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Freeroam


Kingo64
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23 members have voted

  1. 1. Is it a good idea or not?

    • Yes
      6
    • No
      17


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I loved how in Thief 3 you could do as you please around the small and interlinking maps of the city. Stealing cheap loot, buying equipment or mucking around with the guard's AI..

 

Would it be possible if you could create free roam for TDM. Quests would be gained from talking to certain NPC's or at a hub such as a tavern.

 

Any way, I would love to see this happen. This mod has a lot of potential and some very innovative features such as the lockpicking system.

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TDM is a toolkit. Someone could certainly create a free-roam city area, but I suspect it would turn out to be pretty boring. Or at least a lot less interesting than the same city area with specfic goals and story contents.

 

If you're talking about an actual mission "hub" that links to other missions, that's probably possible as well but it's a lot more work. You'd have to coordinate with the other mission authors (and some code support might be needed).

 

Personally, I'm not sure I'd really want to load new missions from inside a hub. It would be fun at first, but as soon as you get to know the hub map fairly well, it becomes tedious, as it did in TDS.

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I liked the idea at first! I would probably be supporting it, if it wasn't for my experience with TDS. Because soon became boring to go through the same places all the time and I couldn't care less about that whole faction status crap, I'd rather rob them all.

 

But I wouldn't say it's impossible to make it work..

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I too feel this is something that would have to be a community project. Perhaps you aren't aware that TDM set out to be more of a spiritual evolution of Thief 1/2, side stepping Deadly Shadows.

 

If some mappers wanted to get together and put together some kind of free roaming hub, they're more than welcome to do so, but we would treat it as any other FM and not require players to use it.

 

For my own personal tastes, I don't want free roaming to be a part of my TDM playing experience. I want to load up TDM, choose the mission from the loading menu and jump right into it. I loved the freedom of not being tied to a specific area in the original games.

 

In deadly shadows, the free roaming maps made the Thief world feel so much smaller...mainly because the structure of the original games allowed the designers to make it feel like the city was this huge sprawling place, without ever having created it. Our minds did the rest. That's what I want for TDM. I don't want to paint it into a box.

In Deadly Shadows, the 'city' felt like a small town.

 

I'm happy to see mappers in the community create work with the toolset, but a free roaming hub won't be part of our official agenda.

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The scripting for Dark Mod is really powerful, so I think a clever mapper could create a free-roam FM and get a world up and running that gives you a lot of sandbox freedom, though it'd be a lot of work. I wonder about stuff like dealing with guard alerts, KOs & deaths, re-spawning NPCs, economic variables... And I think it might take more than *just* scripting and you'd have to add some stuff to the AI and objects, so they themselves will be more free roaming, able to handle certain jobs, etc. Then it'd be a lot of work content-wise just to *fill* the world with interactive opportunities and some "life", so it's not so empty when you dig into it.

 

I'm more enthusiastic about some of the possibilities than others, though. But I totally understand that it's moving into a different kind of gameplay than what Dark Mod was made for. And I agree that it doesn't lend itself well to mainstream FMs at all, and I don't think it's a good idea to do it with that attitude. But it might be cool if an individual mapper made their own free roam world in a one-off (ambitious!) FM experience. Then maybe others could come later and build off their work to do their own variations. But if it's done at all, that's how I'd want to see it, not as a collaborative or "hub" thing, not like TDS, and not as a mainstream part of TDM.

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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If the Dark Mod supports it I don't see why someone couldn't create a freeroam hub that connects to different missions.

 

I have a feeling this sort of thing gets a lot of detractors because it wasn't done well in TDS but hey, if some enterprising modder/mapper has a great idea and thinks s/he can one up TDS, I really feel s/he should just go ahead and make it so.

"A closet intellectual, he acts dumb to impress women."

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I would not be for a hub, but a suitably sizeable free-roaming mission like Uncadonego's Thief's Highway? Very much. Just note that even with a toolset as versatile and relatively hassle-free as TDM, building a large level is bound to be a lot of work. To put things into perspective, Bad Debts and Disorientation took 9 and 11 months, respectively. I'd estimate an equal-sized TDM mission would be about the same, although with more detail (assets allowing - there is no equivalence since the textures, objects etc. are different).

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

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Well from most of your opinions it looks like you would like it as a custom FM. I just like the feeling in games that I can piss off and do what I want for a while instead of not always being bound to a certain task at hand. Maybe think of something a bit like Assassin's Creed.

 

But still. It would be nice to see a good strong community project. Working in a group makes jobs much easier and quicker and usually a greater experience. Oh well, I hope someone can make something like this.

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There are some misunderstandings here. It is already technically possible to make a hub FM with some limitations.

 

It is similar to a campaign but whereas a campaign is a sequence of FMs played in order, a hub has a central FM (hub) and the other FMs (spokes) can theoretically be played at any time from the hub. In practice their access is normally restricted for story/gameplay reason so you finish up playing most of them in sequence anyway. The main difference is returning to the same central hub FM.

 

As said, the hub helps to integrate and focus all the other FMs from one centre but many might find replaying the same area boring. It probably doesn't need to be. If the hub is made tiny and easy to pass through with perhaps a few items of use and interest such as a store where you could buy tools and weapons then it need be no more boring than going to a menu and selecting 'continue to the next FM in the campaign' then selecting what weapons/tools you want at the menu shop. Another idea might be to open up different areas of the hub as you progress back from different spokes.

 

What TDM does not support at present is:

 

1. The transfer of player weapons/inventory to each FM.

 

2. The restoring of game situations when you re-visit any particular 'area' of the FM.

 

3. The management of sequential campaigns at the menus. (Mission Complete then leading automatically to the start of the next campaign briefing etc.)

 

The hub method does not need 3 above because Mission Complete can be simulated within an FM (I did it in Thief's Den originally before the Mission Complete proper was created.) Also you might not necessarily want it in that form but just leave the player to make his way back to the hub when all objectives are completed in that spoke FM.

 

I believe 3 can be accomplished with a script running a console command to save and restore game saves.

 

#1 might be achieved. This was discussed in another thread recently. An alternative is that each spoke you begin with new weapons/inventory.

 

Apart from the above technical problems, a hub FM is like any other campaign - a lot of work depending on quality and size.

 

Footnote: There is a third form that is neither hub nor campaign: net or web. With these there are just many FMs all interlinked so you can freely move from any one of them to any other either directly or via another depending on what connections the mapper chooses to include.

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The hub method does not need 3 above because Mission Complete can be simulated within an FM (I did it in Thief's Den originally before the Mission Complete proper was created.) Also you might not necessarily want it in that form but just leave the player to make his way back to the hub when all objectives are completed in that spoke FM.

Considering that TDM has very few known technical limitations, could not a hub-based FM series be simulated via a mission that was just very large? Individual "missions" then would be treated as separate objectives; a skilful group of mappers could set up a sequence with some effort & forethought.

 

The main downside I see would be ungodly loading times, of course. There is also the question whether in-mission cutscenes are possible, and if yes, how - via animation or something like a camvator. (Doom3 had cutscenesm but I don't know if TDM could handle 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

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Yes, that can be done. Two other problems arise:

 

Max entity limit is 8192. The FM I am making has already about 3300+ and is like to go well over 4000, probably 5000. But I confess I have not optimised entity use to save me time. With a lot of work I could probably reduce this to possibly even half. But even so, 5 modest spokes combined with a modest hub might exceed 8192 entities.

 

The more AI you have the more it slows down. I recommend the thinking time settings that are in Chalice and Patently Dangerous rather than the defaults. This slows down their processing in the distance while still keeping them patrolling etc. Even so, on my next FM I have had to add neverdormant 0. This is the doom3 default but it's 1 in TDM because we have much more going on in the background. Still, I'm noticing one guard is always just outside a certain door when I go out (frozen from game start until I go into that area) and another is supposed to go somewhere but gets frozen half way. So I need to make some adjustments. What I will probably do is adjust a few select AI to mask this freezing and then set it only on Level 1. (I've already optimised Level 1 for low performance machines.) Anyway, I say all this because nobody has yet made a fully working huge FM so although it can be built we don't really yet know the practical limits. No doubt people will come up with solutions in the future though.

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Hasn't this been tested in Dram's mansion mission or the Bonehoard? Or are these not yet at a stage where they can take in a number of AI?

 

Thanks for the info on neverdormant, that may come in handy. Some guards could be given that attribute, e.g. those which are stationary or are bound to a smaller locale.

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

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The reduced thinking time was implemented because of Dram's FM as I recall. The team were looking at different possibilities for improving performance. The actual default values were arrived at by testing but since which I tried reducing them more. You can't go too low or the AI crash into walls because they are still moving along but too slow-witted to avoid obstaclkes. Nobody had any problem in the released FMs regarding thinking time so I think my values are OK.

 

A script for setting/resetting neverdormant might be useful though. Far distant AI can be set to freeze (except for selected ones perhaps) and neverdormant restored within a certain range. By default doom3 unfreezes the AI when they are within the player's portal area.

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Isn't that a problem, though, with AI seen from a distance? Or does "portal" refer to "all open visportals plus adjacent areas"? I think I may have seen an AI "return to consciousness" in one of the released 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

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I'm not sure what the correct term is (think I've seen 'leaf' somewhere) but I usually call it the player's portal area. By that I mean the area that is defined by the closed visportals around the player, the area that is processed by the renderer. So it should be impossible to see a dormant AI.

 

The thinking time works purely on a max and min distance. Up to the min distance from the player there is no difference. After that, thinking time gradually reduces according to distance from the player up to the max. It takes no notice of portal areas I don't think so a visible distant sentry might well be thinking slowly but I don't think it should affect his speed of motion.

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definatly NO.

Always running through the same places is boring...

 

Not only that, but it's a completely different type of game style.

 

The TDS team was trying to cash in on the popularity of games like Grand Theft Auto, and other free roaming types of games. That wasn't really what made Thief a fun game though. Thief was great because of the 'implied' expansiveness of 'The City', not the 'visualized' expansiveness of it.

 

It's not even that it was done all that badly in TDS. Even if the city sections had been joined together in one massive map, it still would have been bad. One of the major keys to Thief was the wonderful pacing of the between mission movies. The story progressed by days, weeks, or months between missions. Enough time for story to unfold.

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Well, simplified version: a single mission in a section of the city, objectives:

- get 300 loot (for rent);

- buy (or steal) milk;

- knock down Mr. X for not giving your money for the last job;

- do not kill anyone;

- once done, go home and good night.

Edited by etdarkb
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Max entity limit is 8192. The FM I am making has already about 3300+ and is like to go well over 4000, probably 5000. But I confess I have not optimised entity use to save me time. With a lot of work I could probably reduce this to possibly even half.

 

"8.2K of entities should be enough for anybody."

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I was tlking to a friend about this and he would really like to see some sort of progressive change caused by the player. Like ghosting a mission means that the next mission has conversations about how so and so was robbed and nothing else was disturbed, or killing everyone means more guards in the next mission and conversations/readables about the carnage.

 

I think that it would probably have to be 1 mission built as sub missions, one after the other, for the players interaction to carry forward (or could one mission save certain values to an ini file and the player manually copies those to the next FM folder?) Most people would rather have 3 missions released in order, than have to wait a really long time for all 3 to be finished together just for this type of immersion gimmick.

Edited by bardic
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- get 300 loot (for rent);

- buy (or steal) milk;

- knock down Mr. X for not giving your money for the last job;

- do not kill anyone;

- once done, go home and good night.

Cool :). Just a night out on the town, right? So that's how Gar...field spends his time between missions ^_^.

 

"8.2K of entities should be enough for anybody."

It's also a way to make sure to use good building practices. A few real examples:

 

Suppose there's a warehouse filled with crates. There's no sense in making every single crate an individual model; why not cheat a little and fill a few rows with one big crate-textured brush, and surround that with models? It's more efficient, the visual difference is negligible, and building goes faster.

 

Suppose there's a long hallway with pillars you crafted with patches and brushes. There's nothing preventing you from turning 80 individual func_static pillars into 40 "pairs" of func_static pillars.

yay seuss crease touss dome in ouss nose tair

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Just a heads up for those planning a giant mission:

In my own missions I'm developing, I hit a brick wall after 6200 entities. It simply wouldn't allow more. I know technically darkmod can handle 8.2k, but in this case scenario it wouldn't.

After 10k brushes, and 13k patches (yes I had more patches then brushes), my mission began having malloc errors. Malloc errors are a nightmare to deal with, and as a generality, mark the limit of how large your mission can be. Of course this number can vary, with the given size of all the brushes/patches, but I think my own example here is a steady medium.

 

So in retrospect, a giant (and I mean GIANT) hub city level would be a bad idea (unless split up). Too many patches/brushes = crash.

Don't despair though, my upcoming missions are Thief 2 sized and larger with no problems :), so Im sure everyone else won't have a problem developing larger missions.

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