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November 21, 2019, 03:40:21 PM

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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsThe Resurrection - A game about (re)building the past
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Author Topic: The Resurrection - A game about (re)building the past  (Read 5501 times)
Schrompf
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« Reply #100 on: October 28, 2019, 11:19:16 PM »

Great to see you're still going!
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« Reply #101 on: October 29, 2019, 01:43:02 AM »

quoted because pagination:

It’s snowing hard outside, it’s very cold, the morning light is dim, the local school is cancelled. Here at work the lights are all off, we aren’t open yet, the Library is lit only by the greywhite light from the windows, and I am the only person in the building. I have a few moments entirely to myself. It’s cozy.

I have this very rare moment to compose an update.

Still on the Map


Yes, I’m still on the roadmap toward a demo. Despite a sustained period of increased family and work commitments, development grinds steadily onward.  The basic form of the first site, the parish church, is compete and functioning in-game (you might have seen some posts on Twitter’s #screenshotsaturday).  I’m working on the finishing details of the church now – the roof structures and some basic furniture.

Here’s some shots of the progress:


The shell of the church.


Two forms of tracery for the east window.




The east end being assembled in-game.

I was getting kind-of worn-down on development because there didn’t seem to be much progress or time for progress.  However, a couple of weeks ago, when I had the basic building blocks done and setup in the game, I was able to see the form of the complete building for the first time and I caught a glimpse of how the game might look and feel for a first-time player.  And it was magic. 

So, with renewed encouragement, I’m back to work.

What’s Left for the Demo?

Details.  Lots of details.  I think there are always details that could go in.  But they don’t have to go in, so I’m trying very hard to take note of them and then set them aside for now. 

Audio.  All of it.  Again, I want to thank everyone who has offered to help on this.  I’m flattered and humbled (oxymoron?) by your interest and your talent.  I’m also very sorry that I don’t have the funding in-hand to be able to accept your generous offers.  I don’t want to ask anyone to work for promises on later return.  This is such a niche game, I have set my expectations very, very low in terms of sales.  I simply want to create an experience that will delight and entertain.  As such, I’m not sure there will be any income at all from this – and I think asking anyone to spend the most valuable thing they have – time – for free is just not right, in this case.  So, for now, the audio is in my very amateur hands.  Hopefully my placeholder audio will be just that – placeholder, and, later, if I can find some modest funding, we can use it to build something beautiful!

Time Travel. I think the wobbliest of my systems is time travel.  It’s so fragile that I’ve held off further work on it while the main structure of the church comes together.  But I’m going to have to get that system working reliably, so this is a point where work will slow down a bit, but it is essential to make it robust enough that I can move forward on creating content.

’Cutscenes’. Those odd ‘cutscenes’/vignettes need to be triggered in some way.  This will be a combination of triggering based on other events in-game, the player’s current physical location, and their current temporal location.  I need to work out the rules for this and build them.  This is a lot like the other rules working behind-the-scenes, so I think it is a matter of adapting work that is in-place and functioning, rather than forging something new.

Menus. Well, UI generally.  A year ago I created a working menu system and starting screen.  But I need to get that better integrated into the game now.  And I need to add a way to have multiple save files that the play can access.  (Multiple save files will also help development because I can load different points or branches within the game at-will.)  Again, I’ve got the basics of this already working – but there is some user-facing work that needs to be done.

So, it’s all still progressing.  One of my major time commitments just came to an end, so, for a couple of months, I won’t be dealing with that.  I might be able to convert some of that space to dev time, which would make me very happy.

And, of course, I want to get back into more regular posting here because this, too, is an important place of encouragement, learning, and motivation.

Thanks for reading.  I’ve got to go turn on the lights and shovel some snow!

Fantastic update, like  Schrompf said it's great to see this is still going strong! Also, that opening paragraph has me reaching for a hot cup of tea
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ChrisLSound
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« Reply #102 on: October 29, 2019, 08:34:40 AM »

It’s snowing hard outside, it’s very cold, the morning light is dim, the local school is cancelled. Here at work the lights are all off, we aren’t open yet, the Library is lit only by the greywhite light from the windows, and I am the only person in the building. I have a few moments entirely to myself. It’s cozy.

I have this very rare moment to compose an update.
Wow, you've transported me, and I'm going to stay for a while.
New posts from you are always a pleasure. It's great to see a clear roadmap to a demo, and to hear you found a fresh spark of magic.

Also, that opening paragraph has me reaching for a hot cup of tea
Much the same. Time to refill my coffee!
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« Reply #103 on: October 29, 2019, 09:08:07 AM »

I've missed some updates on this! Really cool to hear a demo is on the way. Looking forward to that a lot. Those effects in the video are mesmerising. Kiss Your progress reminds me a lot of my own, with all sorts of systems kind of done and available in the background but all needing some fixes and bringing together, haha. That's solo game dev…
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« Reply #104 on: November 08, 2019, 06:43:32 PM »

Details Details…


The best laid plans … I planned to post on Monday this week, but things came up, life happened, and now another week has gone by.  So much for planning.

The past two weeks have been dedicated to the finishing details of the parish church site.  Once the player reconstructs the shell of the building, the details such as the roof and furniture populate themselves, based on the player’s choices.  This takes agency away from the player a little bit, but it’s a compromise in terms of design because these finishing details are often quite specific to the final form of the shell of the building and sometimes do not lend themselves easily to “meaningful” modularity.  Also, I have a feeling that the game is already repetitive enough and that these finishing details, which would not be open to case-by-case variations in design due to their dependence on the building’s shell, would only be busy-work for the player.


Rendering of just the details of the church, after the player completes the shell, with the basic form of the shell shown in wireframe.

I do feel there is justification for having the finishing details (and other features) filled-in automatically.  Auto-completion can lend a sense of conversation between the player and the building.  This is especially true after a string of smaller back-and-forth moments where the player has chosen a number of options, one after the other.  Once they have completed a series of choices, an auto-completion event is triggered, as though the building has, in some way, been listening to the player and participates in their ideas – or having posed a series of question to the player, has revealed its own thoughts, based on their answers.  This also punctuates gameplay, moving the players from one idea to the next, giving them space to think, to evaluate their own decisions in light of what gets auto-completed at the end.  In the best situations it creates moments of revelation.

You can see an example of auto-completion in the following animation.  It happens quickly, so you may not catch it, but the tower’s roof and parapet details appear and then the camera zooms back, and the topsoil is removed from the rest of the parish church site.  This completes the idea of the tower (based on the player’s choices, because another form of tower is possible, if the player chooses different options earlier) and then provides a moment of revelation as the rest of the site is uncovered.




Completing the tower and revealing the rest of the church site.

(At least, it feels exciting to me when I playtest, and that’s probably a good sign.)

The edge of visual acuity
A couple of weeks ago Heather Penn, the art director and one of the modelers on Overland celebrated shipping the game by asking if anyone had any questions about her modeling process.  A lot of good questions were asked.  I’ve been following her work for a couple of years now, and admire it greatly (you will notice some visual similarities between her work on Overland and mine here – and I hope the similarity is not so close as to be considered plagiarism, but rather creative response to an inspiring style). 

Heather Penn’s invitation on twitter: https://twitter.com/heatpenn/status/1188144601858596864?s=20

Anyway, Heather’s question got me thinking about one of my struggles with low-poly style: detail where it counts.  In my professional practice the clients always want photo-realism and detail.  Detail everywhere.  Indiscriminate detail.  Detail for detail’s sake.  This is especially true for the medieval church interiors I specialize in.  Take this rendering of the interior of St Stephen’s Chapel in the Palace of Westminster c1360, as an example:


My model of the interior of the private royal chapel of St Stephen, Palace of Westminster, c1360.  (Part of the Virtual St Stephen’s project: VSS Project)

The visual style of The Resurrection is a little different.  There are no textures.  All of the detail must be accomplished with geometry (and vertex color) alone.  (There is an old but absolutely excellent post on this by Alain Puget here: Alkemi Games’ blog)  The practical cost of geometry in terms of frame rate has been steadily going down for years, but there is still a cost and it needs to be balanced against some of the more expensive aspects of the visual style such as the cross-section shaders and visual effects.  So, how to strike this balance between geometry and detail where it’s needed?  I don’t know.  But that’s what I’m trying to discover with the finishing details of this site.

The answer, it seems to me, lies somewhere in the realm of the limits of visual acuity.  Given the rendering style, what can the eye discern as distinct detail at various camera distances?  What is necessary and what simply won’t show up?  This depends, in part, on how close the camera is allowed to get to the models.  In this game, the player can zoom the camera in and out within quite a large range.  In fact, I think they can zoom in a little too closely, past the point where the low-poly style starts to break down aesthetically.  But, there are potentially small objects and small details which might interest the player in certain places and at certain times.  I have the feeling that most players will want to keep the camera at whatever distance frames the portion of the site they’re currently working on, and this is usually at such a distance that the finer details will be invisible.

So, I have created a test with the parish church finishing details.  The roofs are more than just the outer coverings.  They are also structurally accurate.  This is because the player can cross-section whole buildings whenever they want, and I think accurate structural details help sell the look – and they’re interesting.  But, these structural details are left pretty lo-fi – just the main structural components, but without the details such as mouldings or carvings.  The camera never dips below the horizon, so the player will never be able to look up at the roofs from below, where most of such detail would have been concentrated.  But, in the chancel, I have chamfered the beams, as a token nod to such detail.  I’m curious to see how that looks in comparison to the other roofs.  The furniture is even more detailed.  Most of this furniture is composed of the screens that separated different areas of the church into separate chapels and semi-private spaces (whole PhDs have been done on these screens and partitions – I know, I wrote one of them!).  This wooden screenwork is composed of lots of detailed moulding and carving, including wooden tracery.  But it’s also small in comparison to the structure of the roof.  And it’s inside.  I’m curious to see how much of that visual detail will be apparent to the user.  It’s going to be my benchmark to determine level-of-detail elsewhere in the game.  Stay tuned!


The font cover.  In medieval churches this was an elaborate piece of woodwork.  It happens to be the research focus of a good friend of mine, so I felt compelled to do an extra-fancy one.  Let’s see if that detail even shows up in-game!

Next
My goal for next week is to get the details into the game and then to work on the system that triggers those “cutscenes” I discussed last summer.

Thanks for reading!
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CORE Games
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« Reply #105 on: November 09, 2019, 06:42:21 AM »

Maybe you could have some kind of mechanic where you could interact with certain elements to see them in greater detail? Use lower-poly models to show them in the zoomed-out view, and you can click on them to zoom in and pan around the beautiful high detail versions.

The game looks really cool so far, keep it up!
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amasinton
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« Reply #106 on: November 09, 2019, 12:41:31 PM »

Great to see you're still going!
Thank you! Sometimes the going is slower than I'd like, of course, but at least it's moving steadily.

Fantastic update, like  Schrompf said it's great to see this is still going strong! Also, that opening paragraph has me reaching for a hot cup of tea
That snowy morning here was just perfect for some cocoa and some time to report and reflect.  It has warmed up and all of that snow is gone now.  Speaking of snow, someday I'm going to work snow into my main shader...

Wow, you've transported me, and I'm going to stay for a while.
New posts from you are always a pleasure. It's great to see a clear roadmap to a demo, and to hear you found a fresh spark of magic.
That was such a helpful moment, when I saw the whole site come together. I was so pleased with it that I respond to a tweet from Mike Bithell (where he asked devs to share something positive) and he responded personally with an encouraging comment.  Which was pretty cool, honestly.

The demo will take, like, fifteen minutes to actually play through, but all of the important systems will be in-place and I will gather some feedback and good advice, I hope.  Wouldn't it be cool to have it ready by the New Year.  Might be a bit ambitions...

I've missed some updates on this! Really cool to hear a demo is on the way. Looking forward to that a lot. Those effects in the video are mesmerising. Kiss Your progress reminds me a lot of my own, with all sorts of systems kind of done and available in the background but all needing some fixes and bringing together, haha. That's solo game dev…
Thank you! I'm going to work on those build effects.  I have some ideas, but I need to level-up in my own knowledge of shaders to accomplish this.  That amazing Recompile game always inspires me.

Also, I absolutely agree on the game being a loose collection of all kinds of systems and now I'm starting to knit them a little tighter together.  The good thing is that I can see how the complete toolset works together now, and that's very encouraging.  I'm not doing anything crazy, like building my own engine while also designing a game, though.  That would be crazy...  Wink

Maybe you could have some kind of mechanic where you could interact with certain elements to see them in greater detail? Use lower-poly models to show them in the zoomed-out view, and you can click on them to zoom in and pan around the beautiful high detail versions.

The game looks really cool so far, keep it up!
Thank you, and you're right - I've been thinking sort of along the same lines about detailed objects in close-up.  Players can uncover architectural fragments (which can unlock additional building options) and artifacts (some of which can unlock time travel options) and players can look at these individual items in the inventory screen close-up and interactively.  I hadn't thought of extending that concept to non-inventory items, though.  Perhaps to major features like the screens in the church, or sculpture, or whole building interiors...  Thanks for your suggestions!
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« Reply #107 on: November 11, 2019, 03:20:33 AM »

Another amazing update. Good timing for me too, since I've just started on my own system for piecing together modular buildings. Cheesy Very inspiring. Didn't know you also make these even more intricate models in your work outside this game. That must take quite some time…
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« Reply #108 on: November 11, 2019, 08:45:41 AM »

[...] as though the building has, in some way, been listening to the player and participates in their ideas – or having posed a series of question to the player, has revealed its own thoughts, based on their answers. [...]




Completing the tower and revealing the rest of the church site.

(At least, it feels exciting to me when I playtest, and that’s probably a good sign.)

Compromise or not, I think this auto-completion is great. This game has such a unique flavor, where slow and deliberate choices are favored/required, that it feels incredibly satisfying and even exciting when a structure auto-completes. I could sense that even in that preview video.

With this pace in mind, however, I think slowing down the auto-completion animation would make that moment feel even more important and rewarding. Along with some tasty sound design and possibly a musical cue, it'll be fantastic!

Great update, great work Smiley
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« Reply #109 on: November 15, 2019, 09:09:22 AM »

Another amazing update. Good timing for me too, since I've just started on my own system for piecing together modular buildings. Cheesy Very inspiring. Didn't know you also make these even more intricate models in your work outside this game. That must take quite some time…

I have trouble devising modular designs myself - I'm just not that good at object-oriented, logical thinking, especially when dealing with historic build period where things were not usually devised on a grid.  I know there are lots of tricks to getting away from the grid-based look, but it hurts my head to think about it.  I am a huge admirer of Oskar Stalberg's work where he creates procedural buildings which feel organic.  But I think he's capable of thinking on quite a different level from me!   Undecided

More detailed models ... yes, that's my professional work and it does take some time.  That image I posted of St Stephen's Chapel was part of a larger project which I worked on for three years (not full-time, but very close for sustained periods)!

I'm watching your devlog with great interest.  I'm looking forward to seeing how you approach the whole modularity challenge - and I hope to learn something, too.

Compromise or not, I think this auto-completion is great. This game has such a unique flavor, where slow and deliberate choices are favored/required, that it feels incredibly satisfying and even exciting when a structure auto-completes. I could sense that even in that preview video.

With this pace in mind, however, I think slowing down the auto-completion animation would make that moment feel even more important and rewarding. Along with some tasty sound design and possibly a musical cue, it'll be fantastic!

Great update, great work Smiley

You are so right!  Those auto-completion animations go WAY too fast.  Slowing it down will feel so much more rewarding for the player.  That's a very good idea.

And the sound design will be critical, too.  Perhaps even more than the visual design.  I'm itching to get to audio.  If I can at least block out something, perhaps that will provide the foundation to create something good later on, if funding should appear.
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« Reply #110 on: November 16, 2019, 03:35:19 PM »

I'm looking forward to seeing how you approach the whole modularity challenge - and I hope to learn something, too.
I too hope to learn, haha. Haven't really done much of this in 3D before. I do want it to feel somewhat organic too (have seen Oskar's stuff before as well) so we'll see what I can come up with!

Also agree on the animation! Not sure why I didn't think about that earlier. Shocked
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