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Abstract Newbie Question on 3D Engines

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Hi forum! Here's an abstract question that's been bothering me for quite a while now and I hope some graphics sage can type me a short answer. I'll post it here as its graphics-specific: Is it possible to create a 3D (RPG) game engine that allows the player to fly between galaxies with a huge starship, then land on any planet, have an adventure transformed into a dragon, then have an adventure in a city or a dungeon as a human, then be transformed into an ant an have an adventure inside an ant pile and finally be transformed into a microbe and have an adventure in some water puddle inside the ant pile? The real question I guess is: Is it possible to create an engine that can handle basically unlimited amounts of data and detail (from galaxies to water puddles), simply by setting a computable horizon of the amount of data and detail available in any given situation? (Of course the programmer would have to specify which amounts of data and detail are available in which situation). If it's possible to create such an engine or if it already exists, what are some keywords to dig in on this subject? I'm a newbie, so I don't know anything about graphics programming yet. But I read something about "Level-Of-Detail". Is that what I'm looking for and is it capable of what I want? I don't suppose such an engine already exists, does it? Thanks for any help or reply, Markie

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Possible? Probably.

Easy? Most definitely not.

You'd need a wicked combination of streaming data, procedural content, Level-of-detail handling. Probably some other things that aren't popping into my head off-hand.

You'd need a ton of gameplay assets (art, scripts, etc), as well as a (very) compact method of storing all of that world/galactic data (again, procedural content comes to mind).

And you'd need some really competent people working on it.

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Hi Drilian,

Thanks for your thoughs! :-)

Quote:
Easy? Most definitely not.

You'd need a wicked combination of streaming data, procedural content, Level-of-detail handling. Probably some other things that aren't popping into my head off-hand.

Yea, well, you can't have everything... ;-)
I figured I wouldn't get away with 'easy'... ;-)
That's why I'm currently supporting amazon.com heavily with purchases of computer books.
I just had to ask the question for this nagging doubt that all these investments in books might not get me anywhere near of what I want or where I want to go.

The point of doing this is that I am a big fan of turn-based RPGs. Since there are not enough good turn based RPGs out there, I decided I would like to amend that if I can. The problem seems that turn based RPGs don't sell well enough with today's kids, so producing them, the ones I like, you know vast worlds, Jagged Alliance 2 or Realms of Arkania 3 combat style, hundreds of hours of game play, etc., is just too expensive.
So what's needed is someone to make some kind of "engine", that can run as many different kinds of turn based RPGs as possible, then let others use that engine.
I'm planning on planning this kind of thing. ;-)
To run as many as possible different kinds of RPGs, needless to say, you pretty much need to be able to handle EVERYTHING from intergalactic space travel and battles all the way down to the life of a microbe.
I like tile-based games, just for a few little points: I HATE the fact that you can't turn the world in strategic combat to see your characters when they're behind a wall or tree. I also much prefer first person view when exploring and talking to NPCs. - It delivers so much more in-game feeling when a monster pops up or when you wander through a forrest or dungeon. I want a 3D engine which will be overlayed with tiles only for combat.

But back to my initial question:
I'm aware that my 'engine' needs to be very strongly modular. See also these two previous posts from me: Cross Platform Game Development
and Physics Engines vs. 3D Graphics Engines

Procedural Content will certainly be a very important part, no doubt. Thanks for this key word, I found some interesting links about this: Procedural Content Generation
Oblivion: Full spectrum content, from hand-generated to procedural
Spore
A Real-Time Procedural Universe

As to a "compact method of storing all of that world/galactic data" I was hoping someone could give me some pointers how something like this could be done.

Quote:
And you'd need some really competent people working on it.

No doubt. The problem is, nobody will ever be able to pay what this costs. So open source is the only way to go here.

Thanks for your pointers!
:-)
Mark

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