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  1. #141
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    It's worth a look for sure and it does a lot of behind the scenes stuff to help with performance. I'm no expert but depending on your RTS it might cope well with it depending on your meshes and whether or not you can get away without pixel lighting. That said the GUI system built into Unity is a pain in the arse to use, it makes things way more difficult than it really needs to be. There are lots of third party extensions to help with that though.

  2. #142
    Activated Node lithander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoLAoS View Post
    However, is Unity any more open to creativity than Ogre? Its infinitely more popular, but that could be for marketing reasons, or because Unity has a nonprogrammer layer on top.
    There are many differences between Ogre and Unity. Both have their pro's and con's.
    The 2 most significant differences are probably that Ogre is open-source and Unity closed-source (99% of the target audience won't be able to buy the source license) and that Ogre has a small scope (it's only meaning to be a rendering engine, just libraries basically) while Unity is a full featured Game-Engine that covers the content pipeline and deployment to multiple platforms and integrates all that in one userfriendly IDE.

    If you have good enough programming skills you have all the options to tweak Ogre to your needs, no problem at all to write your custom SceneManager. In Unity you have a hard time to get your stuff to work (if it's possible at all) whenever you deviate from the generic usecase because neither do you really know how the internals work (it's a undocumented blackbox) nor is there a way to change it beyond what the scripting interface offers. And the scripting interface is one of the big weaknesses imo. For example if your use-case relies on multiple "sences" to render per frame things get messy. Unity doesn't support that and you have to find real messy workarounds.

    Both Ogre and Unity have pro & con's and it's worth giving both a try just so you know what you miss in the other!^^

    What I personally admire are guys like Josh Parnell, that singlehandedly and in only a couple of months code up tech like this: http://ltheory.com/
    For me this proves that the times were it would be a valid choice for a team to write everything from scratch aren't over. It allows you a degree of control and creative freedom that of-the-shelve engines just can't possibly offer.
    Last edited by lithander; 24-02-2013 at 03:56 PM.

  3. #143
    Activated Node lithander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    Case in point: the Source engine is geared towards FPS games, and more specifically Half-Life based FPS games. Yet we've had multitudes of mods that turn it into something entirely different. Valve even added in new rendering and physics capabilities to create Portal. I'd call that innovative. They didn't rewrite the engine from scratch, but they did extend it. You can extend most of these 3rd party engines if you have the license to do so. It still saves an immense amount of time.
    Isn't that an argument for NOT relying on 3rd party engines? After all the only team that managed to tweak the Source engine enough to fulfill the needs of a nouveau game like Portal is Valve themselves - the company that developed Source.
    Last edited by lithander; 24-02-2013 at 03:55 PM.

  4. #144
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    I can code my own engine from scratch in the technical sense, but not in the motivational one. Maybe I would do better if I got an official ADHD diagnosis and got me some meds, but I really would rather not. I like the way my mind works creativity wise. But sitting down for hours is so hard if all I'm doing is coding really obvious stuff that takes no thought. Like adding new XML nodes to the entity load functions, or even modifying the XML themselves files once they have new possibilities is incredibly hard for me. Conversely I can sit there for days adding complex stuff to the unit control logic like unit formations and shit. Sadly most of game programming is the tedious obvious stuff that I can't sit still for.

  5. #145
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lithander View Post
    Isn't that an argument for NOT relying on 3rd party engines? After all the only team that managed to tweak the Source engine enough to fulfill the needs of a nouveau game like Portal is Valve themselves - the company that developed Source.
    Dear Esther, The Stanley Parable & VTM:B would like a word.

    This notion that somehow the 'engine technology' limits the imagination is fucking ridiculous in truth. There will always be limits in terms of what can be achieved with any visual medium (film, television, game, graphic novel, etc) because they exist within the frame of the senses Vs the purely imaginative medium of literature, but since when is extent the only viable form of measurement? Most people are unable to comprehend magnitude, but then beyond a certain point scale becomes an irrelevance. 50 light years might as well be 250 light years if you're incapable of FTL travel. Complexity is far more interesting Vs scale when it comes down to it.

    The first thing you're going to do when designing a game is figure out what it is exactly you want to convey and from there you're going to decide what kind of an engine best serves your needs in that regard. If you want an action packed kung fu experience then a 3rd person engine is probably a better fit than a 1st person engine where you're vision is more restricted. The kind of experience you're going for dictates the perspective you're going to choose at the end of the day.
    Last edited by Kadayi; 24-02-2013 at 04:24 PM.
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  6. #146
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lithander View Post
    Isn't that an argument for NOT relying on 3rd party engines? After all the only team that managed to tweak the Source engine enough to fulfill the needs of a nouveau game like Portal is Valve themselves - the company that developed Source.
    As Kad said, there's Dear Esther, VTM:B, GMod, the list goes on... (but not for very far, true)

    Hypothetically another major studio could have added portal-stuff in, but Source has never been popular as a licensed engine. Maybe that's because it's not as flexible as the others. Maybe it's because it's dated. For my part it's because the content pipeline was designed by a nutter stuck in the 90s era of modding. But the point still stands - it definitely is extensible. You can apply that argument to pretty much any other engine which allows this flexibility, and that includes things like Unity, which makes the argument over authorware engines stifling creativity entirely moot.

  7. #147
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lithander View Post
    Isn't that an argument for NOT relying on 3rd party engines? After all the only team that managed to tweak the Source engine enough to fulfill the needs of a nouveau game like Portal is Valve themselves - the company that developed Source.
    The source engine is itself based on the Quake engine. If that isn't proof of the flexibility of licensed engines I don't know what is.
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  8. #148
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mashakos View Post
    The source engine is itself based on the Quake engine. If that isn't proof of the flexibility of licensed engines I don't know what is.
    Eh, that's an awfully distant relation there. GoldSrc was based on Quake's engine but it was heavily modified (save for the core renderer). Source does originate from GoldSrc but it's had such a massive overhaul that it's only barely related. Saying that Source is based on Quake is like saying Doom 3 is based on Quake; elements are and it traces its lineage back there, but it's so heavily modified that it's more than a simple iteration.

    It does have a fair amount of middleware though, so you're right that it's still proof of where licensed technology doesn't restrict flexibility.
    Last edited by soldant; 25-02-2013 at 01:43 AM. Reason: Facts.

  9. #149
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    Hypothetically another major studio could have added portal-stuff in, but Source has never been popular as a licensed engine. Maybe that's because it's not as flexible as the others. Maybe it's because it's dated. For my part it's because the content pipeline was designed by a nutter stuck in the 90s era of modding. But the point still stands - it definitely is extensible. You can apply that argument to pretty much any other engine which allows this flexibility, and that includes things like Unity, which makes the argument over authorware engines stifling creativity entirely moot.
    I think Source suffered a backlash from licensing due to unease about the HL2 hack and the potential impact of an early version of the code being out there. It's had reasonable success with smaller teams though (The ship, zeno clash, E.Y.E) but Valve have never really put the effort into creating a decent editor for it Vs the far more user friendly engines if unreal etc.
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  10. #150
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    I think Source suffered a backlash from licensing due to unease about the HL2 hack and the potential impact of an early version of the code being out there. It's had reasonable success with smaller teams though (The ship, zeno clash, E.Y.E) but Valve have never really put the effort into creating a decent editor for it Vs the far more user friendly engines if unreal etc.
    Hammer has barely changed since it was Worldcraft, plus with the ridiculous content pipeline there's really no reason to choose Source. People generally have an expectation that your mod will come with entirely original assets, so you might as well pick up Unity and use that and make it from scratch.

    I don't think the leak really caused any significant issues for Valve in the end, it's just not a popular engine. It was already starting to get a tiny bit dated on release with its very limited support for dynamic lighting (which Doom 3 was doing that same year), so I don't know if people were willing to use it. I'd never touch it today just because of the pipeline. It's horrible. Also Hammer.

  11. #151
    Activated Node lithander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    But the point still stands - it definitely is extensible. You can apply that argument to pretty much any other engine which allows this flexibility, and that includes things like Unity, which makes the argument over authorware engines stifling creativity entirely moot.
    I don't get it. Authorware engines allow a certain degree of flexibility (and an even greater one when you have a sourcecode-license) but how does that prove they are not stifling creativity?

    An engine (every engine) has it's pro's and con's and that will impact the choices you make. You'll be hesitent to make design choices that are hard to implement, you'll favor choices that are easy to implement. You'll look at what other games using that engine did and how they did it. The problem you're trying to solve has transformed from "how do I make a great game" to "how to make a great game in that engine" and you'll surely agree that this change of scope has *some* impact on creativity.

    Dunno how you'd define the creative process but it's important properties are that it's cyclic, a feedback loop where you have ideas, implement ideas, see how they work out which inspires you to have new ideas. Large part of the creative process is thus interaction with the game engine and the tools of the toolchain. I don't understand how you can argue that the choice of technology (which includes soft- and hardware) has no fundamental impact on the games that will be made.

  12. #152
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lithander View Post
    I don't get it. Authorware engines allow a certain degree of flexibility (and an even greater one when you have a sourcecode-license) but how does that prove they are not stifling creativity?
    The onus is really on you to prove they do tbh. So far you haven't really made a convincing argument.
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  13. #153
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lithander View Post
    I don't get it. Authorware engines allow a certain degree of flexibility (and an even greater one when you have a sourcecode-license) but how does that prove they are not stifling creativity?
    You're asking the wrong question. The correct question is "How do they stifle creativity?" because so far nothing you've said demonstrates how they do. Authorware packages like Unity have gotten to the point where "How do I make a great game?" is the only question you're asking.

    It doesn't matter whether you're using Unity or writing your own engine, you will always have constraints. If you're writing your own engine you might change the question to "How do I make a game within the hardware constraints I have?" The exact same arguments apply to making your own engine for your target platform and within your own capability. The good authorware engines have such a high degree of flexibility (either out of the box or with extensions) that your argument doesn't have any weight. You might as well say that ignorance or an inability to code stifles creativity. I've got a great idea for a game which I can't achieve because I don't have the coding background to make it a reality. Do I blame the tools? No.

    Your entire argument over middleware/authorware/licensed engines revolves around "It puts limits on the developer" but limits are a part of absolutely everything anyway. When BIS were developing the first Operation Flashpoint did they go "Oh so we're writing our own engines CREATIVITY FREE FIRE AT WILL"? No, because they were still constrained by 2001 hardware, which limited what could be achieved.

    Your argument is "Licensed tech is used to make games. Licensed tech has pros and cons. Licensed tech is extensible. Therefore: creativity is decreased." It doesn't work. It doesn't make sense. You can't agree that licensed tech is flexible and extensible but go on to claim that it interrupts the creative process. Solving problems in tech is something that you have to deal with whether you're writing an engine from scratch or not. If I did accept your argument I'd have no choice but to apply it to absolutely everything and go back to blaming computers for limiting creativity. Except there's so many facets to creativity that I can't accept that.

  14. #154
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    Your argument is "Licensed tech is used to make games. Licensed tech has pros and cons. Licensed tech is extensible. Therefore: creativity is decreased." It doesn't work. It doesn't make sense. You can't agree that licensed tech is flexible and extensible but go on to claim that it interrupts the creative process. Solving problems in tech is something that you have to deal with whether you're writing an engine from scratch or not. If I did accept your argument I'd have no choice but to apply it to absolutely everything and go back to blaming computers for limiting creativity. Except there's so many facets to creativity that I can't accept that.
    There's a comic I'm trying to find that illustrates this perfectly:

    In the first half, a guy talks of all the steps he took to create the perfect atmosphere for creativity - leaving his apartment to live in an airy loft, surrounded himself with plenty of tools and studiously maintains peace and quiet. And then he spends that time in front of the TV, his easel untouched.

    The second half, another guy admonishes the first, stating that if you're a creator, you'd create regardless of the circumstances - in a tiny apartment with three children, at the hospital between shifts, in a warzone - because creating is what you actually want to do.
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  15. #155
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Computer games would be great, if it weren't for those pesky computers....
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  16. #156
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sparkasaurusmex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    In the first half, a guy talks of all the steps he took to create the perfect atmosphere for creativity - leaving his apartment to live in an airy loft, surrounded himself with plenty of tools and studiously maintains peace and quiet. And then he spends that time in front of the TV, his easel untouched.
    change TV to computer and easel to typewriter and this cartoon is about me

  17. #157
    Activated Node lithander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    You're asking the wrong question. The correct question is "How do they stifle creativity?" because so far nothing you've said demonstrates how they do.
    General purpose engines are optimized to work well for the general use case. So the general purpose engine promotes making generic games where you don't deviate too much from the general use case. So I argue that licensing 3rd party engines encourages you to make more of games that are easy to make - that's the path of least resistance. This stifles creativity.

    If you would spend the resources on your own tech instead of on licensing fee's then there's not such a big penalty for trying different solutions to problems beyond (or besides) what's considered the industry standard. This promotes creativity.

    Can you see my point? You don't have to agree. I'm getting tired of explaining the issue I see with 3rd party tech. It's not the main issue. It has some positive sides, too: I admit that it helps to open up the game industry to non-programmers. Allows you to make a game without wasting resources on programming basic, boring boilerplate stuff that has been done before. I just think that a team using 3rd party engines is less likely to innovate on a technical level. But the main issue is that innovation isn't necessary to make a profit in the current state of the industry and that has not much to do with licensed tech.
    Last edited by lithander; 25-02-2013 at 04:30 PM.

  18. #158
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sparkasaurusmex's Avatar
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    I think you're probably right lithander, but I think it's just usually developers own creativity that is limited, so that licensing an engine doesn't really hold them back. The creative limits imposed by licensing an engine are pretty out-of-reach for most developers.

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    In terms of 3rd party engines and reusable art sets, I don't have much to add. I don't think 3rd party engines are nearly as creatively stifling as lithander is suggesting, but I can see his argument. To be honest, I personally feel opening up game development is equally as important to creating more varied gaming experiences as innovation in the technical side of things. It ideally should bring in fresh minds from outside the game development world, hopefully with news ideas.

    In terms of reusable art assets, they are a good thing for non-artists or people in a rush - but if you want to make a game with a unified or distinctive art style, they are much less useful. Which is probably why we don't see them as much in AAA titles, where visuals are a major selling point. I do agree it would be more useful, and many people do to. Just look at sites like TurboSquid, or CGtextures.

    I do have some things I wanted to add to the discussion though. There are two areas where I personally feel games aren't reaching their true potential:

    1.) Lack of thematic variation: While there are a multitude of different game genres, the themes and settings they use are relatively few compared to other media.

    For example, a gaping hole is historical fiction games. While there are a lot of strategy games set in historical eras, as far as I'm aware there are no RPGs or adventure games that truly are. While you can be a Knight of the Old Republic, you can never be a Norman knight in post 1066 England. Or the camp-wife of a Gallic Auxiliary stationed on a distant limes of the Rome Empire. The closest big-name game is Assassin's Creed, which I don't feel truly counts. It's not about the past, it's more about uncovering a conspiracy of the future. Other games, like God of War, Titan's Quest or Viking Total Warrior deal more in mythology and tropes.

    There aren't many true crime thrillers like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or Forbrydelsen (Heavy Rain? L.A. Noire?). There is no Sherlock Holmes, nor Jane Austen, etc. Games often feel like they are limited to Sci Fi, Fantasy, Modern Warfare or WII. Your goal is always to save the world from the ultimate evil and/or circumvent an evil conspiracy by a shady organisation. It's not that I don't enjoy these games, because I do. It's just that sometimes I want something different. True, games haven't been around for long. That's no excuse for how limited they are in scope. I'm certain there are exceptions (and they'll all be pointed out below :P). I can't really think of any significant ones though.

    2.) Educational potential: Yes, there are a whole series of educational games and serious games. These are basically the game equivalent of school text books and technical manuals though. I'm not talking about Gamification either.

    What I'm saying is there is no such thing as a popular history or popular science game. No documentary games. There is no Mary Beard, Brian Cox, Bill Bryson or David Attenborough of gaming.

    Yet sneaking learning in to games could be very easy. A historical fiction game could have environments, costumes, etc. built under the direction of archaeologists and historians (AssCreed 2 only really had a historian specialised in the Borgias consulting on the script, with very little influence on anything else iirc.). Space based games could take real physics in to consideration in their mechanics. Open world games could use geologists on their teams (as per the recent article on the Sunday Papers).

    It's not necessary to have lessons shoved down your throat. Just experiencing the game world would be enough to teach you. Think for example how much influence AssCreed has had on how we now perceive the eras the various games were set in. This is a similar phenomenon to how watching a movie of a book, then reading the book after, effects how we perceive the characters and locations of the book. It's that whole 'tangential learning' idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparkasaurusmex View Post
    I think you're probably right lithander, but I think it's just usually developers own creativity that is limited, so that licensing an engine doesn't really hold them back. The creative limits imposed by licensing an engine are pretty out-of-reach for most developers.
    I think this might address the issue the best. Most devs wouldn't be that creative no matter how free they were to create. So many engines I've seen are really just the same engine with minimal differences. And those people were free to do anything since they made their own. And what capabilities the engine did have, was left mostly unused.

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