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#51 nbohr1more

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 08:00 PM

My biggest concern is that this industry lockout process is snuffing-out the idea incubator that we know as modding.

UDK and Unity are great for more ambitious folk but they do not provide the "low barrier to entry" tinker stage that lets more fresh random voices join in.

OTOH, with even console games since Tony Hawk Pro skater including level designers with the latest being stuff like "Little Big Planet", "Mod Nation Racers" and even "Infamous 2" we are getting close to where "game design as a game" is becoming a real possibility for even the most novice users.

I suppose, artists willing, that when TDM's prefab library is large enough that a new breed of FM author that only arranges prefabs could emerge. Something like Sotha's suggestion of a breed of FM author that just reworks Quake 4 maps into FM's. This would be the Tier I mapping group compared to the Tier II folks who build from scratch. If these authors offered great gameplay and or story it wouldn't be that much of a pity to see the same assets reused.

And, of course, Darkradiant just keeps getting easier and better so that goes along with the "game building as game" trend... to some degree...
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#52 Melan

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 01:33 AM

Good comments!

nbohr1more, we should not forget that there could be a Tier III group of mappers: people who build their maps with super-detailed static meshes in external modelling applications. Most modern maps are starting to go in that direction; the basic editor is about hacking out the outlines of your level, and the rest is modelling. That would not be a good thing for me since it'd be a formidable barrier of entry I could not jump. Which is why, IMO, iDTech4 is a great platform, since the newbie-friendly brush-and-patch-based building paradigm still works well enough in it (especially with support like prefabs and func_statics - those are a great help) while allowing static meshes for people who can do them.

One day, someone will create a great map using models almost exclusively (maybe something like this), and we will be blown away by it like many of us were blown away by Purah's Calendra missions. :)
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#53 Melan

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 01:42 AM

Also, how's this for encouragement: I had to download the original RttC to check something, and it turns out the TTLG version alone has had 877 DLs. Now this was a contest-winning mission so interest must have been higher than average, and there are inevitable duplicate DLs, but this doesn't even count the TDM website or the alternate hosting locations. So, people: your maps are being played! Build more of them! :)
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

#54 Bikerdude

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 03:20 AM

One day, someone will create a great map using models almost exclusively (maybe something like this), and we will be blown away by it like many of us were blown away by Purah's Calendra missions. :)

Yeah , me too in this regard. If there was only a 3d modeling program as friendly to use as DR and that could export in DR friendly model format I would be set!

#55 Tels

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 03:26 AM

I agree with nbhor, the drop in the modding scene is like the drop in the toolhead scene in contemporary cars. When you open the hood of a modern car you don't see an engine that's meant to be tooled with like one from the 70s, half of it is computer controlled, and the other half is built like in a black box that can hold the user's hand on the outside at the cost of being an impenetrable void on the inside. It doesn't even *look* like a car engine anymore, but this shell of "don't touch me". It just deflates the whole energy to want to mess with it. And the same goes for "locking up" modern games. There was this period when the spirit of the times was to open games and game engines up, like an extension of the spirit to have open worlds. But now that time has largely passed, where game engines are also getting put in a black box so they can hold the gamer's hand on the outside and be a void on the inside... And the slack is getting picked up by things like UDK and Unity.

But also, I think the ambitions of game-makers is evolving too, and after 15 years of making maps for other games they're thinking about making their own games from scratch now that the tools and making assets is more down to earth.

And then some of it is just a culture thing. Dark Mod is sort of unique in that it went to the engine that was actually best suited for it at the time. But for most projects, the people *start* with the game or engine they want to work on and the mindset that goes with it (cf. the vast majority of Doom3 mods), and *then* think about what kind of map or game they think fits with that culture. And these days those iPhone or "retro" type games are all the rage so people get wrapped up in that vibe and want to ride the coattails.

What I *wish* would happen would be a lot more experimentation with genre forms and people trying to develop gameplay forms in a more self-aware way, like influential art schools or some bands used to do, and use whatever tools best let them do it. (Though that would also be part of the "death of modding" story -- it's just the scene we find ourselves in -- but it pushes it in a different, better direction IMO.) I guess that has been done to a certain extent for some projects (like Minecraft), but most of the scene isn't that self-aware.


Just to add to this, I also see the world getting faster and the attention spans getting shorter. Nobody has time (ironically) to play 15h games, but, everybody has time to tend their virtual farm for 3h every day...

This leads to "app games" (e.g. free .. 1.5$), but provide you only 10 minutes game time then you get bored of it. You can see this f.i. in the thousands of "minigames" on facebook (I'd say 30% of them are a sort-of tower defense (shoot things in 2D after placing the guns on the map), 20% are "shoot things with your mouse", and 20% are "shoot things with your mouse in a physics simulation).

For the browser, there are sites like armorgames.com that havethe same layout.

Occasional, you find real gems in it, esp. artwork or design wise.

However, none of these are like the big PC games in the past we had. Maybe the era of these "big games" with huge worlds and so on is going to end.
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#56 Radiatoryang

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 06:49 PM

UDK and Unity aren't as difficult as you think. If you know your way around Radiant, you can definitely figure both those toolsets out. I urge you to try it. It's one tool out of many that you can use. Toolsets are only as powerful as the people who use them, etc.

As far as players: Modders follow the players, and players follow the newest game / engine. That's the benefit of standalone formats over mod formats... instead of rummaging through your closet to look for your old Doom 3 DVD, which no one will do.

Also, realize that TTLG was a very small player base to shoot for. (Or at least I consider it to be.) Comparatively, Dear Esther is a mod where you walk around and listen to a guy talk, and it has had maybe ~40,000 downloads, at the very least.

Now there are a lot of reasons why we might be disappointed with how popular TDM is... They might have been great design decisions in the beginning, but I don't think it's controversial to say that (a) your engine and mod format and (B) the learning curve and playstyles, are for a very specific and rare kind of player: the Thief veteran with a copy of Doom 3 and a beefy computer.

It's fine if you don't want to be all things to everyone, but you'll just have to come to terms with how little recognition you'll get, unfortunately.

I understand a game rules re-design / engine change will be an absurd amount of work. I just can't see any other option.

#57 BrokenArts

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 08:20 PM

Take it or leave it, TTLG is here to stay as well as TDM. It gets enough attention, it will rise upon its own when Thiaf 4 falls on its ass.
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#58 lost_soul

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 11:38 PM

One question I've been pondering over is whether the TDM developers will focus their attention on mapping soon. The mod is starting to feel pretty darn polished and stable now. I would happily pay $20 for a map pack for TDM (if such a thing were allowed).

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#59 New Horizon

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 11:38 PM

I understand a game rules re-design / engine change will be an absurd amount of work. I just can't see any other option.


Absurd amount of work? It would essentially be like starting over. It's not something that would be finished in a few months, it would be a number of years. Then what? All the existing maps would be unplayable on something like UDK...Dark Radiant would be tossed in the bin too. It's just not something you do...unless you're 3dRealms of course, where after 15 years and 3 or 4 engine changes you finally get the thing released. lol

The only way it could be done and salvage the existing work would be the xreal engine...which can compile Doom 3 maps into xreal format...shares our Dark Radiant editor...and the xreal engine is at least a close relative of the D3 engine....but even that would be an insane project. If 10 coders suddenly volunteered to convert TDM to xreal, well...it might have a chance...but nobody here is going to even consider an engine change at this point. It would be foolish.
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#60 Sotha

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 11:53 PM

The only way it could be done and salvage the existing work would be the xreal engine...which can compile Doom 3 maps into xreal format...shares our Dark Radiant editor...and the xreal engine is at least a close relative of the D3 engine....but even that would be an insane project. If 10 coders suddenly volunteered to convert TDM to xreal, well...it might have a chance...but nobody here is going to even consider an engine change at this point. It would be foolish.


I don't know anything about anything, but..
For the future, isn't the best option to make TDM slowly independent of D3? That plus D3 opensource.... Only the sky would be the limit, provided we had the manpower to accomplish the D3 asset free TDM. I wonder what is the biggest bottleneck.. Animations? Textures probably aren't the biggest problem.

And I think interest in the D3 engine might increase somewhat, when/if the source goes opensource. Maybe that would bring a few more capable team members?
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#61 Tels

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 02:14 AM

I don't know anything about anything, but..
For the future, isn't the best option to make TDM slowly independent of D3? That plus D3 opensource.... Only the sky would be the limit, provided we had the manpower to accomplish the D3 asset free TDM. I wonder what is the biggest bottleneck.. Animations? Textures probably aren't the biggest problem.


The biggest problem is the mindset. Everytime I bring the topic up, there are a lot of excuses along the line: "oh it can't be done" and "oh we don't have the manpower" and "we need the open source D3 first, anyway".

I have always said that a "d3 free TDM" is a goal (not THE goal, but A goal, and an important one). I have always worked in that direction (removed superflous Doom code and assets, removed classes, cleaned things up, removed needless including of doom scripts, always advocated "do not use D3 assets, it is doomed" (no pun) and so on. But that work is never recognized, instead if is belittled, shunned and questioned all the time (likewise for a lot of my work, but that is a sep. topic).

So when I added the famous paragraph http://wiki.thedarkm...n_TDM_1.03#Code to the Wiki, there was an immidiate "discussion". But instead of asking "how can we achive it", "what can I do to help" etc. there were a lot of questions on why should we even attempt it? Do we really want to do it? Who should do it? Should Tels (a member of the team) be able to define what the team wants? etc etc yadda yadda.

If an olympic sprinter (insert other famous sport here) starts to think what happes if he would lose, he already lost....


And I think interest in the D3 engine might increase somewhat, when/if the source goes opensource. Maybe that would bring a few more capable team members?


At the moment the team is shrinking from quarter to quarter and it doesn't look like somebody will pick up. Graymen is the exception (and he does a bootload of work), but other than that there are only about 4 or 5 people working at all, and most of them are already burned out in one way or another. And I don't see this changing soon, unfortunately.
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." -- George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

"Remember: If the game lets you do it, it's not cheating." -- Xarax

#62 Tels

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 02:53 AM

I understand a game rules re-design / engine change will be an absurd amount of work. I just can't see any other option.


radiatoryang, nice to see you posting here :) Love your blog.

Anyway, I agree that:

* the D3 engine is not optimal (because it has low popularity among modders/coders/players and because it is not open source, not available for mobile/game console). When it goes open source, things might get better - but we are hoping/waiting for this for a few years already and there is no guarantee.
* sneaker games for PC only are not popular (short attention span, not enough bum&bang in them, not enough exposure (no mobile, no playstation), the need-D3 thing)

However, the problem (as other said) is not the "absurf amount of work", it is the "get 10 people and let them work for 2 years fulltime" amount of work that makes this a fantasy. (If you take longer than 2 years, you are already using an outdated engine again, so you would be in the same position as you are in now).

Since we can't even get 3 full time people to work on TDM, so this is just a moot discussion to have.

You an now argue that "DE" has a higher audience, but it is A LOT less work than TDM. But this is a bit apples to oranges - the amount of work doesn't have to do with the popularity, apparently. There are a lot of games that take 1/10 the amount of work to do as TDM does, but are highly popular. Probably any 2d mobile game has higher downloads than we ever had.

So where does that leave us? Either we:

* port to a new engine and still not be popular (because maybe our product is simply not popular)
* port to a new engine and still not be popular (because it takes another 5 years)
* make something else (like DE, or a shooter or whatever) and be not popular because we take 5 years (and then nobody cares anymore)
* OR we make something else and finish it in 4..12 months

While the last option sounds the most promising in terms of "get popular", it would also be not TDM at all.

You have to face it, we are clinging to TDM and putting our lives on the line for it, because we :wub: TDM, not because we want to be popular. We hope we will be, but if we won't, well, though luck, we'll stay here, anyway.

Personally, I have had always a feew ideas (like make a multiplayer sneaker game in the browser) that would attract a larger audience, but that would boil down again to the two questions:

* who will join (I am a coder, not an artist)
* and will the audience really care, anyway?
* won't I hate me because I left the challange (of beating D3 to do what we want) and went the easier route?

Food for thought, for sure :)
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." -- George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

"Remember: If the game lets you do it, it's not cheating." -- Xarax

#63 Sotha

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 04:46 AM

So these posts sound as if the future of tdm isn't very bright.

Why is the team shrinking?

Let's look at tdm. The mod works. There is no betaish feeling. It feels like a working commercial level game.

The most important things work. There is not much work left to make tdm perfect in regard to t1&t2&t3.

Big question is, why aren't people interested? Because they would need to buy d3 to play tdm, I suppose, rather than modern casual gaming.

I've tried to lure a couple of my buddies to try tdm. They are extremely excited, they loved thief games.

But then when they learn that they need to buy old d3, their enthusiasm irrationally dies. Irrationally, because d3 isn't that expensive.
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#64 Shadowhide

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 05:05 AM

Big question is, why aren't people interested? Because they would need to buy d3 to play tdm, I suppose, rather than modern casual gaming.


its not a reason,really interested people will get d3 anyhow

personally,I don't buy it,I download it


Proceed with caution!

#65 Springheel

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 06:45 AM

I wonder what is the biggest bottleneck.. Animations? Textures probably aren't the biggest problem.


No, not many straight textures are used. But lots of animations, models (with high poly normalmaps), sounds and particle effects are. If you do a search on this topic, I've gone into a lot more detail elsewhere. For the record, this topic has been coming up for years, and not a single significant D3 asset has been replaced in that time, so that tells you something.

So these posts sound as if the future of tdm isn't very bright.



The negativity is a little out of proportion, IMO. TDM is never going to be as popular as more mainstream mods, just like Thief isn't as popular as more mainstream games. That shouldn't be a surprise. The download statistics testify to a LOT of people playing TDM missions. As the game gets more stable, and D3 gets even cheaper, those numbers can only increase.

We've gotten very positive reviews by gaming magazines and even the developers of T4. Remember that for every one person who logs onto the forums to say they like the game, there are at least a hundred others who just enjoy it in silence.

Why is the team shrinking?


All teams go through a certain amount of attrition, as people burn out or get occupied with RL. In earlier years we tended to gain as many people as we lost, but now that the mod is released there are fewer new people joining.
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#66 Tels

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 07:11 AM

No, not many straight textures are used. But lots of animations, models (with high poly normalmaps), sounds and particle effects are. If you do a search on this topic, I've gone into a lot more detail elsewhere. For the record, this topic has been coming up for years, and not a single significant D3 asset has been replaced in that time, so that tells you something.


I have replaced quite a few light textures, and entity defs etc, greebo replaced all the AI scripts with C++ code (long ago), we got new sounds (the D3 bubble sounds IIRC were thrown out). so one could argue "what is significant", tho.

OTOH, as long as we release a "working" (for some very lose definition of "working") zombie based on the D3 zombie, there is simply no pressure from players (want zombies badly!) or mappers (need zombies badly), so what we are stuck with is a half-working D3 zombie.

And that is (IMO) the problem: we are not strict enough. We permit ourselves to "oh make it work, we can fix the D3 asset problem later" instead of a "do not use D3 assets AT ALL AND UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES YES WE MEAN IT BY YELLING AT YOU". Then later the mapper sees the assets, assumes they are TDM, and uses them. And then we can't even remove or replace them, because it would break a mission.

And by this we (as the team I mean) are contributing to the problem instead of solving it.
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." -- George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

"Remember: If the game lets you do it, it's not cheating." -- Xarax

#67 fllood

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 07:41 AM

You have to face it, we are clinging to TDM and putting our lives on the line for it, because we :wub: TDM, not because we want to be popular. We hope we will be, but if we won't, well, though luck, we'll stay here, anyway.

For that spirit I love TDM & it's archivements and have huge respect for each one in Team & Supporting keeping that idealistic mindset :wub:
"To rush is without doubt the most important enemy of joy" ~ Thieves Saying

#68 New Horizon

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 08:17 AM

However, the problem (as other said) is not the "absurf amount of work", it is the "get 10 people and let them work for 2 years fulltime" amount of work that makes this a fantasy. (If you take longer than 2 years, you are already using an outdated engine again, so you would be in the same position as you are in now).


That's not what I meant. :) I meant that if 'we' tried to do it ourselves it could probably take 2 full years, or more, but if 10 coders suddenly came out of nowhere...they could probably port it to xreal much faster since the framework to support a lot of the doom 3 systems is already there.

#69 Springheel

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 08:23 AM

OTOH, as long as we release a "working" (for some very lose definition of "working") zombie based on the D3 zombie, there is simply no pressure from players (want zombies badly!) or mappers (need zombies badly), so what we are stuck with is a half-working D3 zombie.


I have no idea what you mean by "half-working". We have more than one zombie (based on D3 assets) and they all work fine.

"do not use D3 assets AT ALL AND UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES YES WE MEAN IT BY YELLING AT YOU".


Yes, we could have done that, and given up zombies, skeletons, half of our head models, machine sounds, blood textures, steam particles, werebeasts, beggars, revenant and spider sounds, assorted models, etc, ad naseum.

But we didn't.
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#70 nbohr1more

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 02:56 PM

Not to jump into a long-standing disagreement but I find the topic matter too interesting...

To summarize the gloom-n-doom; The Dark Mod's "situation" is "a mod that appeals to a niche crowd for a niche game". Many players have cast doubts about the underlying engine because of how it performs and looks. There is no escape from being tied to Doom 3 because the assets are not portable. New blood is not coming in and the old blood is draining...

I think that all the assertions above are vitally less important then the last. More involvement. More new faces. The players will flock to content even if it is tied to a "crappy" game. Once the players come, contributors follow.

The biggest impediment is simply lack of awareness:

1) Many folks don't even know ANY mods exist much less "The Dark Mod". If they want new gameplay they purchase it.

2) Of those who are somewhat cognisant of mods, they often believe them to be things like weapon tweaks which are cumbersome to install and will possibly introduce stability problems.

3) Finally, if we get over the hurdle of the obscurity of mods, when someone wants a Thief style game the do not immediately think of a game with a Sci-Fi setting like Doom 3 to find mods that match their taste. They will likely end-up with Oblivion thief-guild mods installed instead.

So Moddb does act as a beacon to let folks stumble onto TDM but obviously it's effectiveness is limited. Even being in the Top 100 didn't really drive-up the numbers so much. Moddb seems to be more the land of Source and Stalker mod people. I think we need to spread the word to RPG and MMO players who play games in historical settings. We need to post screens, videos, and details in their forums.

To me The Dark Mod is not only a great game but a great showcase of "what if" for folks wondering what kinda games an Id Tech 4 licensee would've created if more of them used the technology and pushed it. I thought that Beyond3d and Quake3world would be interested in the mod for it's technical use at least but it seems that those crowds just don't care about Id Tech 4 and a "stealth" game is mostly below contempt (Especially at Q3W, TDM is seen as wasting a perfectly good engine for death-matches on stealth...).

Now, onto asset replacement.

Rather then drawing the line and saying "no Doom 3 assets right now", how about instead saying "Such and Such AI-Head must be replaced with a TDM only version by two TDM versions from now." Then one-by-one whittle out and replace each asset. But this is presuming that the skill to replace any of the items even exists. If not, then we again need to grow contributors by growing an audience.

Perhaps a high-profile stunt like "The Dark Mod is teaming-up with the Hexen: Edge of Chaos team to help them with their tricky coding issues." Somehow Hexen Mod always seems more newsworthy to folks than TDM. If we helped their mod it would be mutually beneficial and they've got talented folk who might return the favor by adding assets. Heck, I'm sure some of our mappers would love to rework some of the Hexen: EoC maps for TDM. Think of the extra publicity for SEED if it were integrated into Hexen or Ruiner mods.

I really don't think Doom 3 assets are really holding-back the mod from expanding though. (As nice as it would be to break the tethers.) You could port TDM to Xreal or any other Open Source engine that could use Doom 3 assets, then just include the Xreal (etc) engine with the mod as installed inside Doom 3. You could then have complete control over expanding engine features without violating Id intellectual property. The Doom3.exe would be sitting there collecting dust but that is no big deal. Just having the two executables there in the Doom 3 install folder would probably frustrate at least one animator or modeler to replace a couple of assets to alleviate the absurdity of the situation.

That's enough ramble for now.
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#71 lowenz

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 03:54 PM

For that spirit I love TDM & it's archivements and have huge respect for each one in Team & Supporting keeping that idealistic mindset :wub:

Not idealistic, passionate!

Task is not so much to see what no one has yet seen but to think what nobody has yet thought about that which everybody see. - E.S.


#72 fllood

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 07:08 AM

Not idealistic, passionate!

yeah... indeed both of that :D

@nbohr

good thoughts
"To rush is without doubt the most important enemy of joy" ~ Thieves Saying

#73 Springheel

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 07:32 AM

Rather then drawing the line and saying "no Doom 3 assets right now", how about instead saying "Such and Such AI-Head must be replaced with a TDM only version by two TDM versions from now." Then one-by-one whittle out and replace each asset. But this is presuming that the skill to replace any of the items even exists.


In the three (or is it four now?) years since Oddity left, there has only been one person other than myself who has provided a usable character model, and it's still sitting around until I have time to rig it. And I don't have the necessary skills to make high poly normalmaps, so I'm dependent on Oddity's already existing ones, or the ones from D3 assets.

Replacing those assets simply isn't possible unless we have a new influx of highly talented modelers who are keen to copy things we already have. The odds of that happening are somewhere below slim.
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#74 New Horizon

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 07:55 AM

Replacing those assets simply isn't possible unless we have a new influx of highly talented modelers who are keen to copy things we already have. The odds of that happening are somewhere below slim.


Yup, we've had some character modelers come along who were not interested in working within those guidelines. They had their own artistic style, and while their models looked fine on their own, they clashed with the existing models. Oddity is a hard act to follow, his work has a distinctly human quality to it...they're not as stylized as models you see in other games.

#75 Tels

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 09:13 AM

I have no idea what you mean by "half-working". We have more than one zombie (based on D3 assets) and they all work fine.


No, they do not work "fine", unless you define "fine" to be "work mostly" :)

See: http://bugs.angua.at/view.php?id=2442

(the D3 zombies f.i. miss sleeping animations, and who knows what else they do not have...)

Yes, we could have done that, and given up zombies, skeletons, half of our head models, machine sounds, blood textures, steam particles, werebeasts, beggars, revenant and spider sounds, assorted models, etc, ad naseum.

But we didn't.


Yes, and I said "maybe we should have", because then we'd have either

* the things missing and a high-enough pressure for someone to come along and create them
* OR have them already working in a D3-free version

Right now we got them in the unfree version, and as I noted above, quite some of them even half-working. And that is simply not a good long-term prospect (as you noted, because nobody seems to care anymore about changing them).

And btw, you proved my point I made a few posts earlier just nicely by again dragging out arguments on "why we don't remove or replace these assets" instead of just replacing them. We are going circles now.
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