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TIGSource ForumsCommunityCompetitionsOld CompetitionsCommonplace BookStrange Visit (30) [FINISHED]
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Author Topic: Strange Visit (30) [FINISHED]  (Read 18767 times)
David Pittman
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« on: October 18, 2008, 12:16:14 pm »

30 Strange visit to a place at night--moonlight--castle of great magnificence etc.
Daylight shews either abandonment or unrecognisable ruins--perhaps of vast antiquity.


*   *   *

Updated November 26 with some great new music from Devin Dominguez. No more of my placeholder MIDI piano nonsense anymore.  Tongue

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Download: http://www.dphrygian.com/bin/Strange-Visit-Installer.exe (14MB)

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An excerpt from the report of "Strange Visit" by the Aspen Street Private Investigators:

Through our investigations, we have concluded that the video entertainment software "Strange Visit" was developed by a singular Mr. David Pittman for the express purpose of being entered in the esteemed TIGSource Commonplace Book Competition. We assert that, inasmuch as it has been inspired by the thirtieth entry in the commonplace book of one Howard Phillips Lovecraft, it is an experience of wondrous horror and terrifying revelations!!


Strange Visit was designed as a bit of a mood piece, a short game of exploration and atmosphere. Its development also served a secondary purpose as a practical test of the engine I've been developing for a while now.

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Release notes:
A DirectX 9 video card is required; shader model 3 is recommended.

Controls (can be changed in the options menu):
WASD: Walk
Mouse: Look
F: Use (open doors)
Space: Jump

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Development notes follow...


9:01 PM, October 18: Blocking out a back stairwell in the castle. Working on a real level has been shaking out some bugs in my engine, so I've also been fixing those today. I've also plotted out the castle (more of a small manor house, really) on graph paper. I kept it small because of the tight deadline, but since the nice big extension, I'll probably build out the exterior a bit more so there's a nice scenic approach to the castle facade in the moonlit snow.

10:30 PM, October 22: Progress is slow. Fable II hit me hard yesterday and today. Castle is nearly all blocked out, just gotta finish up the last series of rooms. I'm finding that in practice, it's almost never useful to share meshes for visible and collision meshes, especially because I'm tending to subdivide finished meshes to capture lighting details better (I've got vert lighting in my engine instead of lightmaps), whereas I want the simplest possible representation for collision. So I'll probably have to do a pass to replace all shared visible/collision meshes with separate ones.


1:24 AM, October 25: Proxy materials on a balcony inside the entrance. The castle interior is walkable from start to finish. I'll either start building out the exterior next or start setting up entities like doors to try to get the level playable in some fashion. I haven't been making as good progress as I'd hoped, given that I expected I could finish this within the original 2-week deadline, but I'm learning a lot about how to work with my own engine, so that's something. Roll Eyes


4:16 PM, October 25: Today I've built the terrain surrounding the castle and blocked out the tops of the towers, which had been giving me some trouble. On the code side, fixed an endless recursion bug that could manifest when tracing rays through portals.


12:13 AM, October 29: A big part of this project for me has been learning the workflow for building levels efficiently using Blender and my engine. To that end, I spent a few hours this evening refactoring my Blender meshes so that I only need to load one library per world (instead of the 89 that it had grown to) and don't have duplicate materials on every mesh. It took a while, but it will make future changes much faster, and more importantly, I know how to do it right next time. I threw some proxy normal maps on every surface (seen in the image above) to give a better sense of directional light.


9:57 AM, November 11: Project is still alive zomg! I've been slowly cranking through art-type tasks, getting rid of proxy textures and aligning UVs and fun stuff like that. There's a lot more decoration needed to make the world look pretty and believable, but it's getting there. Then I need at least a bit of sound and music to set the mood. And a tiny bit of UI art. But the end is in sight!




9:22 AM, November 13: I'm approaching a shippable build now. Almost all texture alignment problems are fixed, holes in the world are all patched up, the menu doesn't have proxy textures anymore. I've got a dwindling list of bug fixes and a large list of polish items to crank through as time allows in these last two weeks. I feel good about this project--it's taken a bit longer than I expected to reach this state, but I'm definitely going to finish it.

3:44 AM, November 16: I've put a beta build up top. Almost ready to call this thing done. I did a big audio pass today and touched up a few more assets. I'd like to add some more decoration before the deadline (trees outside, paintings and tapestries on the walls, more ruined assets in the second half), and I'll probably revisit some of today's audio work after I've had some time to sit with it.

10:30 PM, November 17: I built a release candidate this evening, then found a bug in my portal code that should have been caught eons ago. So I fixed the bug and built a second RC, but there might be more lurking horrors in my codebase. Plus I haven't yet touched any of the things I said I might revisit, so there's stuff I could do if I felt like it. Or if I don't get around to that, I feel comfortable with this as the final product. But in any case, I'll wait to mark it finished and bump until the deadline.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2008, 11:38:26 am by dphrygian » Logged

Ishi
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« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2008, 04:44:02 pm »

Awesome choice of idea. Smiley Good luck with that.
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Shade Jackrabbit
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« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2008, 07:20:32 pm »

Aw... I chose the same line for my entry... well, it will be interesting to see the different interpretations.
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David Pittman
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« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2008, 08:15:10 pm »

Aw... I chose the same line for my entry... well, it will be interesting to see the different interpretations.

Yeah, absolutely. I'm actually hoping to see more overlap in themes for that reason.
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Melly
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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2008, 04:14:20 am »

Oooh, 3D.
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David Pittman
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« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2008, 03:34:07 pm »

I've posted a very early pre-alpha build at http://www.dphrygian.com/bin/Strange-Visit-Installer-Build-0.exe.

If anyone cares to test it, I'm mainly looking for basic performance feedback (like whether this even runs on other machines), because I haven't yet done a public release of a game on this engine.
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« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2008, 04:10:06 pm »

It runs smoothly, but seems to hog all of my processor time. A small delay between frames would be a good idea, just so Windows could have time for other processes. WinAmp seems to chop up completely. Also, an option to display the frame rate (at least in the config, under the Debug<Whatever> options. Would help report the performance...

The collision detection bugs up; I get stuck with walls, at least at the beginning, where that invisible barrier prevents me from going. There's also a portal problem, when you first enter the castle; looking to the left, I see a staircase, but when I get closer, it disappears, and drops me off the map. Intentional?

Other than that, seems fine for a pre-alpha... There were some obvious problems with missing walls (mostly at doors) and the textures would be extremely screwed up if replaced straight away, but all in all, great job! Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2008, 04:15:48 pm »

I really like the aesthetic, but needs more light in the dark bits.

Framerate is terrible on here (Pentium 4, GeForce 6200).  Improved slightly when I went to full-screen, but still not bearable for very long.

I too fell off the map at the door on the left into the castle.  Curious to see what gameplay you have planned for this.
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« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2008, 04:51:58 pm »

doesn't run on my card ;(  (you mean I can't play every game on my scratchy laptop???)

eta: if anyone has some 3D analyze tips for this game (I don't have shader 2) let me know.
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David Pittman
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« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2008, 05:29:42 pm »

Thanks all for responding so promptly!

Also, an option to display the frame rate (at least in the config, under the Debug<Whatever> options. Would help report the performance...

You can open a console window with ~ and type "debug main" to turn on a debug overlay that includes the frame rate.

I'll see what I can do about hogging the processor--might be as simple as putting a Sleep(0) in the main loop. I assume other CPU-intensive games don't do the same thing on your machine?

There's also a portal problem, when you first enter the castle; looking to the left, I see a staircase, but when I get closer, it disappears, and drops me off the map. Intentional?

Oops. Not exactly intentional, but not a mistake either; I'll be putting a locked door there so you'll never see/move through it.
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« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2008, 05:51:48 pm »

You can open a console window with ~ and type "debug main" to turn on a debug overlay that includes the frame rate.
Awesome. I'll report my FPS rate tomorrow.

Also, yeah adding a Sleep(0) or Sleep(1) there would definitely help things... Or even using vsync.
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David Pittman
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« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2008, 09:33:01 pm »

Also, yeah adding a Sleep(0) or Sleep(1) there would definitely help things... Or even using vsync.

I am using vsync, actually, although I've noticed that it doesn't always seem to behave properly in windowed mode. I don't know what that's about.

Fixed two issues related to collision; the stickiness on some walls and the occasional getting stuck completely are both gone. (The latter, I traced to a faulty point-in-triangle test; my source for that algorithm assumed I would first test that the point was in the triangle's plane, which I wasn't. Embarrassed)
« Last Edit: October 25, 2008, 11:42:55 pm by dphrygian » Logged

Melly
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« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2008, 07:17:41 am »

Heh, the best way to test an engine is making a game in it and letting people rip it apart and step on it before giving it back so you can see what survived. Evil
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« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2008, 03:58:14 am »

I've just uploaded a beta build at http://www.dphrygian.com/bin/Strange-Visit-Installer-Build-1.exe. It's pretty CPU intensive and is best viewed with a shader model 3 card.

Useful feedback at this point would be mainly about polish--is it still too dark, are the sounds poorly mixed, is the player's movement way too slow, does the music drive you insane after two minutes, etc. I'll be tweaking these things over the next week or so anyway, so having some more direction would be useful.
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« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2008, 05:38:57 am »

It runs on my laptop with ATI Radeon X1200, but FRAPS says FPS is around 26 at 800x600 resolution. It's playable though.

Game is not too dark. In contrary it's fairly bright. Piano loop is mixed well with other sounds, so I I'd say sound is ok. Movement speed is OK in my opinion, but when you stand on stairs your character is going backwards which can be a little bit annoying at times, especially when climbing those 'basement stairs' at the end.
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David Pittman
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« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2008, 09:59:03 am »

Finished!

Download: http://www.dphrygian.com/bin/Strange-Visit-Installer.exe (10MB)
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« Reply #16 on: November 26, 2008, 04:28:36 am »

The engine works well, and I didn't notice any major clipping issues apart from the spoiler. The wooden planks used to enforce linearity stuck out as not being large enough to justify being barriers if the player can jump and crouch, and I was disappointed I couldn't leave the path in the first scene. The first part had a good mood to it, but it fell a bit flat near the end: spoiler. Maybe it could be more effective by giving the player a personality through text/audio commentary?
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« Reply #17 on: November 27, 2008, 01:59:23 pm »

If anyone wants to get download the full 15 minute version of the soundtrack, you can get it here: http://www.zshare.net/download/51732815f434e8e5/
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Melly
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« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2008, 06:35:10 pm »

EDIT: Nevermind, found out it's some kind of problem with my video card going fucking crazy.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2008, 07:15:14 pm by Melly » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: November 28, 2008, 10:34:23 am »

Game worked fine for me. The chains and the music got a little creepy. Towards the end I started looking for cover and sweaping rooms to make sure nothing was behind me. I knew there were not weapons but going through the motions of a FPS felt like the right thing to do. Good job Gentleman

BTW my graphics card is an Nvidia 7600
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