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1095081 Posts in 45344 Topics- by 37141 Members - Latest Member: Massiano

February 26, 2015, 11:31:21 PM
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1  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Return of the Obra Dinn [Playable Build] on: February 24, 2015, 05:28:05 AM
You probably don't need any more book recommendations but 'The British Seaman' by Christopher Lloyd (not that Christopher Lloyd) is pretty good, as is 'The Wooden World'.

I'll grab both of these, thanks Lee.

Your attention to detail is what sets you apart from your peers (Also the fact that you're still on TIG and devlogging your work after finding success). Cheers!

2  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Return of the Obra Dinn [Playable Build] on: February 20, 2015, 03:42:59 AM

Researching the period, the ships, and the sailors for this project has been a lot of fun. It's not so much a dedication to accuracy as it is having no idea where to even start and needing the reference. The only problem is most of the information covering these topics is in books and most of those are old and/or expensive. And whereas there's a ton of information about Ships of the Line and Nelson's Big Heroic Whatever, there's much less on the merchantmen. Where I can, I try to dig up PDF or Kindle versions online.

Digital reference

If I can't find a digital version then I have to look for a physical copy. All the good ones are no longer in print so I've been buying mostly used books.

Actual books, made of paper

Reading through the really old books is enlightening. Some are proto-OCD material, where every detail is listed in the driest possible tone. And there were a lot of details about the East India Company and their ships. Better books have a little flavor that chips away at the EIC's shiny exterior. All the ship porn is great. When this is all over I kinda want to buy (not make) a big wooden model ship.


I'm working on the lower decks now and every once in a while, the stupidest things take forever. On ships like this sailors slept in rows of hammocks hung from the ceiling. I wasted a bunch of time modeling these.

Exhibit A: Ship hammock

My first mistake was ignoring this basic structure and trying to model a more complicated hammock, with support bars. Second problem was trying to use dynamics to form the hammock naturally. Maya's dynamics are pretty good but as usual trying to use their editing UI is an exercise in rage control. After some poorly-controlled rage:

Not using this hammock

Finally I threw all that shit out and just modeled a banana-shape that's much simpler, way fewer polys, and looks better in context anyways. The dynamics hammock was cool in some ways, but too much work to set up, and too many polys. I may go back and hook up the simpler hammock to dynamics if I find it hard to add the sleeping sailors by hand.

Bad, bad, good.
3  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Return of the Obra Dinn [Playable Build] on: February 20, 2015, 12:52:01 AM

You've basically hit on the two main challenges with the design.

1. Where are all the corpses?
2. How can the story/revelations be structured in a way that makes sense.

#1 is tricky because any dead body would've been quickly pitched overboard. So it's inherent to the setting that there not be a bunch of bodies around. I have a relatively simple solution for that. It requires careful sequencing of events but not much beyond that.

#2 is a lot harder. People don't give a lot of exposition in the ~15 seconds before they die. Well, not in good stories they don't. But that dialog just before dying is all I've got to communicate anything complex to the player. This is a nut I haven't cracked yet. I first want to focus on the mechanical requirements - the player has to piece together the identities of the crew. Once I'm confident with that I can weave a larger narrative into the functional parts.

I'm still worried about both of these problems though so no promises.  Grin

If you haven't read it already, I suggest the seminar work of Peter Linebaugh
The Many Headed Hydra, even though it covers a bit earlier period.

I'll check it out, thanks!

Uncharted is an action game though, right? I think you can get away with this in a slower paced game such as this.

Yeah, you're right. I've sorta bitten off more than I can chew with this game though, and this is one feature that would only get in if I had time to spare.
4  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Return of the Obra Dinn [Playable Build] on: February 08, 2015, 12:52:14 AM

The basic outline of the story is more of less decided and I'm currently doing some research to fill in the details. Reading this book for some inspiration:

A collection of naval disasters, published in 1813

I've learned two things:

 1. Life was cheap in 1700-1800
 2. If you want to survive a shipwreck, sneak off in the working launch boat ASAP before anyone notices.

There's nothing in here I can use directly but it's useful to get the tone of how shit hits the fan so spectacularly when a sailing ship runs into trouble.

Surprisingly the biggest problem I have now is how exactly to lay out the crew. I can't find a good list of specific crew roles for merchant sailing ships of the time. The muster role in the dev log is all just placeholder. Will probably just wing it and make something up soon.
5  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Return of the Obra Dinn [Playable Build] on: February 04, 2015, 08:59:47 PM
[...]Judging by the animated screenshots, all wind animations (ropes and sails) look maybe some 200% too fast. [...]

Good eye, but I think this is just the gifs. The wind animation combines some fast low-amplitude waves with slower bigger ones. It looks ok in-game.

[...]Do you have any plans in mind to turn the crew muster roll into something more physical, so that when you press tab it seems like you are opening a book rather than accessing an interface?

I may add something like this but it's not a high priority. Uncharted 1 shows an animation as Drake brings his journal up to read it and that slight delay, even though it looks cool, always bothered me. So if I put an animation in there it'd probably only show the first few times you open it.
6  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Return of the Obra Dinn [Playable Build] on: February 04, 2015, 08:54:48 PM

SMB Castle Flag This is the 3rd best devlog of 2014 SMB Castle Flag

Congrats to #1 JLJac's Project Rain World, and #2 eigenbom's Moonman (currently Kickstarting)!

Also check out Willy Chyr's RELATIVITY at #4.

7  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Return of the Obra Dinn [Playable Build] on: February 01, 2015, 08:40:05 AM
Honestly, I don't think the pulleys on the ladder ropes look weird, at least at the level of flapping you have them doing now. Maybe if they stretched further it would look more gelatinous, but right now it looks fine.

I tried to tune it so it's not too obvious. You can see it more clearly up close but this is probably something I won't try to fix.

[...] I wonder if the rope shadows might be a bit too crisp?

You're right, they are a bit sharp. I'll see if using softer shadows looks ok and doesn't kill performance.

The perfect unbroken rigging looks a bit odd against the tattered sail. A few broken lines would help I think. At least a few in the ratlines.

Yeah, the current rigging is too perfect for what the ship's been through. I'll break a bunch of ropes and masts after figuring out the exact damage later.

I'm guessing the sails were made by stitching together strips of fabric of equal width?

Right, that's the idea. I tried putting a grid of squares instead of the vertical strips and it was a little too busy.
8  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Return of the Obra Dinn [Playable Build] on: January 31, 2015, 09:00:46 PM
Well, it's been a long time since I've had a chance to post here. Thanks again for all the feedback. After finishing the public dev build in October, I jumped straight onto porting Papers Please to iPad. That finished up in December and a bunch of family stuff has kept me from spending full time on Obra Dinn.

I did manage to make some progress though, on creating the ship's ropes, sails, and rigging. I thought this would be done in a few days but it ended up taking a few weeks. There was a lot more technical work than I expected, and several different systems that I needed to figure out in Maya and the game. I'll list what I ended up with for each system and the stuff I tried before getting there.

Maya Script Ops

Before that though, a brief explanation of the scripting setup for this project in Maya. I mentioned way upthread that I prefer modifier-based editing over Maya's lossy system. To get that working, I attach custom commands to a node's "notes" attribute (editable directly in Maya).

Notes attached to a node in Maya

Then I've got a big "applyOps()" script command bound to Cmd-R. When I hit Cmd-R, it duplicates the object, applies all the commands, then hides the original. If I Cmd-R on the opped copy, it deletes that copy and unhides the original again. So I can quickly tweak the geometry and commands. Each time there's some new operation I need, I add it to the applyOps() function. There are already tons of commands like "cut", "add", "combine" (boolean operations), "bend", "pieces" (split into pieces), "duplicate_reflect", "material", etc.

The system isn't perfect (I can't edit and see the results at the same time for instance) but it's good enough. And there's an unintended benefit to staying out of Maya's construction history that I'll talk about below.

Rigged Ropes

All the rigged ropes are generated from Maya curves. The "rope" command allows me to specify non-rope geometry to place at the start and end for pulleys, deadeyes, etc. And I can also easily add a slight sag to the geometry.

Pressing Cmd-R on a bunch of curves to generate ropes+pulleys

At the beginning I tried hand-modeling a single rope, then instancing it across the ship but that turned out to be a huge pain in the ass. Placing ropes is much easier if you can just drag the two endpoints of a curve around. Getting that to work requires scripting/engineering work as opposed to artistic sweat.

"Ladder" ropes are also really hard to do by hand. After a few tries I gave up and wrote a script for that too.

Script-generation of crossing ladder ropes

In Maya I apply a "vertical" or "horizontal" material to each rope, which gets picked up in the game to generate special uv-coords on import. These coords are used by the vertex shader to flap the ropes around in the wind while keeping the ends pinned. Generally-vertical ropes flap differently from generally-horizontal ones. Getting sets of ropes (the shrouds for climbing the masts) to flap around in sync required some extra work.

Using a vertex shader for this animation allows Unity to consider all the rope meshes as "static" and batch them together to save draw calls. That ends up being a big win. The downside is that I don't have a good way to treat the the pulley verts on the end differently from the ropes, so there's some unwanted warping there.

Flapping ropes


The sail booms are pretty simple except that they have ropes attached to them. So if I want to swing the booms back and forth a bit, the ropes need to somehow move with them. If I had a true in-game rope system this would probably be easy, but all the rope geometry is baked/static.

I ended up generating skinned meshes on import to Unity, with definitions in the Maya file for how each attached rope should be bound.

Instructions for the importer to generate a skinned mesh bound to transforms with certain weights

This technique creates a slightly-unnatural bending in the attached ropes and they don't slacken/tighten correctly. But it also doesn't interfere with the flapping vertex shader and as long as the attached ropes are long and the movement is subtle it looks fine.

Ropes attached to swinging booms using skinned meshes


The flapping vertex shader worked great on the ropes so I tried the same thing with the sail fabric. Unfortunately, flapping 2D cloth is a lot more complex than anchored 1D ropes. After some unfruitful vertex shading experiments I discovered that Unity has a built-in cloth system. The editing interface is buggy beyond useless, but you can set the cloth coefficients directly in code no-problem. The results run fast and look good enough.

Torn sails using Unity cloth

For better performance, the cloth is non-colliding. This requires some special modeling to guarantee no intersections - and a constant wind force from behind to push the sails away from the masts and all the rigging.

I use the texture v coordinate to specify whether a cloth vert should be pinned or not. Using UVs like this, and not for actual texturing, has been a common and really useful trick for this project.

Using texcoord V value to specify cloth coefficients

Rendering for the sails is slightly different: they're two-sided and use a special lighting function to make them fully-white when viewed from the front and fully-black when viewed from the back. I found that proper lighting makes them too distracting, especially with the low-poly cloth-friendly geometry and all the ropes passing around.

Piled Ropes

One thing I learned in researching all this rope rigging bullshit is that old sailing ships were basically just wooden boxes full of ropes. The amount of ropes holding everything together is staggering. I don't even have all the rigging in place and it's already distracting to look up and see all those lines.

On top of the rigged ropes though, these ships also had a ton of coiled and piled ropes just lying about - ready to be used quickly. I wanted to capture this sense of excess by leaving realistically-coiled ropes all over the deck. My first attempt at that was hand-modeled and is visible in the first dev build as a tire-looking thing on the aft deck:

Original piled rope. Don't steal.

To get these looking right, I needed technology: dynamics. Maya Complete has a great nDynamics system built in, but up until recently I've been using Maya LT, which has exactly nothing. This was the final straw for me working around Maya LT's limitations though so I finally cracked and bought a license for Maya Complete. My thanks again to the success of Papers Please that I can make purchases like this; Maya Complete is expensive.

The enormous downside of upgrading to Maya Complete at this point is that it can't open any file generated by Maya LT (.mlt). That's purely a marketing/DRM thing from Autodesk - they don't want studios buying lots of cheap LT licenses for their animators while the TDs use one or two expensive Maya Complete copies for the heavy lifting. It makes sense tbh, but it really sucks when you're like me and just want to upgrade your single-seat studio to the full version.

The recommended path for LT->Complete is through FBX export/import. Unfortunately and predictably this loses tons of information, most critically all HumanIK properties and all node construction history. I haven't tackled HumanIK yet, but the heavens shine on me for construction history. Since I'm using my simple applyOps() system for most of the complex modeling I can just delete the "opped" output meshes in the imported FBX and regenerate them in Maya Complete.

Now that the ship scene has been transferred to Maya Complete (.ma) I have access to nDynamics. Specifically, the hair follicles system is just right for taking a hand-modeled curve, giving it dynamic properties to have it fall in a pile, then converting it to a rope using my existing scripts.

Using hair dynamics in Maya Complete to physicalize/drop/collide a curve

In practice there are plenty of small complications with the scripting here: detecting and temporarily physicalizing all meshes beneath the rope, choosing dynamics properties for a good shape, running the simulation for a few frames, optimizing the output curve shape, converting to a polygon rope, adding color bands for in-game rendering, etc. But all told I'm really happy with this. So far I've only added a few loose and piled ropes but it's so quick that I'll hit my target of "way too many ropes lying about" easily.

O.S.H.A violation

The crew couldn't tidy up before dying violently


Ok, one last thing. Something I worried about for a while was how exactly to render all the rigging ropes. Drawing them with the standard outlines looks ok close up, but ends up generating too much visual chatter and thickness for distant ropes. The fix is to LOD the ropes so the outlines stop rendering at a certain distance.

Dropping outlines on distant ropes

From Here

Most of this rigging work so far is for the main realtime scene. The flashbacks won't have any movement so the vertex animation, skinning, and cloth will all be baked/modeled straight in Maya. I've purposely held off on filling out all the rigging in this scene since I won't know exactly how it'll look until more flashbacks are implemented.


Several weeks of sporadic work compressed into 18 minutes. Skip to ~17:10 to see a short in-game walkthrough of the final results.

9  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Karate Dino on: December 01, 2014, 07:54:31 PM
This looks great.

The one thing missing is the "karate" part I think. Would be nice if after jumping over 10 dinos, your 11th jump would be a tornado kick or something that can be used to attack. Or you can collect a floating star/whatever powerup that makes your next jump a jump-kick. Something to extend the mechanics and reward a bit without losing the one-button part.

For ducking, you don't need any player input. Just automatically duck under certain enemies in certain configurations. Learning when not to jump is enough of a challenge I'd say.
10  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Machiavillain on: November 24, 2014, 06:03:59 AM
We liked this one (kind of german expressionist-ish ?), but it would have quickly become unreadable so...

This is striking. Can't remember seeing anything else quite like it.

I think you could probably make it readable, but it'd require a lot of work and some sacrifices. If it were me, I'd spend significant effort on exactly that.  Grin
11  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Das Boot [working tittle] on: November 24, 2014, 05:46:21 AM
...(If anyone has any suggestion, they are more than welcome!  Grin)...

Some random quick ideas:


Death At Any Depth

Death Tube

Variations: Submersion, Death At Depth, Death Hull

I'm sure there's a lot of cool submarine-related terminology that you could pull a good title out of. My one piece of advice is to avoid the temptation to use a term or phrase as-is since this will bury you in search results (like "Das Boot" would). So, for example, "Torpenator" instead of just "Torpedo".

Good luck!
12  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Warboat (Local Multiplayer Boat Battle) on: November 23, 2014, 10:13:48 AM
Your latest shots look fantastic, but I have to wonder how this work relates to making a fun 4-player battle arena game. Some of my wondering:

1. If I've learned anything from other local MP battle games, it's that the framerate is absolutely critical. The work you're doing with subtle shader effects is trading framerate for fine details that are not meaningful to the gameplay and may not even be visible at the normal zoom distance.

2. The environment feels thematically wrong for cartoonish renaissance-looking characters in little cannon-armed paddleboats. I would've expected something more in line with that time period (small dock off an island paradise, in a mediterranean port amongst larger ships, etc) instead of a post-apocalyptic swimming pool.

3. I don't predict much strategy with a wide-open pool. Do you have plans to add obstacles or other interactive elements to the play area?

I don't mean to get you down though, I really like this project. Smiley
13  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Das Boot [working tittle] on: November 23, 2014, 09:47:10 AM
This looks great. Just tons of potential. I especially like the how naturally the split screen view works for this setup.. And the weirdness level is a great idea too.

Keep at it. You're gonna have an awesome game on your hands. Smiley

(Change the title soon!)
14  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Return of the Obra Dinn [Playable Build] on: November 21, 2014, 03:31:19 AM
I thought there was already frozen muzzleflash/smoke in the current build?

Yeah, the dust system is in the public dev build. Just didn't have time to post in the devlog about it until now. There's one more thing I want to talk about in that build (sound and voice stuff) but I'm not sure when I can do that.

As mentioned before, I also had this feeling that the boat was not moving. So maybe if you add some cracking wood sound at random time it should do the "trick"

Were you playing with the sound on? It currently plays a good number of creaking wood sounds, mostly audible inside the cabins.
15  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Return of the Obra Dinn [Playable Build] on: November 21, 2014, 01:54:48 AM

After getting the basic gameplay down for the dev build, I wanted to add something to enhance the sense of volume and 3D-ness in the flashbacks. The gimmick is that you're able to walk around in something like a 3D picture. That's not so special when you're already walking around in the same environment before and afterwards. It needs something "otherworldly."

My first thought was to invert the colors. Bad thought. Next, I tried just putting a bunch of particles floating around the player. That got the basic idea across but actual particles aren't well suited for low resolution 1-bit rendering: they pop in/out and they scale with distance. Those two problems led me directly to the idea of using a "true" point cloud:

Dust cloud in a test level

The points need to be exactly one pixel in size, no matter how far from the camera. Unity's built-in particles can't be restricted like this OOTB and they also have a lot of extra logic that I didn't need (almost everything), along with some stuff I couldn't turn off (lifetime). So I threw together a custom solution that surprisingly worked well right away.

To render the dust cloud, I generate actual little quads on the CPU. Each of the 4 quad points has the same 3D position with different UV coordinates to specify which corner of the quad it is. That gets picked up in the shader and transformed to be exactly one pixel in screenspace.

v2f o;
o.pos = mul(UNITY_MATRIX_MVP, v.vertex);
// convert from homogenous
float3 screenPos = o.pos.xyz / o.pos.w;
// push corner out based on UV
float2 screenSize = float2(640,360);
screenPos += float3(1 / (screenSize * v.texcoord), 0);
// convert back to homogenous
o.pos.xyz = screenPos.xyz * o.pos.w;
return o;

Even with huge meshes and tons of quads the performance is really good. Probably because GPUs are optimized for churning through large static data sets like this. And that's another advantage of a custom solution over Unity particles: it's completely static, generated once at asset import time.

To make the points more legible in various situations, I invert their color against whatever's behind them. That took some finagling (and one of the renderbuffer color channels), but the whole greyscale/1-bit thing helped again here since there was a channel to spare.


One of the things I'd been holding off with this 1-bit rendered was support for partial transparency. Unfortunately, the public dev build has a gun-firing scene right at the start that calls for some kind of smoke/muzzleflash. So this needed to be tackled sooner rather than later. My first attempt was to just model and texture the smoke shape, apply an alpha shader, and render as usual:

Modeled smoke with transparency shader (lined)

Nope. Second try, remove the lines:

Modeled smoke with transparency shader (unlined)

That's much better from the side when you have a simple bright background, but completely illegible from the front. The poor mix of transparency and 1-bit-ness makes the shape completely disappear on an unsuitable background. Also, moving around the clearly-defined shape of the smoke makes it look cheap and fake. More-so than usual anyways. I tried a few shader tweaks to fade out the edges or otherwise mask the shape, but nothing helped much.

Dust Come Back

After messing around with the modeled smoke a bit, an idea came to me: why not use the dust clouds for this instead of trying to fake it with surface geometry. At 640x360, you can put enough single-pixel particles onscreen to suggest exactly the shapes I'm after.

Modeled dust cloud in-game

The tricky part to make this work was figuring out how to take the procedurally-generated dust clouds and enable modeling their shape manually. There are dedicated point-cloud editors but that's not something I want to deal with.

The solution ended being pretty simple. In Maya, I model the shape and subdivide it a bunch until there's an overkill of verts. Export that to Unity where an import script picks it up, shifts each vert randomly, and converts each vert into a full quad for the dust cloud system. The original shape's triangles are discarded. It's a lot of data but again, GPUs eat this shit up.

Cloud modeled in Maya

In another stroke of pure luck, this technique is much easier production-wise than modeling and texturing traditional geometry. My favorite kind of solution.

Action Lines

Replacing transparent shapes with dust clouds turned out ok visually, but not objectively great. The real win comes when using this same system to indicate lines of action. I found these a great way to make the scenes feel dynamic, even while perfectly static.

Action line in-game and modeled in Maya

This meandering path from otherworldy clouds, to transparency replacement, to action lines is one of the fortunate surprises that I really enjoy in game dev.
16  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Vatnsmyrkr - Deep sea submarine exploration [GIF WARNING] on: November 20, 2014, 11:52:51 PM
Yeah, that's still only rectangles, tho. But perhaps I can have a mixed system that does this for rectangles and the "brute force" approach for everything else?

The technique in that link is based on segments, not rectangles. What you want is to model all of your shapes out of segments (even circles), so this technique works generally. That's (basically) how I did it in Helsing's Fire and AFAIK it's the standard way to handle this problem. I agree that you shouldn't care about this until you identify it as a performance issue though.
17  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Return of the Obra Dinn [Playable Build] on: November 20, 2014, 11:41:27 PM
@Harem & Zaphos:

Yeah, I'm the kind of player that finishes shooters with way too many rockets. I hate worrying about limited resources and my usual solution is to just not use them. If I limit the number of fate guesses in any way, I'd expect people to just not make guesses until the very end; where they'd lose out on any in-game conveniences. I'll find some other more implicit and hopefully more natural solution.


Those are all good observations. The walking sim in the dev build has been tweaked a bit since the devlog post. The main problem I ran into is that having other characters (frozen) in the scene makes any height change very obvious. Whenever you'd stop to look at a character's face, the view would sink down and you'd be looking at his chest. If you play the dev build it should be clear that you don't sink like that when stopping any more.

The two important things that I found were that the footstep sound needs to play at the sharp low point of the curve, and that the view needs to return naturally to 0 offset at rest. Here's what the curve looks like now:

18  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Return of the Obra Dinn [Playable Build] on: November 17, 2014, 08:53:54 AM
Did you agonize at all about the title?  I ask because a ship returning with nothing but corpses aboard (as far as we know) might qualify for, say, "The Curse of the Obra Dinn", or perhaps "The Scourge of the Obra Dinn".
The Fate of the Obra Dinn?
The Tale of the Obra Dinn?
Remembering the Obra Dinn?
Obra Dinn: The Quest for Curly's Gold?

The main reason is that the Obra Dinn isn't cursed; the problem isn't with the ship. The dev build doesn't set this up well, and I'm not sure if I can do it even in the final, but I want to emphasize that the ship should not be back. So it "returning" is a big deal. Scourge, Fate, and Tale are all really good actually and I probably would've used one of those if I'd thought about it more.

The backup reason is that my original (set in Egypt) game idea for this 1-bit rendering tech actually did have "Curse" in the title. I may go back to that game later so I wanted something different for this one.

What is the origin of the name 'Obra Dinn'? From the little research I did, Obra directly translates from Spanish to English as 'play' or 'work', but dinn apparently isn't a Spanish word.  Huh?

AFAIK, "Obra Dinn" doesn't mean anything and is just a name that popped into my head. Sounded exotic and cool, that's all. I agonized a bit over the spelling, alternatively trying stuff like "Obre Dinn" or "Obora Dinn" before just settling on "Obra Dinn". I looked long and hard for an actual old ship named something like Obra Dinn, but couldn't find anything.
19  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Return of the Obra Dinn [Playable Build] on: November 15, 2014, 10:01:34 AM
The Crew Log feels a little immersion-breaking and video-gamey, what with magically knowing how many fates you got right.

This is one of those things that I personally don't mind. I used to be very against video-gamey stuff but at some point decided it's ok if introduced as a mundane thing and without fanfare. At least, this is what I tried with Papers Please and it seemed to work ok. As with the citations in that game, I feel like getting immediate feedback is important enough to bend some reality.

And why does the Obra Dinn even have a log listing the fates of its crewmembers, anyway? It might work better as a mystical artefact you got from the East India Cpy, like the watch, rather than something you find on the ship.

Muster rolls were a real thing. One of their main purposes was to keep track of how and when crew members were killed or injured so surviving family members could collect their unpaid salary when the ship returned home. I guess in that case, one problem is that this muster roll hasn't already been (mostly) filled out by the captain.

Also, I like sending the player into a few flashbacks at the start without the context of having the muster roll.

I like immediate feedback too ... I think rather than trying to make it inconvenient to check answers, it might work better to just make an easy but explicit way for people to check answers, and to note how many times they guessed incorrectly?  So we can cheat if we want to, but the game kinda makes it obvious that it knows we're cheating (even if it's not going to do anything about it) ...

That's not a bad idea. Definitely gonna think about that.

Maybe the number of correct fates could be shown on the face of the watch?  That way, all the mysticism is contained to one artifact.

Ooo, another cool idea. I like that one quite a bit! It feels a little weird but just the suggestion that the feedback comes from something besides the muster roll itself is a good one.
20  Feedback / DevLogs / Re: Return of the Obra Dinn [Playable Build] on: November 04, 2014, 09:43:13 PM
Thanks again for all the great comments guys. Some quick general responses:

Taking Notes

Any kind of note-taking system will be entirely manual. The magnifying glass is a good idea, but maybe too complex. Something along those lines. I think it'll be a while before I implement anything though. Want to get more of the story/bodies in place to see how it feels.

Brute Force

The way the game is set up now, it's possible to brute-force all the fates. There are a lot of fates, and going back to check the first page takes a long time. But if you're down to just a few names and a few known deaths it will be tempting to just guess. I'll spend some time working on a way to prevent this but I'm not sure how far to take it. I like the immediate feedback of knowing when you got something right. Brute-forcing is cheating yourself out of the game's puzzles but I can understand the temptation.

Wave Motion

The ship's rocking motion from the waves is intentionally subtle. Anything more and I get sick. I may play around with rotating the camera very slightly, but the last time I tried it was too much.

Non-dialog Clues

Putting clues in non-dialog stuff is going to be one of the bigger challenges in this game. Even having clues in dialog is tricky - you can't have everyone addressing everyone else by name in the moments before they die. Also, I really want to avoid having readable notes. I have a bunch of ideas so we'll see how it goes.

Naked Skeletons

I crunched pretty hard to get the dev build ready for IGF, and the skeleton clothes were a casualty. They'll look more natural eventually.

I use vertex coloring to override the normals for any curved surfaces. You can see this in action in the ship aft-balcony modeling video.

Short Break

At the moment I'm taking a short break from this game to work on another top secret project. I should be back on Obra Dinn by the end of the month. Hopefully I can post a few more updates here though about the dev build; some small technical things and details about the voice and effects work in the flashback audio pre-rolls.
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