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NWN EE: Graphical Upgrade Help.

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Jedijax
NWN EE: Graphical Upgrade Help.
 
 

Greetings. I am in need of finding someone who is in contact with the development team of the EE, because I just read an article in which it was mentioned "the community is less interested in visual upgrades."

 

The people being interviewed (Someone called Oster, and I think someone named Morris, in particular) seem to think visuals aren't a concerns of the NWN community, going as far as to mention the blocky looks are charming and nostalgic.

 

I disagree with this, not only about it being charming or nostalgic, but also about graphical upgrades not being a major concern of the community. There are plenty of mods and upgrades made along the years especifically to make the visuals better. It is a central issue to an aging game.

 

My personal fear is the Advisory Council, made up of custom content contributors is made up of builders, programmers, PW managers, and none of these are the average player, the ones who make the mass of the community.

 

According to the interview, the main concerns in the community are technical in nature, regarding scripts and performance, compatibility, etc., which is true as far as developers go. The community, however, is largely comprised of people who are not developers or builders, and, in my opinion, aren't necessarily being represented in the Advisory Council, given the interviews and comments I have read in the forums of this very Vault.

 

There are still ongoing projects whose sole interest is upgrading the aging graphics and visuals in NWN, and it is a MAJOR concern, one that has been around since the beginning.

 

If anyone can contact the developing team on this, I would appreciate it, in my name, and that of all the other players who solely play the game, and may not be as vocal about such matters.

 

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TheBarbarian

Open a thread on the Beamdog forums about it. Make it a poll, and add varied options, a la

Visual upgrades are an absolute MUST to me.

Visual upgrades would be nice to have, but aren't mandatory in my opinion.

I don't care about visual upgrades one way or another.

I'd prefer the dev team to focus on other things, but wouldn't mind if they did include visual upgrades.

I absolutely want the graphics to stay as they currently are. No visual upgrades, please!

The community management and the dev team will see it there, and it'll let a broader mass of people signal exactly how they feel about it in a convenient, concentrated location. Link to the article, explain why you started the poll, stress that this is about making sure the dev team get accurate feedback on how the community feels about visual upgrades rather than about reopening the graphics debate itself.

They're not wrong in saying that a great deal of people don't mind the current graphics or even find them nostalgic, and I understand why it's tempting to focus on that as it doesn't stand to strain the budget, but yeah. We don't have percentages yet. I doubt that the majority of the community is strongly opposed to upgrades.

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thirdmouse

Have you seen the input board which is comprised entirely of community suggestions with voting enabled in attempt to get community feedback ? If something you would like to see is not on it, you should make a suggestion on the (Beamdog) forums. 

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Shadooow

hmm interesting statement when the majority of the nwn community on BD forums wants:

- complete OC overhaul
- complete graphic overhaul
- or at least better character models
- or at least new tileset (zwerk's medieval city was brought as a good example of what quality should such tileset have)

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Andarian

"I just read an article in which it was mentioned 'the community is less interested in visual upgrades.'"

That assessment from the article (the one referred to here, I believe) is at best misleading as stated. Beamdog and the community are certainly interested in visual upgrades for NWN:EE. Much of the work that Beamdog is doing now is to update the rendering engine to enable it to handle visually "upgraded" content. 

What Beamdog isn't doing is re-making the OCs and their art assets. If they were to do that they'd basically have to re-make all of it from scratch, and there is simply too much of it to make that practical. They'd also break every module ever made, defeating the critical goal of backward compatibility that the article emphasizes in the first place. What Beamdog is doing instead is focusing on bringing the game up to 2017 engine standards so that new content can be developed that IS visually superior to what NWN can handle now. That means models with significantly increased polygon counts, handling much larger textures, modern gpu shader effects, and the like.

Check out my blog post on the announcement of NWN:EE. Trent Oster (who was Neverwinter Nights' lead developer for Bioware and isn't just "someone called Oster") was pretty clear on BD's priorities in our discussions on Facebook, and in the many media events and discussions that followed.

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Jedijax
 
 

Thank you, everyone, for your prompt responses. I will certainly take a look at all the options that you have shared. As for the actual quote I mentioned:

 

"While there has been some demand for a graphical overhaul, most of the people I talked to would rather see improvements to other areas, such as online connectivity and server tools, more modability, and better hardware support for modern PCs. "The Aurora Toolset can still produce incredibly beautiful content," says Morris, noting that player-made creations already advanced the visuals beyond the original campaigns. "The visuals are fine," adds Stockner. "They are charming, even, in their own blocky way."

 

At least the section regarding visual improvements follows the same vein, which is what worried me.

 
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TheBarbarian

Updating meshes and textures can't actually break anything (save perhaps on extremely outdated machines that would have had trouble running default NWN already), Andarian. Changing walkmeshes can, but it's not necessary for a visual upgrade. Adding tileset overrides, like Zwerkules and Tonden have made, is entirely possible, as is updating the default heads and armour- and bodyparts. It's just a question of whether the budget allows for hiring people to do it, which would be expensive as fuck at professional rates, given the sheer amount of models that'd need going over.

Redoing from scratch gets a lot faster once you've got a base template for that type of model. I'd estimate about six months of full-time work for one person, to redo all the heads and armour- and bodyparts (if we're not going for Assassin's Creed level detail). Zwerkules and Tonden could probably give an estimate of how long it takes to redo a tileset. That's probably more work; the character models are relatively harmless because once you've got the human version, you just morph it to fit the other races. AFAIK tiles really do need to be redone one at a time.

The bigger "problem" I see is that the majority of the custom content for NWN will still be using the old meshes. If the default meshes are significantly upgraded in quality, most of the existing CC will look like utter crap next to them. That may not sound like much of an issue, but it really is. Humans notice breaks in patterns very strongly; lower-quality stuff would stick out like crazy if the new "default" was too realistic. Imagine walking through Skyrim and coming across sudden pieces of low-poly models. In NWN, that'd mean you'd have, say, an NPC who is high-quality, detailed all over... except for his left forearm and right thigh. So the new meshes shouldn't be too realistic, either - which means you'd be hiring professionals, at professional rates, to make subpar work, which stands to displease the very people for whom you made the graphics upgrade in the first place all over again.

So, from a business point of view, it's not a very sensible thing to do. There's incredible amounts of quality content of all kinds already that players just need to install, and plenty of free assets on the internet that users could port into NWN; these upgrades would essentially be a luxury item. The only thing that could make it reasonable is very high demand - and there are some indicators that that might be present, although many of us agree that we love NWN despite it's blocky old graphics and will speak out in their defense if necessary. I wouldn't scoff at the pure playerbase communicating their wishes any more than at the wishes of PW operators or content creators. They, and their enjoyment of the game, are important parts of the venture's financial success, which determines whether we will continue to have a dev team in the future.

I've really got to finish wrapping up some stuff so I can fully throw myself into updating the character models lore-friendly. By Moradin's Beard, the playerbase shall have a character model upgrade, one way or another!

(ps I'm just gonna leave this here:

)

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JFK

"Oster hopes to produce quality premium modules that lie somewhere between BioWare’s original idea and full expansion packs like Hordes of the Underdark. "That happy spot is a self-contained adventure with new art content," says Oster. "We will build new content going forward that will radically change the look of what is possible in Neverwinter Nights, and I think we can do it at a pretty good price point."

​-From the interview referenced.

Sounds good to me. They're upgrading the engine to make it possible for a graphics update, and then they'll produce new assets going forward that'll be greatly improved from the original. They just won't go back and change the original OC and expansions. Forward! ;)

-JFK

My other  sword is a +5 Holy Avenger!

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Andarian

Yes, exactly. Thank you, JFK.

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Jedijax
 
 

Well, after reading the last couple of comments, I think I was on point from the beginning then. If, as The Barbarian says, you're taking the production cost into account, then I guess that's why most remastered products are lacking in visuals. Then I wouldn't expect much from NWN EE either, but I thought this one would be a different matter, because of the hype and early samples, as well as the whole "including the community" in the developing proccess.

One of the main things some of us have been advocating for and working on, is upgrading the graphical aspect of the game, and though I can totally see why it would be a problem to do so, well... wasn't the whole point of the EE to upgrade the game? Through the years we've had heated discussions of overrides VS custom original content, and as far as players go, we go for overrides, for they affect every aspect of the game, not only what builders may or may not include in their own work. The level of quality is determined by the player by way of adding or removing assets, or even going as far as compiling their own set of haks. It is mismatched precisely because the original assets are low-quality compared to today's standards, and if custom content would look out of place due to a general visual upgrade of textures and models for original assets, first, I think it would be much less so than it is nowadays the other way around; and second, you can then use the upgraded assets to modify or update the now lower-quality content, or simply discard it. Point is, the custom content, as you said, is a luxury, whereas original assets are integral to the game. If the luxury becomes obsolete because the main resources are upgraded, since it is a luxury addon, you can always stop using it. The same can't be said the other way around.

As for the thing about making new content forward, without touching the original campaigns, I don't see how that applies to the visuals. Overrides affect every aspect of the game, they make everything look better. Why you wouldn't want every aspect of the game to look better is beyond me. Sure, if you don't want to change scripts, music themes, triggers, etc. that's ok, but models and textures don't alter the narrative or functionality of the modules themselves, just the graphical quality.

 
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Tarot Redhand

Why you wouldn't want every aspect of the game to look better is beyond me.

This misses the point that stuff in the override can seriously screw up modules built without. As an example let's take NWNCQ as it was originally released. Players loved it. The problem was there was so much going on it obscured loads of stuff and in some cases made things placed on the ground unobtainable. Patch haks are probably a better way to go in my opinion.

TR

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Shadooow

just fyi: there is no difference between override and patch-hak other than patch-hak having higher priority than override in resource's loading order

if something was causing issues with pre-existing content as override, it will cause issues as patch-hak as well...

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JFK

Jedijax, I don't think anyone is saying they don't want a graphical upgrade. Quite the contrary, in fact. We all want one. I think we're going to get one, too. The only thing we aren't getting is those original modules (The OC, SoU, and HotU) updated to use new assets. They will keep using the stuff they shipped with (with some possible exceptions, such as upgraded character models, but that's far from decided yet I think). If anyone wanted to exchange old assets for new ones we'll get from new modules BD releases, they could do that for the old modules, just as one could do that right now. Anyone can, if they want, redo the OC using all new stuff, already available. Some people have done stuff with the old campaigns. But nobody, as far as I know, has done a total upgrade of the OC with upgraded assets avaiable right now. I think the reason is the same reason BD doesn't want to: they'd rather use that new stuff in NEW modules.
​It helps to think of the OC as simply another module. BD is saying, "Why go back and recreate that old module, when we can make newer, funner ones?"

-JFK

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henesua

This debate has been had (I was one of the people who raised the issue), and Beamdog clarified that they do not have the resources to dedicate to an overhaul of the content like graphic assets and modules. Their approach with this is not to make NWN:EE perfect at release, but to improve it in stages. Due to the small size of their team I believe they are relying on the community to keep generating great content. You can see that they are interested in finding ways to monetize this with premium content. I suspect that they may look to contract with skilled modders if NWN:EE makes enough money for them. But I have been out of the loop on that, and so not clear on the specifics.

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Jedijax
 
 

Tarot, the example you used is as specific as it comes. NWNCQ was not the overriding norm, and both its implementation and assets were heavily debated from the get go. Overrides, as a rule, don't add assets; they replace them. NWNCQ added a lot of things. As for patch haks, I have yet to see how they're superior to simple overrides in visual terms, and given the latter comment, it seems there is none.

JFK, the comments I have made were originally regarding the statements in the interview, which pose the community isn't that iterested in visual upgrades, and some find them to be charming as blocky as they are. I don't share this opinion, and nothing I have discussed or seen leads me to believe the community at large feels as it portrays. This is why I started the thread, becasue I felt as if this wasn't a correct assesment. The later points were about things other community members have mentioned throughout it. Whatever the intentions of the actual developers are, is unknown to me, so I can't state anything about them. The particular piece you pointed out was directed to what previous commenters stated, not what the Beamdog team is doing or plans to do.

Thank you, Heneshua, for sharing a little more info on the matter. It makes sense for an enterprise to do so, it seems. As I stated earlier, perhaps I was just misniformed on the scope of the remake due to the excitement and ideas being thrown around in the initial threads, where it was discussed this was going to be a more comprehensive overhaul.

 
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JFK

I can certainly understand the desire to make sure Beamdog knows a lot of folks do want to see better visuals. FWIW, I think they do know it. The quote from the interview and other threads I've read on the Beamdog forum seems pretty clear to me, but I could be mistaken. Trent Oster says they're going to make new content going forward that will change the look of the game.

Discussion is always better than sitting quietly though, and later wishing you'd said something. My contributions to this thread weren't meant to knock the thread itself, only to give what info I've seen.

-JFK

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voidofopinion

Problem is they say a lot of things... Then days later they say the opposite... Then days later they say something else entirly. 

Beamdog seem to have a lot of good intentions but I am also seeing a disturbing lack of a long term roadmap or a clear vision of the improvements they wish to make.

So far they seem to just be winging it based upon what is the easiest feature to impliment at a given time (something they all but confirmed on their stream).

That's fine and everything. Heck, I'm a fan of organic development. But we really don't know what it is they are doing until the latest patch notes are out and I don't think they know either. 

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henesua

What is your opinion based on, voidofopinion?

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voidofopinion

Well the changing answers is just reading the forums and watching the live streams.

And the not having a solid roadmap is just an impression I get.

There was an answer to a question on the live stream from somewhere in december (vague I know) and I think it was in response to someone asking about increasing max players on a server (It's been a while and my old man memory is not what it used to be) where Trent says something along the lines that they are currently going through the code and figuring out what changes can be easily made while they get a handle on the bigger stuff. Which is also the way they have said they are picking what trello items get worked on and which get ice boxed.

Similar things were said when they were talking about increasing the texture memory. 

Trent also talks in a lot of "We would like to" and not "We are" which again, it's entirly understandable but it gives the impression they are still feeling their way through things as opposed to having a solid series of objectives they want to meet. 

It's by no means a criticism of their process and again, I could very much just be reading too much into things. 

 

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Jedijax

For a moment there, I thought you were trolling him with "What is your opinion, voidofopinion?"

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Tonden Ockay

Hi all

Anyone who has been following what I have been posting here on the forums knows that I'm all for upgrading the looks of the game.

First I have seen/heard Beamdog say that they don't want to redo old content / tilesets / OC, but they may look into creating newer tilesets / models / modules. That said, I for one feel that Beamdog has more scripters then model creators. Creating models takes a lot of time, more time = more money, so I do think for now Beamdog is looking for what they can do to help the game that wont take a lot of time. Plus when going back to change the looks of the standard tilesets (which I have been doing) you can find your self having to fix more then you first thought, it really can be like a snow ball going down hill. There for what started off as a small project turns into a very large one. 

What I'm getting at is once you start working with the standard tilesets you start finding a lot of things that are wrong with them, missing pollys, walkmeshs, and so on. Plus you have to keep coming up with ideas on how to create nice newer looking models that will not mess up the walkmesh. Even when you do come of with some, then the other problem you run into is you can not count for all the things module creators have done in the past. For example you could upgrade a tree and now a branch is off so when someone plays an older module that had something setting on a branch of that tree is now floating in the air or may be inside the branch. That is just one very small example there is so many more.

So I for one really don't see Beamdog wanting to take on all that. I believe that they feel it would just take too much time, money, and they wouldn't be able to account for everything so there is just no way to make everyone happy when upgrading the Sandard Tilesets

I have also heard them say that they want to unlock more of the game so the community can create / do more with it, they claim to want to empower the community. This again leads me back to thinking that they are mostly scripters and not model creators. 

All that said I have started work on updating/ reworking/ revamping the Standard Tilesets and if anyone would like to help please contact me here of the Vault.

Here is a few examples of what I'm working on for anyone who doesn't already know.

 

The Standard City Tileset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard Rural Tileset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just don't see Beamdog doing this for the Standard Tilesets, so if this is something we would like to see happen, then we (the community) will need to be the ones to do it. So if you like the screenshots I posted and want to see all the standard tileset upgraded to look something like these, then please contact me and I can show you how you could help.

 

Edit: Oh one more thing I would like for this project to do two things 

1. update the old tilesets to look better

2. add more features, groups, terrains for future builders, or module makes to go back and add to their modules.

 

 

 

 

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voidofopinion

I am void. But I am of the opinion that: 

 

wink

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Tonden Ockay

We (the community) can take these old out dated standard tilesets and change them into something that looks a whole lot better in my opinion.

Here is an example of the what can be done.

The following screenshot is of the same area with the only difference being the second one is using an override hak that I have been working on.

 

 

 

 

It gives the standard tileset a new look without changing the walkmesh, but like I said before its not going to make everyone happy.

 

 

 

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Toro

That does look good Tonden !!   Add some ivy, cracks, grunge to walls IMHO..

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Tonden Ockay

Thanks Toro 

I was just trying to show that we as the community could upgrade the old game to look how we feel / want it to look. If I could do this just about anyone could because less then two years ago I didn't know anything at all about working with custom content let alone creating models from scratch.

There is so much we can do if we are willing to put in the time.

I my self not only want the the standard tilesets to look better, but I also want them to look more medieval. I want all the tilesets to blend better with each other so when you zone over (load) into a new area it looks like it goes well (match/blend) with the one you just came from. Also like I said before I want new features/groups/terrains for future builders.

It would be nice if more people were working on a project like NWNR together to help speed things up. Then we all could enjoy having updated standard tilesets that could be used with older modules and yet have nice new options for future modules.

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Toro

But ...............  What would you do with your free time ?  Play ?!?  CCMakers don't play  cheeky

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Tonden Ockay

I would say your right, because I haven't played a game in over 3 years. That said I did spend a few hours on a game this past week. However I have found my self longing to get back to work on NWN custom content already LOL. Its hard for me to even play a game for a few days.

Now all that said I have talked with a lot of custom content creators here on the Vault and they talk about playing all kinds of other games. So I guess not all custom content creators fall into all work and no play like I have for the past 3 years.

Plus the more people that would be willing to help with the same project the less work one person would need to do.

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