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The City From Thief In Tdm.


Dunedain

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Hey guys, I've been wondering if anyone is going to model the city where Garrett lives

in TDM. I mean take the various drawn maps of the city from Thief I and II and the playable

levels that show parts of it, plus the maps and levels from Thief III and recreate the entire

city in TDM. :) This would include the Hammerite cathedrals, various inn's, the docks,

the Keeper compound, locations of alleys, shops, local fences, Garrett's apartment,

the Thieves' Highway, etc., the whole thing as one continuous level. If one is careful about

the layout of the streets and such, so as to keep how much you could see of the city at any

one time to a manageable amount, this would keep the polygon count of what is visible

within reason. Would it be possible to do this in the DOOM III engine without the need

for portals like they used in Thief III?

 

Instead of FM authors having to reinvent the wheel every time they want to have a Thief

mission take place either in part or in whole in the city and massively duplicate each others

efforts endlessly, there would be a master reference level of the city modeled with a high

degree of accuracy that could be used in any TDM Thief fan mission. Either as a base of

operations for parts of the mission or campaign to which they could add in a portal which

takes the player to some location on the outskirts of the town, or as the location of a

main mission or campaign which takes place entirely in the city itself.

 

The city would have convenient dead-end alleys and such where any FM author could easily

add in portals if they want to that could serve to simulate roads which take the players out

of the city to other nearby locales for part of their adventures before they return.

This would greatly simplify the creation of FM's, as there would an excellent foundation

which any FM could build on or use as is. After all, the city is large and there are many

adventures that await within it's sizable confines. :)

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I suggested this idea a while back but we decided against it (the TDM team anyway) because it would take waaaay too much time and would vary in style if several mappers worked on it. Also, to roughly quote Springheel, "the city was mysterious and should remain that way. Mapping the whole thing out would remove the mysterious element once you've walked through every corner of it".

 

But it is possible to do, but you would'nt want to make too many streets visible at opne time unless you have good hardware, cos a huge city and seeing it all = baaad.

 

But anyways, yeah I guess if several FM makers got together and tried to make it then why not, of course it's possible. TDM will be open source, so we won't be hiding anything from you like in T3 (footstep noises?) ;)

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I agree about the city remaining mysterious, but remember that what we've seen in Thief is just

part of the city. There's plenty more to it that is currently unknown, that's where those dead-end

alleys and portals come in, it can be added onto to expand upon it as much as needed. But at

least there would be the recognizable core laid out with some of Garrett's favorite hangouts. :)

 

I wonder what the total polygon count would have to be for the parts of city we know about?

And bear in mind that all of the city buildings that were enterable from Thief I, II and III would

be fully enterable and recreated here, as well, with fireplaces, chests, tables, etc. The number

would have to be huge. You'd definitely have to be careful about what views could be seen from

the streets as you walked them and from windows in buildings, etc. Perhaps some longer-range

views from special locations could be done with static views of the further away parts of the city,

sort of in the distance a bit to keep frame-rate up but still allow a pretty realistic view. It would

be a breathtaking sight to be up on the Thieves' Highway and look down and see the city sitting

there with it's cathedrals and glowing windows, the wind sighing as it streams past Garrett's

hooded face... Wow, that would be cool. :)

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It would be a breathtaking sight to be up on the Thieves' Highway and look down and see the city sitting

there with it's cathedrals and glowing windows, the wind sighing as it streams past Garrett's

hooded face... Wow, that would be cool. :)

 

While Doom3 could handle that, our current hardware could not - unless you trick it sort of, like a skybox (well, sky portal really, cince it's much better).

 

But I must admit it would be nice to see some of those good old Thief city missions recreated in TDM. Obviously we can't do it officially because of copyright reasons, but that does'nt mean we can control what the public let out.

 

City missions can be really great if done right, but if you make too many building that use a crapload of polys, then your hardware will fall to it's knees.

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That the city would vary in style is not really a problem. If you look at really old cities, they also have different styles. Vienna has pretty old buildings and totally modern ones side by side, and this also varies from district to district. That variation is more an indicator of age, then a wrongly conceived missguided art direction.

Gerhard

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nononono, what i mean is that one mapper may use models for buildings while another uses brushes and another uses patches and brushes. Get what i mean?

 

You can tell a model from a patch or brush like a cheesburger from a french frie

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ok, have a look at the difference between my mansion trees and the new trees i made - thats what im talking about. All the mappers working on the city would have to be roughly equaly experienced and must know the same things, otherwise you get an 8 sided tree in one part of the city, and a nice highpoly one in another

 

edit: oh i see what you mean now - the brushes. Yes well, everyone starts off at first by building everything out of brushes - its just a habit from dromed/unrealed/etc which means you get some pretty angular circles and that are also not roundshaded like patches. Basically, you need mappers with the same knowledge of d3ed working on it.

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ok, have a look at the difference between my mansion trees and the new trees i made - thats what im talking about. All the mappers working on the city would have to be roughly equaly experienced and must know the same things, otherwise you get an 8 sided tree in one part of the city, and a nice highpoly one in another

 

edit: oh i see what you mean now - the brushes. Yes well, everyone starts off at first by building everything out of brushes - its just a habit from dromed/unrealed/etc which means you get some pretty angular circles and that are also not roundshaded like patches. Basically, you need mappers with the same knowledge of d3ed working on it.

 

That's not an issue with style, it's an issue with quality. It goes without saying that several mappers working on a project must all have a similar level of competence at mapping otherwise the end result will be very patchy.

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I think we could leave the creation of "The definitive Garrett city" up to some people of the community.

 

Dram he was talking about a "template" of sorts, not a massively maintained FM system where every FM exists at once in some sort of download where you can walk into any FM from the city hub.

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Dram he was talking about a "template" of sorts, not a massively maintained FM system where every FM exists at once in some sort of download where you can walk into any FM from the city hub.

 

I did'nt think that's what e meant, I know he meant it as a template, but nonetheless it has to be mapped out like for a normal FM (without the loot etc).

 

 

@Orb: quality - that's the word i was looking for :)

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Yeah, Dram has it right. I didn't mean put a bunch of missions into the level somehow.

I just meant have the core of the city, the places we know from Thief I, II and III laid out

accurately, enterable and filled with the same furniture types as in Thief in the proper rooms, etc.

Then the FM authors could create the missions, add loot and so on within the city and even

add onto it for use in their specific mission, or use portals to allow travel to and from the

outskirts of the city.

 

Yeah, the quality issue is important. Since this would be a definitive reference level of the city,

the whole thing would have to be done with quality in mind, it should look at least as good

as the city does in Thief III anywhere you might go. As far as performance goes, bear in mind

that considering how long it would take to do this, the hardware that will be readily available

a year and a half or two years from now when TDM is ready will allow much higher detail levels

to be handled. The idea is a representation of the city that is so good that it would be used

years from now to make FM's and still be considered to look very nice indeed. When doing

something like that you might as well aim high on the detail level, as it will be something that

has to hold up well over time. It won't take long for the hardware to catch up, even while it's

being built it will be catching up. And if you're careful about the angles of the streets and such,

you could keep how much of the city is visible at any one time to a point that can be managed.

 

It's kind of like when a new game is being made by id, they don't design the game for the

hardware that is in an average system at the time, they design for the kind of hardware that

will be available when the game is ready.

 

This sky portal would make the farther away parts of the city look good while still allowing

reasonable performance when traveling up high along the Thieves' Highway? :)

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This sky portal would make the farther away parts of the city look good while still allowing

reasonable performance when traveling up high along the Thieves' Highway? :)

 

Yeah :) The way you'd do it is to take a screenshot of the actual place in game and make that into a sky portal type thingy.

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Well the considerably cooler way is the way done in T3 and other games - set a camera in the middle of some scene, and everything it sees becomes the background of the skybox.

 

So you can make a low poly version of the rooftops and set that as the skybox scene.

 

If you want to see an example of this, play T3 and go down to the docks where the pagans are. Go past the shrine and look out onto the ocean. You'll notice that the water immediately below the fence, never gets closer when you move toward the fence.

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that's kinda what i was imagining, i just couldnt be bothered writing a long-ass explanation. Bsically i'd use Gild's tracker sky with low poly building, their texture being that of a screenie of a higher poly version

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Yeah :) The way you'd do it is to take a screenshot of the actual place in game and make that into a sky portal type thingy.

 

That's not what a skybox is about, at least not the one we have. Its like Domarius described it, otherwise you couldn't have an animated skybox.

Gerhard

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A few weeks (months?) ago, I had shown Dram a way of using portal skies to simulate LOD. (the map name is tracker_test.map) In the example map, the building seen from the outside isn't the same as the building you walk around in. (notice that when viewed from the outside, the first floor doesn't have a hallway leading up to the second floor) Of course, this was only a quick demo that I banged out to illustrate the idea, so it's not perfectly implemented and has flaws... But at least it shows it's possible to create a fairly seamless boundary between level and skybox if you're careful.

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Let's say you had a large clock-tower that stood out above the skyline, and you wanted the player to travel towards it, and eventually climb to the top and have a view of the whole entire city...

 

One approach you might try, would be creative use of horizontal vis-portals, opening into a large empty space above the city. This has the advantage that you can fire an arrow over a few buildings and have it land on the ground across the city. However, this approach can be difficult if you have a lot of varying building heights, and the fact that anything above the vis-portals would be visible at all times when you're outside might limit the size of the city for performance reasons. (also, although I haven't tested it out, I suspect that at most 7 or 8 vis-portals can be attached to a single vis area, which would also prevent this idea from being used in a large city)

 

The approach I've suggested, is to make a very low-poly replica of the city for use as a skybox, then synch the view in the skybox with the player's viewpoint. Then use a skyportal texture as a ceiling over streets and such. The player will see the detailed versions of buildings adjacent to them, but low-poly versions of buildings that aren't on the same street, with correct perspective. If the player climbed to the top of a clock-tower, they could look at the low-poly skybox version of the city they've travelled through.

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I've thought about such problems for a while before, and I was wondering why not let the renderer take care of the problem of too many polys and build the cityscape with abandonment? Whenever in the player's FOV there are too many polys, the engine would in any direction with a long distance and many polys create a picture instead which has the image of the scenery behind it. Because of the large distance involved, and it updates quite often, there shouldn't be a problem with perspective when the player moves? I have no idea how stupid what I just said sounds.

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The problem is that it's too hard for the renderer to automatically figure out where and when it's a good idea to be doing that sort of stuff. The time it'd spend trying to figure out what directions there are too many polygons from would probably be more than it would take to just draw the stuff, and it would probably choose poor places to do that anyway. Since the mapper knows more about their map than the engine does, things are much simpler and more efficient if the mapper gives the engine hints about the best ways to cull polygons, and vis-portals are how you do that. I beleive Q4 has the ability to shut off vis-portals if they're too far away from you and replace them with a rendered image, but the mapper still has to place the vis-portals.

 

If you just build the city with reckless abandon and don't bother to place vis-portals, D3 will render your entire level, which would cause it to chug on even a small map. If you carefully plan out your city so that very little can be seen at a time, and place vis-portals accordingly, D3 can handle an arbitrarily large level just fine.

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I've thought about such problems for a while before, and I was wondering why not let the renderer take care of the problem of too many polys and build the cityscape with abandonment?

 

Because we don't have access to the renderer until Doom 3 is open-sourced, which will be a couple of years at least.

 

What you are describing is basically streaming LOD (Level of Detail) which would require a major rewrite of the scene processing code.

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Because we don't have access to the renderer until Doom 3 is open-sourced, which will be a couple of years at least.

 

What you are describing is basically streaming LOD (Level of Detail) which would require a major rewrite of the scene processing code.

 

I remember Gothic had quite a clever aproach to this, far away stuff would be one solid low poly model which as you aproached it it would segue into the actuall set of models. Presumably they used culling to cut out drawing the stuff behind it and I believe this is the aproach that guildwars uses as well (albiet refined and at higher detail). Again this is something that'd probably be impossible to impliment without access to the renderer source code but it was a clever illustration of overcoming poly limits in an engine without attempting to perform complexed lod calculations.

Edited by duc
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I wonder when anyone will stop this ridiculous hunt for detail and make an engine that can render massive levels, massive views, loads of stuff all on screen at once.

 

Even Thief II or Half Life 1 (Natural Selection uses HL1, looks pretty damn good) level graphics would be fine for me, if we could have massive cities.

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