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hanmin

A plea to make TDM and missions better playable without audio

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The user Cambridge Spy recently inspired me to bring this up.

http://forums.thedarkmod.com/topic/17163-fan-mission-a-house-of-locked-secrets-by-gelo-moonbo-fleisher-20150528/page-6?do=findComment&comment=373216

 

I often play TDM without any sound, either because I'd disturb other people in the room or because I use the same computer to playback something else (e.g. a talk on youtube, some podcast, etc) and TDM does not run flawlessly with ALSA/PulseAudio.

Also, I'd love to see TDM and its missions to be more accessible to hearing impaired people.

 

So if you design a mission, use doors with handles, and chests with levers for pickable stuff.

I do not know, if Cambridge Spies suggestion about subtitles is easily implemented in a mission or future Versions of TDM, but they are essential if you can't hear dialogues for whatever reason, especially when they are important to the storyline or give you hints.

 

Regarding lockpicking, maybe there is a way to implement visual feedback on HUD like the tension meter in "Not an ordinary guest" in future versions.

 

 

This said, many thanks to all developers, mission designers and testers for this great game.

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TDM like the thief games, relies heavily on audio. Its so intrinsic to the gameplay that asking mappers to design a map without it is like asking blind man to walk across a busy road.

 

My I humbly suggest a pair of head phones, also what is alsa/pulse audio..?

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Aye. Audio is key in TDM and from my POW it is odd to play without it.

 

That said, we do have the moving lock parts and I agree they should be always used by the mapper if possible, because it looks good and gives both visual and audio clue of the current state of the lock.


Clipper

-The mapper's best friend.

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I'm going to have agree with Biker, while I do sometimes play with the sound down, these games were designed around the audio.

 

Biker he's on Linux, hence the pulse audio.


I always assumed I'd taste like boot leather.

 

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TDM like the thief games, rely heavily on audio. Its intrinsic to the gameplay, so asking mappers to design a map without it is like asking blind man to walk across a busy road.

 

My I humbly suggest a pair of head phones, also what is alsa/pulse audio..?

 

Audio is also intrinsic to feature films and TV shows, still subtitles exist for people not having (fully) access to it or the skills to recept the spoken language. (I hear perfectly well for my age, but I find it way more easy to read English than to hear it, as it's not my native tongue)

 

I tried to suggest adding some visual feedback for lockpicking and supported the idea of subtitles for (mono-/)dialogues (general and mission specific), not dispensing with sound elements. Sorry if I did not make this clear.

 

Headphones are a (quick and dirty) workaround for me, that comes with disadvantages.

 

ALSA/PulseAudio is the common sound system you find on Linux desktops. Very roughly: Pulse is the soundserver that "mixes" the audio signals from any application it receives and passes it to ALSA. The latter "sends" it to the appropriate hardware.

The current issue with TDM is, that when you run TDM sound through Pulse, there is a significant latency, that renders user experience absurd. The workaround is, to send TDM sound directly to ALSA, with the disadvantage, that it will be the exclusive application for sound playback. You also have to close all Applications(or browser tabs) that currently use Pulse, before you start TDM.

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Making games accessible for people with visual or hearing disabilities is a great thing to aim for, but in the case of TDM it would require a significant amount of UI design and the team is not exactly overflowing with programmers. Adding visual feedback for lockpicking might be a good idea, but that's only a small part of the issue. How are you going to hear when a guard is sneaking up on you, for example? You'd need some kind of visual overlay, perhaps some glowing footstep icons that appear at the bottom of the screen from left to right based on the position of the guard.

 

Having optional subtitles is also a good idea, but simply adding the mechanism to allow it isn't enough: you'd need someone to go through every mission adding text for every conversation (or decide which ones were important and just focus on those). Perhaps individual mission authors could be persuaded to do this for their own missions, at least if there weren't too many conversations, or it could be outsourced to third-party contributors much like translations are.

 

So by all means propose these sorts of changes, but you are pretty much going to need to recruit people to join the team and implement them if you want them to see the light of day.

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I think it is a noble goal to try to make TDM available to hearing impaired people, but I also think that the game all in all depends too heavily on sound (like OrbWeaver said, you not only need to hear for lockpicks but also for guards). I also like to listen to music while I play from time to time, but for TDM and other stealth games, I do not like it. It not only makes this kind of games more difficult, because you cannot hear guards etc, but it also hinders immersion, which for me is quite important for these games. So I think, visualisation of all sound elements would be just too much for such a game and the number of beneficiaries would not justify the effort needed.

 

Subtitles on the other hand would be very appreciated. I also am no native speaker and although I believe my English to be pretty good, I sometimes have difficulties understanding everything. Just recently I played the Thomas Porter Campaign in TDM and sometimes the dialogues were just too low in volume for me to understand. But as OrbWeaver said: For existing missions you either need third party contributors or the authors have to be kind enough to provide subtitles themselves. That leads me to the question: How difficult is it actually to create the subtitles? If its mainly typing the dialogues and the linking to the audio file is easy, it should not be too much work and thus you will find more volunteers to do this. I could imagine, that most authors already have the script somewhere (if they did not improvise the dialogue, which I highly doubt) and just need to copy and paste it (or provide it for other people to do just that). If the linking is quite complicated, most people will shy away from it.

Another point for me, why I would like subtitles, is, that I do not have good recording equipment (and do not know how talented I would be as a voice actor) and with subtitles I could include dialogues without recording them. But as I said before: It strongly depends on how difficult it is to create the subtitles.

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Whilst I agree that audio is a very important part of TDM I wonder if you are aware that you can change the lock pick difficulty to auto in the settings and it will act the same way as Thief 1/2 as in you just apply the lock pick and wait... I don't believe any audio cues are needed

Edited by Goldwell

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Another point for me, why I would like subtitles, is, that I do not have good recording equipment (and do not know how talented I would be as a voice actor) and with subtitles I could include dialogues without recording them. But as I said before: It strongly depends on how difficult it is to create the subtitles.

 

I guess, it depends. For all the general gameplay short lines ("What was that?", "Did I hear something?", "It was a good performance the other night") it "only" needs to be triggered once (along with the corresponding audio clip). When there are longer Monologues like in "A house of locked secrets" or dialogues you might want something like an *.srt file to make things perfect. The timestamps in there require a lot of work to write and time, and a more complex parser whould need to be coded. (As the text itsself is probably written somewhere for the speaker anyway its merely a copypast thing for the designers to provide the content.) I'd been involved in some live-subtitleing for a conference and also did some stuff with amara.org. Both a very stressful or frustrating thing to do.

I'd say an optional 2D overlay writing the screen full of text would be pretty awsome already, maybe along with a fontsize setting in Darkmod.cfg.

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Whilst I agree that audio is a very important part of TDM I wonder if you are aware that you can change the lock pick difficulty to auto in the settings and it will act the same way as Thief 1/2 as in you just apply the lock pick and wait... I don't believe any audio cues are needed

 

No, I was only aware that the difficulty was tunable. Thnx.

(Never played Thief btw)

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So I think, visualisation of all sound elements would be just too much for such a game and the number of beneficiaries would not justify the effort needed.

 

I agree on the immersion part. Whenever I am alone, I use sound, but I also switch sound off, when someone enters the living room, instead of switching off the entire game. I don't think you need a visualisation for all sound elements, but apart from spoken word, any visualisation for sound (peak-/VUmeter, scrolling waveform, whatever) could/would cover all other sounds (footsteps, doors, music) anyway.

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That said, we do have the moving lock parts and I agree they should be always used by the mapper if possible, because it looks good and gives both visual and audio clue of the current state of the lock.

 

The training mission uses a combination of locks in the lockpicking area that either can't be seen or heard.

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The way to make the game more or less accesible to the impaired would probably be to add captions like it's done in Half Life 2, Left 4 Dead where for each sound you get captions on what they actually are.

It's better than nothing in the long term. I think deaf people would be grateful. But it would also be good advertize it on the main game page so that they can easily see that this game if for them.

Edited by Anderson

"I really perceive that vanity about which most men merely prate — the vanity of the human or temporal life. I live continually in a reverie of the future. I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active — not more happy — nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago. The result will never vary — and to suppose that it will, is to suppose that the foregone man has lived in vain — that the foregone time is but the rudiment of the future — that the myriads who have perished have not been upon equal footing with ourselves — nor are we with our posterity. I cannot agree to lose sight of man the individual, in man the mass."...

- 2 July 1844 letter to James Russell Lowell from Edgar Allan Poe.

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Having optional subtitles would be something good for the mod. It could increase the number of potential non-English speaking players since creating subtitles is a less demanding process than recording new voices.

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We have an open bug tracker with some example code already. It just hasn't been vetted and merged.

 

http://bugs.thedarkmod.com/view.php?id=2454

 

http://forums.thedarkmod.com/topic/11752-subtitles/

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Please visit TDM's IndieDB site and help promote the mod:

 

http://www.indiedb.com/mods/the-dark-mod

 

(Yeah, shameless promotion... but traffic is traffic folks...)

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How about something simple like an ambient noise/decibel meter next to the light gem ?

 

It won't tell you what is being said in conversations but it will tell you the level of ambient noise and the pattern will give you some clue as to what's going on.

 

Most AI conversations are barks and it's not vitally important to know what the content of the bark is if it's really important to know then there's usually a readable somewhere, the behaviour of an AI changes if the alert level changes so you don't really need to know it's saying "hmm thought I heard something" it helps with immersion, but if you knew it was saying something & saw it's behaviour you could roughly tell it's alert level and whether you need to watch out for it.

 

Footsteps should cause the meter to pulse with each step, increasing amplitude means approaching, decreasing means going away, conversations should make it react, so you should be able to spot AI behind cover if they're making a noise.

 

It might be possible to take this from the normal sound output, if I click on the sound icon on my toolbar it gives me an indication of the level of sound currently going to the speakers irrespective of whether they're turned on or not.

 

What would be nice would be if it could be directional, so as you turn a sound source makes a greater or lesser effect on the meter, perhaps make it an average of the L/R channels sound level.

 

No idea how easy it would be to implement but it sounds simpler than retrofitting subtitles and finding a way of displaying them that gives the same direction & distance cues as the sound system.

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I think subtitles and visualisation of sound are two different topics. They are related, of course, but still not the same.

 

Your suggestion is not bad, but still you will have to find someone who is able and willing to implement it. I myself would not know where to start, but I have no programming experience...

 

Regarding subtitles: As discussed before: If we sould find an easy way to implement these, translation of missions would be much easier and thus some missions would not only be better playable for hearing impaired people, but also non native-speakers.

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might even be possible to build such a meter as a custom game object to test the idea without modding the base TDM code, i don't know what access designers have to OS functions from within the game though

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About CCs... How does the system, if possible, filter out what's relevant if there are several NPCs barking/conversing at once? Is the players focus and distance taken into account in some way?

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I'm personally all in favor of a branch version geared towards the hearing impaired. I don't think it can be on the list of priorities for the team to work on, and I'm skeptical it can be integrated with the main branch game, at least in early versions, just because of the UI overhaul it'll need. But a group of folks working on a branch version for it would be nice to see ... along with a multiplayer branch.

 

My general feeling is, the more new fans we draw in, the more likely we are to see branch projects because there will be enough people to be interested & work on them.

 

Edit: My dolphin is back, it seems. :(


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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About CCs... How does the system, if possible, filter out what's relevant if there are several NPCs barking/conversing at once? Is the players focus and distance taken into account in some way?

 

The way I've seen this done in MMO games is by having text appear above the particular NPC in 3D space, much like a speech bubble. MMOs tend to also have a chat/console window that the recorded speech often appears in (along with other text such as server chat, combat damage etc which would of course not be needed for TDM).

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we can pull off a chat window textbox easy enough right? I mean we'll need it for multiplayer anyways, plus I think doom 3 already has one. I wish I knew exactly how to put it into the game myself, but unfortunately it would take me forever to figure it out and it wouldn't be that pretty.

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The gui is fine putting the text on screen in an overlay, in a textbox, or on gui objects in the world like speech bubbles above AI. The question is more about aesthetics and useability than what's possible.

 

Practically speaking, it'd be the decision of the person making the system.


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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