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The Almighty Doer of Stuff

Relying on 9 x 9 view?

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I need some info for OpenBoE GUI purposes:

 

Does anyone know of any scenarios which rely on having a terrain view no larger than 9 x 9 tiles? There are a handful of scenarios with cutscenes, and one of TM's scenarios has some photo opportunities, but is that it? I'm working on a GUI which fills the screen with terrain view, much like recent Spidweb games. So I need to know what exceptions we'll have to account for.

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First of all, I think it’s worth putting this into a little context for people who may not have come across this idea before.

 

The idea of extending the field of view in Blades of Exile has been raised several times since the source code was released. As I understand it, these discussions have generally led to the consensus that doing so could cause some significant problems for scenarios that have already been released. I recall several suggestions that such an idea should be optional at most, to avoid causing any problems with material that has already been released.

 

Of course, there’s no harm in returning to old discussions! People’s opinions can and do change over time. However, I think it’s just worth being aware that this is an old point of discussion rather than a new idea.

 

I’ve tried to think of a good way of illustrating the problem. Think of a television studio, filming a TV show. The cameras are set up in such a way that the recorded images replicate whatever the studio wants to show. On the screen is shown, say, a house/garden/city street/spaceship etc., and the studio goes to great lengths to make the viewer think it is in some senses real.

 

Now, imagine expanding the field of view of the cameras. On the screen, you’ll start to see the edges of the film set, some of the cameras and microphones, the studio warehouse, the coffee machine etc.. It will become apparent at a glance that what is shown on the screen is fake, undermining the studio’s efforts to make the scene seem real and reducing the enjoyment of the audience.

 

In other words, simply by expanding the field of view of the cameras, the suspension of disbelief of the audience is significantly damaged.

 

One could come across very similar problems by expanding the field of view in Blades of Exile.

 

The most immediate issue that springs to my mind is this one. Think of scenarios that have some form of outdoors, which I suspect is many of them. These sections of outdoors in most cases will not form the entire world in which the scenario is set. So the scenario designer has to include routes out of the setting of the scenario to the rest of their world. This could be as simple as a passageway through some mountains with a special blocking passage – the classic ‘way out of the valley’ – or other means. For instance, there could be an ocean, or a forest blocking passage, or a river that can’t be crossed. Rivers pose their own issues, since they will flow into and out of the setting of the scenario.

 

So what happens in these cases? The scenario designer puts down some form of blockage, either a special or a terrain blockage (e.g. a line of trees). To preserve the illusion of the world continuing, they then build the world behind the blockage – but only so far as the party can see. There is no need to world-build beyond this, and making scenarios already takes a lot of time, so designers in my experience won’t do any more than this.

 

Expanding the field of view causes problems in these cases. You’ll see the world simply end with a sharp cutoff. For instance, a well-travelled path into the forest might simply terminate with a wall of ocean, which is clearly illogical. Much like the TV example above, this breaks immersion, making it clear that the world is only an illusion.

 

This is a problem that I feel would be quite commonplace. Many scenarios have outdoors, any many of these will have such connections outside. While there are ways to avoid this issue, there’s no incentive for scenario designers to use them – sending a path outside the field of view works just as well!

 

If I’m thinking about this correctly, I imagine this will be a problem in very many scenarios, far too many to really list.

 

As one example, look at the valley entrance in Jeff Vogel’s own Bandit Busywork. This could cause problems if the field of view is extended, since the road leads off the edge of the world (in other words, into a wall of ocean beyond the original field of view).

 

However, you did ask for specific problems, and I’ve come up with a few off the top of my head. This is not an exhaustive list, merely the issues that came to mind. I should stress that I am not an accomplished Blades of Exile designer, so some of these issues are based on suspicions of how the effects are put together – they’re issues that I would check out if I were looking into this in more detail!

 

~

 

Doom Moon II:

 

The spaceship game in the Peace City seems to rely on a restricted field of view.

 

Demon Island I and II:

 

Some of the casino games seem to rely on a restricted field of view. The one that comes to mind is the archery game in the Demon Island II.

 

Demon Island II:

 

Certain fights seem to rely on a restricted field of view. What comes to mind is the rather clever fight with the Ice Guardian, which makes it seem as if the Guardian is moving by shunting the party around on hidden conveyers. Extending the field of view could show the edges of the area, which would highlight the existence of the conveyers, breaking the immersion.

 

Also, the neat 3D effect of climbing the outside of Castle Velius could be broken if you can see to the edge of the town.

 

The ARC:

 

In a number of places in Alcritas’s scenarios, he hides a character at the very edge of the screen (usually Sage). This character can therefore usually only be seen if the player stands in a very specific place. Extending the field of view would, I believe, make these hidden characters visible in many more party positions, breaking the effect. For instance, look at the appearance of Sage at the end of An Apology. There are also similar effects used in the misty dream sequence in Redemption.

 

Redemption:

 

As with the 3D problem above, there could be issues with the 3D ladder climbing segment in Redemption if the player can see to the edge of the town.

 

Revenge (Creator):

 

There are a number of scenes that require a restricted field of view. The one that comes to mind is the little dream scene in which the player is surrounded by windows, outside of which in the blackness are creatures of nightmares. It looks like there a crowds of creatures outside – but expand the field of view, and you’ll see there’s only one layer of them, breaking the effect somewhat.

 

Farmhands Save the Day!!:

 

Expand the field of view, and the striking terrain change in the region of the heart of the scenario could be revealed too early – breaking the surprise reveal at the scenario’s end.

 

~

Anyway, those are just a few ideas. It’s possible that there are more, but these are the ones that sprang to my mind.

 

As it is, I think there might well be a lot of scenarios that could have issues with a larger field of view – I get the feeling the ‘exceptions’ are likely to be the ones that don’t break, rather than the other way around.

 

Of course, that’s only based on my own experiences! I haven’t tested this out, so perhaps it won’t be as much of a problem as I think, or perhaps there are ways around these issues.

 

So, why not do some experimenting, and have a look at some of these issues directly? You won’t know if you don’t try, after all! :)

Edited by Ess-Eschas
Correcting the name of the Guardian.

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Thanks! That was a good list like I was hoping for. I just wanted to get an idea.

 

Worth noting is that even in legacy BoE, you could already click the light brown border to scroll the view around, breaking many of those scenes as you say.

 

But at least now I know what everyone is talking about and what we're dealing with. :)

Edited by The Almighty Doer of Stuff

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Note that you can only scroll around when you have control, so for a cutscene, that might not be possible. Furthermore, legacy BoE does not permit scrolling while outdoors, so the border of world case is not negated by scrolling.

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Yeah, this is still a creative idea that would unfortunately cause a lot of problems in practice.

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21 hours ago, The Almighty Doer of Stuff said:

Worth noting is that even in legacy BoE, you could already click the light brown border to scroll the view around, breaking many of those scenes as you say.

 

That’s an interesting point, and you’re entirely right that the use of such a tool could cause problems in exactly the sorts of situations I was discussing above! However, I think there’s an important difference between a scrolling tool such as this and the idea of an expanded field of view. Let me try to explain what I mean.

 

This scrolling tool is activated by the player. It’s hard to do so by accident, since you have to both use a command (say, look) and then click at a certain point on the screen. In other words, looking around outside the original field of view is the player’s choice. If a player looks around and discovers a visual bug – and none of the situations I describe above require or suggest moving the field of view – then the immersion is broken by their own choice, be that accidental or deliberate on their part. Not every player will do this (indeed, I suspect that very few will in general), meaning that only a few players will experience the problem. After all, if screen scrolling was an issue that caused problems with players, wouldn’t scenario reviewers have reported it?

 

Compare this to an expanded field of view. In this case, the player is forced to see regions outside of the original field of view. If this causes a problem, then every player will experience the same problem, whether they want to or not. A bug experienced by a few players instead becomes a bug experienced by everyone.

 

As such, while screen scrolling can show up visual bugs, I feel that expanding the field of view would multiply the problems with the player experience many times over.

 

Let me briefly mention a second point. As Celtic said above, the scrolling tool is disabled outdoors. I think that’s quite important to note. A game designer wouldn’t make such decisions arbitrarily, after all, since functionality is important. So why is the tool disabled?

 

I would argue that it’s precisely because of outdoors issues such as the one I raised above. Connections to regions outside of the game world feature frequently in scenarios, and allowing a user to scroll the view past the edge of the designer’s world causes display problems.

 

There’s also a similar, related problem. Consider placing two outdoor regions next to each other where one is above ground and the other below. This happens, for example, in The Valley of Dying Things. If you allow scrolling outdoors, players will be able to see this construction for themselves, damaging the immersion.

 

In other words, I think that the disabling of the scrolling feature is a direct indication of the serious issues that could result from adjusting the field of view outdoors. These would only be more noticeable with an expanded field of view.

 

These are just some thoughts! As it stands, I agree with Slarty – I think this is an interesting idea, but I’m concerned it could cause some real issues with pre-existing scenarios. However, do by all means do some experimenting and see for yourself! The proof is in the pudding, after all!

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I just had a thought. Create a "Restrict Field of View" node. It can:

 

-alter how far away a player can see,

-select a square or circular field of view,

-select whether to use the fog of war fringe, and

-enable or disable scrolling.

 

We can edit the relevant scenarios and stick them in there. I was thinking we should probably do some bug fixing for custom scenarios anyway, subject to the same "ask us to stop if you don't want your scenario altered/included with the program" practice which has been discussed before. There are some really solid scenarios which have gamebreaking bugs, IIRC. I don't think the designers would want a good scenario they made being unplayable, at least not this long removed from when it was designed.

 

Thoughts?

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Such a node is possible, certainly, but rather than editing legacy scenarios to add this node, it would need to be set so that the default (at least for legacy scenarios) is the original 9x9 view. We can't add any features that require actively changing a legacy scenario, because there could be legacy scenarios out there that none of us know about (for example, ones that were never released), and such scenarios need to work just as well as the ones we do know about.

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I disagree. If, by some strange chance, there is an unknown worth-playing legacy scenario that comes to light, we can just stick the node in that one too.

Edited by The Almighty Doer of Stuff

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That's not a valid approach to backwards-compatibility. And it's not even needed in this case, to be honest.

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Let me try to explain the issues here.

 

Backwards compatibility requires that old files are usable in a newer engine in their original state, with no modifications. As soon as you require changing files in order for them to work under a new system, you no longer really have backwards compatibility. Even if the changes are minor, strictly speaking, you require old files to be ported to your new engine. And that brings all sorts of problems.

 

Consider this. A new fast food company puts a menu through your letterbox. It looks decent, so you decide to ring them up and order something. However, when you speak to them, rather than taking your order, they ask you what version of the menu you’re using. When you reply, they answer that the menu is out of date. They ask you to email the company and request the newest version of the menu. Only then can you order. They hang up.

 

Now, what might most people do in this situation? I imagine many would just order somewhere else instead. The company has put an avoidable barrier between users and the product. And that’s a problem.

 

I get the feeling that you’re interested in bringing new players to Blades of Exile. That’s a commendable goal. But your suggestion puts an immediate stumbling block in front of new players. Even a small barrier to playing old scenarios has the danger of putting people off.

 

You’ve argued that you could manually port every affected scenario yourself. Given the comments above, though, the vast majority of released scenarios will be affected, requiring you to examine and ‘fix’ 300+ scenarios manually. That’s no small undertaking.

 

There’s also the more serious problem Celtic raised. You cannot assume that the scenarios you have access to are the only ones that exist. There are scenarios out there that you are not aware of. People will have written scenarios and not released them – I can say that in confidence, for I have done so myself. Your approach would break my scenarios, and require me to manually learn how to port them to the new engine. That, I worry, would not lead to happy users.

 

There are other problems, too. For instance, you are running the risk of some real copyright issues. As I understand it, modifying other people’s work without their consent, which is essentially what you’re doing, is forbidden under copyright law unless the author explicitly waives that right. Let’s not forget that copyright law extends well into the future – generally speaking, a good portion of a century after the original content creation. And you’re proposing modifying works by hundreds of creators. That’s potentially very sticky waters to be finding yourself in.

 

13 hours ago, The Almighty Doer of Stuff said:

If, by some strange chance, there is an unknown worth-playing legacy scenario that comes to light, we can just stick the node in that one too.

 

I’m a little concerned by this comment. Surely it’s not the project's position to judge whether user-created content is ‘worth playing’ or not? Who gets to decide that? Shouldn’t the players have that choice, not some arbitrary external authority?

 

Still, these are simply opinions! Several people have disagreed with you on this thread, and your previous threads on this subject over the years. But you are perfectly entitled to disagree with us!

 

Here’s a suggestion. You clearly believe strongly in this idea. So why not spin off your own branch from Celtic’s code? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time there have been multiple branches of an open source project! Plug in your extended view, and see how it works! Play around with it and see if the graphical problems really are as serious as many of us claim. After all, it’s entirely possible that you’re right. You won’t know that unless you try it out yourself!

 

That way, you can let the users decide which approach they prefer! :)

Edited by Ess-Eschas
Fixing some broken formatting.

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Thank you for explaining it, probably far better than I could have. :)

 

56 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

People will have written scenarios and not released them – I can say that in confidence, for I have done so myself.

Indeed, I too have one or two unreleased legacy scenarios that I might wish to someday polish up and release. (Plus one OBoE scenario that I started to show off some of the new features.)

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1 hour ago, Ess-Eschas said:

There are other problems, too. For instance, you are running the risk of some real copyright issues. As I understand it, modifying other people’s work without their consent, which is essentially what you’re doing, is forbidden under copyright law unless the author explicitly waives that right. Let’s not forget that copyright law extends well into the future – generally speaking, a good portion of a century after the original content creation. And you’re proposing modifying works by hundreds of creators. That’s potentially very sticky waters to be finding yourself in.

 

And forgetting the legal concerns, this is ethically extremely problematic.  We're not talking about a mechanical file format conversion here, we're talking about manually making choices about whether or not and how to edit other people's work.  Without their consent.

 

These sorts of suggestions, that are so toxic but come from the mouth of the project, keep other people away from this development project.

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5 hours ago, la justice en if subjectif said:

These sorts of suggestions, that are so toxic but come from the mouth of the project, keep other people away from this development project.

 

I think me asking questions about an idea isn't what drives people away. But go ahead and compare my input on the project to vomit. Then feel free to participate yourself.

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Almighty Doer of Stuff, I appreciate that this is an issue you feel strongly about. However, I do have to remind you that aggressive responses to other forums members are in violation of our forum guidelines. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt for now, but you’re dangerously close to overstepping the mark here.

 

Take a moment to read these guidelines and remind yourself of them. You can find these in the tabs at the top of this page. In particular, pay close attention to point two: ‘Be family friendly, and be just plain friendly!’.

 

Unfortunately, I think you may have misinterpreted the comment you quoted. Perhaps just take a moment, and come back to this thread at a later time with fresh eyes.

 

That aside, I am happy, for now, to engage in further discussion on the main topic of this thread.

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I have no further comment on the main topic of this thread. I am satisfied with the responses and don't plan to push for expanding the terrain view. Asking questions about something isn't the same as feeling strongly about it. Slarty has a way of phrasing minor disagreements as though they are calamities however, and I'm always the one getting it from him. I did nothing aggressive or strongly-felt in this thread until he jumped on me yet again.

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ADoS, friendly suggestion.  When you are feeling stressed out in general, and get frustrated with someone, might be worth taking it up with them privately.

 

After somebody requests that the thread stay on topic, that's probably not the best time to air a personal grievance either.

 

But since that's where things have gone, it's probably time for this thread to close.

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