Search Unity

Could there be a AAA game industry apocalypse?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Arowx, Jul 19, 2016.

  1. neoshaman

    neoshaman

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Posts:
    4,990
    Also about photo scanning and asset production.

    Scanning those asset is faster with hi quality camera and massive number of people scanning at the same time anywhere in the world at any moment. Ie pile of cash.

    Good luck matching that with your puny smartphone.

    Or start putting a wikipedia of photoscan asap :D
     
  2. BrUnO-XaVIeR

    BrUnO-XaVIeR

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    Posts:
    1,687
    This is the most naive thread I've seen since the advent of the "How to MMO, I have a dream" topics...

    It's amusing how far from real world ppl can dream... But no blame; been there, done that.
     
    zenGarden and zombiegorilla like this.
  3. Arowx

    Arowx

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Posts:
    7,307
    Well if you can just 3d scan things or procedurally generate things from a catalogue or asset store then the cost and barrier to AAA or high quality game development is lowered, isn't it?
     
  4. Murgilod

    Murgilod

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2013
    Posts:
    6,768
    Loving how people here think that 3D scanning is cheap. 3D scanning is actually pretty damned expensive if you want to get anything useable out of it. When you get 3D scanned data, it's usually SUPER dense, data wise. Like, beyond anything you're reasonably going to be able to use in real time for decades still. You will have to completely rework the meshes you get into something more low-impact. You'll also have to take in more special care to not completely mess up your colour data as well.
     
    Kiwasi likes this.
  5. neoshaman

    neoshaman

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Posts:
    4,990
    But the it is lowered for AAA too which mean AAAA is the new AAA.

    3D scanning is cheap because they is tool to take care of the mesh conversion to something useable. I have tried it, though you need good light control to get good result and good camera settings or control.
     
  6. Aabel

    Aabel

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    Posts:
    193
    The tools exist and are more than capable. It's actually more of a knowledge problem than a tools or technology problem when it comes to procedural techniques. Proceduralism (is that a word?) leverages the strengths of the computer as a medium. The current tools and techniques that dominate the art asset production landscape focus on making the computer behave like artistic mediums from the past and actively work to minimize the amount of computation an artist does. This backwards facing focus works against the strengths and uniqueness of the computer as a medium.

    Making procedural artwork requires that the individual be competent in some capacity as:
    • An artist
    • A programmer
    • A mathemetician
    An individuals abilities in those 3 fields will determine the ceiling of quality an individual can achieve with proceduralism. There are very few people who possess all three of those skills in adequate quantities to produce quality art work. It is also important to note that none of those skill are supreme over any other, they are equally important, and when developed properly, reinforce each other.
     
    MV10, zombiegorilla and Martin_H like this.
  7. Thrawn75

    Thrawn75

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2014
    Posts:
    2,363
    There are more and more high quality assets with really rich features for a very modest price. Overall potential quality bar is going up and up every month... it's just a matter of putting the pieced together around a good and interesting product/campaign.
     
  8. Pix10

    Pix10

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2012
    Posts:
    844
    So, because I can create AAA art anyway, all my games should qualify as "AAA"?

    Not quite...

    Let's assume we have a time machine and managed to get hold of all the assets for Uncharted 5 (many many years in the future because ND claim 4 is the last!). We have all this cool artwork: characters, animation, even an audio dump.

    What do you do with it?

    I'll tell you. You make a kind of ropy game with some cool art and audio, but it's used pretty nastily because you don't have a cinematics team, an art director, audio engineers, producers and design directors, technical artists or animation and controller engineers, a team of 20 level designers or the ability to keep track of all these assets in the first place because, well, why are there so many? Who needs this many assets? My god what are they thinking???

    Behind the small army of people that create the content you see in a "AAA" game is an army of people who oversee and direct and direct the creation and development of the final game. It's not a bunch of random great quality assets thrown together that 'just work'.

    You can take all the 'free and cheap' stuff you want, even if it's of the most amazing quality ever seen, but it won't make you the next Naughty Dog or DICE or Crytek or Blizzard or Avalanche or CD Projekt or Bungie.

    I mean, seriously, look at the names above, and tell me - do you think their success is just pretty pictures and cut & paste code?

    If we ever get to the point where we can automate what they do today with push-button solutions, it won't matter because humans won't be making games anymore,. and we'll all be enjoying direct-to-synapse VR, Sword Art Online style.
     
    MV10, hippocoder, Kiwasi and 2 others like this.
  9. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2013
    Posts:
    16,658
    3D scanning is just a toy. It might become a niche part of the work flow, but it doesn't have the ability to replace an artist. Here are some reasons.
    • Garbage in = garbage out. Scanning simply moves the artistic burden to preparing the real model.
    • Where do I get a Zerg or Orc or WW1 battle ship to scan?
    I could see 3D scanning catching on for material libraries, but that's about it.
     
    zombiegorilla and neoshaman like this.
  10. neoshaman

    neoshaman

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Posts:
    4,990
    It's worth noting that at some point, for assassin's creed, they had 10 programmers dedicated just for the animation of the main character. On top of that they had to deal with +3000 animations
     
  11. neoshaman

    neoshaman

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Posts:
    4,990
  12. Aabel

    Aabel

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    Posts:
    193
    3d scanning is a tool, not a toy. Like all tools it has its uses and misuses.
    http://www.agisoft.com/ is very good and affordable.
     
  13. Billy4184

    Billy4184

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2014
    Posts:
    5,057
    I should probably have made it clear that I meant heavily procedural tools, such as the runtime planet generator in No Mans Sky. I'm well aware that there's little in the way of AAA artistic workflow that doesn't use some form of proceduralism, but that's not what I'm talking about.

    The idea is that for with any procedural technique, the more you apply it - and beyond a certain point - quality falls off, because the tools simply lack sufficient concept of what the artist wants. So AAA studios want quality at all costs, they have millions/billions, so it's no problem for them to hire a small army of texture artists like they did in Uncharted 4 rather than rely on say Substance designer's procedural settings.

    At the same time, a procedural terrain engine like in No Mans SKy can produce a whole planet very fast, but it does not have the concept of the level design that Bungie wants for Destiny, nor can it produce that sort of quality right now (I'm making an assumption here but I think it's a pretty reasonable one!) so maybe the only level of proceduralism that Bungie can use are the terrain filters in World Machine or something as a foundation for their artists (another guess - prove me wrong!).

    As a sidenote, I think any sort of procedural tool that requires someone to be a mathematician seriously needs a better UI.
     
    Kiwasi likes this.
  14. neoshaman

    neoshaman

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Posts:
    4,990
    Well when you are doing a node base shader, it has no concept of toon shading, you can still use it to make toon shader. That's the same with terrain.

    The real problem is more to reveal concretely rules of design that where only intuitive so far. Ie it's hard for a beginner artist to grasp anatomy, poses and volumes, even though he can see it. And most amateur can tell a good image from a bad but cannot describe how it is composed and how elements of composition work toward making the picture great.

    Similarly even pro can't describe everything they are doing, there is a bunch of "magic" intuition based on observing and absorbing non conscious pattern, eventually these pattern get analyse and reproduce consistently, being turn into a procedure (what you see in tutorial). People has spend time analyzing Nintendo level design to reproduce their procedure.



    The thing is that currently procedural (as in level design lay out ) are amateur. You scan literally look at their rules and see what level design mean to them. Most of them has a conception of level design that is bunch of room link together by corridor. Actual level design made by human have notion of critical path and placement that follow a logic. And game that implement simple version of that get noticeably better (spelunky is famous for its level design, he has simple implementation of critical path).

    So the real question is have we enough atomic element to express every level design as a set of rules? Both from a gameplay stand point than aesthetics. Personally I think yes.

    The thing is, we are going there, each generation of procedural lay out bring with him validated idea of level design. The thing is that a lot of people doing procedural level design are either experiment fanatic, they use progen for what it has of the most alien, original and new (the goal and exploration) or too illiterate in level design, OR programming OR art, to create something complete. But they all contribute in expending the language until it is mature enough.
     
  15. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    8,041
    Been happening for years. Both in games and other forms of entertainment. I had a modeler back on my Amiga that could create a 3d building from a photograph. (more photos got better results, obvs.) Not great, but was there.

    What will happen...? Simple, people will be able to scan 3d objects with their phone.

    Again... as always, tech is a continuum. There is no end point. Things change, people adapt, more pioneering happens.

    You could go back 10 years ago and ask, what if everyone had a camera in there phone. 25 years ago, and ask what if people had a phone in their pocket? A hundred years ago, and ask what if you "talk" to people in that weren't in the room with you? (guessing on timelines)

    Stuff will change. No sense in worrying about it too much. If you aren't taking advantage of edge tech now, or unable to utilize it in an effective way, tomorrow's tech is going to be just as ineffective.

    ----

    We constantly see loads of "gamedevs" or whatever (I don't want to say indies, because it doesn't really apply to actual indies) wanting, or waiting on or in some cases demanding higher/better tech being given to them so they can complete their vision because they don't have the time to learn or actually put the time into it.

    If you wait on the future, you're screwed. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, the future never gets here.

    Meanwhile the tons of successful game developers are building games to today, building the tech they need. Magic buttons are neat, but are really magic anymore when everyone has them. They are just buttons.
     
    hippocoder and Kiwasi like this.
  16. neoshaman

    neoshaman

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Posts:
    4,990
    Not every game dev want to be successful though in market sense though.
     
  17. Billy4184

    Billy4184

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2014
    Posts:
    5,057
    @neoshaman not sure if I believe that! Some don't make it a priority, some don't use it for motivation, but I can hardly believe that there are game devs who do not care about being financially successful unless they only do it as a hobby, or are protecting their egos.

    I think the indie culture has become a little bit too stigmatized against the market side of games, and the tone of some of the threads I've seen on this forum leads me to believe that many devs are always guiltily 'searching their souls' in an attempt to find out whether their motivations are actually 'clean'. That's a ridiculous way to do anything in life. Money is power, and capability, and the more of it you can get, the better, and the better your games will be. That doesn't mean it has to be the reason you roll out of bed in the morning though.
     
  18. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    8,041
    Exactly this.

    Related to "importing sprites", our in development game UI is procedurally generated. The layout is all done in illustator. All the flow, wireframes and art. The UI designer (who actually built the core of the tool), runs a script from illustrator, which builds a complete flow manifest and exports the art (in multiple sizes). In the UI project there is essentially two buttons, a build and build prototype. The build prototype, creates a scene that has the entire UI connected up and interactable which is pushed to our build server, and in 10 minutes, anyone on the team can update their device and test and go through every aspect of the game... just without the game. Or it can be built to the game. Doing that optimizes, applies settings (nine-slicing/etc), atlases based on layering (performance), and usage patterns. It connects up all the events, builds prefabs and templates, and then generates all the specific classes per key element to (more and more of our game is leveraging generated code). It then logically bundles all the assets into bundles based on usage patterns and feature sets. This process covers 90% of ui. (some in game is procedural as well, generated on the fly from interaction patterns instead of prefabs or templates). The last 10% is specific stuff that doesn't (currently) get used more than once, building a pattern for it would take more time than doing it manually. Currently I am working on making the animation/juice procedural as well, moving away from anims or simple interpolation.

    Technically it saves time, practically, it means that we make more effective use of our time. Iteration is critical to high polish, and we can iterate on the actual UI as a whole in minutes, and see it in game, or prototype (which is quicker to navigate). For example, if the AD comes up and says, "What if the UI was more transparent, had a different font, the buttons were all blue and had chiseled corners?" He could see exactly that, in the real game, in just a few minutes. Doesn't work? Reexport the previous version and in a couple of minutes, all reverted.

    This process isn't full complete, and was actually the result of combining a handful of separate tools/features (from two different game teams). But has already paid off incredibly. One of the side pay offs is that some aspects of editor that can be challenging at times, are simply bypassed. Nested prefabs for example. We have two internal nested prefab solutions. By procedurally generating the UI, nested prefabs are unnecessary. Some little editor bugs, ect. Stuff like that.

    When people talk about procedural generation (content or other), they like to talk about the sexy stuff like randomly generated worlds. That is only one use. I would most of everyday procedural tools/features have nothing to do with randomization. Most have to with simplifying complexity. Which in the end allows to focus (and iterate) more directly on the actual game.
     
    GarBenjamin and Kiwasi like this.
  19. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    8,041
    They most certainly do. (Otherwise no one would care about the spash screen). However, that was not what I said, I specifically said executing thier vision.
     
  20. neoshaman

    neoshaman

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Posts:
    4,990
    @Billy4184
    Well I'm not interested in success per see, because chasing success mean I wouldn't touch certain subject with a 10 miles pole. I'm not doing it for a hobby and my ego is not protected because, since the subject impose constrain, I can't pull thing out of my ass, I'm often blocked which left me miserable and stressed to find a solution, and more if I miss the point I will be open to heavy criticism. I'm not stigmatizing the market by removing myself from the pool either. I don't know why you are against finding one's souls and why it affect you so much other have different priorities.

    And while money is power, power corrupt, it also became a constrain on what you do in more pernicious way that some want to admit. How would I know? Because I come from there, I started as looking for success, money and career, but sometimes the journey push you in unexpected path, and events change your priorities. Not every body has to be the same.

    And money certainly didn't made anything better for me, some stuff are not behind a money gate, once I understood that my project was hinder by money, I strip my life bare to give it a chance to be completed (time was the needed currency, chasing money ate time), but also I live i a relatively rich and fair country, having free healthcare and good sanitary infrastructure is more than 80% of people on earth. However I don't plan to stay that way forever, it's not a search of the souls, it's hardcore optimization relative to this project ;)
     
    Billy4184 likes this.
  21. Aabel

    Aabel

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    Posts:
    193
    I have to ask what procedural tools are you familiar with? It's not up to the tool, procedural or not to know what the artist wants, it's up to the artist to execute their vision with the tool. Proceduralism is a different mindset entirely from what artists are used to with the most popular 3d programs. If you are expecting a procedural tools to have a concept of what you want, your expectations are out of line, that isn't how proceduralism works.


    I haven't played No Man's Sky yet so I can't judge the full experience, but from the screen shots and videos I have seen there certainly appears to be a well executed art direction. It looks to me like the algorithms achieve what they were designed to do (I didn't work on it so I really don't know how well it's executing vs. intent). I would not expect the software behind No Mans Sky to do things it was not designed to do like design destiny levels. However that does not mean that Destiny levels could not be procedurally made.

    This right here is why there isn't more amazing procedural art out there. If you want to be successful in making procedural content you need to embrace mathematics, and learn to see the world as a mathmatician. If you do not embrace mathematics and programming you will always be several steps behind in procedural content generation.
     
    Kiwasi and zombiegorilla like this.
  22. Billy4184

    Billy4184

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2014
    Posts:
    5,057
    I'm not sure if you're arguing semantics or what, the point is that a procedural tools does things which are not explicity defined by the artist, according to the way it was written by the programmer. I have a feeling you're confusing the creation of procedural tools with using them. There's a complete and utter difference there.

    If you have a procedural terrain generator, and you have to go and tell the computer where to put each vertex, you might as well do it yourself, right? The whole point of procedural tools is to capture high-level 'rules' about creating the assets so that you don't have to tell it exactly what to do.

    That's exactly what I said..? While I can't be certain, I certainly don't believe that Destiny's levels could be procedurally made with the press of a button, or everyone would have that sort of thing in their projects ... but it certainly seems like it's possible given enough progress.

    Again, you're confusing the creation of procedural generation tools with using them. Nobody really understands all the signal processing terms in the nodes of World Machine now do they? But it doesn't mean they don't get an idea of how they can be used artistically. You can have a slider in a procedural terrain generator that says 'soft hills' on one end and 'rocky hills' on the other end, you don't have to understand the difference between perlin and voronoi noise to use it.

    You absolutely do not have to be a mathematician or embrace mathematics to use procedural tools, unless the tool has been made badly with the insides exposed as an excuse for an interface.
     
  23. Aabel

    Aabel

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    Posts:
    193
    Not necessarily, once again, procedural tools have you used?

    You are actually telling it exactly what to do though, in a very efficient manner. If you don't understand the underlying rules, or they are hidden away, you could get the perception that you are not telling it exactly what to do.

    It sounds like your experience with procedural tools has only been with parameterized high level interfaces. Editing parameters can certainly give you a lot of flexibility and control, but it is not the be all end all of procedural workflows. You are right though Destiny's levels could not be made with the press of a button, that does not however mean that they could not be made procedurally.

    No, I am not. If I make a procedural model of a book, I have also made a program/tool that makes books. Good procedural tools are actually tool making enviroments/platforms that erase the line between content creation and tools development.

    Yes, there are people that do understand all the signal processing terms.

    Sure, you can use it at a basic level. However you will be at a significant disadvantage (understatement) to artists who do understand the technology deeper and have the skills and knowledge to override the static sliders with with custom code.

    Programs like world machine are not robust, general procedural tools. They are highly specialized and narrowly focused tools. You cannot draw wide sweeping conclusions about procedural tools based on world machine.
     
  24. Billy4184

    Billy4184

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2014
    Posts:
    5,057
    @Aabel why do you need to know procedural tools I've used? I already mentioned two - is that enough for you?

    What kind of tools are you talking about?
     
  25. Aabel

    Aabel

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    Posts:
    193
    Mainly so I understand your perspective on procedural content creation, it's a deep subject.

    The tool I am referring to is Houdini and in the near future Fabric Engine.
     
  26. Billy4184

    Billy4184

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2014
    Posts:
    5,057
    Well I dabbled with Houdini and I thought it was a pretty unuseable, I muddled around with bunches of nodes for 20 minutes and ended up with a gear of some kind. It can probably be useful for geometrical shapes. But anyway, my experience of it is extremely limited so take it with a grain of salt.

    Using a procedural tool should be like walking or running, all you need to know is some basic ideas about what you want to do, you should not have to know about what exactly each muscle is doing from your head to your toes or fine tune them or understand the forces that are being applied to each joint and all that.

    For a procedural tool to do its job, it must work with implicit rules about what the user wants. In my opinion, speech is going to be used a lot more to communicate with procedural engines. Let's say I say "I want a saloon like from a cowboy movie." If the procedural engine doesn't understand basically what a saloon is, and I have to tell it where to put every plank of wood and nail, it won't be very useful to me.

    So it might give me what it considers, from its 'understanding' of saloons, a pretty standard saloon. So maybe I think it is too small, so I say "Move the back wall back 20 feet". The computer does not simply hack out the back wall and move it, it understands that I want it to add extra length to the sides, floor and roof, and tile the textures so they don't stretch, and so on. Those are all implicit rules.

    In fact even the functionality of 3D modelling software makes an incredible lot of assumptions about what the modeller wants to do, and doesn't expose all of its functionality nor does the modeller have to understand everything mathematically, e.g., how a Bevel algorithm works (I've been trying to make my own lately for various reasons and it ain't pretty).
     
  27. Pix10

    Pix10

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2012
    Posts:
    844
    Siri, make me an RPG.
    No, make me a good RPG.
    Dammit Siri you suck!
    "Sorry Dave, I was only trying to help."
     
  28. hippocoder

    hippocoder

    Digital Ape Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Posts:
    26,454
    Think you kind of totally missed the point of houdini for indies. The idea is you use it to procedurally kitbash from existing prefabs, whole towns, environments etc, or fill in where furniture goes or auto-generate street props and so on...

    We evaluated it like that - works well, but again it's one of those tools that does require specific training to use, and likely benefits teams, which leads me to...

    @zombiegorilla gave a great example of his studio's workflows with the ui stuff. I think that's excellent for teams. I actually think it's sub-optimal for one dude trying to get a game out on his lonesome though. He'd have to make all these tools and test them, and maybe learn illustrator too! I'm not knocking zombie's approach, in fact I think it's quite outstanding for teams, but the take away is - as a single guy you need to look at brute force being the fastest option in a lot of cases, just using what Unity gives you. Horses for courses.

    I see micro-teams and solo devs leaping in desperation at new workflows, behaviour trees, procedural, building huge complicated systems - nukes to swat flies - all too often and we wonder why nothing gets done!

    Not saying building a smarter tool isn't the right thing to do, only that it isn't ALWAYS the right thing to do based on team size. Cautionary tale from experience.
     
  29. neoshaman

    neoshaman

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Posts:
    4,990
    MV10 likes this.
  30. Billy4184

    Billy4184

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2014
    Posts:
    5,057
    Yeah I think I might have ... although frankly the biggest issue I see is asset creation so I think I was kind of hoping to get some kind of workflow for hard surface models in that.

    I can definitely see what you mean about sometimes these tools being more trouble than they're worth, but I think that if you can lay the groundwork by defining boundaries, accepting certain limits and and then customizing a workflow that saves you a huge chunk of time over the long term, it's going to be worth it.

    One thing (not really procedural as such) that I am willing to risk a huge amount of time trying to set up for my game is a workflow that automates retopology and unwrapping medium poly bevelled models without warping. I find myself often spending 80-90% of my art creation time on them, it makes my mind melt with boredom and I can't think of a single reason why it should not be rule-based enough for a computer to do it without errors. That's one example of an area of game development that I think you can't go wrong spending a lot of time optimising.
     
  31. hippocoder

    hippocoder

    Digital Ape Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Posts:
    26,454
    Here, I evaluate if making a new workflow or tool will save time. It's simple: if I only have 5 houses, I'm really not going to make a tool to help build them. That tool would probably break even how long those houses take to make manually. So there's no point in giving the art team that - yet. There's a point to tools and that's when it will save time in this project. Don't build for the next project, you'll have enough trouble finishing this one.
     
    Martin_H and Kiwasi like this.
  32. Aabel

    Aabel

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    Posts:
    193
    In World Machine you can make terrains, in Houdini you can make World Machine, Saloon Machine, Space station Machine, Asteriod Machine, etc.

    Houdini isn't something you can dabble with and expect to get satisfactory results, unless you already have an extensive background in procedural techniques. It's a completely different way of working and building assets. You can't approach problems the same way you would in Maya, Max or Blender.

    Good procedural tools let you define the rules, generalize, paramterize and package them up to be used other people, or other tools. That is what Houdini does. It is a hard skill to acquire but it's so much more powerful and flexible than the other destructive way of working, that I find the learning curve to be more than worth it.
     
  33. neoshaman

    neoshaman

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Posts:
    4,990
    I think I'm pretty literate in procedural generation (difficulto say when it's not mature, so grain of salt) I would like to see a good video about houdini making stuff simpler than coding. Everytime I try looking at it, it was confusing. I think before substance there was mapzone, and mapzone was the confusing version (at least to create FX node, which I could kinda). Maybe we need the substance of houdini.
     
    Billy4184 likes this.
  34. Billy4184

    Billy4184

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2014
    Posts:
    5,057
    @Aabel in C++ there's not much you can't do either!

    I get what you're saying, though I still believe that procedural tools can be made very user (or artist) friendly with the right UI. For No Mans Sky (I've watched quite a few interviews/talks), the artist wasn't a programmer, nor would I imagine he was in any way a mathematically inclined, he never spoke in mathematical terms about anything ... it was the programmer's jobs to give him what he needed so that he could apply the best of his artistic ability without having to go and learn all that stuff himself. If he got it across to the programmers in layman's terms, then it should be possible to get it across to a computer in theory at least.
     
  35. Billy4184

    Billy4184

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2014
    Posts:
    5,057
    I like how there's no full stop at the end. Is that some sort of special instruction to the computer to go nuts and add whatever it thinks is best..?
     
  36. Aabel

    Aabel

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    Posts:
    193
    Well I don't know the team on No Man's Sky so I won't comment on anyones technical aptitude other than to say they have what looks like quite an achievement in No Man's Sky. I would surprised if the artists on that team weren't at least mathematically curious. Math with a computer isn't scary, a lot of people, myself included were put off math by the way it's taught in school. Math actually has a lot to do with art.

    The kind of tools you are talking about are what are called digital assets in Houdini, they can be very powerful, but you are limited to what is exposed unless you have to knowledge to dive into the network and make changes.

    Have you guys looked at http://www.gametutor.com/live/home-live/ they have some good starter Houdini tutorials. It's not the most visually stunning stuff ever but it's a good start and will give you the foundations to get a place where you can make good looking stuff.
     
    Billy4184 likes this.
  37. TenKHoursDev

    TenKHoursDev

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2014
    Posts:
    1,197
    Can I just say something here? I don't want to read every single reply but honestly

    This is what the market looks like for the three types of quality games

    --AAA--
    ---AA---
    ----A----

    Its essentially a ladder.

    If tomorrow every single AAA studio disappeared -poof!- then you can bet that every other minor studio would be raking in the dough by the next day because there would be no more top tier games to buy. Those A and AA studio's would start to make the old standard of AAA games.

    I've never heard of a major company going out of business just because smaller companies could produce similar or equal quality products. Franchise's and brand recognition will still give those large companies an advantage that us smaller ones can't hope to compete with.

    Games are not commodities either. Every single one is in some way unique. If people want a specific game then they'll pay for it somehow, they won't get that specific experience anywhere else either. So AAA publishers and companies don't have to worry about price (with the paid DLC and $60 AAA games of recent years they approach $100 or more, regardless how much people gripe).

    There are "indie" companies out there with multi-million dollar budgets. Indie may be a nebulous term but that sounds more like a big company than anything to me. With that said investors look for growth in any business they invest in. It can be a gradual tapering of growth (less favorable) or an exponential shot of growth (most ideal). If a company isn't growing then its not going to get much investment money. I'm saying companies need to have growth to get continuing investments.

    The only way to go is up.

    edit: on second thought why are we even obsessing over the concept of an "indie" game? Its more of a marketing term anyway. Imo if we all just realized that anyone can make a game regardless of how good or bad it is then we wouldn't worry about whats indie and what isn't.

    I understand the implication, that a AAA game is loosely defined as a studio with 75+ (even 200+) devs working on a game with a multimillion dollar budget.

    But those are not hard and fast rules. Its not even a good definition. Small teams of 12 people make things like No Mans Sky, which is on par with AAA game quality. I don't know what their budget is but its got to be less than $20 million (an arbitrary guess here btw).

    When defining things in terms of numbers they you use must mean something. If a 12 person team can make No Mans Sky with less than the number I mentioned above and get a truly impressive amount of attention while a AAA game can't break even, then what kind of conclusion can we draw?

    I guess the conclusion is: games are very subjective things, and its impossible to accurately predict how much they might sell. You can hedge your bets by investing more money and employing better people but there are no guarantee's.

    I think its kind of absurd to define AAA quality by the numbers from studios which consistently produce such things. There are edge cases too, like No mans Sky. We all know a AAA title when we see it. We know what impressive visuals and top notch game complexity look like. That doesn't mean employing 100 people to produce a game and a multimillion dollar budget will produce it all the time, because sometimes you get edge cases which produce the same thing without the same type of numbers.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2016
    Kiwasi likes this.
  38. Pix10

    Pix10

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2012
    Posts:
    844
    That big budget productions aren't the be-all, end-all. But we've been saying this (and often to the same people, and often as replies to differently phrased questions) for years. It'll sink in eventually. Maybe :)
     
    zombiegorilla likes this.
  39. neoshaman

    neoshaman

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Posts:
    4,990
    Well let's not confuse something here:

    - AAA is a financial rating term
    - it was reused by publisher to name investment in blockbuster potential
    - because block buster potential is based on details fidelity, player associated the term with that (the AAA feel) as it is hard to attain for "indie".
    - because these AAA could provide sometimes the best global artistic impact, when use properly, it became a name for hi quality experience.

    So older people use it in context of blockbuster resources, and younger and newcomer use it for the quality of the experience, generally.

    Naw, the artist just had concept art and pointed it to the programmer and tell him this, and the programmer did something and the artist was like "see this? more like this, I want that particular detail", the programmer scratch his head until he find an idea. We have many interview to know how it happen, the same process for tools happened. One of the math in question was the superformula, the programmer found it because it couldn't match the concept art until he saw it. Similarly planet distance was debated OUT of the math by the artist.


    Well that's consistent with what artist and designer ask to a programmer lol, or the creative director to the designer ... I don't it's only the machine that would struggle lol.

    More seriously, that wouldn't be instruction, that would be pattern matching of keywords and structure and use of templates filled randomly to fill the void.

    Match:
    first person -> view
    in space -> setting
    Open world-> progression structure
    planet-> setting, to explore->progression structure
    Alien of different types -> setting -> agents
    some are hostile but other are friendly -> agent -> behavior, you can trade -> gameplay mechanics

    I worked once on a bit on a crude prototype like that.
     
  40. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    8,041
    So basically, you arguing that water is wet? Brilliant deduction. You have been saying for years, what everyone has always known. When has anyone ever claimed different?
     
  41. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    8,041
    Absolutely none. You are comparing No Mans Sky to "a AAA game"? Which one? How about you flip it, Overwatch has made a quarter billion dollars so far with consistently the highest ratings, yet ~1% of indie games never make a profit and most go unnoticed. That is just a meaningless.

    No game is sure bet, no movie TV show or book is either. But it isn't entirely random either. AAA titles leverage a lot of things from research, polish marketing, testing, and talent (the noun), to do everything in their ability to make a hit. And practically speaking, it works. Most succeed. It isn't hard to tell when a game of that scale is going to fail, so in most cases fails get cut before the get too far. Some to do fail, and those rare cases get a lot of press. But the reality is there are a lot more games in the middle. Not AAA, and not small teams. Those are much more varied. Indie hits are rare, AAA fails are rare. The middle ground depends on the team/title.

    You are already confused. AAA a production classification, there are several. Like MLB vs. city leagues in baseball, one has stadiums built and watched by millions, the other play in parks with hundreds of spectators, and there are many levels in between. Which is more enjoyable is up the game players and the spectator preferences. Younger and newcomers use it as a term for quality because the little to no understanding of the game industry. They may call it whatever they want, doesn't really matter, it doesn't change what things are or how they are done. Good games are good bad games are bad, regardless of production.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2016
    Kiwasi and hippocoder like this.
  42. neoshaman

    neoshaman

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Posts:
    4,990
    I'm not saying anything else, I'm just clarifying the origin and use of the word, so people get the full context, as some use it in one way and some in the other way. Now when someone see AAA in this discussion he might know it refer to one or the other, which now mean we can discuss and not talk past each other on different things (hence why I brought confusion)! :D

    I use AAA in the former (production term), that's how I was introduce to the term and use it for years (it was coined at a GDC first I think). Now I have seen people used on the second (quality) and I was confuse for some times and people got mad at me because we clearly weren't referring to the same thing. I thought this clarification was useful because people where using in both way here and where disagreeing base on misunderstanding.

    Though it does not clarify what is the threshold of quality for AAA lol

    That or my english is still very bad :confused:
     
  43. Ony

    Ony

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2009
    Posts:
    1,942
    Fixed that to better represent today's game developer demographic.
     
    Martin_H and hippocoder like this.
  44. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    8,041
    There is no threshold, and no standard measuring stick. Overwatch, doom and Lego Star Wars are high quality AAA games that vastly different, and the elements that make them high quality are unique to those games. Name any handful of hit indie games, and they will be high quality for different reasons. Games are a multifaceted art form, quality is a combination of those elements that contribute the product as a whole.
     
    Kiwasi, hippocoder and Ryiah like this.
  45. Ryiah

    Ryiah

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2012
    Posts:
    15,314
    I have a rule of thumb that will work just fine though. If you have to ask how to make AAA then you're not capable of AAA. :p
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2016
  46. hippocoder

    hippocoder

    Digital Ape Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Posts:
    26,454
    Wiki probably sums up AAA quite well, basically what ZG is saying. I tend to steer clear of AAA because it's just relevant to me at all. I'm not even aiming at the same things they aim at. I aim at what I want to make, and I think some people might like that too. Odds on it'll make me more money than if I tried to chase AAA down a gilded neverending rabbit hole.

    Seems like people making games that fit their capabilities are actually super rare. And you wonder why nothing gets finished............
     
  47. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    8,041
    I should clarify... I shared that example because it seems like most people seem to discuss procedural tools as ones that will magically create hoards of random barbarians or cities with the press of a button. In the real world, most studios have many types of quite un-sexy procedural tools. Some very small, some very specific, some runtime, some production/pipeline support. (as well as many tools that aren't procedural). We have many modeling helpers, procedural tools that support translation, rigging and animation helpers, but actual character generation isn't something we would consider. Partly because the variety of needs is too wide, and partly because our 3d artists are some of the best. It would net loss in resources. Maya/Max are powerful and fast in the right hands. Whereas the Unity UI has a lot of room for improvement. Tools are all about improving productivity and quality, even if not sexy.

    I would like also point out, the UI generation tool, was conceived and the core mostly built (about 80% of where it is today), by a single UI Designer in roughly 4 days. (most of which was spent learning c#). He built it initially during our last hack-a-thon. He is intimate with flow, and figured he could improve the whole thing by essentially getting rid of the "building" part. (though the first version was built around nGUI, it has been ported to Unity UI.) At its core, it is actually pretty simple, it was just super strong concept. The best tools come from people trying to make their own lives easier. ;)
     
  48. neoshaman

    neoshaman

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Posts:
    4,990
    Ha! I worked on a AAA (at the time) game (2008 then I quit) lol

    The context was I was trying to make the discussion more clear for using the term AAA in some aspects, to put everyone on the same context and reduce noise, this little joke phrase was referring to the fact that I cant be as clear cut for where people put their quality threshold (when AAA is used a quality slang). Quality is lauded word here, for me it mean "production power" in the context of this kind of discussion, to other it mean experience quality.

    WHY it is important?
    When people argue in these threads, some see AAA as the experience quality not the scope. Which mean we argue in circle like I'm doing now :eek: I mean if we are strictly on the production sense, it's achievable, if it's just number, we can do it. If its experience on smaller scope, we can do it too but not solo or small indie (ie 5+ people at worst). Obviously the truth lie in the middle, it's the mix of scope + artistic polish that make the elusive ideal AAA.

    The problem in the discussion is that everyone as a different middle point of that mix between production and artistic experience. And AAA game themselves are really diverse in quality and scope. The model of mafia3 aren't that spectacular in term of modeling and animation during cutscene at least (compared to unchartred 4 which has way less character anyway). There is always the problem we keep arguing not only against AAA but the best of AAA to begin with! So can we objectively say if we can do AAA if we are only looking at the best of them? Data is skewed

    And many have already mention that AAA is a moving target. In the production sense it also mean that some asset are accessible to the lower tier of production but not all. For example we have learn from skyrim, which seems to be the quintessential dream, but to me, as representative of AAA quality, its obsolete, xenoblade X on WII U is 10 time bigger with more diverse environment, many game have already beat it in scope because they learned from him.

    Their production process is heavily documented which spare us the need to reinvent it and give everyone a head start. Witcher 3 is putting the bar really hi, has better animation and voice acting than skyrim, better story, and a bigger more detailed map. If we take witcher as a target I'm not sure it's on indie's reach. Skyrim is janky, it always had striked me as the most plausible target to emulate!


    And the target move because tools and knowledge evolve and became accessible, though not at the same rate. For example: character production is seeing cost falling through tools and automation toward very hi quality (zbrush, best practice on topology, proliferation of base mesh, photogrammetry and mesh refitting tools, facial capture), AAA differentiation is now animations quality and even that is seeing decrease in cost (motion capture is being cheaper, appearance of tool that allow to clean data faster).

    But talent access is still costly most of the time in order to feed these assets, diverse + quality voice acting for example is not what an indie can do, access to space for ensemble motion capture (better acting animation) is also not easy. So while we may be out of luck for reaching skyrim's scope with voice, other things might be in reach with clever trick we learn since the release of the game :D. Lore and amount of text is already solved, the indie who made the IF game 80 days had as many word than the bible. Words are cheap.
     
  49. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    8,041
    That's a contradiction. If everyone has a head start, no one does.

    All that stuff you are talking about is just random disconnected elements. What matters, the only thing that matters, is the game. The game drives and determines the requirements. That comes first. Then you find or build tools you need. If you fret over, or look only at tools that others have already built, you are failing in the most important part, creativity. Cutscenes, map size, etc... are only relevant if they are part of your game.

    There is no arguments here, because there is nothing to resolve. A small team is not AAA and does not have the resources or ability to create games of the same scope as a large team with a professional budget, experience and resources. Period. The laws of time and space preclude it. And quality is only relative to the individual game. Doesn't matter if you are using Houdini and Zbrush or blender and a text editor. The hand behind it determines the outcome. Even if there were a magical tool that created movie quality 3d characters in minutes, all that would do is move everyone up to the same level, and the same studios and individuals that drive quality games today would drive quality above the crowd. You innovate or you follow, tools don't impact that. Attempting to quantify the "quality" of other games and examining size, budget, tools, etc.. is no replacement for taste and vision.

    A very wise man once said, if you are solo/small team, you should strive to make "...something small but beautiful, something AAA would never risk". If you are trying to create large scope, quality game on the scale of the typical AAA type, you will fail, and just be another one of the thousands of generic, unfinished, asset-flipped, half-assed broken dream games. Or you can make something beautiful, original within your scope that you can be proud of. You can make the next indie breakout hit, or add to the cesspool wastelands of steam. Hint: waiting on or worrying and talking about what tools may or may not come and what should/could be isn't the happy path.
     
    hippocoder and Ryiah like this.
  50. neoshaman

    neoshaman

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Posts:
    4,990
    We mostly agree in most point really.

    But no man's sky is not small yet it is beautiful, now the game in itself is not out so gameplay is of unknown quality. The team is still small by AAA standard.

    But you are very right, to innovate is necessary, scope production can be something we innovate on. Personally I'm not waiting or worrying on tool that may come, I'm actively pursuing the technique and knowledge needed to make them (it's not houdini). Though currently it's on the backseat because my current project don't need it, it's a small distraction, I truly yearn of the moment where I can start a new project base on my finding and finally complete this vision!
     
    zombiegorilla likes this.
unityunity