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It seems to me that the biggest problems in the game are the most difficult to "fix."

music visuals animation

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#1
Arsene Lupin

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I was worried when so much time passed before Obsidian showed off any of the game, and now it seems that my anxieties were justified--perhaps if they had been more open with the early development of the game, the main problems that I see in the Backer Beta could have been avoided or resolved. But with less than five months of development planned, it seems very unlikely Obsidian will be able to implement any substantial changes.

 

In the course of my 3 hours with the backer beta, I compiled a fairly big list of bugs, general feedback and suggestions. But by the end of my first ride through the game, I realized that what I saw as the biggest problems with the game would be the most difficult to fix (because so much work has been done already), and also potentially the most detrimental to the overall enjoyment of the game.

 

As you can see from the tags I chose, I am speaking of the visual and audio elements of the game. Specifically:

 

VISUALS

The visuals in the "wilderness" (or exterior areas of the first map) are very much lacking in contrast. Maybe I should try "color blind" mode to see if things improve (the game crashed on me before I could try it), but the "normal" visuals should be the "best," right? Well, maybe there was a reason color-blind mode was selected by default. The lack of contrast produces two problems:

 

1. Terrain is homogeneous. If I can't tell what a tree looks like because it's leaves are the same color as the grass underneath it, and it casts no shadow, there's no point in the tree being there at all.

 

2. Units/creatures are indiscernible. With the unit selection circles of NPCs/creatures hidden underneath grass, they may as well not exist. Without much contrast between themselves and the terrain, the NPCs/creatures are more difficult to spot than they should be. Superimposing the selection circles on top of the terrain would help some; maybe a small outline or "glow" around the NPCs/creatures would also help them stand out more. As would idle animations.

 

And then there's a visual contrast that is in the game, but that works to its detriment: specifically the environmental animation. The animated water and doodads (like the waterwheel) look absolutely fantastic, but their presence contrasts far too much with the absensce of animation for the rest of the terrain. Contrasted with motionless NPCs, static grass, and unbending trees, the rest of the world looks incredibly lifeless by comparison. If the water is going to move, so should the grass; so should the trees; so should the animals inhabiting the world.

 

MUSIC

Maybe this is going to be a controversial opinion. I've seen a couple of people praising the music. Me? I find it to be incredibly bland. The field music is perfectly servicable for what it is--BGM. But the problem is that the title them (the music that plays at the menu) ALSO sounds like background music. The title theme should be the BEST, most memorable track of music in the game. Remember BG2, how each party member had his or her own theme music? Remember how dynamic and memorable those tunes were? Remember the title theme that played every time you launched the game? We all remember that, even years--or decades--after we played the game. BG2's title them was filled with a sense of wonder and grandeur--it was bold and dynamic and promised adventure and excitement.

 

In other words, the title theme immediately set the tone for the adventure that would follow.

 

Compared to the title theme in Pillars of Eternity, which sounds like the same sort of generic background music you'd hear in an Elder Scrolls game while traversing a swamp. There's no dynamism. No grandeur. No promise of bold adventures or sinister plots or romance or tragedy or anything.

 

It's like standing in a medieval elevator.

 

....

 

And of course, the biggest problem of all is that these aren't really aspects of the game that can readily be salvaged so late in development. It's possible they could crank out a few more tracks of music, and maybe create a decent title theme--but at this point I think we can safely declare it extremely unlikely that Obsidian has the time or resources to re-draw the maps with animated terrain.

 

And I think that's really kind of depressing, because--the countless bugs aside--every other aspect of the game (that I've seen so far) seems to be EXACTLY what a successor to the Infinity Engine legacy should be: lots of roleplaying options, interesting quest design, and extremely well-written dialog. With so much of the game being so good, it's a shame that the most immediately noticeable aspects of the game--the visuals and music--are so lacking.


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#2
dmbot

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I don't get this.
You think some minor graphical tweaking and early music are the most difficult to fix? I would be much more concerned if the content and writing were not up to par, considering THAT's the hardest parts to fix. Swaying and contrast can always be added and music tracks can always be commissioned... (Not that I agree with you on these two points)


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#3
Sensuki

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Color contrast of grass and trees is a fair point. Baldur's Gate 1 managed to get the Forest look down pat, even though it was more "pixel art" style.

There is currently an issue with character sorting in tall grass, and character occlusion behind geometry isn't working properly. I reported some instances of it before, but I need to take more screenshots.

I don't think these issues are a massive deal compared to the issues with combat and systems, but sure, they do affect the overall atmosphere.
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#4
mrmonocle

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I never paid attention to the lack of contrast in game backgrounds until a graphic designer friend of mine pointed it out when he looked at what was happening on the screen of my computer by chance. I'm fine with it since I'm used to it, but new folks might find it unappealing, I agree.



#5
C2B

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I don't get this.
You think some minor graphical tweaking and early music are the most difficult to fix? I would be much more concerned if the content and writing were not up to par, considering THAT's the hardest parts to fix. Swaying and contrast can always be added and music tracks can always be commissioned... (Not that I agree with you on these two points)


Pretty much. I don't see how you would have to redo everything just to get better contrast (Which is a fair complaint). There are enough tricks for that.

And the second part is basically subjective under self-admittance.

Edited by C2B, 19 August 2014 - 07:51 AM.

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#6
GreyFox

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Just looking at screenshots and videos I can definitely see a big issue with contrast and trying to figure out exactly what is going on in the environment.

 

In some locations that grass is either way too high or something else should be in place so that you can visually see what's going on.



#7
Lysen

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2. Units/creatures are indiscernible. With the unit selection circles of NPCs/creatures hidden underneath grass, they may as well not exist. Without much contrast between themselves and the terrain, the NPCs/creatures are more difficult to spot than they should be.

 

Agreed. I think this is the biggest problem with the beta so far - I can't really enjoy the game because I can barely see what is going on.



#8
Bryy

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I was worried when so much time passed before Obsidian showed off any of the game, and now it seems that my anxieties were justified--perhaps if they had been more open with the early development of the game, the main problems that I see in the Backer Beta could have been avoided or resolved. But with less than five months of development planned, it seems very unlikely Obsidian will be able to implement any substantial changes.

Stealth "you should have not shown it to the press" thread.



#9
Qiushui

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The contrast and shadowing problem is a serious one for sure. I'm not so pessimistic that I think it's too late to fix, but it was the biggest problem that immediately stood-out to me upon getting in-game.

 

I hope Obsidian is really going to work hard on that. Because it needs it.



#10
AdaMusic

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The things you describe as problems are for me some of the biggest pros of this game. The contrast and shadowing looks amazing. The environments looks amazing. The music, while not being very "grandeur", suits the game and makes me relaxed.

 

 

 

Compared to the title theme in Pillars of Eternity, which sounds like the same sort of generic background music you'd hear in an Elder Scrolls game while traversing a swamp. 

 

Huh? The Elder Scrolls background music is generic? Are you kidding me? XD
I feel like our perspectives differ so much. Interesting.


Edited by AdaMusic, 19 August 2014 - 12:29 PM.


#11
PrimeJunta

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Huh, I never noticed either. I love the way it looks, and have no trouble seeing what's on the screen and what's going on.


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#12
Tartantyco

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1. Terrain is homogeneous. If I can't tell what a tree looks like because it's leaves are the same color as the grass underneath it, and it casts no shadow, there's no point in the tree being there at all.

 

 

If this is actually the case for you, then you have some serious hardware issues on your side. Trees stand out very well from the grass, and they all have shadow.



#13
jivex5k

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I'll have a more detailed first impression thread over the next couple days when I can really sink my teeth into this game but I will say:

 

Backgrounds look gorgeous, animation blends well.

Character models look unfinished, or lack polish, basically they don't look like they inhabit the same space as the background.

I love the feel of the interface.



#14
Waywocket

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Could somebody with serious contrast problems post some screenshots, so we know if we're discussing the same thing?



#15
Avtom

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Agree with the OP about the music, it's doesn't sound as a spiritual successor of BG. It's lack of brass instruments.


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#16
Todd Danger

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A problem I have been having besides actaully seeing enemies (such as the beetles in tall grass) is having to click on npcs' feet to talk to them. When you have a party of 6 and the alchemist is in a narrow path she can easily be burried beneath my party.


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#17
Decho

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I really haven't had any problems seeing what's going on, though I do agree that the long grass can be a little too obscuring, especially with regard to smaller critters. The lack of animation on foliage is really noticeable though and I hope that something can be done about it (even a few frames of animation to produce a tiny bit of sway would be enough), but it's not a game-breaker for me.

I don't have any problems with the music personally, it may not be as stirring as Die WalkΓΌre but it seemed pretty good from what I heard (in fairness I've not spent all that much time in the beta so that opinion may change, though I doubt it will). Then again I never found the BG2 music to be especially inspiring (not in any way bad, it just never jumped out at me) so it may just be down to taste.



#18
Qiushui

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Upon further investigation I have the following observations on this issue:

 

  • Outdoor scenes are generally very low contrast. I think this is likely done to help blend things with the dynamic 3D lighting system and the day night cycles. A more generic, nearly washed-out backdrop will be easier to blend with dynamic and changing 3D and ambient lighting configurations than a stronger, stylized, more contrasting backdrop.
  • 3D space creates a more integrated look / feel with the way the characters interact with the background but also leads to clipping issues which, when dealing with very small character models, a clipped foot or leg, can render seemingly 1/4 of your character invisible. 
  • Transparency / layering issues, like in the below screen, further add to the visual mud / blending, illusoriness, lack of visual pop.
  • Indoor scenes seem less troublesome overall. They also are not having to deal with day / night cycle variations. (as far as I know)

Keep in mind this is a beta and so many of these problems could be confined to specific gfx hardware, drivers, etc. However, the overall low-contrast outdoor game world, I don't think is one of them.

 

wEsVHBD.jpg


Edited by Qiushui, 19 August 2014 - 01:47 PM.

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#19
ThreeSon

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I agree with the OP on all points.

 

The music has been praised by most, but for me it makes no impression at all. I don't necessarily think it needs to have "grandeur," but some of it (like the title track) should at least be memorable. Ten years from now, we should be able to hear the theme music from the game and be taken back to our time playing it. As it is now it sounds too much like any other fantasy game.

 

Here is one example of the problem with the visuals. The party member in the selection box in this picture is standing under a tree, but it looks more like his head and shoulders are growing out of the top of it:

 

http://cloud-4.steam...A8465CBF3DF068/


Edited by ThreeSon, 19 August 2014 - 03:39 PM.


#20
Mrakvampire

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I agree on music. I hope that it's not actually main theme of the game - it's just a filler for beta. If it's actually the main theme... then... it's lacking.







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