Lighting the way

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evilkinggumby
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Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:18 am

Something that occurred to me from the most recent blog post is the idea of light, and more importantly, Torches.

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I've always found it odd that in abandoned, lost, or sealed crypts, caves, temples, and ruins there seems to always be still-lit torches, sconces and braziers all over the place. I know from a game design perspective, they're there to guide and light the area properly and add a degree of atmosphere. But the fact they're all "ever burning" makes no real sense, when you think about it for a few moments.

If Tilo had a method to light those, kind of like what you had to do in the newer Tomb Raider, I think it would both add a level of immersion and realism that would be kool to see (plus fun lighting effects) but also could be an intuitive method to discourage players from hitting certain dungeons and darkened areas until they get their hands on said light source.

for instance...

in the beginning you are able to enter the Drippy Cave because it is dark, but various cracks and holes in the walls/ceiling offer enough ambient light to navigate it.

you next come to a semi-fallen castle tower and again, can navigate it's crumbling walls because enough sunlight manages to break in wherever you go.

You come to a sunken cave deep in the woods, and after a few steps, it is too dark to see. In this instance, a makeshift torch would work, as if you move at a decent pace you could navigate the small cave with 1-2 torches before needing to light another. Torchlight is useful, but only in areas where combat is not necessary, as it occupies one hand. Later if you come across a lantern, you could hang it and fight properly.

coming to a old mine, it is apparent simple torches will not fit the bill, but you see old torches on the walls. At this point you are stuck until you come across a method to light those torches (they hang too high to reach and grab). in questing, you later discover a small magic ring of fire, which is able to cast a small focused heat spray a few feet from Tilo. In a fight it is not very effective (getting close enough to use it often risks bodily harm) but in cases like this mine, it means that extra reach to light the torches as you proceed.

Later you discover an old temple, where braziers sit on high chandeliers and even higher walls. The torch, lantern, or ring are not enough to light these massive halls, and enemies lurk both on foot and perched high in the rafters. At this point you would need to have acquired a bow and fashioned fire arrows. Using the ring to quickly light them, you can easily shoot and light the far off sconces and braziers and proceed through the area.

The use of fire in these ways offers a more natural way to guide the player to do certain dungeons first, without forcing them via some text message " you cannot go here yet" .

At the same time, it means not seeing those ever burning torches and sconces everywhere.. on an island that is mostly uninhabited by those that would need them... You would have to have a way to "see" the next light source, likely placed at the edge of the previous one's glow, or possibly highlighted by a shaft of sunlight peaking through or having a faint glow. Lighting them could be varied too via nearby dried vines and brambles, gas pockets, or old bottles of wine/liquor that catch fire upon breaking/hitting them.

Implementing this could be hard, depending on if there is already animation for a starting fire (it could just fade into being upon being lit) and scripting " if ring <a> or projectile class <f> cross z,y,x, axis, then light = true" is always an issue.

But that is what I would like to see. Does anyone else have a preference or an idea about lighting in games? where was it done well? where was it problematic?
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KwisatzHaderach
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Fri Jul 25, 2014 6:07 pm

THIS! So much THIS!

I totally absolutelly agree with evilking on this. Everytime I come to a long abandoned catacomb that has supposedly emerged from some ancient mist I always wonder where the butler has gone that went through the effort to neatly light all these campfires, torches and candles for me. Sometimes it is a whole sea of candles even!

When I was playing through Risen 2 (kinda the successor of the Gothic games) about two years ago I was painfully shown just how mindlessly developers nowadays use these things as a generic ambient atmospheric item. Just look at this screenshot I took back then:

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Can you see how ridiculously misplaced that candle is? I mean, who would put a candle on a crate!? Right?!

Nevertheless, I must admit that the thougt of having to light every single torch in a dungeon or cave is not very appealing either. I think it might work very well for some special occasions, to build up tension and make for some variety in gameplay. On the other hand I'm sure it would become a nuisance after having lit the 20th torch in a row, having to walk up to the torch every time, having to "press E to light torch" every time... It is definitaly not what I'm looking for in a game, realism aside.

Still, there is no question that lit torches kill immersion.

Maybe there would be a way to implement lighting torches in a fun and engaging way in GoaT. Maybe Tilo could have a tune that incinerates all torches within a given area (just like a minstrel is supposed to incenerate the hearts of their courtly loves *romantic*)?
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evilkinggumby
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Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:52 pm

I'd be less concerned with the candle and more looking at the torch which is set close enough to the roof to burn the planks over time. Not very wise design , not at all. :)

I completely agree about lighting 20 torches across a dungeon, that would be repetitive and annoying. I am under the assumption that the element I was suggesting was put to better use than just "walk 10 feet, light a torch, walk 10 feet, light a torch". Give Seith a little credit here. :)

As I mentioned, eventually using either a torch in hand, or a lantern, general lighting would eventually become less of a hindrance and more of a "method to illuminate other areas". As well you could stagger the lighting between natural light sources (holes, windows, broken stone, etc) and the need for torches. I could easily see starting out with lighting a torch or two to get down the front dark tunnel area of a dungeon but then having it open to a caved in area with sunlight pouring in, then moving to more tunnels and so on.

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It comes down to intelligent design. Early on, lighting EVERYTHING would be necessary as you begin to delves into the first few deep dark caves, where you would naturally move slow, work carefully, and try to get used to the environment. They did this in the newer Tomb Raider too, where you do have portions of the game where you need to light your way (mostly in tombs) but it's not a "every few seconds" thing. Spaced apart, these moments are not as tiresome and repetitive if done properly.

But in time you'd only need to light torches in certain spots when you felt a need, wanted to flush out an enemy, or to try and discover a path normally obscured.

I do like the idea of an "area effect" way to light torches, that would be kool. either an item or spell, or even environmental (it was mentioned that the rats were good with iron, so you could find coal based stoves or fire pits to light or trigger that light whole banks of embers on fire for general lighting in large areas). Having a song to light nearby stuff would be kool, I'd love it if it was a few bars of say a song sung by Tilo's mother as she cooks (she uses it to help evenly warm the honeysuckle cornbread in the oven) that warms an adventurer's heart AND brings a sense of warm light to the area via lighting the torches. :)

But that would also be more effective if Tilo's mum was even a part of the game, which, sadly, is not the case

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david
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Sat Jul 26, 2014 6:13 am

Tilo's mum is so cute and funny that she deserves a comical game of her own, perhaps with her kitchen as the hub :mrgreen: Though we must be careful not to be gender biased, so perhaps have Tilo's dad as an optional character?

As to lighting as a gameplay/puzzle feature, as you both describe it, I think it would work really well in places and suit the game perfectly. After all, stealth can involve light and shadow... having power over lights (for stealth and tactical advantage in combat), fire (as a weapon) and smoke (as concealment) would be awesome. In Far Cry 2, setting fire to the African savannah surrounding an enemy outpost was a tactical choice. Tactical smoke is used in lots of games. As you probably remember, in Thief and Splinter Cell, lights can be controlled by turning then on/off or shooting them. As we already know, Tilo picking a lamp, does affect gameplay.

Though I think Seith could also convincingly skew gameplay in a different direction, without involving light/fire/smoke mechanics at all.

I think one could argue that this is how the (not undead) creatures that use the dungeon light it, for everyday use... the GOAT-world equivalent of a light bulb. As to whether undead creatures need light to see, or even whether they perform 'everyday' activities, aside from rising from a pile of bones on the ground to attack cute mice... like in the first video... remains unknown.

Even if there isn't a logical explanation, like long-burning oil braziers/magical fire/etc, personally I can certainly live with the frequently-used artistic licence... but I bet there will be an explanation somewhere, even if it isn't spelled out. As a puzzle, wouldn't it be cool if Tilo set the dungeon's supply of -possibly magical- lamp oil on fire? A chance for some fun pyrotechnics :mrgreen:
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evilkinggumby
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Sat Jul 26, 2014 8:41 am

Oh I am sure there are possibilites to make more sense out of long term light sources. Look at TES Oblivion in regards to the Ayleid Ruins. Many of those were lit by the large energy shards they had created or by smaller souls crystals powered enough to do a small task. And in Skyrim, when you go down into the ancient Dweomer ruins a lot of them are still lit by the magical constructs and machinery that was crafted and still working heartily.

If the necro magic used on some of the undead is also somehow able to manipulate torches and braziers, I could see it being used through the game as a non issue. And , I will say that it is ok if that's the case and all this torch silliness I'm talking about is never even given a moments notice (it's not exactly a deal breaker). Heck it means seening some dungeons lit with green flames or blue flames or rainbow flames and that would be kind of kool too. :) magical torchlight FTW.

Or heck possibly if some caves or mines and tunnels are lit because you discover someone still living there, like a necromauser (necrom antic trained kitten? :) that needs a few torches to avoid 100% pitch black.

Even better, you only come across "normal" lit torches if there IS something living around, becoming a forboding sign. off color torches all are signs of long imbued magic, but standard ones means someone is a lurking.

GET DOWN.

:) I rather like the idea that a torch could be a useful and welcome item but in time you learn to fear seeing it because of what soon follows...
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Seith
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Sun Jul 27, 2014 2:42 am

All very good points guys. I am also annoyed when I see torches in games that no one could have ever lit. Let me assure you that it won't happen in GoaT. For example the screenshot in the OP is in an area where Rat guards still patrol, so it all make sense...

Also, I just wanted to say that you guys mention "Tilo's mum" quite often, but Tilo himself is a young father with a small family of his own. Although at the beginning of the game his village has been burned to the ground on the orders of a powerful Rat baron. And Tilo's been thrown into a cell in Dwindling Heights Keep (an old keep built into a cliff overseeing lake Vaelia) and he wonders if he'll ever see his wife and kids again...
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evilkinggumby
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Sun Jul 27, 2014 10:34 pm

Seith wrote:All very good points guys. I am also annoyed when I see torches in games that no one could have ever lit. Let me assure you that it won't happen in GoaT. For example the screenshot in the OP is in an area where Rat guards still patrol, so it all make sense....
See this is refreshing news. To be honest even if there were 'perpetual torches' it wouldn't bother me THAT much as I've seen it so many times it's sort of just a video game design mainstay. But seeing someone actually mindful of it, man, that feels so refreshing and kool.

Also, I just wanted to say that you guys mention "Tilo's mum" quite often, but Tilo himself is a young father with a small family of his own. Although at the beginning of the game his village has been burned to the ground on the orders of a powerful Rat baron. And Tilo's been thrown into a cell in Dwindling Heights Keep (an old keep built into a cliff overseeing lake Vaelia) and he wonders if he'll ever see his wife and kids again..
OK I have to admit 2 things. First I feel ashamed that I have brought up Tilo's mum enough that what Seith says there feels like a deserved wrist slapping for bringing it up so often. I'm totally at fault with doing that and I realize it's really just lil ol' me that's holding the torch for that idea (see what I did there?)

Second: I am sorry you felt the need to explain so much here, but I totally LOVE that you did. I somehow may have missed all those great details about the character, so I was totally not 'getting' Tilo. I appreciate the explanation and helping me (and possibly others) to better fill in the cracks about who our fuzzy little adventurer is. Though you leave me with so many more questions now that I see these great details. :) (don't worry I'll keep em to myself)


So I promise to knock off talking about Tilo's mum, I get the hint. Sorry for belaboring the idea.

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Nexar
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Sat Jun 06, 2015 4:07 pm

I think that light and how it impacts a scene, or materials and the like is sadly ignored a lot of the time. You can have the greatest looking material shaders and textures in the world, but the lighting is so very important in making them look just right. Too many games seem to ignore that, and night time is rarely frightening or even truly dark. Even something as odd as sinister blue flames, can drastically change the mood and feel of a scene. I like what I have seen so far though, and very much agree to the sentiment of having appropriate light sources, and hope to see good use of lighting to set the scenes and mood.
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Seith
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Sun Jun 07, 2015 2:28 am

Hopefully you'll like what you see! But yes, there will be completely dark areas impossible to cross in the game if you don't have a light source.

And this is not just a cosmetic thing either. If you do not carry a lamp some items will remain hidden to Tilo; they will not register as visible/interactable objects.
Nexar
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Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:15 pm

Seith wrote:Hopefully you'll like what you see! But yes, there will be completely dark areas impossible to cross in the game if you don't have a light source.

And this is not just a cosmetic thing either. If you do not carry a lamp some items will remain hidden to Tilo; they will not register as visible/interactable objects.
Ah, that sounds very interesting! Would there be many things like that? In Grimrock 2 for example you could occasionally find vague treasure maps that marked locations you could dig up with a shovel.

Also, I'm not sure if it was covered elsewhere, but will backtracking be possible, or are there planned to be areas that become inaccessible?
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