Thursday, 17 July 2014

It's Been A Bad Day - Please Don't Take Your Picture

Don't worry about the title, I'm just listening to R.E.M and it's late ;)  A normal day of development, getting stuck into small fixes to make the engine better and better. Also been reading the honest feedback on the demo we released, and it's getting clearer what we have and what the expectations are for most people.

We've had a few salvos along the lines of our engine looking like something from the early 2000's, such as this one:

Copyright Counter Strike (c) 2000

Personally I think we have a few things in the Reloaded engine that beats this visual, but we can take our lessons from almost any source (pardon the pun). Or something more recent, I dug out the same FPS brand 12 years later:

Copyright IGN & Counter Strike (c) 2012

Again more things to learn but not a radical departure from what we have now, minus the graphical assets which will come in time with model packs. I did notice a huge abundance of baked lighting in the scene and heavy use of bleached out backdrop spheres (the buildings in the distance are painted on the skybox). If you want a button which takes an hour or two to bake in all shadows and ambient occlusion into the static geometry, we can do that if that's what you need.  I'd also argue our pistols look better than the one in the above shot (but I am bias).  

I urge anyone who suspects the Reloaded engine looks like something from 2002 to send me a screenshot so I can dissect it and find out if there is any technique we can use to close the perceived gaps.

User Created Level in FPS Creator Reloaded (c) 2014

Aside from the need for more and varied assets, I don't think we're THAT far back in time, but I am willing to be taught a valuable lesson in visual fidelity of games over the last decade if you are willing and ready with shots :)  I'm not saying anyone is wrong, I'm just suggesting it might not be as far back as 2002 ;)

Just finishing off some emails, this blog and maybe a fix or two and then retiring for the evening. Friday is the day I wrap everything up and do some last minute testing before we give the build to the alpha testers and competition winners to see if we caught most if not all the remaining glaring bugs for V1.008.


  1. Fair point Lee.

    That last screenshot is very good. I'm sure people will take up the opportunity to give you comparison screenshots of games. Personally, Counter Strike: Global Offensive is the visual quality I think FPSCR could achieve. CSGO is a good example of a great game that doesn't need cutting edge graphics. They are good, but fairly basic.

    Anyway, I am excited to the progress in reloaded.

  2. I feel like the stock models of FPSCR is what turns people off. No offense to anyone who makes them, as I definitely can not do better, but at least the props (buildings, barrels, Etc) in my opinion they look old school.

    1. I use alot of non stock models. They have to be tweaked and reworked to work in Reloaded. Alot of times, the models have to be so scaled back to work that they no longer look as good as they can. Its like taking the flavor out of my coffee. Sure, its still coffee but its not what it could and should be. I cant even import a model from its original format as the barrier for using other formats probably wont come down as TGC wants all the models to come from them IMO. Buying third party models, copying them into reloaded would be quite easy IF they didnt have to be made compatible. You can currently only use ONE file type. There is no other engine with this goofy limitation. The same goes for characters. Its nearly impossible to get proper looking functional characters because TGC dont seem to want third party used with their engine.

  3. Lee, FPSCR graphics seem to have around 10 years old.
    But what users do (maps, scenarios, objects, artifacts, etc), with other programms, as a complement, makes FPSCR seem no more than 4 years old. So, with users help and a little more work and polishment, it can improve.

  4. Reloaded graphically is as good as anything out there at present minus a few effects shaders which will all come in good time. The point being made here is that some are comparing engines where it is Artists and developers should be compared. If you compare screenshots created by users with industry pro's you are going to see a huge difference no matter hat engine they use, it is up to users to accept they may need to work a little to achieve the look they want just as those professional teams do.
    The thing is that Reloaded makes it a lot easier fr them to do so:)

    1. rolfy. you imo are one of the better guys to get something good looking out of this product.
      but still... your terrains look limited.. (and lumpy) like every other terrain made in the product.

  5. I would want performance over looks as there is always ways to get more and clever ways to achieve it any way two shots from 10 years ago

    1. I agree with you. If Reloaded can match those graphics (and I think it will) that would be terrific. Those are great images.

    2. Half Life 2 used one of the best 3d engines of all times, animated 3d skyboxes, electric arcs, real looking wires phisics that react to explosions, wind and so on, and it was able to do great outdoor levels and great indoor levels! if you replace the water shader in FPSCR then you could do a shoot thet looks better than the two you posted, graphically FPSCR is better than HL2 engine, but because FPSCR is not finished it miss a lot of things (actually you can make ONLY outdoor games)

    3. Absolutely! Reloaded NEEDS to be able to recreate Half-Life 2. If it can't do that, it's failing miserably in some area.

      Ok, so maybe not the IK-based leg animations.

  6. List of Computer games from 2000 to 2005 (source: Wikipedia)
    The Sims,
    Diablo II,
    Shogun: Total War,
    Perfect Dark,
    Deus Ex,
    Flight Simulator 2000,
    Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn
    Halo: Combat Evolved,
    Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty,
    Devil May Cry,
    Grand Theft Auto III,
    Yu-Gi-Oh! The Duelists of the Roses,
    Shenmue II,
    Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
    The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind,
    Metroid Prime,
    Battlefield 1942,
    Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell,
    Animal Crossing,
    Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,
    Super Smash Bros. Melee,
    Final Fantasy IX,
    Kingdom Hearts
    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic,
    Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,
    Beyond Good & Evil,
    SSX 3,
    Warcraft 3,
    Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater,
    Battlefield Vietnam,
    Half-Life 2,
    Cave Story,
    Katamari Damacy,
    World of Warcraft,
    Jak 3,
    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas,
    Mortal Kombat Deception,
    GoldenEye: Rogue Agent
    Shadow of the Colossus,
    Battlefield 2,
    Resident Evil 4,
    Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks,
    God of War,
    Guitar Hero,
    Star Fox Assault,
    Shadow the Hedgehog,
    Ratchet: Deadlocked

  7. static screenshots to show off your product is a good marketing ploy. any man in their right mind should do this... BUT. ive looked at that game above, and the texturing on the wreck ashore is horrible, and the terrain had the usual FPSCR "lumps" for terrain (because you cannot make them look any different) this is just a static shot from the best view on the level - much like many others from the screenshot gallery.
    ive tried my hardest to make a good terrain. they all look the lumpy-same. I mentioned T-ed earlier only because it was indie-developed - not AAA. The T-ed terrain editor has functional ability to create very good looking terrains - its not a AAA cryengine or the Unreal Editor.
    I think i can make something good with FPSCR .... if only (it has #1, smoothing, #2, some brush settings, #3, more customizable texturing)
    i know this is designed to be idiot-proof, and it is great for that - for someone who doesnt know anything. but this leaves the door for creativity limited.
    i mentioned about blocking volumes etc.. and what we ended up with was - just make a model inivisible and now its a blocking volume.. ok - then include some basic BLOCKS that are invisible for this purpose. (you have zones now? but no blocking volume..weird)

    and yes - i want to make a FP-adventure-puzzler or similar - (no guns)
    or a modern look at the Atari game Adventure or Castle Master etc.
    i think this software will be able to achieve this with its future plans.. im hoping anyway - which is why i will not turn away from this product.

    I made the comment about yr 2000 games.(I will admit i was exaggerating to get my point across- and i guess it did) ;-) the texture quality of todays games are high - so why make something that looks low quality? is it purely so a FPS game can run on a shitty laptop? i think you shouldnt limit yourself.

    im not abandoning you lee. ive stayed quiet for so long, now ive just had to say something.

  8. Graphically i do not think that FPSCR is so old.. yes the water shader still need big improvements work, but do not forget that FPSCR still use dx9, most of last game/engines use dx11. When finished, FPSCR will (should) make any type of games, from outdor games, to indoor games (and mixed one) in A DAY of work you could make a great game! most of games take an engine and adapt it to do the best for that game, and with an entire team of programmers they need months! do not forget that!

  9. (I just wrote out an entire post and lost it, how annoying).

    I would look into lighting before going into shaders. I am of the school of thought that lighting is the most important thing in a game to improve the graphics, and at the moment FPSCR is quite lacking. You have a preset sun position, which projects quite a dim light over the map. The developer has no control over the luminosity, colour, or position of the sun.

    Honestly I would look into some sort of global illumination such as ambient occlusion, or maybe look into baking radiosity into the lightmaps. It increases the visual fidelity hugely.

    The other thing I wanted to draw attention to is that - I know comparing anything to the graphics of Naughty Dog is sort of ridiculous, but the techniques they're using probably aren't that hard to create (although they're hard to create well).

    The sunlight is very vivid, the shadows are crisp and refract through the leaves of the trees. The vegetation below is affected by, and casts, its own shadows.

    They're also using ambient occlusion underneath the overhangs and in the crevices of the trees (the overhangs and steps being created presumably with a voxel-based terrain).

    The terrain itself uses a number of different textures painted on (not just three), you can see the rocks to the right of Drake's arm are painted on and use their own normal map.

    If you compare the above screenshot with this one: (apologies to whosever that is) can just see the lighting looks a bit drab by comparison. The shadows are ill-defined. The scene lacks vibrancy - there are no pleasing-to-the-eye bright spots or mysterious dark spots. Everything just looks... samey.

    Again, not to disparage the efforts of the person who made that screenshot, shows that just by cranking up and tweaking a few values, you can make drab lighting look so much better.

  10. I would prefer if TGC could concentrate on the game basics before fine tuning lights, shadows etc... it seems there is a lot of time being spent on top notch stuff when we don't even got a decent basic core finished.
    The priorities are not what they should be.
    I rather have a game with good basic functionality before a game with top notch lightning. That fine tuning stuff can be done later on.

    1. Completely agree with Stefan Ohlsson! actually FPSCR engine does miss indoor features, before tweaking lights, shadows, shaders and so on, the engine should be finished first! what if you tweak things to do great outdoor images, and you find that, after adding the indoor's, tweaks made worst looking indoor images?

    2. I've been saying this all a long! We need a top notch terrain editor first. This is where all great games begin... Basics...

  11. Although the scene above (I think its rolfy's) it is pretty nice in appearance. Almost all of it is custom stuff. Not what TGC is promising with the editor they are trying to sell. The Waves, the sand at the beach, the ship wreck, the ship in the water, Possibly the rocks on the beach are not FPSCR models and effects. The waves on the beach actually roll in and out with the use of shaders that few that believed in the promises can actually do themselves. Id almost bet that the rock on the right with the trees on was not created with the terrain editor as its too smooth (rounded) in appearance. SO, where you are demonstrating the capabilities of the engine, you are giving a false representation of its actual capabilities out of the box. The only things from this scene that are from the editor is possibly the sky box (i actually think its Rolfy's skybox as well) and the water around the boat.

    1. I think that scene really attests to Rolfy's talent. :)

      I hope scenes like that give the team some encouragement and motivation to keep moving forward.

    2. You have hit the nail on the head! Ultimately Reloaded is just a tool. How well that tool is used depends on the one using it. I've seen crap being made with advanced engines like cryengine, which has the most realistic water and HDR lighting in real time. Rolfy is an inspired artist. This is something the Reloaded team can not offer in a software package to anyone.

    3. The point im trying to get to here is that TGC wants to market to those that dont have the skills of Rolfy (like myself). This is supposed to be for those people that would like to make a game but cant or dont want to do all the coding and what not that the big boy engines use. If you want to put something up that requires a host of different talents to advertise what could be done with those talents and market that to people to try to persuade them into buying the product, there will be a full host of complaints as there sint that simple ability of anything that Rolfy has done and Lee chose to post as an example.

      Pretend time with Imchasinyou. bear with me a second.
      Lets say you seen a picture of a super sweet sports car. It only cost 100 to buy and was supposed to be simple and idiot proof only to find out you dont know how to add fuel, cant find the shifter to switch it into gear, cant add any after market stuff with out rebuilding that stuff and it had a speed limiter of 25. . . . . . . . THIS IMO is what that picture of Rolfy's work represents.
      Hope this wasnt confusing. Its not that it cant be done by a perso with the skills, its that it isnt what TGC markets it as. Maybe one day when they get serious about their products Lee can finally make his first million.

  12. A lot of very valid points above.

    I wrote a story but its too big too post so I will cut it down to y a major order of magnitude....

    I agree - with everyone and everything from the first line of code needs to be better except keep the performance and core features as a priority.

    Top Title visual comparison - not really - cant compare or compete - no chance, no way. Be realistic.

    Thats not to say things should not be improved and they should from the basic everything upwards. Everything is half done to date leave alone adding anything more - except conkit and character creator when possible. The rest can wait while what exists is updated best as possible.

    Less is more Quality not quantity.

    I agree also with lee. The basic core is there but can perhaps and or should be improved - as much as you like.

    The future is what you should look to not the past if you are considering visual fidelity or anything else.

    Try looking to Destiny, not for style perhaps but for advanced, "Sophisticated Quality".

    Thats as short as I can make it.


  13. The bump/lump styled tools we are limited to in reloaded is what makes the maps look dated. We need the ability to sculpt the terrain like how you can in UDK. Any game that has your basic lumpy hills is very early 2000's.

  14. Being able to use custom terrain brushes would be a superb addition to Reloaded. Tyrone is absolutely right here.

  15. You biggest problem by far is that bloom shader that BLURS everything! I don't mean it adds a blurred overlay, because that's exactly what a bloom shader should do. I mean it blurs the final image in the subpixel supersampling stage. It's CRAPPY, and makes the game look old. Remove the subpixel supersampling and it'll look much better.