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Thursday, March 15, 2012

What would you like to come out of this?

Until today I had this running poll at the top of the site asking the same question. The options were:
  1. Content creation application (like WorldMachine)
  2. 3ds max plugins
  3. Fully dynamic sandbox game (nextgen Minecraft)
  4. Dwarf Fortress universe with rich graphics

It ran for several months and collected more than 5000 votes. I cannot tell exactly how many votes. For some reason Blogger's poll widget went crazy around 4000 and started counting backwards for a while, then forwards, then backwards again, then forward, and so on. Blogger is so buggy it makes you feel safe: at least you know these same engineers are not working on life support systems.

Since I am removing the poll, I thought I should comment on the results. The most popular option was "Fully dynamic sandbox game (nextgen Minecraft)", with 2445 votes. This is hardly a surprise since the poll ran along Minecraft's explosive raise. So am I making a nextgen Minecraft? No, I'm sorry. I think Minecraft should be left to Notch. Also there are too many Minecraft clones. I see little point in making yet another one. I would also wait a few years until physics simulations can be done at sub-pixel levels.

The second most popular option was "Dwarf Fortress universe with rich graphics", with 2069 votes. It was surprising that it got so many votes. It was very close to Minecraft, which I assumed was far more popular than Dwarf Fortress. Maybe it tells something about the readers of this site. Am I making a visually rich Dwarf Fortress? No, it is not that either. Dwarf Fortress is too rich, I think I would barely scratch the surface or would take me forever. I want to release something sooner than that.

And then there were other two options about content creation: 3ds max plugins and a world building application like World Machine. 3ds max plugins got almost no votes, only 319. The world building application got 833. This is higher than what I expected, I assumed most of the participants were mostly interested in games. If you have been following my lasts posts, you would know I have been developing this world building application for a long time now. Hopefully I will get it into a state it can be released so you can play with it and create your own worlds, and export them to game engines or content tools like 3ds max. As to what the poll is concerned, this is the option I have chosen.

I am also starting a game. As I said before, it is not a Minecraft or Dwarf Fortress clone. It is more about the survival and exploration of a very large world. I will reveal more information in the near future. I want to thank all the poll participants and apologize for going into a different direction.




28 comments:

  1. How about releasing an interactive 3D demo to say sorry for ignoring the poll?

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    1. I will release a 3D demo when it is ready, but to a limited group of people. Then a beta of the game.

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    2. I would love to have the opportunity to test your software. Make sure you let us know how we can get involved if you intend to run some sort of closed public test. :)

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  2. I'm glad you are choosing what you want to make, rather than make what everyone else wants you to make... The latter is the reason why Call of Duty is now an awful game, as well as many other games out there that are being used as cash cows.

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    1. Thanks. I think you get it, for indie developers it is hard to complete any project. The only way is to build what you really want to use or play, then hope others will like it. Not the other way around.

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  3. I'll be very happy to see game that use power of voxels :)

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  4. Would you tell us more about your game? Is it going to have its own blog? Is it just a plan or is there some code already?

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    1. In time. I have plenty of game engine code already, mostly about rendering and streaming the world.

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  5. I think a game is a natural progression for your project and I wish you luck mate. I do worry a little for you however - If you don't intend it to be a Minecraft or Dwarf Fortress clone, what gameplay concepts are left to a world exploration genre of game?
    To that end I'd advise you not to avoid using gameplay elements from those games just because it might appear to some that you're creating a 'clone'.

    All that said you're an intelligent bloke and I can't wait to see your project evolve. :)

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    1. Well I have nothing against clones. Everything is a remix, odds are my game will be some kind of a clone too, just not Minecraft or DF.

      I am bored by most games. I ran Minecraft for 10 min then put it down. I picked up Skyrim rencently just to find I don't care about the little problems NPCs have, so I just steal horses and wander around killing strangers. I understand these are very popular games and they are entertaining for a lot of people. Certainly the problem is with me.

      I will see if I can make a game that I would play. Maybe this game does not exist, or maybe it will be a pile of barf for everyone else. The point is not about clones, more about marching to the beat of my own drum.

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    2. I can definitely relate to that. Games like Skyrim do SO MUCH but at an average quality. It results in a game that works and is enjoyable for the majority.
      You remind me of the game Overgrowth by the Wolfire dev team - One programmer has taken years to get Overgrowth to where it is now. On its surface it looks like it has almost no gameplay going for it. But because the few systems he has done are so incredibly deep and well done the game is still extremely entertaining.
      Maybe that is where you could excel too - Pick your own blend of core systems to implement and do it extremely well. I feel like you're almost there with procedural environment generation. I don't think there are many more 'gameplay elements' you'd need to introduce to the sandbox to make it a game people would play.

      I'm very interested to see what you come up with.

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  6. I was worried that you'd end up releasing a Minecraft clone, but this is great news to hear you're pursuing your own interests with this project. Been following this project for months and can't wait to see some sort of demo.

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  7. I'm pleased to hear you're following your own direction, and I'm even more excited to hear what that direction is. Survival/exploration sounds great!

    With a theme like that, I'd say your chances of getting attention from the Rock Paper Shotgun crowd are very good indeed. ;)

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  8. Sounds like a similar direction to where I'm heading good luck to you sir! And don't listen to the mob. :)

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  9. We have minecraft and dwarf fortress for minecraft and dwarf fortress, WHAT WILL YOU CREATE?

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  10. Shame that you won't attempt to do something similar to DF, but hey even the 2D ASCII-based game took a genius from 2006 til now to its current state and will take another 2 decades if not more to reach a near-complete state; considering going this direction was pretty absurd in the first place.

    I think that regardless of what game you will be making from all this work, a key is still environmental interactivity. If you could pull that off, even if partially, everything changes.

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    1. A Dwarf Fortress clone with usability as a goal doesn't need procedural voxel art, that would be overkill. A simple sprite-based 2d engine would suffice. If Stonesense were permitted to function as an interface replacement, it could probably do the job.

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    2. I disagree eso. Stonesense does a good job of approximating the look and feel of DF, but I don't believe it comes anywhere near to the realization of what Tarn Adams would want to have DF look like in a 3D world.
      I wish DF was as simple as that, I really do. But the fact is that Tarn has put so much detail into DF that you would need a pretty serious 3D engine with procedural functions in almost everything to do it justice.

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    3. The vast majority of the details in Dwarf Fortress fall into three broad categories: fluff that has no real gameplay aspect, minutia that affects the game but in ways that are not useful to the player to pay attention to, and details that if they WERE presented visually would just turn into so much noise because players can only effectively track so many presented pieces of information at once.

      Most of these things belong in text descriptions, which is where they are now. An interface with a goal of USABILITY need not display all the tiny facets that comprise the simulation and fluff elements, only make them available on inspection.

      Also, procedural asset generation can work just fine on 2d sprites as well as 3d. Some of this is already in Stonesense, there just hasn't been as much progress putting the pieces together as would be preferred. Probably in no small part because of the morale impact of the various social and technical walls the stonesense sub-community faces.

      It is my opinion that an interface 'doing it justice' needs to start with 'is not hostile to players who would enjoy the game if they could only make out the landscape, and maybe the living entities too'.

      I love Dwarf Fortress, and I have a large number of technically inclined friends who love the IDEA of Dwarf Fortress, but memorizing a collection of combinations of pseudo-ascii characters and colors is a pretty huge and unnecessary barrier to entry, along with the arcane and inconsistent input mechanisms. Too much end user cognition is burned on 'what is happening' and 'how do I tell it what I want to do' leaving precious little room for 'what do I actually want to do'.

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  11. I know why Dwarf Fortress is so high on your list(in fact I am surprised its not first). While Minecraft is more popular with the general internet, Dwarf Fortress is and has always been a lot more popular with programmers of all stripes. I don't know why exactly beyond the fact that it is so deep you could drown the sun in it and allows for things to randomly happen in the game that if they where happened in a modern game it would be a highly advertised feature. Now its not perfect but even the flaws and glitches are fun. Carp became an icon of a watery death because a little bit of reuse of a bite attack tag caused them to drag their foes into the water and drown them.
    In short you attract a lot of programmers here and programmers in general are more inclined towards Dwarf Fortress then an average person on the internet.

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    1. I think you're right in that DF attracts a certain type of programmer. The fact of the matter is, at least to me, DF represents an edge case - A turning point. DF is a symbol of the detail future games will have. It took too long to make but in a couple of years it might be the defacto standard. The work done to develop procedural environments should help facilitate the tools needed to make such complex systems viable in the short term.

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  12. I voted for "Minecraft clone" because I'd like to see a game like "From Dust" come from it: one where you can dynamically change the world and with the help of the simulation see it age realistically. Maybe a game that plays in geological timescale, but more detailed than erupting a volcano with one click. What would happen to that house and that tree if a mountain folded up below it? Would that be possible with the current architecture, gradual changes like that? Or is it geared more towards offline content creation, so that the game would take place in static polygon meshes?
    (Maybe a completely procedual MMORPG, but one where the users not only consume but also build the world together?)

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  13. The stuff you've made seems more suited to games like Mount & Blade and Assassins' Creed.

    Good luck with the creation of your ideas! I hope it's fun to play for the rest of us too. :D

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  14. When I voted for a Dwarf Fortress-like game, I didn't really think it was plausible, so no hard feelings there :). As for world creators or 3ds max plugins, I don't have 3ds max, and I don't have any real use for a world creator, so the most I would use this for is taking pretty pictures.

    I am excited to see some sort of game come from the work though, so I'm excited to see where you're taking it!

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  15. Thanks for the update and for choosing to go your own path with the game. I think that the best games are not clones of other games, but games that the author enjoys both playing and coding. I think that Notch would agree with that idea.

    Also I think that your choice to release the world generator will be a priceless tool for the 3d professional world.

    -Sonic

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    1. Minecraft started life as a direct clone of Infiniminer.

      Something to bear in mind: imitation often leads to innovation.

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  16. Just make a definitive, procedural, deep RPG based on survival of a character and exploration of a procedural world. That will more then worth my bucks.

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  17. The thing I'd most like to see come of this is middleware - content creation libraries so other people can go make their own Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress clones.

    "Go do whatever you want with it" is a close second though. It works out.

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