Sprite based FPS like old Doom, but with HD photographs

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Hi guys,

Im new here, but I always had this idea in mind of making a retro-style Sprite based FPS like Wolfenstein 3D or the first Doom, but instead of pixelated Sprites I thought of using real photographs of e.g. an actor dressed like a zombie or something and the hand and weapons of the player also photoraphs of realistic hands shooting a gun or stabbing with a knife. And as the world I thought of using photogrammetry and baked in lighting/shading to create an almost photorealistic map to match with the realism of the sprites.

Does anyone else thinks this would be interesting or do you think it would fail? If so, why is that? Im curious for your opinions and wisdom :) If anyone thinks the project is worth investigating: Im a computer science student and hobby game designer/(game-)programmer If you want to team up with me write to me :)

Also you'll have to excuse me, because my english skills are far from perfect :) 

 

 

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You'd see a lot of popping as the enemies turned.  Maybe that is what you're shooting for though?  I think the reason that pixel games can get away with it, is that its retro, HD realistic photographs might look more jarring.

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hmm you guys are right about the turning animations .. didnt think that through. I dont know but somehow the sprite look fascinates me .. maybe if you can prevent the npc from turning much .. maybe with large open areals without obstacles (like the wolfenstein 3d levels) and with tank controls (no strafing) for the player.. maybe the tank controls would have a resident evil 1 like effect that it is more scarier when monsters are coming closer and you must turn your back towards them to navigate.

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It could work, and even have smooth animations. On PC the max a texture could be and run on every PC is 4K.

If you reduced the photos down to say 900*1600 you would will fit 5 on x axis and 2 on y axis. That is 10 photos per 4K texture sheet.

That should allow you to make animations for characters, if you keep it +/- 3 4K textures. That is you will have 30 frames to work with where a AAA game has a whole character.(30 fps is smooth)

Teck:

Spoiler

 

Sprite sheets limits for games have gone from 128*128 to 4096*4096. That is 32 times larger or you can fit 1024 old sprite sheets in a new sprite sheet.

So animation is Sprite * frames so a 512*512 sprite with 60fps animation would be 4096*4096 to fit all the sprites. 8*8 = 64. So 512*512 would be the largest a sprite could be to run a smooth animation.

AAA games use 1024*1024 at 32 frames per second for there explosions and gun flares. Because 16 frames per second.

 

 

In other words if you stick to 30fps animations you could do this and the game will benefit from all modern computer graphics advancements. You just have to limit "HD" to 900*1600 that most people wouldn't consider HD anymore.

 

Note wouldn't work on mobile. At the moment 2048*2048 is max for most mobiles and there memory is used for everything, computers have memory reserved for graphics. Mobile you would need 300*800 just to know it will run on most mobiles.

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On paper, there are two serious conflicts in your idea:

  • between a "retro" game engine like Doom and photorealistic graphics
  • between flat sprite-based characters and much more accurate 3D meshes with detailed textures for scenery

Moreover, major technical challenges threaten photorealism:

  • rough quantization of character poses and high cost of adding more photos, as already noted
  • proper lighting and shading, since the lights that are baked in the source photo differ from those in the scene

Given these constraints I suggest not straying very far from stylized Doom graphics (low resolution sprites with 8 facings, mirrored if possible; simple texture-mapped environments with vertical and horizontal surfaces), maybe increasing sprite and texture resolution a little (starting from ridiculously high resolution photographs it's almost free) but not frames per sprite. Replacing palette switching with lookup tables would be a nice improvement.

 

 

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On 11/15/2017 at 5:46 PM, Scouting Ninja said:

It could work, and even have smooth animations. On PC the max a texture could be and run on every PC is 4K.

If you reduced the photos down to say 900*1600 you would will fit 5 on x axis and 2 on y axis. That is 10 photos per 4K texture sheet.

That should allow you to make animations for characters, if you keep it +/- 3 4K textures. That is you will have 30 frames to work with where a AAA game has a whole character.(30 fps is smooth)

Teck:

  Hide contents

 

Sprite sheets limits for games have gone from 128*128 to 4096*4096. That is 32 times larger or you can fit 1024 old sprite sheets in a new sprite sheet.

So animation is Sprite * frames so a 512*512 sprite with 60fps animation would be 4096*4096 to fit all the sprites. 8*8 = 64. So 512*512 would be the largest a sprite could be to run a smooth animation.

AAA games use 1024*1024 at 32 frames per second for there explosions and gun flares. Because 16 frames per second.

 

 

In other words if you stick to 30fps animations you could do this and the game will benefit from all modern computer graphics advancements. You just have to limit "HD" to 900*1600 that most people wouldn't consider HD anymore.

You can't light a detailed model of a billboard, so you're not going to get "the benefit of all modern computer graphics advancements".  Maybe you could fake it with some sort of normal map texture?  You also aren't taking into account all the different facings that need to be rendered out, and animated.  Which is why most sprites in Doom tend to have so few frames of animation, because it needs to be done per facing.  IE Monster walking towards the player, monster walking away from the player, monster walking NE, SE, S, SW, etc -- except 8 cardinal directions is way too few, need at least 16 if not 32 to make look not awful as it turns.   The other issue is that highly detailed textures tend to look bad at a distance, that could be mitigated with design choices and maybe custom Mipmaps, not sure.

As long as you're okay with it not looking photo realistic, and making a stylistic choice, I think it could be fine.  You could try mocking it up in something like Unity or Unreal, for unity it would be a matter of making a plane that always faces the player and sticking a large texture on it.

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I think your game has potential, it also depends what you are trying to put into it.Whether it be over the top stylish, photo realistic may need to work differently. I guess you could take some old concepts from how they did Star Wars Rebel Assault as within the realm of Doom and Wolfenstein3D if that helps at all.

Edited by Stryder1234

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On 11/15/2017 at 4:15 PM, Can T said:

hmm you guys are right about the turning animations .. didnt think that through. I dont know but somehow the sprite look fascinates me .. maybe if you can prevent the npc from turning much .. maybe with large open areals without obstacles (like the wolfenstein 3d levels) and with tank controls (no strafing) for the player.. maybe the tank controls would have a resident evil 1 like effect that it is more scarier when monsters are coming closer and you must turn your back towards them to navigate.

I'd be very careful about no strafing. It's a feature FPS players have come to expect since the genre's early days, and it'd just make the game feel clunky without it. Perhaps you could take side shots of your NPCs, which would play during turning 'animations?'

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On 11/17/2017 at 8:36 PM, ferrous said:

Which is why most sprites in Doom tend to have so few frames of animation, because it needs to be done per facing.  IE Monster walking towards the player, monster walking away from the player, monster walking NE, SE, S, SW, etc -- except 8 cardinal directions is way too few, need at least 16 if not 32 to make look not awful as it turns.   The other issue is that highly detailed textures tend to look bad at a distance, that could be mitigated with design choices and maybe custom Mipmaps, not sure.

Adding to that, you have the costs of clothing, make up, lighting, photo shooting sessions.

If something needs to be changed or added then you need to shoot lots of pictures again.

If during that time the actor changed shape (e.g. got fatter / more fit) then you need to reshoot everything. Lost a prop? reshoot everything again.

Midway was a referent when it comes to HD live-action photo shoots (Mortal Kombat, and also their lesser known Batman Forever, that style for that kind of game... let's say it didn't work out well). There's a reason they don't do that anymore. It does not scale. Mortal Kombat 3 Ultimate & MK Trilogy were already pushing it a lot with their endless palette swaps of scorpion and sub zero (+ the cyborg palette swaps).

Also actors sueing the company didn't help (it doesn't matter whether they won or not, or whether they were right; either way it was a lot of legal trouble). The most common lawsuit reasons were that the actors claimed they signed for their look-alike to appear in Mortal Kombat 1, but not in the subsequent games.

 

The TL;DR of this thread is: you can do it, but it's a terrible idea.

Edited by Matias Goldberg

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I reckon if you are tongue-in-cheek and down-to-earth about it, it could work. It would be perceived as somewhat artsy, so you might as well play to that and make something unique. Don't try to create a photo-realistic world, instead concentrate on using lighting to create a unified appearance, and make your textures (objects) cool and atmospheric. Just have fun with some friends getting made up like zombies against a green screen, and reference Doom by using single-frame animations and simple level geometry. I'm sure there are a bunch of neat tricks you can do with false perspective etc, but I don't think baked lighting will be necessary or a good idea. Lighting is everything, and the baked lighting may conflict hideously with the natural lighting of your photographs.

The real trick will be to make a fun and challenging game (taking into account the effect of the art style on gameplay), rather than making a pointless/crappy/boring experience which only acts as a vehicle for the experimental art style.

Re turning, look closely at Doom. The AI is not complex enough to require it. Enemies face and approach the player, and that's pretty much all a zombie is expected to do.

Look at Proteus, and of course plenty of games use billboard sprites (Don't Starve) from an isometric viewpoint.

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