What to expect visually from PFO?


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I'm curious on what type of graphic / game engine PFO is being built on. I read some where that they're using Unity (which seems to be the go-to engine for just about every indie studio in existance). I guess the question is why not the unreal engine (epic seems to be pretty friendly towards smaller / indie studios), and it seems to bee extremely scalable. I haven't really encountered a Unity game that blew my mind visually. Obviously graphics aren't everything, but noone wants to play a game in the year 2014 (or 2016/17 when the game is supposedly going to be more open to the public), and have it look like something that was dragged out of the EQ-era. I guess the question is would this really be called an alpha, or an internal test. The term alpha has really changed in recent years (guild wars 2's alpha/core test was practically a complete and polished game. EQ Landmark is basically the alpha for next, and the game is very visually appealing). Either way, the game seems to have interesting ideas, and the developers seem committed.

Goblin Squad Member

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This resource is a little outdated, but might match the timeline in which Goblinworks selected Unity over Unreal.

It might also simply come down to terrain generation. I'm not sure how well UDK supports terrain generation on such a massive scale.

Another thought: I can't think of any "open-world" games that use UDK. But then again, I don't pay attention a whole lot. I'm sure there's a few game designers among the crowd here that might know more on the subject.

As for Goblinworks' stance, they did list a few reasons in one of their blog posts.

Goblin Squad Member

Pryde wrote:
...but noone wants to play a game in the year 2014 (or 2016/17 when the game is supposedly going to be more open to the public), and have it look like something that was dragged out of the EQ-era.

I think you meant "not everyone wants to play a game...". I do.

Pretty graphics makes a good first impression, but for games that really held my interest for a long time, the reason was never the graphics.

Also, mind-blowing graphics are for mind-blowing budgets and big art departments, and can even be a bad thing in an MMO (more stuff -> more bandwith and processing -> slower), especially for players without dedicated gaming rigs.

There are reasons Unity is the engine of choice, find the old blog post if you want to know more.

Alpha... unless you are participating in the alpha, it doesn't affect you, but since Early enrollment is defined at the Minimum Viable Product, then by definition Alpha is not a viable product. Many of us are actually more intrigued about seeing (and helping shape) the evolution of the game instead of being served a polished product.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

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The biggest reason you don't see AAA graphics is that there isn't a AAA budget. The entire production of PFO will cost less than adding a female playable character to Assassins' Creed's multiplayer would.

Put a different way: I intend to get all the entire staff of Goblinworks to sign a poster to donate to a Child's Play auction. Compare that to the ten-minute credits roll of any game that you would hold up as having outstanding graphics.

Goblin Squad Member

I think Vanguard used a heavily modified Unreal engine, and that game ran horribly. Hitching, graphical lag, it was terrible. They never were able to fix the hitching too, though it became a little better when you had the game on a SSD. This is just from an amateur perspective, maybe other developers managed to make a huge open world with Unreal, that actually ran good.

I also think Everquest Next's and Landmark have a horrendous graphical style. It seems to be an almost straight copy of the kiddy Free Realms style which was fine for that game, I guess. I really dislike the over-the-top coloring and cartoony style of the avatars. As to the graphics themselves in Landmark: lots of clipping, colors changing when you move, overuse of bloom, pretty crude textures actually.

Player-created buildings look fantastic from afar, but when you get close it sort of falls apart.

I think the game premisse is great, though, so I think it will be pretty popular.

You remark of "noone wants to play a game...." clearly is wrong.

Goblin Squad Member

Kinda wish they went with an old school top down 2d sprite visual style similar to ragnarok (but NOT the same cutesy style, but rather those of Paizo's) If its gonna look old, might as well do it with style! Retro!

Silver Crusade Goblin Squad Member

From what I've seen on twitch, it doesn't look 'old'. Maybe dated, but not 'old'.

Waiting patiently for the EE...

Goblin Squad Member

Check it: Alpha vids.

Goblin Squad Member

Just thinking the game has a better chance to look relatively nice when it doesn't follow the same visual direction as most other mmos.

Goblin Squad Member

To be fair what I saw on the twitch tv feeds was not as good as what I saw on Lee Hammock's video, so that is a problem with Twitch.

Plus, Ryan had stated the as time goes on graphic improvements will be made. This is alpha.

Goblin Squad Member

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Bluddwolf wrote:
To be fair what I saw on the twitch tv feeds was not as good as what I saw on Lee Hammock's video, so that is a problem with Twitch.

As someone actually in the alpha.... This. I watched Nihimon's feed while I was downloading the client, and it looks much worse on twitch than it did when I actually got into the game.

Goblin Squad Member

Would it be possible to make better videos with fraps? Not too long off course, but a short one to show off the graphics? Or does Fraps have limitations too?

Goblin Squad Member

Looks like we should collect the various explanatory blogs/posts regarding graphics since similar questions are popping up. Sounds like a good job for a CM :)

Goblin Squad Member

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@Elorebaen Agreed. Having a few links ready will be helpfull.

Here was the announcement on the Kickstarter: Announcement of Middleware!

This is a very important blog by Mark Kalmes about Unity, after they announced their choice: Why we chose Unity

That one should resolve most questions.

And then end with this post from Ryan: About our alpha graphics

Those 3 should suffice for starters, I think.

Goblin Squad Member

Unity tends to be much, much faster to develop with than UDK. The newer UE4 is a lot faster to learn than the previous version, but still isn't as easy as Unity.

This basically boils it down to team size and how fast you're trying to develop. Unreal tends to be better for larger teams with a longer development cycle, and unity tends to be better for smaller teams with shorter development cycle.

What you're talking about with visuals though comes down more to the art department and resources. Advanced graphics that "blow your mind" take a lot more time, personnel, and money than GW development model supports right now. They're intent was minimum viable product that they can slowly advance as time moves on.

Unity can do very amazing things with graphics. It is very portable. However, it hasn't gained traction with a AAA title that has the resources to do those things really. Most unity games look similar on the graphics end because they have similar sized teams, with similar resources and similar development cycles.

I believe Ghost of a Tale is using Unity, and it has some pretty impressive visuals to me at least. Then again, the creator is an experienced animator, so that eliminates a lot of the graphics cost right there.

Goblin Squad Member

Bluddwolf wrote:

To be fair what I saw on the twitch tv feeds was not as good as what I saw on Lee Hammock's video, so that is a problem with Twitch.

Plus, Ryan had stated the as time goes on graphic improvements will be made. This is alpha.

I will see about doing some local recording, let you see what we see on screen. My stream should be decent, but the game aesthetic isn't conducive to high quality streaming. Would need a huge bit rate for all that grass.


Crash_00 wrote:

Unity tends to be much, much faster to develop with than UDK. The newer UE4 is a lot faster to learn than the previous version, but still isn't as easy as Unity.

This basically boils it down to team size and how fast you're trying to develop. Unreal tends to be better for larger teams with a longer development cycle, and unity tends to be better for smaller teams with shorter development cycle.

What you're talking about with visuals though comes down more to the art department and resources. Advanced graphics that "blow your mind" take a lot more time, personnel, and money than GW development model supports right now. They're intent was minimum viable product that they can slowly advance as time moves on.

Unity can do very amazing things with graphics. It is very portable. However, it hasn't gained traction with a AAA title that has the resources to do those things really. Most unity games look similar on the graphics end because they have similar sized teams, with similar resources and similar development cycles.

I believe Ghost of a Tale is using Unity, and it has some pretty impressive visuals to me at least. Then again, the creator is an experienced animator, so that eliminates a lot of the graphics cost right there.

It was a good read, but I have a hard time believing it will work out. Trying to sell "the game looks like trash now, but in a couple of years, with paying subscribers, it's going to look great" is going to be very hard. You also have to factor how releavent will the game be by the time it's released not only visually, but mechanically in to the equation. There are decent looking indie mmos right now (dark fall online, mortal online) that don't even have the subscriber numbers that gw is looking for. Regardless I wish them the best.

Goblin Squad Member

It doesn't look like trash even now. It isn't skyrim.

Then again beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and wisdom in the ear of the listener.

Goblin Squad Member

Insert Name wrote:
Kinda wish they went with an old school top down 2d sprite visual style similar to ragnarok (but NOT the same cutesy style, but rather those of Paizo's) If its gonna look old, might as well do it with style! Retro!

I haven't played Ragnarok Online, but I believe the word you're looking for is isometric. A good example of the style you're probably looking for is Ultima Online, maybe? Which, there are plenty of "free shards" out there still today.

Dario wrote:
Bluddwolf wrote:
To be fair what I saw on the twitch tv feeds was not as good as what I saw on Lee Hammock's video, so that is a problem with Twitch.
As someone actually in the alpha.... This. I watched Nihimon's feed while I was downloading the client, and it looks much worse on twitch than it did when I actually got into the game.

It definitely comes down to Twitch.tv and the streaming person's settings. For example, I had some people comment on my stream, "Holy crap, FINALLY someone who is streaming in HD!!" - implying that apparently, others were not. On the flipside, if you are downloading something, it is extremely likely that twitch.tv's client (in the browser) is throttling the stream, much like YouTube scales down the resolution automagically when it detects a slow connection (unless you override, ofc).

As to the quality of graphics, you must note that the default graphics settings in Alpha are set to "Fastest" (it had several options, ranging up to Beautiful and Fantastic, and even one lower than Fastest). I'm betting that many players with weak video cards never changed this.

In my experience playing the Alpha, I had an extreme CPU bottleneck, granting me low FPS whenever there were many PCs or NPCs about, especially when these were moving around (e.g. combat) - lowering my framerate down to 5fps or so. Unplayable.

However, I noticed that if I moved my graphics settings to Fantastic, the result was nearly identical. Now that I've upgraded my processor/mobo completely (~4.4Ghz quad-core 4th-gen i7, woo!), I will let you know how things look this weekend on Fantastic, and I'll be streaming in HD again when I can (only 3Mbps upload speeds in my area, and I will have guests on Friday).

All that being said, it is very possible that some of us are seeing the picture entirely different from one another, so it may be difficult to correlate what the actual quality of the graphics is just yet.

Goblin Squad Member

Tyncale wrote:

...

And then end with this post from Ryan: About our alpha graphics...

Ooh, nice, I actually had not been following that thread (got out of hand very fast). Thanks for linking that post!!

Scarab Sages Goblinworks Executive Founder

Yeah initially I had not been streaming in HD. I am making adjustments and looking at reformatting and upgrading all my drivers for the Alpha this weekend.

Goblin Squad Member

I have never played a great game that had great graphics in my entire life. Every great game I have ever played had great aesthetics and mediocre to good graphics.

Goblin Squad Member

If you're looking for a reason to dislike the game, you'll find one. It's that way with every game (save possibly Portal).

Mechanically, if GW follows what it has stated the intent is, PFO will be mechanically superior to Darkfall and Mortal. It's a very different game.

Neither of those have anything to do with the question you asked, about the engine and reasons for using Unity over Unreal.


Being wrote:

It doesn't look like trash even now. It isn't skyrim.

Then again beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and wisdom in the ear of the listener.

Understandably the game won't look like skyrim, even x amount of years from now. Performance and optimization should obviously come first. I'm highly skeptical of small studios tackling projects like MMOs that have a lot of moving parts. I remember looking at the pantheon kickstarter "demo" and thinking to myself "I'll never support this", based entirely on just the look, even realizing it was on a tech demo. I'm just curious what GW's goals are for the game visually. Camelot Unchained has posted some renders, animation videos, and even some in-game footage, and while it's far from AAA quality graphics, it's respectable. From what I've seen of PFO, I wouldn't really consider it alpha grade quality, and the game looks like a pre-alpha (which is absolutely fine). Now I'm not here to bash the game, as someone that might be interested in buying in to the game, I'm honestly curious what the goals are for the "look" of PFO. Reading what ryan said sort of answered a few of my questions, but it also posed some more. I guess the question ultimately is what quality of graphics will be good enough to entice people to support the game enough to sustain it. I'd say in this day of age, anything less than vanilla wow quality is a no go.


Crash_00 wrote:

If you're looking for a reason to dislike the game, you'll find one. It's that way with every game (save possibly Portal).

Mechanically, if GW follows what it has stated the intent is, PFO will be mechanically superior to Darkfall and Mortal. It's a very different game.

Neither of those have anything to do with the question you asked, about the engine and reasons for using Unity over Unreal.

When I say mechanically, I generally mean how characters move, and interact with the world. Combat mechanics and such. For instance, you have a game like archage that is visually stunning, yet in most areas mechanically, it's archaic. PFO is looking to possibly launch against games like EQ Next (which will be a sandpark of sorts), which is looking to pretty much eclipse any title coming out the same year, and to a lesser extent camelot unchained (well if you've been keeping up with that game, is surprisingly similar in a lot of ways).

Getting way off topic now, but really I'm just curious what the goals are for the game visually.

Goblin Squad Member

Pryde wrote:
I'm highly skeptical of small studios tackling projects like MMOs that have a lot of moving parts. I remember looking at the pantheon kickstarter "demo" and thinking to myself "I'll never support this", based entirely on just the look, even realizing it was on a tech demo.

I understand the scepticism. The comparison with that abomination of a Pantheon Kickstarter is not warranted though. Not only was the Pathfinder Online Kickstarter 10x more professional, realism certainly infused all updates, comments and blogs. And this realism about what is possible and what has to wait is still here, even though they have already gone from an idea in late 2011 to a working client and server 2.5 years later. The pantheon KS was extremely ill-prepared,they did not even have a design-doc, they just decided to ride on Brad's name and see the bucks roll in. Amazingly, that "fame" still brought them to 400k+ dollars within 2 weeks, untill people started realizing they actually had zilch to show.

PFO not only has an IP to back it, but Paizo is also invested.

I am still anxious about PvP/looting and wether it will keep PFO totally niche because of it, and also wether they will manage to create anything as remotely "politically" interesting as Eve Online has managed (even though I am not enamored by Eve's gameplay itself).

I still understand your scepticism but if there is one indy MMO that has a chance of doing something innovating it is this one, imo.

Goblin Squad Member

Pryde wrote:
... I guess the question ultimately is what quality of graphics will be good enough to entice people to support the game enough to sustain it. I'd say in this day of age, anything less than vanilla wow quality is a no go.

I think that Ryan would probably be the best person to answer your question. It's difficult to quantify look & feel, but it is easy to make comparisons (just as you did, with "vanilla WoW"). So, that being said, I think it is currently appropriate to cast one of two spells:

Casts Summon Nihimon VI (really high level spell, sorry, Nihimon!): Has Ryan ever stated what we should expect, visually, from PFO once it is in Full Bloom? More specifically, has he ever stated what other game(s) we should compare the "End" Product to visually resemble? ("End" Product =/= MVP)

or,

Casts Summon RyanD III: Ryan, can you give us a picture, comparatively to other existing games, what you expect Pathfinder Online to "ultimately" look like, once it has reached your expectations as an MMO in Full Bloom? (granted, of course, always leaving room for further improvements)

Goblin Squad Member

I suspect Ryan's answer to this would be very much along the lines that it will depend on how crowd forging prioritizes graphics versus other development, and on how quickly the revenue stream grows large enough to sustain more artist FTEs.

Goblin Squad Member

Guurzak wrote:
I suspect Ryan's answer to this would be very much along the lines that it will depend on how crowd forging prioritizes graphics versus other development, and on how quickly the revenue stream grows large enough to sustain more artist FTEs.

I think you are correct - something along these lines is the most likely answer.

But I think we want to know what his vision of the game is. What would he like to compare it to, once it's fully-functional and they start working on minor improvements (like more "content"/fluff etc.).


Kitsune Aou wrote:
Guurzak wrote:
I suspect Ryan's answer to this would be very much along the lines that it will depend on how crowd forging prioritizes graphics versus other development, and on how quickly the revenue stream grows large enough to sustain more artist FTEs.

I think you are correct - something along these lines is the most likely answer.

But I think we want to know what his vision of the game is. What would he like to compare it to, once it's fully-functional and they start working on minor improvements (like more "content"/fluff etc.).

This is pretty much it. I'd really like to know what his expectations are of the visual aspect of the game once most of the features / mechanics are in place. I'm a firm believer that a game should not play nor look like something from 12+ years ago. When you say you're building an MMO, you automatically open yourself up to all sorts of critique, and most people won't care how small the team is, or how much financing was behind the game. I guess questions should be: Can we expect a near complete overhaul of the graphics / animations some time between now and release? Is the current graphic / animations merely placeholders? If they had to pick a game to compare the end production visuals to, what would it be? Now don't misunderstand me, a game good look great and run like complete a%##!$# (Wildstar for example). Regardless tho, people have standards and expectations. GW needs to make money to sustain the game, and how the game looks will be a considerably factor in whether or not people bother supporting it.

Goblin Squad Member

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I just don't really see the point of an NDA for a game like ours. There's no plot. There are no "secrets". There's not going to be a race to see who does what "first". You are the content. You will all have "firsts" ("First time I died". "First time I killed someone". "First time I crafted something useful". etc.)

On the other hand there are going to be a ton of haters. People are going to come out of the wood work to talk about how the graphics suck, the animation sucks, the UI sucks, the design sucks, the customer service sucks, the players are toxic and suck, and how 17 years ago I ran a production system for a card game that didn't work.

You are going to be our defense against those people. We are going to say "look, we told everyone exactly what we were doing. These players, fully informed, have engaged and are having fun. Nobody has been mislead. We are committed to a process of continuous improvement and that means that the thing you don't like can and will be improved over time (except that thing I did in 1997, I really can't fix that)."

And then we're going to turn to you all and say "please tell them how awesome you think this game is and how much fun you're having!"

Oh wait, that might not be the one you were looking for...

We have to sell people on the idea that we will, eventually, have AAA class graphics and we will eventually have achieved the kind of aesthetic that meets or exceeds AAA expectations. But we won't have that for a very, very long time. Instead, we'll have a series of incremental steps where things get very slightly better, continuously.


Nihimon wrote:

I just don't really see the point of an NDA for a game like ours. There's no plot. There are no "secrets". There's not going to be a race to see who does what "first". You are the content. You will all have "firsts" ("First time I died". "First time I killed someone". "First time I crafted something useful". etc.)

On the other hand there are going to be a ton of haters. People are going to come out of the wood work to talk about how the graphics suck, the animation sucks, the UI sucks, the design sucks, the customer service sucks, the players are toxic and suck, and how 17 years ago I ran a production system for a card game that didn't work.

You are going to be our defense against those people. We are going to say "look, we told everyone exactly what we were doing. These players, fully informed, have engaged and are having fun. Nobody has been mislead. We are committed to a process of continuous improvement and that means that the thing you don't like can and will be improved over time (except that thing I did in 1997, I really can't fix that)."

And then we're going to turn to you all and say "please tell them how awesome you think this game is and how much fun you're having!"

Oh wait, that might not be the one you were looking for...

We have to sell people on the idea that we will, eventually, have AAA class graphics and we will eventually have achieved the kind of aesthetic that meets or exceeds AAA expectations. But we won't have that for a very, very long time. Instead, we'll have a series of incremental steps where things get very slightly better, continuously.

I've read it, and it seemed kinda ambiguous to me. I guess my question is what does he mean by "eventually". We talking about some time during development, like before the game is "released" to the public. We talking about some time afterwards? Years after? I'm glad he's not making promises, but still. It doesn't really matter if the game has triple AAA graphics or not to me, I just want combat to be extremely responsive, for the combat animations to be crispy and fluid, and ultimately for the game to look good enough visually to be respectable and entice people to actually try it.

CEO, Goblinworks

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Ok, let's break this down a lot so we can be on the same page.

When you look at a frame of rendered in-game footage, you are seeing a huge matrix of things.

1: The 3D models

2: The textures on top of those models

3: The terrain and environmental effects

4: The shaders which are rendering aspects of those models

5: The particle and other effects applied to those models

6: Lighting & shadows

7: Ambient occlusion

8: Level of Detail changes based on distance from camera

9: Effects added to the frame (lens flare, for example)

10: Animation (keyframes and "tweened" frames)

All of that is transformed by the rendering engine into a frame of data which is then processed by your video card and then displayed on your screen.

When you say "graphics", the layperson means "the look of a frame of the game when displayed on the screen". But when you say "graphics" to someone who makes videogames, you have to talk about what part of the graphics you're referring to.

We just replaced the whole animation system in Unity with a 3rd party tool because Unity's system could not keep up with the demands we were putting on it. Let's do a deep dive into animation to explain the complexities involved.

At the heart of the animation system is a "rig". This is like the skeleton of a body. (In fact, the parts of it are called "bones"). The rig is hand-built for each model. The rig for a dwarven male is different than the rig for an elven female. The rig has coded into it various "rules" about the kinesthetics of the model - how far do its joints bend, etc. Our rigs are built not only to manage the skeleton of the body but also things like hair, clothing, accessories, etc.

The rig is controlled by an animation script. Each thing a model can "do" has a script. Our animator hand-builds these scripts by manipulating how the rig deforms over time - it's a little bit like making cels in an animated cartoon. Each "frame" of the animation is slightly different than the previous frame. There is a bunch of software that mediates between the script and the rig and does things like simulate physics (gravity), determines linkages between elements of the rig (the cape shouldn't overlap with the boots, etc.)

The animation system combines the terrain, the rig, and the animation scripts with a physics simulation, and it determines at any given point what frame of which animation should be playing and how the rig should deform based on that animation in relation to how the model is positioned on the terrain. It also has to be able to extrapolate between frames of animation scripts - it has to know, for example, how to transition from a full run to a walk to a stop.

So, to play a single frame of animation and thus produce a single frame of completed and rendered on-screen content, the system has to:

1: Morph a 3D model based on the current state of the animation

2: Display that model with textures layered on top of it in the right order and not allow them to interpenetrate (you shouldn't see the models' white BVDs when they're wearing clothing)

3: Light the model correctly and from the lighting system produce appropriate shadows

4: Apply any effects like particles, blurs, flares, auras, etc.

5: Apply any camera effects (lens flare, etc.)

So when you say "the graphics are terrible" or "the graphics are fantastic", you're talking about the effect of the completed process. But when you ask us "do you think the graphics are terrible or fantastic", we can't really answer that question. We'd have to produce a list of about 100 different aspects of the "graphics" and rate them individually.

Now if you want to ask what our visual target is - our final destination - my answer is that the closer we get to AAA expectations the better. With enough time, enough money, and enough talent, Pathfinder Online could look like Skyrim or Grand Theft Auto V. That's the direction we will go. How far we will travel will be a function of many inputs.

Goblin Squad Member

Now that's an answer. :)

Thank you, Ryan! I'm hoping that this serves to put things into clear perspective for onlookers that are asking the same questions as Pryde has been.

Particularly the last paragraph answers the specific questions at hand, but I understand the need to elaborate definitions to clear up any misconceptions or misunderstandings of what we are speaking of in terms of "Graphics" - and how the word can vastly mean different things depending on the persons perspective. I'm thinking that most onlookers take the word "graphics" and views it as a whole. The whole visual experience with all steps completed.


Ryan Dancey wrote:
...

Thank you, and I appreciate all of the work that goes in to the visuals of the game. For the most part you've answered my question on what you HOPE the game to look like. I'm trying to sell some of my guild members on game, and they're intrigued by many of the proposed features and concepts, but they fear that what they see so far from the visuals, is the pinnacle of what the game come release will look like (which is supposedly, some time away). I know a lot can change in that amount of time, and I would like PFO to be successful. An off-topic question, how large is the team working on PFO currently?

Goblin Squad Member

Pryde wrote:
... how large is the team working on PFO currently?

Currently, I have links to each of the forum users that I know are Goblinworks employees:

Ryan Dancey
Lisa Stevens
Mark Kalmes
Vic Wertz (Paizo-only?)
Lee Hammock
Stephen Cheney
Tork Shaw
Andrew Richter
Mike Hines
Paul Gilmore
Taylor Hainlen
Cole Brown
Esequiel Garcia
Bob Settles

I'm sure there are a few more that I've either missed, or they don't post on the forums.

Goblin Squad Member

Pryde wrote:
Ryan Dancey wrote:
...
Thank you, and I appreciate all of the work that goes in to the visuals of the game. For the most part you've answered my question on what you HOPE the game to look like. I'm trying to sell some of my guild members on game, and they're intrigued by many of the proposed features and concepts, but they fear that what they see so far from the visuals, is the pinnacle of what the game come release will look like (which is supposedly, some time away). I know a lot can change in that amount of time, and I would like PFO to be successful. An off-topic question, how large is the team working on PFO currently?

I have a few friends that have the same issue: If it's not graphically appealing, they feel it reflects the quality of the game. And it's hard to convince people otherwise, when they are so used to the stunning visual effects of a polished AAA game like WoW that's been continually developing for (over a decade now, really?) and has billions of dollars wrapped up in it. But nothing could be further from the truth. Visual appeal =/= gameplay.

Luckily, my core group of friends does understand that the graphics just need to reach a "minimum". The game needs to accurately portray what's going on around us in the game to make the mechanics of the game work as intended. So far, we're almost to that level (some animations and terrain issues need some working on, but otherwise...). Some of my fellow guildmates are actually even impressed with how far it's come so far.

Then again, one of my guildmates still plays Ultima Online. I really liked that game, but I can only go crawling back to it so many times... :P

Goblin Squad Member

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Nihimon wrote:
Pryde wrote:
... how large is the team working on PFO currently?

Currently, I have links to each of the forum users that I know are Goblinworks employees:

...
I'm sure there are a few more that I've either missed, or they don't post on the forums.
The list I usually reference is in this blog post:
KNEEL BEFORE ZOG! Alpha Test Information wrote:


Art: Mike Hines, Dave Dawson, Seth Frolich, Zeke Garcia, Da Hsia, Darran Hurlbut, Michael Wallin
Design: Lee Hammock, Stephen Cheney, Bob Settles, Tork Shaw
Programming: Mark Kalmes, Cole Brown, Connor Douthat, Paul Gilmore, Taylor Hainlen, Andrew Richter
Producer: Jen Chalfan
Publishing: Bonny Paz
Operations: Lisa Stevens
Special Thanks: Erik Mona ... Chris Self ... Jenny Bendel ... Paizo Customer Service team and the Warehouse Team, lead by Paizo's COO Jeff Alvarez ... Rich Fukutaki and Gail DeGulio ...

Goblin Squad Member

If that's the whole team, then what they have done is truly balls-out amazing.

CEO, Goblinworks

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Pryde wrote:
On off-topic question, how large is the team working on PFO currently?

There are currently 20 full time Goblinworks employees including me plus Lisa.

Goblin Squad Member

Ryan Dancey wrote:
Pryde wrote:
On off-topic question, how large is the team working on PFO currently?

There are currently 20 full time Goblinworks employees including me plus Lisa.

That tells me that there's not much room for this sort of behaviour...

Scarab Sages Goblinworks Executive Founder

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T7V Avari wrote:
I have never played a great game that had great graphics in my entire life. Every great game I have ever played had great aesthetics and mediocre to good graphics.

I would like to say amen here! There have been some good games with great graphics but most of the great games I have played only have good or even ok graphics.


Pryde wrote:


It was a good read, but I have a hard time believing it will work out. Trying to sell "the game looks like trash now, but in a couple of years, with paying subscribers, it's going to look great" is going to be very hard. You also have to factor how releavent will the game be by the time it's released not only visually, but mechanically in to the equation. There are decent looking indie mmos right now (dark fall online, mortal online) that don't even have the subscriber numbers that gw is looking for. Regardless I wish them the best.

It does look like trash now. haha. But I agree with that other post, too. I personally don't think there is huge potential in what little footage I have seen of PFO, but a lot of people want stuff to be shiny and smooth when, to me, graphics are larger than that. You can take a bad graphic game and make it sparkle... it's been done many times. Look at all of the f2p Korean games. They are extra shiny.

I think, and I am assuming (again), the people interested in this game want something solid. This is like an indie of indies game. They want something different, something more. Graphics are not as important. BUT it is kind of scary to see that this does unfold similarly to other indie type MMOs that have failed or are failing.

Don't wanna hear about small staff unless the game is gonna be discounted. Bugs can be dealt with, graphics can be dealt with, but if this game succeeds or fails (again, assuming) it will be because it offered something different and innovative. That it gave actual intellectual depth to a genre that is stale... how hard is that?

Impossible to tell, but I'd say... not very. People just have to take chances. Make something truly different that has merit, and people will love it. Or, at least, you can get a core following.

Goblin Squad Member

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Pryde wrote:


This is pretty much it. I'd really like to know what his expectations are of the visual aspect of the game once most of the features / mechanics are in place. I'm a firm believer that a game should not play nor look like something from 12+ years ago.

Uhm...really. 12 years ago. Have you seen the Darkfall Alpha screens? I mean, after all, we're in Alpha at the moment.

Darkfall Alpha - 2002
Graphics can, and often do, go a long way during Alpha and Beta.

The twitch feeds look better than 2002 graphics (you're talking about Dungeon Siege, Jedi Knight II, Morrowind, and GTA III level at that age). From all indications, the graphics are better than what twitch gets across.

Goblin Squad Member

Graphics are packaging. Packaging is important, but not as important as what it wraps.


Being wrote:
Graphics are packaging. Packaging is important, but not as important as what it wraps.
Crash_00 wrote:
...

Didn't have the chance to play daoc in alpha (did play it from phase 1 beta to release however). That's obviously an old school alpha. Most alpha these days are marketing tools (look at eqnext landmark), even wildstar's alpha looked great. I was in the gw2 "alpha" / core test, and like I mentioned earlier, it was basically a closed beta, almost a completely polished game. Considering what peoples expectations and standards are now of an alpha, I'd consider PFOs "alpha" to be more of an early "internal test" than anything.

Goblin Squad Member

Pryde wrote:
Being wrote:
Graphics are packaging. Packaging is important, but not as important as what it wraps.
Crash_00 wrote:
...

Didn't have the chance to play daoc in alpha (did play it from phase 1 beta to release however). That's obviously an old school alpha. Most alpha these days are marketing tools (look at eqnext landmark), even wildstar's alpha looked great. I was in the gw2 "alpha" / core test, and like I mentioned earlier, it was basically a closed beta, almost a completely polished game. Considering what peoples expectations and standards are now of an alpha, I'd consider PFOs "alpha" to be more of an early "internal test" than anything.

That's one of the larger problems that Goblinworks has to deal with regularly: this new mass-misconception that "Alpha" and "Beta" basically means "Limited-Access Demo" and "Massive-Access Demo" of a game.

I'd like to think of it more like Minecraft, where it was in Beta for years, as they slowly implemented and developed features of the game, while still the game was 'perfectly' playable and people had to pay for it to play.

Hopefully, this "demo trend" will die soon. It's frustrating.

Goblin Squad Member

Yeah, but who ever heard of minecraft? How successful is sumpin' like that gonna be?


Kitsune Aou wrote:


That's one of the larger problems that Goblinworks has to deal with regularly: this new mass-misconception that "Alpha" and "Beta" basically means "Limited-Access Demo" and "Massive-Access Demo" of a game.

I'd like to think of it more like Minecraft, where it was in Beta for years, as they slowly implemented and developed features of the game, while still the game was 'perfectly' playable and people had to pay for it to play.

Hopefully, this "demo trend" will die soon. It's frustrating.

The only difference is that Minecraft didn't charge you a monthly fee for those gradual improvements. PFO is a long way off before we even get to that point. However when the time comes, and if PFO hasn't improved in area of "looks" (which I don't think will be the case), it's going to be a hard sell to people that the game will "eventually" improve visually while charging them an initial purchase price AND a monthly fee.

Scarab Sages Goblinworks Executive Founder

Well there is also a big culture of people playing games that are in alpha and beta that are continously updated and improved until getting closer to the real game, but the game as is is still very playable. The problem comes in that this market doesn't really have any MMO titles. The culture Pryde mentioned is really relevant to the MMO market. Whereas the culture Kit and I mention is something you see on Steam or Desura.

Maybe it would help if GW could get up on Steam? Start pulling from the market of all those early access players. (except for the obvious downside of then having to pay Valve a cut - though I expect they could work out a better percentage then most small indie teams can)

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