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Effects firework vs Gameplay Relevant Information

Posted: 25 Nov 2015, 10:09
by Halogene
Thanks to the people that took part in the closed beta testing and actually put some footage onto youtube I had the chance to have a look at some real gameplay. The game looks impressively good and the movement and pace seems splendid to me - overall it makes me go all impatient for being able to play it too. Earlier, I got most impressed by a game's graphics, and I still believe this certainly is something that helps attracting people to a new game, to stirr interest and to make them want to try it out. However, I learned that when a FPS game has a solid enough gameplay (physics, balance, netcode), it might keep people hooked long enough to let them acquire a certain proficiency in mastering the game's mechanics. That is when a player community starts to build up a competitive scene that helps a lot in keeping a game alive. These people are primarily interested in improving their skills, graphical "wow"-effects are less important if not even disturbing. From the videos I have seen I can tell that many of the effects that look stunning will make it harder to concentrate on what is actually going on around you, and to see your opponents.

This is why I would like to ask if there are any plans (or is it even already implemented) to allow players to reduce/modify their graphical settings so the view doesn't get messed up by particle effects and smoke or other view-impairing effects so they can fully concentrate on the gameplay relevant information?

An example of what I was imagining was something along the lines of this comparison.

Of course it would also be a viable option to say handling the information overflow is part of the gameplay, but I believe that would turn out frustrating rather than satisfying in the longrun.

Re: Effects firework vs Gameplay Relevant Information

Posted: 25 Nov 2015, 11:38
by 1/2Hawk
Erm - yes and no. There are some things we have setup for "low quality" optimization esp related to the visual effects, but for the bulk of our materials on the static geometry we only drop detail via mipmaps and are not using any features to give you like some sort of flat shaded view. We'd have to go back and rethink all our assets to try and push things as far as you showed.

I will say that there's a significant difference between watching someone else fly and flying yourself in game given that while watching a video you don't have to concentrate on anything in particular (which makes it seem like holy cow wtf is going on here). We didn't just throw a Chinese New Years celebration in the midst of a dogfight to try and wow people - a lot of thought went into what you see. The ship itself is rather dark and muted but it responds dynamically to lighting from its own fire making a person easier to spot in dark areas when a threat to someone. When you score a hit on another player, you get sparks which are visible from some distance away. The trails on the secondaries help you figure out where shots came from if you didn't see them directly. Etc etc. A lot of this is directly tied to the audio fx as well. So while I do agree with most of your thoughts above, I don't think in practice you'd find it as disturbing as you might think because in a panic with tunnel vision trying to out fly opponents some of the flashy-ness actually helps you sort out what's important. I know when I watch back my own footage, I'm way more conscious of the HUD and the reticle and all the 'noise' on the screen - but in game IDK its a very different experience. I'm sure that won't make any sense to folks until they try it...

Re: Effects firework vs Gameplay Relevant Information

Posted: 25 Nov 2015, 15:00
by MadMax1998
What Hawk said mirrors a lot of modern games in general.

Re: Effects firework vs Gameplay Relevant Information

Posted: 25 Nov 2015, 22:24
by Halogene
The comparison image I referenced was of course only to illustrate the concept of what I was trying suggest. My concern was that smoke and particles obstruct the view and add to the complexity of the scenery, while not necessarily (!) adding gameplay related information. Now I'm a big fan of being able to configure all sorts of stuff. Mostly games provide options to configure things that eat up performance, I was trying to raise the point that enabling players to configure the game to optimize perception is a feature that will be valued by groups of players that form an integral part of a lively player base.

Rest assured I am not doubting you put many thoughts and efforts into the choice of effects you utilized, and I did not intend in any way to imply that it looks like a firework of all sorts of available effects. Quite to the contrary, from what I have seen it looks very polished and consistent, I have to raise my hat for the result you guys achieved.

My point is that if it is possible with reasonable efforts to allow the player to choose settings that improve perception at the cost of beauty while not necessarily having an impact on performace, you would probably accomodate the interests of potentially important sections of the future player base. Modern games tend to offer less and less configuration options, and the ones they offer only relate to performance impact.

Re: Effects firework vs Gameplay Relevant Information

Posted: 26 Nov 2015, 06:55
by 1/2Hawk
Yep - your point is very clear in its intent and I didn't take it as a negative thing. When I think of how the dumbfire works, it does spit out quite a large plume of flak and smoke and we do use this to obscure another player's sight lines etc. My concern if there were options to knock that all out then most players would gravitate towards turning it all off to get an advantage, so then why have it at all?

Regarding the performance trade off, due to the nature of what we're doing we can get away with a LOT more than most FPS games. For example, in a typical human based character - the animations are based on about 98 bones per character and those have to blend during walking, running, jumping, wall-climbing, swimming, strafing, manipulating weaponry, going prone etc. Our ship has maybe 32 bones and only has to animate when changing weapons, otherwise it just floats there. A modern FPS battlefield can be in a cluttered city with tons of enemies and AI - our fights happen in confined rooms with a handful of other players to render. Figuring out how to unlock the engine to give free movement is difficult technically but everything else related to performance gives us a lot of advantages. (That said, we have pushed this poor engine to its very limits in many areas). Anyway - I suggest jumping in on the open beta and give us more feedback once you've seen it first hand. :)