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Voxel Tools: Pre-Alpha Game Design

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All these features will be part of the Nanoformer, the multifunctional tool available to each player character, right from the start. The Nanoformer will be upgradable to increase its performance with the different tools. It is directly embedded into the right arm of the player character.

Warning: We are still in very early development, meaning that everything written below must be taken with a pinch of salt. These features can be heavily modified before the Alpha release and even completely redesigned: We want to end up with the best player experience in the end. And that's why your feedback is essential!
 


  • Collect Tool:

This Nanoformer tool enables the player to collect material in the environment, digging holes of various shapes (depending on the choice of the player, via a specific interface). Digging with regular shapes like cubes or spheres will cost a bit more time than the standard irregular shape.
 

  • Softening Mode:

The Nanoformer can generate an area of molecular instability centered around the player and limited to the player Construct, where resources can be added or removed instantly, going back into the inventory. There will be a small delay before being able to enter in Softening Mode. While not in this state, collecting resources from one's own Construct will take exactly the same time as if using the Collect Tool to gather Raw Materials. People who have no rights on the Construct won't be able to remove/collect anything at all: the only way to create a "hole" in this area will be to "damage" (by hostile action) the voxel-based Shapes in the area.
 

  • Create Tool:

This Nanoformer tool enables the player to create a voxel-based Shape (a regular geometric figure made out of a given Material).
The geometric primitives currently planned are the following:
- Cube
- Sphere
- Cone
- Torus
- Cylinder
- Pyramid
 

  • Polish Tool:

This Nanoformer tool enables the player to smooth angles on a voxel-based shape, enabling the possibility to sculpt various contours.
 

  • Select Tool:

This Nanoformer tool enables the player to select a specific volume of voxels, called a "Selected Area".
This volume will be adjusted by the following action:
- Click and drag to create a box, from one corner to the opposite corner.
- Resize the box by dragging the faces or corners.
- Turn (or reverse/mirror) a voxel-based shape selection in one direction or another with shortcuts keys
(arrow keys or +/- keys?).
 

  • Creating Patterns, using the Select Tool:

Once the player has defined a "Selected Area", it is possible to copy this area into memory, storing all the Shape information (this excludes active Elements). This is called a Pattern. Patterns allow basic operations like Copy/Cut/Paste with Ctrl+C, Ctrl+X and Ctrl+P shortcut keys. A Pattern is limited in size (typically 32mx32mx32m) and cannot be traded/exchanged in-game. You can think of it as a player-bound template, stored in the Cloud.
 

  • Creating Snapshots, using the Select Tool:

While Patterns can be stored and copied in multiple instances anywhere in the Building Zone, Snapshots are a static photography of a particular "Selected Area", not limited in size and containing also active Elements. Using this function, the player can create a "ghost" of the area, and, provided the player has enough Material resources, he/she will be able to restore the area in the saved state later if it were damaged. You might think of Snapshots as insurances on the information content of an aera. The process of restoration takes a long time, depending on the size of the Snapshot.
 

  • Inject Tool:

Replace a cube of a specific Material in the world with your current selected Material.
Everything under the surface is also being replaced. This operation is equivalent to a Collect+Create operation.
Advice to player: save resources by using smaller cubes.

 



 
Possible other tools: These will be developped only if it seems necessary to complete the tools mentioned above.

 

We are aware that a few other games enabling players to manipulate voxels have other tools. However, assuming the tools described above offer a wide array of possibilities and the fact that voxel manipulation might work a bit differently in Dual Universe, we want to be sure there will be a real need for the 2 following features:
 

  • Line Tool:

Used to form a "line" with similar or different square bases size. Minimum size: 1 voxel (see below)
Select and size a start point then drag and size to an end point.
Click to fill the volume. Can be re-sized between start and finish points.
 

  • Restoration Tool:

This Nanoformer tool enables the player to correct weird voxel shapes obtained by voxel manipulation in other modes. Restore shapes as they were meant to be.
 


 

Tool not planned: its role will be handled by some specific Elements (Area Units), and it won't be available for Alpha.

 

  • Area Tool:

Use to create invisible areas players can interact with.
Link one of the areas to a prop and activate the prop with a script when a player enters the invisible area.

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By voxels here, are we talking about the specific primitive shapes listed or composing all item of little cubes in a lego/minecraft style. Some images would help to show what is planned and their likely resolution and "smoothness".

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Hi Ai Austin,

 

As it is planned to use Dual Contouring for primitive shapes built with voxel tools, the result should be far from a lego/minecraft-style and a lot more realistic. 

A few games already use this technology. We can't show you some screenshots from the game yet, to illustrate voxel tool descriptions. But it will be posted in time ;) 

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Hi Ai Austin,

 

As it is planned to use Dual Contouring for primitive shapes built with voxel tools, the result should be far from a lego/minecraft-style and a lot more realistic. 

A few games already use this technology. We can't show you some screenshots from the game yet, to illustrate voxel tool descriptions. But it will be posted in time ;)

 

Thanks for the info on Dual Contouring! I can now write a page about it.

I'm just curious as how realistic it will be. If I were to dig a hole in sand, will gravity physics enable the hole to be filled with the surrounding sand?

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Hi Astrov,

We aim for photorealistic graphics as much as technical limits will allow us.

Meaning... No "cartoon style": We know most MMO choose this style, probably because its popularity has already been proven many times, and/or because it's also easier to make this style more accessible to older computers. The game we are building won't be for everyone, that's for sure. But this is the price to have a game that is not just an improved version of an existing one. And we firmly believe that is also a ingredient necessary for success nowadays, a lot more than just going "mainstream". 

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Has D.U. come up with an approximate voxel size in relation to characters? For example in Landmark I think voxels are roughly 9.6 inches or 24.384 centimeters. From what I understand there is a direct relation to voxel size and performance. Smaller voxels allow for greater visual fidelity, but decrease performance where as larger voxels decrease performance less but also limit visual fidelity when building. 

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Hi Kiklix!

 

You're totally right. The smaller the voxels are, the more performance issues you have.

We had to make some tough choices, and we think we have come to a good compromise:

- Voxels on any planet will have a size around 100 centimeters.

- Constructs made by players will be composed with 25 centimeters Voxels permitting better precision.

Granted, this is still bigger than Landmark, but in exchange you have mobile constructs  ;)

And for the planets, well, you will have some up to 100 km radius (which means a bit more than 125 000 km2 !)

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Thank you Nyzaltar. It makes sense to me. I would have to see the voxel size in relation to a character to fully appreciate the 25 centimeter size (my calculations show that your size is barely larger than LM). But regardless, as you pointed out, we will get to fly these and that adds a ton of playability vs a spaceship that can't move. 

 

The planet size works for me. :D

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Hi Astrov,

We aim for photorealistic graphics as much as technical limits will allow us.

Meaning... No "cartoon style":  . . .

 

 May I ask as an extrapolation of this how Character Avatars might look in D U.

 

Mainly I think people would be interested to know How handsome and cute they will be able to make characters?

 

Its quite possible to have realistic or semi realistic character models and have still have them look very pleasing to the eyes.

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Hi Kongou,

 

Character Avatar Design is something we consider as very important.

We can't give you many details on it right now.

But we can already say that:

 

As the team is currently working on photorealistic in-game environment, in order to have a consistent artistic direction, characters can't be cartoonish or even semi realistic. This wouldn't match with the work in progress. It's still too early to present you anything relevant about character avatars, but as soon as we'll have something, be assured that you will be among the first to know, if you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook (or if you keep visiting regularly our forum  ;)

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Two parts here.

 

1.  Will this strictly be a voxel world or will there also be meshes (for props and such).

 

2.  Will we have the ability to bring in our own textures to use (an approval process is acceptable) so we can customize the textures covering our builds, or will we need to use a predesignated palette?

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Two parts here.

 

1.  Will this strictly be a voxel world or will there also be meshes (for props and such).

 

2.  Will we have the ability to bring in our own textures to use (an approval process is acceptable) so we can customize the textures covering our builds, or will we need to use a predesignated palette?

 

I think it will be a voxel universe only, this will make the world more customizable. Maybe props can be made with voxels as well?

 

It would be cool to create custom textures in-game, or at least some modification. I'm not sure if you meant textures from outside sources though, like texture packs designed in Photoshop or something. That would be neat too!

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Two parts here.

 

1.  Will this strictly be a voxel world or will there also be meshes (for props and such).

 

2.  Will we have the ability to bring in our own textures to use (an approval process is acceptable) so we can customize the textures covering our builds, or will we need to use a predesignated palette?

 

1. Dual Universe will a be a Voxel-based Universe. However, there will be also passive & active/interactive props (called "Elements"). The reason is simple: many small things will need to be mesh-based to be detailed enough, especially in a world where the smallest voxels are 25cm large.  As voxel constructions are also quite expensive in resources needed to be calculated in real time, this is also a way to lower the charge necessary. Meshes are a lot "lighter" in this regard.

 

2. Nope. At least, it is not planned for the time being. We'd love to give full customization powers to players, but we also need to maintain an artistic style for the game. and having an approval process can be time consuming, pondering the number of requests of such type. The artists will have already their hands full of other tasks, as it is planned to have very different materials and props (while the game will start on a planet quite similar to Earth, some other planets are supposed to be far more "alien" ;)). It's not a 100% No. It's just not in the roadmap at the moment. So for now, consider you will have access to predesignated palette.

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1. Dual Universe will a be a Voxel-based Universe. However, there will be also passive & active/interactive props (called "Elements"). The reason is simple: many small things will need to be mesh-based to be detailed enough, especially in a world where the smallest voxels are 25cm large.  As voxel constructions are also quite expensive in resources needed to be calculated in real time, this is also a way to lower the charge necessary. Meshes are a lot "lighter" in this regard.

 

2. Nope. At least, it is not planned for the time being. We'd love to give full customization powers to players, but we also need to maintain an artistic style for the game. and having an approval process can be time consuming, pondering the number of requests of such type. The artists will have already their hands full of other tasks, as it is planned to have very different materials and props (while the game will start on a planet quite similar to Earth, some other planets are supposed to be far more "alien" ;)). It's not a 100% No. It's just not in the roadmap at the moment. So for now, consider you will have access to predesignated palette.

 

I am glad to see that there will be at least some use of meshes in the game.  Experience has taught me that voxel creation really can carry alot overhead in a dynamic environment.  Will there be an ability to submit meshes for inclusion in the the game?  (Similar to Daybreaks Studios (previously SOE) Player Studio?).  I have found that a good number of voxel builders also have experience in creating 3d meshes.  Granted, again, you would have the overhead of an approval process--but the diversity of placeables available coupled with lightening of load on the Art Team for creation may balance that out.

 

I understand the issue with the textures and keeping the "look and feel".  I would just say, please do not underestimate the amount of diversity that makes builders happy with the palette.  We tend to be a rather fussy bunch and a couple of metal textures, with some being shiny and some being dull will probably have some people screaming at their monitor    :blink:

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2. Nope. At least, it is not planned for the time being. We'd love to give full customization powers to players, but we also need to maintain an artistic style for the game. and having an approval process can be time consuming, pondering the number of requests of such type. The artists will have already their hands full of other tasks, as it is planned to have very different materials and props (while the game will start on a planet quite similar to Earth, some other planets are supposed to be far more "alien" ;)). It's not a 100% No. It's just not in the roadmap at the moment. So for now, consider you will have access to predesignated palette.

 

Could there be some color customization? Just tweaking various colors on existing textures? Maybe paints? I agree with PetdCat that diversity goes a long way, even if it's small things.

 

 

Also, perhaps full custom texture palettes are out of the question, but what about single use ship decals or group (clan/organization) insignias or logos?

 

You could always set the maximum decal size to something small like 32x32 to prevent the majority of abuse cases, since graphic images won't show up well, and the few that do manage to fit something offensive in there will be fewer in number and could be reported by players.

I played an MMO that allowed uploading of a guild icon that would display next to every players name, I believe the maximum size was 10x10. But even something that tiny can still make the ship/group/team feel much more personal than selecting from a fixed pool of them in game.

 

Another possibility is requiring players to purchase the decals in-game. Say they upload the "design", but they have to pay an NPC to get it printed onto their ship, or whatever. That way people would be even less likely to try and get something offensive in there since they will be losing money when it gets deleted.

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I do like the idea of having Insignias, if D.U. is looking to create a community adding Insignias would help a lot, reason being is that people like to feel like they belong to something and by having an Insignia they are constantly reminded of what they belong to. Even though this is a game that idea still applies by seeing the Insignia it will create a sense of loyalty and teamwork that I think D.U. is trying to create. Seeing them also makes people proud such as imagine me saying I'm a lieutenant in the 4th space fleet battle division. The insignia reminds them of what they are working for.

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  • About color customization on existing textures:

We would like to implement it, we are looking into it :)

 

  • About the possibility of uploading an organization (clan/corporation/guild/alliance) emblem after having gone through a validation process:

This would be a much lighter process than allowing the upload of new textures. So there are a lot more chance for this to be accepted.

I will keep you informed on this matter! ;)

 

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  • About color customization on existing textures:

We would like to implement it, we are looking into it :)

 

  • About the possibility of uploading an organization (clan/corporation/guild/alliance) emblem after having gone through a validation process:

This would be a much lighter process than allowing the upload of new textures. So there are a lot more chance for this to be accepted.

I will keep you informed on this matter! ;)

 

 

Color customization would go a long way to making everything not look like a repeat of everything else.  Starting out, people look at five or six type of rock, some landscape, building materials, thinking that it will be plenty.  But, when consider building something like a smallish town, village, outpost, it becomes obvious that one starts lookiing like another.  It would be nice to not have everything looking the same starting out--modifying colors would go a good way towards preventing that.

 

And organizational uploads will be a huge thing for groups--from a builders standpoint--being able to upload the sign for your shop, or bar, or guild/group hall is a huge thing.  I know it was a source of consternation in some other voxel based games.  Even if you limit the number of "signs" or emblems in a given space it would be a nice tool to have.

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If not adding custom textures from the player what if you had a library of existing textures that people could pull from for building design ship painting ect.

 

Well... this is basically what "predesignated palette" means ;)

On the palette diversity aspect, we will try to have a large variety to choose from. We can't tell right now in what measure.

But we know we have to offer a large choice if we don't accept textures from players.

Btw, speaking of alien fauna... There might be something in this field for the Friday Concept Art Research today.

Check out Twitter or Facebook later :)

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Ok sounds good what about voting prossece for getting textures added, I don't think this was already suggested but what if you had a place where people could upload textures and once it got to a certian popularity it would be accepted so not everyone would get personolized textures but if a texture was important to the duel universe community as a whole it could be implemented. Alternativly you could give players a set of like 10-12 textures slot that they could upload there own to so that everyone could have their own unique looking ships. I don't know though how hard that would be to implement/ store all of those different textures on the server side so that all the players could see them.

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Hi Jared,

 

As explained before in this thread, We'd love to give full customization powers to players, but we also need to maintain an artistic style for the game. And if we would offer the ability to players to upload textures, you won't have that anymore. While we can expect most of the players to "play by the rules", there will always be some who won't, uploading "funny textures" that can destroy a big part of the immersion. We want to give to the community a realistic, immersive world, and that comes to a price: not allowing all players to upload custom textures.

 

The other solution is to make sure uploaded textures will be compatible with the artistic vision of the game by going through an approval process. Some games have already done that in the past, and we "might" (no promise there, nothing guaranteed) go this way in the future. Just keep in mind that having an approval process can be time consuming, pondering the number of requests of such type. The artists will have already their hands full of other tasks, as it is planned to have very different materials and props (while the game will start on a planet quite similar to Earth, some other planets are supposed to be far more "alien"). But for now, consider you will have access to predesignated palette.

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Thank you I appreciate the clarification, and I totally support whatever you think will bring the most immersion while still allowing you to make your ship/whatever you build your own.

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