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Serious questions, serious design, spare a thought?

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Some of you may remember my mentioning a large adventure game I was trying to get made. Originally I planned to make it entirely pre rendered 3d, with panoramic movement if I could manage it. However, as certain elements of the game have developed, it has become clear that a higher level of interaction is required by those elements than can be provided by pre rendered scenes alone. One such element is the use of untethered vehicles in free flight, which will of course need complete real time 3D to become viable. Another system requires the manipulation of 3d objects in 3d space, in realtime, which will also need a 3D engine. The first problem is relatively simple. Use pre rendered stuff for tethered vehicles, then switch to real time upon take off. The question there is: will the resolution and poly-level gap during the switch be a problem? When airborne, or a long way out to sea, objects are sufficiently distant that this shouldn't be a problem, but when landing they become close enough for all to see those jagged edges suddenly become smooth when the 3d engine cuts out. Also, how do you allow a player to roam freely in a vehicle on the open sea or in the air, but only land in places where a pre rendered path will lead to puzzles and other locations? Actually, this is a quite minor problem, as players of Hardwar(never published properly, but downloadable legally) will know. The object manipulation is a much bigger headache. Do we cut down on render time by only doing the objects in 3D, and clip them in an invisible barrier mesh over the top of a pre rendered background (like AITD) or just go for broke and put the whole game into 3D and sacrifice beauty and clarity? If you take the pre rendered approach, you can only go to specified navigation points, so it's very easy to drop/throw an object somewhere and not be able to get it back (though that could be an advantage in this game, I can't explain much more about that here) Finally, the game is to include a modest amount of long range (sniping) combat. This method of combat is less intensive on adventure gamers than traditional FPS melée, lends itself more to skill than reflexes, and leaves the option of escape open if a player misses a shot, as the enemy has a long way to go to catch the player. It also lends itself very well to the panoramic navigation I am keen (for the sake of simplicity) to preserve. RealMyst(a game curiously absent from all the shops I've been to) has shown a complete 3D adventure can just about be done, at the level Myst was back in '93, on a quite beefy machine. However, I do not think current graphics cards can support games at a close enough level to a modern pre rendered adventure. If anyone has a solution/opinion for me or would like to discuss and brainstorm, please feel free to post. On second thought, read "please feel free to" as "in the name of Sanity". I really need advice on this one! Edited by - Captain Insanity on September 20, 2001 2:47:52 PM

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Is the "free roam" absolutely necessary? It would seem a rather sudden departure from prerendered, largely predetermined pathing and would probably make the predetermined nature of the rest of the game stand out. A somewhat jarring/dissonant effect.

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I''m pleased to say that you feel exactly how I feel, that beauty should take precedent in such a game. However, this does mean it will be harder to implement the high interactivity systems like vehicles, which I am committed to including if it is at all possible.

Any suggestions on how to solve the 3D problems that arise from this?

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Guest Anonymous Poster
One other thing:
Do any of you like the sound of my radical design ideas?

I must be clear: The game will have to include a certain amount of full 3D, no matter what. Thus going for the pre rendered approach, while ultimately producing a better game, will also create many more problems in production. I really can''t go ahead until I get serious feedback regarding how the various game components mentioned above (all of them) should be implemented.

In other words, if you ever want to see this game completed and play it, get posting!

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You could ''decal'' the tethered vehicles. That is render the vehicle onto a texture then draw a quad with the texture. That way you will only have to render the object in a tethered state occasionally.

This works especially well if you are dealing with objects (one or more) at a distance.

The only downside is that as you get closer you get to your object, the more likely it is to change in appearence (change in point of view for instance), hence forcing you to render the object into a texture more often.



D.V.

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