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[2.08] New frob shader


duzenko
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11 hours ago, peter_spy said:

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?

To keep with your analogy: If you want to become a good writer, you have to practice writing. The same goes for mapping. Only by doing it, can you improve. Consequently, the first works will be worse than later ones, but they might still be worthwhile. And if some tools help to improve it and make a bad to mediocre experience mediocre to good, I see no reason, why it should not be done.

11 hours ago, peter_spy said:

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.

In general, I agree. However (as you know from experience) creating new objects is very time consuming and maybe a good mapper is bad at 3D modelling and does not have the time to learn this as well. And as you also know there are very few people on this board that can help out with creating new assets and they usually already have several requests. Consequenty, the mapper would have to rely on existing assets, which (as mentioned before) come from several different sources and styles and may be difficult to distinguish. If you have the time and ability to create new assets, you are welcome to do so and I am sure the mod would benefit from you making them accessible and maybe even may make this shader superfluous in the long run, but from a "right now" perspective, it would help players to more easily recognise loot, when they are in range to frob it. I don't really understand how this can destroy the "intended experience" in a way that is severe enought to create a fork that excludes this feature.

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15 minutes ago, Destined said:

Consequently, the first works will be worse than later ones, but they might still be worthwhile. And if some tools help to improve it and make a bad to mediocre experience mediocre to good, I see no reason, why it should not be done.

But you're not improving anything per se with it, you're obfuscating bad design with an interface helper. And not only that: by making this option on by default, you're also conditioning old and new players to switch off their brains when exploring your world, and in a way you're making it a less immersive experience by interface taking over.

And it's only natural that first maps are worse than subsequent ones. Some mappers like to go back to their first missions and do remakes or makeovers, now that they have enough experience now to accomplish what they wanted to do back then.

I keep most of my progress screenshots to be aware how far I've gone. I don't want to deny that quite a lot of stuff I did looks like crap in comparison to my latest work, it really does :D

34 minutes ago, Destined said:

If you have the time and ability to create new assets, you are welcome to do so and I am sure the mod would benefit from you making them accessible and maybe even may make this shader superfluous in the long run

Without spoiling too much, let's say that there are talks underway ;)

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2 hours ago, peter_spy said:

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. 

At the end of the day, making music and/or making maps would be something for me to fill my free time with to express my creativity. None of it is easy, you're right about that, and you always take a risk when you release anything to the wild. Even in the music making business alone, I fairly often read (or think) stuff like "maybe this band should just focus on X, instead of trying to do X and Y".

2 hours ago, peter_spy said:

If your music is great, and the map turns out not so, it will distract people from the former. 

Hey now, it might do the opposite. "Man this mission is terrible, but the music sure is great". :awesome:

2 hours ago, peter_spy said:

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.

No doubt there are more efficient ways, but if you're really set on a particular creative vision, outside of making your own game from scratch, a fan mission might be the next best thing. Although the "mute and re-score" sounds pretty fun.

Unless we move to a system where every new mission has to be approved by a committee, you will continue to receive ones that suck or ones that may have been created for all the wrong reasons, that's just how it is. And more importantly, the current catalogue is already huge. As Destined pointed out, if we can help these rougher works a little, I don't see the new frob shader as an outrageous compromise.

I do wonder, you mentioned a "list of things", that would make forking 2.08 a better alternative. Considering the new frob shader isn't out yet, what other things do you currently find detrimental to this degree?

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1 hour ago, roygato said:

Hey now, it might do the opposite. "Man this mission is terrible, but the music sure is great".

It sure can, and I actually have a recent experience with that, as I've been playing Nier: Automata lately. It was like "Wait a minute, I'm being manipulated here: this absolutely gorgeous music feels elevating and emotional, but the actual gameplay is fairly meh." Seems like they had a great composer, but not so great quest designers. Well, at least boss fights were awesome. So you risk a similar sentiment, plus you'll have to do several people's work yourself.

1 hour ago, roygato said:

Unless we move to a system where every new mission has to be approved by a committee, you will continue to receive ones that suck or ones that may have been created for all the wrong reasons, that's just how it is. And more importantly, the current catalogue is already huge. As Destined pointed out, if we can help these rougher works a little, I don't see the new frob shader as an outrageous compromise.

Again, I have nothing against crap missions, we all need to start somewhere, it also shows us our progress. Nothing wrong with that. But trying to correct bad design is designer's choice. Plus I'm concerned about gameplay as it is a bigger change than you think, and it will have consequences, see my previous post.

  

1 hour ago, roygato said:

I do wonder, you mentioned a "list of things", that would make forking 2.08 a better alternative. Considering the new frob shader isn't out yet, what other things do you currently find detrimental to this degree?

I'd have to post recommended frob shader settings, once I find values that I like. The list already includes stuff like bloom and 64-bit color, and the mission is optimized for stencil shadows + soft shadow quality set to low. It will probably work fine on higher settings and shadowmaps, but this is the setting I find most consistent, performance analysis-wise. I also have a draft of TDM menu rework for the mission, so I need guis to be editable, although this might be too time-consuming to be taken as far as I'd like to. It might end with just custom replacements for current low res backgrounds and effects.

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2 hours ago, peter_spy said:

But you're not improving anything per se with it, you're obfuscating bad design with an interface helper.

Kind of, but that's what the current frob shader already does. I get the feeling you would rather not have one at all, which is fair enough, but probably not going to happen. So the question remains, do we leave the current one that causes confusion, or enhance it and alleviate any immersion breaking qualities that may arise by making it optional. My choice would be the latter.

As far as turning people brain-dead, I really don't see it. People still have to walk up to your objects to frob them; the only thing the new shader would do is help in fringe scenarios. Like paintings in ample light.

20 minutes ago, peter_spy said:

It sure can, and I actually have a recent experience with that, as I've been playing Nier: Automata lately. It was like "Wait a minute, I'm being manipulated here: this absolutely gorgeous music feels elevating and emotional, but the actual gameplay is fairly meh." Seems like they had a great composer, but not so great quest designers. Well, at least boss fights were awesome. So you risk a similar sentiment, plus you'll have to do several people's work yourself.

I see, interesting. I agree that the soundtrack is incredible, but I also enjoyed the story and the gameplay. Even if it wasn't my usual style, I played it on a whim based on a recommendation that was, in-hindsight, done for the wrong reasons.

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31 minutes ago, roygato said:

 

As far as turning people brain-dead, I really don't see it. People still have to walk up to your objects to frob them; the only thing the new shader would do is help in fringe scenarios. Like paintings in ample light.

Okay, so let's get down to some details.

Imagine a new FM, player walks into a room there's a table and a few brand-new custom objects: goblets, plates, and cutlery. There's a stationary/sitting guard next to a well-lit exit. All interactive objects have proper materials, most look plain and wooden, but there a few that look like silver. All are highlighted by the frob outline when up close, but with no additional info. Player scans the objects and thinks, "okay, silver is probably loot, and there are a few wooden items, so I'll pick up that wooden goblet last, and throw it a bit away from that guard, so I'll distract him and make for the exit." It's a fun mini-game of scanning the environment, trying to guess the rules, and then planning and executing the your plan. Player walks up to a new silver goblet, frobs it, and has a pleasant "yup, I was right, this is loot" moment, and a similar one for the wooden utensils. These small moments of uncertainty and risk vs reward planning are also part of a bigger theme, which Thief series always had, namely the idea of doing all kinds of stuff in a place that that you're not supposed to be in, which is both uncertain/scary and exciting.

Now imagine player's thoughts in the same situation when the frob is gold for loot and blue for junk: "okay, objects on the table, blue, blue, blue, gold! press RMB!, blue, blue, blue, next room please." At some point you stop seeing objects, you just look for outline color as it does the job the fastest.

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54 minutes ago, roygato said:

So the question remains, do we leave the current one that causes confusion, or enhance it and alleviate any immersion breaking qualities that may arise by making it optional. My choice would be the latter.

I believe there's no symmetry here. I think addressing problems at its source (asset design) would be a better option. As I mentioned, there are talks underway, and from what I've seen in DR viewers, there aren't that many core loot models there; quite a few are just variants of one model. So a rework project might be more feasible than you think.

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59 minutes ago, peter_spy said:

These small moments of uncertainty and risk vs reward planning are also part of a bigger theme, which Thief series always had, namely the idea of doing all kinds of stuff in a place that that you're not supposed to be in, which is both uncertain/scary and exciting.

I agree, but Thief 1/2 have a much simpler graphical representation, so it really is easy to tell the loot apart from junk most all of the time. And as others have pointed out, I don't consider the act of frobbing an object to be one of the highlights of these games. And if I value it to that degree, I just turn the shader off as soon as possible; while playing Dishonored, I made the UI as minimalistic as possible, because it was more immersive that way.

Just to make it clear, the only issue I consistently run into with the current shader are the paintings, where I just end up running up to each and clicking to see which is loot. It's not big enough deal for me to have ever complained about, and certainly not big enough to warrant this shader change. I reckon I won't even use the new one, because 99% of the time it isn't something I need. The other loot issues I've had are due to mappers using junk as loot, in which case no shader would help, no matter how ridiculously overblown, as I wouldn't even bother highlighting them. I definitely see where you're coming from with your arguments and agree in essence. I would love a graphically impressive immersive sim that is designed to such perfection where I don't have any UI elements at all, but one that still allows for freedom of tinkering with stuff ala Thief and TDM.

That said, we're clearly not there with TDM. As such, I don't see an issue with providing an option that makes it more enjoyable for people to enjoy the existing catalogue. Nor do I believe it'll become a crutch for future mappers either; I would like to believe that those who put forth the effort of making maps, will put their best foot forward, regardless of what the UI might offer to the player.

34 minutes ago, peter_spy said:

I believe there's no symmetry here. I think addressing problems at its source (asset design) would be a better option. As I mentioned, there are talks underway, and from what I've seen in DR viewers, there aren't that many core loot models there; quite a few are just variants of one model. So a rework project might be more feasible than you think.

I mean, I won't have a say on that, I'm not one of the developers. Some of the devs in this very thread seem to have thought otherwise. I'll be happy with anything that improves the game, and I don't see the new shader as something that noticeably compromises its future.

1 hour ago, peter_spy said:

I'd have to post recommended frob shader settings, once I find values that I like. The list already includes stuff like bloom and 64-bit color, and the mission is optimized for stencil shadows + soft shadow quality set to low. It will probably work fine on higher settings and shadowmaps, but this is the setting I find most consistent, performance analysis-wise. I also have a draft of TDM menu rework for the mission, so I need guis to be editable, although this might be too time-consuming to be taken as far as I'd like to. It might end with just custom replacements for current low res backgrounds and effects.

I see. Well I hope you find some solution that works out for you, although chasing absolute perfection down to the settings values can undoubtedly get exhausting.

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3 minutes ago, roygato said:

but Thief 1/2 have a much simpler graphical representation, so it really is easy to tell the loot apart from junk most all of the time.

Oh yeah, this has been brought up as a point several times already, but I don't really think graphical complexity is a problem. First off, TDM doesn't look that modern in comparison to other games. And, newest titles have been managing this quite well, with just being selective (and consistent) with objects that are within player agency. You can do the same in TDM: just place static models, or turn off frob for junk models, so they'll react to physics and weapon hits without being pickable.

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9 minutes ago, peter_spy said:

You can do the same in TDM: just place static models, or turn off frob for junk models, so they'll react to physics and weapon hits without being pickable.

Correct, but as I've stated, I wouldn't be as happy with that, like you aren't with the new shader. :awesome: Can't please everyone, no matter how good your intentions are.

9 minutes ago, peter_spy said:

First off, TDM doesn't look that modern in comparison to other games.

It doesn't, but it looks significantly more modern than its closest comparables, Thief 1&2.

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It's funny, because with what I just described you'd essentially have "my thief character knows what to pick up" thing, but being a fully intentional effort from designer, and without making significant changes to anything else.

But I think this discussion has run its course already, at least I feel like I was forced to devote more time to it than I wanted to. Let mods cut the meta discussion and leave this thread for actual feedback.

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28 minutes ago, peter_spy said:

It's funny, because with what I just described you'd essentially have "my thief character knows what to pick up" thing, but being a fully intentional effort from designer, and without making significant changes to anything else.

I mean, unless you plan on creating every mission and asset in the future, or recreating every previous one, whatever you're describing is kind of irrelevant.

 

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Who wants to go through every possible loot item and reskin them to ensure they are recognizable as loot?  In theory it would be wonderful to have all of the assets refreshed in order to avoid measures to assist players but that's going to be one hell of a lot of work to put into place.

Who has the time, energy and dedication to do it?  It's perfectly reasonable to argue the point but will those arguing the point step up and assist in the work?

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26 minutes ago, roygato said:

I mean, unless you plan on creating every mission and asset in the future, or recreating every previous one, whatever you're describing is kind of irrelevant.

 

On the contrary, it's extremely relevant, because it's how other games deal with this, and TDM doesn't exist in a bubble. People playing TDM don't live under the rock, they play other games too, so they can carry over their expectations just fine.

14 minutes ago, New Horizon said:

Who wants to go through every possible loot item and reskin them to ensure they are recognizable as loot?

I do.

And not only reskin them, but make them from scratch, with better materials and more loot variations. Some objects can replace existing assets, using the same dimensions and the same origin point placement, others will be made as new content. Preparations are already underway. I'm not promising to remake everything, but slowly adding stuff month after month is doable. I already got a preliminary list of objects to work on.

Edited by peter_spy
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23 minutes ago, peter_spy said:

On the contrary, it's extremely relevant, because it's how other games deal with this, and TDM doesn't exist in a bubble. People playing TDM don't live under the rock, they play other games too, so they can carry over their expectations just fine.

Right, expectations such as having customizable UI elements. Maybe an object highlight that can be aggressive or more muted?

Talk about having your cake and eating it too,

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And, newest titles have been managing this quite well, with just being selective (and consistent) with objects that are within player agency. You can do the same in TDM

 

You seem to be approaching this as if TDM is a single production team working on a unified, limited series of missions, which it clearly is not.  Without rewriting history, how exactly would you suggest "being consistent" with more than one hundred missions created over 15 years by dozens of different authors using assets created by dozens of different artists, some of which are custom to those particular missions?

Even if you could remake all the core loot models in a way that is both significantly different enough that they can be distinguished from other objects, but also similar enough that they don't interfere with existing missions that use those models (something I highly doubt can be achieved), that STILL doesn't solve the problem, since custom loot objects are used in dozens of missions, along with objects that look like loot but aren't.

 

 

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I can only help with proper loot items, and core mod stuff, to be precise. Adding more complex models and materials will help solve that problem (human eye will focus on elements that are more detailed or stand out more, *insert relevant 2D art theory*, etc.).

Quote

objects that look like loot but aren't.

Again, IMO you want a UI-based, one-size-fits-all solution to counter design mistakes; these are problems that can't be fixed that way, at least not without consequences I already spelled out. I think these consequences are serious enough to rethink that approach. But obviously, you'll do whatever you decide, I'm covered either way.

Now please leave me out of the further discussion, I'm super tired as I spent most of my free day on it. I don't have anything more to say.

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11 minutes ago, peter_spy said:

Now please leave me out of the further discussion, I'm super tired as I spent most of my free day on it. I don't have anything more to say.

You have by far the most comments in this thread. If you're gonna feel so strongly about something, you should expect to be questioned by many people. Whether you want to partake or not, is up to you. I can understand being bothered by a doorbell or a ringing phone, not by a forum.

And talk about wasting your time on this discussion, I'm sitting here arguing for a feature I don't even need. At least it was on company time. :awesome:

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After all the years of discussion, you finally want this outline shader?
I mean its cool yes but the discussions about stuff like this usually are indeed furious XD

I personally like a more obvious shader.

Can we have more scary Zombie Horror maps?

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11 hours ago, nbohr1more said:

I was expecting a furious debate about color.

I'll start one. I like "spooky blue-ish glow":

 

lstl_2021-06-03_22_49_25.thumb.jpg.ca182b3adfae9f441da376f448b95f4b.jpg

 

 

This is actually kind of cool looking! I don't see it working out as a default color though; I for one support something closer to white, but still bluish if possible... haven't seen a screenshot of that yet for comparison.

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On 6/3/2021 at 8:04 PM, peter_spy said:

And, newest titles have been managing this quite well, with just being selective (and consistent) with objects that are within player agency. You can do the same in TDM: just place static models, or turn off frob for junk models, so they'll react to physics and weapon hits without being pickable.

So, instead of making a more obvious frob highlight, you suggest making all junk objects static?

I think it goes against the spirit of immersive sim even more. I don't like playing such missions: there are many objects on the table, but I cannot pick any of them. Can't even throw the damn candle, because it behaves as "turn off" button.

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44 minutes ago, stgatilov said:

So, instead of making a more obvious frob highlight, you suggest making all junk objects static?

Please NEVER do that. One of the things I love about TDM is how dynamic it is and how you can interact with every little aspect of the environment, including being able to pick things up and have them fall around when you bump into them. This would literally be deliberately worsening the project.

I think the frob highlight should look good on small objects as well. I still think different entity types should use slightly different colors, set via spawnarg on the core defs each item inherits from... this can be done later on.

Edited by MirceaKitsune
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38 minutes ago, stgatilov said:

So, instead of making a more obvious frob highlight, you suggest making all junk objects static?

Not all of them, but using them more selectively. Making all 20 bottles on the shelf interactive, just because you can do that in real life, isn't meaningful gameplay. Hiding something behind those bottles or leaving a few of them pickable, in case the player might want to use them as distraction item, is much better design.

40 minutes ago, stgatilov said:

I think it goes against the spirit of immersive sim even more.

Nope. If you take a look at both old and new im-sims, it's not like each and every object is interactive. Both Dishonored games and new Prey have tons of static geometry, only stuff that supports the gameplay in a fairly meaningful way is interactive.

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1 hour ago, peter_spy said:

Not all of them, but using them more selectively. Making all 20 bottles on the shelf interactive, just because you can do that in real life, isn't meaningful gameplay. 

Even if mappers of the future were to take this to heart, it doesn't change the 100+ missions that already exist. And since you're so high on mappers' intent being respected, surely you wouldn't go and change their mission design after the fact? Hence why this new shader is even being discussed.

1 hour ago, peter_spy said:

Nope. If you take a look at both old and new im-sims, it's not like each and every object is interactive. Both Dishonored games and new Prey have tons of static geometry, only stuff that supports the gameplay in a fairly meaningful way is interactive.

I'm willing to give up on the immersive-sims argument, because that term encompasses so many different types of games (tbh I don't even know what it means at this point). But as I've brought up, junk has a gameplay-element to it in TDM. In games like Dishonored and Prey, where you are a literal god of combat, you'd have very little use for it.

But then again, Dishonored games also support this customizable object highlighting, even though it's even less necessary than in TDM. They even have the in-your-face -option on by default.

Finally

On 6/3/2021 at 6:41 PM, peter_spy said:

Now please leave me out of the further discussion, (...) I don't have anything more to say.

:awesome:

Edited by roygato
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