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How "retro" should the mechanics of PE be?


PE graphics & controls  

111 members have voted

  1. 1. How do you feel PE's graphics and controls should be presented?

    • Locked, 2D isometric view like the classics (PS:T, BG, FO)
    • Dated, but still more modern style like NWN2.
    • Cutting Edge, best of the best graphics.
    • Other, explained below.


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I've been thinking quite a bit about this while discussing the "classics" such as PS:T, BG1&2, Fallout1&2, etc...

 

I've heard the term 2D mentioned several times while talking about PE. My question is, how retro is this game going to feel? I mean, they've got a 4 million dollar budget just on kickstarter. With such an outstanding turnout on the kickstarter project, and more people still donating WAY after the fact, I couldn't imagine the budget being less than 6 million when all is said and done.

 

I did a little bit of research into the production costs of AAA PC game titles, and while I couldn't specifically find the production cost of NWN2 available, I was able to estimate it at around the amount that obsidian is going to have in order to fund PE.

 

So essentially, they are getting equal funding to a AAA game title, but talking about using a "locked" isometric view. So that means no camera rotating, right? Why?

 

I guess the appeal of PE, to me, is a return to deep, involved storylines that seem to be lacking in many modern RPGs. But it's these same RPGs who have invariably improved upon the graphical presentation of the games, and created engines that are easy to work within, and don't require the production costs to create an entirely new engine.

 

So my primary question is, why can't we have both? Why can't we have a game that looks good, has decent graphics, AND returns to the days of old, when developers seemed to care about delivering a compelling storyline?

 

Now, I'm not saying Obsidian isn't going to deliver. I really don't know what the final product is going to feel like when I get my copy, but I am concerned based on the language that I've been seeing, that this "new" game is going to feel graphically and mechanically older than nwn2, a game produced by the same company 6 years ago.

 

I would think they'd be able to afford to license something like the aurora engine(nwn1&2) to make this game without putting much of a dent in their budget, and they already have their own custom toolset they created to work with the aurora engine.

 

Now, I'm not asking for cutting edge, modern-day DA:O graphics, but can we at least upgrade from 1999 to 2006, and have equivalent to nwn2 style graphics with the 1999 storyline?

 

What are your thoughts?

"When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him." - Jonathan Swift

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I think you're mixing graphics with isometric vs 3D view.

 

There's nothing stopping you from making detailed graphics in a game with isometric view. It just means that you can't rotate the camera and have to see structures from a single angle. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Having to construct a 3D model for every shack you come across usually leads to sloppy design, a lot of repetition or a detailed, but fairly small world overall.

 

So you can't really talk about a "retro feel", unless you believe that isometric view is retro by itself.

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First, don't overestimate the power of 4-6 million dollars. It's not really AAA budget.

 

Second, 2.5d doesn't mean ugly. If you look at 2003 Temple of elemental evil, you will see how 2.5 graphics can be beautiful and modern by that day standards compared to older IW2 and BG2. Mix in up-to-date 3d characters, 3d animated objects, 2d animation paint overs and you will see a high quality artistic and pleasantly looking graphics.

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The basic answer to this question: the whole point in Project Eternity is that its recapturing the feel of the Infinity Engine games, so an isometric viewpoint is basically a given, having project eternity as anything other than a fantasy party based RPG with an isometric viewpoint would kind of miss the point...

 

There are actually advantages to this both gameplay wise and detail wise for what you can do with isometric - by prerendering out scenes you can actually have far beyond the details that even the top of the range graphics for the highest requirement game currently in development has. You literally can have levels of detail that takes a high end computer hours to render for the levels.

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unless you believe that isometric view is retro by itself.

 

I do. It's a relic of past generations of gaming that was created that way due to technological and resource constraints. Today, we have engines and resources available to make things 3d fairly easily. Independent game makers and studios can produce 3d games with far fewer resources than they would have needed in 1999. It's not nearly as cost-prohibitive, and is generally better received by the public, so that is the direction most games go.

 

First, don't overestimate the power of 4-6 million dollars. It's not really AAA budget.

 

It was triple A budget for a -PC- game in 2006. Since we're talking about a title that will require fewer resources/people to create than modern games, more in line with the production costs of nwn2 in 2006, I think that is a fair comparison to make.

 

My question to those of you voting for locked, isometric 2D graphics as opposed to 3D with the ability to rotate the camera is, why? Why would you prefer a dated, less functional viewpoint to a more modern one?

 

Bear in mind that this discussion assumes that the quality of the gameplay and storyline is mutually exclusive from the graphical viewpoint. It's assumed that we CAN have both a good looking game, and a game that features the gameplay and storylines that we're here supporting the development of. Unless, of course, someone has a compelling argument as to why it cannot be done.

 

There are actually advantages to this both gameplay wise and detail wise for what you can do with isometric - by prerendering out scenes you can actually have far beyond the details that even the top of the range graphics for the highest requirement 3D game currently in development has. You literally can have levels of detail that takes a high end computer hours to render for the levels.

 

Fixed underlined in bold so that we can seamlessly continue discussion.

 

I do see your point here, and it is legitimate. However, I don't think that is going to be the case. If they created character models and the rest of the game to the level of detail you're talking about, there would be no reason not to make it a fully-fledged 3D game instead. It would be less detailed, but overall feel better gameplay wise. My suspicion is that it will have neither the level of detail you're speaking of, nor the 3d features that I am. Which begs the question, why?

 

The basic answer to this question: the whole point in Project Eternity is that its recapturing the feel of the Infinity Engine games, so an isometric viewpoint is basically a given, having project eternity as anything other than a fantasy party based RPG with an isometric viewpoint would kind of miss the point...

 

Even in their promo video for PE, they mentioned games like KotOR and FO:NV, which are NOT isometric games. To me, the appeal of the IE games isn't the viewpoint at all, but rather the compelling stories that they pursued, and the general gameplay, both of which can be achieved in a more modern 3D environment.

 

The aurora engine was created as the 3D successor to the infinity engine. All gameplay elements that the infinity engine allowed are able to be reproduced on the aurora engine, with the added benefit of being 3D, and allowing for camera rotation. Additionally, because the aurora engine is now older, it can likely be licensed for a fairly cost-effective price.

 

So, again, what is the appeal of having a locked isometric view as opposed to being able to rotate the camera? I'm not trying to be facetious, I am truly interested in knowing why anyone would prefer that. If you don't, or can't come up with any legitimate reason to have a locked viewpoint, I highly encourage you to reconsider how you vote in this poll.

Edited by BetrayTheWorld

"When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him." - Jonathan Swift

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BetrayTheWorld,

 

I'd say that nowadays, 2d is not a dated technology, but a core design decision. Platformers are a prime example. We have pure 2d Platformers that look gorgeous and their gameplay is top-notch (mark of the ninja, they bleed pixels). The developers of these games created them in 2d not because they couldn't make 3d, but for the sake of gameplay. We also have 2.5 d Platformers where you play in 2d environment with 3d background (dead light)

 

I mean, 2d is not a dated technology in itself. Yes, it was used more often in the past, yet you will find many modern games that only benefit from being 2d. PE developers believe that CRPG they intend to create will work the best way in a fixed perspective.

 

Personally, I would gladly trade 3d blurry textures with oiled shaders and sprite grass for a hand-drawn and modeled environment of 2d isometric perspective. Just saying.

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My question to those of you voting for locked, isometric 2D graphics as opposed to 3D with the ability to rotate the camera is, why? Why would you prefer a dated, less functional viewpoint to a more modern one?

It allows a more artistic approach to scenery for one thing. I don't see how full 3D view is important at all, unless you're playing a tactical game. Did full 3D do anything to benefit NWN games? I don't think so.

 

Harpsichords are retro, but it doesn't mean that you have to compose for piano only or that harpsichord music is somehow inferior. It's simply different.

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On the subject of detail, I give you two examples of games:

 

This is a wireframe view from Skyrim, a game that cost £85 million to make.

 

0c296278c3b9.jpg

 

Here we see the wireframe equivalent from Project Eternity

 

PE-TempleEntrance-ProcessStack-620.jpg

 

 

Note the MASSIVE amount of extra detail prerendering in isometric affords you.

Edited by Alexjh
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I don't consider graphics to be the be-all and end-all of the game's "mechanics". In fact, they're usually pretty far down my list as far as important mechanics go.

 

I want the most updated possible of user interfaces, primarily. I want to be able to move interface elements around at will, hide those I don't want, bring up those I do. I want to click TWICE to activate any ability: once to select the ability, once to target it. Being able to click once would be awesome beyond belief (they managed this in NwN 2 because you could set it so selected abilities auto-targeted your current target). Three times is tolerable but not good. Anything over three requires an interface redesign. I want to be able to assign hotkeys like a mad typist. I want to be able to scroll through available targets using only the keyboard or the mouse wheel. I want to be able to play the entire game without moving my hands from my preferred positions on keyboard and mouse.

 

Compared to stuff like that, who cares whether they have active shadowed bling-mapped turbo-shaded auto-zoomed whatever-the-jargon'd one-inch-high characters or ones from two technology passes ago. NOT ME.

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If you appeal to "realism" about a video game feature, you are wrong. Go back and try again.

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I voted for 'Locked, 2D isometric view like the classics (PS:T, BG, FO)'. Basically I'm just saying that Obsidian's current technique is the way to go.

 

Pretty much this^

Edited by Osvir
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What they're doing right now looks fine to me. I wouldn't mind the pseudo-3D of NWN1, but the locked isometric promises to be very pretty.

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I'm fine with an isometric view because it involves much less of the type of distracting camera management you need to perform in 3D FPS games. The one thing I might miss is being able to climb up a rise and see what lies beyond. Possibly they could implement a limited FoW system that will simulate this effect, at least with regards to being able to see other creatures.

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What they're doing right now looks fine to me. I wouldn't mind the pseudo-3D of NWN1, but the locked isometric promises to be very pretty.

 

I've yet to see an isometric RPG game that I thought looked better than 3D games like nwn2. The above screenshot is deceptive. I found it listed on other sites where this exact issue is being hotly debated. The angle shown in the above SS has been determined to be unlikely in the game, or part of a screen that will not be shown fully in the game, so you will only see portions of said screenshot at any one time.

 

I encourage you to browse locked isometric games, viewing -real- gameplay footage that isn't a cutscene, and see if you find prettyness galore. I expect that you'll quickly return to the reality that 3D allows you to see/make those pretty screenshots, while isometric views rarely end up with anything at all worthy of a screenshot.

 

I don't consider graphics to be the be-all and end-all of the game's "mechanics".

 

Neither do I, and I agree with you. The UI needs to be VASTLY superior to games like PS:T. That doesn't change my opinion that I'd prefer 3D to isometric, however.

 

 

I'm fine with an isometric view because it involves much less of the type of distracting camera management you need to perform in 3D FPS games.

 

It wasn't difficult to control the camera in nwn2, and I don't think it was a distraction. I think that is a better comparison to make than "3D FPS games", since they aren't even the same genre.

Edited by BetrayTheWorld

"When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him." - Jonathan Swift

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I'd argue that Icewind Dale 2 looks (in terms of environment) better than Neverwinter Nights 2 despite being a far older game. The characters in NWN2 are undeniably better, no one is disputing that, but honestly the Infinity engine environments just had way more character. The characters are going to be 3D on the 2D backgrounds so they'll look better too.

 

For fixed cameras in a broader sense, there are two advantages: ones that it makes tactical manouvering far easier than an adjustable camera as you can always see exactly what is going on without having to fiddle around. Secondly, even in a game which is 3D and fixed camera like diablo 3, it means that the artists can ensure the game looks great from every view, whereas realistically, games like Dragon Age and Neverwinter just look dull when not in the obvious beauty shot angles. Fixed perspective lets the designers control every shot.

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I've always liked it, personally. I don't think there's anything specifically "cutting edge" about allowing any sort of possible character angle. For the amount of additional challenge presented to developers, I don't personally reap that much additional benefit as a player. I am, of course, only speaking for myself here.

 

I mean, I don't really need it to be that pretty, anyway. I still boot up Diablo II and Gauntlet Legends and go on monster slashing runs. Those games are 12 and 14 years old respectively, but I am never taken out of the experience by the graphics. Not saying that Skyrim isn't more immersive, but graphics are a tool for immersion, I think.

Edited by Uszi
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I voted for "other', because I took mechanics to mean gameplay mechanics, and would heavily prefer a Pathfinder like ruleset to a 2E ruleset.

 

I would be happy with NWN level of graphics, because any advancement beyond that hasn't really improved gameplay for party based cRPGs.

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I'm fine with an isometric view because it involves much less of the type of distracting camera management you need to perform in 3D FPS games.

 

It wasn't difficult to control the camera in nwn2, and I don't think it was a distraction. I think that is a better comparison to make than "3D FPS games", since they aren't even the same genre.

No it's not "difficult" to control the camera, but it's something you constantly need to be doing. In IE I find myself clicking on the destination then paying attention to the surrounding terrain, whereas in NWN2 and others I have to frequently turn, tilt and change the zoom in order to get the best view. You might not notice yourself doing it, but you are nonetheless.

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That question is useless. I don't think Project Eternity is about retro-ness, it's about creating the same gaming experience back in the days of the infinity engine, therefore about creating a believable world (which in 3D wouldn't be possible just yet - look at Skyrim or Dragon Age: Origins), a deep narrative and cool characters. Copying mechanics is just stupid, except it's just done for being retro, like Scott Pilgrim: The Game, for example. One might call Limbo retro because of it's 2D-platforming, nevertheless it's absolutely new in terms of art direction and atmosphere. That whole retro-thing stinks to high heaven. It's all about creating mechanics that work in a given context.

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This has been covered. The budget isn't exactly tight, although I admit I don't know what their schedule is. Do you know something about that I don't? Have they announced a release date already or something?

 

Anyhow, based on several responses, it doesn't seem like people are reading the thread. But either way, it's fine. If people prefer isometric views for some odd reason that no one can explain or show examples of, then that's what they want.

 

I was just hoping to understand it.

"When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him." - Jonathan Swift

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Even if they got their funding up to 6million while it's certainly a generous amount it's a far cry from what a AAA title gets in their budget. So even if it got to 10million or more we wouldn't be realistic to expect DA:O type graphics.

 

I personally hope that even within the fixed isometric view they allow for your PC to be able to be customized like you would in NWN2 / DA:O if only so that they look unique even while restricted to the camera angle. So long as they don't go with the extremely generic paper doll look from BG1 & 2 I'll be happy.

 

I will say that while the idea of fixed isometric view as certainly passed out of popularity it is by no means worse than a fully 3D environment like DA:O or NWN had. Polygon count doesn't equal beauty or quality. I'd rather play a game with great cell shaded animation than something that just tries for high polygon count and realism. I would say that to me any Vanillaware game is more visually appealing than skyrim or other graphical powerhouse. While I love the uncharted series and cannot even for a second deny how amazing those games look I still prefer the distinct artistic style of a game like Diablo 3 or Borderlands to it. I prefer the look of Breath of Fire 3 to that of Final Fantasy 7/8 which were the games coming out at the same time pushing 3D graphics. Granted the scenery in those games was still painted and those environments were gorgeous.

 

So I don't see this as a divide where we have to ask for both great graphics and a good story. In my opinion we're already getting both. That temple screenshot they released is gorgeous to me and that single screen capture is more visually appealing to me than any scene I could find in DA:O.

Edited by Pshaw

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