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The Underdark

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I don''t know how familiar any of you are with fantasy world of Forgotten Realms but one of the areas that really interest me in the world is the Underdark. It''s basicly a world under the surface filled with twisting tunnels and huge caverns, and for the most part it is completely lightless. How could you even go about setting a game in such an environment. The species that live there rely on infravision (seeing heat), sound and smell. Infravision is an obvious choice but I doubt anyone wants to spend their entire time gaming viewing the world in various patterns of heat. Another choice would be (for surface dwellers anyway) more traditional lighting, torches, lanterns etc. But what if you wanted the game to focus instead on those who are at home in the lightless world?

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Make the residents of the Underdark see their world with normal game vision. You can explain that they use infravision to see, but it all comes down to a matter of interpretation of those visuals.

For the characters... infravision is the "normal". Now since this is a game for us humans, just translate the character's "normal" into our normal. The mind registers its "normal" the best.

Now then, when the character's step into a lit environment, make it so bright they can't see. So they require some variation of sunglasses to "see" in the light. But when wearing these glasses, change the vision quality/style. (for instance, compare it with us employing Night Vision ... it looks weird).

[edited by - Veovis on December 15, 2003 11:31:35 PM]

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Since they see heat, then to make it accurate the game would have to be done in infrared. But that would turn off gamers I think. Instead maybe you could use illumination, the warmer an object is the brighter it becomes and cooler it is the darker the object.

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Chaos Factor Design Document

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I believe in the newer rules they have darkvision in place of infravision which, according to a few drawings I''ve seen, makes you see things silvery/gray with lighter shaded outlines...

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quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
Since they see heat, then to make it accurate the game would have to be done in infrared. But that would turn off gamers I think. Instead maybe you could use illumination, the warmer an object is the brighter it becomes and cooler it is the darker the object.



Yeah thats what I was saying. They wouldn''t want to play the entire game like that. But there are many things that infravision could tell you that wouldn''t work all that well with illumination. Like tracking the foolish surface dwellers by the heat left behind from their foot prints.

Veovis: I know pretty much the only feasible way to do it is to change the infravision into what we would consider normal but alot is lost in the transition.

kordova: Actually they have darkvision and infravision. Dark vision pulles from the smallest light sources (creating a washed out grey world) where infravision relies on heat (think mood ring colors).

I think alot of the atmosphere would be lost too if it was simply using standard illumination for the gamer.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
You could also possibly make certain parts of the scene get brighter (more seeable) when noises are made in the scene. For example, when someone walks, the sound of their shoes make everything near their feet brighter.

Hope that makes sense.

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You can do all sorts of fun things with textures and pixel shaders here, and I suggest you do so. Infravision is not normal vision, and this could conceivably add to the underdark experience a great deal, especially if it meshes with the gameplay.

Your limiting factors should be aesthetic, not scientific; this is a fantasy setting. So what you want is to provide something that looks absolutely nothing like real vision, but that nevertheless obeys certain principles through which we discern images.

* Some form of depth cueing should be in place. I suggest that objects near the foreground be of brighter hues, such as reds and yellows. Backgrounds should fade to blue.

* Depending on the emotional impact you''re going for, faces should probably be easily recognizable and discernable. Think back to all the horror movies you''ve ever seen: the number one way to make a person strange and monstrous is to give him a weirdly formed face. Realistically, not everyone you meet in the Underdark will be an enemy. Those who are not should have faces that, while discolored, look more or less normal in form.

* Visible distance should not be sharply limited. The ability to see a good distance is essential to navigation. The background can be dim and blue, but it should be visible for at least 100 feet (terrain permitting, of course).

* When the scene is still, there can be a little bit of motion in terms of texture shifting and noise, but don''t overdo it.

Just my thoughts on the matter.


"Sneftel is correct, if rather vulgar." --Flarelocke

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Sneftel: I just worry that it would be a strain seeing such a colorful world all the time. Have you ever tried the thermal goggles in games like Splinter Cell? It can be very disorienting... I couldn't imagine playing an entire game with that sort of effect...

edit: Not the entire game... but the majority of it.

[edited by - tstrimp on December 15, 2003 12:26:19 AM]

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The goggles in Splinter Cell are extremely garish. You don''t necessarily have to go all-out like that. Moreover, the Splinter Cell goggles strive for scientific realism, which means that it''s very difficult to make out details in terrain.

The vision I''m thinking of would fudge slightly with transmitted light so that terrain would be easily visible (even without the depth cueing). And the severity of the colors would be balanced to keep players from getting headaches.


"Sneftel is correct, if rather vulgar." --Flarelocke

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From a technical perspective, very simple. Something like the Underdark vision would most likely require fairly low-res textures. So the alternate textures, (and texture coordinates if needed) could already be loaded. It would just a matter of switching the shader and other rendering parameters.

On the other hand, it might be an interesting design decision to "white out" the scene for a couple seconds after the lights were turned on, before the player''s vision adjusted.


"Sneftel is correct, if rather vulgar." --Flarelocke

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I am reminded of Alien vs Predator, suddenly.
You say you cant imagine people playing with thermal vision (infravision, that is) turned on for the whole game.
Yet in AvP (1 and 2) I played most of the time in thermal/electric vision with the predator. And that was my favourite mode of play. I dont remember using the "normal" vision with the Predator, in fact.

I dont think you should worry too much, but rather make the experience of the infravision an interesting one.
If you mix infavision and darkvision, you would probably have room for a lot of nice things.
Then add in lots of ambient lighting. Who told you the world HAD to be pitch dark ? You could have tons of phosphorescent mushrooms, glowing for no reason crystals, luminescent underground rivers, lava (overused but always effective), etc.

Look at ANY movie, since colour exist in movies, that had night sequences or underground sequences. They always end up with blue ambient lights to show "darkness". What about the classic "light behind a fan that projects a moody shadow in the corridor" effect. A classic that you can probably somehow reuse.

You can also look at Neverwinter nights, which I thought handled darkvision and infravision in a rather simple but nice way. If you have darkvision, whenever you enter in a darker area, your eyes adapt and the brightness level is increased. If you have darkvision, IIRC, creatures become redish to highlight them (or was that in Baldur''s gate ?)

Anyway, plenty of solutions there, just look a bit harder



Sancte Isidore ora pro nobis !

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That reminds me of a line from a book, I can''t remeber what book but the lines went something like this. "While dwarfs and trolls can see underground because they are used to living. A human adventure will always just so happen to find caves filled with an abudunce of glowing moss and rock formations."

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Current Design project
Chaos Factor Design Document

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I have a camcorder with "nightspot" infrared on it. The image shown is black and white but some liquids that appear clear in normal color show up really dark with this on. The camcorder emits infrared light, so objects that are closer are very bright and washed out and fade quickly as they recede into the darkness. People''s eyes are really freaky. The iris is very bright even if their eyes are normally dark brown.

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Thats Nightvision it isn''t infrared. Night vision works by amplifing light. Infrared is seeing things in the infrared spectrum of light. Essentialy you see the heat an radiation an object emits. You would not be able to discern distinct textures or facial features such a mole on person face.

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project
Chaos Factor Design Document

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quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
Thats Nightvision it isn''t infrared. Night vision works by amplifing light. Infrared is seeing things in the infrared spectrum of light. Essentialy you see the heat an radiation an object emits. You would not be able to discern distinct textures or facial features such a mole on person face.



Not true

quote:
excerpt:
Sony''s Nightshot system uses infrared light to capture images invisible to the human eye. You can shoot subjects like sleeping babies up to 10 feet away in total darkness. Invented by Sony, the Nightshot system is available on every new Sony Handycam camcorder. With the optional HVL-IRC Nightshot light, you can even capture images from up to 100 feet away!

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