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Ketchaval

Organic Quality.

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AS This is now in the Game Art forum, hopefully we can have some debate / input on how to make graphics more organic.. and anything else you wish to contribute . ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- There are many different ways in which games could be made more "Organic". Whether this is in terms of graphics, sound, music, artificial Intelligence. IMO a degree of Organicness in a game makes it better, because the Pre-rendered graphics no-longer look like they have been made by an amateur, the sound is more realistic, the monsters are more convincing etc. What techniques do we have to do this: ? I don't know all of them, but it would be good if we had Artists, Soundmen etc also contributing to this thread. 1. Stopping graphics being shiny and uniform in appearance, this is one of the problems of CG / polygons, this has been well dealt with in Final Fantasy 7 where most of the game (even in high-tech labs) has "dirty" textures... 2. Animation: Dave Perry suggests ( www.dperry.com ) that Animation should use a system where you don't have continually repeating cycles of the same number of anim. frames, but instead the no. of frames in varied each time a cycle / animation starts.. ie. like their breathing etc. 3. Systems Music: based on Steve Reich's Music For 18 Musicians, in this the musicians play around a basic pattern, but each time the musician playing runs out of breath, the pattern starts again at the beginning (so this is based on the "organic" breathing cycles). This can be done with semi-random numbers ? 4. You tell me ? ----------------------------------------------------------------- "At the end of the day, it is all about love." Matt Black (Ninja Tune Records). Edited by - Ketchaval on 10/16/00 12:24:21 PM

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Level Irregularity: As Ernest Adams has asked, why are all dungeon floors smooth and uniform?

More curves, less straight lines: Unless it''s the right look for your setting, objects shouldn''t be boxy and angular. I don''t think that 90 degree angles show up that much in nature.

Setting: Include more trees! Or other organic material, like grass or potted plants or whatever.

Walk Paths: I started replaying Half-Life the other night, and noticed that Barney (the security guard) walked in straight lines and made sharp turns. People normally don''t do this (unless their high?)

Delays: The sign of a computer system is immediate decision making and response (unless we''re talking Windows ) AI decisions and movements seem like they could often benefit from built in delays.

Precision: Starcraft AI always knows how to drop tanks on a narrow plataeau. They never suffer from imperfect interface clicks. This reminds you that you''re playing a computer.

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Just waiting for the mothership...

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Conversations ! In real life people don''t select a sentence to say, then say it and wait for the other person to finish theirs. (This is a linguistic fact). There are lots of butting in,short bits of speech etc.

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I think that some of those things could be done, but they would be difficult. It is hard to program a computer to adapt. It requires good AI. It is much harder for a computer to deal with curves than with straight lines. I was thinking though, that it would not be too hard for a computer to work wiht ellipses instead of triangles. Does anyone think it would be possible to construct a 3D engine using ellipsoids/spheres instead of polygons? I don''t know, probably just replacing one misrepresentation with another. It would beinteresting though.

By the way Ketchaval, are you suggesting full-blown language parsers in FPS''s. I don''t think we have the technology for that yet. But if you only mean that pre-programmed conversations should have people interrupt eachother then you''re right.

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Ellipsoids would not work for a 3d engine. NURBS, yes, but ellipsoids, no. The reason we use triangles is because you can construct everything out of them. This includes curves, because there''s a certain level of detail in a curve where it becomes indistinguishable to whether it was made of triangles or not.

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I didn''t really think that ellipses would work, but I don''t know, I''m not much of a 3D programmer. Just putting stuff out there. You know, many fractal-type algorithms can produce organic-looking shapes. Perhaps recursively generated triangles that smooth out more as you get closer. Some people are doing that. Of course it shouldn''t be that hard to play down the reflectivity of polygons which are supposed to represent, say, cloth or human skin. The problem with AI is it is very easy for computers to do precise calculations, but very hard for them to make general decisions. On the other hand, we humans are generally lousy at precise calculation and expert(?) decision makers. So we need to make computers smarter in one regard and dumber in another. Usually in games, the designer just assumes they will balance out. (Computer gets things perfect but cannot make good plans. Human makes mistakes but can strategize. So it is even match.) Still, it doesn''t feel like you are playing against a human opponent. And sometimes that''s what we want to feel.

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A free conversation system could work I recon. Most conversations in a game will be related to the mission/story or whatever, so you can probably narrow down the areas of speciality the AI has in its conversation. eg. you probably won''t have someone saying "do you like marmite?" to an AI character, but if they do, it doesn''t matter if the AI says "I don''t understand", the atmosphere''s already been ruined by the idiot asking the stupid question!
But then there''s the voice recognition and speech synthesis. Surely text conversation hasn''t died in games?

Frank

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I prefer text conversation, but if speech synthesis was required... I think they have made some advances there. It would probably slow down your game to 3 frames a second on a 1GHz but there you go . Anyway, I think it is a possibility for the future

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Guest Anonymous Poster
You can help the graphics by creating and apply a noise algorithm after the fact.

Here isa good link for info about Perlin noise functions:
http://freespace.virgin.net/hugo.elias/models/m_perlin.htm

and here are some examples of where the author was headed:
http://mrl.nyu.edu/meyer/projects/etchapad/

check out the gallery.

I intend to use someting similar to create automaps that look hand-drawn and to dirty up the floor tiles in my vaporware project.

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So what can be done to make graphics more organic seeming when they need to be ? Are there anytips, whether the use of materials or making the edges (shiny? matt?) colour schemes to avoid because they make things seem synthetic ?

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Well since your dealing with flat surfaces with 3d object, your goal isnt so much making a better model or a better 3d engine. The 3d engines of today are very powerful but as you mentioned, lack Organic intuitivness and feel very plastic. Almost every game feels this way to me. Texture mapping has certainly been put to the test recently but here comes a contracdiciton as a bad model cant look good with a good texture. I think that you should start from the texture and create a model to support it.this way you are catering your models geomentry to fit a pre done texture of say a character instead of the other way around. but no matter how good your models look (assuming of coarse that your gaem is 3d) unless they are animated well, they wil suck. Its a combination of thousands of suttle movements that make a human look and feel so organic and alive when they move. if your subject is a human model, it might help to do some serious anatomical studies to understand this.
I recently thought about how to program animation on complex models with 2000 joints. I know in 3d studio you can program weights so that grouped joints move in certain fassions. In your physic engine, you might program it to apply pressure equal to a certain level. program strength, not just gravity.
Character interaction is a biggy as well. the world around you has to be very much alive. Im thinking rpg''s on this one but for most, the rules are the same. I dont think that text cuts it at all as you really cant get a really good image of your character. so, why not allow the player to speak as the character through speech recognition? Ill bet that would add lots to it.

these are just my opinion. dont take them too seriously


Allow the flaming to begin
Conshape Electronic Arts

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Shame that aside from Fantasy Edge, the "artists" here seem to have absolutely no-opinion or ideas on how to make things more organic seeming. Maybe they are frightened that they will lose their jobs, or maybe they just don''t want to give away the trade secrets.

So does anyone agree - disagree or what have you with Fantasy Edge ?

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mmm, first off, it''s very hard to make things that feel organic in a GAME, in REAL TIME. The best thing I know for this is Vortex style graphics (Delta Force II being the latest example).And even then, non imaginative people will start talking about "bunch of pixels around the place" instead of understanding "grass, vegetations, bushes ..."
As long as you stay in the domain of flat surfaces, you can give them all the texturing you want, the nonorganic feel will stay.
bump mapping is a start. But this is not enough. Just think trees, grass, bushes, and look at the solution found in games (They Hunger expansion for HalfLife, for instance).
It''s not easy at all.
Ketchaval, you mention Final Fantasy. I must say as an artist I am drooling when I see the cinematics. But the shiny cold feel is still very much there. They use so much things around that you don''t really care anymore, but it''s still there ...

Lighting is of the utmost importance. Lighting can change everything. Just look at anything David Fincher has done.
Warm foreground, cold background, and suddenly a flat picture get a sense of depth you wouldn''t have imagined otherwise (Don Maitz paintings are very good for this). The simple theory of colors is so much NOT used, that sometimes I wonder. I mean, they gave us colored lights for something else than illuminating the flags, right ? (for HalfLife addicts, refer to the excellent maps by Scary-One such as scary_1, scary_2, etc)
I have done quite a bit of maps for my own use, and lights can REALLY make a difference. For instance, in one map I did, I used a grey cement texture. But with the coloured lights, they would look like egyptian stone, or like cold white marble, or rose granit, etc...)

Texture *of the picture* itself. Not the resolution, or the graphic system. But someting more like the after treatment that some movies will use to make the film itself dirty, old-stylish. A simple black and white filter can change everything (Schindler''s list). Or the low quality, hand camera style can give a lot more realist, almost amateurish style (Saving Private Ryan). This is something that has never been (AFAIK) used in games... but when you see how cinematics and movie techniques seem to affect the game industry, I am still wondering what the developers are waiting for (yes, real time filtering is NOT as simple as it sounds, but I am sure it''s feasible, with a little bit of hardware ?)

For the animation bit. I have to say that even though I hate the sugary sweet shit Disney is falling into, I am more and more respectuous of the work they do, animation wise. Tarzan is just plain cool. And I remember reading excellent papers on Disney views about animation, that should be read by any animator out there ... basically, it''s about stopping to be TOO realist. Disney was not the only one of course, as other people, in the world of Comics for instance, promoted similar ideas.
Cartoons (and by extension, game graphics) are NOT realist, and it''s not their goal. If you try to be realistic, your characters look shit, they look like they are stuck or something, as if they had sticks preventing them from moving. On the other hand, of you exagerate their movements, you suddenly give more life to them, and they actually look more "realistic". More consistent would be, I guess, more appropriate. They are heroes, they are out of the norms, so why would their movements be *in* the norms.
Refer to LucasArts games such as the last Monkey Island, Full Throttle, Sam and Max hit the road, Day of the Tentacle. then compare with previous works (even the Kings Quest), and thin about it

mmm, maybe more later, what about the other artists ?

youpla :-P

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Voxels are crap on current PCs ;-) Delta Force looks & runs like crap, Outcast is the same. There''s no technical reason why Voxel are faster / more detailed on current PC systems, it just make no sense. You can archive 100% photorealism with triangles & co, so giving up the polygon approach on a system that is soooooo bandwidth limited is stupid. Just look at that 512x384@10FPS Outcast scenes. I think even glQuake looks 1000 times better. And more realistic ! The world doesn''t have much colored lighting and special fx like Q3, reality looks more than Q1...


Tim

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www.gamedev.net/hosted/glvelocity

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I had another idea when sitting in mc donalds today. what would it do if we programmed our characters to be physically self aware? basically they are aware of their physical possition in relation to other things. this way, they would move certain body parts to aviod colliding with other things. you know, when you are walking down town and you move to aviod someone. why cant the characters do it.

I am not text, I am not organized pixels, I am not killed by turning off your monitor, I am not isolated by turning off your computer. I just am.

Conshape Electronic Arts


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Just like to say a "here, here" to ahw. When it comes the animation your dead right. Sometimes you have to be less 'realistic' to be more. I think once we get this type of toon animation in 3D (didn't everyone love sam & max ) we will come a long way to moving away from the clinicalness of FPS.
Style is the important thing, I am not a big fan of realism for realisms sake. It is after all entertainment not simulation. With a consistent strong sense of style it really helps avoid the notion of "Why does his head look so blocky?" and so on, Interstate 76 did this well.
Don't know about anybody else but I just can wait for the next wave of toony 3D games

Edited by - sof on October 26, 2000 8:26:31 AM

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Guest Anonymous Poster
In response to the statement that in FF7 the shiny coldness is still present. This is true. I honestly don''t understand why the CG in final fantasy is so acclaimed. Truth be told, it is really not very good. CG can be very organic, but it''s hard to do with polygons. The answer lies in nurbs. Nurbs make it comparitavely easy to model organic solids. When rendered, nurbs are dynamically converted to polygons. If someone made a game engine that renderd spline based models, it could be set to dynamically adjust the polygon count based on the power of the user''s hardware. Now that''s what I call scalability. To show you what can be accomplished with well modelled and textured CG, here is a link: http://www.pixels3d.com/pixels/gallery/nature_gal_folder/treefrog.html This image was made with [url=www.pixels3d.com]Pixels 3D,[/url] a NURBS based modeller and renderer for the Macintosh. (I did not make the picture).

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It may be a bit before games look like that im afraid. It all depends on what you class as good. Sure thats great for cutscenes but not really practicle for in game rendering. Final fantasy was nice because it combined technology well. 3d characters on a rendered backdrop is a really good idea because it is soo much faster to display so you can pump more data into your characters. although, with the new consoles coming, these issues will not be a problem.

I am not text, I am not organized pixels, I am not killed by turning off your monitor, I am not isolated by turning off your computer. I just am.

Conshape Electronic Arts


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Guest Anonymous Poster
Exactly. And I was also refering to prerendered graphics. My point was, the prerendered backgrounds and cutscenes in FF7 are a poor example. The quality of them is mediocre at best. I don''t see why those particular CGs were so hyped.

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they were just fine. they fit the game and thats all that matters. FF8 was the same way. but then again, I am disapointed at the CG in games. I only hope that eventually they will be on a level similar to the CG found in movies. Im not dreaming as in not even 5 years, games will be photo realistic.

I am not text, I am not organized pixels, I am not killed by turning off your monitor, I am not isolated by turning off your computer. I just am.

Conshape Electronic Arts


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I''m not an expert in this or anything but we''re going to need a lot more processing power to get photo realistic movies in games. I''m pretty sure I read something that said the movies were rendered at 320 by 240 for Resident Evil, so that''s pretty low quality, plus theres the compresion which screws things up even more. Another problem is that TVs aren''t capable of producing photorealistic graphics

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