Iron Tower Studio ForumsRPGThe Age of Decadence (Moderator: Vahhabyte)About improving and polishing
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Oscar
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« on: September 14, 2010, 05:58:40 PM »

@Vince & Oscar: I know it might feel like there's essentially nothing of importance to say bout the current progress, but to those of us who have been following this project since forever even a few words on how you added a bit here and there or tweaked some old quests are generally of considerable interest.


Sure. Right now we are working on making everything as "final" as possible. So we started going over our Teron stuff, starting the vignettes. These were written many years ago, the options were very limited, and Vince's writing improved since then. We are going to use the Loremaster quest as an example, but all vignettes were reworked.

So, here is the old loremaster vignette (click the spoiler):

(click to show/hide)

As you can see, it's a extremely linear sequence, and that it has a couple of interesting opportunities to use skill checks. Here it doesn't matter if you make a loremaster with 4 intelligence and 4 charisma, and with all skill points in combat skills. You will still get the lore dialogue and will easily convince him to give you the money. So we re-worked it, added a lore and a persuasion check, and different reactions from the trader and Feng depending on your success (please forgive the formatting):

(click to show/hide)

Basically, now the vignette has 4 outcomes which rewards proper investment in skills that are tied to your background, which makes your character actually demonstrate his knowledge and persuasion, instead of just watching a sequence that ignores the character skills. This is particularly cool in the grifter's vignette, where your character can fail conning the merchant if your skills are not up to par. Also, apart from the design, the writing and mood is improved.

But this is only a part of the work needed for the quest, as it needs to be implemented in the game. So, we begin with the dialogue editor, where we add the dialogue, link the responses, and add the checks. This is a pretty straightforward part, doesn't take much time to implement a dialogue/quest this small. Here is the quest in the dialogue editor:


Then we link it to start after you select a background and finish the character creation. We could say that the vignette is "implemented", but a lot of small details are needed to be completely polished. Here we set where the characters are, teleport the PC to different locations (first the loremaster house, then the inn, then back to Feng's), creating the trader, deleting him once he is no longer useful, setting camera bookmarks for a nice view of the scenes and adding the command to switch between them, creating necessary icons for new items like the sphere, setting poses for the characters, setting fade-outs/fade-ins when moving between locations or time passes, setting the lighting of the scene, all that apart from setting all the corresponding flags for proper reaction, etc.


And this is in a small sequence. In others we have to create different characters, equip them, add them to parties, adding enemies, place them in the proper place in the scene, activating particles like a fire effect, changing tile passability, creating a new area, a couple of models (like a jail cart I have to make for a new scene), etc.

Also, here the dialogue file for the loremaster's vignette is quite small, with about 30 parts. The one for the Teron Palace text adventure has more than 150 parts, many of them interconnected, and requiring lots of flags for the possibilities inside it, proper cameras, lighting, teleportation and poses.

While some of these things are cosmetic, they really add to the mood of the different situations in the game. Also we are working on some small technical details like some split second camera changes, character and lighting loading when entering heavily populated areas, which are not game-breaking but look quite bad and unpolished, same for some camera switching when closing the dialogue and fading out the screen. Trust me, it looks bad.



Well, and that's on the quest front. I've been optimizing the models, which netted us with some very good fps improvements, and also improving their appearance of the buildings and game areas. We still have quite a bit to optimize in general, especially regarding characters, but the game is shaping up well in that regard. Ivan is working on ambient animations, like characters carrying amphoras, crates, gesticulating while talking, sitting and getting up, laying down, etc. and we are going to add them to the game in the final "mood" pass, where we'll add all this, sounds for different areas, all that little stuff that make the world feel alive.

Here I'm adding some shots of a building where I removed the more evident "blockiness" of the model. I will post in the future some shots of the finished areas, since I'm waiting for some things to be added to the engine that I believe the will enhance the look of the game greatly.

Anyway... The game is shaping up very well. Vince is doing a great job improving those outdated quests, and the game is becoming much better thanks to it.

[attachment deleted by admin]
« Last Edit: September 14, 2010, 06:02:56 PM by Oscar » Logged

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Zaij
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« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2010, 06:20:18 PM »

Thank you  Approve
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Lainestin
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« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2010, 06:31:38 PM »

Thanks for the update, Oscar.  Smile It looks like the game is still many months away, but shaping up nicely.
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Silellak
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« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2010, 06:32:48 PM »

Thank you  Approve
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Vahhabyte
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« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2010, 06:42:55 PM »

Bravo guys, the enhanced vignette looks great.

...
Basically, now the vignette has 4 outcomes which rewards proper investment in skills that are tied to your background ...
What are the skills tied to each background? Correct me if I got it wrong - like, Lore, Crafting and Alchemy development is most rewarded for a Loremaster, while Stealing, Lockpick and Traps knowledge is most rewarded for a Thief? And, say, a Merchant with developed Lore, Disguise and Lockpick will have less opportunities in the game?

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Also, apart from the design, the writing and mood is improved.
Indeed, it's like a new dimension  Approve By the way, will the game have unique dialogues of deep existential philosophy, like in PS:T, or are they going to be rather non-abstract/richly descriptive (plus Vince's witty grim humor, extended passages on the World's history and mythology, NPCs cinically manipulating PC, and complex multilayered intrigues going on among factions all during the storyline, which I noted with appreciation reading this forum)? Some people I got interested in the game asked about that - whether AoD's dialogues are going to be as rich in content as PS:T's

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Ivan is working on ambient animations, like characters carrying amphoras, crates, gesticulating while talking, sitting and getting up, laying down, etc. and we are going to add them to the game in the final "mood" pass, where we'll add all this, sounds for different areas, all that little stuff that make the world feel alive.
I find Ivan's works exceptional, keep it up and beat the Gothic series in atmospheric animations!

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... house model shots ...
Well done, the improvement is good. You really gonna buy the graphics addicts' hearts Oscar.


PS: What's the progress with adding all these great new combat features? Any additional combat balance testing planned? Wink
« Last Edit: September 14, 2010, 06:47:50 PM by Vahhabyte » Logged

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DangerousDan
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« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2010, 06:59:10 PM »

Excellent. Having waited for AoD on-off for many years now, it helps that I can actually understand the improvements being made to the game. The dialogue is miles ahead of what it was, clearly.

Bravo.
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Oscar
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« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2010, 11:18:57 PM »

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What are the skills tied to each background?

It's nothing clear cut, just using common sense.

Quote
Correct me if I got it wrong - like, Lore, Crafting and Alchemy development is most rewarded for a Loremaster, while Stealing, Lockpick and Traps knowledge is most rewarded for a Thief? And, say, a Merchant with developed Lore, Disguise and Lockpick will have less opportunities in the game?

Why less opportunities in the game? Like, the whole game? Or you mean an specific questline? Also, what do you mean with "Merchant"? A character with a merchant background or one doing the MG quests? In the MG quests the main skills tested would be related to speech skills like persuasion, streetwise, trading, but there are opportunities to use other skills. For example, we use lore in one of the MG quests in Teron to forge a document.

Quote
By the way, will the game have unique dialogues of deep existential philosophy, like in PS:T

Yes, of course. The game starts with a question: "What can fuck the nature of a man?", and whole narrative is impregnated by it, by having your character being fucked by NPCs and factions, and maybe, you fucking them back later. And in the end, you might get your answer depending on your choices...

Or just by unlocking the achievement "FFFFUUUUU....", in which your character must have chosen all the lines that contained the word fuck in the game.

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What's the progress with adding all these great new combat features? Any additional combat balance testing planned?

Which ones in particular?
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« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2010, 12:12:40 AM »

Excellent. Having waited for AoD on-off for many years now, it helps that I can actually understand the improvements being made to the game. The dialogue is miles ahead of what it was, clearly.

Bravo.
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Vahhabyte
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« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2010, 05:21:24 AM »

Why less opportunities in the game? Like, the whole game? Or you mean an specific questline? Also, what do you mean with "Merchant"? A character with a merchant background or one doing the MG quests? In the MG quests the main skills tested would be related to speech skills like persuasion, streetwise, trading, but there are opportunities to use other skills. For example, we use lore in one of the MG quests in Teron to forge a document.
Ok, got it now. As good as I expected - following different paths regardless of backgrounds.

Quote
Yes, of course. The game starts with a question: "What can fuck the nature of a man?", and whole narrative is impregnated by it, by having your character being fucked by NPCs and factions, and maybe, you fucking them back later. And in the end, you might get your answer depending on your choices...

Or just by unlocking the achievement "FFFFUUUUU....", in which your character must have chosen all the lines that contained the word fuck in the game.
Hehe, you sound like Vince  Tongue Ok, the setting of PS:T was what made its dialogues so exceptionally philosophical, while the Age Of Decadence has its own peculiarities. What are Intelligence checks for this achievement you mentioned?  smug

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Which ones in particular?
Poisons, Greek fire, shield bashing [and shield upgrading, if it will be there], healing salve, powder bombs, acid, critical strike formula change, flexible bows, setting traps, neurostimulants, bola, piercing attack for spears, flurry attack for daggers, arrow burst for crossbows, and the new melee-ranged combo synergies - checking the balance so that nothing is overpowered like balanced Daggers used to be in Demo R2.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2010, 05:46:17 AM by Vahhabyte » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2010, 06:29:32 AM »

Hehe, you sound like Vince  Tongue Ok, the setting of PS:T was what made its dialogues so exceptionally philosophical, while the Age Of Decadence has its own peculiarities.

You have 600 posts here, you should have been able to figure that one out. AoD's writing will be on the level of Fallout, as far as I can tell, which means "ok". And I'm not sure it was the setting that made Torment "exceptionally philosophical", I'm not sure if it was that either, but rather it was MCA's litterary background and creativity that made the writing possible (Vince doesn't have that kind of background obviously and he's stated many times that he's not trying to make AoD a litterary experience)
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Vahhabyte
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« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2010, 06:46:10 AM »

... are they going to be rather non-abstract/richly descriptive (plus Vince's witty grim humor, extended passages on the World's history and mythology, NPCs cinically manipulating PC, and complex multilayered intrigues going on among factions all during the storyline, which I noted with appreciation reading this forum)?
I find what I've been reading so far at this forum entertaining enough, however I was not sure about the entire content to respond to that dude at a Russian board who asked me whether AoD's texts are comparable to PS:T's  both in quantity and quality.
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Vince
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« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2010, 08:29:46 AM »

By the way, will the game have unique dialogues of deep existential philosophy, like in PS:T...
No.

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...however I was not sure about the entire content to respond to that dude at a Russian board who asked me whether AoD's texts are comparable to PS:T's  both in quantity and quality.
Quantity - yes. Quality - no.
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Hiver
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« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2010, 08:51:09 AM »

Also, regardles of the quantity, or quality (remains to be seen in full) the style is very different.
However, what i managed to read so far has been very enjoyable, quality stuff.
Story and writing are very important to me in my games and Vince`s writing is one of the reasons im going to buy this game, not to mention awaiting it most eagerly.

I think Vince writing style can be compared to Glen Cook and his series about Black Company more than any else.

Its simplicity is elegant, as well as its brutishness and cutting to the point. It doesnt try to seem fakely profound and elaborate without real need for it and it reflects pretty well the nasty reality of AoD setting and its adult orientated themes, quests and characters.
Its clear, direct and goes down very smoothly - which is very hard to achieve otherwise.
But not any less imaginative or well researched.
 Salute



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Thanks for the update. You guys are doing great and im buying two AoDs. One ultimate box set and one digital copy.
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« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2010, 09:05:05 AM »

I'm not really much of a fan of the writing style per se, but I appreciate the intention behind it, i.e. to provide one of the best C&C driven gameplay experiences, and a harsh post-apoc fantasy vibe. It serves that purpose, and if they manage to stamp out those little typos and grammatical hiccups that seem to crop up in a lot of the samples shown on the forums I will be happy with it. He does a good job at portraying a world run by hard-boiled, self-serving, and realistic bastards with no time or interest in philosophy, probably. I wonder if we will meet some of the starry-eyed romantics, and wannabe heroes that dominate other games as well, the contrast would be hilarious.
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Vahhabyte
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« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2010, 09:31:59 AM »

Thanks for your response Vince.

He does a good job at portraying a world run by hard-boiled, self-serving, and realistic bastards with no time or interest in philosophy, probably. I wonder if we will meet some of the starry-eyed romantics, and wannabe heroes that dominate other games as well, the contrast would be hilarious.
Things might be connected to the setting to some extent indeed. Like, Fallout => brutal, merciless and straightforwardly simple world of post-apocalyptic survival, Arcanum => bourgeois/aristocratic vanity, class and racial inequalities meet industrial/scientific revolution meet gods, cults and magick, Planescape => obscure fantasy with rich psychedelic imaginary and strange doctrines peculiar to different worlds of the Great Wheel and to different factions following different philosophies.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2010, 09:34:49 AM by Vahhabyte » Logged

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