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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 11:39 am 
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Tweek wrote:
Personally I'd rather the Ages be difficult to make, means people will put the time and effort into creating them and the work will look better for it


I totally disagree. Making ages should be "easy", meaning: "fun".

Look at Little Big Planet: it's a hit game because making levels is just fun.

I think that if Cyan had from the very beginning gave players a age builder easy to use, that would have bean big selling point for Myst Online.

With tools that are hard to use, it is not true that "the finished ages would be better done". It would be something rather like "they more often not finished at all".


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 2:08 pm 
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Egon wrote:
Making ages should be "easy", meaning: "fun".


People that are making Ages the "hard way" now, wouldn't be doing it if it wasn't fun. :wink:

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 11:03 pm 
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Damianvila’s Ultimate Uru… I'm not sure it can be done with available resources.

I see three basic ways fan built stuff is done. In many games what people ‘build in game’ is premade by 3D modelers/artists and built into it by the game makers. Players grind through an acquisition mill (get raw material, manufacture/trade…) to be kept busy getting raw material that is converted to manufactured things, which are then traded for more sophisticated things. Then there are games that have various levels of in-game construction, think SL, Open Life, THERE, etc. Next those that allow building outside the game (Oblivion, Uru) with various tools (some made for the game – Oblivion – and some more generic – Uru) .

Premade items in the first case would not seem to reduce the demand for new content in Uru. A grind would give some something to do. My impression is grinds are not that popular with the Uru community. Adding an in-game builder for Uru something like SL’s would take a bunch of work. Plus it brings up the issue of who can change who’s ages and what changes are acceptable. Out-of-world tools are what the Cyan tools are (AFAIK) and the PyPRP tools for Blender. I think for the foreseeable future the last is what we will have. I would like more but...

Egon wrote:
Tweek wrote:
Personally I'd rather the Ages be difficult to make, means people will put the time and effort into creating them and the work will look better for it

I totally disagree. Making ages should be "easy", meaning: "fun".

Frisky Badger wrote:
Egon wrote:
Making ages should be "easy", meaning: "fun".

People that are making Ages the "hard way" now, wouldn't be doing it if it wasn't fun. :wink:

Right now ages are made with Blender and Python code. 3DMax and Cyan tools are coming. Both Blender and 3Dmax have steep learning curves and 3DMax is expensive. No matter how talented an artist is those are big obstacles to put in front of them. I think this locks people out or will force them to create teams. I think the straw poll type personality tests many took reveal that team thing goes against the personality of a good portion of the community. I see keeping it difficult as a big negative.

One needs to be a near professional to create the quality ages we have seen from Cyan. That those building ages are enjoying what they are doing, I have no doubt. I think it is a very small part of the fan base. I also think we will have a high demand for game content (i.e., new ages, puzzles, things to do). I doubt that a small portion of the base can supply enough content for Uru to survive. That would seem to be a really good reason to make building easier. But, I see no easy way to do that.

I see the difficulty of age building as selecting only the most dedicated and persistent. I do NOT see it as selecting the most talented.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 5:29 am 
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I tackled some of the problems of procedurally-generated content in a similar topic a few weeks ago.

Procedural is good for, and looks good with, certain kinds of content: Terrain shape, foliage, rock veins that extend into a material (either for believability when a material is broken open, or for easier texturing), weather, animal behavior. I can point to specific examples in games where these aspects of a game have been proved in the literature or generated procedurally and the results met with public acclaim.

Procedural generation is not going to substitute for intelligent inorganic designs (using this term as carefully as I can) with today's hardware, which isn't nearly powerful enough to do a simulation of the processes that lead to an intelligent design.

I'd like to take a moment and point out that, in the previous discussion, there was some talk of a game called .kkrieger (basically "ffighter" in German) which had a specialized tool which makes use of procedural stuff to make for much smaller content downloads (good) and perhaps easier development since you were giving instructions on making textures or fitting together primitives to create models like guns and enemies (possibly good), but at the cost of looking terrible (VERY BAD) and also having some huge problems with hidden surfaces not being removed (VERY BAD).

That's actually one thing I didn't think about last time, but I think is a killer for the procedural idea - Ages, because they are supposed to represent realistic places, need to have organic shapes, and they need to have organic shapes that are constructed by hand, not out of collections of primitives (think Little Big Planet, which comes more than halfway with a solution: Give players a large library of prefabs that are framerate-friendly and yet have character), and the reason is not just one of fidelity, but computing restrictions.

The funny thing is that while D'ni lore seems to indicate that found Ages have some level of predictability in them, i.e. you can perhaps find Ages that have a stone ship plumb in the middle, you can't control every aspect of them. Then there's the issue that a lot of the classic Myst Ages were built up after being found by the D'ni. These technological aspects form the backbone of the classic Myst and Riven titles, and they naturally draw our attention.

It's also worth mentioning that some of the nifty aspects of Myst V break away from the enjoyable natural vistas while appearing to be part of a natural landscape: The caves in a certain Age may be explainable in part by natural phenomena, but I think it's likely that getting software to intelligently carve out caves and such in an island is much more work than strategically placing and designing them.

Final thought: I wouldn't mind if somebody created a free, open-source terrain editor, but these tools are in high demand by game development companies today. People who make them would be well advised to license them for $$, and I would do so myself, unapologetically.


Last edited by Ed Oscuro on Sun Jan 25, 2009 5:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 5:36 am 
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I think that making ages should be easy and hard.
In other words, I think it might be good, if there was a way for an average person, that had little technical experience to make a very simple age. That way everyone that really wanted to could feel like they could participate in the game. I think that there also should be well thought out ages as well. I think in the long run, this would improve the quality of things in general. I think for most individuals, they would be satisfied with churning out something simple, as long as he or she could call it their own. More complicated things could be left to the guilds. I think a simple age generator type of thing could satisfy this need. This would allow explorers to make their own homes, if they wanted to. Maybe, these ages could serve as an alternate link-in place to Relto. An age generator would also ensure that ages made by us common folk would have minimal bugs in it.

By keeping a distinction between the "Professionally done", guild sponsored ages, and those done by the "amateurs", I think it would improve the quality in general. Explorers would either join a guild, and work with a team, or they would use the writing interface with lower expectations. In addition, I think this would be less likely to minimalise the effort that probably went into the "art of writing". "Realistically", IC, while we might allow for people to be naturally gifted, I don't think we would be expecting people to just pick up a pen and paper from the stationary story, and slap together an age -- complete with a full history and intricate puzzles.

In fact, I would be more likely to expect most ages to just be landscape without structures. I would expect structures to be added by people, rather than written in -- especially for beginners. Here is where an ecconomy could be interesting, if we chose to add one. Maybe, not all our designers would write ages. Maybe, there could be those that could "construct" buildings for people with barren ages. Maybe, for those that are very good with buildings and mechanical structure, but aren't good with terrain could design buildings. Maybe some could simply design puzzles as their contribution. If there was an ecconomy, some might be able to purchase buildings, vaults, structures, fish tanks, etc. Maybe for those that wanted a better looking age, they could submit a request to the guild of writers to work on it. Maybe, one could design their own buildings, and if one bought enough "Material", they could build their design on their own land. These are just suggestions. We don't necessarily need an ecconomy, but it's just a thought.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 5:51 am 
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I'm not getting the reasoning for having an artificial distinction between "professional" and "amateur" Ages when nobody's getting paid, and I also wonder why Guilds = Pro. Guilds are useful for getting help debugging stuff, or rolling in lore, but these are functions that can be served reasonably well by groups of friends, and if really dedicated a single person can just lay out their vision in a professional manner. I'm not accusing anybody of counting people out simply for not being "in" with the Guilds, but you can see how it sure looks that way.

So basically, let everybody do their own thing; the proof is evident when you visit the Age - does it crash, is it fast or slow on your computer, does it look good.

I think that when people see the modeling tools (if the tools are any good) a lot of the calls for "procedural generation" might go away. There should be ways to easily raise or flatten terrain, almost Sim City 2000-style, and that's been a major component of many 3D game engines since flight sims, and it's also found (for example) in Half-Life 2 and many major FPSes since (i.e. FarCry 2, which has a map editor where you just prefabricated objects and sliders to create scenes of aching beauty despite using the existing art resources - it looks perhaps too familiar yet still good). If you need to make a concrete block bunker, there's going to be primitives like the cube, or at least the ability to put up walls and connect them.

But if your Age is just some rolling hills and a big box, I don't see why that should grab my attention. But I would visit if, for example, you spent a lot of time with other terrain features, adding some water maybe, or maybe some trees, or something that takes patience, and if there was something interesting inside the bunker. I think that people can have success in Age building without needing to create the complex architecture and machinery that is Cyan's hallmark, and I think that most Ages that look really good will be more heavy on the natural scenery - because it's easier to make in terms of dexterity and planning, but still requires a discerning eye to determine when the Age is successful or not.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 8:45 am 
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Frisky Badger wrote:
Egon wrote:
Making ages should be "easy", meaning: "fun".


People that are making Ages the "hard way" now, wouldn't be doing it if it wasn't fun. :wink:


I will quote Johny Bravo: "This digg is hard work man..."
Meaning: you wrong. People are making Ages "hard way", although making ages the "hard way" _isn't fun_. The playing finished age _is fun_. The problem is: right now to get to the "fun" part you either have to be stubborn enough to go through all "pain in the tushie" stuff, or have organized team of people to back you up. And both are bad solutions because we are talking about "generating new levels for a game for fun", not about "WORKING part time in game developing for free".

And I stretch words "work" and "fun".

Doug Parker wrote:
I think that making ages should be easy and hard.


Plus "Ed Oscuro" message.

I agree.

I fact I think that the quality of final age should be proportional to the work putted in age creating.
Lets look for example on Warcraft 3 editor: To make simple playable map it takes 5-10 min. Probably it won't be very popular on the web but that's not the point. Point is: learning curve for this editor is more of straight line, and don't have threshold. And yet the editor it self is power enough to allow making completely new game.

I will like to be the futureof Myst editor: making simple Age simple, and more advance only proportional harder.

P.S.

To the topic it self ("Procedural generating ages"): Interesting, but shouldn't be the main focus of developers. Procedural generated ages can be interest to explore, but the technique it self would eventually limit creator of age to much. Meaning: You don't control details of Age, which is advantage and flaw of this technique.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:19 am 
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I make ages even if I don't have a vision for them (even though they come out better when I do).

I like the age-creation process.

Programming is the same way for me (that I like the process). Sure, most projects have some sort of "get to the other side" factor in their making but mostly I just sit down and code (whatever it may happen to be I'm working on).

But I guess Uru has too much of a gamer crowd for many to enjoy the building process. :wink: :lol:

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 1:41 pm 
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Instead of arguing over this, why doesn't someone form a team to make a simple/in-game/whatever Age builder?

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 1:49 pm 
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Whilyam wrote:
Instead of arguing over this, why doesn't someone form a team to make a simple/in-game/whatever Age builder?


As soon I get my hands on URU source....


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 5:38 pm 
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That is a much harder problem to tackle then you think. Because don't forget that you are also going to want to make it so that people can put in their own puzzles! And how are you going to create an easy user interface for them to do that? To a point you can make some of it easy, like maybe have generic graphics and code that they can just move around on a grid or something, but as far as being able to create puzzles, that is a different story. I am not necessarily against it but at the same time we have to think realistically.

I am looking to put together a team of programers and graphics people, and whatever else it takes to build ages, I want to build URU into something it has never had the ability to be. But we ALL need to have a plan, and it has to be realistic!

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:19 pm 
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Nauntilus wrote:
That is a much harder problem to tackle then you think.

Do not overestimate my words. I'm not a lunatic. Long story short: first I want to make easy to use Terran editor with ability to import objects created with full-blown 3D editor (like 3D Max and Blender). Just like basic function of Warcraft 3 editor. From this point, a veeeery long journey will begin...

Quote:
Because don't forget that you are also going to want to make it so that people can put in their own puzzles!

You know better from me what I want? :P
But seriously: not in the beginning. In other words: I say "let's build roads", and You just sad "no, because Highways are to costly to build".

Quote:
And how are you going to create an easy user interface for them to do that?

Whenever I though about ability for people to be able to make puzzles (whenever, in-game, or with out-of-game tools) there always one word coming back: programming. No mater what tool for this job You came with, it will be always a tool which would require some programing skills.

At first, I see it just straight forward approach: "you what to put a puzzle in You Age? You will have to script it. Or find someone who will do it for You".

But in time, I think that it is possible to make something which will allow people not familiar with python, or another programing language, to program visually.
Just look at games like:
http://www.kongregate.com/games/Coolio_Niato/light-bot
http://www.kongregate.com/games/krispyk ... ngineering

There are perfect examples that show how visual programing can look in practise, and that it can be fun even for non-programmer.

P.S.
I refer to my previous post: "making simple Age simple, and more advance only proportional harder. "
I never sad, that all aspects of Age building can be easy. But definitely current process (via Blender) can be simplified.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:08 pm 
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What you propose is very intriguing.
The main problem is, as stated, make things easy to make, and all you get is garbage. Posts, for example, can be easily used to spam. As such, your overly-simplistic concept of writing ages would create "Spam Ages", resulting in garbage flooding shards and preventing people from making good ages.

However, what you do propose does have some merit: If we make it to where the more you write ages, the more proficient your Writing becomes, then it would encourage people to Write.

I also believe that there should also be some founding rules. Last thing I want to see is some Hippie's Dream meets Ozzie Osborn Age, but I don't entirely wish to see Ages that repeat over and over again.

You're off to a good start, but you might want to revise some ideas.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:59 pm 
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Tweek wrote:
Look at Little Big Planet: it's a hit game because making levels is just fun.

Making levels for a platformer, where you want and need predictability and consistency in how the little set piece elements react to the player's actions, is almost completely unlike making levels for a FPS or MOUL. The game design choices are different, for starters; and LBP is essentially two-dimensional which also strains the comparison.

As I said before when I discussed this topic, it'd be great if there was any way of streamlining the Age creation process so people could rapidly prototype and share a cool idea they had. Maybe somebody's not really good at making terrain, or water, or the architecture, but they still have a number of good ideas that warrant making an Age.

Something that lets somebody just computer-generate an Age from start to finish without any more human interaction than placing a slider or dragging around props, eh, that I'm less interested in.

One of the problems with writing Ages for Myst remains that it remains a very doo-dad oriented universe; you need cool bits of human-made machinery and complex geometry for it to really be like the Myst we all know, and that modeling ability is one of the hardest talents to find out there in the wild, for free or otherwise, right up there with finding a programmer with time to work on these projects. Of all the Ages I know, only Jalak seems more or less bare of machinery (well, that and Myst V, which is an interesting case).

This isn't to say I would ignore natural-oriented worlds; I remember that the very first Riven advertisement I saw that I was interested in showed a stand of old trees, and that's an image that (although modified by time) I still carry around in my head. I'm actually a really big fan of the nature-sim idea; good for those winter months in particular.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:37 pm 
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Ed Oscuro wrote:
Tweek wrote:
Look at Little Big Planet: it's a hit game because making levels is just fun.

Making levels for a platformer, where you want and need predictability and consistency in how the little set piece elements react to the player's actions, is almost completely unlike making levels for a FPS or MOUL. The game design choices are different, for starters; and LBP is essentially two-dimensional which also strains the comparison.

As I said before when I discussed this topic, it'd be great if there was any way of streamlining the Age creation process so people could rapidly prototype and share a cool idea they had. Maybe somebody's not really good at making terrain, or water, or the architecture, but they still have a number of good ideas that warrant making an Age.

Something that lets somebody just computer-generate an Age from start to finish without any more human interaction than placing a slider or dragging around props, eh, that I'm less interested in.

One of the problems with writing Ages for Myst remains that it remains a very doo-dad oriented universe; you need cool bits of human-made machinery and complex geometry for it to really be like the Myst we all know, and that modeling ability is one of the hardest talents to find out there in the wild, for free or otherwise, right up there with finding a programmer with time to work on these projects. Of all the Ages I know, only Jalak seems more or less bare of machinery (well, that and Myst V, which is an interesting case).

This isn't to say I would ignore natural-oriented worlds; I remember that the very first Riven advertisement I saw that I was interested in showed a stand of old trees, and that's an image that (although modified by time) I still carry around in my head. I'm actually a really big fan of the nature-sim idea; good for those winter months in particular.


Erm that quote isn't mine.


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