Author Topic: Old Frequently Asked Questions Thread  (Read 10788 times)

Offline Stephen_Webb

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Re: Old Frequently Asked Questions Thread
« Reply #30 on: April 21, 2014, 01:32:42 AM »
Hi there. Insofar as graphical updates and modifications are concerned, the answer is two fold.

1] Yes, we are actively working on providing visual enhancements to the game, as in environmental rendering (Bloom with lens flare, DoF, Deferred Lighting, Rayleigh's algorithm for atmospheric scattering (so there is a nice gradient effect in the sky as you near horizon view). I will be posting some pictures in the near future to showcase these features. The main thing for us at this stage in the game is optimization of the maps, and re-categorization of model assets. We are no longer using brushes to shape the world of darkness, instead we are creating meshes based on those brushes for optimization so we can add in the new graphical features (which will be changeable in the settings for lower end machines). The weather system has also been upgraded to add more haunting and dreary environmental effects.
We have discussed the usage of procedural materials (substances) based on the original Bloodlines textures as well. This has not yet been tested, I will most likely be performing some test runs later this week using the procedural materials to see if it's feasible.

2] We don't have the resources to recreate all of the models for the game. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the artistic style would likely become incongruous if we started creating new characters for the game. We want to keep within the same dark and dreary world that Troika originally blessed us with in 2004. That said, I will be creating animations to better suit our needs. I personally don't really care for the animations that were used, but this can be a very long process and it is likely that early  releases will include those animations driven by Mechanim which gives us a nice system for masking transforms, creating blendtrees, mixing animations etc etc.

-Stephen   

Offline silhouette666

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Re: Old Frequently Asked Questions Thread
« Reply #31 on: April 21, 2014, 03:38:10 AM »
Hi there. Insofar as graphical updates and modifications are concerned, the answer is two fold.

1] Yes, we are actively working on providing visual enhancements to the game, as in environmental rendering (Bloom with lens flare, DoF, Deferred Lighting, Rayleigh's algorithm for atmospheric scattering (so there is a nice gradient effect in the sky as you near horizon view). I will be posting some pictures in the near future to showcase these features. The main thing for us at this stage in the game is optimization of the maps, and re-categorization of model assets. We are no longer using brushes to shape the world of darkness, instead we are creating meshes based on those brushes for optimization so we can add in the new graphical features (which will be changeable in the settings for lower end machines). The weather system has also been upgraded to add more haunting and dreary environmental effects.
We have discussed the usage of procedural materials (substances) based on the original Bloodlines textures as well. This has not yet been tested, I will most likely be performing some test runs later this week using the procedural materials to see if it's feasible.

2] We don't have the resources to recreate all of the models for the game. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the artistic style would likely become incongruous if we started creating new characters for the game. We want to keep within the same dark and dreary world that Troika originally blessed us with in 2004. That said, I will be creating animations to better suit our needs. I personally don't really care for the animations that were used, but this can be a very long process and it is likely that early  releases will include those animations driven by Mechanim which gives us a nice system for masking transforms, creating blendtrees, mixing animations etc etc.

-Stephen   

Of course I knew there would definitely be environmental enhances, but I didn't know if there would be enhancements to the already created characters, whether they are the protagonist models or the actual characters you meet. Not like a total makeover, but certainly little tweaks to make them appear even more realistic, improvements on behavior of hair, body language etc.

Offline Radical21

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Re: Old Frequently Asked Questions Thread
« Reply #32 on: April 21, 2014, 04:11:26 AM »
Im not part of the team but since I know the business of animation and CGI I can say theortically that doing what you ask is increasing the scope of the project substantially so even if they told me they could do it, I wouldn't believe that they will:

=To improve on their animation its very likely that you would need motion capture with actors or really really good animators. its not impossible considering that today there are cost effective motion capture applications using the kinect etc but it still is a whole lot of work to make something as good

=Improving on the models is hypothetically possible if you use them as a base mesh in a sculpting application and re-sculpt to export the models at higher resolution with extra detail but again it is not easy and it is tons of work considering the amount of models there are and the complex procedures of preparing a character to be used in animation.

Offline Stephen_Webb

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Re: Old Frequently Asked Questions Thread
« Reply #33 on: April 21, 2014, 04:37:44 AM »
Yeah, retopologizing the characters and baking the normals to capture detail for the game ready model is rather tedious and very time consuming. Animation wise, using the base animations and fixing them up by adding layers and custom controls to the skeletons we need to modify is also a very time consuming process. I personally don't like retargeting animation not specifically made for the character to be animated, not only does it kill the 'uniqueness' of the character in motion, more often than not you end up with poor results due to scaling / weight...it often times takes MORE time to use other animations that weren't originally created for your character to get everything to jive. With that said, the animations in bloodlines look rushed and in some places even the weightmapping is noticeably poor. Those little flaws we will fix over time, but I can't see myself spending 40 hours a weeks retopologizing or reanimating what is already there. Insofar as cloth and hair effects are concerned...unity is not known for its cloth simulation lol, its pretty bad to say the least, nothing like unreal. Its a resource hog too, the best we would be able to do with what we have is to add some joints and procedurally animate the transforms based on animation state.   

Offline silhouette666

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Re: Old Frequently Asked Questions Thread
« Reply #34 on: April 21, 2014, 05:05:10 AM »
Im not part of the team but since I know the business of animation and CGI I can say theortically that doing what you ask is increasing the scope of the project substantially so even if they told me they could do it, I wouldn't believe that they will:

=To improve on their animation its very likely that you would need motion capture with actors or really really good animators. its not impossible considering that today there are cost effective motion capture applications using the kinect etc but it still is a whole lot of work to make something as good

=Improving on the models is hypothetically possible if you use them as a base mesh in a sculpting application and re-sculpt to export the models at higher resolution with extra detail but again it is not easy and it is tons of work considering the amount of models there are and the complex procedures of preparing a character to be used in animation.

Yeah, retopologizing the characters and baking the normals to capture detail for the game ready model is rather tedious and very time consuming. Animation wise, using the base animations and fixing them up by adding layers and custom controls to the skeletons we need to modify is also a very time consuming process. I personally don't like retargeting animation not specifically made for the character to be animated, not only does it kill the 'uniqueness' of the character in motion, more often than not you end up with poor results due to scaling / weight...it often times takes MORE time to use other animations that weren't originally created for your character to get everything to jive. With that said, the animations in bloodlines look rushed and in some places even the weightmapping is noticeably poor. Those little flaws we will fix over time, but I can't see myself spending 40 hours a weeks retopologizing or reanimating what is already there. Insofar as cloth and hair effects are concerned...unity is not known for its cloth simulation lol, its pretty bad to say the least, nothing like unreal. Its a resource hog too, the best we would be able to do with what we have is to add some joints and procedurally animate the transforms based on animation state.

Again, referring to my original post, I have no idea what limits the team were going. I have no concept of building games, so if it seemed like a dumb question, I'm sorry. I didn't know if any MINOR changes or enhancements would occur.

Offline Signothorn

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Re: Old Frequently Asked Questions Thread
« Reply #35 on: April 21, 2014, 09:21:46 AM »
Im not part of the team but since I know the business of animation and CGI I can say theortically that doing what you ask is increasing the scope of the project substantially so even if they told me they could do it, I wouldn't believe that they will:

=To improve on their animation its very likely that you would need motion capture with actors or really really good animators. its not impossible considering that today there are cost effective motion capture applications using the kinect etc but it still is a whole lot of work to make something as good

=Improving on the models is hypothetically possible if you use them as a base mesh in a sculpting application and re-sculpt to export the models at higher resolution with extra detail but again it is not easy and it is tons of work considering the amount of models there are and the complex procedures of preparing a character to be used in animation.

Yeah, retopologizing the characters and baking the normals to capture detail for the game ready model is rather tedious and very time consuming. Animation wise, using the base animations and fixing them up by adding layers and custom controls to the skeletons we need to modify is also a very time consuming process. I personally don't like retargeting animation not specifically made for the character to be animated, not only does it kill the 'uniqueness' of the character in motion, more often than not you end up with poor results due to scaling / weight...it often times takes MORE time to use other animations that weren't originally created for your character to get everything to jive. With that said, the animations in bloodlines look rushed and in some places even the weightmapping is noticeably poor. Those little flaws we will fix over time, but I can't see myself spending 40 hours a weeks retopologizing or reanimating what is already there. Insofar as cloth and hair effects are concerned...unity is not known for its cloth simulation lol, its pretty bad to say the least, nothing like unreal. Its a resource hog too, the best we would be able to do with what we have is to add some joints and procedurally animate the transforms based on animation state.

Again, referring to my original post, I have no idea what limits the team were going. I have no concept of building games, so if it seemed like a dumb question, I'm sorry. I didn't know if any MINOR changes or enhancements would occur.

If I understood ATRBlizzard correctly over Steam chat, he said the textures are already compressed and Source engine compresses them further, so they don't look as clean. This is perhaps in part why the Bloodlines textures look really good in Redemption (linked below), even with a much older engine using DX7. Unity doesn't have this issue and will be more flexible for modders with much improved looks and features.




Offline atrblizzard

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Re: Old Frequently Asked Questions Thread
« Reply #36 on: April 21, 2014, 12:54:04 PM »
If I understood ATRBlizzard correctly over Steam chat, he said the textures are already compressed and Source engine compresses them further, so they don't look as clean. This is perhaps in part why the Bloodlines textures look really good in Redemption (linked below), even with a much older engine using DX7. Unity doesn't have this issue and will be more flexible for modders with much improved looks and features.


It's rather the other way around. The textures are compressed as DXT1/DXT5 which is a standard in most games, but Bloodlines also have them compressed with zlib (hence the TTZ/TTH formats). Not to mention the mipmaps play along there (so if you get far from a building the textures are shrinking and get more blurry). We attempt to increase the texture sizes where possible, while also recreating them as we go. And the converted map for Redemption doesn't look bad for such an engine, but for something like Unity it definitely shows its age.

Again, referring to my original post, I have no idea what limits the team were going. I have no concept of building games, so if it seemed like a dumb question, I'm sorry. I didn't know if any MINOR changes or enhancements would occur.

The issue is that minor enhancements wouldn't improve the visual qualities as much for a 2014 remake. I mean sure, you can get away with a few post processing effects like bloom with lens flare, depth of field, deferred lighting and so on, but those wouldn't be enough for the expectations of today's world. Not to mention having a 1:1 remake of the original game would seem redundant, and since we're using a powerful engine, why not push the limits further and create something unique while keeping the same feeling of darkness? While the original game was built on an early version of Source, which had a lot of limitations at that time compared to any newer version, building structures are rather limited (having just a single texture stretched out and simple shapes), textures are somewhat blurrier due to the texture resolutions, limited rendering power and more. However on Unity everything can be dealt with in proper ways, being able to add more details, change the structure further because you get more power with manipulating any building from within a modeling software than you would with Hammer.

Not being forced to use BSP (binary space partitioning) and CSG (constructive solid geometry) allows us to pretty much shape up the buildings and the level itself a whole lot easier. Comparing Bloodlines to World of Darkness, you can see how immersive the whole surrounding feels. The streets feel wider, the alleys are bigger and I always got the feeling that the hub maps in Bloodlines were "closed down".

And don't worry, it wasn't a stupid question since you weren't familiar with the engine or game building. But the truth is, small enhancements won't be able to "save" the visual quality that you see in the original game.

Offline Wesp5

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Re: Old Frequently Asked Questions Thread
« Reply #37 on: April 21, 2014, 02:37:12 PM »
I mean sure, you can get away with a few post processing effects like bloom with lens flare, depth of field, deferred lighting and so on, but those wouldn't be enough for the expectations of today's world.

Please make post processing effects like these optional, because people might not like them, like myself ;)!

Quote
and since we're using a powerful engine, why not push the limits further and create something unique while keeping the same feeling of darkness?

I like your idea of including all the small side maps into the main hubs without loading! But creating something unique would mean to me to create a new story, like the Sabbat side of things, or a prequel or sequel to Bloodlines.

As for Bloodlines animations, Tim Cain wrote (http://books.google.com/books?id=lroZsP4zyIYC&pg=PA102&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false): "We were also working on smoothing out the walking animations of characters during in-game cinematic sequences. The embargo occurred during the middle of this process, which left a great many characters skating or stuttering during those sequences." Which explains some issues with the animations.

I have a suggestion in that regard, I don't know if it would be possible, but I would like to see no out-of-body-cutscenes at all in the remake, except for the intro of course...

Offline atrblizzard

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Re: Old Frequently Asked Questions Thread
« Reply #38 on: April 21, 2014, 06:28:16 PM »
Please make post processing effects like these optional, because people might not like them, like myself ;)!
Should be easy to get these visual settings to be disabled for those who don't like them. I've seen so many games lately that overuse these effects and end up looking bad.

Quote
I like your idea of including all the small side maps into the main hubs without loading! But creating something unique would mean to me to create a new story, like the Sabbat side of things, or a prequel or sequel to Bloodlines.

As for Bloodlines animations, Tim Cain wrote (http://books.google.com/books?id=lroZsP4zyIYC&pg=PA102&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false): "We were also working on smoothing out the walking animations of characters during in-game cinematic sequences. The embargo occurred during the middle of this process, which left a great many characters skating or stuttering during those sequences." Which explains some issues with the animations.

I have a suggestion in that regard, I don't know if it would be possible, but I would like to see no out-of-body-cutscenes at all in the remake, except for the intro of course...
The problem with that idea is that some buildings don't really fit properly and will require some editing of their entire structure. Like the tattoo parlor, the inside looks odd with the windows on the right side as you enter, because on the outside, that part is covered by a building and it wouldn't make sense to have those windows and the structure itself requires to be downsized a bit to fit in properly. Some other buildings don't have the windows matching right (like the upper rooms on the Pawn Shop building) which also require the windows to be moved to fit the outer side properly. As for the rest, there are other ways to get around with inner buildings that don't fit in.

As for new stories, we already have some rough ideas for such missions or even new parts of maps, but those will come after the main core of the game is finished. There a lot that can be added to extend the storyline.

I think what Stephen meant is for most characters to have different or unique type of animations rather than the default animations we get (especially the male walking ones). The weight maps on the character models are pretty much rushed, which is why some parts look bad when being bent (arms closed, wrists twist incorrectly and so on). This is also why they are bad for any SFM use. Having the models recreated from scratch is a much better idea than retopologizing the current models. Having a proper skeleton rig with proper weight mapping done from the start would result into having higher quality animation bending and quality as a whole.

This way you also have more control over modular customization. With that said, you can have several base mesh to use and the character customization sliders to add more uniqueness to your character. Including cosmetic visuals, clothing, anything would fit properly no matter what. And this wouldn't be limited to player characters. It's a long shot but it's something worth doing in the end.

As for the cutscenes, I am not sure how you would be able to capture all the view from your eye that happens out of sight, like some of the tutorial cutscenes or the first cutscene when arriving to Santa Monica (or any other similar ones). I always wanted to extend the scene between the tutorial and the arrival to Santa Monica with a short cutscene, having a taxi dropping the player by and have them get to their apartment or something.

Offline Wesp5

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Re: Old Frequently Asked Questions Thread
« Reply #39 on: April 22, 2014, 12:39:48 PM »
The problem with that idea is that some buildings don't really fit properly and will require some editing of their entire structure.

I'm quite aware of this, but even if you use tricks like teleporting the player into those buildings, less loading time is a plus :)!

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With that said, you can have several base mesh to use and the character customization sliders to add more uniqueness to your character.

That sounds great because very often people here want to swap models because they don't like the default models for a specific clan.

Quote
As for the cutscenes, I am not sure how you would be able to capture all the view from your eye that happens out of sight, like some of the tutorial cutscenes or the first cutscene when arriving to Santa Monica (or any other similar ones).

It would probably be a little bit of work to make sure the player is looking the right way, but on the other hand, the cutscenes are probably the worst parts of Bloodlines. And I don't know if using better animations can fix all of them!

Offline ngppgn

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Re: Old Frequently Asked Questions Thread
« Reply #40 on: April 23, 2014, 02:11:54 AM »
Just to be sure, does Unity gets rid of the hardcoded number of kinds of items in-game that the actual engine has? (by items I mean items such that are able to be store in one's inventory. In the old game, there seems to be a limit on how many kinds of item do you have, so if you ant to create an alltogther new iteem, you ned to get rid of an old category. Will this be avoided with Unity?)

Offline atrblizzard

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Re: Old Frequently Asked Questions Thread
« Reply #41 on: April 25, 2014, 01:47:49 AM »
Quote
I'm quite aware of this, but even if you use tricks like teleporting the player into those buildings, less loading time is a plus :)!

Indeed, Unity has a few ways to deal with these certain cases, but there will be little to no waiting time, which is a blessing for everyone.

Quote
That sounds great because very often people here want to swap models because they don't like the default models for a specific clan.

There's going to be more option than to swap an entire model. We're aiming to bring more customization options, to choose from body part types to the color of the clothing to even have custom decals on if all goes well.

Quote
It would probably be a little bit of work to make sure the player is looking the right way, but on the other hand, the cutscenes are probably the worst parts of Bloodlines. And I don't know if using better animations can fix all of them!

I would have to agree, the cutscenes are pretty much a weak point for Bloodlines, seeing how oddly they behave and most of the animations are pretty much hand animated. They can always be remade with proper camera work, and remove those which make no sense.

Just to be sure, does Unity gets rid of the hardcoded number of kinds of items in-game that the actual engine has? (by items I mean items such that are able to be store in one's inventory. In the old game, there seems to be a limit on how many kinds of item do you have, so if you ant to create an alltogther new iteem, you ned to get rid of an old category. Will this be avoided with Unity?)

I agree, the inventory was pretty limited in the original game, and we're aiming to have several categories set for the inventory and handle them differently than it was in the original game. Can't say for sure what the optimal item limitation will be but it's going to be higher than it is in Bloodlines.

Offline Rick Gentle

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Re: Old Frequently Asked Questions Thread
« Reply #42 on: April 25, 2014, 03:09:52 AM »
The inventory system for Bloodlines was handled a lot better than many other games I've played (especially RPGs), where your whole inventory is thrown in one space, and it's up to the player to apply some sort of reasoning to it. But in Bloodlines, they had neat categories for melee weapons, ranged weapons, armor, and two general inventory panes. The only improvement over that model, I would say, is to have the following categories as separate panes:
Armor
Melee Weapons
Ranged Weapons
General Inventory (non-armor, non-weapon items you've picked up, like the Key of Alamut or the Weekapaug Thistle)
Consumables (Blood Packs, the Odious Chalice, ammunition for a weapon you don't currently have)
Quest Items

If this was done, it would be extremely handy to be able to access a given pane directly, instead of pressing "I"/your bound inventory key and being taken to the general inventory each time. The F1, F2, and F3 shortcuts for armor, melee weapons, and ranged weapons was incredibly handy; please keep that. (Especially for consumables. If that pane was given over to F4, it would make boss fights much less awkward.)

If it's feasible, it would also be handy to have a sort of "sell-all" button in shops for a given category. So if you're an all-melee character, you could have the option to go to the Ranged Weapons pane and "Sell All" weapons and ammunition. Though if this was done, please also have a "save" option for a given item, so that we could for example sell all ranged weapons/ammo EXCEPT the Shotgun and shotgun ammo.
An expansion on this idea would be to add in a function that lets us designate an item as "trash", and have it sell automatically to shops when we visit. So if we mark "Pistol Ammo" as trash, then every time we visit a shopkeep, it would automatically sell all Pistol Ammo in our inventory (without having to mark it as Trash every time we pick up a new magazine of ammo).

It would also be nice to actually pick up all the various items we already have a copy of - there are so many knives dropped in the game, but the game currently only lets us keep one copy of a knife. There goes a lot of your early-game cash.

It would also be nice to have Rick Gentle stop coming up with ideas, with no helpful tips on how to implement them, because he knows nothing of programming or modding Bloodlines in any engine.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2014, 03:16:40 AM by Rick Gentle »
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Offline Yosiel

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Re: Old Frequently Asked Questions Thread
« Reply #43 on: April 25, 2014, 08:18:40 AM »
Agree with everything Rick said, from top to bottom :)

Offline Ventrueloquist

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Re: Old Frequently Asked Questions Thread
« Reply #44 on: April 25, 2014, 12:15:10 PM »
Agree with everything Rick said, from top to bottom :)
Yeah, especially that last sentence :P.