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July 11, 2020, 09:12:18 PM

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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsA Door to the Mists--[DEMO updated!]--traversal, exploration, puzzles and combat
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Rl
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« Reply #460 on: June 23, 2020, 08:27:52 AM »

Hello !

I played the demo of "A Door to the Mists", I was intrigued by the narrative and the art style in the trailer.
It is an ambitious project and I really enjoyed playing it!

I don't know how to present my feedback, so I'll do it level by level Smiley

Tutorial

Not much to say. I like the shape of the pyramid, and the puzzle was great. I liked the narration that surrounds it and the composition is good I think. I liked the ambiance that emanated from the place.

Crypt

Again, I really appreciated. I was not too stuck. I liked the place. I loved the translation mini game. I liked the way the narration was set up and how the chapter ended. I got the alternative ending the first time.

City under the city

- It was a little more complicated. I did not understand that you have to examine the objects to interact with them. I was stuck in front of the debris and in front of the shelf. It was a little frustrating because I understood what to do but I didn't know how to do it. In front of the shelf, I immediately right-clicked, but not on the tracks, and I totally forgot to do it. So, maybe it is more my fault than a design one.

- I had a great adventure story with two broken chairs, it was amusing  Smiley

- I like the atmosphere of the city, a city under the city, it's a beautiful idea. It was very immersive. Run from roof to roof, jump in a window, understand the topography of the city, it was great. The city is vast so I got lost a lot. The solitude, the oppressive darkness, the labyrinthine aspect of the city and the golden walls made me think of the video game Torico.

- The level is long, maybe the decor becomes a little monotonous after a while.

- I am a little disappointed with my encounter with the adventurer. The level is large and very immersive. The glow in the distance evokes something very mysterious so I was a little sad to have no information and end up on a dead end.

- I found that there were fewer elements of lore than in the first chapter. But it is a detail.

- Going back may not have been necessary. I was blocked so long that I knew the level by heart and it takes time to backtracking.

I encountered two bugs (I suppose):

- The first: I fell from a very high roof and I died. By mistake, I made a quick save on the game over screen. When I loaded my quick save, I started over at my fall place with my whole life and I was able to continue my adventure.

- The second: During the ladder puzzle. When you put the ladder the first time to reach the window of an apartment, the ladder falls. To prevent the player from being soft lock I guess. But when I put the ladder a second time, it does not fall any more and I was able to take it from the apartment.

To conclude, I think it is a very original idea, with an unusual gameplay and it is not often that I am caught in this kind of atmosphere in a video game. Thank you a lot for your work!

I'm sorry if my feedback is a bit rough and not very detailed, but writing in English is not very easy for me.
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« Reply #461 on: June 23, 2020, 08:45:29 AM »

I really like the new level. The shape of the room and all those books look really nice.
I won't have that many books in my shelves, but in your case I'd try to use LOD and replace them with plain boxes when they are far away. I don't know if those polygons are a problem anyway, but it would be one way to improve it.
 
And doing those tool scripts is totally fun. I like doing them although - as you mentioned - it sometimes takes the same (or even more) amount of time than doing it by hand. But it just feels nicer. Smiley
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« Reply #462 on: June 23, 2020, 11:31:18 AM »

@Rl:
Hello !

Greetings! ^_^

I played the demo of "A Door to the Mists", I was intrigued by the narrative and the art style in the trailer.
It is an ambitious project and I really enjoyed playing it!

I don't know how to present my feedback, so I'll do it level by level Smiley

I'm really glad to read that you so enjoyed it! Thank you for trying it out, and thank you for the feedback! I really appreciate both! :D

Tutorial

Not much to say. I like the shape of the pyramid, and the puzzle was great. I liked the narration that surrounds it and the composition is good I think. I liked the ambiance that emanated from the place.

Crypt

Again, I really appreciated. I was not too stuck. I liked the place. I loved the translation mini game. I liked the way the narration was set up and how the chapter ended. I got the alternative ending the first time.

I find it really interesting that you got the alternate ending--and the first time, too. I don't think that I've yet heard of anyone else getting it, that I recall!

I'm really happy that so much landed so well with you! It's really heartening to read. ^_^

I will note that the aesthetics of the game have changed a bit since the demo, prompted in part by other feedback that I've had. Hopefully it'll look even better in the next demo!

City under the city

- It was a little more complicated. I did not understand that you have to examine the objects to interact with them. I was stuck in front of the debris and in front of the shelf. It was a little frustrating because I understood what to do but I didn't know how to do it. In front of the shelf, I immediately right-clicked, but not on the tracks, and I totally forgot to do it. So, maybe it is more my fault than a design one.

On the contrary, you're not the first to express trouble with this element; I think that this is very much a design issue.

And indeed, since the demo I've removed the feature of "hidden" objects: as it is now, potentially-interactive objects always show their names when the player moves the central cursor over them.

This doesn't remove the mechanic of examining objects in order to reveal interactions, as in the case of the scratches and the shelves--but it should hopefully make clearer that there is an object present than can be examined, at least. (Especially in the case of the scratches, which might be mistaken for inert decorations.)

- I had a great adventure story with two broken chairs, it was amusing  Smiley

Those chairs can be fun things! ^_^

- I like the atmosphere of the city, a city under the city, it's a beautiful idea. It was very immersive. Run from roof to roof, jump in a window, understand the topography of the city, it was great. The city is vast so I got lost a lot. The solitude, the oppressive darkness, the labyrinthine aspect of the city and the golden walls made me think of the video game Torico.

Ah, that's excellent to read! :D

I'll confess that I don't know Torico, but I'm going to take the comparison as a compliment. ^_^

- The level is long, maybe the decor becomes a little monotonous after a while.

Indeed, I'll confess that this is a bit of a worry for me. Alas, filling the level with even more detail would likely be prohibitive, I fear. :/

- I am a little disappointed with my encounter with the adventurer. The level is large and very immersive. The glow in the distance evokes something very mysterious so I was a little sad to have no information and end up on a dead end.

It's not quite a dead end--more a new lead to chase down. It's a long road that our adventurer has started down...

That said, I do hear you on the potential anti-climax.

- I found that there were fewer elements of lore than in the first chapter. But it is a detail.

I don't think that there are fewer lore-entries in terms of absolute numbers--by my count there's one more than in the crypt, in fact. However, they are more scattered as a result of the size of the level.

(And some of them are more difficult to find than in the crypt-level, in all fairness.)

- Going back may not have been necessary. I was blocked so long that I knew the level by heart and it takes time to backtracking.

I considered letting the player leave the level from that final area, but I was concerned that some might want to backtrack for elements that they'd missed. Since the way into that final area is difficult to backtrack through, I wanted to leave a path back open for the player.

Still, I'll give this some thought, I intend.

I encountered two bugs (I suppose):

- The first: I fell from a very high roof and I died. By mistake, I made a quick save on the game over screen. When I loaded my quick save, I started over at my fall place with my whole life and I was able to continue my adventure.

Ah, that's interesting! I've made a note to check whether I've fixed this--various changes have been made since the demo, and that may well be one of them. If I haven't already done so, then it should be fairly simple to fix, I think!

Thank you for reporting this! ^_^

- The second: During the ladder puzzle. When you put the ladder the first time to reach the window of an apartment, the ladder falls. To prevent the player from being soft lock I guess. But when I put the ladder a second time, it does not fall any more and I was able to take it from the apartment.

This is intentional, actually. The ladder doesn't fall because there's a risk of a soft-lock--it falls because it's too powerful: carried forward, it can trivialise some of the later challenges.

On the other hand, I want to allow the player to somewhat find their own way, and if they want to cart that ladder through the rest of the level then I'm inclined to allow it.

(Plus, having the ladder later on allows access to a secret... Wink)

So, in order to discourage players from taking the ladder further, I have it fall down at the point at which you saw it fall. But any player who wants to go and pick it up again is free to do so...

To conclude, I think it is a very original idea, with an unusual gameplay and it is not often that I am caught in this kind of atmosphere in a video game. Thank you a lot for your work!

That's really encouraging to read, and I'm really glad that you had such a good time with the demo! :D

I'm sorry if my feedback is a bit rough and not very detailed, but writing in English is not very easy for me.

It isn't rough at all--and it's been both useful and encouraging. Thank you for it--and for putting in the effort to write in a language that you're not comfortable in using. ^_^

@RealScaniX:
I really like the new level. The shape of the room and all those books look really nice.

Thank you very much! I really appreciate that! ^_^

And hopefully it'll look even better as I fill things in further...

Indeed, this has been one of the levels that I've been excited to get to, I think! ^_^

I won't have that many books in my shelves, but in your case I'd try to use LOD and replace them with plain boxes when they are far away. I don't know if those polygons are a problem anyway, but it would be one way to improve it.

In all fairness, I may well be over-optimising--but either way, with these new book models no LOD implementation should be called for, I think!

(I'll want to merge the individual books into a smaller set of "book chunks", I daresay--but that's a matter of the number of nodes in the scene-graph, rather than of polygon count, I believe.)
 
And doing those tool scripts is totally fun. I like doing them although - as you mentioned - it sometimes takes the same (or even more) amount of time than doing it by hand. But it just feels nicer. Smiley

And if they do take the same amount of time, then why not take the nicer option? ^_^
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« Reply #463 on: June 29, 2020, 02:53:11 AM »

Blog post (29th of June, 2020)
A Lived-In Library


Summary: In which the book-generation scripts are expanded; the books of level five are re-generated; some personality is added to the resultant book-collection; a note-keeping system is added to level five; and a saving-while-dead bug is (hopefully) fixed.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot once again shows bookshelves, their contents now reworked and touched-up to have a bit more personality:



The week just past saw continued work on the books, and later the interactions, of level five:

To start with, the books.

I wasn't quite happy with the results of my previous round of book-generation: it was a little too uniform, and its use perhaps a little too fiddly, I think.

So, in the week just past I expanded the script: Previously, it made similar books within a set of variables, relying on me to change the variables as desired for each shelf. Expanded, it instead took control the variables itself, altering them for each shelf in a controlled manner. The result then was shelves of books that were more varied, and more consistent in the manner of their variation, I feel.

With the lower storey of books thus re-generated, I moved on to the upper walkway. This area has books of a more consistent style, being generally somewhat thin and pale. To this end, I used a copy of the script described above (so that I would still have the original if desired), modified to produce the sort of results that I wanted.

But even as generated by the new scripts, the shelves still lacked a bit in "personality"; in a sense of being part of a once-living library. So, once I had the first pass provided by the automatic generation, I went over the shelves and added various touches: books that were leaning; gaps in the shelves; books placed haphazard atop others; occasional pieces of paper; and even a few books or papers lying on the floor.

This, I think, looks much better!




And with the shelves pretty much done, I turned to the interactions of the level.

This level is, essentially, a period of research: the player explores the archive, looking for a clue to the location of that city which they hope will contain a door to the mist-world.

To that end, I've begun working out what clues might be found on the shelves. This process is pretty much in its initial stages: I know the canonical series of actions that leads our protagonist forward, but may well want to expand upon that to add more challenge, and to include red herrings and perhaps some lore to be found.

And since this is a matter of research, the player may want to keep some notes. Now, A Door to the Mists doesn't have a dedicated note-keeping feature. Thus I've added a simple--if perhaps slightly clumsy--implementation specific to this level.

It takes the form of a piece of paper and length of charcoal that might be found near the start of the level. Collected into the inventory, this can be selected and "used" in the world to be read. And as the player discovers points of interest it should--once that logic is implemented--be updated with reminders of those points.




Having to use the page in the world in order to read the clues is, as noted, a little clumsy. However, it fits with the usual interaction paradigm of the game, and doesn't require that I add a feature specifically for this one level, so I'm hoping that players will be understanding towards it!

And finally, at the prompting of some feedback on the demo, I added a little extra logic to prevent the player from quick-saving when dead. There was already some in place (added, I think, subsequent to the release of the demo), but this new logic should patch over a small gap that may have been missed.

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #464 on: June 29, 2020, 03:02:16 AM »

The new book layout looks a lot more natural, this will make the place much more believable, I think.
And I like the "looking for clues" gameplay. I bet this will play out nicely. Smiley
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« Reply #465 on: June 29, 2020, 03:05:18 AM »

The new book layout looks a lot more natural, this will make the place much more believable, I think.

Thank you! I'm really glad that it does achieve the desired effect. ^_^

And I like the "looking for clues" gameplay. I bet this will play out nicely. Smiley

Thank you again, and I hope so! ^_^
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« Reply #466 on: July 06, 2020, 04:14:19 AM »

Blog post (6th of July, 2020)
Glowing Gems


Summary: In which development of a research-puzzle continues; level five sees some changes and refinement; crystal lights are added; and a crystal shader is developed.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows a light-fitting for level five, its central crystal alas dim and inoperative:



The week just past was a bit of a slow one--but nevertheless, a number of things did get done:

To start with, work continued in the week just past on the research-interactions central to level five--and indeed, I believe that I have a handle on it now!

In particular, I've expanded out the process of searching the lower shelves, building it into a matter of chasing down references from author to author. It won't be extensive, but I'm hoping that it'll be interesting. (And along the way, there will likely be some foreshadowing to stumble upon, and perhaps even some lore...)

Furthermore, I've begun the work of implementing these interactions: I've added the relevant colliders and script-functions, albeit that they do little of interest as yet.

(To this end I ended up slightly extending my level-importation logic, such that it now allows me to specify script-methods and action-names in the level-model.

The level itself saw modifications in the week just past, too.

Perhaps most saliently, I felt that it was a little too big as I previously had it, and so scaled it down. This, of course, incurred a few other changes, such as modifications to the central tables and the removal of a few shelves. Overall, I'm rather happier with its new layout, I do believe!

On a more minor note, I also worked on the form and texturing of the central tables.




In addition to that, and as shown above, I started fitting the level with the lights that would have illuminated the place when, once, it was an active, working archive.



These lights are magical in nature, their radiance coming from enchanted crystals. Furthermore, I have it in mind that crystals will likely appear later in the game. Thus in the week just past I set about building a crystal shader--a task that I had expected to work on as part of this project, but not quite so soon!

For the most part this shader is very much like the standard player-light shader--it enforces full shininess and doesn't bother with changes to lightness or saturation, but otherwise it's pretty much the same.

Where it primarily differs is in the implementation of an "internal glow" within the crystals.

Now, a fairly accurate method to rendering this might be to first render the depth-values of the crystal's back-faces, followed by rendering the front-faces. The difference between the depths of the two passes could then be used to determine the thickness of the crystal at that point, and from that the intensity of the glow.

However, my rendering arrangement isn't really set up in a way that makes that easy, and in any case doing so may incur a performance cost. Thus I set about thinking of a way to create a similar effect with the elements that I had to hand already.

What came to me was this:

In modelling a crystal, I use a simple script to write its normals to vertex colours. Importantly, this can be done with the crystal in a near-spherical conformation, allowing the effect to "stretch" with it should it be extended into a more-pointed gem.

In the shader, I then reconstitute the colours into a vector, which is dot-producted with the light-direction. The resultant value is further offset using the standard lighting dot-product, such that faces angled away from the viewer (i.e. with a near-zero dot-product) are offset more greatly, thus somewhat suggesting refraction.

That value is then used to add a bit of colour to the rendered fragment, and further to slightly affect the transparency of the surface.

The results aren't all that obvious in the cylindrical lighting-crystals shown above, so I worked with some test-crystals while developing the shader. You can see some of the results here:



That then is all for thes week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #467 on: July 06, 2020, 11:18:18 AM »

That still (or even more than the last time) sounds like a really nice puzzle.
Those crystals are an awesome light source. Will you still see some faint glow in the dark when you are so far away that your own light (torch?) is not overpowering them? I think that would be a cool effect. Smiley
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« Reply #468 on: July 06, 2020, 11:37:40 AM »

That still (or even more than the last time) sounds like a really nice puzzle.

That's encouraging to read! Thank you! ^_^

Those crystals are an awesome light source.

Thank you very much! ^_^

Will you still see some faint glow in the dark when you are so far away that your own light (torch?) is not overpowering them? I think that would be a cool effect. Smiley

Funnily enough, I do indeed have it in mind to have one of them emit such a faint glow. (In fact, although not shown here, it already does.) Specifically, I have it in mind that that glow will serve as a hint that the crystal in question is the sole remaining functional one; if it's then used (should this be implemented), it will emit a brighter light. ^_^
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« Reply #469 on: July 06, 2020, 12:10:05 PM »

Nice! You could even use it in a puzzle. Only by turning off your own light, the faint glow of one of the crystals mark the right place or point you in the right direction. Smiley
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« Reply #470 on: July 07, 2020, 09:36:18 AM »

That's an interesting idea! I'm not sure that it quite fits with what I have in mind for this location, but it's neat in and of itself I do think! ^_^
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