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Would you like Cyan or a group of fans to improve the fan engine.
Yes 82%  82%  [ 9 ]
No 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Maybe 9%  9%  [ 1 ]
I'm not sure 9%  9%  [ 1 ]
Total votes : 11
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 12:47 pm 
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I recently returned to Uru after a long absence hampered by bugs and lack of interest. I turned my attention from Uru to Kotor I & II, Portal and just recently Fallout 3. Listening to Badlands on my iPod made me want to come back to see what everything was like. Arriving in Uru after about 2 weeks of playing Fallout 3, I became disappointed by the staleness of Uru. The game is beautiful in its art direction but sadly it feels empty and unlike most Myst games, I don't feel completely immersed, I still do think that some elements, (particularly the soundtrack and sound effects) still feel fantastic .
Most of these problems that I feel are game-play issues which I may list in another thread.

But I feel that perhaps the first thing that could be done to improve Uru and make it a more attractive game to newcomer is to not only improve game-play but also improve the engine which despite IMO resembles the Half Life 2 version of the Source Engine, is definitely ageing badly. Textures, lighting, animations have despite fitting in with Uru art direction, sadly drag it down. And overhaul of textures of almost of the game's textures (fixing problems where they are poorly placed over the models or make the models seem very crude in design) really is needed. I understand that most of the environments that need an overhaul in terms of Graphical quality are in fact Cyan environment (if I was able to the screen-cap evidence of these faults I would, but trying to screen-cap Uru just produces a black image). One example I found while playing today was that the rocks in the pools in Eder Tsogal were of high quality. Yet the sand near them was extremely blurry. Another example of the texture issue is the texture in the City Library courtyard.

If the improvements of most of the main textures is ruled out, then perhaps improvements to the game engine such as improved water dynamics and HDR could be use to make to improve the environment of Uru and make them much more breathtaking. We could take the concept of Day and Night transition seen in Eder Gira and the changing weather in Eder Kemo and prescribe that to most ages (this idea was born out of the images Tweek did on his website of the Cleft at Night and Dawn).

I have other improvements to Plasma to list but they are mainly game-play improvements which I will explain in full in "Let's talk about ways to improve Uru as an MMO" thread.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 2:16 pm 
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YES PLEASE! I really wanna see improvments to the engine. I play Oblivion, and seeing all those wonderful graphics overhaul mods (as well as gameplay, but we talk about graphics here) makes me wish we could do something like that for Uru.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 5:41 pm 
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Uru is using a 7 years old engine; it's a huge amount of time in computer evolution; no wonder it's aging. If you look at current (and upcoming) top of the line games, we are litterrally talking about Riven quality now. (Crysis 2, due next march, uses actual real time radiosity..). Updating Uru's visuals to today's best standards isn't really possible unless you have a team of professional developers working full time.. But even updating it a little would actually be difficult.

Updating textures is a long and difficult process; because most of the time it means recreating the texture from scratch.. Don't believe what you see in TV shows: there is no way to magically enhance the resolution of an image or "add more pixels". ;)
It is still a nice idea in theory; but personnally I'd rather see some time spent on creating new textures for fan Ages.

Adding new features to Plasma is possible as soon as we get the sources, but also time consuming.
The problem however is that to use most new features existing Ages would have to be modified.. And as far as we know Cyan only plans to open-source the engine, not the Ages. So that would have to be an unauthorized change. Also it would be more complicated to do without the Age's sources..Lots of complex modifications here and plenty of Ages to update..

New features could be added and not incorporated in Cyan Ages; but then only new fan Ages would use them which could create a weird contrast..

There are only a couple limited features that could be added that wouldn't require updating the Ages. From the top of my head I can think of: HDR, depth of field, motion blur, any kind of post-processing, a new linking effect for the avatar (this one get my vote), and improved realtime shadows for the avatars/Ages. A new animation system for the avatar could enhance many things: feet would actually follow the ground/stairs; avatar could line up faster with books/levers.. etc
Faster loading times would be welcome too; but I've no idea what kind of margin of improvement there is here.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:23 am 
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How much of this can be done without leaving behind older computers that currently have no trouble with the game? There may be some concern from folks who don't play such things as today's demanding FPS games, don't have newer equipment with advanced graphics, and would still rather not upgrade.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 11:12 am 
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I would never want to bring Uru up to Crysis level. I think Uru's current does give it a nice style that I don't see in other game engines except Source.

http://torbensko.com/phd/#Videos
http://www.seeingmachines.com/product/faceapi/

This is a feature I would love to see be used to increase interactivity with other players. Of course I think it could only be fully used if we improved the avatars themselves which would be difficult.
Avatar customisation is probably the one thing I really want to see get done. I'm sick of my one, I can't make it look like me and really most of them just look the same. I'm not sure if Cyan's financial situation has improved (hopefully it has) because I've been away for a while (if someone can update me on any changes, please do) so I doubt they would ever be able to change the avatars.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 11:23 am 
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Just look at CryEngine 2....how can you NOT want Uru too look so realistic?! I mean I know some games are nice with a more casual graphics, but with Myst games I say the more realistic the better.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 11:48 am 
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ThedStranger wrote:
Just look at CryEngine 2....how can you NOT want Uru too look so realistic?! I mean I know some games are nice with a more casual graphics, but with Myst games I say the more realistic the better.


The problem is I think Uru would lose some of its charm and style if it became too much like Crysis. The feel I get from Crysis is that their trying to hard to make it realistic, making it come off as too fake, shiny. There isn't a light touch to the graphics e.g the Bloom can be too strong than realistic natural light. Uru, while it is nowhere as advanced as most game engines, just feels better which is probably down to the game design.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 12:38 pm 
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Charm and style is still entirely possible with graphics engines like cryengine2 - here's proof.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bInZ7_y4Lw

(no, really, it is)

http://www.loneclone.de/projects/monkey.htm

EDIT: Note that converting uru to cryengine2 is not something I think is a good idea - but charm and style is still /very/ possible with that sort of engine. =)


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 12:57 pm 
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I think turning Plasma into something like Source might be a good idea, perhaps develop one that can make facial animations, real-time lighting etc. and then give it developers kit (PDK perhaps :wink: ?).
I think Uru does look good for its age, in some places it looks better than Half Life 2 did when it first came out (before they did the Orange Box modification).


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:07 pm 
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well, the orange box was Source 2007, not the Source that hl2 was released with. =P

HL2 now uses Source 2007, as well. =)

And I'm not sure that "turning plasma into something like source" is a terribly feasible idea. >.> But, if you managed to convince someone its an interesting enough idea to try to implement (or implement it yourself) - good on you =)

That's something people need to understand about open source - a lot of development is done to scratch the developer's personal "itch" - If its not their personal "itch" - you've got to convince them its interesting enough for them to go to the effort of implementing it. =) Or, pitch the idea well enough. >.>

Also, as for "PDK" that should probably still be "SDK" (Software Development/Developer(?) Kit) , I hope i'm not the only one who found unreal's "UDK" title contrived. >.>


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:34 pm 
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kaelisebonrai wrote:
Also, as for "PDK" that should probably still be "SDK" (Software Development/Developer(?) Kit) , I hope i'm not the only one who found unreal's "UDK" title contrived. >.>


Woops, thought the S in SDK was source, not software. My bad.
The thing I understand is Cyan (from what I know) is in no position at the moments to do a massive overhaul of the Plasma engine and Uru itself. Fan's while they can have the vision, IMO can't achieve this if they aren't physically together and if isn't their job. What would be better is a collaboration with an another company who can do the bulk of the overhaul while receiving advice and tips and perhaps from Cyan members on what they can and can't do. The last one seems definitely unlikely because I doubt there is a game company with the time and resources to do this and also have the fanatical devotion in Myst and Uru as we do.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:44 pm 
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JWPlatt wrote:
How much of this can be done without leaving behind older computers that currently have no trouble with the game? There may be some concern from folks who don't play such things as today's demanding FPS games, don't have newer equipment with advanced graphics, and would still rather not upgrade.

Definitely. In fact it's a point that many Age developpers try to respect: do not overshoot Uru's original system requirements. (or at least not too much).

Quote:
I would never want to bring Uru up to Crysis level

hmm thinking of it, it would be a fun technical exercice to port an Uru Age to Crysis to see the difference.. Teledahn or Gira could be nice examples; lots of real-time lighting and complex water shaders.
hmm.. do we have anyone with some Crysis development experience? :)


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 11:55 pm 
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Well for once I would like to bring Uru to CryEngine 2. It would look AWESOME. Change and tweak some stuff, obviously (controls, maybe a bit less bloom?), but CryEngine 2 is just photorealistic, it's amazing. Look at the videos around the youtube...the face and movement animations, the water, sky, the textures... I can see Uru on it. OHHHHH YEAH :P

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:06 am 
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@JWPlatt, some game makers are looking at doing the image render on the server and avoiding placing demand on the client computer. It allows older computers and lightweight mobile devices to run graphics intense games. The trade off is needing a powerful and typically costly server to save individual players their upgrade cost... It seems like any improved graphics has a cost somewhere.

@ThedStranger, aloys suggestion to try a test sounds like a reasonable experiment. Beyond that experiment, the first step would be getting Cyan's permission... which may be a problem.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:41 am 
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The easiest way to bring updated graphics to Uru is to use all of the existing features before worrying about adding new ones.

For instance, bloom can be simulated by adding a plane, setting the flare texture to add mode and draw overtop of everything, with a FadeOpacityMod to hide it when it's behind a solid object, and parenting that place to a ViewFaceModifier object at the centre of the light source.
[spoiler=The result]Image[/spoiler]


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