Project Game, Design Eternity

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Project Game, Design Eternity

Postby Merlin » Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:02 am

You're all super smart and handsome dudes, so I bet you already know about this, but Obsidian announced their nostalgia trip about a month ago, codenamed Project Eternity, on Kick Starter.

Anyway I'm super pumped and in for $25. Can't be more disappointing than Diablo 3!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/obs ... t-eternity
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby RageAgainstVoid » Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:45 am

There are dozens of things we should have talked about but somehow haven't, and this is one of them. There's such a huge backlog of news, it's almost too intimidating to even start bringing it up, not to mention that my critical attitude (maybe to the point of character flaw) doesn't exactly encourage others either.

Anyway. I'm pumped too, considering what folks are behind it, and what budget they are given now in popular demand. The making of PS:T finally paid off. Yet, as you would expect, there are things I wished were better so far:

For example, the look of the first screenshot. Clearly the old Infinity Engine classics have aged best of all games from that era, from a visual point of view. If they weren't such a pain to run on modern hardware, I wager even today many more newcomers would enjoy them. This first shot is clearly in their heritage, and like them, to me it looks cool as much as it looks somehow bad. As before, they make the scenes in 3d, pre-render it out 2d and touch it up by hand-paint. Like before, their scene setups I like. But still, despite their efforts, something about this process makes the result look somewhat sterile, I have always had difficulty to emotionally connect to such visuals, I have always wished they'd just straight up hand-paint the landscapes. I don't understand it from a production point of view either. It is so much more work to model everything, and it pretty much always looks worse than by hand, even when that has less detail. The only part where it was easier to produce was modeling characters to prerender their animation key frames for all isometric directions, that's just grueling to paint all by hand the smoother you want it; but paradoxically, if I remember correctly, that's excactly what they did draw by hand... All that almost sounds to me like a scheme to keep the 3d artists in the team employed.

For comparison, look at this trailer to Trine 2, especially the beginning's hand-painted city scape:
Say what you will, different styles, details, and whatnot, but that 2d snippet looks so much better; it's hard for me to believe that anyone's view would differ.

They say they choose pre-rendered classic visuals because it looks still more beautiful than realtime 3d and you can do scenes you couldn't really do in realtime to begin with. Frankly I find these arguments hard to believe in the year 2012/13, and even more so at a release date 2014/15. Fact is, they already do all assets in 3d, and their runtime engine is Unity. And there is another fact, and that is more of Trine2's actual gameplay graphics in 3d:



Which doesn't even use DX10/11, and isn't produced by the biggest team. Maybe the exact visuals of Project Eternity would not run too well still in realtime 3d, but imo its style of visuals is not all too worth the run in any way when compared with Trine2, be it 2d cutscene or 3d gameplay.

Well, maybe I'm a bit too harsh. I like Project Eternity's visuals so much more than Dragon Age's or Mass Effect's, just as I liked Baldur's Gate visuals so much more than Neverwinter Night's. It is just... I don't understand. For many games, in the past and now, I wish they'd go for more straight on hand-paint, also allowing for more interesting experimentation in style, but who's doing it. I don't know what's the holdup really. And even if they kept it realtime 3d in the vein of Trine2, which almost looks as if hand-painted, they had a lot more options to experiment with by-case gameplay, different perspectives to situations etc, while still keeping it true to what made old-school good.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby RageAgainstVoid » Sat Oct 20, 2012 4:51 pm

There's a guy in my town who paints concepts. He's currently trying to make a comic book on Kickstarters. I'm afraid it's not gonna make it, even though he's professional and talented. I don't know him personally, but I find it a shame that such handywork goes unnoticed, especially since his stuff is a positive prime example of what I talked about earlier.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby Cassiel » Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:51 pm

Could be interesting but I'm always concerned when the artist wants to write the story, too.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby Merlin » Thu Mar 07, 2013 12:33 pm

The Kickstarter for the new Torment game went up yesterday. Nostalgia overload! :D

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inx ... f-numenera
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby Kaz » Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:25 pm

Uuugh Torment was great but it doesn't need a sequel.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby Merlin » Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:29 pm

It isn't a sequel.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby Kaz » Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:40 pm

Why even use the Torment name then? You can make a spiritual successor to an old niche game under a different name. Even get funding for it through normal channels! See: shock, Bio.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby RageAgainstVoid » Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:28 pm

Planescape is the name of the setting, Torment the name of the spirit. It's easier to get Bioshock funded since it's an "action first person shooter". I like the Numenera setting more than Planescape, while being closer to it than competing projects that claim to carry forth PS:T already, under a different name.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby Merlin » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:52 am

Kickstarter has been a godsend for nerds who grew up in the 90s.

We'll have to wait and see if removing the publisher from the equation results in less disappointing sequels/reboots. It certainly gives developers a way of directly involving their target audience in their projects.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby RageAgainstVoid » Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:20 am

Sometimes I'm a bit concerned about the increasing levels of professionalism with which the Kickstarter campaigns are waged. Even though the crowds that the big guys managed to amass also can increase the crumbs left over for the little guys, public expectations are raised to what an industry grade team can do even in exposition/communication/marketing, with several persons dedicated to just that. A consumer must love this. An indie producer must feel daunted by that comparison. That they cannot compare must be reflected in the funding goals, while the big players can even refinance/hide their marketing cost in the funding goal; basically the "kickstarter experience" is payed part of the product; highest quality production has more and more increased margins, while everyone else's must deminish in response.

But to be honest, the funding and stretch goals of about any project so far never made much sense to me anyhow, maybe even less sense than DLC prices. It's excessive, like "oh we got another half a million, now we can hire this one more guy, or do this one more NPC, and here's a funny youtube video and a couple more words" ... nu - hu ... it's really difficult to judge the merits, professional investors are now clueless crowds; the development of Kickstarter projects may be more transparent in the producer-consumer relationship than usual, but it's less transparent in the producer-investor relationship than it has been in traditional funding; when the consumer is the investor, money looks well spent as long as development is a fun ride.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby Merlin » Sat Mar 09, 2013 8:24 am

It's not reasonable for an indie developer to expect a million dollars for their production, and I think most people understand that. Hell, even some veteran developers fail in this regard, with the most recent example being Gas Powered Games' Chris Taylor, and his new (FA)RTS, Wildman.

I like stretch goals. The numbers are a bit arbitrary, of course, but it serves to generate hype for a game, and at no personal cost. The price tiers allow for some nice options as well. Fly out to meet and party with the dev team? Fucking sweet.

Also, are you saying professional investors aren't clueless? :P
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby RageAgainstVoid » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:02 am

It's not just the total amount of money, but the efficiency of spending. The wallets of backers are not bottumless for an infinite number of projects, something the industry also likes to forget in their hunt for growth. A few high profile projects soak money up like a sponge. To stay competitive, smaller projects must be more and more "realistic" about their goals, and that usually means first making compromises about the quality of their living, which is something usually expected from start-ups, in the hopes that in the actual sales after production things are looking up for them personally. Maybe this is what rubs me wrong when I see these projects that go in with famous heads, big talk and the expectation not of compromise to follow their dream, but to live larger than ever in doing so. It's like certain personalities that only bother to work on the title if the stretch of another million is reached, else they got something better to do, and then babble on about fulfilling their childhood dream with this. C'mon. And the rest has to calculate ever more so tightly just to hang on.

Driven to the peaks of absurdity, but only fully consequential to what Kickstarters is becoming, see now Richard Garriot in his newest totally self-absorbed shenanigan. Look, Ultima was cool, and the guy can do whatever he wants with his money, bless the guy, but when he spends 20 million for making vacation in space, then blows couple more to go visit the Titanic, also buys a freaking castle! and then goes to Kickstarters to beg for a measly million so he can, like, "make the game he always wanted to do", and it totally looks like shit, but he probably gets it funded anyway, what the fuck, right? Maybe he can afford buy another Dolorian then.

Maybe I'm just jealous and shit. Typical investors are not all bright, and they still have risks, but they have more leverage to investigate what's going on; that pressure for focus and control is not always and only bad like it's made out to be lately on Kickstarter.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby Merlin » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:26 am

Haha...oh, Richard... :lol:

I saw his project the other day. I actually don't see it getting funded, or if it does, it won't break any records. Just look at the $10 tier's description:

GUILT PLEDGE
=============================
Thank Lord British and prove your virtue with a $10 donation. If you ever pirated an Ultima game or used an exploit to grief other players in Ultima Online, here’s your chance to repent! For your $10 donation you will receive a clear conscience and Lord British's undying gratitude.

The guy has a reputation for being an eccentric egotist. Who the hell thought this was a good idea?

At any rate, I'm not sorry that crowd funding was at least attempted.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby RageAgainstVoid » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:35 am

We all depend on his success, so he better have it.

Lord British, fly to the Mars next, claim it for humankind.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby RageAgainstVoid » Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:51 am

You know, despite the little things I critisize, all in all I love Kickstarter, I love the backers, I love the projects, maybe even the bad ones, and most of all the underdogs making it big, justified or not. In my opinion Kickstarter is like one of the most important things to ever happen, it directly democratizes economy, it makes capitalism true by giving everyone a real chance, in short it makes the world a better place.

There are worries about Kickstarter fatigue, the gold rush dying down, countless fish in-fighting in a little red pond. I'm not sure if the big projects soak more money up yet than they bring in interest of new Backers to all of Kickstarter, or if the remaining Backers are growing more conservative in their spending already.

But anyway somehow I have a harder and harder time seeing myself jumping on the bandwagon as a maker though. I have less and less a feeling I might fit in. I mean, aside that Kickstarter has still not gone international, even though small sites like Indiegogo have.

Part of it certainly comes from how much I distrust the effects of money in the game. Money, or just the outlook on it, changes everything, it changes the way you think about everything you do.

And I have noticed that more and more people are giving themselves the label "indie", ride on that tail to gather sympathies that they otherwise would not get purely on merit of their work. They can do this because there is confusion and bluriness about the meaning of "indie", it's become another "emo".

Indie is a marketing trick now.

In my view, the fundament of indie is the complete exclusion of money and fame, so real creative independence. As soon as you do it for a living, you are not indie anymore, you are professional by definition. Maybe you are a bad professional, maybe you earn so little on it you live like a rat, but that does not make you indie. That your company is small doesn't make you indie, it makes you small business. That you are a crowdfunded underdog doesn't make you indie either, it makes you crowdfunded.

Only as a hobby with nothing at stake and no obligation, not to anyone, and not to yourself, all true to your whims and interests, can you be indie; the more you are serious about it, the more you are serious about yourself, and the more you need the approval of fans, the less are you indie also; the less you have work ethic, and the more you make do with less resources, the more you are indie. You are free to do or not, without frauding anyone; even if it totally sucks, and it most likely will, or nothing happens, and it most likely won't, and no one will care, no one will notice, and that just doesn't matter, because it's just indie, what gives.

This uncompromising and fatalistic indifference is at the heart of being indie. Being a mod can make it difficult to be indie. Even being good can make it difficult to be indie. Despite that, I think ToB managed to be indie nontheless. Maybe NS1 too, at least damn near close. NS2 absolutely is not indie, no matter what they say.

That said, it shouldn't really matter to the appreciation of a work on whether it's indie or not. Many indie titles totally stink, and a few AAA industry productions I love. The meaning of indie is in what role a process of creation has in the life of the creator.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby RageAgainstVoid » Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:11 pm

In other words, and what differentiates indie from hobby,
indie does have a participative public component:

Indie is obvious pretend-play of your hobby being a professional business, ambitiously making fun of that in care-free innocense, and being spooked when shit gets real. Indie is like doing karaoke in a japanese bar, with your own song. You roleplay a performance, others roleplay your audience. You smile at an ovation, and laugh at the booing. They can't seriously blame you, dispute is silly, nothing was promised, nothing was taken, nothing really happened. Was a funny evening, everyone goes home, work day tomorrow.

There is little more pitiful than an indie who seriously believes in a career and gets disappointed.
And there is little more disgusting than professional business taking cover behind the indie label.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby RageAgainstVoid » Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:42 am

Many an indie has the tendency to be pretty egocentric and hyper-idealized moralizing to sell their shortcoming as strength; a great shame itself that in turn can corrupt the spirit of the work as much as any big money could.

Making an audience happy is not shame but honor, it belongs to indie like it does to professional.
But you can make your audience happy in the sense a drug dealer wants to make addicts "happy".
Or you can make them happy like a good host would try to the guests of his home.
An indie is content to care for an audience not much profitable, within the integrity of his work.
Their interest and his interest meet to make that integrity work nontheless.
This can lead into the professional; that is not bad, being bad is bad.
A bad professional is not a better indie, it's a scumbag or failure.
A good professional would like to be an indie.
Almost as much as he'd like to be something better than dead.
Sooner than later the best indie is; no one cares what the bad indie is.
Maybe that's terrible, maybe that's just fine.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby RageAgainstVoid » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:45 pm

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Re: Project Eternity

Postby Cassiel » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:38 pm

Where's the rest of the money for that game coming from? A million isn't even close to enough to make it.

Anyway, he's right that most game designers suck but way off base about why people want to be, or how people end up being, game designers. Like this:

“But if you follow, they generally say, ‘You know, I really like Medal of Honor, but I would have bigger weapons, or I would have more healing packs, or,’ you know. They go to make one or two changes to a game they otherwise love versus really sit down and rethink, ‘How can I really move the needle here?’


This isn't true of professional game designers at all. The reason so many games turn out this way is the business and marketing side of things: producers, managers, C-level asshats, sure, but not designers. Games are a business, and businesses have to make money, and taking chances on novel game designs is expensive (requires more R&D) and risky (the game could flop and now your employees are out on their asses). So the people with the purse strings prefer to regurgitate what's worked in the past instead, and most game designers suck because in this world "game designer" doesn't mean what we think it means. In other words, game designers aren't the problem; game design itself is the problem.

Also odd that dude's focus is so overwhelmingly on pacing ('Have I evenly distributed my content throughout the world? What are the beats of each piece of content?'), which is important but by no means the only thing. The Ultima games were pretty terrible at narrative, for example, even if they had decent plotting. Personally I'll take the reverse any day.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby RageAgainstVoid » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:29 pm

I agree with a lot he said, but it's only half the story. The other half you just said.

Guy's stuck in the past, from problems to solutions.. and measure of talent.

What is the industry anyway these days. Things have changed a lot even the past three years. For every bad example of it there's at least one good now. It has become so varied and broad... no one needs the one true savior of gaming anymore. Praise the Lord. British it is not.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby Cassiel » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:41 pm

Heh, I just went looking for an example job posting to illustrate how "game designer" as an organizational function is fundamentally broken, and found this:

http://jobs.gamasutra.com/jobseekerx/vi ... ntno=48212
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby RageAgainstVoid » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:43 pm

LMAO.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby Cassiel » Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:45 pm

I should apply just on the off chance that it gets me in a room with a shot-caller. Blizzard couldn't afford to hire me at this point, but I'd consult on my off time for free. It's not like I enjoy seeing them screw this up so badly.

Yo o, make it happen.
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Re: Project Eternity

Postby RageAgainstVoid » Wed Mar 20, 2013 6:21 pm

What, having you shared? It's me or the grave, slut!

Their shit's a decade of disgrace, so I do, sorry 'bout that, but I'd also enjoy seeing you turn it 'round for them *giggles*. That is if I had any hope they'd give you proper appreciation, rather than parking you somewhere as an 'associate mascot' like those dota clowns.

Nothing 'gainst o though, I bitch 'round fully aware that Blizzard's just doin' fine altogether anyway, and so is he, I assume, while I'm the guy shrubbing floors, so no hard feelings there, buddy.
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