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Game Project Derailed, Need Some Advice
Kris Asick
Member #1,424
July 2001

So... I've run into a number of issues with making my next game, including one big one which kinda explains why no one else makes games with a movement style like the one I'm working on. :-/

It's all explained in my latest development journal at http://www.pixelships.com/vzone/dj02.html , but to summarize, about 1 in 3 people who've commented on my initial public alpha of the game have gotten dizzy or motion sick after running the thing for only a moment or two and I really don't want to spend months on end working on something that's already not going to be playable by a third of everyone who would have any interest in it. :P

So, I'm seeking some advice on how to proceed. I've got four options I'm considering, again, all outlined in the dev. journal, though I'm open to other suggestions too. Really, any thoughts at all would be greatly appreciated.

--- Kris Asick (Gemini)
--- http://www.pixelships.com

Gnamra
Member #12,503
January 2011
avatar

If the movement style is the problem, can't you create two separate ones? I downloaded the alpha and I liked it :)

J-Gamer
Member #12,491
January 2011
avatar

I actually like the art style, but the movement style is indeed able to get me sick.

I would actually like to see more progress in this, but scrap the movement style.

Edit:
It might also be that it causes motion sickness because there's acceleration on the rotation. It takes too long to start turning and it takes to long to stop that movement.

Edit2:
If you'd put a config entry for the rotational acceleration(or another way to change it), I could experiment and see which values give more sickness and which don't.
Also: putting the config file in %APPDATA% might not be the best idea... Can't you just put it alongside the executable?

Edit3:
small programming bit: you might want to cap your rotation: ie:

if(rotation > 2*M_PI) {
    rotation -= 2*M_PI;
} else if(rotation < 0) {
    rotation += 2*M_PI;
}

I'm sure it probably won't ever be a problem, but you never know(in a long level where you are constantly turning to the right, for example something like a spiral), it will get really large after some time and you'll lose precision.

" There are plenty of wonderful ideas in The Bible, but God isn't one of them." - Derezo
"If your body was a business, thought would be like micro-management and emotions would be like macro-management. If you primarily live your life with emotions, then you are prone to error on the details. If you over-think things all the time you tend to lose scope of priorities." - Mark Oates

tobing
Member #5,213
November 2004
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Not bad at all. I guess it works very fine on a fast machine, but just in case you could make the "reaction time" configurable, so on a slow machine for example that could be set to zero, so the movement follows the mouse exactly instead of having a time lag.

Stas B.
Member #9,615
March 2008

Looks pretty cool, although it does make me dizzy. I think it has much to do with the graphics style. Have you tried smoother and less detailed graphics? The tile patterns really make the problem stand out. What about motion-smoothing?

SiegeLord
Member #7,827
October 2006
avatar

The way you do your rotation will always be liable to cause motion sickness, the optical flow is just too unnatural. Option 1 is the way to go. The classical replacement system would be to fix the camera rotation but have the ship rotate, like in Transcendence. I read your development journal entry where you dismiss this idea, but I didn't understand why. I mean, after all... you're interested in building... why is the amount of space forward of you matter? One possibility to get around using a fixed camera angle but still preserve the space forward of the player would be to have the camera lead the ship when it moves.

"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow."-Ecclesiastes 1:18
[SiegeLord's Abode][Codes]:[DAllegro5]:[RustAllegro]

J-Gamer
Member #12,491
January 2011
avatar

@Siege: Is that supposed to be a link?

" There are plenty of wonderful ideas in The Bible, but God isn't one of them." - Derezo
"If your body was a business, thought would be like micro-management and emotions would be like macro-management. If you primarily live your life with emotions, then you are prone to error on the details. If you over-think things all the time you tend to lose scope of priorities." - Mark Oates

Kris Asick
Member #1,424
July 2001

The main reason I didn't initially want to have the ship centred in the screen and turn to face a cursor is two-fold:

1. In order to be able to actually see what you're shooting, rather than shooting things off-screen, the scale of the player's ship and enemy ships would need to be smaller.

2. Joystick/Gamepad control would suffer as it would be extremely difficult to do world-building stuff with one.

In terms of the damping on the rotation, without it, the rotation is very jittery and, for me, very difficult to look at. Also, one of my friends came over to help gauge it and even just VERY slow rotation was bothering him. :-/

In terms of reaction time, control and gameplay logic is independent of the renderer and runs internally at a fixed framerate of 240. This means that even if your actual framerate is 10, it will still play properly.

Camera leading was one of my first thoughts before I even wrote the dev. journal and it's certainly a possibility. It would be good for shooting but bad for building, but having a keyboard key to toggle it on and off at will would eliminate that problem. It still nixes joystick/gamepad support though.

Either way, if I continue with the project (very likely at this moment) I still have to re-write the tile renderer as I came up with a way to speed it up immensely. As it stands, every tile is rendered every frame. The method I've come up with initially renders all visible tiles to a texture to render to the screen, but then as the player moves, this tilemap is simply shifted and updated with the new tiles, eliminating the overhead of making numerous texture drawing calls. This is very similar to how the NES works, let alone most 2D-optimized consoles. ;)

--- Kris Asick (Gemini)
--- http://www.pixelships.com

J-Gamer
Member #12,491
January 2011
avatar

Also, one of my friends came over to help gauge it and even just VERY slow rotation was bothering him.

I didn't mean to ask to slow the rotation speed, as that is just mouse sensitivity. The problem is that the damping is too strong. It takes too long to start moving and it takes too long to stop moving. If you can shorten that timeframe, I have a feeling I won't get so nauseated.

" There are plenty of wonderful ideas in The Bible, but God isn't one of them." - Derezo
"If your body was a business, thought would be like micro-management and emotions would be like macro-management. If you primarily live your life with emotions, then you are prone to error on the details. If you over-think things all the time you tend to lose scope of priorities." - Mark Oates

Neil Walker
Member #210
April 2000
avatar

ALT-TAB doesn't work

No idea what you're supposed to do, clicking mouse buttons didn't place blocks

Why when on a tile do you get a really annoying white square jumping 10 pixels in random directions when you move and why does it place itself right on top of your space ship when on some tiles

Didn't make me feel dizzy, but some of the choices don't help like the wave patterned wave that moves causing it to look bad when scrolling the screen

Neil.
MAME Cabinet Blog / AXL LIBRARY (a games framework) / AXL Documentation and Tutorial

wii:0356-1384-6687-2022, kart:3308-4806-6002. XBOX:chucklepie

SiegeLord
Member #7,827
October 2006
avatar

J-Gamer said:

@Siege: Is that supposed to be a link?

Whoops. Yes.

"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow."-Ecclesiastes 1:18
[SiegeLord's Abode][Codes]:[DAllegro5]:[RustAllegro]

weapon_S
Member #7,859
October 2006
avatar

Movement that is unpredictable to the player might add to nausea. Spectators are allowed to get nauseous ;P
Does "scale down" in option 2 mean "do less effort" or does it literally mean something that changes in the proportions of the game? If the latter, I see no reason for dropping all the features. (But on the nausea part it might help to have more screen to orient on.)
I had planned a game like this, so thanks for the heads up. ;P I was planning on making the screen a half-circle. Half-circles HUD might help. Motion blur/tiles that are easily distinguishable to rotate might help. Those things are a long shot, though.
My 2 smelly cents:
Sleep on it; because dropping (parts of) the project might be an option. Being bummed out by adversities isn't a good state to make decisions, or a good reason to choose one way or the other. So let it rest for now, even though it is delayed. You might find that parts of the project get a whole new purpose, but not if you try too hard to find that purpose.

Didn't make me feel dizzy, but some of the choices don't help like the wave patterned wave that moves causing it to look bad when scrolling the screen

Kris Asick
Member #1,424
July 2001

J-Gamer:I know you weren't talking about the speed, but if an extremely slow speed is enough to cause problems then no changing in the damping, faster or slower, is going to be any help. :-/

Neil:It's only v0.01, it's a long way from finished, but I wanted to get people involved as soon as I could, and as things have turned out, it's a good thing I decided on very early public alphas. I'd hate to be serveal months along before discovering a fundamental issue like this.

weapon_S:My friend was actually in control, not just spectating. :P
One of my other game ideas has quarter-circle HUD pieces... and to be honest, adapting this idea into that one isn't outside the realm of possibility, though it was more of a simulation game as opposed to an adventure. *shrugs*

What I mean by "scale down" is remove planned features. Any attempt to leave the world-building aspect in while using a mouse-aiming interface with a ship that turns relative to the world instead of vice versa would eliminate the ability to implement decent Joystick/Gamepad support. Also, much of the balancing and AI planning was reliant on turning at fixed rates, whereas with cursor-based aiming, turning would be instantaneous.

There are other things that would need to change too, but to put it simply, making such a drastic change to the engine would completely alter the fundamental design of the game and would require more months of design work to ensure I end up with a game that really works, and since I started this project 10 months ago I'm really not looking forwards to another 4~6 months redesigning everything to fit with a fundamental engine change, so removing features means less redesign, less programming, get the project finished and released faster and I can move on to other ideas that I'm already further ahead with design-wise.

This is also why I'm contemplating adjusting one of my ideas become Vectorzone. Scrap the original concept for Vectorzone and instead turn the game into something completely different. I'm early enough in that I can do this and many of my game ideas that have a semblance of story take place in electronic/digital worlds, (PixelShips is one of the few that doesn't), so adjusting them to take place in a vector-based world is easy stuff.

I have over 200 game ideas to pull from, half of which are within my ability to code by myself and about 10% of those are far enough along in design that I could start programming them within a matter of weeks.

So yeah, lots of options. Unfortunately, PixelShips 2 is not one of them... because it was going to use the exact same movement/turning system. :'(

--- Kris Asick (Gemini)
--- http://www.pixelships.com

OICW
Member #4,069
November 2003
avatar

Kris: do you have some video of the game in action? I wonder where the problem lies, because Seek and Destroy (you mention it in the first dev journal) and Peitz's Hellcarrier use exactly the same type of movement.

The only thing I can think of are the very visually different tiles full of colors. The patterns etc. But I'd need to see it in action, but I can't run the demo, because it's Windows only.

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"Final Fantasy XIV, I feel that anything I could say will be repeating myself, so I'm just gonna express my feelings with a strangled noise from the back of my throat. Graaarghhhh..." - Yahtzee
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"You can discuss it, you can dislike it, you can disagree with it, but that's all what you can do with it"

LennyLen
Member #5,313
December 2004
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OICW said:

Kris: do you have some video of the game in action?

video

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
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":\ This video is private. Sorry about that"

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

LennyLen
Member #5,313
December 2004
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Oops, I meant to make it unlisted, not private. Fixed.

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
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That makes people sick? The only odd thing I noticed was the "strobing" of elements apparently moving backward while area borders moved the other way, just like wagon wheels in Wild West movies appear to rotate backwards at certain speeds. If the repeating patterns weren't so small, that wouldn't happen.

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

OICW
Member #4,069
November 2003
avatar

Well, my guess was correct. Thanks Lenny for the video. I think the problem lies in the agressive patterns and probably moiré effect caused by movement. I also got irritated by the tile selection under the cursor or the ship. Other than that I also noticed that the ship is quite hard to see over the yellow tiles.

There's nothing wrong with the chosen control scheme, the problem, in my opinion, lies within the tilesets - they create psychedelic patterns when moving and rotating.

[My website][CppReference][Pixelate][Allegators worldwide][Who's online]
"Final Fantasy XIV, I feel that anything I could say will be repeating myself, so I'm just gonna express my feelings with a strangled noise from the back of my throat. Graaarghhhh..." - Yahtzee
"Uhm... this is a.cc. Did you honestly think this thread WOULDN'T be derailed and ruined?" - BAF
"You can discuss it, you can dislike it, you can disagree with it, but that's all what you can do with it"

Kris Asick
Member #1,424
July 2001

Unfortunately, graphic design is my major bottleneck when making a game as there's only very specific kinds of graphics I have any skill at making. I figured using glowing, vector-lines would be a good thing to try because I have an affinity for that style but never tried to make anything using it due to the difficulty of making the glow effect without fragment shaders.

Granted, now that I've made a fragment shader to do just that, it's not so big an obstacle anymore. ;)

I do have a friend helping with the graphics this time around, but because he's never had to do sprite-work or tile-work before he's not used to the technical restrictions, especially given the graphical style being aimed for, so it's taking him a bit to get into the swing of things, plus he doesn't have a lot of time on his hands to help out, but a little help is still better than none. :)

I'm probably going to end up reworking the game using another idea of mine; Lots to choose from. Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone!

--- Kris Asick (Gemini)
--- http://www.pixelships.com

Audric
Member #907
January 2001

Tile pattern is too small IMO. Either you should make the game tiles two or three times larger, or you should make the repeating pattern "take" more than one tiles at a time, ie. 2x2 or 3x3 tiles (But then you have to make as many "edge" tiles).

Stas B.
Member #9,615
March 2008

If the repeating patterns weren't so small, that wouldn't happen.

OICW said:

I think the problem lies in the agressive patterns and probably moiré effect caused by movement.

Wow. I think you guys are onto something. :o

Neil Roy
Member #2,229
April 2002
avatar

I like it, didn't get dizzy, looks great, nice and smooth, ended up flying around for quite a while.

J-Gamer said:

Also: putting the config file in %APPDATA% might not be the best idea... Can't you just put it alongside the executable?

I disagree, %APPDATA% is the proper place to put it. It's easy to save to from a programming standpoint, it's the safe and proper place to store your configuration files and it points to wherever the folder is whether on XP or Windows 7 etc... after many problems with one of my games, I found the safest bet where there would be no problems was in %APPDATA%.

One way I have in explaining where that is located is to tell users to bring up a command prompt (START->RUN->COM) then type "CD %APPDATA%\MYGAME" and voila, you're in the folder.

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
avatar

IIRC, the reason for %APPDATA% is so you don't have to reinstall the game for each account. Of course user variables like high scores would go in their home directories.

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

Trent Gamblin
Member #261
April 2000
avatar

%APPDATA% is the proper place to store settings and saved games on Windows. No, you can't put it with the exe because of permissions. And Arthur, APPDATA is local to the user. It is in their home directory ($HOME/AppData or $HOME/Application Data.)

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