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December 15, 2019, 01:22:24 PM

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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 675568 times)
Lim-Dul
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« Reply #860 on: November 07, 2018, 01:43:35 PM »

Breaking news [for those who don't watch the series directly on the Escapist], just watched Yahtzee's review on YouTube and even he, the only critic that matters, likes it!





I was still baffled by his disliking the music. I've been listening to the title theme in a loop pretty much since I finished the game (and after I extracted it from the assets - release the OST already!).
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« Reply #861 on: November 07, 2018, 06:05:50 PM »

His main complaint seemed to be that it was too loud and there was no separate option for adjusting the music volume. I like the music and don't agree, but I do think it was mixed slightly loud compared to the sound, so I can understand where he's coming from.

One thing I noticed is that the full-screen "softened" mode doesn't use the error-diffusion algorithm for faces - it's just the standard Bayer method. This makes sense, because at the higher resolution you can still identify faces without it, but it did disappoint me a little for some reason. Also, I liked how the edges of the screen were blurred. It was a nice touch, reminding me of old curved TVs and such, but was done subtly enough to not stand out and get in the way of the experience.
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« Reply #862 on: December 07, 2018, 08:46:35 AM »

I... I am speechless.

O finally got the time to play this, and I did the end.

I have one major complaint, and a few very minor ones.

The Major Complaint: isn't it just awful when games don't have an option to quit them? How on earth are we supposed to play them incessantly? There is a "quit" button technically, but, even if you force yourself to push it (which is hard), you don't really quit, you keep thinking about it, day and night... it goes on in your mind even if you turn the computer off! Will a patch be released??

The minor nitpicking below is a bit spoilery, so I'll try to obfuscate the font a bit... don't read it before you have played!

System too eager to help? I really enjoyed playing this but it was a bit of a turn-off when I had the impression that my guesses could be a little imprecise and still be taken for correct. I am referring to the fact that, it seems, the verbs "dismembered" "crushed" "drowned" can be used interchangeably, at least in some occasions. At least, this is the impression I had when the system confirmed the wrong verb that I entered by mistake -- I hope that at least "spiked" and "speared" and "decapitated"   cannot be used interchangeably (this I could't check). Also, I wish one had to be less vague than calling so many different things a "beast". I understand the game cannot be too difficult but still I would have preferred to have to pick the correct words.

System too eager to help? The puzzle where you need to understand which one of the four rifleman executed the guy is really cool, but unfortunately it is posed to the player when there is only one option and it is the right one (other ones being still blurred and unnamed), which is a pity. I had that confirmed before I could really try to solve it.

Minor discrepancy? the scene where a cannot accidentally goes off killing two... I can only see one? I looked hard. I can see the two victims ready for their fate in the previous flashback, but I don't understand why only one body would be seen in the moment itself.

Minor discrepancy? the flashback at the end of the book, the one where XXXXXXX kills his second attacker with a sword, if seen again after the game is almost over, appears to be a bit inconsistent with the rest of the game: in the subsequent flashback we can clearly hear the prev victim's death rattle, implying that the poor guy died after his own flashback. In the rest of the game, however, it is clearly established that the flashback occurs the moment someone dies, not when he receives the blow which WILL be fatal.

Minor discrepancy? the scene where XXXXX cries for mutiny, I might have misunderstood, but everybody else, who supposedly spoke about doing so, are far from each other and well within hearing range of the captain?

Game-play limitation? I don't remember enjoying a game this much since a long time! It totally fascinated me. One regret is that there is so much to understand and reconstruct which is not reflected on the guesses the player has to enter to progress. After all, merely inferring who is named what is the least interesting part of the mystery (except in the cases where this reflects other aspects). What I miss is a mechanism to show that I reconstructed things like the individual motivations behind the actions of the killers (like self-defense, revenge -- for what, or defense of someone else --- whom, and why, accident, mistake -- by whom, deception -- by whom and why, following an order -- by whom and why, or that other interesting reason why XXXXX decided to kill his own pet), what were the victims trying to do, as well as the ways other things happened (such as how comes that someone ``confessed'' a crime he didn't actually do, where the three XXXXX are now). I am not sure how this can be done exactly, but I sure missed it. Maybe a way would be to quiz the player at the end, when he has the final report in his hands (but the player then needs to be able to go back to try to understand better).

Micro game-play limitation? For some reason, I wished to be able to close the book and see its front and back covers (by flipping the first page left, or the last page right). The space left blank aside of the book could be used for the buttons for "quit" "options" etc. A problem with that is that that "tabbing out" of the book produces a nice book-closing sound, but that sound could be just substituted if the book happens to be already closed when you tab.

PS: ZeroPunctuation has a reputation to defend so it has to pick on something. The music was GOOD.
I also disagree with his assessment that the game suffers from being a single-man project. I don't think I would have wanted it in any other way, even if a team of 25 people worked on it.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2018, 09:02:15 AM by mtarini » Logged

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« Reply #863 on: December 07, 2018, 06:47:08 PM »

Minor discrepancy? the scene where a cannot accidentally goes off killing two... I can only see one? I looked hard. I can see the two victims ready for their fate in the previous flashback, but I don't understand why only one body would be seen in the moment itself.
My take was the the second crewman either jumped out the gunport (seeing the cannon was about to go off), or was blasted out of the ship.  Possibly the latter as he tried the former.  My ultimate fate for him was Blasted by Cannon, so that's the story I'm going with.
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mtarini
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« Reply #864 on: December 08, 2018, 06:01:58 AM »

My take was the the second crewman either jumped out the gunport (seeing the cannon was about to go off), or was blasted out of the ship.  Possibly the latter as he tried the former.  My ultimate fate for him was Blasted by Cannon, so that's the story I'm going with.

Mmm... but the cannon is not pointed outward, it is pointed to shoot parallel to the hull (you can see that the cannonball smashes the wall of the bosonmate cell, which remains smashed in the "present" -- a nice touch by the way). So no, no blasted out.
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« Reply #865 on: December 17, 2018, 02:33:49 PM »

Hi, I enjoyed a lot playing Return of the Obra Dinn, and I would love to play it in my language.

Any chance I can localize it to Basque language?

Thanks!
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« Reply #866 on: January 19, 2019, 04:32:13 AM »

In danger of thread resurrection, I just wanted to chime in with my absolute admiration of this project. Not only is it thematically and moment-to-moment one of the warmest (perhaps ironically) gaming experiences I've had in years and years, but reading through this devlog almost instantly hoisted me out of a deep and long depression and creative block.

Without insight into the process and without the perspective of work over time like this, games "just come out", and when struggling with my own despair at the seemingly pointless slog of working on my own projects and the endless churn of not feeling like things are actually getting done, logs like this are a firm reminder that a result is a product of work multiplied by time. The time aspect can sometimes be forgotten, or imagined as some kind of hill that just needs to be climbed: I for one get the absurd idea that if only I worked more and harder the time could be traversed quicker, but all it winds up doing is bleed me dry, and the project as well.

So thank you dukope for sharing your work and your process and finally an excellent, excellent video game. It's a real gift.
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« Reply #867 on: June 09, 2019, 06:36:38 PM »

Thanks Sunjammer. I hope things are going okay for you these days.

It's been a while since the game's release and I finally have time for a short technical post here. I haven't really thought much about the book specifically but someone asked about the implementation of the page turning and I thought it'd make a decent devlog entry.

Animating the Book

Design-wise the book in Obra Dinn is intended to collect and organize the deluge of information thrown at the player during gameplay. It establishes the chronology of events, shows details for each death, contains clues for identities, and more. I had a few other ideas about how to present this information to the player (a much shorter logbook, a navigable timeline interface, etc) but settled on a story-like book as the most implicitly useful metaphor.

In the beginning when this was supposed to be a quick project, I wanted to keep the UI simple, unadorned, and largely unanimated. The first public demo's logbook uses very simple instant page-flips. By the time I started working on the final book it was already two years into development and I felt that for such a central part of the game it needed to look fancy with proper page-turn transition animations.


Giffing through a few pages in the final book


There were two core technical requirements to make this work:

#1 The ability to render the entire screen to a texture, before post-processing. 
Made relatively easy by Unity's basic design and Obra Dinn's custom rendering pipeline.

#2 The ability to jump instantly to any page of the book within a single Update() frame. 
Made possible by Unity's ability to calculate UI layout manually, and careful UI code design.

To show a page turn animation, the basic process is:

   1. Render the current screen to a texture (Target A)
   2. Change to the next page instantly and render that to another texture (Target B).
   3. Hide the 2D book pages and show a 3D model of the pages with Target A and Target B mapped onto them exactly as the 2D pages.
   4. Play the animation on the 3D model.
   5. Hide the 3D model and show the full 2D book UI, now at the new page.

The 2D book is constructed from Unity standard and custom UI components, which I found pretty nice to work with. The 3D model was built in Maya with skeletal animation for the page turns.


Unity 2D book scene


Maya 3D book scene with a placeholder texture


The 3D scene needs to match the 2D UI exactly, which was a little finicky to set up. Keeping all the UI measurements simple and consistent helped with this (the screen is 800px wide, each page is 310px wide, etc.)


The 3D pages have their UV mapping set to subrects of the full screen render target


Animated page turn in Maya, left and right. The sliding vertical bars thing is the page shadow.


Result in-game and in-editor.


The render-targeted textures are captured before post-processing, so they can be used as regular textures mapped onto geometry and post-processed normally like everything else. I play with the depth scale a little bit during the animation and the page itself stretches the texture out unnaturally, but it moves quick enough to not be very noticeable. Some custom shader code handles depth testing (normally disabled for 2D UI) and faux lighting. You may notice that the shadow texture is pre-dithered in the editor view. Dithering is normally handled in post but sometimes opacity like this has to be done in-scene before post processing. The squareness of the page flip animation itself is a stylistic choice. I tried more natural from-the-bottom-corner turn animations but the less-aligned transforms made things a little too busy against the low resolution 1 bit output.

Once this system was set up I was able to use it for other transitions in the book, most notably the sketch/map/chart unrolling and rolling transitions:


Page-roll modeled in Maya. The geometry is static here. 
Rolling is faked by scrolling the UV coordinates while moving the geometry in code.


Page roll transition in-game and in-editor


Extra

A few random extra bits about the book. First and for some ridiculous reason, I thought it was important that book appear accurately bound. The centerline and edges change as the pages move from one side to the other. This was a total waste of time but sometimes there's no arguing with mid-project insanity.


Binding split and stacked pages shift while moving from cover to cover


Second, the book was designed to fill the game's original 640x360 resolution, with the edge of the pages right against the edges of the screen and no border. 


Original book presentation filling the game's 640x360 resolution


At some point while messing with the fullscreen dither problem, I decided to switch to 800x450 resolution for the entire game. This change came too late to redesign the book for the larger size, and because the layouts were so precise, just scaling it up created too many artifacts. My solution was to add visible front and back inside covers and to center the book against a black screen. I think this unintentionally improved the presentation by adding visual context and giving the dense pages some room to breath.


Inside covers and black border added to fill out the new 800x450 game resolution


One unaddressed consequence of this change is that the 2D book UI content cannot reach outside the 640x360 page boundaries for the 3D page flipping. This makes the bookmarks slightly less functional - logically they should stand above the page but instead they're clipped to the same boundary as the rest of the content.


Bookmarks don't stand above the pages


Lastly, one of the things I added to the game just before release was the final insurance tally. This is a multipage report that summarize the results of your investigation. Being a collection of pages, it would've made logical sense to animate it like the book, lovingly and with excessive attention to detail. Unfortunately, the presentation of the tally is different enough from the book that it would've required quite a bit of additional work. At that point in the development I had almost no energy for something complicated and instead just cheaped out with a twitching page-flip kinda thing. Honestly I don't think anyone noticed or cared.


Cheap-o page change animation for the final insurance tally.
The page number is functionally important to make it clear you're flipping through the report.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #868 on: June 10, 2019, 06:52:18 AM »

Wow, didn't expect the treat of a post-mortem!  Grin

I'm the guy on Twitter who said this game felt like Hyper Radio, similar to how the Manhole and Myst were essentially hypertext games. So I'm really curious if you could share more about the sound design of this game!
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« Reply #869 on: June 10, 2019, 08:12:05 PM »

Great to find the devlog of the Return of the Obra Dinn! This is definitely an interesting community. Because of my age I'm not familiar with Mac games with this art style. I will look into it, I wonder what audience has preferred this title. I need some time to try it!
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« Reply #870 on: June 30, 2019, 10:56:03 AM »

Joseph Anderson reviews Return of the Obra Dinn



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« Reply #871 on: July 02, 2019, 11:23:46 PM »

I booted this game up only intending to play 30 minutes and instead played for 10 hours straight, completed all fates. Instead of feeling awful afterward, I feel completely elated. I haven't felt this way since I was a kid, thank you Lucas Pope!
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« Reply #872 on: July 30, 2019, 11:53:33 PM »

I'm so happy the devlog continues (and who knows, one day there might be another, right? I'd need a newsletter signup for that Smiley ).

If I may ask (or better: if you answer only if you want to):
How did sales go? And were you able to finance development through how much of a hit "Papers Please!" was?
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« Reply #873 on: August 01, 2019, 12:41:46 PM »

Just completed the game. My only complaint is that it was too easy to brute force many of the fates of the topmen and seamen. For instance, for the Indian and Russian topmen/seamen, it was easy to just cycle through their names. Since the game explicitly tells me that I get to know correct fates in pairs of three, it felt that this brute forcing is the intended method. Due to this, I completely missed out on how to use the hammocks to identify topmen and seamen.

I don't know how to solve this problem if it is a problem. Perhaps have another difficulty mode in which you only get to know about fates at the end. That might be too hard though. I think the main issue is that fates get cemented in. So perhaps another way to solve this problem is to have the game only tell me how many fates are correct, or to trigger environment changes when certain number of correct fates is reached.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed every minute of the 10 hours I played this game. The game, and the dev story behind it, is an inspiration.
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