Stavros Dimou

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About Stavros Dimou

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  1. what makes a quest epic?

    What is an epic ? Originally epic was a genre or style of poetry. Unlike let's say love poems, or religious hymns, it was the kind of versed text that told the story of one or more legendary characters.   Here is one thing to think about: Instead of trying to find the meaning behind abstract words like 'big' or 'long', try to answer yourself the question: "Is what is happening in the quest worthy to become a legend ?" Like, if the events taking place in the quest were actually happening in a world, would  they be considered important enough from the people of the world to memorize them and write stories about them ?   If the answer is 'yes' you are in the right track.     Now, most epic stories tend to focus on the struggle of one or more characters to achieve something. The Iliad focuses on Achilles's struggle to overcome his rage. The Oddessey on Oddesseus's struggle to return home. Star Wars episodes 4,5,6 on Luke's struggle to put an end to the dictatorship of Palpatine. Yet if the characters just achieved their goals in 1 page / scene, these wouldn't be much of epics, would they ? As they say "It's the journey that matters, not the destination". So an epic usually tells the story of some character(s) to achieve something, but until this is achieved, a number of things happen, often with consequences affecting others, not necessarily the protagonists. The Iliad spends a whole paragraph telling the background of a character the moment he appears, who dies in the end of the very same paragraph: That's just an example of how an important feature is to show how others, non protagonists are affected.
  2. I've been thinking of combining two things I love, game development and story writing. So currently I want to work in a project that its main thing is to offer an interactive story telling to the player, the focus is on engaging the character in the story, with choices being important, as depending on the dialogue options the player chooses, the way the story goes will change much, leading to multiple different 'paths'. It's a game that has no 'camera', or a 'being' the player controls, but rather the player chooses what to do by selecting out of possible options that are presented through dialogue interface.   But while I think that the story itself will be interesting enough to keep players wanting to see what will happen next and keep playing, I have some doubts, and because of these doubts I try to think of ways to enhance a game like that, perhaps with features that traditionally belong to other genres. What kind of activities or other gameplay mechanics could I add to a text adventure game ? Hmm... I thought of adding puzzle mini-games, when the player's character would have to do things like hacking a terminal for example, but their usage will be limited, as such actions happen just a few times in the game's plot.    
  3. Being Relevant in a MMO

    An alternative to cutting the number of players could be to design the game so different players can have different goals and quests / missions. That would be to make the game more sandbox,so instead of having a game focused on a single thing to do and every player having to do the same thing,you make individual story lines and maybe factions,or jobs or other stuff,that are designed to be fun on their own and not having a supporting role.   Take a look at Grand Theft Auto for example. It has a series of racing missions,a series of linear shooting missions,another 'mission' that will have the players explore the world to find and kill / collect / whatever all "X"... The point is that in Grand Theft Auto,the player chooses what suits him best to his own tastes,and he does that. So there are some GTA players who only do the shooting parts. Others enjoy racing and spend their time racing....   Now imagine how that could work in an MMO world. There would be some players spending all their time on racing. While these people would do races,others would fight each other in a let's say "Team Deathmatch" fight. Those racing wouldn't care for the guys being in the mission of TDM. They could just run over a squad of a TDM team and kill them. This would make it kind of more believable from a point of view,but in the same time it would make players feel that they have an identity - Those racing are different than those shooting. Those shooting have entirely different thoughts and goals than those racing.   The thing is,everything has to happen in the same 'world' or 'instance' for this to work. If such events are happening in different instances,the shooting guys are never going to see cars speeding in front of them. And of course that would mean that there would be less 'safe' areas in the world,as PvP could come up when the players decide,in the same world everyone is playing. It would also require from players to be more safe because of that.hmm..
  4. Innovations in FPS games

    I wouldn't consider cutscenes currently being innovative. They were back when Valve made Half Life,but there's being so many years and console generations since then,I really don't consider cutscenes being innovative any more.   I think that the S.T.A.L.K.E.R series had some quite innovative ideas,but unfortunately the multitude of bugs and almost zero marketing for these games made them pass unnoticed for many people. They were quite ambitious games,trying to merge FPS,survival/horror,and RPGs in to a single game. Imagine the gameplay and feel of the classic Resident Evil games,but in First Person perspective and with way more responsive shooting mechanics,in an open world,and that's what was it.   The Far Cry series also deserve a special mention,especially 3. For me FC3 was of the best FPSs of the last console generation. Of course I played it on PC where it looked better,but still I use the console generations as a time unit. FC3 added things like crafting etc in FPS   Now another feature I remember coming to the FPSs in that generation was the ability for the player to move into another dimension in real time when he chooses to do it. It was a feature of Wolfenstein (2009). Before Wolfenstein I remember seeing that feature on a 3rd person game,Soul Reaver about 9 years earlier though.   Note: the above innovations are for single player only. There were quite many new things coming for multiplayer too.
  5. With GDD or without GDD?

    I think the answer depends on many factors. Here are some:   #1 Do you work alone ? One of the reasons GDDs are useful is so every person in a team knows exactly what it should be working on,so it doesn't end up making a different game.   #2 Do you have a good memory ? Well if the amount of information about the game is such that you can memorize everything,perhaps you might not need a GDD. At least it doesn't have to be so full of information as some templates seem to suggest. But because game development is something that can take much time,and because you might just forget something at some point,it would be a good idea to have a record with all your thoughts about the game written.     What I do is having a folder for each project,where there are usually many text files in it. Not all files are written at the same time. Usually there is only one file written before actual development starts,and that is usually only a list of features that together detail the concept of the game,its main experience,the 'core' features. What is the basic idea,the vision behind the game.After actual work has started more and more files are added gradually.Some files are dedicated in to explaining with details how each feature will work. Other files have to do with story writing. The folder ends up with files for time planning,technology,notes of various sizes and qualities of in-game world objects,etc. In the end someone could take all the info of the individual files and concentrate them in one file,and with the appropriate formatting,make a typical GDD. But I find that opening wordpad and dirty-writing down notes individually is a more ideal workflow for me than opening a more advanced text editor and keeping all the info in a single file.
  6. Hello. I'd like to ask if somebody knows of a Terrain Editor tool that is compatible with the Unity Engine. Unfortunately,Unity's own terrain editor tool isn't that good. Specifically,the problem I have with it has to do with the way texture painting works on it,the minimum brush size it supports is still too large for the details I want to paint. No matter how large I make the world and scale the 'character controller' object,the minimum brush size seems to translate to an area that is multiple times the height of the character controller. Let alone the fact that from about a magnitude of 4 points and under the brush doesn't paint.That of course is a problem if you want to let's say paint a narrow path of dirt in a forest. I've browsed Unity's Asset Store but couldn't find an alternative. I also made a thread on Unity's official forums but still didn't got a helpful response. So I was wandering if anybody knows of a tool that will allow me to create hand-made terrains (not interested in randomly generated ones) and then import them on Unity with geometry and textures. I already have a project in the work,and I had decided to first add scripts to it so I can test gameplay ideas,to make a 'prototype' of what the game will be,and I planned to leave level designing for later,after I had a concrete idea of how the game will work. But since I started level / environment designing I discovered this problem,and now my project is on a halt,and I haven't done anything for like 5 days (!) in it,and I actually feel bad about it. :( Not doing anything for so long. And I think that scrapping what I have done until now would be a bad idea. Please tell me if you know some software that could solve my problem and allow me to paint detailed terrains that will work on Unity.  
  7. 8-bit or 16-bit?

    It seems there is some confusion here ? The "bit" aspect of consoles that was so popular back in the days wasn't about the bitrate of Still Images,but a quality of hardware,specifically processors. NES had an 8bit processor,SNES a 16 bit processor,ps1 a 32bit processor,and N64 a 64bit processor.   There is a reason why companies stopped marketing 'bits' for their consoles,and that is because up until PS4 and Xbox One,nothing more than 32 bit CPU was actually needed. Even the high end computers today,still use either 32bits or 64bits. 32 bit processors are good enough until you need more of 4gb of RAM. 64bit processing is only now starting to become mainstream,as more and more heavy applications are made,and users tend to multitask more. 128 bit processing isn't coming any time soon,as 64 bit processors can use up to 16 exabytes of memory.   That basically means that no matter the pixel count of each individual art piece you make,if you want let's say to make a true 16bit game what you should do is to make a game that is limited only to what 16bit processors could do.   A limitation of that,is that the game shouldn't need more of 16 mb of RAM to run...
  8. This is why Modern Tomb Raider Games aren't good...

      #1 First of all,there is one general rule: What a person might like,someone else might not like. Different people have different tastes.   #2 Usually the gameplay of a series change drastically only if the sales of the series are going bad,or if the development process passes to a new studio. In Tomb Raider's case,that's the case.   #3 When a new studio acquires the license to make a game in an already existing franchise,the fact that they weren't the same people who made the prior games of the franchise means they might have no idea what the fanbase of the franchise might be expecting from a new game, and what are these features the fanbase consider most valuable. That's why it's important for a studio to watch player feedback. Especially if we are talking about a studio working on a game belonging to an already existing series for the first time.   #4 There is also the possibility that the studio might decide to target a new audience and use a popular brand for having the game sell by itself just by its name,if the power the brand carries is considerable. This isn't though something that always works. In many cases games that were fun and otherwise might have been succesful got negative feedback which turned to bad sales because they used an estabilished brand. Because what the brand was associated for wasn't there,and thus the fanbase of that brand got displeased and anybody that might have been curious about that game by listening the followers of the brand having negative opinions just didn't bought it. That's why my personal opinion is that if you have new ideas you want to try, and they are so many that change the basic experience too much,or want to reach another audience,its better to make a new franchise.An example of how a brand name can kill a good game is Wolfenstein from 2009. This game was actually fun. The problem is that the majority of the Wolfenstien brand got loyal to the brand because of the game Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory,a revolutionary multiplayer only game. People were expecting a new Wolfenstein game to be a new revolutionary multiplayer experience. When they got a single-player only game,they thought it was bad. They didn't cared if it was good. For them it wasn't Wolfenstein. Those who hadn't played a game of the brand yet turned to the brand's fanbase to learn about the game. When the people that could be new fans of the series heard from the people who are already fans that this particular game wasn't good,they didn't bought. But they might had bought it if the game's name wasn't Wolfenstein,and they might have liked it for what it is.   #5 If a game has good graphics doesn't mean it won't be fun. And if a game is fun doesn't mean it can't have good graphics.   #6 It is generally proven that the simpler something is to learn,the more people might try it. Of course something that is too simple might not offer some people the amount of excitement and fun they could have with something more complicated. But since trying a game nowdays means buying it,you might want to let too many people try your game,so you get too many sales. For example let's take Farmville. Of the simplest of games. Most 'gamers' won't have as much fun with it as with more complicated games. But it reached a far wider audience than other games. You might have even played it yourself.It is known by quite more people than some other more compliacted games. But these games,because they are simple,they also keep the player interested less. They are only played as long as they are 'cool',and when the next new cool thing comes,people will abandon it. If these games come in sequels,you can see how this can be profitable. In contrast to Farmville,take the pen and paper Dungeons and Dragons game as ano opposite example. You might not have even heard of it. Just getting to play this game requires you to read a huge book with hundreds of pages. It's niche. Quite a few people bother reading that book. Most get overwhelmed. But those few who do learn to play it and play it,have so much fun they keep playing it for years and don't get bored of it. It's up to the mindset: Do you want to make something that will become too popular easily but because it won't be good enough to keep players interested for long, when you make the new sequel they will jump to the new cool game you made ? If you only think of money,that's the best option. But you can see how this can make each individual game less fun. Or do you want to make a game that it will be as fun as a game can get,but might not become so popular because fewer people will be willing to spend the time learning how to play it,and in the end the game might end up being so good that people won't care about your new game because they will be playing the old one they already have ? If the only thing you want is to make the best game ever,that's the thing to do. But you can see how this can make it so you make less money.
  9. Game Design Theory

    @ambershee: Please excuse my wording. English is not my native language and for the most part I self tought speaking it. :)
  10. Game Design Theory

      My guess is that the game has its assets modular,and that there is an algorithm that is randomly picking up pre-created content modules and places them in the world.   For example lets take the Shark model. This game has  Sharks. What the developer might have done is to split the Shark's body into different modular pieces with a given number of "slots" and have let's say 3 types of fins,3 types of eyes etc. So he can have an algorithm that when a Shark has to be placed somewhere,the system picks up randomly one body part for each slot for each Shark from a stack of pre-made Shark pieces,and thus each time the player visits that area,he meets a different model of a Shark. Note that it doesn't has to be a Shark. It can be a planet,or a gun (that's how Borderlands has millions of guns) or whatever. That is doable. But isn't a phsyics thing. It's just an automated process where the cpu randomly picks up parts of content that were already created and generates variations in random.   This is being done at least since the 90s,and it's what kind of technology gave The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall the largest in-game world ever made. But it's not doing that by simulating real world physics laws - it is doing it by picking up and placing pre-made content pieces randomly.   The use of procedurally generated worlds systems have some pros and cons,like the following:   pros: # The space on the hard drive the game will be needing is less,as it won't have to store data for what goes where.Means smaller hard drive space requirement. # You can have huge worlds with it. #  Every time the world will be different.    cons: # Either the initial loading time will take much longer,if the random generation happens during a loading screen,or the frame rate will be slower if random generation happens while the player is playing. # Every time the world be different.   So apart from the trade off that you shorten the hard drive requirement for longer loading times or slower frame rate,it's also a matter of if you want your game's world to be the same each time,or different. I think it' obvious that if the world changes each time the player is starting the game,that navigation problems can come up,and player confusion. Because if you remember that the last time you stopped playing the game your character was outside a house that was opposite a river,and the next time you load your save there is not a house or a river where your character is,you will be confused. In a space game that has you travel to a number of individual planets,and in which  the quest structure is such that you will never have to visit the same place twice and every time your character died you started at a specific point that is not randomly generated,or it didn't let you to save in an area that is procedurally generated on the fly, perhaps that could work without confusing the player. But do you see how limiting this is on gameplay ?   Another way of implementing such a system is the way Minecraft is designed. Minecraft is designed in such that the first time the player will start playing in a world it will be generated completely randomly,but after a player saves his progress,when he loads his save again,the world will be the same. What Minecraft does is to create a random world and then have that specific world layout / map data saved on the user's save file. In that case the amount of data that would be included in the basic game's files,is instead included on each individual save file. And of course as the player explores more of the world and more generation is happening,more data needs to be written,and thus the space of save files inflate over time.
  11. I'm sorry I watched Jim Sterling's Jimquisition,and Boogie2988's new episode and they both said that it was the publishers who took off their videos from Youtube. And it made me curious as to why would the publishers do that,what was the thinking behind it. If it's a Google problem I think it's easier to comprehend,but still,I didn't expected these journalists to lie.
  12. Game Design Theory

    Hehe thanks. :)
  13. Yesterday and today a big stream of videos started surfacing from youtubers and game journalists,saying that video game publishers have gone in a spree of shutting down youtube videos of let's plays,cutscenes,and even trailers,claiming copyright infringement.   I'm really curious to see if this tactic is going to have any positive outcome for the publishers and developers. It seems at least weird,that what indies are trying hard to achieve,publicity,those who already have it act like they are against it. Does somebody have an estimated guess on how exactly limiting publicity is a good thing for a publisher ?   As far as I'm concerned,video games aren't like movies or music,where someone can have the full experience by watching youtube. Perhaps if a song is on youtube,someone whenever he wants to listen to a song he might just get get it to play from youtube instead of buying the cd and playing it through his hi-fi,so in that case youtube could actually be cutting revenue from the creators and publishers of songs. But a game can't be played through youtube. When you watch a video on youtube of a game,you don't get the experience of playing a game. Watching someone else play a game isn't the same as playing it yourself. Have publishers really discovered that there are people who instead of buying a game,or even pirating it to play it themselves,they feel more satisfied by watching someone else play it ? And have we reached a point were watching someone else using a product,is considerred piracy for the one who only watches someone else do it,without having paid ? If watching someone else play a game is considered and dealt the same way as piracy does,what does that have to say about the medium ?   And since SONY's new big feature for PS4 is letting a gamer watch another gamer play a game,does that mean that the big publishers consider that SONY is advocating piracy too ?   Personally I can't believe that this medium is getting so underrated that someone could claim that the action of playing a game is so bad that someone would prefer to watch somebody else doing it than do it his own self. As a person who loves playing video games,and has plans for making games,I find this offensive. What about you ?
  14. Game Design Theory

      First lets start by differentiating two things : Physics simulation is a completely different thing than proceduraly generated environment systems.   Regarding your question on why nobody have just added all the known laws of physics in a game:   #1 That would make the game very resource heavy. VERY resource heavy. The way games work is that there are a number of things that the cpu checks for and processes for every single frame. The more things you want the cpu to process per every frame,the longer it will take for the cpu to finish processing each frame. That means the frame rate of the game will be slower. And if we were to apply physics on every single object,the amount of data cpus would have to process would be way too much. Theoritically we can add all physics laws in a game,and apply them to every single object. The thing is,it would take a supercomputer to run this with an acceptable frame rate. And most consumers doesn't have supercomputers on their houses.   #2 The second thing has to do with gameplay. Do you know how much real world physics would limit and hinder gameplay ? Not only the 'arcade' and 'cartoony' games,but even the 'serious' and 'realistic' ones would get hindered and even broken. Let's say that you play an RPG,and you are inside someone's house. The developer has plans for this house. Later on in the game,it is planned that the NPC living in it will give you a quest,or that something important is to happen to him. But accidentally you let a fire spell fly from your hand,and the NPC's house gets on fire! It burns down,and the NPC dies with it. That means you will not be getting this quest,and the whole storyline of the game will be broken. Now let's try a different example. Let's say you play one of those 'realistic' modern military shooters,and you are inside the enemy's underground base,or a building where the evil terrorists are. The developer has implemented all known physics laws in the game. That makes the plate tectonics of Earth in the game's world to move,and randomly and accidentally a mega-earthquake happens,and the building collapses killing you and destroying the entire level. If that happens,99% of the players won't say "yay this game has superb physics system!" but "OMG the game killed me randomly for no reason,its such a stupid,unfair and no fun game,what's the point of playing this **** if it kills me without having done anything wrong?!?!?!"   Now as for replicating the creation of the universe in a video game the way you are suggesting,is just not doable. Replicating the creation of the universe is what Cern is all about. And it's a huge underground lab extending to 3 different countries geographically with billions of dollars invested on it,and it can only run on Cern itself,because that's the only machinery powerful enough in the world to do just that. You can't just have a Cern in your own house... Cern is so big it could be described as an underground town or city. People live in it. And the only point of it existing is so it can simulate the physics of the first moments of the Universe so scientists can have an idea of how the universe was created.
  15. Innovations in FPS/RPGs

    Hmm.. innovation. I think that just doing something new for the shake of doing something new isn't a good thing at all times. Because change can go many ways. Now regarding FPSs,personally I think they devolve instead of evolving. I am saying that because the amount of things a game requires from a player gets minimized as time passes by. Unfortunately (for me at least) single player FPSs are becoming so simplistic I tend to loose any interest on them. According to my opinion the ideal evolution would be if the experience was getting richer as time passed by,not emptier.   Let's compare two FPSs for example: Duke Nukem 3D and Battlefield 3. The amount of things the player can do in Duke Nukem 3D are quite numerous and add to a variety of different mechanics and stuff the player can do in it. So except from just walking and shooting 'regular' enemies,the game also features bosses. And bosses need special tactics to be beaten,so the player has to do new different stuff from what he was doing earlier. There are also flooded parts. In these the player can swim,and he can get a Scuba suit as a powerup to help him swim longer. Things like these add pieces of gameplay variation that keeps the overall experience of the game from becoming stale. It also has platforming sections. Yet if you don't like platforming, it gives you jetpacks so you can just fly over this part so you don't get frustrated.It also has hazards that you have to avoid,or use special protective boots.   The point is that Duke Nukem 3d,a game made in 1996 had quite more ways to engage a player,and was asking from the player a lot more things to process with his mind to play it. That made the game feel overall funnier to play than let's say Battlefield 3. Why ? Because the amount of thinking and devotion it required from was more,and thus it was more engaging. In BF3 You feel more like watching a movie that you have to keep pressing buttons every once in a while to keep it playing. And while some people may enjoy this type of activity,to have a movie play and being congratulated for minimal engagement, and feeling like you did something,for those who actually seek to earn their congratulations through some challenge,it isn't as much enjoyable.   I think you might be familiar of the typical crosswords found in general magazines.  The fun of playing crosswords is to come up with the answers by thinking,and filling them in the blocks. If someone took crosswords and on the area with the hints instead of writing the hints he wrote the actual words that you would have to fill in the blocks,and all you had to do was copy the answers to the blocks,well it wouldn't be funny to the original crosswords player,would it ? Perhaps some people might liked that for their own reasons,but the whole point and essence of playing crosswords for someone who grew up liking crosswords for what they were would be lost. Because what gave people who like original crosswords fun,isn't there on new crosswords anymore.   Well that's pretty much how I feel about modern FPSs. Having grown up with the FPSs of the 90s, I feel that modern ones like BF3 and Medal of Honor miss the initial point and essence of the genre,and while watching their storylines can be engaging,playing them feels like a chore needed to be done for the shake of watching the story progressing and finish them,to justify that I didn't spent my money without reason. But games shouldn't be like that. Games should be played because the very activity of playing them is fun. And if someone is having fun by watching a movie with interaction sections in the middle,I'm OK with that,but at least someone would have to say "I'm making an interactive movie" instead of saying "I'm making a cinematic game". The confusion exists because pretty much anything that is electronic and interactive these days is called a "game". Someone could even say that writing a forum post is a video game too,with the same logic. The moment having the best cutscenes and voiceovers became more important than having the best gameplay,the line of dinstinction between video games and interactive movies started blurring.   Now regarding RPGs,the Elder Scrolls series have been in the process of limiting the amount of things the player has to keep in his mind since Morrowind. You see,the thing is that there is a new audience of people who play videogames,and that audience doesn't like activities that require much thinking. So FPSs,RPGs,and many other genres are getting through a simplification process that removes features and depth for the shake of becoming easier for people who doesn't want to invest in spending time playing the game to learn how to play it. It's people who want to become masters of a trade without having to learn it and practice it. And the fact that the majority seems to cater to them is what makes some others feel that games are loosing their essence.   It's like someone sees an NBA match for the first time and decides he wants to be an NBA player too,and the sports teams for not loosing him change the rules of basketball so someone can hold the ball like a rugby ball instead of having to dribble. Perhaps that way the newcomers might be able to get what they want,and the sports teams might make more money,but for all those that learnt basketball with dribbling,the new basketball won't be basketball any more. They might give up entirely. Or... start building their own basketball team,so there is a basketball team that plays the old basketball way.