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Norman Barrows

Member Since 04 Apr 2012
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 08:21 AM

#5249330 combat music gives the badguys away! when to switch to/from combat music

Posted by Norman Barrows on 28 August 2015 - 05:08 AM

is it safe to assume that the game has no HUD/UI elements whatsoever, in the name of simulation?


idiot lights only:  sleepy, injured/high damage, thirsty, tired/exhausted, hungry, lonely, unhappy, etc.   also climb mode and sneak mode idiot lights.


but not in the name of simulation, its simply a cleaner UI.  it used to show all the stats like sleep, food, mood, etc like the sims does.




And in 1st-person perspective?


first and 3rd person - toggle at any time.  while 1st person only is more realistic, i decided to allow 3rd person play as well.     a lot of folks have difficulties with 1st person.  mostly with situational awareness, but also sometimes with vertigo issues.  the vertigo is probably related to inner ear sensitivity, and whether the brain tends to rely on inner ear or visual cues more for attitude info. for example, i have very sensitive inner ears, so i have problems with rollercoasters and rides that spin you around. but i'll never get space sickness in zero-g, and i'm largely immune to 1pv vertigo effects. in the game the room may be spinning, but my inner ear is not, so it doesn't phase me.  for folks who are good with rollercoasters, the opposite will probably tend to be true. they see the room spinning, and their brain says i'm getting dizzy.  i've only experienced it one time ever for about 10 seconds myself, and i've been 1pv playing shooters since the original castle wolfenstein 3d.

#5249208 combat music gives the badguys away! when to switch to/from combat music

Posted by Norman Barrows on 27 August 2015 - 12:38 PM

If you're in a forest and your hear a footstep, you don't just freak out and spin around in circles. Your brain can approximate where the sound originated from.


no directional sound modeling yet unfortunately. that will be the only cue other than visual given the player. no radar, no compass, no enemy indicators, not even crosshairs! if you and i went out in the woods and fought with the available weapons at hand, there wouldn't be any of that BS.  its harder, but very cool, and yes, when you get an encounter the first thing you do is look around, cause odds are you're about to get eaten! <g>.  until you identify the threat its a true moment of terror - and then sometimes you do identify the threat - and the terror is even worse.  its interesting how the game can generate this tension and fear again and again.  definitely not for the faint of heart.

#5249096 Large scale terrains (again)

Posted by Norman Barrows on 26 August 2015 - 08:10 PM

Anybody got experience writing terrain systems for flight simulators and is willing to share knowledge?


i'm working the same issue myself right now for AIRSHIPS!, a ww1-ish airship flight sim.  the game world extends from the arctic to north africa, and from the mississippi to the urals.


my world coordinate system is currently based on sectors that are 10,000 feet across, so 1000x1000 verts for a terrain patch / chunk / mesh at 10 feet between vertices was the original plan, but that's a kind of a big mesh. 


a low rez heightmap based on real world data in combo with some higher rez "noise" seems to be the way to go. similar to the boeing approach described above.


you'll have a maximum mesh size you'll want to deal with, and a minimum mesh resolution for your highest LOD, say 1 vert per foot, and a mesh size of say 250x250 verts=62500 verts per patch/chunk. so your highest LOD chunk might be 250 feet across. at lowest LOD, a chunk will still be 250x250 verts, but at a much lower resolution. how low depends on your personal taste as to how low no longer looks acceptable. that may be 100 feet between verts, IE 250,000 feet across.  obviously, you want to keep the LOD levels power of two size with respect to each other. whatever you highest and lowest resolutions are, and whatever power of two it take to get from one to the other will be the number of LODs you'll need. all the rest is pretty much generating and paging the right stuff quickly enough.


I keep starting writing code, and then stopping what I am doing because I realise it won't work.


step 1: figure out how to do it. step 2: implement.  imagine writing every line of code in your head before you sit down at the computer:  "ok, i turn on the pc, fire up the ide, goto this section of code, add this routine, goto that section of code, the new design i've figured out already can reuse this with a minor mod..." and so on. then when you do sit down at the computer, you'll already have done it once - in your mind. 


If you're at 30,000 feet travelling 500 mph, your view distance is probably nearer 100 miles.


there should be a way to look this up or figure it out. my plan is to use max visual range of the largest object in the game as a guideline. using a rule of thumb of max visual range = 100 x object size, i came up with a visual range of at least 73 miles for the largest airship in the game. altitudes will typically stay below 20,000, except in the case of uncontrolled ascent.


a geometric solution based on diameter of the earth and an observation point at 35K ft should give you the max visual range including curvature.


and don't forget, if all else fails, there's always fog! <g>.



#5248381 combat music gives the badguys away! when to switch to/from combat music

Posted by Norman Barrows on 23 August 2015 - 11:43 AM

Deus Ex is probably the closest to a near-perfect system since the player will know more about enemy whereabouts via radar than most games allow


this is a paleolithic simulator, so deus ex is probably not a good example model for this type of game. there's no radar, etc.


while what they do in deus ex might make sense in their game world, it probably wouldn't in this one.


the only thing resembling spidey sense or similar non-real-world capabilities would be auditory cues of nearby unseen threats.

#5248380 combat music gives the badguys away! when to switch to/from combat music

Posted by Norman Barrows on 23 August 2015 - 11:36 AM

Skyrim might not be the best example of well-timed battle music though. I don't know how many times epic viking war songs have broken out because mud crabs got angry with me being in their river.


or continues to play long after they're dead, until you sheath your weapon.  this is the kind of stuff i'm talking about. 


if i was modeling when the character became aware of the enemy irregardless of what the human player was doing, then yes it would make sense for the misc to clue the human player in, but i don't do that. its up to the player to spot threats. there is no compass. i do tell them when a new encounter occurs, but i plan to drop than and force the player to simply keep their eyes open, just like it was in the real world.


imagine the music started playing every time the player got near a badguy, and the badguys could hear it the way the human player can. IE when the music starts, it set a flag in the badguy AI of "player nearby" which triggers a search and destroy behavior, as well as notifying all badguys on the level to activate and perform search and destroy. see what an advantage it gives the badguys? along with the simple capability to call their buddies for help? 

#5248256 combat music gives the badguys away! when to switch to/from combat music

Posted by Norman Barrows on 22 August 2015 - 12:06 PM

It's not really a design flaw


like i said its a matter of opinion.

#5248255 combat music gives the badguys away! when to switch to/from combat music

Posted by Norman Barrows on 22 August 2015 - 12:04 PM

Either when the player spots an enemy that is aware of the player (in view frustrum?) or the enemy is performing an attack.


if the player is aware of the bayguy, and the badguy is aware of the player - you're already in combat - unless neither has attacked.


so the player has to be aware of the badguy, and the player must be intending to attack: if (badguy_detected && weapon_drawn).


or the badguy must be aware of the player and attempt an attack: if (badguy_attacks)


and stop if: no badguys nearby are aware of player. 


but you also need the inverse of the trigger conditions as well, so


stop if:


(!badguy_detected) ||  (badguy_detected && !player_detected && !player_wpn_drawn)


does that handle all the cases and give the desired behavior?  i think it might.


combat music starts if:

1. a badguy attacks.

2. the player spots a badguy and draws their weapon to attack.


muisc stops if:

1. all badguys are dead / flee far away

2. any remaining badguys don't see player, and player is not attacking.

#5248250 combat music gives the badguys away! when to switch to/from combat music

Posted by Norman Barrows on 22 August 2015 - 11:40 AM

If there are any enemies nearby you could just have a generally more 'tense' theme to announce that the area may be unsafe


i consider this a design flaw in games.


the whole point of this thread is that music should NOT tip off the player as to the disposition of the badguys.


while dramatic, its also unrealistic, and therefore a hokey immersion reducer/breaker - if you actually think about it.  at least in my opinion.

#5248247 combat music gives the badguys away! when to switch to/from combat music

Posted by Norman Barrows on 22 August 2015 - 11:35 AM

I think some sort of transition between the different themes can help the whole thing be less jarring, as it is super weird when it's like OK sheathed my sword and music immediately changed/stopped..


dynamic soundtracks are nice, but a little beyond the manpower capabilities of this humble little one man indie game studio unfortunately.

#5248244 combat music gives the badguys away! when to switch to/from combat music

Posted by Norman Barrows on 22 August 2015 - 11:32 AM

 Though you might get some wonky case where they are behind a wall but aware of the player, might depend on the AI implementation.


and if the player is unaware, the combat music gives them away.  


i have a feeling it can be boiled down to just two rules: starting, and stopping rules - both based on "player awareness of the enemy" and vica versa.

#5248243 New take on Conversation in Video Games

Posted by Norman Barrows on 22 August 2015 - 11:24 AM

using "AI" to essentially generate player dialog options and appropriate NPC responses is interesting, but in a given specific game implementation, other methods might be a more efficient way to achieve the same effects.


you might want to select some game type, determine its dialog needs, figure out how much work it would be to use your system, then figure out if there's a simpler way it could be done. when you come to a gametype where a simpler method does not exist - you've found an application for your "dialog engine".  but until you find that gametype, all you have is an overkill dialog engine with no realworld practical application - sad but true.

#5248235 Food for aliens

Posted by Norman Barrows on 22 August 2015 - 10:25 AM

correct me if this is wrong:


1. terrans conquer planet A.  planet A's food now comes from terran empire, not the old owner.


2. aliens still on planet A + new terran colony on planet A = more food than planet A gets from terrain empire.


3. exiting civil unrest modeling of lack of food automatically causes terrans on planet A to rebel. - thus the problem.



man, this ones easy!


obviously, as conquerors, terrans get first dibs on food!


  • War gives the right of the conquerors to impose any conditions they please upon the vanquished. , Gaius Julius Caesar


so you need to adjust your modeling of civil unrest due to lack of food.


food going to a planet should go to terrans first, any extra goes to other alien populations still there. and aliens without enough food should starve.


that way, only when the empire cant even feed a terran colony will that colony start to starve and rebel.

#5248232 Different physical attributes for dragons

Posted by Norman Barrows on 22 August 2015 - 10:04 AM

sounds like you need a distinct enough look for each dragon so the player can tell them apart.


and you need a solution that does not require a lot of art work.


so the thing to do is figure out how to make them distinctive with the least amount of artwork (or an acceptably small amount of artwork).  


that would probably be using different colors for the various parts of a dragon. its pretty simple to change the color of a graphic in a paint program. you could throw in a few different graphics as well, like small vs large horns - stuff that's easy to make by just scaling existing graphics.  you might even use a single set of graphics and procedurally change colors as needed, or procedurally generate multiple sets of graphics in different colors as needed from a single set of base graphics. IE let the code make the additional artwork for you.

#5248225 describing game objects in GDD

Posted by Norman Barrows on 22 August 2015 - 09:25 AM

sound like the producer wants you to simply list the entity types, and what they can do in the game.


i'd assume they would then pass those design specs on to the dev team to figure out whats doable and whats not.


perhaps confirm with your producer that this is the game plan before proceeding.


the siloing might be due to the producer's need to keep tight control over the process for some reason. but it prevents the synergies you get from team interactions between all levels.  uncontrolled interactions can lead to chaos.


actually, all of this sounds very scary to me. a producer who doesn't encourage the team talk to each other, a designer who's not sure what to do - how the heck did you become the designer? (nothing personal here - but you see what i mean?).   something smells fishy to me. don't know if its just a case of the blind leading the dead, or perhaps some sort of scam.  maybe i'm just paranoid.   glad its not me, that's all i have to say.


a good rule of thumb, whenever in doubt about an assignment, its always good practice to go to one's superior for guidance. it shows you want to get the job done, and done "right" (whatever your boss's definition of that is). those types of employees get descriptions like "self starter - takes initiative". - a highly prized quality in any employee.

#5248084 combat music gives the badguys away! when to switch to/from combat music

Posted by Norman Barrows on 21 August 2015 - 11:52 AM

combat music gives the badguys away! when to switch to/from combat music?


so your wandering across some game world, and all of a sudden the combat music starts. obviously there's bad guys somewhere! i think its happened to all of us.


or the music keeps blaring on after all the bayguys are dead, until you sheath your weapon. that kind of thing.


so what are good trigger conditions for starting and stopping combat music?


when the player becomes aware of combat? as in hostile attempts an attack? or hostile nearby and player draws weapon? 


and stop when hostiles are dead or sufficiently far away?