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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsReturn of the Obra Dinn [Releasing Oct 18]
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Author Topic: Return of the Obra Dinn [Releasing Oct 18]  (Read 853395 times)
batiali
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« Reply #660 on: June 13, 2016, 05:48:50 AM »

Woah, delicious devlog. The game itself looks amazing. Love your stuff man.  Hand Clap
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Sporkaganza
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« Reply #661 on: June 15, 2016, 02:46:45 PM »

Man, I hope you didn't just pay for all of these and took advantage of some of the free trials, at least.
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BartsBlue
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« Reply #662 on: June 19, 2016, 01:26:23 AM »

I use yEd for graphs and the like, Excel / GDocs for dependencies etc and Inklewriter for IF and scenario flows. Not sure if that helps at this point, but maybe someone will find it useful. yEd and Inklewriter are surprisingly powerful and free.
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slarti88
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« Reply #663 on: June 20, 2016, 01:09:02 AM »

I'm really interested in the tools he uses for fleshing out the narrative. Is there any talk / presentation by lucas on the tool he used for Papers Please?
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gambrinous
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« Reply #664 on: June 21, 2016, 06:37:03 AM »

There's a lot of stuff in the Papers Please devlog, like this:
https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=29750.msg968764#msg968764
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slarti88
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« Reply #665 on: June 21, 2016, 07:10:13 AM »

Yes! That devlog is pure gold! I was wondering if there existed a talk or something which went into more detail about how the narrative was built which wouldn't have been possible during development without giving away spoilers.

But yeah I think I'll revisit the devlog once again and learn what I can.
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ehh123
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« Reply #666 on: July 10, 2016, 05:13:44 AM »

I just played Obra Dinn for a quick 25 minutes. It plays great! So far as I can tell it's very well executed. I couldn't find any bugs or glitches, but I'll take sometime later in the week to look into it more.

Great work! Can't wait to hear about your progress!  Smiley
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LegionMammal978
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« Reply #667 on: August 18, 2016, 05:22:03 PM »

*chirp chirp chirp*
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rj
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« Reply #668 on: August 18, 2016, 06:03:43 PM »

it hasnt even been two months dude
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dukope
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« Reply #669 on: August 19, 2016, 05:10:21 AM »

Man, I hope you didn't just pay for all of these and took advantage of some of the free trials, at least.

Yeah, if it's a paid app, I only buy after trying it for a bit and deciding it'll actually work. The more expensive an app is, the better is has to work... Anything without a free trial usually gets skipped.

Yes! That devlog is pure gold! I was wondering if there existed a talk or something which went into more detail about how the narrative was built which wouldn't have been possible during development without giving away spoilers.
But yeah I think I'll revisit the devlog once again and learn what I can.

Except for the devlog and an odd interview here and there, I haven't put together anything specifically covering the narrative construction in Papers Please. Maybe I can write a talk or something when I get some time after this game is finished. The basic gist is that the narrative was built in lock step with the core mechanics of the game, something I'm trying to do with Obra Dinn too.

*chirp chirp chirp*

I hear that.
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dukope
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« Reply #670 on: August 19, 2016, 05:30:54 AM »

I've been working mostly on spoiler-y stuff for the last few months but there are a few things I can post about. Starting with the changes to the Crew Muster Roll..


Manifest

In the interest of better helping the player piece together all the crew identities and events, I made a huge overhaul of the Crew Muster Roll, now called just the Manifest.


Page 1- Muster List

The first step was converting the multi-page muster list to a single scrolling page:


Dudes for days


Coalescing all the names on one page tidied things up conceptually and made room for other stuff.


Page 2 - Sketchbook

This is a collection of pen&ink sketches done by the onboard ship's artist, before things went to shit. My goal is to have a way for players to reference crew members by appearance. I originally thought this was something that could be left to the player's devices (memory, cellphone, pen&paper, whatever, not my problem). After implementing more of the flashbacks and getting personally overwhelmed, I thought better.

My first solution was to give players a sort of in-game camera and let them snap whatever pictures they wanted to create a free-form notes style logbook. There were no cameras in 1807 though, and I really wanted an in-world, sensible way to record character appearances. The presence of an onboard artist meant that I could have him paint or sketch crew members, stuff those in the manifest, and be done with it. The sketches are separate from the muster list - the player still has to connect names with faces. And including it all in the manifest like this, instead of having the player find paintings/sketches lying around, is part of my "no collectable items" rule for this game.


It's really a lot of people (placeholder)


It's pretty hard to read right now - the final image will be an actual sketch and much clearer. I've built these 3D scenes with all the appropriate characters just as placeholders. The first challenge here was creating a manageable number of natural(ish) scenes that could include every single person on board just once. Actual crew sketches from the period were kinda like this - an economy of ink. The second challenge will be sketching it legibly and period-appropriate. I'm practicing my pen&ink drawing now but it's not looking too hot. I'll probably outsource this to a properly talented artist.


Page 3 - Deck Map

The deck map is designed as a reference point for all the discovered bodies and their flashbacks. And because it's labeled, spotting crew members in certain areas or rooms during a flashback can give clues to their identity.


Deck map with helpful labels


Each X represents a dead body and its corresponding visited flashback. They can be clicked for further details about who appears in the flashback. By default these are blank portraits:


Flashback details, all blank currently


Zooming on a crew member while in a flashback creates a "blink" effect the first time it's done:


Zooming on a crew member in a flashback


Once spotted like this the character's sketch will be revealed in a portrait on the flashback page, using a marginally synonymous "unblink" animation:


Revealing spotted crew members on the manifest flashback page
(All the face images are illegible placeholders)


For the in-flashback blink effect, I initially tried showing the fully shaded subject. While fixing the low-resolution thick outline, an unintentional shader accident made them white and I thought that looked and felt better. Here's the original effect:


Shaded blink effect, not using this


Page 4 - Sea Chart

And finally on the last page of the manifest there's a sea chart of the (first half of the) ship's journey.


A straight shot to the horn cape


This page isn't really critical so it may get cut. It does provide some context for when and where each death occurs though. The X's that mark the deck map are actually Roman numerals referencing which disaster the death occurred in. There are 10 disasters in all (related but separate events during the voyage) and as they're discovered those Roman numeral marks will appear here on the map. This is mostly useful for putting each death in geographical context, which can help with specifying some of the fates.


Manifest Utility

The key utility of the manifest is to let the player associate names with faces, and to cross-reference those with the flashbacks where each person is present, and to link all that to their fate. This helps when the player recognizes someone's face but has no idea where they saw them before. Without naming someone, you can visit all flashbacks where they're present. After naming them, you can jump to their entry in the muster list to enter their fate.


Using the manifest's sketchbook to jump around to the deck map and muster list.


To be fair this whole system is pretty complex. Maybe too complex. There's a lot more happening in the manifest now and I'm not sure that's for the best. The alternative of feeling totally lost and without the right tools to solve the game was pretty dire though so it's worth tackling. I've put a lot of work into making the manifest functionality implicit and easy to understand (no tutorial) but I haven't gotten to the point where I can test it naturally and feel how well it all works.


Currently

At the moment I'm mostly still going through to pose and arrange all the flashbacks. At the same time I've started collecting references for the sailors' wardrobes. A few outfits will give vague identity clues (ie: tribal tattoos on an islander) or role clues (nicer coats on mates) but mostly I just want enough variety to help make each crew member more uniquely recognizable.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2016, 08:41:15 AM by dukope » Logged

Cranktrain
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« Reply #671 on: August 19, 2016, 06:54:48 AM »

There's so much care going into thinking through how the gameplay fits together with the UI with respect to what the player is actually trying to do. It would be a shame to cut that map from the project though, it's really neat.

Something tells me the crew didn't all die peacefully in their sleep.
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plauk
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« Reply #672 on: August 20, 2016, 10:24:21 PM »

I'm not sure I'd describe myself as a "properly talented" artist, but I'd kick myself if I didn't offer my services as a portrait artist. I'll do some tests in a style that might fit. At the very least it will be worth the practice.
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loottheroom
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« Reply #673 on: August 31, 2016, 07:28:19 PM »

I've been following this for a while now and finally got caught up tonight. I actually made an account right now just to say how interesting and educational reading all of this has been for me. I'm especially interested to see more about how you're piecing together such an ambitious narrative, though I suspect I'll have to wait to play the game to find out!

Thanks for such an in-depth devlog. I'm really excited to play this, and it's incredible that you're doing all of this on your own.
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cougarten
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« Reply #674 on: September 02, 2016, 07:37:18 AM »

The silhouette blink looks better, but the older version is easier to understand. Anyways it looks like taking a photograph of some kind, maybe a decective-like, suspicious squint and a stronger zoom to the face could do the trick?

I love maps! Would be happy to see it in-game.

About notes: i think a free text field can solve many problems! I could e.g. make where I'm rather guessing than knowing Smiley
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BartsBlue
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« Reply #675 on: September 09, 2016, 12:40:59 AM »

Quote
For the in-flashback blink effect, I initially tried showing the fully shaded subject. While fixing the low-resolution thick outline, an unintentional shader accident made them white and I thought that looked and felt better.

Personally, I think the fully shaded subject looks much better. It feels more... I don't know, dramatic?

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dukope
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« Reply #676 on: October 01, 2016, 09:29:12 PM »

Thanks for such an in-depth devlog. I'm really excited to play this, and it's incredible that you're doing all of this on your own.

Thanks Loot!

About notes: i think a free text field can solve many problems! I could e.g. make where I'm rather guessing than knowing Smiley

Free text fields are a big "hmmmmmm" for me. I know it's something that could be handy, but then it means the game leans on having an attached keyboard, which I'd really like to avoid. I'm considering some kind of alternative though, maybe to allow the player to drop a few different kinds of icons in the manifest or something.
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dukope
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« Reply #677 on: October 01, 2016, 09:54:50 PM »

Dressing Sailors

Since it's a core mechanic, I've spent ages thinking about and designing in how to help the players recognize and remember characters in the game. My solution so far has been to beef up the manifest, making it easier for the player to reference faces outside of flashbacks.

What I hadn't done is try to make the characters themselves more distinct. That was a mistake so a few weeks ago I decided I'd better finish the character work before spending more time on any design stuff. In this case, finishing means making all of their clothes.


Recap

Most of the tool work here is based on previous work I'd done on the game's character tools posted about here back in May fucking 2015. I've made some enhancements and extensions over the year (jesus), but it's largely the same style of "element combination" tool that combines blend targets, geometry, and texture layers to make individual characters.


Custom character building tool for Maya. Summer 2016 Edition.



Making Clothes

Designing and modeling 60 unique character outfits was, like most things with this game, way harder than I expected. I've never done anything like this before so I was mostly just fumbling around until it was done. This is the devlog-friendly sanitized process:

1. The first step was to collect reference for what people of the sea were wearing in ~1800. Google is the most useful source but I also hit up a bunch of the books I've collected.


Wardrobe reference from a Time Life book on East Indiamen


2. From there, I put everything together in a huge grid, assigning reference photos to each crew member's face. This is another case where Scapple came in handy, just for its simple freeform image layout ability.


Wardrobe reference assigned to each sailor


3. Normally I would've just jumped right in and started modeling at this point. Something told me to add an extra step though, and this is where I figured out the value of concepting things thoroughly, which I pretty much never do. With the reference photos above, I sat down and roughed each character's wardrobe with a quick line drawing. This was useful to make sure everybody was well differentiated, and also to coordinate the identity hints that some of the outfits have (ie: all stewards look the part and have similar jackets.)


Concepted wardrobe for some stylin dude



All 60


4. Model it. This was a pretty straightforward task of taking the concepts and building them in 3D.

Modeling a collared shirt from the template shirt. Result: ship ref.

I tried to work against a few efficiencies:

  • Start from a template shirt and pants set that were already textured. This allowed me to reuse the wrinkled cloth texture, which was a huge pain to draw. Luckily there's not enough detail in the game's final presentation to make this repetition obvious. And nearly every single piece of wardrobe got a draw-over with it's own custom texture elements anyways.
  • Maya has a (slightly broken) feature that enables you to re-project a texture from one mesh to another with completely different UVs. It tries to match up the geometry and resample the texture from the original mesh. This was really useful when a shirt/coat/dress/whatever was a completely different shape from the templates, but could still reuse most of the original wrinkled texture.
  • Standardize the waists. I didn't key into this until I'd done about 20 outfits already. Rebuilding each set of clothes from the templates was getting tiresome, especially when so many of the clothes are very similar, with just a slight geometry or texture difference. With the 20 outfits to work off of, I standardized on 3 waist heights. Every pair of pants and tucked shirt meets at one of the 3, so the geometry can be reused much more often. In retrospect I could've gotten away with just 2 heights here but the starting 20 outfits were all over the place and even cutting it down to 3 was hard.


3 standard waist heights. All pants and tucked shirts meet at one of these lines.


Final Result


After checking the flashbacks I noticed that 2 characters didn't actually need custom clothes. You never really see their whole outfits so I could just slap a few generic pieces on and be done with them. In the end there are 58 characters with distinctive outfits. I made all the clothes in a marathon session (10 days) and my head was a wobbly pile of mush at the end. I took a bunch of shortcuts and worked faster and looser as time went on, leaning on the game's low resolution/dark lighting/whatever to hide any flaws.


Group discount on footwear


From reference, to concept, to modeled clothes for one character. Turbanoptional.


One nice thing about finally finishing this is that crew member differentiation isn't the huge problem I thought it would be. The clothes make a big difference in keeping characters distinct and recognizable. Who knew. I'll probably cut some of the more heavyweight manifest features that I'd implemented to deal with this issue.


Bugs

Getting Maya to simulate cloth well is tricky. Really tricky. Cloth is hard in the first place but Maya's really gone above and beyond here. Again it includes the most basic of functionality out of the box and to turn it into something actually useful requires lots of hard work and custom scripting.

In my case, I created a general-purpose cloth simulation interface to Maya's nCloth. I want to avoid tweaking each piece of clothing individually and it took me a long time to get to a point where simulations ran mostly ok for the wide variety of clothes. This system needed to slot into the modeling pipeline here (so I could quickly test the results of the garments I was creating), and in the flashback posing scenes (where there are sometimes 40 characters present, all in different states of contortion.) Unfortunately like most things related to Maya, getting this right is a constant and ongoing process as small quirks and gotchas in the underlying implementation pop up.

Resting Intersections

The way cloth generally works is that you model it against your character's bind pose. Then when you want to get them into position, you have to animate them from the bind pose to the new one, letting the cloth simulation run during this transition. The fabric uses physics to model the surface and bam, you're good. Unless something is intersecting in the bind pose.


The skirt thing gets a piece of the pants along the way and flips the fuck out


One way to fix this in Maya is to give each piece of cloth a lot of breathing room in the bind pose. Without careful of tweaking though, that can end up carrying through to its final shape. As a an alternate solution, you can combine multiple pieces of cloth into one, and the self-intersection doesn't bug out quite as much.


Skirt and pants merged into one piece of cloth before simulating.
Some passthrough at the end but we've all got lives to live. Ship it.


Impossible Poses

Likewise you can run into problems if your end pose isn't physically possible (the character's legs clip through each other for dramatic effect), or if the character's body clips through itself during the transition from rest to final (happens often when dying in a slump.) The cloth simulation can't resolve these collisions and you end up with a clipping, intersecting mess.


Mind keeping your legs apart, while you die?


One fix here is to pin the cloth to the character's body surface until you reach the end pose, then let it simulate for a few frames from there. That avoids the situation where freely simulating pieces of fabric are forced past/through each other. This works best if the cloth is mostly near the body.


Pinning the cloth until final pose, then letting it simulate freely for a few frames to settle


Body Clipping

No matter how hard you try it seems there's always some amount of unwanted intersection, usually between the cloth and the character's body.


Character's body (striped shirt) penetrating through the simulated cloth (dark jacket)


Usually this problem happens because the simulation just doesn't have enough points to move around and resolve things. One way to fix this is to subdivide the cloth geometry near trouble spots. If you're making a 1-bit 640x360 game, another option is to cheat and create a "dickey" texture that overlays the character's body. Then any place where the body pokes through is much harder to detect. Creating a dickey like this is made easier by both the way character models are built with my custom tools, and Maya's texture projection tool mentioned above.


Projecting the jacket texture onto the body as a dickey, then cleaning it up a bit hides the penetration.



In-Game Lighting

The game has a pretty stark lighting scheme, mostly because there's not a lot of bits to work with (there's 1). Looks cool but it means that character's faces are often completely black. That works directly against the gameplay so I've tweaked the shaders to always keep the faces well lit, regardless of the lighting (this is old news, just a recap).


Do I know you?


Jim!


Now that the clothes are nearly as important for recognition I extended the tweaks to cover those too.


You rogue!


Unlike the faces though, this one needs per-flashback tweaks. Sometimes the clothes are legible enough even in the dark and the stark lighting is worth it. Also, more range in the light/texture like this leads to more dithering, which is not entirely pleasant. So brightening things up for clarity can be balanced against aesthetics.


Killin' the mood with self-lit clothes


Better
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kinnas
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« Reply #678 on: October 02, 2016, 06:07:31 AM »

Are you doing any body size blend targets? Fat and skinny are pretty good distinguishing features.

I'm working on something similar with using blend shapes to get some reuse out of clothing assets. I find that general body size is a pretty good way to create some difference but also stuff like having blend shapes to part the front of a jacket for a buttoned up or unbottoned look can wrangle out a lot of character from a single asset. And with a little effort setting up the various blend shapes for assets can almost be automated.
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dukope
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« Reply #679 on: October 02, 2016, 06:57:30 AM »

Are you doing any body size blend targets? Fat and skinny are pretty good distinguishing features.

Yeah, there are 4 builds (normal, fat, thick, thin) set up as blend targets, and 4 heights (normal, tall, short, shorter) set up as scales on the rig. The character tool automatically expands clothes to the different builds/heights so the wardrobe can mostly be modeled against straight normal/normal and still work for everyone.



short+thin, tall+thick


I would have more drastic body variations but:
  1. Most sailors around this time were small and thin, with the odd bulkier ones peppered around. Not a lot of fat guys.
  2. I found that in 1st person and with all the different character posing, body build differences don't quite give the distinction I was hoping for.

(All the characters in Furies look fantastic)
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