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Isometric Interaction, Look/Feel Concepts (warning: large images)

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Greetings Everyone, It's been a while since I started a topic here, (kinda sad to see this forum so stale) So I decided that I would start a discussion, mainly concerned with advanced features in an isometric landscape, in an attempt to make our game better. So your oppinions and ideas for better or different systems is what I would like :-) here are some screen captures that illustrate some features of the engine and what some of our environments look like, please give feedback on how we can improve these, aswell. (please only give feedback on techniques or graphical quality, not as to what the things really are e.g. dont say (what is with the glowing things?) ) The bare bones: So let us assume that we have a basic system set-up, an isometric map, 2:1 aspect ratio (more specifically 64x32 tiles and in a diamond arrangement). And on this map, tiles can be marked as blocked, and objects of any x/y cell size can be placed as well, with the object tagging the underlying tiles as blocked. So now, we have our character standing in this map, filled with walls and columns and objects and etc. Other fixed constants are... Alpha blending on tiles or objects may be done, in the 8 bit range All images used have an in-image per-pixel alpha channel of 8 bits Color modulation may be performed on an image using a 24 bit color, so that, when the color is white (255,255,255) the image is unchanged, and when the color is black (0,0,0) the image is black Image Rotation is not possible Map Rotation or Zoom is not possible Camera Movement: Currently we use a non-linear camera tracking system, with this system you can assign some object on the map as it's target. The camera then closes distance on the object, at a speed relative to it's distance from the object, thus, if the camera is sent somewhere far away, it will speed over there quickly until it closes distance and then will smoothly slow down, this gives the camera a 'disconnected' feeling from the character. This movement feature is used alot to alert the player of interest, for instance, if you throw a switch that opens a door far away, the camera will zoom off to show the door was opened, we feel this gives a good cinematic quality to the game. Any comments on this? Lighting: Lighting is computed in a world-to-light fasion, almost like ray-tracing, for each tile in the view, it checks if each light in the view is within range to effect it, for each light that does, the color which acts as both color and intensity (as explained with modulation above) are added together with the global light color (ambient light), when doing this addition though, only light values that are brighter than the ambient light are used, thus, if the ambient light was 255,255,255 (which means no darkness) then no lights would show up. Is this the right way to compute light interaction? shadowing: as light values are computed, line-of-sight is tested on the tile-to-light, if somthing is in the way, the light will not cast on the tile, this allows light to be contained within rooms any thoughts on that? Occlusion: if the main character walks behind an object the objects that are then occluding are made semi-transparent, to allow the player to see the main character. Do you think having the obstruction fade smoothly, rather than all at once, would help the 'texture' of the game? that is really all I have for questions at the moment, i will post more if i think of them.

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come on guys :-)

rip into me, tell me what looks wrong, what graphics need to be improved, etc etc.

I can already see a few things that need to be improved, but I want to hear it from you :-D

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Those screenshots look really great! You're doing wonderful work.

About the things you described, I do almost the same things in my engine only i use OpenGL to do the isometric transform for me and i just have my objects in 3D.

I do the exact same lighting, and i have dynamic lights which setup dirt areas on the map. These dirty areas are updated each frame if they are visible. There are two types of objects: static(scenerey) and dynamic(characters). Static objects only get updated if they are in a dynamic light's range - dirty objects and characters are updated each frame togather withe their animations (if they have any - you could be moving a rock around just like a player model). With optimizations it works quite fast too, though i don't have shadowing, i think that would kill all my performance.

I'm going to implement the camera movement thing, as i currently can just track objects and change to other objects instantaneoulsy, so i'll add that velocity thing.

I'm also using particle systems: emiters have some properties and they generate particles. There is a billboard system that will sort billboards generate from particles but it can also sort other transparent objects (fences, billboarded objects). I've done this using a BSP tree and though i'm generating the tree each frame it's going quite well since i'm relying on the fact that billboards are camera orientated on the Y axis so they will all reside in parallel planes - not too many splits. You could add particle systems to your engine easily.

I also have walls on my map, and they are built more like bricks - you can have levels on on top of each other with the player being able to walk between them. I can also build stairs, bridges and such with this system. I still have to light them nicely, with face normals to make them look like your walls.

PS: your artwork is beautiful.

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Thank you for your comments :-),

Particles have been tossed around in development conversations, and we just haven't acted on them yet, not sure if we will, but it might be worth it.

I am glad you think our artwork is beautiful, but I wish you critiqued it a bit, since I can see some of it insnt perfect (*points at the gaveyard*)
and I would like to know how we could improve it.

keep the comments coming.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Magnifique !

download link for source code ?

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Im glad you like it Anonymous Poster =),

Sorry, but the source code isn't availible, Morning's Wrath is a closed-source for-profit project.

It is likely that the Flare 3.0 game engine source will be released some time in the future.

keep em' coming, I want to get a list of things that need improvement :-)

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Guest Anonymous Poster
First off, your game is looking great. I just have a few minor (or maybe major) things:

- Since you do have such great artwork, you may want to increase the ambient lighting in some of the darker areas so everything is a little more clear. Except for the first screenshot, I'm having a little trouble making everything out. I have a feeling the current lighting is going to strain some player's eyes, especially when the game is played over an extended period. Another possibility is increasing the light a bit around the player. Yes, the current lighting is probably more 'realistic', but sometimes you have to sacrifice realism for usability.

- A bit of fog may be a useful enhancement, especially in places like the graveyard.

- One of the 'problems' with the graveyard may be the lack of really anything interesting to look at. Most of the other areas seem to be more elaborate, with several different types of objects. Rearranging some of the current objects, and adding some sort of focal point may help. Also, the path is a bit too perfect. Believe it or not, imperfections improve realism. Add some broken areas and/or moss, leaves, whatever. Have some of the headstones smashed or vandalized. Maybe put some flowers near a couple. Add some weeds and grass growing up around the headstones. For a focal point, some suggestions are a mausoleum, a fountain, or a large tree.

- The characters seem a bit stiff. Relax them a little by bending elbows and knees a touch, and sag the shoulders some. The brownish-orange silhouetted character in the fourth shot has some of what I'm talking about (humans are difficult to model, I know)

- This is minor, but you seem to have a few misspellings: guilded (gilded - inlaid with gold), pedistal (pedestal).

I'll probably have more later, but I'm busy at work. Hope this helps some.

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>>First off, your game is looking great. I just have a few minor (or maybe major) things:

Thanks :-)



>>A bit of fog may be a useful enhancement, especially in places like the graveyard.

given that we arn't using a true 3D API, can anyone give sugestions on how we would do some fog?


>>One of the 'problems' with the graveyard may be the lack of really anything interesting to look at.

Yes, I am really dissasisfied with the quality of the head-stones as well, so i will probably re-do those, adding other little items is somthing we'll try also, and I think that straight and narror horribly-repeating path needs to a re-do.


>>The characters seem a bit stiff.

yes, that is a good point, we just got a new character artist so hopefully that should be fixed soon.


>>This is minor, but you seem to have a few misspellings:

hehe, yes that one was caught after the screenshot was released, there are plenty of spelling errors in the game, which we are leaving until the beta to weed out, along with dialogue revision.


>>I'll probably have more later, but I'm busy at work. Hope this helps some.

It does, thanks and I look forward to more.


Anybody else? Somone else must be dying to express thier oppinions :-D



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EDI

Your concept and Game Screens look very promising. With the exception of Screen 1 they ALL appear far too Dark (at least on my monitor they do).
I understand the idea of creating a lighting aura around the player which is very cool, but it makes the rest of the environment appear too dark. Although as an environment you would expect a Dungeon to be gloomy, perhaps not this gloomy.
Apart from this everything looks excellent!

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One thing that I don't like about the graveyard scene is that everything is too perfectly aligned and upright. The path is perfectly straight, etc. Try having some headstones tilted or broken. Maybe add some weeds or a freshly filled grave. When things are too perfect it jumps out at you.

I also agree that most of these scenes are much too dark.

Having said these things, I do think it is looking great. Keep it up.

Marcus

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