In The Line Of Fire - Coming Soon!

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Re: In The Line Of Fire - Coming Soon!

Post by mankrip » Tue Nov 29, 2016 8:26 am

bogglez wrote:
RyoDC wrote:[...] graphics looks a little bit rusty, even by Dreamcast standards.
[...]
This mostly looks bland because of missing environment shadows, fog amd particle effects. [...]

With shadows it will look more like this: Dreamcast Engine DCE Quake 3 BSP
Then you add a particle effect for smoke out of vents etc and things come to life.
I disagree. Take a look at Virtua Cop 2:


VC2 doesn't use lightmaps, doesn't use fancy effects, and its graphics are still nice. It's all primarily due to art direction, not to technology.

Rather than lightmapping everything, VC2 only casts shadows from some models. This is faster to render, makes the scenes more dynamic and helps to make the enemies feel solid on the ground.

Good art direction and good level design makes a lot more difference than visual effects. Good art direction involves not just static art, but also stuff like visual cohesion and character animations -- See how much of the VC2 charm comes from how well animated the enemies and effects are. Well-animated effects can make as much visual impact as fancy effects.
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Re: In The Line Of Fire - Coming Soon!

Post by bogglez » Tue Nov 29, 2016 10:13 am

mankrip wrote:
bogglez wrote:
RyoDC wrote:[...] graphics looks a little bit rusty, even by Dreamcast standards.
[...]
This mostly looks bland because of missing environment shadows, fog amd particle effects. [...]

With shadows it will look more like this: Dreamcast Engine DCE Quake 3 BSP
Then you add a particle effect for smoke out of vents etc and things come to life.
I disagree. Take a look at Virtua Cop 2:


VC2 doesn't use lightmaps, doesn't use fancy effects, and its graphics are still nice. It's all primarily due to art direction, not to technology.

Rather than lightmapping everything, VC2 only casts shadows from some models. This is faster to render, makes the scenes more dynamic and helps to make the enemies feel solid on the ground.

Good art direction and good level design makes a lot more difference than visual effects. Good art direction involves not just static art, but also stuff like visual cohesion and character animations -- See how much of the VC2 charm comes from how well animated the enemies and effects are. Well-animated effects can make as much visual impact as fancy effects.
You're of course right about art direction, I didn't touch up on that enough.
With "This version is mostly for testing the gameplay regarding the layout of the level." I meant to express that currently the map is mostly there for testing out gameplay, to have an actual level to test.
When creating video game maps, the first versions are very rough and just showing the gameplay of the level: flow, possible branches of puzzles (key and door placement etc), enemy spawns. This first iteration is not about art direction or visual effects, that's done later. It's important to get the gameplay right first, because adding art on top of a map that is simply not fun will not make it better.
See this guy's video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Gtb8sioVLk
He's discussing the gameplay of his map and not working on artwork yet at all.

However, art direction has its limits, and better visual effects open up new art styles.
I think Virtua Cop is bland in the sense that everything looks flat and static. You mentioned character animation, but I feel the animation of the environment is even more important.
The 3D models don't feel 3D at all, the environments lack animation, there is an overall lack of feeling of depth. Its saving grace is the camera movement which makes it feel very action-oriented and less obvious that everything is frozen in time.
Compare that to this: http://twistedsifter.com/2013/05/animat ... ackgrounds
It's not just that the art is great, the environments are also very dynamic. So my example of a vent with a fog particle system on top of it looks less bland than just a vent because it makes the whole scene feel more alive, even if it's just detail.
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Re: In The Line Of Fire - Coming Soon!

Post by mankrip » Tue Nov 29, 2016 12:04 pm

bogglez wrote:It's important to get the gameplay right first, because adding art on top of a map that is simply not fun will not make it better.

[...] You mentioned character animation, but I feel the animation of the environment is even more important.
You're contradicting yourself. Character animation is intrinsically related to gameplay, because it provides visual feedback and anticipation to gameplay actions.

Look, I'm talking about this because I was also developing a Dreamcast game that got some harsh criticism about the graphics (mostly on other websites, which I found by googling). People were talking shit before seeing any gameplay, and after some months, when the first gameplay video was shown, the overall public opinion was a lot better and made me feel regret for having to stop developing the game.

I have seen opinions changing from saying that the characters were shit, to saying that they were great. Animations alone made this difference.

Also, atmosphere and personality are different artistic aspects.
Atmosphere comes from lighting, fog, background animations, highly-elaborated models and environments, music, and so on. Intensely atmospheric visuals are heavier on performance, harder to implement, harder to produce assets for, and harder to optimize.
Personality comes from things such as the animations of the interactive characters (players & enemies), environmental interactivity, feedback, responsiveness, and so on. It's the things that make the game feel alive, and what makes them truly a game.

No, animated backgrounds does not necessarily make a game feel alive. Street Fighter IV has lots of animated backgrounds, and lots of the animations in those are creepy. The people in the backgrounds are animated as if they were rooting for the fighters, but they don't look at the positions where the fighters are, they don't react properly to fighters getting beaten, the speed and timing of their animations makes them feel all floaty, and so on. This makes the background characters feels like ghosts in the environment. The best backgrounds in SFIV are the ones where the background characters aren't pretending to pay attention to the fighters.

I'd rather have In The Line Of Fire be focused on the gameplay. On the things that should give the game personality, not atmosphere. On the things that are best for productivity, to get the game done.

You said that it's important to get the gameplay right first. I agree with that, but you haven't realized that in some cases, there's simply no way to "add art" afterwards. Developers needs to pay the bills. They need to eat, they have medical expenses, they need to live. This frequently makes developers have to choose between developing a full commercial game with a simpler art direction, or a shiny tech demo with no commercial value, because they end up with no time & money to work heavily on all aspects.
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Re: In The Line Of Fire - Coming Soon!

Post by cube_b3 » Fri Dec 02, 2016 12:51 am



I was one of the people who called the game shit.
I'm sorry Manny. I was a noob back then.
It looks a lot better than a lot of the commercial games released before and after.
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Re: In The Line Of Fire - Coming Soon!

Post by juguefre » Fri Dec 02, 2016 1:29 am

cube_b3 wrote:


I was one of the people who called the game shit.
I'm sorry Manny. I was a noob back then.
It looks a lot better than a lot of the commercial games released before and after.
It had so much potential!

Bad cube_b3! Bad!
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Re: In The Line Of Fire - Coming Soon!

Post by RyoDC » Sat Dec 03, 2016 8:08 am

Interesting input on art direction.

I tend to agree with both arguments - both artistic and technical sides are important. But I'm not sure I like Virtua Cop, for me it looks bland too, but maybe it's a deal of preference (beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?)

For me Jet Set Radio better appeals to definition of good art direction.
After 15 years this game still relevant, it doesn't get old in my eyes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMPB4RBbCXw

And, of course, Shenmue. Graphics became outdated, of course, lowpoly models and textures looks horrible on modern emulators, but overall atmosphere of snowy/rainy Dobuita/Yamanose is impeccable. Sound, video, one contributes to another, it creates amazing picture.
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Re: In The Line Of Fire - Coming Soon!

Post by mankrip » Sat Dec 03, 2016 2:17 pm

Virtua Cop 2 is a game from the Saturn era; it's one of the best-looking Saturn games.
Had it been originally developed for the Dreamcast, of course it could have used higher res textures and higher poly models, while retaining the same visual style.

In The Line Of Fire has already covered those aspects, with higher-res textures and higher-poly models.
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Re: In The Line Of Fire - Coming Soon!

Post by RyoDC » Mon Dec 05, 2016 4:08 pm

mankrip wrote:Virtua Cop 2 is a game from the Saturn era; it's one of the best-looking Saturn games.
Had it been originally developed for the Dreamcast, of course it could have used higher res textures and higher poly models, while retaining the same visual style.

In The Line Of Fire has already covered those aspects, with higher-res textures and higher-poly models.
They don't look that hi-poly to me, but I understand the limitations.
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Re: In The Line Of Fire - Coming Soon!

Post by cube_b3 » Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:10 pm

juguefre wrote:
cube_b3 wrote:


I was one of the people who called the game shit.
I'm sorry Manny. I was a noob back then.
It looks a lot better than a lot of the commercial games released before and after.
It had so much potential!

Bad cube_b3! Bad!
Basically I was like it doesn't look like Soul Calibur or any other major 3D fighting game on the Dreamcast. I didn't even find it to be as good as the Street Fighter EX games on Playstation which is why I was like fuck this shit. Hardly a defense but I wasn't the only one who felt that way. It was 2007. It was almost a decade ago.

Had you shown your FPS back in 07 the noobs would've given you shit by saying it doesn't look better than Unreal or Half-Life. Hypothetically.
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Re: In The Line Of Fire - Coming Soon!

Post by mankrip » Tue Dec 06, 2016 8:04 pm

(I suggest splitting all of the graphical quality discussion into a "How should homebrew 3D games for the DC look?" thread)
cube_b3 wrote:Basically I was like it doesn't look like Soul Calibur or any other major 3D fighting game on the Dreamcast.
That was the idea.
cube_b3 wrote:I didn't even find it to be as good as the Street Fighter EX games on Playstation which is why I was like fuck this shit.
Hmm, let me see.
Image Image
The shading in this Street Fighter game is awful. In terms of rendering quality, it's worse than Fightoon, which also had better 3D shadows (the whole point of that railroad stage in Fightoon was to show their z-buffer clipping effect).

The models in SFEX are made of multiple individual body parts; this is another reason why their shading looks so broken. Each model in Fightoon is made of a single piece for the full body, plus individual parts for teeth and eyes, so their shading is continuous.
On the plus size, individual body parts are a hell of a lot easier to animate. With individual body parts, you don't have to worry about the torso getting completely twisted and turned inside out when an arm is rotated around the shoulder.

The thing with individual body parts is, for them to look good they either need to have their points of articulation hidden by shoulder pads, knee pads, wristwatches and the like, or they need to be lit with completely uniform lighting (no shading, same flat lighting level on all polygons).

The biggest advantage of SFEX is that they had actual artists to create the game's assets. Fightoon took the lazy indie game artist way -- using cel shading to disguise the lack of ability in creating good textures for a whole game (as well as disguising the fact that the renderer couldn't do texture filtering). I didn't want to work much on the art, because there was a whole truckload of work to do in the code already.

So, yeah, it was worse in some aspects, while being better in others.
cube_b3 wrote:Had you shown your FPS back in 07 the noobs would've given you shit by saying it doesn't look better than Unreal or Half-Life. Hypothetically.
Maybe, but the dedicated fanbase was a lot more active back then, and a full 3D homebrew game using the DC's GPU for rendering would have had a huge impact for its technical achievements alone.
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Re: In The Line Of Fire - Coming Soon!

Post by cube_b3 » Wed Dec 07, 2016 2:14 am

See the problem with the indie scene in general is aside from a few exceptions like Sturmwind. We are seemingly generations behind.

Xenocider simply looks awful and discussing with the developers, I had to show them PepsiMan. They were able to take a few good notes from it.

Now we have In "The Line of Fire", it looks good. I like the character models. But we are comparing it to Virtua Cop which is a Sega Saturn Game even if you are looking at a cleaned up Dreamcast port.

Stating things like your game looks cleaner, neglects the fact that your game is running on exponentially better hardware. Virtua Cop 2 came out in 1995 (arcades) 1996 (Saturn). Y'all are decades into the future and have access to software and technology that may even have not existed a decade ago. That said, both projects look much better than say another 16-bit game from NGDT.

I have evolved I don't look at a Dreamcast indie games as a consumer. I look at them as a labor of love from a fellow community member. I appreciate the hard work one man or a small team invests, sacrificing so much. I have formed meaningful relationships with developers and publishers in the scene. It's an entirely different dynamic. You look at things in a different light that an average gamer simply won't and 2007 we had a lot more casual gamers. I think it is time to resurrect Fightoon. Even Yuan Works have returned to the scene and have been inundated with love and appreciation:

http://www.seganerds.com/2016/07/04/win ... nd-chance/

Kudos to the author, shows great reflection and maturity.
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Re: In The Line Of Fire - Coming Soon!

Post by PH3NOM » Thu Dec 08, 2016 10:39 pm

Please be patient my friends!

We are working very hard to push the DC hardware.

We have now implemented Ambient Occlusion Light Maps on DC, resulting in much better lighting:
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Re: In The Line Of Fire - Coming Soon!

Post by RyoDC » Fri Dec 09, 2016 7:25 am

Wow, that looks much better then previous screenshots!
Congrats on your hard work!
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Re: In The Line Of Fire - Coming Soon!

Post by bogglez » Sun Dec 11, 2016 1:28 pm

As I thought that improved the mood a lot, great work! :) Feels a lot creepier in that area now.
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Re: In The Line Of Fire - Coming Soon!

Post by RyoDC » Mon Dec 12, 2016 4:47 am

Interesting, how they did that.
They have pre-rendered this to texture maps and then applied the textures?
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Re: In The Line Of Fire - Coming Soon!

Post by bogglez » Mon Dec 12, 2016 5:01 am

RyoDC wrote:Interesting, how they did that.
They have pre-rendered this to texture maps and then applied the textures?
Yes. You can bake shadows in blender for example and make them part of the source texture or bake the shadows to a separate texture. So apart from using more texture memory it's free (but these textures only need a transparency value, aka 8 bit palette, rather than rgba https://apricot.blender.org/shadow-baking/
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