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thesaint1987

Isn't there any useable game dev software out there???

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thesaint1987    100
Hello, yes my title is sort of provocating... but let me explain. Some people will think what the hell is he expecting? I am very perfectionistic, if I had the choice between finishing a game that doesn't look good or don't start with developent at all, I would choose the latter one... I am not new to the game dev, but I always end up in terminating a project due to lack of digital content and animation. This is a rather long question but I will summarize it at this point. Please remember I am talking about real-time, in-game things with hardware some years in the future (since programming my game will take a while): 1)What about realistic motions like in state-of-the-art games? Is there any way to get something close for a single developer? Most hobby/OpenSource games out there, including my ones, look like robot invasion, at best... 2) Is there a better software for clothing simulation than DAZ Studio with the "Dynamic Clothing" plugin? I mean last time I was using it, only two dynamic clothing bundles were available. So you can do nothing productive with it, even if the idea itself is almost perfect. 3) Is there any good terrain rendering software out there where you only specify global aspects, like heightmap and areas carrying information about wood, snow, water, etc. But then the software should use some fractal-algorithms to interpolate all the details from my global specification...? This is possible, just before I start to do this myself I want to know if there exists anything. 4) Is there any good software out there, where you can build realistic architecture with the least design effort? Again this should work in the way that I specify global constraints and the engine computes all the details and variations using fractals/heuristics, or whatever. 5) I think this last question is useless... Is there any Software that now can apply realistic physic effects to my previously created digital content and save it in a format I can use in my game? I mean the DAZ Clothing is rather useless if I can't reproduce it in real-time. -------------- The long explaination I know tools like Maya, 3DS, DAZ3D Studio, Blender, Poser and all that kind of stuff. But none of them seems to give a single person any chance to create competive digital content in reasonable time. What I mean is simply that it will probably take years if not forever to create good characters and animation, the environment (flowers, buildings, etc) for a single developer. Even if DAZ Studio or Poser are more the ones I am searching for, they still lack many important features and not mention, they only provide good support for character animation but not for environment setup. When I want to create a game, I have an idea in my mind, a vision. If you look at games like CoD 6, Uncharted 2, Crysis, etc. you will most likely see that they all look kind of "similar". I don't say that they look the same. But after all most of their renderings are generic, meaning that they are not related to the story or the game itself and could be reused for any other shooter with realistic environments. ------ Part I: The Environment When you look at algorithms like fractals, Mandelbrot, perlin noise and whatever (I also used them in my own terrain renderings) it seems that at least to some degree it should possible to provide realistic rendering without designing all those details by hand. So one could age metal, stones and whatever, by applying stains or growing plants on them, etc. An engine could even burn all those things because they way it is "meant to be burned" stays the same, regardless of the game itself. So why isn't there any engine out there where you can create such realistic environment without having to model it in every detail? It should definitely be enough to specify the heigthmap and area-based content information, like snow, water, flowers, wood, or paths where the player should be able to walk, etc. Based on the heightmap and area-info it is really not that hard to generate realistic looking terrain, since I wrote such an engine myself. But of course it was still lacking many important features... With this little design effort the engine could already provide interactions like footsteps in snow, burning wood, etc... ------- Part II: Buildings The next thing are buildings. If we build houses stone by stone, why don't we do it in digital content creation? This would automatically bring a realistic look and feel to all buildings and most importantly, they would be all fully destructable, because the engine now knows exactly how it can destroy any part of a building. Is any software out there where designing realistic (preferable destructable) buildings is not a life's work? I mean I can say that with every software I know so far it would definitely be faster for me to build the building myself in reality and take some nice photos ;-). ------- Part III: Character Animation and Clothing The most complicated thing is animation. Of course Poser and DAZ are great tools for guys like me but they lack important features to be useable. The motion of bodies often comes with "artifacts", for example if you rotate a forearm, it will look like you were twisting a piece of rubber. Not to mention the clothing itself. DAZ provides a new feature called "Dynamic Clothing" which would be perfect, just that there are no good clothes supporting it ;-), which renders it rather useless. You can almost forget about all other approaches like static cloths, that is just garbage to me, unless you are rendering still images. But thats not all about animation. What about realistic motions like in state-of-the-art games? Is there any way to get something close for a single developer? Here again I have many thoughts about automating all this crappy stuff. For example the PhysX engine theoretically provides all the things necessary to simulate clothes and thus hair, flesh, etc in real-time. The motions itself could be precomputed by using realistic reference models for a huming being (muscles, skeleton, flesh, etc.). This way a not too complicated artificial intelligence could pre-compute a realistic motion without me having to specify every animation step. Instead I would tell the engine where a character is located and what you should grap, for example. Then the AI could compute the motion to grap that thing and we are done... As I am a very experienced programmer in other areas, I am sure that none of the techniques I described is impossible. So my question is why isn't there iny engine or tool set supporting them? Since it would definitely make game development a lot easier if not possible at all for me. best regards chris

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Aardvajk    13207
Quote:
Original post by thesaint1987
As I am a very experienced programmer in other areas, I am sure that none of the techniques I described is impossible. So my question is why isn't there iny engine or tool set supporting them? Since it would definitely make game development a lot easier if not possible at all for me.


I guess one of two things is possible.

  • It is trivial to create such a solution.
  • It is not quite as simple as that.


  • Google Rockstar Wives. There are a lot of reasons why triple A games cost more money and man-hours than blockbuster movies.

    Given the popularity of open-world experiences, procedurally generated content is an active area of research among the greatest minds in the game development industry. With respect, and while we do require fresh perspectives on this topic, I suspect that it is not just because it hasn't occurred to people who have to please boards of investors.

    We will probably sort this one day. We'll all be redundant then.

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    Konidias    214
    A lot of the stuff you've mentioned would bring even the most expensive personal computers to their knees.

    You're basically wanting something like a fully dynamic ragdoll character with dynamic clothing who is driving a dynamic 4 wheeler into a building made up of thousands of bricks and beams, nails, screws, shingles, etc... that just happens to be on FIRE in a very realistic way, and then have everything destroy realistically while the dynamic grass on the dynamically generated terrain blows in the dynamic breeze, dynamically.

    All of this stuff is gonna blow through a computer's processor in a heartbeat. Even high-end computers used to calculate heavy dynamic scenes have to do it at painstakingly slow framerates to produce a preview or final render.

    edit: What you want is called "real life" and it's going to take a long time before we can simulate all of this in a virtual environment... let alone apply it to games. Not only do we not have the software to do this, but we don't have the hardware to run it anyway.

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    thesaint1987    100
    thanks for your reply.

    I know you can compare them with blockbusters ;-). But if you already do this comparison I have another one.

    The concepts above are not meant to really compete with cutting-edge design. It is just the cheap way of creating realistic environments even if they will look artifical, but that isn't so important if they look good and the game is OpenSource or a hobby production. I would compare it with those movies, produced with a capital of some millions and still competing or even beating blockbusters in the story and acting quality.

    I don't even imagine any engine producing cutting-edge design only given global constraints and I think it will still take years if not a decade until an engine can automatically compute such "interpolated" renderings in real time. But I am pretty sure that you can get close to it with current hardware, at least close enough to let the end-user overlook the not 100% cutting-edge graphic because of the great story and gameplay ;-).

    regards
    chris

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    thesaint1987    100
    Quote:
    Original post by Konidias
    A lot of the stuff you've mentioned would bring even the most expensive personal computers to their knees.


    I think this depends on how far you will go. If you look at the latest SDK demos from NVIDIA and ATI you already see amazing content and also real-time cloth simulation being "disturbed" by real-time force fields like wind or rigid bodies. You can even break any kind of material and stretch cloth until they break. And it runs with 150 fps on my GTX 260.

    So at least the clothing part is already reality, but there is no useful tool to make it accessible for game development, at least not if you don't have millions of capital to waste.

    Terrain and Building generation is also depend on how far you want to go. Building could carry LODs, so only buildings in the direct environment will be rendered as huge collection of rigid bodies. If the building is some distance away, it will be replaced by some optimized/static version. Also it is clear that such generated content will look artifical and generic in some way, but at least it will look good!
    And again for example SpeedTree and the one NVIDIA Demo already provide the real-time effects you mention, like grass waving in the wind as well as entire woods waving in a breeze... This is just a question about optimization and reducing complexity to a degree that still looks "realistic" but can be computed on modern hardware. The problem is that SpeedTree for example costs about 5000$ per title. And you would only get the trees with it ;-). There we go...

    regards
    chris

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    swiftcoder    18437
    Quote:
    Original post by thesaint1987
    ***snip***
    Take a look at the current pièce de résistance of procedural content generation, Spore.

    Spore took 8 years, a huge team, and several of the more impressive features (such as emergent behaviours, and characteristics arising from creature form) were cut before release.

    This is unfortunately the reality: at the present time, procedural content generation is generally *more* expensive than an art department.

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    thesaint1987    100
    Quote:
    Original post by swiftcoder
    This is unfortunately the reality: at the present time, procedural content generation is generally *more* expensive than an art department.


    Well but the good aspect would be that it would only be more expensive ONCE, since many games could now use this generation.

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    badjim    100
    1) The industry uses rotoscoping, taking the movements of live actors. They often use expensive equipment for this, but it is not strictly necessary. You can get by with camera footage, ideally from two angles, plus a lot of work making your animation match the footage.
    You should be able to do pretty good animations like that. The catch is that it is a lot of work, more than most hobbyists are prepared to do. Hence the 'robot invasion'.

    3) Bryce generates landscapes using fractals. You can download version 5.5 for free.

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    Codeka    1239
    Quote:
    Original post by thesaint1987
    Well but the good aspect would be that it would only be more expensive ONCE, since many games could now use this generation.
    So who's going to pay for it then? Take a look at City Engine - an engine for procedurally generating an entire city. The software costs ~$3,500 which is well out of the budget of an indie developer and all they do is generate static models. If you wanted dynamic as well, then the costs skyrocket.

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    swiftcoder    18437
    Quote:
    Original post by thesaint1987
    Quote:
    Original post by swiftcoder
    This is unfortunately the reality: at the present time, procedural content generation is generally *more* expensive than an art department.
    Well but the good aspect would be that it would only be more expensive ONCE, since many games could now use this generation.
    As Codeka mentions, that is all well and good for large commercial studios - but if a company spends a few million building procedural animation middleware, no way are they going to hand it out for free to anyone who asks.

    And as for the indies? The ones productive enough to develop something along these lines are too busy making games (Eskil Steenberg, Ysaneya, etc.), and the rest of us are not motivated/skilled enough to finish it [smile]

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    Antheus    2409
    Quote:
    Original post by thesaint1987
    As I am a very experienced programmer in other areas, I am sure that none of the techniques I described is impossible. So my question is why isn't there iny engine or tool set supporting them? Since it would definitely make game development a lot easier if not possible at all for me.


    Huh? There are tools like that, lots of them.

    They cost $10,000,000. The tool is called: financing a studio.

    I really don't see the problem here, never before has it been easier for a single person to get things done.

    Quote:
    it is really not that hard to generate realistic looking terrain, since I wrote such an engine myself. But of course it was still lacking many important features...


    1 + 1 = ?

    Why is your engine lacking many important features? When will they be completed? Where can I download it with full source, documentation, tutorials and hundreds of production quality samples?

    I'd like a link right now please, I'm busy.

    Think about it.


    Quote:
    the good aspect would be that it would only be more expensive ONCE

    Mass Effect 2's Afterlife tracks come from one NFS game. Even the big players reuse, since cost of production these days is astronomical.

    You can too, but the cost of original production must be covered somehow. So they won't be available for free.

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    Facehat    696
    I think you're trying to compete with AAA game studios, but you are one man. This is impossible as one person, no matter how good you are. If you could automate most these things you mentioned, people would have already done this.

    So you're left with a few choices. You can either organize with other talented individuals and start your own studio, or refocus your attention in areas where you can excel as an auteur (mobile game development, indie games, etc.)

    This is slightly sidestepping what you're saying, but all the same I think it might be of use to you: Ira Glass on Storytelling

    (At least it's entertaining ;-) )

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    Atrix256    539
    If you are an absolute perfectionist, game development is not for you!

    Even the best games ship with things that are really appalling.

    If you can't handle ugly hacks, ugly code or doing things "just good enough" instead of the absolute perfect way or the way you "should" do it, you are going to be really really frustrated.

    Reality, time tables and budgets dictate imperfection.

    So...

    you are going to have to loosen up, or choose another field :P

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    Quote:
    Original post by thesaint1987

    1)What about realistic motions like in state-of-the-art games? Is there any way to get something close for a single developer? Most hobby/OpenSource games out there, including my ones, look like robot invasion, at best...

    2) Is there a better software for clothing simulation than DAZ Studio with the "Dynamic Clothing" plugin? I mean last time I was using it, only two dynamic clothing bundles were available. So you can do nothing productive with it, even if the idea itself is almost perfect.

    3) Is there any good terrain rendering software out there where you only specify global aspects, like heightmap and areas carrying information about wood, snow, water, etc. But then the software should use some fractal-algorithms to interpolate all the details from my global specification...? This is possible, just before I start to do this myself I want to know if there exists anything.

    4) Is there any good software out there, where you can build realistic architecture with the least design effort? Again this should work in the way that I specify global constraints and the engine computes all the details and variations using fractals/heuristics, or whatever.

    5) I think this last question is useless... Is there any Software that now can apply realistic physic effects to my previously created digital content and save it in a format I can use in my game? I mean the DAZ Clothing is rather useless if I can't reproduce it in real-time.

    1. No, not really, but most games have crappy animation anyway. The big problem is using canned animations you can't change. Also, 3dsm really sucks for animation. So if you use something someone put together in biped and can't edit it it will suck squared.

    2. Well, it's pretty pointless to use an offline tool and plan to use it in a realtime engine, but plenty of engines have some kind of cloth support.

    3. Sure, plenty of engines. If you are starting from no engine you will be done with a usable one with the features you want in maybe 10 years if you don't have other obligations.

    4. Sure, again you want a game engine with a good editor. Trying to use random tools for each thing will go nowhere.

    5. You want engine with physics support, and again, go by the engine not by outside tools. The engines that support havoc in the way you want mostly cost a mint, and won't turn out exactly like you want anyway.

    Quote:
    Original post by thesaint1987


    -------------- The long explaination

    I know tools like Maya, 3DS, DAZ3D Studio, Blender, Poser and all that kind of stuff. But none of them seems to give a single person any chance to create competive digital content in reasonable time.
    What I mean is simply that it will probably take years if not forever to create good characters and animation, the environment (flowers, buildings, etc) for a single developer. Even if DAZ Studio or Poser are more the ones I am searching for, they still lack many important features and not mention, they only provide good support for character animation but not for environment setup.



    No, it's not possible, no matter how great you are.

    If you are bruce lee you could kick any one guy's butt, but no matter how awesome you are you'll never be able to take on a whole division of guys, even if they are all illiterate chinese peasants.

    You can make a game on your own, but even if you are a good programmer you need to learn to program 3d. Then to learn to make art. Then to learn to be a technical artist (make maya plugins and scripts and rig and stuff). Then make your actual game.

    So if you have 5 years of free time and are a good programmer and have discipline, you could make a game, but only if you limit the amount of artwork a great deal. And plus the guys making the art aren't just random guys with computers, but artists who go to school for it, study it, and have some kind of talent.

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