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Ethereal Darkness Interactive's The Lost City of Malathedra screenshots + discussion

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here is a nice stiched together two-screen view of Bongo Beach, it's done for it's first pass. The shadows have been softened and toned down, so far the general feeling is that it looks better.

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Parrot bay? Ew. Original spiced rum please.

Anyway. Everything in the older shots is so crisp. The buildings and trees and people in these newer ones are all blurry. What's up?

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Quote:
Original post by Deyja
Parrot bay? Ew. Original spiced rum please.

Anyway. Everything in the older shots is so crisp. The buildings and trees and people in these newer ones are all blurry. What's up?

I think the newer shots were zoomed in or something. I'm curious about this, as well.

edit:
Also, the shadows look weird because they don't meet at the base of the object. I'm assuming it's because you're just rotating/extruding the base image, correct? I think it would look better if you made the shadows by hand instead of generating them, especially with the trees and stools, where the shadow offset is quite noticeable.

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which 'crisp' shots are you refering to?

while the camera zoom isnt yet set to optimal, a certain amount of filtering is unavoidable since the billboards exist in 3D space which can't accurately be mapped 1:1 to screen pixels.

as for the shadows, there has been LONG debate about this.

I won't be hand drawing the shadows.
I won't/can't use auto-genrated shadows (renderer doesnt support it and workflow overhead)
They are better now then they were.
I have a few more tricks to implement but they arn't priority at the moment.

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Yeah, it must be the zoom. Ideally, the graphics would be large enough to map 1 to 1 in the closest zoom, and filter down instead of up. But that's probably not feasible for memory reasons.

As for the shadows, all you would really have to do is avoid situations where the effect is overly obvious. If those stools were sitting on a little patio or something, it would be a lot harder to tell the shadow doesn't line up right. Shadows falling on other objects would be a big step forward, but might look weird in some cases. I'd solve those cases by telling the artists not to make them. :) Self shadowing is probably infeesible with this system, unless the shadows were just baked on. But then you'd loose the dynamic 'shadow direction' you've got going now. All in all, badly done shadows are worse then no shadows. But, eh; no one really expects state of the art graphics out of an indie team. I'm sure the story and puzzles are going to be the selling points anyway.

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Quote:
Original post by EDI
while the camera zoom isnt yet set to optimal, a certain amount of filtering is unavoidable since the billboards exist in 3D space which can't accurately be mapped 1:1 to screen pixels.


Why can't you map them 1:1 with screen pixels? It'll certainly give an overall higher quality look to the game.

If you have a "variable" zoom, then some would say you can't have 1:1 unless the player happens to zoom to a 1:1 distance. Not true. Remember, you're in control of the game at the end of the day... don't be behold to the 3D!

If you use mipmapping on your billboard textures (and even better, generate the mipmaps directly from your 3D package instead of simply downsampling from the original), you can have the GPU do all the work for you. The key is to "snap" your zoom to distances that are 1:1 with a mipmap level. Conveniently, this doubles the visible playing area with each "zoom level" which is a satisfying standard besides the technical benefits.

But, you say, you want smooth zooming? Just do it like "smooth scrolling" in Windows: you zoom smoothly between your "snapped" zoom levels. With the motion inherent to the zoom animation the player won't notice the blurring between mipmap levels (particularly with the refresh rate of many LCDs these days). The player will feel as though the zoom is somewhat continous even though it won't be. And hey, if it's a tradeoff worth making, provide a config option in a menu somewhere (or in a text file) to allow a player to turn on "zoom snapping" or something.

If you're going to invest the effort in using sprites then you might as well make them count: align them on 1:1 pixel boundaries! Otherwise you're investing the design work in creating pixel-perfect artwork, paying the runtime cost of rendering pixel-perfect artwork, but because you're simply doing the math in a "float-y" space you're presenting the user with interpolated, non-pixel-perfect artwork. A shame!

Also, if you get this working (actually, even if you don't, but it's more effective if you do), you can employ some cool "focus/blur" tricks by shifting the mipmap bias of your sprites. When you push the bias, the GPU will start sampling down into the smaller mipmaps (even though the pixel-to-texel ratio is not changing) and will do so gradually (using bilinear filtering)... assuming your sprites are render-order-depth-sorted, you can have a single character (or object) go out of focus, or fade away (blurring and ramping the alpha). It's a really cool effect, and it works on GeForce3 hardware (probably earlier... can be done without shaders definitely!).

BTW, if you need any details on the specifics, just ask!

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Yeah, well, all WE can see is the pretty screenies. WE can't see the orgasmic gameplay. We can niether SEE nor APPRECIATE the WITTY RESPONSES!

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Quote:
Original post by Deyja
Yeah, well, all WE can see is the pretty screenies. WE can't see the orgasmic gameplay. We can niether SEE nor APPRECIATE the WITTY RESPONSES!


Infer. We post these shots primarily to itnerest people and show that indie game development is alive and well on GDnet. You can pick the game to pieces when you've played the demo, until then you should treat it as a WIP.

This game is going to play like these three games combined:

Monkey Island 3
The Fate of Atlantis
The Dig

there is your gameplay and awesomeness inference =D

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Quote:
Original post by Dave
I hope this is some kinda Lost based game, the monorail pics made me think there is some mechanical force behind the tropics of the islands.


I dunno what you mean by 'lost based game', however if you like the games i listed above, then you should like this game =)

via your comment i belive you are thinking the right thing. =)

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haven't seen it (I don't watch TV), but based on the site it seems like the stories could be /similar/, certain aspects will definitely be alike.

What you'll encounter in Project2, is a challenging adventure that brings you to different locales in the search for something, and lands you in situations of survival and mortal danger, and in the process reveal things there were better off left buried.

a notable story aspect, which has currently left people a little confused with the random imagery that I've presented, is that the story tone changes over the course of the game, initially starting very light and ramping up to an ending that is rather serious.

the story contains varying dollops of comedy, discovery, ingenuity, suspense, horror and moral conflict.

In short, I think it's going to be a really good game.

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Quote:
Original post by Programmer16
Damn, and here I thought all the time we were spending on the gameplay was good idea.


Hey, even Kubrick stopped to focus his lens and frame his shot. It may be "all about the gameplay," but in reality game development is as much a visual artform as is film. Disregard that at your own risk.

But as others mentioned, you've only offered visuals to critique, nothing else, so don't be surprised if that's all that's commented on. In fact, you should be welcoming it with open arms.

Of course, if you'd like to start discussing the mechanics of your game instead of the aesthetics, I'd love to have that dicussion as well. It certainly satisfies my inner programmer! ;)


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The progress is looking great. I'm really liking the visual style of the game and the design seems to be doing wonderfully, once again. Have to say the radial menus are quite nice, though I do wonder if in certain cases a few other controls wouldn't be in order, for instance perhaps a radial slider on the sound.

Everything is looking good graphically, aside from the few minor issues brought up here. I'd say that this is one of the best looking indie games out there, and, considering that this is indeed an indie game, we shouldn't complain too much. Design for an indie game is far more crucial than graphics, because ultimately an indie game cannot and will not compete nor compare graphically to AAA titles produced by Id, CryTek, or Monolith, for instance.

How goes the development? Any more screens to show us?

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Nothing really nice to show at the moment except for:



showing the new window icon, and the color depth step in choosing a custom display format.

it allows you to choose your new display format based on a serries of choices each in dynamically generated radial menus, the options are dependent on previous choices:

windowed/fullscreen -> color depth -> resolution -> refresh rate

I'm mainly working on refining some areas of the engine to make it more user friendly and functional.

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