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1  Game Devlopment Forums / General Game Development Forum / Game Concept: Outline on: December 01, 2004, 01:07:06 AM
*Yawn* Sorry for being AFK for that long. I had too much work for the past two weeks. I'll update the sketches I've done so far by the end of the week, before more work sets in.
2  Game Devlopment Forums / General Game Development Forum / Game Concept: Technical on: November 18, 2004, 02:56:16 PM
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Graphics
@Suule: "Adventure Game Studio" doesn't look very good; I hope you just mean in that general style (and only for some scenes) rather than actually using that engine. I think we want at least 800x600 resolution with at least 16-bit colors. We could go higher, but at that point the quality of the art matters more than the resolution. (Bad 1024x768 is slower than bad 800x600 without being prettier.)

@Threed & Suule:
It's great that you're already working on an engine, Suule, but is it going to be able to do Cool Stuff? It seems like there are some substantial things like camera tilting/rotation and automatic lighting that are at least hard with homebrew. The most obvious way I (at least) can think of to do isometrics would limit the camera angles to the four diagonal directions, and would force artists to draw wall textures in little parallelograms. And what language is that in?

Yeah it doesn''t. It has some good ideas but NASTY code optimalizations. I think of transmitting those ideas into our 2D-engine and re-writting them to make the code optimized and therefore fast. And what's more. I need the engine myself cause when I started designing an adventure game (based on my old ideas) none of the game-creator would suit my needs.

GRAPHICS:
The ONLY bitdepth I would accept would be 32-bit. Cause it's faster (instead of operating on 5-bit and 6-bit data nibbles we use full bytes and an alpha channel, so we don't have to deal with software-coded transparecny) and easier to implement on modern day cards. 800x600 is fine and I was gonna propose it myself if there wasn't an idea for it. Most of today's games use 800x600 as deafult.

In isometric mode. I though of using OpenGL instead of 2D isometric graphics, since it'll be faster... I tell you what. What if we'll SPILT the engine into various parts and linked them together? We need 2 Engines that have a similar object-handling/scripting system with diffrent views needed. Since we all be basing on SDL as the base of the project (OGRE uses SDL, right?) the only thing that would link our project would be that we would use the same data structures for objects. Threed can take care of Isometric part, while I code the indoor/flat BG part. How does that sound? And the language I would use would be of course C++ (Borland Compiler).  
3  Game Devlopment Forums / General Game Development Forum / Game Concept: Technical on: November 18, 2004, 03:24:45 AM
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Graphics
-Graphics Level 1: Placeholder graphics; sprites of some kind walking around in a 2D world.
-Level 2: Height differences, ie. buildings sticking up from the ground, characters walking up stairs and slopes. Portals linking game areas, ie. doors to interiors if they're to be separate areas.
-Level 3: Objects. Barrels, boxes, shrubs, lampposts, chests, trees. A "script" system that notifies objects when they're hit/grabbed/etc. so they can run certain actions; data on each object (like weight) so PC can try to pick up, eat, or break anything in sight! Objects act as obstructions to block paths and to walk on; you can build a staircase out of crates. Real art for characters and world.
-Level 4: Fancy camerawork, lighting effects, cool backgrounds.
Level 1: No problem. I'm currently working on it.
Level 2: (WORKING) 2D - I think that the system used in Adventure game studio with few mods could just be it. The portals and such won't ba a problem too. (DESIGNING) 2D Isometric - Height diffrences can be a bother here since we'll have to do diffrent layers that overlap one over another (like Fallout: BOS)
Level 3: (DESIGNING) I think we should adapt something from visual programming like 'event handling'. Every object should've data fields 'On***' (give/hit/grabbed/picked up/etc.) with a pointer to a script that should be run.
Level 4: I haven't thought of any yet (except may be lightning effects or backgrounds)

Well we should do an Alpha first with let's say 'Stick Man' that walks around the screen using the mouse.

Oh and a very important question: WHAT resolution should we use?

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-Gameplay Level 1: You can walk around.
-Level 2: Basic menus (save/load; use item; talk). Movement through portals (eg. to/from world map); activation of game scripts linked to stepping on certain spots (eg. stepping through the castle gate triggers a scene where someone appears and talks to you).
-Level 3: Interact with objects and characters (hit/take/use/talk/throw?/others?)
-Level 4: Customize character: name/title/race/sex/clothes/equipment. Store data on these and on PC's reputation and history.

Level 1: Working on it
Level 2: Menus: I think here we should adapt some of the joys of SCUMM-like interface. The 'hot spots' and 'transitions' should be coded in level 1 I think, while the scripting language that supports them should be done in level 2.
Level 3: As I said: do EventHandles for scripts 'On***' for example OnUse stores a number 321 which is the number of script that should be triggered when the object is used.
Level 4: That'll be the worst part. I can use take something from my Roguelike and convert it to C++

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Writing/World-Building
-Writing Level 1: Figure out the basic theme and plot! Eg. are we using the weather-control device as a central plot and gameplay mechanic?
-Level 2: Pick locations to build, start developing specific plot events. Build Spartan but playable game areas.
-Level 3: Game areas that look nice; plot events written and worked into game.
-Level 4: Subplots and side-quests; polishing.
Level 1: I presented the basic plot outline in the second topic.
Level 2: I'm doing some location sketches. The problem with them will be what size should the locations be. Give some basic ideas on the size of them ( should the fixed length backgrounds be scrolled? Will the isometric areas be rather big or small?
Level 3, 4: We can discuss that after doing a workable alpha.
4  Game Devlopment Forums / General Game Development Forum / Game Concept: Outline on: November 18, 2004, 03:04:55 AM
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First off, I do recommend looking into the cross-platform Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL) library. We used it to create the Linux version of ITE and are using it for the simultaneous port of The Labyrinth of Time to Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. SDL has support for both 2D and 3D (OpenGL) graphics. See the SDL home page for details.

Yes. I'm quite aware of the existence of that library, I've read the docs and I'm slowly learning how to adapt it to our needs. It's very similar to the things I've once written way back in the old DOS days.

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So what's on the back of our box? "Control ultra-tech weather sattelites in a Rennaissance world?" Good AI and the ability to interact with random objects (see Technical) could be fun selling points, but a "hook" is still needed. Does weather control sound good? Can we justify it without calling it the Orb of Storms etc.? Other ideas? Unless we don't mind being in a niche, we need to appeal to people who don't automatically buy games because the hero's got a tail!

I think the main emphasis should be on the 'solving the mysteries' thing. Orb of Storms can be one of the many artifacts you can encounter. Remeber the 'big darts' when Rif explored the hanger in the abandoned human 'base'? The PC should be able to learn the proper names/uses of the artifacts he could encounter. Some of the technology could be non-existant in our world and could have something to do with the origins of the Morphs. Again. Would the PC be ready to know that the races the humans have created was a 'genetic experiment'?


 
5  Game Devlopment Forums / General Game Development Forum / Game Concept: Outline on: November 16, 2004, 03:01:15 PM
Okay. To sum it all up, You want to rely on some 3D engine cause: 3D is fast, the engine is cheap, you're lazy and you don't know many things about 2D graphics.

There has been a GREAT leap since old VESA cards and VESA modes. Now we are capable of 32-bit modes that can reduce the problems with (excuse my language) shit like transparency, color changing, lightning and stuff to almost zero. I have numerous books on graphics. Some of them from Pre-Win era and I really can write most of the procedures for ultra-fast scaling, color transformations and lightning with few modifications of the code I have. I'm AWARE of all problems I could encounter cause I did graphics engine in DPMI DOS mode and reach the very edge of what DOS could do without playing with swap-files and writting a memory<->resource manager that greatly slowed down engine. In it's final stage the engine was capable of 800x600x64kb double buffering as well as 640x480x256 triple-buffering fully synchronized with the VSync or 1/2 of VSync.

I'm just stating that 2D stuff should stick to 2D engines while 3D stuff should stick to 3D engines if you want to archive the best quality. Emulating 2D stuff on a 3D engine woul require workarounds and workarounds are messy and CPU-power consuming, so the 'speed' of the 3D pipeline would be balanced by the slowness of the workarounds.

Now why I want to work on our independent engine:
We could profile the engine to our uses. Like Kay proposed: the multi-viewing engine, capable not only of static backgrounds with sprites but isometric view as well. The sprites are really not a bad choice. The difficulties can quickly be overcome by some basic logic and a bit of thinking. It's really not that hard. All you need is a bit of WORK ! Look at DM scene for example. There are so many clones but none of them base on an engine that was already released, instead they're written from scratch. Just because they want the engine that suit their needs instead of using a commonly used engine and trying to get it to suit their needs.

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I mean, writing a game isn't going to be some easy pa-cheesy 500 line thing, man.

I title thee Lord Of The Obvious
 
6  Game Devlopment Forums / General Game Development Forum / Game Concept: Outline on: November 16, 2004, 12:59:44 AM
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But briefly, I'd like isometric tiles if we can do them as opposed to square tiles or pre-rendered scenes. (ItE used all three.) Some cool camera effects would be possible "for free" with a 3D engine and isometrics. I'd probably go insane trying to learn Microsoft's compiler; see my .NET ravings in the Technical thread. (But did Threed say OGRE has Python "hooks?") I'm not sure which is better between a 2D engine and a 3D engine emulating 2D, but I'm wary of trying to write a whole new engine. My AI stuff has been so slow partly because I've had to keep reinventing the pixel.

I'd really want the 3-view engine like in ItE. The isometric graphics for outdoors and large labyrinths, while pre-rendered graphics for indoors. Since 60%-80 of the game would happen outdoors or in large labirynths.

Why I oppose using a pre-made engine. First of all there will be some big programming issues when it comes to coding isometric graphics. I did isometric graphics engine in high-school and I managed to spit out a very simple but fast alpha (I used assembler code in 90%). I really can help you there with my expirences.

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So, would it be any easier to learn a free 3D engine and adapt it to our needs than to write a new, simple 2D isometric engine that actually looks nice? If so, does the 3D engine also support (at no $ cost) music and the other basics a game needs?

First of all... we have a wonderful new library called SDL which not only have the basic pixel plotting, sprite managing procedures as well as music output. It resembles in some way the DOS graphics library I've once coded. Using that library to write a good 2D engine is a good choice sine we don't have to 'rediscover the pixel' and we still can get fast graphics.

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If you can do concept art, Suule, that'd be cool. It sounds like we want isometrics regardless of the graphics engine, so maybe a four-way isometric sketch of a villager or potential hero character? (I'm thinking otter, Rennaissance, a traveler; maybe a wanderer's broad-brimmed hat and a staff? And RPG/adventure heroes need backpacks.) We were saying it'd be best to have several races to choose from, so a sketch of any race would be useful. We could always use it for a PC or an NPC race. Best if they're designed like paper dolls, so one fox can be customized with different clothes and colors. "Portrait" sketches like our sigs are also useful, and can be displayed alongside dialogue. We could also use concept sketches of locations, preferably not using proprietary ItE place names or features. A village of otters, or raccoons, or rats? A multi-species marketplace full of crazy disjointed architecture? Preferably anything that's distinctly original-furry-Rennaissance-fantasy rather than generic-Tolkein-ripoff fanasy. Even a chair designed by and for crazed ferrets would be more interesting than some spiky sword. If you haven't seen "Rym" (http://www.fur.com/~ollie/rym3.html, such as the items at http://www.fur.com/~ollie/three.html), I suggest looking there for inspiration.

Don't worry about 'Tolkien-fantasy' repetitions. I HATE Tolkien so I wouldn't want to repeat it in any way. Well I think I have some ideas I can put on paper before I leave to the labs.

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We can rip off Furcadia art as placeholder art, if we have to. It already has walking animations of various characters, plus objects, walls, and floors.

I don't think it would be good in terms of copyright. Plus. Furcadia uses REALLY out-dated technology (it's still 256-color graphics. And I reckon that we want to use 32-bit graphics)and it's all too simple for an adventure game. Floor tiles can be used as a basis for better quality graphics, while the sprite/object graphics should be done from scratch.
7  Game Devlopment Forums / General Game Development Forum / Game Concept: Outline on: November 15, 2004, 02:53:04 PM
Yes. I'm aware of all the things you've mentioned. In my years of programming I've encountered such issues, especially when I started writting a game that featured isometric 2d graphics. The Z-ordering in 2d mode is frankly easy. You just need few things to be worked out (You can do it by applying: Foreground/Backgrouund Layers, dividing areas into 'walk-behind' areas). Sprite lightning effects is easy in 16 and 32-bit colour modes, you have to use SHL and SHR on specific data nibbles in order darken, lighten the pixels... etc. etc. I'm projecting an engine for a DM-style game and I've encountered such issues, there's no problem in solving them.

I'd rather NOT use 3D graphics to build a 2D game on. The slowness of the graphics you're saying are really acceptable in the terms of speed. IF the engine properly optimized.

And when it comes to engines. You don't need a swiss knife to peel the apple. You just need a common knife.

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Yeah, that's right, I'm the pessimist; deal with it!

Slow down dude.
8  Game Devlopment Forums / General Game Development Forum / Game Concept: Outline on: November 15, 2004, 08:54:27 AM
Okay... I know I should take this to the Tech Concept, but...
Well as I reviewed some of the available stuff on the net that can be used for 'ItE sequel' and nothing suits my expectations, mainly because most of them have limitations which cannot be overcome other than changing the engine's code. I'm more of an old-school programmer (DOS programming, Assembler) and I'm still learning the ways of using Win-comptiable code. I'd rather write an engine from scratch. Why? Cause we can profile it to suit our needs without some nasty workarounds (which are in most cases messy). If we'd try to make Adventure-RPG then nothing free on the web would be capable of suiting our needs, except maybe SCI studio.

2D is a BETTER choice than 3D in my opinion. Cause in current state we CAN'T produce a super-detailed graphics without the usage of a high-end PC. Since now we can use modes better than 320x200x256 and do even 1024x768x16.7m, there would be no problem in creating a highly detailed world.  We can use such programs as Flash in creating the animation frames for the PC/NPC sprites. It'll be easier to make a 2d game now than it was 10 years ago.

I can help you with 2D BGs and sprites since I'm an artist myself and I can produce some conept art till the end of the week IF the college won't keep me as occupied as usual... In case you're wondering my art can be found here though the site wasn't updated in some time now.

As for the game concept:
That's why I want the game to be more like QFG (especially QFG2 which offered many side-quests class-dependant). The RIGHT mix of action, adventure and openess (at the time of 5.25" diskette)  if we could just expand that idea add more 'openess' it would truly be great. As some of you may remeber QFG was a RPG/Adventure mix with stat building and quests/side-quests, the series would go more and more complex with ever part to really blossom in terms of non-linear playing in QF5 (though it was bug-ridden). My idea is to use the QFG RPG/Adventure mix once more in the possible ItE sequel with some features improved/added.



 
9  Game Devlopment Forums / General Game Development Forum / Game Concept: Outline on: November 14, 2004, 11:14:54 AM
I think that the plot holes that the original ITE left are enough for not only one sequel. Here's a view of how I would like to see it with a possible plot sketch.

There are few things that weren't fully explained in ITE:
1. Possibility of Boar/Wolf alliance
2. Possible effect of Orb of Storms
3. How did the humans vanished.

It's nearly impossible to solve it all in a one game meethinks... mainly because it make everything clear all of a sudden and the world created would loose it's charm. Every world should have it's mysteries and all of them can't be revealed at once.
Many of you would rather have an open game instead of a close one. I'd disagree. I'd rather see a VERY GOOD adventure game instead of a Morrowind clone.

To make the adventure game more challenging and 'open' it shouldn't be so lineral. Some problems encounter should have more than one solution and diffrent endings should be made possible. The best examples of what I'm speaking can be found in Quest For Glory, Gabriel Knight I or Indiana Jones 4. Choosing a character in the begining would also be nice.

Here's the sketch plot I was thinking off that would fit my expectations:

While traveling PC encounters a meeting of boars and wolves (PC see them as 'robed figures') from their conversation the PC learns that a sinister plot to disturb the delicate balance in the known lands is being planned. Unluckly the PC is discovered before he can hear any details. He makes a run for it and succeds luckly.

Few days later while he's accused of a crime of murder which he didn't commit at all.
The PC escapes again but he's marked as fugitive now. Wanted posters everywhere. Guards after him. Now the PC must escape the Known lands (few ways of doing this) and solve the mystery of framing him.

In his attempts to flee far away from the chase he stumbles upon the orb...

As I said. This is only a sketch of the main plot. As you see there could be a few ways of escaping the Known Lands as well of the usage of the orb. Will you get revenge on the ones who exiled you from your homeland. Turn in the orb in exchange of your freedom or try to solve the case.

I think choosing the races would be a cool idea, since it can be done QFG style. Since some of the puzzles can be solved in diffrent ways by the diffrent species.

 
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