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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsDISCO ELYSIUM (we finished it, it's out)
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Aloft
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« Reply #80 on: August 09, 2016, 04:59:06 PM »

I also thought this was "No Truce with the Furries". Pretty solid concept art so far, looking forward to seeing where this goes!
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Apalka
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« Reply #81 on: August 09, 2016, 09:41:44 PM »

The art you guys have is outstanding. And I love the "total failure" part :D Keeping my fingers crossed.
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kinnas
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« Reply #82 on: August 19, 2016, 12:13:33 AM »

We're working on the very opening of the game to focus down on a specific area and work it to a fine polish to see what is the level of polish we can actually achieve. In some ways it's rushing ahead. For instance working on ways to teach the player about the mechanics of the game which is something that's usually left to the very end of the project when all mechanics are have completely solidified. But since the opening and the ending are two emotional high points of a game and games get good through iteration and continuously making stuff better it makes sense to get the bad versions of the opening out of the way to eventually get to the really good one. As a bonus it'll give us a good coherent segment of the game to one day demo in a gameplay video.

That's  the general happenings anyways. Here's Irve's Corporate Mandated Blogpost about cutting the world into pieces:

TILING OF THE WORLD

Human memory has an interesting quirk: events in the past tend to fade and the busy, stressful times become a muddled extent of non-memories — I have years from which I remember: I think I was quite busy at the time.

When I think back a year, I feel definietly the same muddyness of ever-present programming puzzles, with one bright detour to the wonderful land of Blender.

TECHNICAL BACKGROUND TO TILING

Our art pipeline, as explained by Rostov, starts with sketches and then a rough block-in which gets refined into a nice-looking render. Now: while we could render the whole image at a time we have decided to split the world into smaller tiles.

I don’t remember the exact discussions which led to our solution, but can still summarize one main decision.

We were thinking of doing the world in Pillars of Eternity way: essentially setting only the walkable ground planes and windows into the 3D world and then having a back-drop image without geometry, which occasionally occludes the player. Problems with that were manyfold, but mainly concerned in-world lightning and questions of what can the player see at a given time. Eventually we decided to have a simple 3D block-in world which gets a similar depth-occlusion shader.

This way we have a general understanding of geometry for the dynamic lights and visual raycasts while using a custom shader on the ground world to create the illusion of rich geometry.


A slice of world from an unintended angle

HOW TILES ARE MADE

Now we were faced with an another problem: how to tell which part of the 3D world should show which tile and how to put it there?

The problem of mapping a 2D image to 3D space has been solved for a while and standard tools tend to call it UV mapping, which essentially means that every triangle of a 3D mesh gets its own location on a texture and then the texture is calculated with the right modifications.

As our renders are isometric and have a fixed angle we project them from the screen plane to the mesh. How does the mesh get its projections? Que my entrance music.



By hand the process would look like this in Blender. We create a cuboid which represents the orthographic rendering camera space. Then we join all the different meshes (walkables, barriers, walls etc) into one solid mesh.

Then tell the large joined objects in the scene that they should be intersected with the cuboid (which I started calling Intersector-1 since it reminded me of an old computer game).



Now, since our camera is animated to produce the tiles (a tile for a frame), the intersecting modifiers on every detail cut away all the pieces outside of the camera. For each of those tiles we apply camera-projected UV coordinates, so that the rendered and painted tiles match up exactly once imported to Unity. Then export an FBX file. For every tile.

This routine process is completely automatable.

BLENDER

Blender has been built with a decision that everything that a user does can also be done from Python. You can observe it by dragging down from the upper menu and scaling or moving the default cube. The lines starting with bpy.ops are the actual function calls and their arguments that you can type into Python console to make them happen again.


bpy.ops in action
(kinnas: sexiest screenshot in the devlog right there)


While it takes some digging around, this log makes it incredibly easy to create your own plugins for automating any tedious or repetitive task.


My own little slice of Blender

You can create operators, which are small Python classes which run a function when the user wants to. For tiling I have “copy everything to another scene”, “join everything”, “project UV from active camera”, “export frame”, “export everything” etc.

If you want to go an extra mile you can check if the context is right for calling them. And there is a nice way of creating user interface buttons — which then get automatically grayed out if you wrote the polling function right. Eventually you can even write some additional meta-information to create a plugin.

Blender has shown us its nasty side too: it appears that crashes with boolean operations, especially when objects have open meshes or exactly overlapping surfaces. Regardless of automation the artist who builds the block-in has to be careful.

Researching how to modify Blender was fun, the hack-try cycle really short and if I ever need to mess around with automating the program I know that I find it delightful. Now back to the Unity.
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nathy after dark
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« Reply #83 on: August 19, 2016, 09:21:05 AM »

Cool stuff about the Blender automation!
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kinnas
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« Reply #84 on: August 23, 2016, 03:27:50 AM »

Today we start our seminal, fabled, scandalous, highly controversial “Motor-lorry of the Day” series. That’s right, Martinaise has an intersection. With a long-standing traffic jam. (Perhaps the world’s first isometric traffic jam!). For it, we’ve created some heavy vehicles.



We call them motor lorries, sometimes camions. The drivers are called camionneurs. This is a a stylised render by all means, real pure blood lorries of course have textures as well.

This is the Faln A-6. It’s literally the most boring lorry at the intersection, perhaps in the whole world. Faln, the manufacturer, is an industrial conglomerate. They make houses, tracksuits and heavy vehicles. The houses are terrible, the tracksuits legendary and the vehicles, well, the vehicles are okay I guess.
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kinnas
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« Reply #85 on: September 02, 2016, 02:25:23 AM »

Time again for the legendary, quasi-legendary, mostly forgotten Lorry of the Week! Last week’s entry had people asking: how does it turn? To that I say: I don’t know. We have forwarded the question to our certified genius / notoriously difficult to work with industrial designer, but he has secluded himself in a forest inn for the time being. So I wouldn’t hold my breath.

This week we have the Faln A-Z “Tempo”.



The Tempo used to be colled the “Contemporain” before years of lorryman lingo weathered it down to two syllables. With revision 9 the manufacturer followed suit. This truly iconic vehicle from the late thirties has seen two decades of service and multiple revisions. The Faln A-Z (pronounced “a-zed” in the Revachol region) is a trusted haul and a lifestyle choice for lorrymen, poor people and drunkard artists who need to transport large format paintings.

That adorably awkward boxy salon and those two headlights have become synonymous with roadkill, light fascism, romantic memories of a youth misspent “down at the reservoir” – a mythical place on the outskirts of Revachol where “we used to drive in my brother’s Tempo” – and sadly the occasional rape.
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kinnas
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« Reply #86 on: September 15, 2016, 01:33:10 AM »

Too many pictures in this thread. Here's some code instead!
Today's devlog post courtesy of Veljo, our code lead.

BETTER LIVING THROUGH C# CODING, PART 1: MANAGING INPUT

Unity is an awesome development engine. I formed that opinion back in 2012 when I first gave it a try (and during the sleepless night that followed), and I still believe it to be true. It’s not flawless though – sooner or later you discover an aspect or functionality that just confounds you. In contrast to what is normal, things suddenly become… unwieldy, raw, malformed. For me such an aspect is handling player input (keyboard, mouse, and gamepad events).

You see, Unity doesn’t have a nice subsystem here that you’d somehow expect. There’s just a low-level API (Input class with static methods), which appears to have been there since the early Bronze Age, and is about as sophisticated. If you read and follow the documentation, it promptly guides you down the easy road to hell called Bad Design. I mean, multiple component scripts each polling Input status every frame, handling the results independently (and unaware) of each other doesn’t bode well for any non-trivial project.

Almost as if to taunt you, there’s the event-system for working with uGUI (the “new” UI system released with Unity 4.6). Once you break through the initial confusion (as the documentation here suddenly stops being helpful and informative), you’ll find this to be a nice, well designed framework, easy to use for both trivial and advanced input operations alike. Alas, this framework really only covers GUI, leaving you empty-handed with everything else your project needs to handle (WASD/arrows keys for camera movement, mouse clicks to designate target, Escape to bring up game menu, etc.).

So, how does one approach this? One problem at a time of course. Just like eating an elephant.

Let’s start with the lack of awareness between scripts. Say you want a key (Spacebar) to do different things in different situation: if the player character is walking around in the game world, he should stop moving; if he is in a dialogue with an NPC, Spacebar should be the hotkey for Continue button and if you’re typing a text (chat command in a multiplayer game, naming your savegame, etc.), space should not do anything else. Or for example the Escape key: depending on what’s visible on screen, it might close Inventory, bring up game menu, or do something else entirely.

A good solution allows scripts to indicate their interest in a specific Input event, mark the event status (has someone “used up” that event already?) and establish priority order when it comes to choosing who handles the Input event. The natural design pattern for this would include a Singleton input manager class with Observers subscribing to input events. Observers of a specific event can then be ordered by their priority (Chain of Responsibility pattern). In addition to actual Input event data, event parameters can include a flag (boolean) for tracking the “used” status.

GAMEINPUTMANAGER.CS

Code:
using UnityEngine;
using System.Collections.Generic;

public class GameInputManager : MonoBehaviour {

  #region Singleton pattern
  protected static GameInputManager singleton;

  public static GameInputManager Singleton {
    get {
      if (singleton==null) singleton = FindObjectOfType<GameInputManager>();
      return singleton;
    }
  }
  #endregion

  #region Input event parameter
  public class EventData {
    public string axis = null;
    public string button = null;
    public KeyCode keyCode = KeyCode.None;
    public bool used = false;
    public float value = 0f;

    public EventData(KeyCode keyCode) { this.keyCode = keyCode; }
    public EventData(string axis, float value) { this.axis = axis; this.value = value; }
    public EventData(string button) { this.button = button; }
  }
  #endregion

  public const int MAX_PRIORITY = 10000;

  #region Public static methods (API)
  /// <summary>Register an axis as one of interest.</summary>
  public static void ObserveAxis(string axis) {
    if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(axis) && Singleton) Singleton.observedAxes.Add(axis);
  }

  /// <summary>Register a button as one of interest.</summary>
  public static void ObserveButton(string button) {
    if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(button) && Singleton) Singleton.observedButtons.Add(button);
  }

  /// <summary>Register a keycode as one of interest.</summary>
  public static void ObserveKeyCode(KeyCode keyCode) {
    if (keyCode!=KeyCode.None && Singleton) Singleton.observedKeycodes.Add(keyCode);
  }

  /// <summary>Register a handler method for hotkey event with one above currently highest priority.</summary>
  /// <param name="Action">Handler method that is called when hotkey event triggers. That method has one EventData parameter.</param>
  public static void Register(System.Action<EventData> Action) {
    if (Action!=null && Singleton!=null) Singleton.GetBlock(Singleton.highestPriority + 1).Event += Action;
  }

  /// <summary>Register a handler method for hotkey event with the specified priority.</summary>
  /// <param name="Action">Handler method that is called when hotkey event triggers. That method has one EventData parameter.</param>
  /// <param name="priority">Callbacks are made in order of priority (from the highest to the lowest).</param>
  public static void Register(System.Action<EventData> Action, int priority) {
    if (Action!=null && Singleton!=null) Singleton.GetBlock(priority).Event += Action;
  }

  /// <summary>Unregister a callback method from all Input events.</summary>
  public static void Unregister(System.Action<EventData> Action) {
    if (Action!=null && Singleton!=null) foreach (EventBlock b in Singleton.eventBlocks) b.Event -= Action;
  }
  #endregion

  #region Unity magic methods
  protected void Awake() {
    singleton = this;
  }

  protected void Update() {
    foreach (string a in observedAxes) {
      SendEvent(new EventData(a, Input.GetAxis(a)));
    }
    foreach (string b in observedButtons) {
      if (Input.GetButtonDown(b)) SendEvent(new EventData(b));
    }
    foreach (KeyCode k in observedKeycodes) {
      if (Input.GetKeyDown(k)) SendEvent(new EventData(k));
    }
  }
  #endregion

  #region Internals (under the hood)
  protected class EventBlock : System.IComparable<EventBlock> {

    public int priority;
    public event System.Action<EventData> Event;

    public EventBlock(int p) { priority = p; }

    public void AppendTo(ref System.Action<EventData> deleg) { if (Event!=null) deleg += Event; }

    // Order highest to lowest
    public int CompareTo(EventBlock other) { return -priority.CompareTo(other.priority); }

    public void Invoke(EventData eventData) { if (Event!=null) Event(eventData); }

    public bool IsEmpty { get { return Event==null; } }
  }

  protected List<EventBlock> eventBlocks = new List<EventBlock>();
  protected HashSet<string> observedAxes = new HashSet<string>();
  protected HashSet<string> observedButtons = new HashSet<string>();
  protected HashSet<KeyCode> observedKeycodes = new HashSet<KeyCode>();

  protected EventBlock GetBlock(int priority) {
    foreach (EventBlock b in eventBlocks) if (b.priority==priority) return b;
    EventBlock newBlock = new EventBlock(priority);
    eventBlocks.Add(newBlock);
    eventBlocks.Sort();
    return newBlock;
  }

  protected int highestPriority {
    get {
      // eventBlocks is always sorted in reversed priority order (i.e., highest to lowest), so first non-empty block is the correct result
      foreach (EventBlock b in eventBlocks) if (b.priority<MAX_PRIORITY && !b.IsEmpty) return b.priority;
      return 0;
    }
  }

  protected void SendEvent(EventData data) {
    System.Action<EventData> callStack = null;
    foreach (EventBlock block in eventBlocks) block.AppendTo(ref callStack);
    if (callStack!=null) callStack(data);
  }
  #endregion
}

Observer scripts would then look like this:

DEMOINPUTOBSERVER.CS

Code:
using UnityEngine;

public class DemoInputObserver : MonoBehaviour {

  #region Unity magic methods
  protected void OnEnable() {
    GameInputManager.ObserveKeyCode(KeyCode.Space);
    GameInputManager.ObserveKeyCode(KeyCode.Escape);
    GameInputManager.ObserveAxis("Horizontal");

    GameInputManager.Register(OnInputEvent);
  }

  protected void OnDisable() {
    GameInputManager.Unregister(OnInputEvent);
  }
  #endregion

  #region Internals (under the hood)
  protected void OnInputEvent(GameInputManager.EventData data) {
    if (data.used) return;

    if (data.keyCode==KeyCode.Space) {
      Debug.Log("Spacebar was pressed");
      data.used = true;
    } else if (data.keyCode==KeyCode.Escape) {
      Debug.Log("Escape was pressed");
      data.used = true;
    } else if (data.axis=="Horizontal") {
      if (data.value!=0f) {
        Debug.Log("Horizontal axis = " + data.value.ToString());
      }
      data.used = true;
    }
  }
  #endregion
}

Note that if you attach this script to Game Objects multiple times, the Console will only show a single entry for each event. By default, priority (order of calling) is determined by the order that Unity enables components in scene (LIFO: last one to register receives highest priority). If you want to explicitly determine priority, the Register method has an appropriate override.

Alright, that’s enough for one post. Next time, I’ll show you what Reflection and Attributes can bring to this party.
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kinnas
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« Reply #87 on: September 15, 2016, 06:25:02 AM »

Crossposting from the Paid Work subforum

COME ANIMATE OUR CHARACTERS!



We're looking for a character animator proficient in Maya to join our ranks at the studio. Previous experience, familiarity with Unity and ability to model, texture and rig characters a strong plus!

Since No Truce doesn't have traditional combat systems the nature of the work is less about animating totally sick sword swings and more about scenes where characters act out interesting situations arising from dialogue.

Ideally the position is intended in-house with you joining our core team but we can consider remote work as well.

Please send showreels to [email protected]

Thanks!

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kinnas
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« Reply #88 on: September 20, 2016, 02:06:02 AM »

Robert talks about our skill check systems and how we intend to push our dialogue systems into a more interesting direction.

On Skill Checks

In the 15 year build up to No Truce With The Furies, one of our main gripes with RPG-s has always been non-combat skill use. In RPGs – even the story-heavy ones – combat is lavished with tactical tension, skill use produces cool chunky animations, you get pulse-raising rewards and punishments, the logos are colourful. Sound effects go “Tring-trang!” and “Pow!”, there are intricate beautiful systems for you to delve into.

Most of this is missing from non-combat skill use. Talking and exploring gets a simplified, non-competitive version of the combat rules. Usually this comes in the form of passive dialogue options: have this much of that required skill and you’ll be able to say this thing. Even the games we truly admire – Planescape: Torment, Mask of the Betrayer, Fallout – have little going on in the rules department when it comes to dialogue. Ditto for most tabletop pen-and-paper role playing systems. The tactical depth of using arguments, employing logic, original thinking, empathy – the skill use that covers 95% of our actual lives – makes up 5% of the rule system. Yet my experience tells me thinking is the ultimate game. It’s nerve-wrecking, conversations are filled with hidden doubts; we struggle to trust each other, manipulate each other, stay sane. There is great strategic depth and tactical tension that goes into talking that games haven’t really – for me – begun to represent yet.

So that’s the first thing we set out to create: a truly in depth non-combat skill system. We have four stats and under each stat there are 6 skills. That gives us 24 skills – all 24 have critical non-combat use. In fact, No Truce With The Furies (the first implementation of our role playing system) will cover their non-combat use almost exclusively. (In the future we want every skill to be a two-faced Janus with somewhat unsymmetrical and unexpected uses in combat and outside it).

I’ll show off the individual skills in a future post. But first I want to talk about how the skills are used in No Truce With The Furies. That is – about skill checks.


Reference used to create the look of our dialogue system

In role-playing games the check is the moment the system “checks” if a character has enough points in a skill to perform an action. It’s a “you have to be at least this tall to ride the roller coaster” kind of deal. Of course there are exceptions and interesting ideas around, but this is how RPGs usually handle skill checks: your character is talking to someone, that someone lies, if your character has 5 INTELLIGENCE you get a dialogue option that says: “You’re not telling me the truth”. Saying that will make the guy admit he lied. This type of check is called passive because you’re doing nothing. Some hours ago you put two points in “seeing through lies skill” and now the software affirms your choice. There’s not a lot of game in there. And certainly not a lot of literature.

When designing our skill checks in dialogues we had two goals:

  • Make dialogue more like literature – rethink passive checks
  • Make dialogue more like a game – add active checks


PASSIVE CHECKS

In literature dialogues are interspersed with thoughts, emotions, ulterior motives and physical phenomenon taking place within the characters while they talk. This comes in the form of parenthesis, streams of consciousness, author interjections etc. A whole plethora of literary devices. We wanted to do that in game form. To depict what’s below the surface: the moment an idea forms, the sense of self delusion, secretly laughing because you came up with a stupid joke. Then trying to figure out if you should say it out or not…

It was surprisingly easy to achieve – your skills talk to you. When we use passive checks they are not dialogue options but extra “characters” who silently interject. Only you, the main character can hear them because they are your thoughts, your sensations. Our passive checks are souffleurs in a play.

Let’s look at a sample situation from the game. And remember: every time the main character speaks they have options to say something else. (I have simplified the choice part of the dialogue for the sake of this example).

You come upon a loitering teenage girl kneeling on the ice with a tape recorder in hand. You approach her, question her, then this happens:

You:  “What’s that device you have there?”
Acele:  “This? It’s a portable recording device. It’s for field recording. Low quality, but still.”
You:  “And the wires?”
Acele:  “Actually just one wire, I picked on it ’til the braiding came loose. The wire leads to a contact microphone.”
You:  “What is a “contact microphone”?”
Acele:  “A contact mic is a microphone that records sounds from inside things. Like this ice.”
TRIVIA (difficult success):  Your mangled brain would like you to know there is a boxer called Contact Mike.
You:  What am I supposed to do with this?
TRIVIA:  No idea.
You:  “Does this have anything to do with Contact Mike?”
Acele:  “Uh…” She’s confused. “Yeah, I record stuff with it.”
You:  “No, I mean the boxer Contact Mike.”
Acele:  “Ah! No. This is a *contact microphone*, it’s for recording *inside* solid objects. Contact Mike just beats people up.”
You:  “You know, Contact Mike doesn’t “just beat people up”. Contact Mike is a role model.”
Acele:  “Um…”
You:  “On second thought, screw Contact Mike. He’s no true champion – you are! Look at you here in front of a saggy tent, picking your nose to drug-addict music. The world of sports is in awe of your faith and dedication!”
Acele:  “Man, you are one weird cop.”
You:  “This isn’t about me. This is about your lack of respect for one of boxing’s greats – and for *yourself*.”

This dialogue could have gone differently if you didn’t have a ridiculously detailed (and mostly useless) factual memory. Even then you could have ignored the little connection your mind made, but in this situation the player chose to go off on a tangent.

What happened was

  • First you had a high enough Trivia skill.
  • Then your Trivia told you an “interesting” fact.
  • Then you had a little conversation with that part of your memory.
  • Then you reached a hub of questions to Acele where in addition to normal, situation-appropriate ones you had “Does this have anything to do with Contact Mike?”.

This line we call a black check. It’s a line of dialogue fed to you by a passive check. It’s the closest we have to a “have this much skill to get dialogue option” type of affair, but 1) it’s covert, often you don’t even understand where an idea came from 2) we always have the conception of an idea first: the skill talks to you and then sometimes you can use this idea on whoever you’re talking to. If you choose to. Keeping the tidbit to yourself produces effects down the line too, since we consider all dialogue options seen by the player to be ideas circulating in the character’s psyche. Some just remain unspoken.

On some occasions the passive check just makes little observations that lead to more things later, but remain one-liners for the time being.

So this is how we’ve re-thought passive checks. The versatility of this simple system – let me just repeat it one more time: YOUR SKILLS TALK TO YOU – is pretty incredible. It is hard for us to imagine writing the game without it already. We can do really weird stuff. Like Half Light – the skill that controls your adrenaline gland and your prey drive – can railroad you into a rage spiral where you hound an innocent suspect on something they clearly didn’t do. And it takes another skill’s intervention for you to get out of it. The next moment a skill can wildly expand the options you have avalable, for example: Drama whispers insane method acting ideas into your ear. Or your Pain Threshold tells you to stab yourself in the hand to make a point. Whatever you do – don’t. Pain Threshold is an unstable masochist. It will only leave you screaming with your hand nailed to the table. And then – while screaming with your hand nailed to the table – Rhetoric to the rescue! Make a political point out of this. Tell them you’re a victim of your own macho mentality. Tell them (with your hand still nailed to the table) that years of chauvinism have led you to this low point in your life.

Now, I just made this situation up because I didn’t want to spoil any more of the game, but you get the point. If “Years of chauvinism have led me to this point!” was just a dialogue option it would come out of the blue. But it’s different to hear the thought form in your head out of great physical discomfort and then be able to converse with it. Should I say that? Do I really mean that? You sometimes let these ideas out, sometimes you carry on. We have a game where you might have to start censoring yourself.


Current version of our dialogue engine. Notice the sexy yet subtle animation cues!

Next time I will talk about active skill checks – our gamey, number crunching, min-maxing counterbalance to the literature-wonk of passive checks.

Til then!
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« Reply #89 on: September 20, 2016, 11:25:48 AM »

Quote from: kinnas
Most of this is missing from non-combat skill use. Talking and exploring gets a simplified, non-competitive version of the combat rules. Usually this comes in the form of passive dialogue options: have this much of that required skill and you’ll be able to say this thing. Even the games we truly admire – Planescape: Torment, Mask of the Betrayer, Fallout – have little going on in the rules department when it comes to dialogue. Ditto for most tabletop pen-and-paper role playing systems. The tactical depth of using arguments, employing logic, original thinking, empathy – the skill use that covers 95% of our actual lives – makes up 5% of the rule system. Yet my experience tells me thinking is the ultimate game. It’s nerve-wrecking, conversations are filled with hidden doubts; we struggle to trust each other, manipulate each other, stay sane. There is great strategic depth and tactical tension that goes into talking that games haven’t really – for me – begun to represent yet.

YES YES YES YES YES! This is the kind of play that I am dying to experience in games. Table-top can accommodate most of these things if the DM is clever and the players go along with it, but you're right that tabletop RPGs tend to lack the actual systematic rules for good diplomacy and conversation. It's left to the players to handle these things based on intuition and improvisational role-play, which has its own pro's and con's.

The system you've described for passive skill checks sounds totally incredible. Your main character also seems more and more unique, real, and exciting based on the examples you've given. Smiley
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« Reply #90 on: September 21, 2016, 04:00:27 AM »

This looks really cool, guys. But I can't help but read "No truce with the furries". Please, someone go make that game :x
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kinnas
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« Reply #91 on: October 01, 2016, 02:14:49 AM »


YES YES YES YES YES! This is the kind of play that I am dying to experience in games. Table-top can accommodate most of these things if the DM is clever and the players go along with it, but you're right that tabletop RPGs tend to lack the actual systematic rules for good diplomacy and conversation. It's left to the players to handle these things based on intuition and improvisational role-play, which has its own pro's and con's.

The system you've described for passive skill checks sounds totally incredible. Your main character also seems more and more unique, real, and exciting based on the examples you've given. Smiley

That kind of systemic design for narration is one of the hardest things to design for, not necessarily intrinsically (though maybe that too) but there's very few examples to follow or work off of. By comparison games have pretty much figured out how to create systems with plenty of space for expression through combat systems or simulation. But there's so very little done in the way of narrative design. I wonder if the horrible backlash against railroaded plot driven games in the previous decade has anything to do with the seeming lack of interest in storytelling.

Anyways Robert writes more about the design philosophy behind our ruleset:

THE DESIGN ETHOS OF OUR ROLE PLAYING SYSTEM

I’ve spent most of my adult life tinkering on this system. (Most sounded better than all.) It used to be huge and unwieldy, meant to span several books. Originally we wanted to build a set of tabletop rulebooks inseparable from it’s setting. An end-all, include-all sourcebook / setting for tabletop role playing. Over the years we’ve cut it down to fit on a napkin.

For “No Truce With The Furies” we adapted those same pen and paper rules for an isometric RPG. I firmly believe it was the right choice.

The years have seen a lot of critique of our own system and even more learning from others. We’ve followed the debates around J. Sawyer’s design for Pillars of Eternity, rated editions of D&D and even played Temple of Elemental Evil for it’s turn based engine. We’ve done our time, so to say. Today I want to share some of our main beliefs as designers of role playing systems. These are not the “pillars of our design”, just some reasoning behind our rule system. The list is meant to show where we’re coming from to fellow designers and RPG enthusiasts.



1)  ONLY ONE

We make one system, one world – and that’s it. Everything goes into this one structure. All our ability for systematic thinking, all our knowledge of history. We iterate upon these rules until they are just right, the best numerical foundation for experiencing our world. And we make the world as complete and total as we can. And then we’re done. Wrap it up and send it into the future, New Testament style. We will never make a steampunk cyberpunk spyworld, Owls versus Foxes, Yarn Boy rule system.

2)  TYRANNY OF COOL

If a skill has a great name, if a talent is poetic, if a mechanic is haute tension – it’s in. We’ll make it work. Beautiful stuff does not get taken out because “someone somewhere” didn’t understand what it does. If it’s clunky or extraneous we iterate and redesign until it works. We will always have talent names longer than “Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky” and “The Intense Humming of Evil” combined.

3)  UNSYMMETRICAL IS SYMMETRICAL

It’s good to have almost useless things and seemingly overpowered things. A good composition is not all equal parts. A good composition is equal experiences. There is great symmetrical tension and effect in a seemingly useless abilities that you try to use for the sake of cool. Pull off Spook, Shocking Grasp and Spell Thrust in Baldur’s Gate and you’re a wizard. All builds should not be viable, but all builds should be interesting. Some skills only pop up one or two times — they will be all the more special for it. While other’s buzz around as often as possible. (Empathy always tells you what people are feeling but when Shivers comes in, it’s a special moment.)

4)  FIT ON A NAPKIN OR FIT IN THE TRASH BIN

After a while, we want you to be able to draw the entire system on a napkin from your head. That’s how elegant and self contained we want it to be. There are four stats and everything folds back into their value. We only use six sided dice. We prefer the Babylonian system of sixes to the Roman system of tens. (Six is a more comprehensible number, ten is too vague and philosophical and includes a zero). If we have a number in the rules – 4, 3 or 6 – we will reuse it as often as possible. All numbers fold back into themselves, everything is it’s own cap, never multiply, never produce long formulas.

5)  SMALL NUMBERS

Congratulations, you just got +1 of something. It’s a big deal. Six is the maximum. You don’t get 28 experience, you get ONE POINT to put into a skill. That one point gives you the aforementioned +1 bonus. You don’t suffer 76 damage, you lose TWO LIVES. The smaller a number, the less you have of it, the more dramatic it will feel. We large mammals have two to three offspring. We have one home. We have two eyes. Our numerical values are large and chunky, losing one is tragic and gaining one is a triumph. Our system reflects that.

6)  INNOVATE LIKE A FOOL

Innovate for innovation’s sake. This isn’t a medical procedure, it’s a rule system for a game. If we see a way to ditch experience then let’s do it. Sure, we could divide a point into 100 experience and it would let us balance the game better, but let’s not. Let’s not do levels either, carrying around points has been done less. And how about GAME OVER if you run out of money? Let’s do a clock too. A real time of day system will let us build great systems around it, imagine the great names we can give to talents for evening people! Above all – introduce hugely ambitious superstructures. A great failure is ten times better than a small success.



+1  TABLETOP IS GOD

We believe in great D&D. Not in high fantasy or cyberpunk but in the potential of the underlying tabletop experience. If the Game Master has a great story and the players are competent writers too… tabletop wipes the floor with any other medium. (Literature and video games included.) The Zola, Gombrowicz and Bulgakov of our time are already playing D&D, possibly around one table. The trouble is – the experience cannot be recorded and relayed to others. Tabletop is written on water.

Therefore we believe in video game adaptations of the tabletop experience. Games have had great success adapting tactical combat oriented D&D into video games. (Baldur’s Gate 2, etc). We want to do the same for heavy duty story oriented D&D.
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« Reply #92 on: October 10, 2016, 02:54:49 AM »

Another crosspost from the paid subforum, this time looking for 3d character modelers to help us out:

Fortress Occident is looking for a freelance character modeller capable of working with Blender or Maya. The applicant must be proficient in the following:

1) Character modelling and character asset modelling (jackets, trousers, shoes, hair, and so forth);
2) Creating optimal UV layouts;
3) Character texturing that would fit our game’s painterly style;
4) Rigging a plus.

Please send your application and portfolio to [email protected]

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« Reply #93 on: October 21, 2016, 12:12:46 AM »

thanks!

New post about our dialogue checks by Robert, the big writer in the sky:

ON ACTIVE SKILL CHECKS

Last time I talked about our passive skills checks – ideas involuntarily forming in your head, sensations creeping up your spine. An active skill check on the other hand, is the moment where you force your mind and body to react in a certain way. You direct a skill to go off.

Every dialogue has at least one active skill check moment. Think of these as important shots in a combat sequence, mini showdowns that form a knot in the scene. This is what the story has been building towards. Have they been lying to you all along? Can you dance, or will you grab the mic and sing karaoke? We want every appearance of an active skill check to feel weighty. It’s a dramatic juncture: either a closed door or a fork in the road.

In No Truce With The Furies an active check appears in the form of a special dialogue option. This usually happens deep in the conversation. It looks like a regular dialogue option, but highlighted:



The phrasing of this special dialogue option tells you what you are trying to do, not what you will do. A tooltip menu tells you what your chances of succeeding are:



The task and your ability to perform it face each other like armies on a battlefield. You vs the world. On your side are your stats (character creation), your learned skill (leveling up) plus the items in your inventory and the thoughts you’re thinking. On the opposing side – the difficulty of the task.

An element of chance determines the outcome of this attempt, the game roll two six sided die. But before you do you should prepare, nudge the odds in your favour a bit.

PREPARING FOR BATTLE

You can prop up your side by rummaging through your Thought Cabinet and changing stuff around: maybe it would pay to be a radical feminist at this juncture? Or wait, no! Better to think really, really hardcore racist thoughts. That’ll do the trick, dazzle them with your advanced race theory! But would your character do that? Do you want to take your character in that direction?

Maybe you should just use drugs and face the consequences later – or put points in the appropriate skill if you have any saved up. We want to bring min-maxing (upgrading your character on the fly), potion use (drug use in our case) and inventory management (changing thoughts in your Thought Cabinet) to dialogues. We want you to buff yourself up mid-dialogue and play it like a turn-based combat encounter.

ON THE OPPOSING SIDE

It’s not only you who can change. The task at hand becomes harder or easier depending on the changes you’ve made to the world. Wanted to “get” what “the kids nowadays” are listening to? Maybe the music happens to be a bit more “basic” today because you waited? Wanted to convince your partner to get drunk on the job? Something you said has him reaching for the bottle. Wanted to come up with an exciting mystery? A shadow on the wall in the evening light has inspired you. All these things can make checks harder or easier. These modifiers give us a nifty little tool to show the player the game is taking note of their actions in the world.

So okay, you’ve seen the odds and you’ve seen the modifiers. Now it’s time to either click on the check or not. If you do, what – if any – are the risks in failure? This is where my favourite thing about our active checks comes in. Notice how we use two colours of highlighting?



That’s because there are two types: white checks and red checks. What happens once you roll depends on the type of check. The first is safer.

WHITE CHECKS

If you fail a white check you suffer damage (mental or physical), but nothing happens in the world, no negative consequences – just the lack of positive ones. You don’t “get” that wacky music, your partner tells you to stop trying to get him fired. The proverbial door in the dungeon remains closed, the treasure out of reach. The white check becomes greyed out. You can try again later once you’re better at it (put more points into the skill), or you can make the task easier by changing the environment.

But if you do succeed you get access to a special nook in the content: a bunch of clever things to say that build your character, or inadvertedly solving a problem somewhere else. You may even find an entirely new side-case to take on, or new project for your Thought Cabinet to process. And yes, even a bigger gun, we’re not above those. White checks are locked gates for content and rewards. (Which we think of as one and the same). Even finding the gates counts as progress. Part of the game is mapping out these “closed doors” and then returning later once you think you need what is behind them – or if you’re just curious.

Our Art Director compares white checks to using dynamite to mine more content out of the game. It’s relatively safe if you plan your rolls carefully.

RED CHECKS

… on the other hand are dangerously unsafe.



If you roll this bad boy – THE NEGATIVE RESULT IS PLAYED OUT TOO. Say you were trying to come up with an idea and you fail a red check. You don’t just stand there clueless, you come up with a bad idea. A really bad one. An utterly idiotic one. Tell your friends to fuck off. Tell them all to fuck off because they’re “cramping you’re style.” Your character will not be able to tell the difference, they will think it’s a good idea. You the player are stuck saying something truly idiotic with a winning grin on your chartacter’s face – or doing something very dangerous.

You can always come back to white checks but red checks can only be rolled once: here and now. If you don’t they are lost forever. Think of red checks as forks in the path – if you don’t try it now you will never get the chance to. The suspect will leave the hallway, the train will leave the station. But you might fail if you do.

FAILURE IS FUN

Players almost always try red checks. The negative content is fuel for role playing, and it’s also – dare I say – fun. Failure puts you in the skin of your character. You can be embarrassing. Weak. Ridiculous. Full of yourself. Just plain wrong. Paranoid. Idiotic. Every director knows that actors build characters out of failures and fears, not heroics. We’ve noticed players instinctively feel the same way. They begin to search for red checks to fail at. Especially the right ones – the ones that fit their character. They do this for character building, but also because they’re curious of the outcome. It feels like playing with fire.

This adds an interesting effect to Skills and spending experience to improve them. It can be useful not to. It’s rewarding to be bad at some things because it produces interesting red check failures.

You’re right to raise an eyebrow. “In our game you are defined equally by your strengths and weaknesses” is the type of wonk a lot of designers would like to utter. But I think we’re slowly earning our right to. Week by week, month by month of development.

You’ll be the judge of it of course. Either way, I bet you’ll pull that red trigger 90% of the time.

Next week I’ll introduce our four main stats and how they shape your character. Til then.
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« Reply #94 on: October 24, 2016, 10:03:50 AM »

I've read this Dev Log a few times and I have unfortunately never got round to commenting.

I absolutely love the living painting art style. I'm curious to know, is the camera in the scenes static or do they follow the player/player input? I quite like the idea of seeing the game as a moving piece of art.

It's been brought up a few times but I also confuse the title for 'Furrys'. Probably because I'm not as familiar with the word 'Furies'. I'm not really a fan of the title because I don't know exactly what it means and it doesn't seem to give an indication as to what the game is about.

I really like the vehicles although this one looks a bit impractical without side mirrors.
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« Reply #95 on: October 25, 2016, 01:53:18 AM »

That's a good point about the side mirrors :O

You can pan the camera around and if you want to you can lock it on your character like in Diablo. A big challenge in getting that living painting look across is getting moving objects into the scenery.  We're fighting tooth and nail against speedtree shader code to get our hand painted world space normal maps of the canopy and tops of trees working as intended so they interact with our dynamic lighting systems.

Furies are a part of the mythology of ancient Greece. If you want to be fancy you can call them Erinyes. Their role is to relentlessly hound people who've done wrong. They don't give way and there is no truce to be had with them. They're your never resting guilty conscience. This is a good depiction of what's up with the furies by Bouguereau. I hope this gives some indication of what the game might be about.
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« Reply #96 on: October 25, 2016, 12:29:03 PM »

Oh wow guys, this game looks fantastic. Love the ambience and character design.
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« Reply #97 on: October 25, 2016, 11:49:59 PM »

New screenshot! Crime, Romance & Biographies of Famous People - truly the high points of literature.

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« Reply #98 on: October 26, 2016, 08:35:59 AM »

I, too, originally thought this was a game about furries. And that was after seeing the first few screenshots. I was wondering how it'd tie in...

Way too much in just the first page to even respond too, but this looks really cool. I hope the UI and pacing of the story works well with the engine you've crafted. I'm pretty impressed by the worldbuilding too, clearly put a lot of thought and time into it. Some of it seems a little... absurd, but that can be a strength. It's hard to pull that off through text but can be oh so worth it.

One question, you said you were a team of 11? It sounds like some of your work part time still? How did you get together, can how can you afford all this work at such a pace? My apologies if it was gone over somewhere, like I said, there's a lot.

Anyways, I'll be watching and thanks for sharing!
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« Reply #99 on: November 02, 2016, 01:55:00 AM »

We found some more writers and imported a new animator from france so I think we're around 16 now with some auxiliary sound guys who help us out every now and then. A bunch of us have been friends for a long time but this is a full time job for most of us. Some two years ago we scrambled around with a pitch document until we secured some investment to get us going.
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