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[2.08] New frob shader


duzenko
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We don't have full control over asset design (even if all core assets were made consistent, mappers can produce their own custom loot, and frequently do).

We do have almost full control over the UI.

Therefore, "compensating for [inconsistent] asset design with the UI" is exactly what is needed to solve this problem.

This actually adds even more weight to the idea that the frob highlight should not vary on a map-by-map basis.

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23 minutes ago, roygato said:

I think in Lord Edgar's Bathhouse, one piece of loot was a plain old green wine bottle.

Heh. This is a sin I committed in my mission. Though, in my defence, that particular item is pretty much the only thing down there.

23 minutes ago, roygato said:

And as mentioned, paintings are the worst when it comes to this, no real way of figuring out which ones are loot and which aren't.

Sure, but for paintings basically the only reason they're frobbable is when they're loot. I don't think I've ever seen a carryable painting. Distinguishing them from non loot paintings would require a distance loot glint, and that's something I'd associate more with "baby's first stealth game".

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You don't seem to care that you're trading off quite important gameplay element, basically switching off player's brain when it comes to interacting and experimenting with the environment (which is one of the pillars of im-sims). Sure, there are perfectionists and save scummers who will reload anytime anything goes wrong, but that's a corner case that can't be helped with any design (except removing saving entirely :D). Killing risk vs reward when reaching out for an item won't automatically make any bad map better. Also, it would be much more interesting to see a loot asset revamp project, even if the scope was as small as adding specular texture or a cubemap to their materials.

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4 minutes ago, peter_spy said:

You don't seem to care that you're trading off quite important gameplay element, basically switching off player's brain when it comes to interacting and experimenting with the environment (which is one of the pillars of im-sims). 

I think there are more interesting ways for the player to interact with the environment than going up to everything and fiddling with it to see if its loot. One of the wonderful things about the old Thief games is pickups, loot or otherwise, really stood out because the environments where so simple. That's just not the case with TDM and modern games, unfortunately.

However, I do agree the loot models could be freshened up for sure, but that's a good chunk of work and as Orbweaver mentioned, probably not the best solution given the circumstances. 

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20 minutes ago, thebigh said:

Sure, but for paintings basically the only reason they're frobbable is when they're loot. I don't think I've ever seen a carryable painting. Distinguishing them from non loot paintings would require a distance loot glint, and that's something I'd associate more with "baby's first stealth game".

Wouldn't this whole outlining business affect loot paintings too or am I wrong? That alone would be very helpful; if the environment is anything but pitch-black, which is hard to achieve as is since the lantern exists, the current highlighting is easy to miss when it comes to loot paintings. Especially when it's a mission with a hundred of them; if I'm just walking past a hallway, unless it's a conscious effort to click each one, I've been known to miss them along the way.

I'm definitely not one to vouch for making things easier, but I never considered clicking every painting to be very riveting gameplay, nor a mental challenge.

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The outline would only show up if you're close enough to frob it, in which case you already know it's loot because it lights up and it's a painting. There's no other reason for a painting to be frobbable, unlike say a goblet which might light up because it's loot or because you can carry it and throw it at things. The yellow outline would help in the case of the goblet.

Imagine an art gallery level where just one painting among dozens is valuable. The yellow loot indicator won't help you find it because you need to get up close to light it up anyway. In this situation only a long distance shimmer will help you, and that's something I would NOT like introduced. Sorry if that wasn't clear; I can be overly terse sometimes.

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48 minutes ago, kingsal said:

I think there are more interesting ways for the player to interact with the environment than going up to everything and fiddling with it to see if its loot.

Again, that's up to the mapper to establish what should be interactive or not, loot junk or otherwise. You're trying to 'fix' bad design with UI.

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9 minutes ago, peter_spy said:

Again, that's up to the mapper to establish what should be interactive or not, loot junk or otherwise. You're trying to 'fix' bad design with UI.

And what would your solution be to fix this bad design, given that neither redoing all the loot models or redesigning all the existing maps is practical?

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53 minutes ago, thebigh said:

The outline would only show up if you're close enough to frob it, in which case you already know it's loot because it lights up and it's a painting. There's no other reason for a painting to be frobbable, unlike say a goblet which might light up because it's loot or because you can carry it and throw it at things. The yellow outline would help in the case of the goblet.

Imagine an art gallery level where just one painting among dozens is valuable. The yellow loot indicator won't help you find it because you need to get up close to light it up anyway. In this situation only a long distance shimmer will help you, and that's something I would NOT like introduced. Sorry if that wasn't clear; I can be overly terse sometimes.

I think we're having two different conversations. My issue with loot paintings and the current highlighting is this:

On 5/2/2021 at 12:35 PM, STiFU said:

The problem with the regular frob highlight is that it cannot be seen well in bright areas. The outline is supposed to counter that issue.

I agree that I can walk up to any painting and know that it's loot if it highlights. Except when I miss the highlight itself and walk away. :awesome:

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27 minutes ago, peter_spy said:

Again, that's up to the mapper to establish what should be interactive or not, loot junk or otherwise. You're trying to 'fix' bad design with UI.

And I still think our nameless protagonist should be able to tell the difference between loot and junk when he's close enough to inspect it. Having to actually pick it up first before you can tell if it's going to bounce around noisily of if you can stuff it in your loot bag silently seems like an awful lot of cheese to me.

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23 minutes ago, thebigh said:

And I still think our nameless protagonist should be able to tell the difference between loot and junk when he's close enough to inspect it.

Why protagonist and not player? Why adding a superficial layer here? Mappers can establish consistent set of objects and they can teach players to use them. Plus none of this is what Thief was. Garrett was a master thief as a story character, but player could be anyone they wanted to be, as long as they could deal with the consequences.

If you're going to go down this route and you want to be consistent, then next up should be automatic jumping from one ledge to another. Our nameless protagonist is a master thief and an able athlete. He should be able to nagivate rooftops like it's nothing, right?

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1 hour ago, Springheel said:

And what would your solution be to fix this bad design, given that neither redoing all the loot models or redesigning all the existing maps is practical?

Sorry, missed this one. You can try to teach mappers via tutorials to use interactive objects in more intentional manner, and how to teach players which objects are which (and you can do the latter without super explicit tutorial section).

But obviously mappers will do whatever they wish, and why not have a right to fail? In a sense, this is is not a problem to be solved in any forcible manner.

Edited by peter_spy
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25 minutes ago, peter_spy said:

Why protagonist and not player? Why adding a superficial layer here?

To me, forcing the player to frob something before they can tell if it's loot or not is the unnecessary superficial layer.

Since you bring up the original trilogy, remember in Thief 1, the first two chests you find when you first break into Lord Bafford's? One of them has a gold candlestick in it, the other one has a valueless but noisy ceramic bowl that's difficult to put down without alerting all the guards. That's not a challenge or good gameplay, it's using the UI to set a cheesy trap for players. There's a reason that sort of thing didn't make it into T2 (along with the illogical puzzles and unghostable levels): LGS got feedback that players disliked it, and rightly so.

34 minutes ago, peter_spy said:

If you're going to go down this route and you want to be consistent, then next up should be automatic jumping from one ledge to another.

No, that's a poor comparison. Jumping and mantling and athletic feats are part of the point of the game, what I'm objecting to is making the player wrestle with an arbitrary UI oddity.

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1 hour ago, peter_spy said:

Again, that's up to the mapper to establish what should be interactive or not, loot junk or otherwise. You're trying to 'fix' bad design with UI.

No, we're trying to explore solutions to an issue that's have been raised among the community (not being able to tell loot apart from other objects).  Its a pretty reasonable choice to try doing this with a the frob system, since we already planned on revamping it.

If you're argument is that we should *teach* mappers to make better considerations with object placement, why don't you make a separate thread in the Editors Guild and you can discuss there. 

1 hour ago, roygato said:

I agree that I can walk up to any painting and know that it's loot if it highlights. Except when I miss the highlight itself and walk away.

Definitely. "Missing the highlight" is something we'd like to avoid all together.

2 hours ago, thebigh said:

Imagine an art gallery level where just one painting among dozens is valuable. The yellow loot indicator won't help you find it because you need to get up close to light it up anyway. In this situation only a long distance shimmer will help you, and that's something I would NOT like introduced. 

Yeah I think this is a good analogy. It still forces to the player to explore the level and objects in it (which is the interesting part of any mission IMO), but isn't telegraphing "go here pick up THIS loot". Distant shimmers are definitely not something we'd do :)

 

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51 minutes ago, peter_spy said:

If you're going to go down this route and you want to be consistent, then next up should be automatic jumping from one ledge to another. Our nameless protagonist is a master thief and an able athlete. He should be able to nagivate rooftops like it's nothing, right?

I mean, I like visual novels and walking simulators as much as the next guy, but I'd imagine generally people want to do "stuff" in games like this. Probably a lot of them enjoy manual jumping more than hyper-realistic object inspection.

22 minutes ago, peter_spy said:

Sorry, missed this one. You can try to teach mappers via tutorials to use interactive objects in more intentional manner, and how to teach players which objects are which (and you can do the latter without super explicit tutorial section).

But obviously mappers will do whatever they wish, and why not have a right to fail? In a sense, this is is not a problem to be solved in any forcible manner.

So you would just hope for a better future? But the issue already exists and there are a lot of missions.

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15 minutes ago, thebigh said:

Since you bring up the original trilogy, remember in Thief 1, the first two chests you find when you first break into Lord Bafford's? One of them has a gold candlestick in it, the other one has a valueless but noisy ceramic bowl that's difficult to put down without alerting all the guards. That's not a challenge or good gameplay, it's using the UI to set a cheesy trap for players.

You missed the point, that is a tutorial. Perhaps not the best one, because of how chests work in T1-2, but these objects are used in consistent manner. And there's no point in that exaggeration either, you can do it without alerting all the guards :D

15 minutes ago, thebigh said:

No, that's a poor comparison. Jumping and mantling and athletic feats are part of the point of the game, what I'm objecting to is making the player wrestle with an arbitrary UI oddity.

No, there are player abilities, like walking, running, jumping, picking up objects, but it's the mapper who puts that in context. All of these abilities. By making level geometry that conforms to jumping distances, they can make you feel like an athlete, and not a clumsy thief. By making meaningful objects pickable, and not placing dozens of stupid bottles and parchments everywhere, they can make the gameplay meaningful and not random. This is not UI oddity; it's the end result you focus on, but the source of a problem is bad design.

14 minutes ago, kingsal said:

No, where trying to explore solutions to an issue thats have been raised among the community (not being able to tell loot apart from other objects).  Its a pretty reasonable choice to try doing this with a the frob system, since we already planned on revamping it.

It definitely is a problem, but as above, you ignore the source and look for quick fix. If you're 100% sure about introducing this system, the question is more about whether the option will be on or off by default. If it's going to be on, I'll have another important reason to stick with 2.08.

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12 minutes ago, peter_spy said:

It definitely is a problem, but as above, you ignore the source and look for quick fix.

Right on. Well we're headed down this route for the time being.  Unless a better or more practical solution comes along.

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12 minutes ago, peter_spy said:

By making meaningful objects pickable, and not placing dozens of stupid bottles and parchments everywhere, they can make the gameplay meaningful and not random.

I'm not sure how extreme you're thinking with this statement, but isn't interactivity one of those fun flavors of immersive sims? You can pick food objects and eat them, you can pick up valuables and loot them, you can pick up junk and throw it around (sometimes useful, other times not).

Sure you can optimize how you scatter all of it around, but in a believable environment, it tends to be all over the place. I'd rather have too many interactive objects, than too few.

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11 minutes ago, roygato said:

So you would just hope for a better future? But the issue already exists and there are a lot of missions.

That's a good question.

I think that on one end, there are people who are naturally curious and research their hobby as much as they can, because it's what makes them tick. On the other, there are those who just want to have fun, and talk with friends who are interested in the same subject. No group is really better than the other; there's no obligation to "git gud" at level design. It's your hobby, you can do whatever the hell you want. You can post tutorials, point out to knowledge bases, something like we have here for example:

But otherwise I don't think you can force anything.

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6 minutes ago, roygato said:

I'm not sure how extreme you're thinking with this statement, but isn't interactivity one of those fun flavors of immersive sims? You can pick food objects and eat them, you can pick up valuables and loot them, you can pick up junk and throw it around (sometimes useful, other times not).

Sure you can optimize how you scatter all of it around, but in a believable environment, it tends to be all over the place. I'd rather have too many interactive objects, than too few.

In short, IMO gameplay is king, not realism. You can make every object in your environment interactive, but it's kinda meaningless. IMO fun in im-sims stems from having just a few types of objects and their properties, and looking for fun ways to use them. And in general in games, most of the environments are static for a reason – to focus on core gameplay loops. What is believable is another question IMO; you don't need every object to be interactive for a location to feel believable. E.g. in the 90-degree-dungeon-crawler era, everything was a set of corridors, but we were all felt like we were in villages, cities, snowy mountains, or jungles ;) It's mostly the matter of convention (and how picky you are with your suspension of disbelief).

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Sure, gameplay rules. I would argue the junk has some gameplay implications, as we all know how loud it is when misplaced. I can't say I've used it that often, but I think it's the kind of realism that is pretty fun when successful. Rewards thinking on your feet. As opposed to say, Thi4f, where the Distraction Objects (glass bottles) were the only throwable items.

Not that I play these games for the literal garbage, but I always accepted them as one of these amusing things that exists. Thief 2 wasn't hampered by it at all in my opinion, and I don't find this new frob shader to be that big of a concession either. Especially in my case of missing paintings fairly often. If I have to turn my light off to better see which paintings are cash money, something has gone horribly wrong.

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10 hours ago, peter_spy said:

That's a good question.

I think that on one end, there are people who are naturally curious and research their hobby as much as they can, because it's what makes them tick. On the other, there are those who just want to have fun, and talk with friends who are interested in the same subject. No group is really better than the other; there's no obligation to "git gud" at level design. It's your hobby, you can do whatever the hell you want. You can post tutorials, point out to knowledge bases, something like we have here for example:

But otherwise I don't think you can force anything.

That is exaclty the point here. If a mapper just wanted to realise a story, they had in mind and have not taught themselves the intricacies of level design, bad design may be alleviated by this new frob shader.

And why would this feature being on by default be a reason to stick with 2.08? You could just turn it off, if it does not suit you.

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First off, as far as I know, TDM team intended this thread for the new frob feedback, so mods feel free to separate the meta discussion into another thread.

12 hours ago, Destined said:

If a mapper just wanted to realise a story, they had in mind and have not taught themselves the intricacies of level design, bad design may be alleviated by this new frob shader.

IMO it's kinda like trying to have a cake and eat it too. By analogy, are there any tools for writers that would like "just to tell a story" without becoming good writers? Even phrasing a question this way feels weird to me (maybe because I belong to the first of the aforementioned camps). I mean sure, there's spellchecker and thesaurus, but none of that will make you a good writer by default. Same goes for level design, you got debugging tools for technical stuff, but that's it. There's no magic trick, this stuff is hard. And perhaps, if you just want to tell a story, why not focus on writing something instead of creating a map?

 

12 hours ago, Destined said:

And why would this feature being on by default be a reason to stick with 2.08? You could just turn it off, if it does not suit you.

As a player, sure, I can just switch it off. As a designer, I know how to make objects so they look valuable or more interesting than the background, and I can teach players to recognize them. So instead of adding yet another item to the list of things players would have to change for the "intended experience", I might as well "fork" the 2.08 and distribute the whole thing as standalone package.

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2 hours ago, peter_spy said:

And perhaps, if you just want to tell a story, why not focus on writing something instead of creating a map?

From Springheel's Speed Build Challenge, final episode.

Quote

I really recommend you try (mapping). It's a very rewarding creative process, there is something special about getting to walk around inside an environment that you created, that is a special kind of thrill that I don't really get in a lot of the other kinds of art that I do.

- Springheel

Purely anecdotally, like 90% of the reason why I've toyed with creating a mission, is so that I could make my own background music for it. Just to stroke my own ego as a music hobbyist. Maybe the mission would be awful, but the idea of it all sounds pretty fun. Some musicians could specifically want to make video game music, and find that creating a TDM map is their best option.

It's about having an idea or a passion, and finding a medium to express it in.

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Again, no disagreement from me here on the quote, this is something I realized as a kid, when I compiled my map draft in first Unreal editor. But that doesn't exclude anything I said above either. Making that stuff is hard, and making levels for stealth games is especially hard, as opposed to e.g. shooters. You can read more on that in pdf presentations from LGS folks in the Level design thread.

8 hours ago, roygato said:

It's about having an idea or a passion, and finding a medium to express it in.

Exactly, and finding a way to do it is very important aspect too. In your example, you're introducing a huge potential point of failure between you and making music. This will be time-consuming as well, and it's a time you could spend on just making music or learning how to do it better. If your music is great, and the map turns out not so, it will distract people from the former. Not to mention that there are more efficient ways to learn how to write score for video games. You can team up with a mapper and create music for their work. You can record a play-through of your favorite game with bg music off and try to score it. Or you can just take a playthrough from YT and mute it, if you can't be bothered with recording that stuff yourself.

That reminds me I had a similar idea for my body of work in photography, to create a "walking simulator gallery" that would showcase my work, at the same time it was supposed to be a space that connects all of them thematically and tells a certain story. Kind of like walking inside a sculpture that tries to be an artwork itself, with photos plastered all over it ;) Yeah, it sounded great in my head, otherwise it was super time-consuming, never worked out as I intended, and I did better off by creating a portfolio website :D In retrospect, I think I did this as a pleasant distraction, something to delay the process of getting down to actual work and selecting the most significant photos from a 5-year period of my work, which turned out pretty hard as well.

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