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Progress?

Naked_Lunch

Erudite
Joined
Jan 29, 2005
Messages
5,360
Location
Norway, 1967
So I've been AWOL for a while and I see that not much has been happening. Is the project on hiatus or what? How have things been going?
 
Joined
Feb 19, 2005
Messages
4,472
Strap Yourselves In
NL is back :D
 

resle

Novice
Joined
Jul 3, 2003
Messages
45
Location
Roma, Italy
Ashes lives on :)

What's happening? Well yes, hiatus is a good word to describe what's going on - but the developement heartbeats are just very slow - not absent. Ashes is in a controlled coma, so to say. There's a long moment of unbalance between the time at MY disposal and Olly's disposal. He's quite free while my personal life/job is a bit of a mess now as I am in the process of moving back to my home city (long story).

So I find the time to make a snippet of code now and then, which is a problem because when you're dealing with such a complex piece of software, 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 doesn't sum up to 5 .. it barely sums up to 2. What I mean is that there are things that I need to fix/make without interruptions, and I can't still find the time to work on those.

The next build is going to feature:
- Finished, polished combat
- Finished, polished dialogues
- Reworked GUI (more pratical, but arguably less nice to see - I.E.: no "live" paperdoll npc)
- Particle system
- beta magic
- beta fully scheduled NPCs
- beta menu

And thanks to Olly, lots of new graphics.

My greatest concern right now is how to exactly make the modular portrait system, which I have temporarily stripped out of the engine. Not because I don't know how to do that... but because there are various different solutions and I can't decide which one to implement (and all of those are things that will take a good amount of time to be worked out)

In the end, soon you're going to get some new movies. Not a playable demo yet, I think it's still a bit early for that.. but it's already a step ahead of the screenshots :) How soon? I hope for the end of this month.
 

Roqua

Prospernaut
Dumbfuck Repressed Homosexual In My Safe Space
Joined
Apr 28, 2004
Messages
4,130
Location
YES!
Looking great. Can't wait for the demo (or the release).
 

denizsi

Arcane
Joined
Nov 24, 2005
Messages
9,927
Location
bosphorus
My greatest concern right now is how to exactly make the modular portrait system, which I have temporarily stripped out of the engine. Not because I don't know how to do that... but because there are various different solutions and I can't decide which one to implement (and all of those are things that will take a good amount of time to be worked out)

You can discuss the details if it may help with the decisions, there are people around here who are up for the tech talk and giving sound pieces of advice. Even if not, you will have our opinions for what it's worth.
 

resle

Novice
Joined
Jul 3, 2003
Messages
45
Location
Roma, Italy
denizsi said:
You can discuss the details if it may help with the decisions, there are people around here who are up for the tech talk and giving sound pieces of advice. Even if not, you will have our opinions for what it's worth.

Right! That's what a forum should be used for :) So, there are three paths:

- "Classic" - You know, just like the many avatar creators around the net. Like this: http://www.nbos.com/products/sketcher/r ... mFaces.htm
Someone (I had a contact but I lost it because the portrait thing didn't progress much on my side) should design the single face elements.
Pro: it's easy!
Con: tons of artwork to do.

- "Fake 3d" - Like the above, but the artist shouldn't draw 100 different eyes. He only draws 1 eye texture which is then applied to a flat eye model. That model can then be distorted/scaled/twisted in virtually infinite ways to produce thousands different eyes [maybe even facial expressions]
Pro: Very little artwork to do.
Con: Requires specific tools to be coded.

- "Full 3d" - You've seen it and hated/loved it. Oblivion anyone?
Pro: Vastly customizable portraits.
Con: 3d hair sucks, a fuckload of code and 3d artwork to do just for that.
 

Section8

Erudite
Joined
Oct 23, 2002
Messages
4,321
Location
Wardenclyffe
I'd be inclined to opt for option one. The second one isn't really saving you a lot in terms of art work. Sure you can get thousands of variations of eyes without a lot of work, but you still need unique artwork for more defining features - Moustaches, beards, hairstyles, skin tones, wrinkles, etc.

Comparing the work load, I think you'd probably save a lot of effort by letting your artist create hundreds of simple variations by using the distorting/scaling/twisting functions of any graphic suite, as opposed to implementing that functionality yourself, creating a suitable interface and (presumably) providing reasonable presets for those who are intimidated by anything more complex than a couple of sliders.
 

denizsi

Arcane
Joined
Nov 24, 2005
Messages
9,927
Location
bosphorus
Hmm, have you by any chance played Battlespire? There, the character doll is all 2D, but there are multiple art assets for facial features, ie. blank face types, noses, eyes, eyebrows, mouths, hair, facial hair and it works pretty good. It's kind of like the old suspect portrait creation software used by police. If you are interested for the visual look, I can take a video of doll face creation and post at youtube. You can have lots of unique faces with less amount of artwork per facial features (the aforementioned eyes, nose, mouth, even glasses, scars etc.). You can even find one of those police softwares for an idea.

That said, I'm against option 2 and 3. If what I described above would be beyond your scope, then just stick to option 1.
 

denizsi

Arcane
Joined
Nov 24, 2005
Messages
9,927
Location
bosphorus
Here is one such software (~145 kb) I found in my HDD. It works in XP. Mirror.

When you first run it, the language will be Turkish, but you can change it to German or English by choosing Dosya (File) > "Dil degistirme" (change language). Selecting that option will change the language to German and selecting it again will change it to English.

Note that pressing Alt + anything functions as pressing Alt+F in a traditional English interface with a "File" menu. Also note that the third option in facial features, which appears as "----" is for sideburns and you can use arrow keys instead of F7/F8 to switch between variations. Finally, you can save faces but it doesn't seem to be able to load saved faces.
 

resle

Novice
Joined
Jul 3, 2003
Messages
45
Location
Roma, Italy
Section8: Yes, in the end comparing the workloads of point 1 and 2 you're right, it's more or less the same because what's gained in not having to draw all those face elements, is lost in coding the fake-3d deformation algorithms and tools. BUT, the second option would allow for better customization. Oh, anyway!

Denizsi: Yes please! Take a little video, let me see that creation system. About the software you linked: it was really worth a look: it's exactly my idea of point #1, and it makes really clear what helps assembling a random face with no bizarre overlappings.. very interesting

Fez: Eh, you know, I fear it's going to look a *little* ridiculous in any case. Random faces always are a little grotesque... or at least they show some sort of subtle similarities... like if all the people in the world is prone to incest :D


Now... I am sure I did show this before, somewhere else one the codex forums, anyway... this was a prototype of my first attempt at random portraits. Something I wrote a couple years ago in the very beginning of Ashes. I think the resulting faces are a little disturbing, but .. you get the idea :)

creation_1.jpg


portrait_1.jpg
portrait_2.jpg
portrait_3.jpg
portrait_4.jpg
portrait_5.jpg
portrait_6.jpg
 

denizsi

Arcane
Joined
Nov 24, 2005
Messages
9,927
Location
bosphorus
Ok, I'll record a video and upload it somewhere today.

The only real problem I see in the picture above is the unmatching shades of colours between facial features. Otherwise, it looks to be quite a good start in my opinion. The art style of the pictures may not be that appealing and that's about it.
 

Fez

Erudite
Joined
May 18, 2004
Messages
7,954
One thing that is important is that if the faces are there then they should provide a use, such as easy recognition, giving some of the personality of the NPC, showing emotional state, etc. If the faces are all totally random and all look vaguely similar then they won't add anything. If they look bad or don't help me remember or identify people, then it is better off without them.
 

denizsi

Arcane
Joined
Nov 24, 2005
Messages
9,927
Location
bosphorus
Now thinking about it, it really isn't necessary to do this but here are still screens from portrait screen from Battlespire as promised ( I decided that a video wouldn't do much for the cause as the images would be blurred and still shots would serve the same purpose anyway, and with better visibility):

bf2c1cd49f.jpg

(Is this NSFW?)

3834a35cd1.jpg


As it appears, my memory has filled in some blanks as seeing and paying attention to face screen contrasts with what I remembered.

If this type of thing ends up being what you'll do, don't hesitate to discuss it further in detail. There is always room for improvement.
 

resle

Novice
Joined
Jul 3, 2003
Messages
45
Location
Roma, Italy
Fez: Don't worry! Random faces are for randomly generated NPCs only. And the handmade NPCs will have portraits that will be in the same stile of the random ones.

Denizsi: We got convinced by your examples and we're moving on that direction. Found a good way to make the portraits and soo we should get something done. Now, if only we could find a good stock of *HAIR* graphics or someone to make some realistic hair with Poser 7.0 for us..
 

denizsi

Arcane
Joined
Nov 24, 2005
Messages
9,927
Location
bosphorus
Have you decided what facial features you will include for face generation, other than the basics (eye, hair, mouth)?

You can have additional options for features to lower the odds of seeing two similar faces (such as an option for size, eg. each pair of eyes have 3 or 5 sizes, so 10 pairs of eyes could easily mount to 30 or 50 variations).

You can also attribute keywords to these options for better or more precise generation. For instance, you can allocate certain keywords to specific areas, or specific social classes or age, (eg. a cold region might have a higher percentage of NPCs with beards and, thick and long hair, white hair or bald head for supposedly aged NPCs etc.), so the game will generate the faces according to these parameters.
 

Screaming_life

Liturgist
Joined
Oct 29, 2004
Messages
353
Location
On Maggie's Farm... No More
Progress is happening at an alarming rate, so fast in fact that it's almost undetectable.

Yes, unfortunately we've been very crap recently. A combination of real life and apathy has slowed things down considerably. We're still going though and in fact there has been quite a bit of progress, it's just not alot compared to the amount of time it's taken.

Anyway, fear not, vapourware is very distant from our minds and progress just around the corner.
 

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