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February 27, 2020, 07:29:33 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 7651 times)
JobLeonard
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« Reply #140 on: February 13, 2020, 01:52:26 AM »

EDIT: quoted because pagination.
Sounds Like Design Questions

Pardon the long delay.  I had a devlog post about audio almost done, but then ran into a few things which wouldn’t take but a morning or two to solve, and then I would post it.  Three weeks later and here we are.

(This is a looong post.)

Happy Anniversary!!!
This devlog is one year old!  I began it back in February 2019 for so many reasons.  I’d been working on the game for a couple of years, but the devlog was a means to share progress as well as to record the process for myself.  Also, I deal with regular depression (yay!) and last February was pretty dark.  The devlog was one piece of my life-raft.  I’m happy to report that this February is much brighter and that the devlog continues to be a source of joy and inspiration.  Thanks, everyone!

I should post some now-and-then comparisons, but I don’t think there has been a lot of change to the visuals of the game.  There have been significant changes everywhere else, but, visually the tone has been pretty steady.


Left: This was the whole world one year ago.  Right: Now, this is just one site of four.

What’s been happening over the past month?

Save Systems Please
The save system is still slot-based.  I just made a few tweaks to it, but I want to experiment with a branching save system a-la Papers Please.  And I want each node in the branch to be a screenshot of the moment the player saved their progress.  I have no idea how to lay all of that out graphically and programmatically – and how to limit it (each save takes up quite a bit of space – because I’m inefficient).  But I think it’s a brilliant way to visualize saves and it fits thematically with the game.  Thanks, everyone, for the stimulating discussion!

Modelling Help
I’m so pleased to announce that Geoff Arnott has agreed to contribute to the 3d content.  Geoff and I have worked together for … gosh … thirteen years on 3d projects for heritage in the UK.  We worked in the same office and on the same projects at the University of York for ages.  He has been interested in the game for a while and has offered to donate some of his time and skill, just because he doesn’t get a chance to work on things like this very often.  Also, he’s a Romanist at heart (which I am not) and he jumped at the chance to build the Roman signal station for the island.  So, we now have four sites: the parish church, the signal station, the hermitage, and the little Roman temple tomb!


Geoff Arnott’s Roman signal station (WiP).  Think “light the beacons!”


All four sites.

Audio
So, I’ve jumped straight into audio work and that’s where most of my dev time has gone for the past month.  This is a new area for me and that really shows in terms of the current quality of the sounds themselves.  But, I’ve been learning, which is a huge motivator for me.  I’ve also been learning that there’s so much I just don’t know.  And that’s okay.  The audio source material, for now, is placeholder.  When I find some funding it’s going to be so exciting to turn this stuff over to someone who knows what they are doing.  Thank you, everyone, for the kind offers of help.  When I can pay you, you will hear from me.  I want to make sure I don’t ask people to work for free (except Geoff, who said he’d donate for now).

Source Material
I’m getting source material primarily from freesound, which is an amazing site.  You never know what you’ll find.  And, if you’re an audio engineer, you can build on it.  I am not an audio engineer.  Nevermind.  I’ve also recorded some noodling around on my out-of-tune 1905 Gramer upright.  So, I’ve also learned a bit about the art of recording (mainly by being not good at it).  We had the piano tuned after I made the recording, which prompted it to go quickly further out-of-tune.  If we ever get it back into tune, I’ll re-record all of the music so far.  It’s just placeholder anyway.

Audio Systems
If the audio source material has been a little frustrating, the audio systems themselves have been a joy.  I like making systems.  Also, John Leonard French’s gamedevbeginner has a treasure trove of clear, high quality, introductory tutorials and tips about audio in Unity.  I have learned a lot from him.



The audio is composed of four interlocking systems: Music, environment, sound effects, and drones.  They are governed by a metronome to time audio events.  The metronome can also be used to time non-audio events, too – which has a lot of potential.  The game has a kind of heartbeat.

The music and environment systems are uncomplicated.  They listen for in-game events, or Ticks from the metronome, and queue audio accordingly.  They will grow as needed in the future, but they’re robust and good enough for now. 

The sound effects system is a little more complex.  The main feature is that it manages a pool of audio sources which get sent out into the 3d locations of events in the world so that sound effects have some sense of sounding near or far to the player.  Also, I made a loop of collapsing debris sounds which plays continually, and the volume fades in and out whenever a portion of a building is rebuilt.  Because it’s looping, you never start in the same place of the loop twice, and this helps keep the sound from being too repetitive (ironically).  I hope.  Same thing for the twinkling sound when artifacts are uncovered.

Drones
Drones, however, are a different story.  They are what has delayed this post for three weeks.  I had this “Great Idea” to incorporate a background drone to help establish mood and a sense of liveliness in the world.  I was thinking about Dunkirk’s sound design.  I built a system that pitched a single looping drone sampled from my piano anywhere along three octaves.  The pitch was tied to player actions and to the overall “mood” of the world.  It literally set the tone of the game.

Drones are stupid-powerful things.  I am not qualified to use them.  They overpower everything else in the game, even when barely audible.  After two weeks of code and experimentation, I’ve turned off the drone system entirely.  At some point I might feel confident enough to turn the system back on – but they have to be used VERY sparingly.

Audio Leads to Design Questions
In which I struggle to convey how audio builds worlds in the player’s mind.
The other thing that has stalled this update was that the sound system led to questions about some key aspects of the overall design and feel of the game.  This is as it should be.  The biggest issue is that I want the player to feel – not always consciously – that their choices really do impact the world they are (re)building.  Audio, mainly music, is an important part of setting the game feeling.  Drones are great at setting a mood.  But, they’re overpowering (see above) and I don’t have the skills to handle them properly.  Also, not every action a user takes will affect the mood of the world – it would be unmanageable and meaningless if they all did.  This is a design question beyond audio alone.

This game has always shared the philosophy of meaningful user choice expressed in Kentucky Route Zero.  Choices are meaningful to the player, but they do not always result in branching the narrative.  Most games which ask the player to make a narrative choice strongly imply that choice means a player will miss content.  KR0 is less interested in branching systems populated by unique content than it is interested in the player’s connection to the story, forged through little choices that are meaningful to them, personally.  The Resurrection does have content that will be missed depending on player choices, but it doesn’t want that to be a source of tension or concern for the player.  This is the player’s (re)construction and it’s okay that not all content will be encountered.

The player’s expectations should be treated with care and respect.  So, I don’t necessarily want the player to be conscious of the impact of all of their decisions, but I do want them to be conscious that the feel of their playthrough is evolving as they play.  So, some of their choices affect an invisible “World Mood” score which in turn affects things like the pitch of a drone (if I ever turn that system back on), which fragment of music plays, the saturation of the background color, the character of the weather.

Trying to manage this balance through audio pushed me toward having the player affect world mood as early as possible.  In fact, their first official act in the game now affects mood.  Immediately after starting a new game, the player is presented with three words to describe the island they are about to explore.  There is no “wrong” choice.  But each choice has a subtle effect on the world mood, and, hopefully, on the player’s own feelings as they move into the game proper.  From the first moment, the player is shaping the world.  The fragment of music the player hears as they encounter the ruins for the first time is based on their choice of word on the opening screen.  Word selection moments will become familiar to the player, because a choice of three descriptive words will be presented each time they discover an artifact.  So, this starting screen serves as a tutorial as well.


What would you choose?

Conclusion
It looks like I have done quite a bit more over the past month than I thought.  I feel like I’m pushing steadily toward a vertical slice, playable demo.  And it also feels like I have the core design nailed down, and so have more of a structure for creating the rest of the island.  I’ve said this before, so it must be true.  Here’s to another year!

Thank you for reading!

What a nice read to start off my morning! Fun to see that our devlogs both have anniversaries at around the same time. Congratulations! Your update was quite a bit more detailed than mine, haha. Coffee

Can relate to the ups and down, and how working on something like this can be a very helpful thing there. Hope you're doing as okay as you can right now. <3

I'd be really interested to hear some of that audio stuff, even the drones that you ended up deciding against, just to hear what it was all about.

Cool to hear you've got some help on the game now! Hello, Geoff!! Gomez Your work looks great too!

I like those choices for starting a new game, and how they're so similar to each other. Does make it tricky to make a pick tho! Not sure what I'd choose.

Best of luck going further! Still so very excited about this. Kiss

Quote
each save takes up quite a bit of space – because I’m inefficient

Well, why not try avoiding reinventing the wheel?


- use a version control system to check in a "root save"
- figure out a way to serialize the game state data to some standard data format (for example, to JSON)
- apply version control tool to create a new save point

Loading:

- use version control system to check out the save point you want to load

The built-in diffing tool of the version control should compress the save point by only saving the differences. And branching saves comes for "free" because the version control tool has support for it.

Subversion has the Apache license, in case that is a concern. https://subversion.apache.org/
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ChrisLSound
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« Reply #141 on: February 13, 2020, 02:20:43 PM »

Happy devlog anniversary! It's been a joy following along!

I love your ideas for the audio stuff. As soon as I read "world mood score", my mind immediately started swimming in thoughts of matching chords/musical fragments to subtle mood shifts. Sounds like such a fun challenge!

Huge fan of that descriptor choice concept.

I too am interested in hearing what you currently have for audio!

Really great and exciting stuff!
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« Reply #142 on: February 14, 2020, 04:38:09 PM »

What a nice read to start off my morning! Fun to see that our devlogs both have anniversaries at around the same time. Congratulations! Your update was quite a bit more detailed than mine, haha. Coffee
When I read your post over on your dev log that reminded me that it was my anniversary, too!

Quote
Can relate to the ups and downs, and how working on something like this can be a very helpful thing there. Hope you're doing as okay as you can right now. <3
I'm doing so much better than I was a year ago - or even six months ago.  Thank you for asking and for your kind thoughts.

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I'd be really interested to hear some of that audio stuff, even the drones that you ended up deciding against, just to hear what it was all about.
I'm hesitant to share - it's so amateur!  I suppose I'll have to when I release the demo.

Quote
Cool to hear you've got some help on the game now! Hello, Geoff!! Gomez Your work looks great too!
Geoff's great - and his perspective has already brought great things to the project.

Quote
I like those choices for starting a new game, and how they're so similar to each other. Does make it tricky to make a pick tho! Not sure what I'd choose.
The similarity is kind of the point here.  I want to emphasize that the player should choose between subtle shades of meaning rather than wider differences or even the sometimes polar decisions you're often presented with in other games.  It's about building player "ownership" through crafting feeling, here - which is what KR0 did so well, as I said.  Maybe this will work.

Thanks, as ever, for the encouragement!
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