Just a thought: Much the same eye candy result could be achieved by one or two complete and polished game examples - this would make the fact that a lot of the examples are ugly irrelevant as people would try them out first. (Put them in there own start menu folder - people will head for the one that says game first.) Obviously there is the Disney stuff, but that is just screen shots for most of us - it would be far more immediate to have something playable that just appears when you install the SDK.
This also has another advantage. Right now Panda has a lot of short one file example programs with minimal assets - what would really help are some more extensive examples that are commented well enough for people to read through and understand them. They could even form the basis for new games, so people would extend and replace an example game if suitable to get the game they want, rather than starting from scratch. Or use an example as a stand in test environment for artists whilst the programmers focus on development.
Now making the small examples look good should still be done, but I think there is more potential in the long term with this approach. The biggest issue I see is that any such game would have to be small to be distributed with the already chunky Panda download. I’ld imagine a 5-10 meg limit would be sensible, to allow space for examples of several genres. And someone would have to take on the role of judge, to decide if examples are good enough - both graphically and code-wise to include, which could offend someone who puts in a lot of effort only to have it shot down.
However, if someone who has repository access is willing to take on the unenviable role of judge, and thinks this is a good idea they might want to make the offer to the community. It might work better than asking people to replace assets, as this would be a work from scratch, which is far more satisfying for those involved. (Plus someone might have something old or from the Showcase section that they are willing to resurrect for a good polishing.) Its also something I wouldn’t mind trying in a couple months when I have the time - I’ve been considering making a simple racing game myself, as an excuse to play with the physics.
My current Panda3D project is something similar to what you have described. I’m working on writing a set of modules that can be used as a base class (by me, or whoever) for very rapid FPS/TPS style game deployment. Basically the user imports the modules, makes models maps textures etc, defines which maps and models and actions are for each level and plays their game…
I’ve had a bit of experience with ODE before (but not in Python or Panda), so the focus of this proj. is on creating advanced physics eg, smashable objects, rope physics, buoyancy etc.
It’s great if people want to create some games to show off Panda’s capabilities, but including those games with the Panda download is a very bad idea, in my honest opinion. As lethe pointed out, that would just be adding unnecessary bloat onto an already big download. It would be much better to just have it as a seperate download.
Well, if people agree with T Rex (And I don’t disagree with him, though bandwidth is rock bottom these days.) it could be a separate download. I think the point here is to have an ‘official’ set that people will see early on, if not first - so it at the very least should be visible alongside the downloads on the download page, or maybe a ‘bonus’ and ‘lite’ version. Whatever really - if it improves the visibility and draws in users it can only be a good thing. What we really need is for someone to do something really crazy, so it gets on slashdot et al;-)
I guess, though I remember trying that out the first time I fiddled with Panda many moons ago. No offence to the developers, but it didn’t exactly encourage me to dig deeper. Or indeed do anything other than delete it as quickly as possible. I note its no longer there though. But yes, same idea I guess. I’m not really intending to play the role of defender for this idea - I think its a good one, but its only going somewhere if other people think so as well, otherwise I am quite happy to let it die. (At least until someone else suggests it at some point in the future:-P )
Aurilliance: Your trying to make a framework on top of Panda - whilst also valuable that is not really what I’m thinking of - just something to fill in the gap between the tech demos and a full game, i.e. a small expandable game. There is a risk of presenting it in a framework that people learn the framework and not Panda. Still, your right on the money that a FPS is probably what we need - those just seem to be attention magnets. Saying that a few simple puzzle games wouldn’t hurt, though give the wrong idea if presented alone. I doubt it would take me more than half a day to produce a rough Tetris clone with Panda, and not much more to polish…
So I guess we all agree - we need a small, haloish FPS minigame that’s not very complex but does look very good. Who will have time to make it?
Maybe we can start this as collaborative project… like a public svn or so
I still think we should also pimp the samples with either good graphics or cartoon-style, not some programmer art that is neither.
I certainly didn’t suggest this to detract from the original goal of this thread… just because its an idea which shares similar goals.
If you take the fps haloish minigame approach then it needs to be something that stands with one level, one weapon, one monster type - it is meant to be small after all, though people might expand it latter. Given those specifics the monster type should probably be the faceless humanoid in power armour - think the combine from half life, or countless other equivalents from umpteen billion fps. Player character could be the same. Weapon a basic assault rifle - used by both the player and the enemy for refills. That is all pretty simple - the key decision is location, as it needs to be able to demonstrate as many cool effects as possible, now and in the future. The two cool environments for tech demos are basically outdoors for nature and futuristic for shiny stuff. So, crashed spaceship maybe, or you start in a clearing before going via cave or shack with lift into the level proper?
The biggest problem here is the need for artists - it always is - this is a forum stuffed with programmers after all. I can manage some degree of artistic sophistication, but its very time consuming for me to get it looking good, and half my stuff gets thrown out because I can never make it look even half decent however much I tweak. I could maybe do fill in however - arbitrary futuristic walls, rocks - simple props that the player breezes past without looking at too closely. What I would be good at is AI however - I am a Computer Vision researcher after all, which is a subfield of AI, and they share a lot of similar techniques. But I can design the AI for a FPS shooter in my head without blinking, in fact there is no need to use any ideas from the field newer than a couple decades, so that is something I could contribute. Time is however an issue for me, so I doubt I could be a reliable contributor. And that is the second problem - most of us have our own projects we want to work on, not to mention day jobs etc. Sorry to suggest an idea I can’t be of much use on, and then to be so negative about it:-( But if I can help I will, the question is if a critical mass of other people can be found. Maybe this will just have to be a slow burn project for the community.
Thanks for mentioning that, lethe, you have a good point.
Personally I hate it when software is released as ‘lite’ or ‘bonus’ - I’d much rather just download the extra files needed to play the game. Moving on,
Once again, yes.
And yes (gotta love anything science-fiction-ey)
I’d be up for helping make something like this. Should someone start a new post about this to share ideas + plans?
Edit: Forgot to add this. If this idea is going to go ahead, I think the first thing is to try and decide as exactly as possible what the game will be like (how long, what kind of atmosphere/mood, what art style, which graphic effects we are going implement etc) - this at least will give the artists something to go off in terms of sketching up a prototype map layout / level flow.
Well, I can do length - short, less than 5 minutes short. As for artistic style, gritty and realistic probably offers the most f/x opportunity. In fact, in my mind I am imagining ‘generic’ half life, albeit with some of the halo stuff, mostly the shield as that saves on worrying about health. But to really nail artistic style a lead artist will be needed, i.e. someone to set the style. But if no one is willing to take on that role then selecting an existing game and saying ‘copy that style’ is not the worst way to go.
For graphics effects we shouldn’t decide on a fixed list - we should choose a set of locations such that we, and other people, can add lots of effects. For instance, we should have the sea visible at the start - at first just with a water shader, but latter a more sophisticated effect could be added. The sky will be visible - start with just a sky box, latter on add moving clouds, changing sun etc. Maybe even have the game start with the sun rising. My instinct is that we should in fact prototype the whole thing without anything pretty… and then make it shinier step by step. This allows more parallel development for one. And a new thread might make sense, as we are kinda eating up this thread, plus a wiki would help for actual design - I could setup one of those as I have the webspace available.
To be more specific about the location thing how about you start outside on a cliff above the sea and a small makeshift military base - sea and cliff act as natural play area boundaries, stick a river on one side and a jungle on the other to block the player off - that is a whole bunch of fx opportunities. The base can then be guarding a digging site, where a ufo has been dug up - the base gives opportunity for warn down military kit, which is another set of effect possibilities. Then you descend into the cave system, which is another style again - chance to show off lighting code. Finally, you finish at the ufo, which will be highly futuristic, another style. Then the game ends when you reach the cockpit, blast out of the ground and blow everything up and fly off into the sunrise. Everybody loves a good explosion. But that is just one idea, which I like as its simple, sticks to known conventions, and has several small areas to demonstrate different effects in. I suspect someone could suggest a better one though.
This is all up in the air right now though - we need more people. Most importantly at least one good artist, if not more.
I feel kinda bad posting here anymore -this really should be in a separate thread. Sounds like some good ideas, lethe. May I suggest also, perhaps the player starts in the jungle outside the military camp and has to infiltrate it, then get to the space craft / ?alien object?. This would give an opportunity to show off LODing with plants perhaps and anyway, a well done jungle scene will look great no matter what. (Plus, there are plenty of tree resources out there, so it wouldn’t be too much modeling work; tree[d], blender greenhouse etc). Also, the caves are a great idea, I think some of the best shader effects I’ve ever seen have been cave scenes (no pun intended )
I like your idea about starting with the core functionality, then adding effects as the project moves along. Another FX suggestion: God Rays, such as in HL Lost Coast - they really are eye catchers, and with dense jungle foliage at sunrise this could be a really really great way to start. (I’m gonna have a look into God Rays + Panda 2nite).
The Halo shield idea is a must, simply to reduce the complexity of having to many pick-ups.
And yes, it would be great to have a lead artist who can define the style, or at least choose a game to base it off. (I was also thinking along the lines of HL, as you can probably tell by my many references to it)
Maybe all posts after this should be in a new thread.
My intention when I said you start on a cliff was that you get to see everything - show the objective, but then you head down the cliff, through the jungle and infiltrate the camp, as you say. The reason I gave that design though is its essentially modular - any chunk of it can be swapped out with little reworking of the rest. Or, to put it another way the cave system could have a single corner in it, the spacecraft could only consist of a 5m corridor and the military base could be a couple guys standing around a hole in a clearing. At the start. But then all of those items can be scaled up, arbitrarily, with little effect on the others. Alien craft would be only partially exposed, so it can be arbitarily large once you get inside. There is also a variety of combat styles in such a scenario. I agree that jungles are good - great place to test fx, and there is already that jungle demo to use as a basis for that system. And god rays are awesome, but first we just need a playable but ugly game. Then we start adding fx one at a time until its comparable to Crysis;-) Lost Coast is a good example of the kind of thing we are aiming to achieve though - a fun but short tech demo.
pro-rsoft: I don’t mean for it to be futuristic, but there is an advantage to it being ‘near-future’, specifically that it doesn’t matter if military hardware looks ‘a bit like’ rather than ‘exactly like’ modern gear;-) It also explains away the shield system, and a spacecraft is a good opportunity for special effects, especially a crashed old one, which might have leaks, dodgy lighting, explosion/fire damage etc. Could even have a leaked cryogenic system, as an excuse for some ice. It also means that if we ever decide to add a second enemy type its probably going to be short and grey, with a strange shaped head and some very shiny weaponry.
I don’t think there is any rush to design it, as long as people agree on a rough idea - this should be done organically, with level design changed as opportunity sees fit. Its setting a consistent artistic style that worries me - maybe if the first few objects are created linearly so that each builds on the style of the previous then consistency would prevail. We still need an artist or ten however.
Maybe we should create a new thread anyway - summarise the idea and roughly what we are after, effectively as an official call for helpers. A lot of people probably haven’t noticed this conversation going on inside a thread about polishing the examples anyway. pro-rsoft, as a major member of this forum I suspect people will notice more if you did that. There is an argument however that we might want to delay - considering what you said maybe leave this until the release of 1.6.0, which is a logical point to start work on it anyway. Until then time would probably be better spent doing research, maybe a bit of experimentation etc. And for the record I’ll contribute, as a programmer and an incidental artist. I’m rather relishing the thought of writting AI for a fps:-)
There is a standards issue to discuss - we should really release all the 3D model files, so having them all in one format would make sense. I would suggest Blender, as its free, but then I can hardly claim to lack bias there - that doesn’t preclude modelling using other tools, just that it all comes together there. Also, licenses - I would say bsd for the code (Same as Panda) and cc for the assets, leaving which cc license upto each artist on an asset by asset basis.
Sure. I can separate the thread (the forums have an option to separate the thread post-by-post) or we can just start a new thread anyways (that’s probably better), it’s no big deal.
Blender is fine for me, but do keep in mind that using BSD license for the code will probably result in many users copy&pasting the sample, renaming it, adding their weapon model and they have their own game.
Maybe we should do a license like zlib to encourage people more to use this as reference rather than treat it like their own work. Or even a more restricted license.
Alrite - I’ve got something to do, so I’m happy. I’ll bide my time until further notice gathering snippets that could come in handy and improving my modeling skills.
Blender is an excellent program, two thumbs up from me, I’m also familiar with Milkshape3D (good for weapons, small items etc). Lol, don’t laugh, but I’ve also used sketchup in the past for prototyping - it’s good for fast visualisation in early stages. However, all three programs’ file formats are interchangeable with the right plugins, so, as you said, Blender should be used for the final format.
pro-soft: Think I’ll have to agree with using the zlib license, that does look like a better fit considering the goals. I have no problem with people copying and reusing the code, but I would rather they didn’t claim it as their own! Indeed, if people can learn by modifying the game that is good. Its also good if people use it as a test bed for trying things, as then they might contribute them back and improve it:-) But as it is to be an example game I don’t think we want it to be too restrictive, especially as some good games come about by starting from one game and moding until it is unrecognisable.
I think we have a rough plan now though - wait until 1.6.0;-) So I shall leave it until then, though I might start considering automatic AI waypoint placement algorithms etc.
I know it’s not top priority or anything, but I’d love to contribute to the sound design/audio programming. And I can keep it light as far as download size goes. Panda has far more extensive ability in audio than most engines, especially open source engines - which is in fact what led me here - and it’s certainly something to show off.