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Making things more complicated isn't improvement


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2 hours ago, Lindal Kidd said:

That's the truth!  I have fond memories of repeatedly getting killed by the Kilrathi in Wing Commander and Wing Commander II back in the old days of DOS and 386 processors.  I downloaded them from Great Old Games to try to recover those good times.  They were HORRIBLE.  Some of that was the kludges that had to be done to let them run on modern computers at all...but a lot of it was just the way they really were.

I discovered, over 10 years ago, there isn't much point in playing old/er games on newer pcs. That's the reason I laughed. And the reason I hang on to a couple of old(er) still functioning quite well pcs hanging around.

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7 hours ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Jordan's one-liner doesn't, it's true, address the "serious" issue raised in the OP, but it does serve a purpose as the kind of interpersonal interaction that makes this a worthwhile place to be. Without this kind of banter, the forums become dry and dull, with the human element more or less stripped out.

And, really, what actual harm has been done by inserting that banter here? The discussion carries on, as it always does, apace, sometimes on, and sometimes off topic, just as it inevitably does, and should, when real, living humans meet and engage with each other.

Don't say that in the How Does Your Avi Look Today thread, lol.

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5 hours ago, Wulfie Reanimator said:

Yes, SL ran better back in the day.

Yes, SL was less complicated back in the day.

No, graphics weren't better back in the day. This is an objective fact. We have the potential for more detailed content that is easier to make and is more common. (That content is also the reason why SL runs worse today, and is more complicated.) What you're experiencing is nostalgia. It's common for people to have fond memories of the past, such as remembering that a game looked/felt/played better than if you were to experience it again.

Aesthetically SL is far more technical and perfect now, for sure. But for me the interactions seem far worse, and SL a far more sterile and boring and far less fun place. Seems to be generating plenty of traffic just the same, though, so I guess most people must find it fine.

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11 hours ago, Wulfie Reanimator said:

Yes, SL ran better back in the day.

Yes, SL was less complicated back in the day.

No, graphics weren't better back in the day. This is an objective fact. We have the potential for more detailed content that is easier to make and is more common. (That content is also the reason why SL runs worse today, and is more complicated.) What you're experiencing is nostalgia. It's common for people to have fond memories of the past, such as remembering that a game looked/felt/played better than if you were to experience it again.

They were, however, faster.

SL has an elephant in the room - the frame rate is too low to be acceptable to new users. Gamers today want at least 60FPS; SL sometimes struggles to achieve 20. There are a long list of reasons for this. The big one, though, is denial. Denial by creators. Denial by developers. Denial by top management.

As I've pointed out before, the technical problems are fixable, although not cheaply or easily. Much more cheaply than the Sansar debacle. The big lesson of Sansar, High Fidelity, Sinespace, Facebook Spaces, VRChat, Sominium Space, Decentraland, Open Simulator, etc. is that gaining a good user community for a new virtual world is very hard, very expensive, and usually fails.

It's far easier and much cheaper to speed up SL than to acquire a million users for a new system.

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10 minutes ago, animats said:

Gamers today want at least 60FPS

I am going to say this again, because it clearly needs repeating.

Not all -- in fact, almost certainly not even a majority -- of SL users are "gamers."

And is not a given, by any means, that "gamers" would, or should, form the core of a new target audience for SL. In fact, I'd say the opposite is probably true: gamers have been, since 2010 or so at least, ignoring SL by the droves.

I'm a non-gamer. The vast majority of my in-world friends are non-gamers. We would certainly like to see better performance from SL, but we are not comparing it to whatever triple-A game you are using as a baseline because we don't play that game. We don't need or expect 60FPS. We want a high enough FPS that lag isn't obviously impacting upon our in-world interactions, such as texting. We want smoother sim crossings. We want smoother texture loading, and faster loading mesh. We want better communications tools, and easier ways to find things, buy things, and use things. We want nicer environments, and better communities (see Bellisseria and the new Linden Homes).

Please, can we recognize that it's not 2008 anymore. Gamers don't care: they aren't coming, because this is not a game -- at least, not as they would define it. Many of the people who have kept SL afloat and vibrant are, of course gamers, but the people who are here now and who keep this platform afloat are not, the majority of them, gamers, techies, or game designers.

Ignore them at your peril.

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3 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Not all -- in fact, almost certainly not even a majority -- of SL users are "gamers."

I wonder if that's true now, though, not because SL appeals to anything gamers care about -- it clearly doesn't and never has -- but because such an overwhelming share of the populace qualifies as "gamer" by some standard. At least most play one of the casual games du jour on their phones. And based on market size, a scary big percentage of people must play one of the graphically demanding games, too. It's not that SL can ever be one of those games, but rather that folks exposed to that level of graphics are going to have a higher threshold of 3D performance than we few remaining non-gamers. I'm not sure there's future in excluding anybody who has ever played those high-end games.

Gaming is totally lost on me, which is one reason why I could not possibly care less about framerate. If I can get double-digit FPS, I'm good. But I'll never run SL without full shadows, so it's not that different really.

(In passing, I think the lesson of Sansar wasn't that it couldn't attract a user community of gamers, but that there's never going to be profit running a platform for hobbyist game developers. Yeah, SL's success depends on user generated content, but you can count on one hand those content creators who aspire to developing video games in their spare time.)

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14 hours ago, Wulfie Reanimator said:

No, graphics weren't better back in the day. This is an objective fact.

No, it isn't. It's your subjective opinion.

The amount of details is only one of many factors that affect the viusal quality. Load time is another one because we have to consider the visual throughout the whole experience, not only after everything has loaded. Frame rate is one because jagged, jerky movements definitely reduce the visual quality. Collapsed LoD models and jellydoll blurs... well, obviously.

Too many details can actually reduce the visual quality and I do actually think that's a common problem with many of those over-elaborate meshes we have in SL today. What we see is not what we see. That is, it's not the signals our eyes receive, it's how our brain inteprets those signals. All good visual art is based on sending the right signals to the brain, not include every little detail because the latter is not possible even with a photo. I won't mention Caravagio here... Woops, I did it again. Anyway, for those interested, the discussions starts at the sixth post on this page: https://community.secondlife.com/forums/topic/392780-mesh-tricks-for-low-li/page/2/. It's from the old forum so the images are missing but you can look them up on Google.

I could give countless examples in SL how the "wrong" visuals give the right effect but since I can't be absultely sure whether the maker did it on purpose or not and I don't want to shame anybody, I'll use one I made myself. This is the sign outside the Queen of Spades pub at Keswick:

bilde.png.b15870843f478f1c84528c8795b99e60.png

There are lots of simplifications here that I'm sure you'll notice if you study the sign (hopefully people won't - this is one scene for the Silent Slasher game and people should keep their mind on the game playing). But it also has one HUGE ... ummm ... inconsistency (not a mistake because I did it on purpose, it really looks better this way). It's glaringly obvious but so far nobody has spotted it unless I've pointed it out to them. Can you?

Edit: I didn't notice until now but there is another thing in that picture (not on the sign) that illustrates even better how more details, no matter how "realistic", can reduce rather than enhance the visual quality. Can you spot that too?

Edited by ChinRey
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28 minutes ago, ChinRey said:

I could give countless examples in SL how the "wrong" visuals give the right effect but since I can't be absultely sure whether the maker did it on purpose or not and I don't want to shame anybody, I'll use one I made myself. This is the sign outside the Queen of Spades pub at Keswick:

bilde.png.b15870843f478f1c84528c8795b99e60.png

There are lots of simplifications here that I'm sure you'll notice if you study the sign (hopefully people won't - this is one scene for the Silent Slasher game and people should keep their mind on the game playing). But it also has one HUGE ... ummm ... inconsistency (not a mistake because I did it on purpose, it really looks better this way). It's glaringly obvious but so far nobody has spotted it unless I've pointed it out to them. Can you?

This is going to sound like I'm trying to pull apart your beautiful picture, so please know that I'm absolutely not, I'm just trying to play the game, and it's gorgeous! 

The only possible things I can see are that her arm might be short in order to keep the full picture within the space (but maybe she's just bending her elbow? The angle of her hand and sleeve suggest not, but she could just be holding her upper arm slightly behind her)....failing that, her forefinger is a funny angle, or her little finger is a tiny bit short, or the spade symbol is hovering above the sprig she's holding. 

It does seem funny to me that while people are building ever more complex avatars, they're also derendering/jellydolling everyone else because of all the extra load and lag. I don't actually think I'd want my SL to be TOO absolutely photo realistic, a bit uncanny valley for me. But then I also don't think a really well-done, late system avatar is an assault upon my viewing experience, so what do I know.

Edited by Amina Sopwith
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2 minutes ago, Amina Sopwith said:

The only possible things I can see are that her arm might be short in order to keep the full picture within the space (but maybe she's just bending her elbow? The angle of her hand and sleeve suggest not, but what do I know)....failing that, her forefinger is a funny angle, or her little finger is a tiny bit short, or the spade symbol is hovering above the sprig she's holding.

Those are very good observations and yes, very good examples how we sometimes have to distort the image to make it look more credible. Those details are not mine though, the picture on the sign is simply copied straight from a good old standard playing card.

4 minutes ago, Amina Sopwith said:

It does seem funny to me that while people are building ever more complex avatars, they're also derendering/jellydolling everyone else because of all the extra load and lag.

Who cares how others look, it's my avatar that matters! :P

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1 minute ago, ChinRey said:

Those are very good observations and yes, very good examples how we sometimes have to distort the image to make it look more credible. Those details are not mine though, the picture on the sign is simply copied straight from a good old standard playing card.

Ha, you mean I've been looking at the completely wrong part of the picture?? In that case, I honestly have no idea. Unless maybe it's something to do with the angle and the picture being more "straight on" than it should be? But presumably you can just cam around? I don't know, it looks fab to me.

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4 hours ago, Qie Niangao said:

I wonder if that's true now, though, not because SL appeals to anything gamers care about -- it clearly doesn't and never has -- but because such an overwhelming share of the populace qualifies as "gamer" by some standard.

Yes but they don't qualify as gamers in the sense that they are willing to spend money on gaming specific hardware.

 

5 hours ago, animats said:

It's far easier and much cheaper to speed up SL than to acquire a million users for a new system.

Nobody knows but I do believe that the bulk of the potential virtual world market is somewhere "below" Second Life in when it comes to hardware and computer literacy requirements and "above" Spaces when it comes to visual details. I may be wrong of course, as far as I know nobody has even tried to explore the possibilities of that market segment. The other virtual realities you mention are even further away from it than Second Life.

But in any case, whether we like it or not, that market potential is out of reach for Second Life. It may ahve been possible if LL had started working towards it ten years ago but by now SL has moved too far down a different path to turn around.

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4 hours ago, Amina Sopwith said:

Ha, you mean I've been looking at the completely wrong part of the picture?? In that case, I honestly have no idea.

Oh well, I'll tell you then (spoiler alert for those who want to figure it out themselves)

...

...

...

...

In Real Life they have something called "wind" and it's notorious for being incompatible with signs mounted on link chains. You can try it if you like but don't ask your insurance company to cover the damage, they'll only laugh at you and you may end up being outed on one of those r/stupidpeopledoingstupidthings subreddits. Even so, I thought - and still think - the chains give a more credible "feel" than the technically more realistic solid mounting bars would have. Of course, in this case I added rather than removed details so it may not be the best example. I still hope people see what I mean though.

A better example how details can reduce rather than increase visual quality, is that bird who happened to be in exactly the wrong place at the exact moment I took the picture. I really should have noticed that one.

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5 hours ago, Amina Sopwith said:

I honestly have no idea.

Before looking at the "spoiler".... I'll guess it's that she has "an egg in the nest", which is what we used to call that style of hairstyle years ago?  (hair around the sides...bald ontop) lol.

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2 minutes ago, Dano Seale said:

Before looking at the "spoiler".... I'll guess it's that she has "an egg in the nest", which is what we used to call that style of hairstyle years ago?  (hair around the sides...bald ontop) lol.

Nope! I made that mistake too, though, looking at the actual picture of the queen. That's an image Chin used from a playing card, and it's not where the deliberate mistake is. 

To be fair, I didn't think it was as obvious as Chin does, but she's obviously a lot smarter than I am 😀

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56 minutes ago, Dano Seale said:

Ok well, the only other thing that sticks out to me is the number 1  thing under the street sign. No idea why though.

That's poor choice of angle on my behalf. It's the house number on the house behind the pub. ;)

Edited by ChinRey
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8 hours ago, Qie Niangao said:

I wonder if that's true now, though, not because SL appeals to anything gamers care about -- it clearly doesn't and never has -- but because such an overwhelming share of the populace qualifies as "gamer" by some standard. At least most play one of the casual games du jour on their phones. And based on market size, a scary big percentage of people must play one of the graphically demanding games, too. It's not that SL can ever be one of those games, but rather that folks exposed to that level of graphics are going to have a higher threshold of 3D performance than we few remaining non-gamers. I'm not sure there's future in excluding anybody who has ever played those high-end games.

I take your point, and it's a good one, but I don't think it means what you are suggesting it means.

It is true that most people now probably "game" in some sense of that word. But playing Candy Crush or Plants v. Zombies isn't quite the same thing as playing Call of Duty. The graphics in most phone games, as good as they now are, are nowhere near as high quality or demanding as the average triple-A game. What's more, the game mechanics, game "goals," and (maybe most importantly), the culture is different. Phone games are designed to be pretty disposable: you can play them while waiting for the bus. The graphics are usually cartoony, and the goals are, really, to engage in enjoyable "busy work." And, culturally, while most serious gamers identify themselves as such, and feel that they belong to a community of like-minded souls who share certain values related to gaming, I doubt that many of those playing Angry Birds think of themselves as "gamers" in any sense.

Yes, there are a lot of people who play complicated console and PC games -- but they've demonstrated that they really aren't, on the whole, that interested in what SL has to offer. That's pretty understandable: the similarities between SL and most FPS games are superficial at best. And while some people seem to cling to the hope that games designed by residents in-world might attract some of these players (arguably, this is what has driven, in some measure, things like pathfinding, experiences, animesh, and now EEP), very few gamers are going to subject themselves to the misery of learning SL's mechanics (including, most spectacularly, the absolutely awful avatar customization system) when they can play something bigger, better designed, more engaging, and better looking out of the box for their PS4.

Arguably, the one currently very successful game that might have some lessons to impart to SL is Animal Crossing, which I gather has taken off as a result of the current pandemic. The graphics are nice, but not highly demanding, there are simple goals, and, most importantly, there is a strong social element to the game.

Were I looking for an existing paradigm, that's what it would be, not Red Dead Redemption.

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38 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Arguably, the one currently very successful game that might have some lessons to impart to SL is Animal Crossing, which I gather has taken off as a result of the current pandemic. The graphics are nice, but not highly demanding, there are simple goals, and, most importantly, there is a strong social element to the game.

One quibble, I thought I would take a look at Animal Crossing, even though I play zero games of any kind*, but it looked like you have to have a Switch. Which is something only someone semi-serious about gaming would have. I get your point, though, at the level of the game design and the in-game experience.

Of course, it seems to me there are quite a lot of 'gaming' sims in SL, too. It seems like at least half the places I run across that look potentially interesting wind up involving a gaming HUD and mostly some kind of conflict or competition. I have no idea what the graphic limitations are in those sims, as I have no interest in that. I would guess lag and framerate and texture loading is as horrible as in the rest of SL, though, if they have many people and very detailed scenes.

*I admit to having a Steam account and playing three 'games': gone home (LOVE LOVE LOVED this 'game'! would love more like this, but have never found another; the company put out a second game, but it did not look at all interesting to me), Life is Strange, and a few days ago, A Summer's end. None of these involved action or gaining weapons or powers or whatever. Summer' End didn't even have motion, it was basically a graphic novel with very, very few graphics.

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25 minutes ago, CaerolleClaudel said:

One quibble, I thought I would take a look at Animal Crossing, even though I play zero games of any kind*, but it looked like you have to have a Switch. Which is something only someone semi-serious about gaming would have.

That's a point! Although, in a way, it's less about the sort of hardware you need than the kind of game it is. And, although you can play it on a console or large screen, it's still more akin to a phone game in terms of its mechanics and graphics, I think, than a triple-A FPS? Certainly, it seems to have attracted a really broad range of non-gamers, which is in some ways the most important thing to note.

But yes, I take your point.

25 minutes ago, CaerolleClaudel said:

Of course, it seems to me there are quite a lot of 'gaming' sims in SL, too. It seems like at least half the places I run across that look potentially interesting wind up involving a gaming HUD and mostly some kind of conflict or competition. I have no idea what the graphic limitations are in those sims, as I have no interest in that. I would guess lag and framerate and texture loading is as horrible as in the rest of SL, though, if they have many people and very detailed scenes.

Hmm. I really rarely find myself at such places! I think the last time I arrived at a place that wanted me to wear a HUD was nearly a year ago, when I was making a half-hearted attempt to find an easy-to-play (and non RP) zombie game in-world. I don't know how much RP uses HUDs and the like?

25 minutes ago, CaerolleClaudel said:

I admit to having a Steam account and playing three 'games': gone home (LOVE LOVE LOVED this 'game'! would love more like this, but have never found another; the company put out a second game, but it did not look at all interesting to me), Life is Strange, and a few days ago, A Summer's end. None of these involved action or gaining weapons or powers or whatever. Summer' End didn't even have motion, it was basically a graphic novel with very, very few graphics.

I don't know Gone Home. Now I have to check it out!

I have a Steam account. I think I've got about 5 games on it, only three of which I've ever actually downloaded and played: Portal, Portal II, and Undertail. I've got a simulation game for running a Roman city that I think I'd like to actually try one day.

ETA: Just looked up Gone Home: it looks kind of cool. It's interesting, though, that according to Wikipedia,

Quote

Several outlets used the game as an example of video games as art, as its non-standard gameplay format demonstrates progression of the video game industry into more artistic forms. However, this also raised the question of whether Gone Home should be considered a game, and led to the derogatory term "walking simulators" to describe exploration games with little interactivity, though since then, the industry has come to embrace the term.

In other words, it's not, in the view of some, a "real" game.

It reminds me a bit of another game I've just remembered that I've played (but don't own myself) called . . . Firewatcher, I think? It was also a mystery/exploration game, with a strong "emotional" component. I enjoyed it a lot.

Edited by Scylla Rhiadra
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I really need that 60fps to give me the edge in Skippo.

I'll admit to looking at the frame rate a lot, but mostly to see how the latest video card I bought for a dollar runs it. When I'm just using it, not so much. FPS isn't a very useful SL performance metric. Sure, animations can look better at 60fps than 20, but generally 20 is adequate for an entertaining time. For me, long load times, texture thrashing and rubberbanding are all a lot worse than a middling frame rate.

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59 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

In other words, it's not, in the view of some, a "real" game.

Yes, that is why I used scare quotes around game. 😉

Although they are all on Steam, none of the three titles I mentioned are action or level oriented, which is what I think of when I think of 'games.' And all three have significant emotional/relational content, which was the point to me in all three games, though the first two are goal-oriented, especially gone home. I really loved the relationship reveal at the end of gone home, made me cry. I didn't expect to see something like that in a game.

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