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I've made it a habit lately to post stuff only in the BB forums, but I think this question is qualified to be posed to everyone in the PoE forums. (I apologize in advance for the typos to follow, but I'm typing from mobile again.) To summarize, ever since Throne of Bhaal (mid 2001), where the highlight loot/containers/doors function was introduced, I felt that it encourages me to adopt a play style which I regret adopting, but which happens to be the fastest and most convenient and efficient. You know what I'm talking about, because you're all doing it too, come on I mean the practice of "enter an area -> hold the Tab key to scan for valuables, containers, hidden stuff -> rob the place of everything that isn't nailed to the ground -> move to the next area/dungeon level" These cycles are often accompanied by "sell the gathered junk for gp". While this is a rational tactic, I've always felt it breaks immersion, because the player starts to feel more like a high fantasy hoover than a high fantasy hero. Yet the tactic is so profitable to the player, and so addictive, and convenient, and seductive, that I've never resisted using it since Throne of Bhaal, trough my later replays of BGII which didn't initially have that function, then through NWN, all the way to Dragon Age I&II, basically everywhere where I could. Now, PoE, from what I've heared stated numerous times by Josh Sawyer (btw I can hardly stop myself from referencing him and Tim Cain by just first name ), is a game that's deliberately aiming to capture the Zeitgeist of the 1990s fantasy RPGs. Does the inclusion of this highlighting feature into PoE (it's in the backer beta) also constitute part of the efforts towards capturing the Zeitgeist? Because the feature was only added in the penultimate IE game, chronologically speaking. My answer is that apparently it was so convenient that they added it in regardless of it not being a key feature of the IE games. Memories of past periods are often idealized, like the way many people imagined the Middle Ages in the mid 1800s I guess Anyway, jokes aside, I am far from the argument that this feature shouldn't be in the game, especially with the cited chronological motive. On the contrary, please, let it be there, I am all for capturing the Zeitgeist, and I am aware that this is achieved by borrowing the best features of the period in question, with precise chronology taking a step back. But Josh Sawyer has also assured us in a few places, that the team would not hesitate to improve on aspects of the IE games which were constraining, not working well, etc. This is what I want to suggest that be done with the highlight feature. My suggestion is that doors and containers only highlight when the key is pressed while a character (currently selected or no) is whithin a reasonably small distance from the door/container. This alteration to the functionality, in my opinion, achieves multiple good effects simultaneously: 1. Prevents the cheesy tactic I described, or at least makes it more tiresome and thus less probable to be employed consistently for a long part of a playthrough. Especially with the Stash present, this feature is ready for much more efficient abuse in PoE than it ever was in the IE games. 2. Prevents the "pixel hunt" done with the mouse pointer which was the usual practice before the advent of the highlight key. Pixel hunt should also not work on containers/doors that are out of range. 3. By highlighing objects only in proximity of part characters, some very authentic role-playing scenarios become possible, such as - you've just cleaned a room in a dungeon and you spread the party around, so that with one key press you can highlight more of the room, but knowing that is way you run the risk of being ambushed while the party is not in formation, or setting of a trap. Making either choice involves a tradeoff. 4. PoE builds on IE games' functionality and makes from what was a feature suggesting abusive behavior, a feature that suggests role-playing opportunities. 5. Provides an incentive for the player to use all the party members together, for a task that isn't combat or related to combat, and this is something happening relatively rarely. I see it as an equivalent to one of the text-based interactions, where the party decides to "[search the room]". You get what I mean, right? I wonder what the developers would say about this, but I'm sure they want to see what the community thinks of it most of all, so I think if the devs' input comes it will be only after many people here have stated their opinions. With this I encourage you to say what you think about my idea - do you agree the highlighting was/is breaking immersion/potentially abusable? Do you think a solution such as what I'm proposing can make the game more interesting? Do you have your own solutions to propose?
D&D: Dwarves and Doors Adam Brennecke We are another month into preproduction and have been making awesome progress on all fronts. This update covers dwarves and doors, two of the many accomplishments in the month of January, and gets into the finer details of development on Project Eternity. The Creation of the Dwarf One of the goals in preproduction was to figure out how we could make character modeling pipeline be as efficient as possible. The problem is fairly complex: All of the six playable races, human, elf, dwarf, aumaua, orlan, and the god-like can wear armor, boots, gloves, helmets (...well, some have trouble wearing helmets, but we will talk about that some other day...) and have other options that the player can customize like facial hair, hair style and skin color. We also have tons of armor variations and types of armor, like plate, brigandine, leather, and mail. (Josh loves his armor). Ideally, our artist would only need to model one armor piece - let's say plate body armor - and have it fit all six of our playable races even if the races are all of different proportions and body structure. At the end of the day the same model for plate armor could fit a slender four-foot-tall orlan and a burly seven-foot-tall aumaua. The goal for January was to build a system to allow us to do this very thing. During January, we've developed a new system to allow our human bipedal skeleton to be shaped and morphed into the other playable races and have armor be shaped and morphed along with the skeleton. The character modelers have fine control over the proportions of the races, and only need to model armor pieces once and not six times over. In preproduction we look at developing systems like this. It may cost us time up front, but will save us hundreds of hours down the road in production. The dwarf ended up being our first test case, and now we have dwarves as playable races working in game. Pictured at the front of this update is a high-poly dwarf head that Dimitri Berman (lead character artist) modeled in ZBrush. The high-poly head is used for making normal maps which aid in lighting the character models. A simplified mesh is created from the high-poly head is used in game. Open, Close, Lock On the other end of the pre-production spectrum, the programming team has been writing the building blocks for the area design toolbox. One of the essential things that all areas need are doors. From past experience we know that doors always present difficult problems with pathfinding and are a big pain in the arse. Getting a potentially risky, yet required, feature out of the way now seemed like a pragmatic goal, so Steve Weatherly (game programmer) and Sean Dunny (environment artist) set off on a quest to get doors working in the game. We first tackled this problem creating a list of all the features that doors need to have. It's easy with doors since we all know how doors work: Doors have a few states, like open and close. Doors can be locked, and be unlocked with a key (or skill). Doors can be used, meaning the player can click on a door and the selected character will be commanded to go and "use" the door. Doors can animate to match the open/close state. Doors block character pathing when closed, and don't block pathing when opened. We even listed out minor details such as doors can change the mouse cursor to a different state when hovered over, and doors should always open away from the character using the door. Tasks were made from this list, and the work began. Steve was able to get a working prototype of a door ready to test quickly. At this stage we could see how the door looked and felt in game, and if there are any unexpected problems that came out of the prototype. One issue that came up was door placement. We found that it was not easy to place a door in the exact space to fit a dungeon doorframe. Steve and Michael Edwards (senior technology programmer) coded a system for doorframe "snap points" that makes the door pop to the exact place that we want it to go. Designers can now place doors efficiently. Hooray! We love being able to share our progress with you all, and we hope you enjoy reading these production updates. If you have any questions about development, please post them in our Project Eternity forum. Thank you!
(When I was playing Fallout 2 I remember thinking: "cool, I'm going to get a car sometime. Will I see it move?" I knew the answer would be negative, but I enjoyed wondering. In BG1 I was very glad whenever I saw any animation, as small as it was, but watching a video of a flying Wyvern only to find out it had go around the lake to attack my party. PS:T had some few but awesome animations. IWD had a few animations at the ending, and the fact nothing in Nature moved because all was frozen served as an acceptable excuse. In BG2 there were some improvements, but most of it was static too. Then IWD2 showed a lot more things moving and more big size puzzles, and I wondered if the Infinite Engined could be tweaked so we could get more from it. But then there was Lionheart and nothing more.) I'm very glad this game will be isometric and use pre-rendered art, and I am aware it's not easy to blend 3D animated elements and physics into static "paintings", but come on, almost 10 years have passed... I believe the stillness of pre-rendered graphics was a technical limitation and not an aesthetic option. Pre-rendered isometric games are great because they have a closer relationship with old book and board games but, other than that, I think designers and programmers should be completely free to develop a more interactive experience. I find this very important for the immersion factor. Black Isle games have always had a great atmosphere, the lighting and weather was fantastic and I hope Obsidian's attitude won't be "going back to the RPGs we loved" but "pushing the RPGs we loved to the possibilities of 2012 technology". There's a lot to learn about this on games like Commandos 1, 2 & 3, Robin Hood: the Legend of Sherwood (impressive physical engine!) and Desperados.