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Nerdy Suit

Do environments seem lackluster?

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I was about to back this game, and I still very much want to (I'm a huge DF fan)...which is why I've come here to ask about the current look of the environments. The concept art for this game is amazing and the gameplay sounds and looks like a lot of fun. But the environment graphics seem so lackluster to me. They don't seem alive, interesting, beautiful, or dynamic on any level (I'm basing this off of what I've seen in the MC Teamstreams).

Am I missing something? Or are these very early versions (obviously understandable) and the environments will vastly improve? I'm not trying to be a troll or rude. I'm sincerely asking because I want to back the game, but the environments just did nothing for me.

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They're early builds.

Final art assets will be added later-on, piecemeal, in sweeps. A developer wants to have the outlay of a level finished before they determine its' final look.

Think about it like deciding where you're going to put the walls in your house and what color you're going to paint those walls. Which do you do first and which looks pretty?

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/prophet1.jpg

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The game has only been officially in production for a few weeks now. The whole implemented interface is only programmer art so far. So yeah, the game's looks will improve.

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I'm actually pretty pleased with the variety I've seen so far. I look forward to more and more polished set pieces.

Smiles

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I'm really liking the environments already! Yeah, everything is obviously in a big 'WIP' state, but the environments (and especially some of their effects like the water) are already looking really promising, if anything the characters could use more eye-candy. But I'm sure we'll see that in time.

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The water in the Mangrove Jungle area.... Hot Dayum, that looks so good already! :D

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I think the environments look okay -- I definitely don't want them to waste more time than they have on them.

My main complaint is that they aren't even going to try randomized maps.

I miss the days when randomized maps were the norm -- we've literally gone backwards as graphics technology has progressed. From the new X-com to Diablo 3 to this, none of them have random maps and they all suck for it.

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The problem with truly random maps is they can often end up just not fun, you need some kind of creative hand involved to ensure things flow nicely. They talked about that in the most recent teamstream with regards to minimum widths and having 'blind spots' were you end up chasing down a single enemy for twice as long as the rest of the map. I think random maps is one of those things that sounds cool, but in reality is not really worth the effort. And yes, I'm old enough to have played the older games that did that, which was probably more to save space on floppy disks and tapes than for the playability.

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That's a fine opinion, but I disagree with my entire being and soul. I think many of us older gamers find hand-made maps less interesting because you will see repetitions. We value the unpredictability of the experience over "flow". It doesn't matter how many maps you make, playing a repeated map is simply not as fun as playing a random map. The weirdness of random maps creates the fun: you have to create completely unique tactics and you create completely unique experiences.

I have been opposed to hand-created maps in most games ever since the early days, so I don't know why you think it was to save space on floppy disks.

Most who have played Diablo 1/2, Nethack, X-Com 1/2, Alpha Centauri, Worms, and other games from various genres would agree that map-randomization plays a humongous part in the fun of these games. Tackling the same map or the same scenario (i.e., new X-Com VIP rescue scenarios) a second or third time is really not fun. But starting out in a similarly themed area knowing (as in Diablo 1) that the layout will be completely unique to your experience is a very exciting, fun thing.

Indeed, one of the complaints lodged against Diablo 3 was its marked lack of randomness, which most fans of the series saw as a humongous turn-off. They came to favour games likes Path of Exile and Torchlight, which do have random maps.

Anyway, I watched the same teamstream as you, and I'm pretty sure Brad said they'd prefer random maps, but that it's hard to make random maps work with modern technology (a conclusion he based entirely on New X-Com's experience attempting to implement randomization).

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Scope-wise it'd be almost impossible to put random maps in that didn't completely ruin the game by blocking you in, creating crappy alleys, and so on and so forth. One of the biggest problems with random maps is the increase in graphics technology. To put it simply, randomised maps look like butts. Now, when all graphics looked like butts it didn't really matter, you could just get the engine to plop down some tiles and it'd look pretty close to a handmade one. Unfortunately, modern 3D graphics require quite a bit of work to make them look good (see OP), so randomising them would make them look terrible and make them arguably less fun or even broken to play.

In theory, I would LOVE randomised maps, but seeing a massive write-up about the troubles Jake Solomon had (with infinitely more budget), as well as what the team themselves have said on the issue, I understand that this will probably give us the best game in the end.

EDIT: For some reason, I thought this was a separate thread about random maps, not about environment quality. I really need to go to bed...

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Yeah, that's what I thought the issue was. It's another unfortunate tale in the double-edged sword of technological progression.

Man, I love butts, though.

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I am glad the team is on board for multiple spawn locations for any given map. For XCom, it got repetitious to seemingly always start in the same location for every map.

Smiles

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I agree that in the old days random maps added a lot, but that was mainly due to us having far fewer games to play. We needed the replayability else we felt cheated in the same way we expected free expansions. However these days there are so many good games they've become like books and movies, were you can't possibly experience them all, so many, myself included prefer a well constructed hand crafted experience we can play through a few times, and then it's on to something else. Perhaps we've lost something along the way, but the gains far outweigh those. Maybe it's just being over 40 I can already see my Steam library is bigger then the years I have left :D

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If you're expecting from Massive Chalice a game you can play through once or twice and then shelve, then I think we're expecting different things.

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Oh I'm not saying that is what the game will/should be, that's just what I know I will do. Such is the pressure of the pile of shame. Depending somewhat on how long any given playthrough would be of course. Could turn out to be like the original Tropico which I went back to time and time again over the years, but that happens less and less these days for me. Still if anyone can get me to do that now, it's Double Fine!

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I was about to back this game, and I still very much want to (I'm a huge DF fan)...which is why I've come here to ask about the current look of the environments. The concept art for this game is amazing and the gameplay sounds and looks like a lot of fun. But the environment graphics seem so lackluster to me. They don't seem alive, interesting, beautiful, or dynamic on any level (I'm basing this off of what I've seen in the MC Teamstreams).

Am I missing something? Or are these very early versions (obviously understandable) and the environments will vastly improve? I'm not trying to be a troll or rude. I'm sincerely asking because I want to back the game, but the environments just did nothing for me.

From the looks of it, the "polish" of the environments are the responsibility of only a couple people at Double Fine, and they came and went on the project a long time ago during Pre-Production. I think the Mangrove environment is their most polished work, but as environments start flooding in, technical artists will get back onto the project and help with the polish.

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I agree that in the old days random maps added a lot, but that was mainly due to us having far fewer games to play. We needed the replayability else we felt cheated in the same way we expected free expansions. However these days there are so many good games they've become like books and movies, were you can't possibly experience them all, so many, myself included prefer a well constructed hand crafted experience we can play through a few times, and then it's on to something else. Perhaps we've lost something along the way, but the gains far outweigh those. Maybe it's just being over 40 I can already see my Steam library is bigger then the years I have left :D
If you're expecting from Massive Chalice a game you can play through once or twice and then shelve, then I think we're expecting different things.

Maybe modding could allow us to have both. After all the two ideas, a crafted experience and a mode with procedurally generated maps, are not mutually exclusive. If a big enough following forms around the game it's possible that the community could create, if not procedurally generated maps, then at least some new varied content.

At the very least the modding support needed to be included for this to be a possibility would be for the game to be able to load maps that weren't shipped with the game. Things that would be nice to have included: an importer that creates maps from an intermediary format and some pre-genned assets to use in said maps.

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I hope so. In my experience, "people won't play enough for procedural generation to be worth it" bespeaks a bad game.

The original X-Com would be worse off for hand-created maps, and the new X-Com is worse off for it. I can't tell you how many eye-rolling episodes I've had due to having the rescue the same VIP on the same map over and over.

Anyway, either 1) your game sucks and people will only play it once, so no need for randomness; or 2) your game is good but people have to play the same damn maps over and over. Neither is a good solution.

Incidentally, the designer of the original X-Com has Kickstarter up for a new game... with badass procedural generation: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1206403106/chaos-reborn-from-the-creator-of-the-original-x-co

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I hope so. In my experience, "people won't play enough for procedural generation to be worth it" bespeaks a bad game.

The original X-Com would be worse off for hand-created maps, and the new X-Com is worse off for it. I can't tell you how many eye-rolling episodes I've had due to having the rescue the same VIP on the same map over and over.

Anyway, either 1) your game sucks and people will only play it once, so no need for randomness; or 2) your game is good but people have to play the same damn maps over and over. Neither is a good solution.

Incidentally, the designer of the original X-Com has Kickstarter up for a new game... with badass procedural generation: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1206403106/chaos-reborn-from-the-creator-of-the-original-x-co

A game with procedurally generated levels and a game with hand crafted levels each provide a different experience and I don't begrudge anyone for liking one more than the other. And if the designers of a game you backed don't pick the one you like then that's definitely a bummer and I can understand your disappointment.

I was only pointing out that, given that the ship on DF provided procedural maps has sailed, from a technical perspective their exists a slim hope of procedural map functionality being shoe-horned into the game later on by the community if the presumably less costly feature of modding support is included.

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I am glad the team is on board for multiple spawn locations for any given map. For XCom, it got repetitious to seemingly always start in the same location for every map.

Smiles

Agreed. Starting in different places will make it feel like a different map each time. Even if you see a spot you've seen before, you'll be approaching it from a different perspective. This will cause different scenarios to utilize the terrain in different ways. It's all pretty crafty if you ask me.

As it pertains to the OP and visuals, I respect your opinion, but I feel otherwise. I think they look good for being in their alpha stages, and the sky is the limit from here on out.

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The biggest issue I have with environments are the sharp shadows created by the fireplaces... in reality they'd be blurry because fire is not a infinitely small point-source

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Looking at the last team stream, part of me would like the ground's to be rubbished up a bit. What I mean is, so we've got Tall, Medium, and Small blockers, for varying levels of cover and path immovability. And we've also got patterned ground covering everything in between. So some of the expanses between immovable blockers looks a little too empty or perfect. This could also still be because the level design is still very much in progress, and all of this could be moot too.

But for instance, the levels that have pools of water you can run through add a nice feature of erase the empty / perfect feeling of the ground. But the areas without that, seem lacking. So for instance, we have the level we looked at with very tall trees. Some piles of leaves could be used as an additional rubbish clutter to add some more character to levels.

But I am not sure adding in some 'rubbish' clutter -- stuff that can't take cover behind and that doesn't impede movement -- would really be great in the end. Just some random thinking.

Smiles

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