality on a regular basis is far more likely to maintain high levels of traffic. 

I have been thinking about this for a while. We have a lot of finely polished gems out there (when I finally loaded up Volta II - I saved it for Christmas :laugh:  - I had to gather my jaw from the floor multiple times while playing it), but we could really use that steady churn of small, unassuming heists. Time and time again, I like to load up Thieves or Special Delivery or any of the smaller FMs. I wouldn't complain if we had one of those every month or so, to play something between the big missions.


Come the time of peril, did the ground gape, and did the dead rest unquiet 'gainst us. Our bands of iron and hammers of stone prevailed not, and some did doubt the Builder's plan. But the seals held strong, and the few did triumph, and the doubters were lain into the foundations of the new sanctum. -- Collected letters of the Smith-in-Exile, Civitas Approved

#7602 Judith

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Posted 07 February 2018 - 04:15 PM

 

The following are simple facts:

These are subjective simplifications, to say the least. E.g. I see a huge difference in framerate up to 45 fps. Sure, stealth gameplay is slower, at least until you get caught and have to improvise. So that assumption is pretty risky. Also, the difference will always be noticeable, even with slow gameplay, because player can always turn camera to a view where it's 60 fps. That kind of fast jumping between ranges looks bad. That's also why I proposed an FPS limiter in TDM bugtracker. If you don't care about even framerate, the least you can do is to have an upper limit brought down to e.g. 30 fps. That will make gameplay much smoother than constant jumping between 30 and 60 FPS.

 

I have released several missions that have places where FPS dropped to the 30s on my machine; I have yet to hear feedback from players that they found this to be a problem, and I have yet to be laughed out of the community.

 

For one, I was criticising your models and the Matter of Hours, and there were very good reasons for that.


Edited by Judith, 07 February 2018 - 04:16 PM.


#7603 Springheel

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Posted 07 February 2018 - 04:37 PM

The following are simple facts:

These are subjective simplifications, to say the least. E.g. I see a huge difference in framerate up to 45 fps.

 
You'll note that observation was listed under "speculations" not "facts".
 

I have released several missions that have places where FPS dropped to the 30s on my machine; I have yet to hear feedback from players that they found this to be a problem, and I have yet to be laughed out of the community.

For one, I was criticising your models and the Matter of Hours, and there were very good reasons for that.

 
Yes, I haven't forgotten.  However, that doesn't counter anything I said in the statement you quoted.
 
 
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#7604 Judith

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Posted 07 February 2018 - 04:55 PM

To be on the same page, I don't demand anything. I noticed low framerate in ERH+ screenshots, assumed that he has a machine capable of running the engine in 60 FPS (and I'm aware I can be wrong in this), and pointed out a possible solution. Whatever ERH+ will do, it's his choice. It was Melan's dismissive attitude that triggered the whole heated discussion. It's true that I'm very opinionated about certain things in level design, and I know more about this stuff in theory that I can prove with maps (although they still run in 60 FPS, even on that old crappy TDS engine ;)).

 

I love this community for its energy and support, but I admit situations like that are bit frustrating for me. Both here (sometimes) and TTLG seem to live in some kind of knowledge bubble. I look like a crazy person, and I feel like that a bit, but only because I have to preach about stuff that is 100% duh-and-obvious everywhere else in modding/level design communities. And, I've never seen such active resistance, hostility almost, to learning this stuff. I don't know, maybe it's me phrasing it in a wrong way.


Edited by Judith, 07 February 2018 - 05:21 PM.


#7605 Bienie

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Posted 08 February 2018 - 09:45 AM

I have been thinking about this for a while. We have a lot of finely polished gems out there (when I finally loaded up Volta II - I saved it for Christmas :laugh:  - I had to gather my jaw from the floor multiple times while playing it), but we could really use that steady churn of small, unassuming heists. Time and time again, I like to load up Thieves or Special Delivery or any of the smaller FMs. I wouldn't complain if we had one of those every month or so, to play something between the big missions.

 

 

I have been thinking about this for a while as well. I know my daughter asks me at least once a week "Daddy, are there any new Dark Mod missions out?" and most of the time I have to disappoint her with a no. Even missions that can be completed in 20 minutes most often give a satisfying "stealth hit" that can keep you going between the larger releases. I also know from working on my own map that feature creep is a real time sink. Seems like every time I boot up DR I find another little nook where I can add more content... at this point almost all buildings in my map are explorable, it's not a bad thing of course but it's a lot of time on development. At least I've told myself to not add any more streets!

 

I'm thinking that, provided my mission is well received, I will focus on smaller projects henceforth. Maybe make a series of unconnected (or at most loosely connected) FMs that are pretty small so that I don't need to spend 8 months+ on each. The recent drought of mission releases (many are in the works I know) has only cemented this idea.

 

My thoughts on the optimization situation is that there has to be a balance between acceptable performance and eye candy that fits within the mission author's time and effort. We don't want to exclude people based on their computer specs, but we can't limit ourselves from making more intricate (high poly /shadow) missions that allow TDM to stay relevant. I know TDM is never going to be cutting edge on graphics but compare some of the really old FMs to todays and the increase in visual fidelity is quite obvious.


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#7606 Bikerdude

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Posted 08 February 2018 - 10:19 AM

I have been thinking about this for a while as well. I know my daughter asks me at least once a week "Daddy, are there any new Dark Mod missions out?" and most of the time I have to disappoint her with a no.

Watch this space.



#7607 Judith

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Posted 08 February 2018 - 10:55 AM

My thoughts on the optimization situation is that there has to be a balance between acceptable performance and eye candy that fits within the mission author's time and effort. We don't want to exclude people based on their computer specs, but we can't limit ourselves from making more intricate (high poly /shadow) missions that allow TDM to stay relevant. I know TDM is never going to be cutting edge on graphics but compare some of the really old FMs to todays and the increase in visual fidelity is quite obvious.

Actually, from my experience TDM handles higher fidelity surprisingly well, for engine this old. The thing is, and this is actually true for any engine out there, you need to make a whole map with static meshes. And they have to be optimised for your engine, both in terms triangle count and shaders / materials they use (i.e. they should use as few materials as possible). Some things seem to scale with hardware, like triangle or shadow count or texture memory (although we're probably limited to something like 8192px textures by the engine itself). What doesn't change is the drawcall limit, at least in my experience with different hardware. The easiest way to clog your video pipeline is to make static meshes with high number of materials, which a lot of TDM models do, whether it's modules or decoration props. I understand the reason for that was to use as many versatile tiling textures as possible, to make the mod package easier to download. Also that method was widely used around Thief3 era, where textures were 256 or 512px at best, and making UVs in that texture space was less efficient. The thing is, while games like Thief 3 used 2-3 materials per mesh on average, to save on performance. TDM went wild that count, often using 8 or 10 different materials per mesh (15 was the highest value I've seen in the model browser). That's way too excessive. Add complicated, multi-stage materials, and multiple or overlapping lights (something easy to miss, if you're inexperienced mapper), and you have a recipe for disaster. That is what is both the source of performance problems, but it also presents huge opportunity for future improvement.

To tackle these problems, you have to take the path basically all post-Doom3/Thief3 games took, and switch to "environment sets" (let's forget about lightmaps for a while ;) ). Usually, such set contains modular architecture pieces, versatile background props/decorations, and unique models ("hero meshes"), along with a few tiling textures, if need be. They are as flexible as possible, and the new props or decorations are modelled along the way, or mixed/taken from other asset packs. They are also fully unwrapped and use as few textures/materials as possible.

None of this is easy though. It requires a lot of time, and a knowledgable modeller, something TDM never really had in ample supply (at least that's my impression after a few talks with fellow mappers and TDM team members).


Edited by Judith, 08 February 2018 - 11:25 AM.

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#7608 Springheel

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Posted 08 February 2018 - 02:02 PM

Even missions that can be completed in 20 minutes most often give a satisfying "stealth hit" that can keep you going between the larger releases.

 

 

That was the whole point behind my "4 hour challenge" series.  You don't need a huge expenditure of time to create fun little missions.

 

http://forums.thedar...hour-challenge/


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#7609 Bienie

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 08:19 AM

 

That was the whole point behind my "4 hour challenge" series.  You don't need a huge expenditure of time to create fun little missions.

 

http://forums.thedar...hour-challenge/

 

Indeed, I've watched all your tutorial videos (along with Biker's building of The Elixir, Sotha's Bakery Job) with much enthusiasm, and that was what made me determined to make one of my own. I've tried before using basically all brushes but it was too exhausting and I gave up, but with the new modules worldbuilding is a breeze. Unfortunately(?) I instead focus my energy on fleshing out the world maybe too much and have poured countless hours into that instead. I think that's just my style so I will instead have to put more stringent restrictions of size on to my next project.


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#7610 Epifire

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 11:56 PM

Honestly I really need to just sit and go through the Springheel vids myself. Most of my time tends to be chalked up to custom environment assets but there's still a great deal of simple gameplay design in DR that I know little about. The idea of covering all the essentials in a direct video course was a great notion and one I'm still very thankful for having the quick access to.


You need a model? Epi does you a model.

 

Toss me a PM I promise I don't bite.

 

 


#7611 Judith

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 01:26 PM

IMO saying that making maps for stealth game like TDM is easy makes a good PR line, but nothing is further from the truth :)

 

From all types of FPP games, making levels for light-based stealth games is the hardest. You have to think about stuff like player jump and mantle height all the time. Lighting isn't there just for aesthetics, it needs to be a part of conscious gameplay design, as it makes player invisible. The mere setting determines available types of surfaces and types of noises player will make while traversing such spaces (e.g. forest and nature maps are typically easier in comparison to levels with more stone, tile, and metal, so you need to find a way to offset that with lighting, AI placement etc.). None of this is easy, especially in comparison to e.g. maps for FPP shooters :)


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#7612 Bienie

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 01:33 AM

That's certainly true Judith, but being able to string together a scene in 30 minutes that looks like 30 hours of work certainly gives mappers the time and motivation to focus on instead improving things like gameplay and immersion which is really helpful and arguably leads to a better end result.
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#7613 Judith

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 03:22 PM

If you just using someone's model packs, then sure, although I know from my experience how long it takes to make good such models. Especially architectural/structural parts require a lot of thought, so they tile properly and on higher grid sizes.



#7614 MirceaKitsune

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 05:40 PM

More like "just finished working on", but you can see it over here:

 

http://forums.thedar...e-3#entry418127

 

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#7615 New Horizon

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 06:36 PM

Actually, from my experience TDM handles higher fidelity surprisingly well, for engine this old. The thing is, and this is actually true for any engine out there, you need to make a whole map with static meshes. And they have to be optimised for your engine, both in terms triangle count and shaders / materials they use (i.e. they should use as few materials as possible). Some things seem to scale with hardware, like triangle or shadow count or texture memory (although we're probably limited to something like 8192px textures by the engine itself). What doesn't change is the drawcall limit, at least in my experience with different hardware. The easiest way to clog your video pipeline is to make static meshes with high number of materials, which a lot of TDM models do, whether it's modules or decoration props. I understand the reason for that was to use as many versatile tiling textures as possible, to make the mod package easier to download. Also that method was widely used around Thief3 era, where textures were 256 or 512px at best, and making UVs in that texture space was less efficient. The thing is, while games like Thief 3 used 2-3 materials per mesh on average, to save on performance. TDM went wild that count, often using 8 or 10 different materials per mesh (15 was the highest value I've seen in the model browser). That's way too excessive. Add complicated, multi-stage materials, and multiple or overlapping lights (something easy to miss, if you're inexperienced mapper), and you have a recipe for disaster. That is what is both the source of performance problems, but it also presents huge opportunity for future improvement.

To tackle these problems, you have to take the path basically all post-Doom3/Thief3 games took, and switch to "environment sets" (let's forget about lightmaps for a while ;) ). Usually, such set contains modular architecture pieces, versatile background props/decorations, and unique models ("hero meshes"), along with a few tiling textures, if need be. They are as flexible as possible, and the new props or decorations are modelled along the way, or mixed/taken from other asset packs. They are also fully unwrapped and use as few textures/materials as possible.

None of this is easy though. It requires a lot of time, and a knowledgable modeller, something TDM never really had in ample supply (at least that's my impression after a few talks with fellow mappers and TDM team members).

 

Enemy territory Quake Wars had a handy feature where you could build environments ingame out of as many textures / materials as you wanted, and then you ran some type of function to essentially bake them into a single texture / UV map.  So an environment piece with 20 textures initially, would then be merged into a single texture.  Always wished it would have been possible to port that functionality into the TDM engine.


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#7616 demagogue

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 08:20 PM

Megatextures is in the Doom3 code, and somebody made it functional and put a YouTube video out of the demo. I think I have the demo file somewhere still too. So I don't think it would be hard to port into TDM. The thing is that one megatexture could be 500MB to 1GB in size, because the compression tech isn't there. And even at that size they were kind of fuzzy. It would be most useful to blend textures and have them non-repeating for outdoor scenes. But that's not our typical environment anyway. It'd be cool to see a few maps with them, but I don't think it's essential. (I always wished we could make multiplayer functional.)


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#7617 MirceaKitsune

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 08:33 PM

Megatextures is in the Doom3 code, and somebody made it functional and put a YouTube video out of the demo. I think I have the demo file somewhere still too. So I don't think it would be hard to port into TDM. The thing is that one megatexture could be 500MB to 1GB in size, because the compression tech isn't there. And even at that size they were kind of fuzzy. It would be most useful to blend textures and have them non-repeating for outdoor scenes. But that's not our typical environment anyway. It'd be cool to see a few maps with them, but I don't think it's essential. (I always wished we could make multiplayer functional.)

 

Anything that means upgrading idTech 4 to support newer features sounds wonderful in my book! Hope it will be ready for mainstream TDM at some point.



#7618 Bikerdude

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 01:08 PM

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Soon to be released mission...

 

Elixir_2018-02-12_18.03.47.jpg Elixir_2018-02-12_18.05.08.jpg


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#7619 MirceaKitsune

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 05:48 PM

http://forums.thedar...e-3#entry418227

 

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#7620 MirceaKitsune

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 05:49 PM

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#7621 RPGista

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Posted 19 February 2018 - 12:06 AM

It is actually pretty awesome to see new weapons being added to the game like that. Maybe people are not feeling it because of the sci fi backdrop, but being allowed to put new weapons in a TDM mission would open possibilities for new narratives. Way to go man... Congrats for all the hard work! 


Edited by RPGista, 19 February 2018 - 12:07 AM.


#7622 RPGista

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Posted 19 February 2018 - 12:13 AM

I'll keep bugging you though - make you character carry 2, 3 weapons tops. Make it part of his body/armor. And make it really special, like megaman's hand cannon that can fire charged attacks and is always changing projectiles. Something you can rely on to give the player what he wants whithout the need to design and keep track of tons of hud models. IMHO, its better to give your player a cool pair of wolverine claws or that black blade in the new deusex than to have to import and animate several melee weapons he might find lying around (that would greatly increase your work load).

 

You know, like MDK. Now thats a cool looking design. Simple and creative.

 

162669-mdk-dos-front-cover.jpg


Edited by RPGista, 19 February 2018 - 12:17 AM.


#7623 MirceaKitsune

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Posted 19 February 2018 - 08:34 AM

It is actually pretty awesome to see new weapons being added to the game like that. Maybe people are not feeling it because of the sci fi backdrop, but being allowed to put new weapons in a TDM mission would open possibilities for new narratives. Way to go man... Congrats for all the hard work! 

 

It's actually for a cyberpunk mod, it will be a scifi conversion of TDM. New weapons should be easy to add to vanilla TDM too though... I should probably post the decompiled blends I created as a reference.



#7624 RPGista

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Posted 19 February 2018 - 09:57 AM

 

It's actually for a cyberpunk mod, it will be a scifi conversion of TDM. New weapons should be easy to add to vanilla TDM too though... I should probably post the decompiled blends I created as a reference.

 

Please do. I have two new short sword models here that were supposed to be released as new "plug and play" HUD weapons for missions. It would obviously be a great help to have a packaged custom weapon I can use as reference! (By that I mean the pk4 package, with all the needed defs and stuff like that).



#7625 Bikerdude

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Posted 23 February 2018 - 02:11 PM

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Just saw this on a noclip run-through of a wip that I am working on, thought it was cool -

 

0gSef0n.jpg


Edited by Bikerdude, 23 February 2018 - 02:12 PM.

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