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 Microbe Stage Concept Animation

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Oliveriver
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Wed Aug 14, 2013 5:33 am

It's been in the equation for several months now, as it was decided it would give the player a suitable degree of customisation without letting them go completely wild. The microbe editor prototypes we had before allowed too much freedom when editing the cell's shape and attributes - a player could completely change their microbe without incurring any MP penalty, which is of course far from how evolution works.

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Wed Aug 14, 2013 5:43 am

dinoman9877 wrote:
So is the cell supposed to be grown in a hexagon format, and it's translated into a realistic shape?

When did Civ 5 become part of the equation?
See this post, section "Microbe Editor" for the reasons behind a hexagon format. The direct follow up by scio gives even more arguments in favor of hexes instead of free-form editing. The TL;DR is that a hex approach is far easier to implement with fewer headache inducing problems in terms of user interface.
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Wed Aug 14, 2013 1:23 pm

I think I'm pretty close to completing the animation. :D 

So far, I have a loading screen, a small section of gameplay and a full editor session, all of which runs to 2 minutes and 48 seconds. I'll probably add one more section of gameplay just to flesh it out slightly, but I think if I wanted to I could now upload it and be proud of myself. The animation is quite jittery as it's only running at 2FPS, but even at that speed it looks (not to blow my own trumpet here) absolutely incredible and already gives a good feel of the microbe stage.

Expect it to be done within the next week.

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Wed Aug 14, 2013 6:16 pm

Great to hear Oliver! Keep up the good work.

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Wed Aug 14, 2013 11:29 pm

A WEEK?! I've been watching this topic for a long time, and I'm very excited for it to bear fruit.
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Mon Aug 19, 2013 8:00 am

Screw the second gameplay section - this project needs some inspiration as quickly as possible.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for:



First, a couple of excuses. I hope I haven't hyped this too much, as in all honesty it does look very jittery and probably wasn't what everyone was expecting. I did try to emphasise the fact that it's running at 2FPS, and for the purposes of concept it's probably fine (if I'd have done it any faster I'd probably still be working on it until at least October). The next excuse is that I completely did away with the advanced compounds system - the numbers you see at the end have no relevance to anything whatsoever. I tried implementing it, but I decided it would be easier to program it as you'd have a computer algorithm processing everything rather than a human brain. Instead, I used an extremely simple (but still rather time-consuming) system, explained below. One last apology - the program I used to make the animation only let me export it with a maximum of 256 colours, so when viewing it full screen some of the microbes' textures look quite blocky.

If a microbe is in a light or heat spot on a given frame, it gains 1 ATP, unless it has specific organelles for increasing either photosynthesis or respiration, in which case it gains more. This happens every frame (0.5 seconds). Every 3 frames (1.5 seconds), all the microbes' ATP levels are analysed. Every microbe loses 1 ATP, or more if it has organelles such as flagella or cilia. Therefore, if a microbe with no ATP-increasing or decreasing organelles spends 2 seconds in a light spot, it will gain 3 ATP overall (1+1+(1-1)+1).

I did uncover several balance issues. I used a system similar to the ATP to calculate MP and RP. Every 4 frames, the player's cell gains 1 MP, and every frame the ATP level is over 80 all cells gain 1 RP. At 5 RP, they reproduce. Coupled with this, engulfing a floating nucleus gifts a microbe 30 ATP.

All these systems works far too quickly - as you can see, I reach the editor after less than 20 seconds of actual gameplay. However, I did find the MP I had at that point were pretty much spot on what a player should usually have in the editor. I ended up with 11 MP in the editor, and you can see all the values for each organelle and other mutations in the video.

I really hope this does something to change the morale of the team. We're very close to having a playable microbe stage - the near-complete GDD and this animation prove that - but suddenly progress seems to have stopped in its tracks. I read the forum this morning to find that all that had happened since my last post was an argument about a reference to Deadliest Warrior and someone suggesting something which has already been suggested. Everyone, PLEASE don't let all this work go to waste. We now have something which we can show to people we HAVE made progress. Let's live up to that claim.

Oh, and ~scio and/or Jacob, you might want to post this video to our social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit) and the ModDB page (that is, if you think it's good enough).

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:29 am

Oliveriver wrote:
Screw the second gameplay section - this project needs some inspiration as quickly as possible.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for:



First, a couple of excuses. I hope I haven't hyped this too much, as in all honesty it does look very jittery and probably wasn't what everyone was expecting. I did try to emphasise the fact that it's running at 2FPS, and for the purposes of concept it's probably fine (if I'd have done it any faster I'd probably still be working on it until at least October). The next excuse is that I completely did away with the advanced compounds system - the numbers you see at the end have no relevance to anything whatsoever. I tried implementing it, but I decided it would be easier to program it as you'd have a computer algorithm processing everything rather than a human brain. Instead, I used an extremely simple (but still rather time-consuming) system, explained below. One last apology - the program I used to make the animation only let me export it with a maximum of 256 colours, so when viewing it full screen some of the microbes' textures look quite blocky.
It's excellent work and congratulations on everything you've done; are you going to finish it? It'll attract more attention if it were 4 FPS, and showed more concepts in action (you should also include annotations to explain the specific things that happen, since most won't understand). My suggestion would be to include some bigger forms of life in the tide pool. Possibly you could let us interact with some of them, and you should place the really big ones in the background, who would then shrink down and become part of the 'normal' game when you evolved a size. That's what Spore did and it worked very well in making the tidepool feel less cramped and giving it an epic scale, which this video decidedly lacks.

This is awesome, though, and you should feel awesome. I'm posting it on every forum I frequent.
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:41 am

I think it is pretty much finished. It demonstrates most of the functionality of the microbe stage that I could implement. Annotations are a possibility, but I think it might be better to add them as annotations on the actual Youtube video - viewers could turn them on or off as they please. I don't think bigger life forms are planned to be included in the microbe stage, although someone else may know otherwise. An epic scale was never a goal for this animation - it is only to showcase a simple version of the microbe stage.

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:57 am

Oliveriver wrote:
I think it is pretty much finished. It demonstrates most of the functionality of the microbe stage that I could implement. Annotations are a possibility, but I think it might be better to add them as annotations on the actual Youtube video - viewers could turn them on or off as they please. I don't think bigger life forms are planned to be included in the microbe stage, although someone else may know otherwise. An epic scale was never a goal for this animation - it is only to showcase a simple version of the microbe stage.
Well, it isn't really necessary for this. But an epic scale will be necessary in the game, so I still highly recommend implementing them. The video looked rather cramped; a bit like a cheap flash game (although it is conceptually mindblowing).

And the slow gameplay is probably going to make some people lose patience with watching. If you aren't going to get it up to at least 3FPS then just try to reduce the time between the current frames. It's an animation, after all.

Post it on the front page for newcomers.

EDIT: There do appear to be annotations; apologies for missing them.


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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Mon Aug 19, 2013 12:22 pm

Brilliant work, Oliver. I really have to commend you on this, you've done a fantastic job, and I'm posting this for the fans straight away.

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Mon Aug 19, 2013 12:29 pm

Thanks! :D Does that include ModDB?

@Mouthwash
I only added the annotations after you mentioned it, so thanks for the idea.

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Mon Aug 19, 2013 1:11 pm

Oliveriver wrote:
Thanks! :D Does that include ModDB?

@Mouthwash
I only added the annotations after you mentioned it, so thanks for the idea.
It should. I'll put it up later today.

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Mon Aug 19, 2013 1:37 pm

I don't mind that it was only 2 FPS. It's better than nothing (plus it must have already been pretty difficult to do at 2 FPS)! :D 
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Mon Aug 19, 2013 2:14 pm

Interestingly, I first saw a link to the complete animation over at reddit. Good work posting it there, and great with the animation itself. Although it really looks quite jittery, it can serve as a reference for how the microbe stage might eventually look.

Oliveriver wrote:

but suddenly progress seems to have stopped in its tracks.
I'm afraid that's partly my fault, because I haven't uploaded anything to the Git repository for so long. Rest assured that I'm still tinkering and will have something to show for it. Soon...ish.
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:23 pm

Excellent work Oliveriver. The lack of activity on my behalf is that I'm off on vacation in the US, and I won't be back for another one and a half weeks or so. I do have a lot of stuff for Thrive I plan to do when I get back, but in the meantime I mostly just read posts, answer questions, and keep telling people to ask it in the misc thread.

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:38 pm

It is really good Oliver, but it leaves me wondering, all of the stuff for the Microbe Stage I've seen so far has a stationary camera, and I can't see this as being fun if I can't see my cell.

And Nick, hope you have fun during your time here in the States.
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Tue Aug 20, 2013 6:11 am

@FalmerbloodElixir
Yes, it was. I'm glad it doesn't matter, though.

@Nimbal
That was my main intention for the animation. I'm sure everyone is looking forward to whatever it is you're tinkering with.

@Immortal_Dragon
I based the camera view on Untrustedlife's prototype, in which the camera is stationary until you move out of view, at which point it moves to the adjacent frame you've just moved into. I'm not sure whether the camera will work like this or like Spore in the actual game.

@Everyone
Thanks for the feedback! :D 

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:49 am

Looks very nice indeed. Aswell, that there seems to be working code aswell, what you mentioned. First tought, it would be a simple nimation how the prototype should work. But if this was already made by a prototype, who will be playable soon then the game has made a large jump forward and is even more advanced as i tought.

Think we will need a creature and strategic prototype as next, something what works with the same engine to show, that the devs can made a creature run around and can implement a strategic view. After this nobody should have any doubt, that they are good on the way to a working game, what should aswell attract additional members.
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:45 am

Excellent work man. Good to see and it helps us see the concepts coming together.
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PostSubject: AWesum!   Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:14 am

If this was a gameplay video I would download it and then hack the internet (Idk how to hack but I would soehow get wild hacking skills when I see this) so I can download it to everyone!
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:13 pm

Oliveriver wrote:
And now, the moment you've all been waiting for:

So I was looking through this again, and having a clear video to visualize the gameplay helped me think of some suggestions for the actual gameplay.

First of all, I suggest this be uploaded into the OP.

Also, I think the camera should be bound to the player's cell. This would eliminate the need for that mini-image of the cell in the bottom corner, which would in effect minimize the GUI.

I also think that the overall environment looks really flat, as well as barren. This is no offense to you Oliver, you did great work, but it is our concept itself that needs specification. Something Spore did really well in the cell stage, particularly in the 2005 GDC presentation, was giving a sense of depth and 3D-ness. A quick google search of the "Spore cell stage" should yield some good results. Some of the tricks I noticed that they used to do this was to:

  • Divide the environment into multiple layers: Background, Midground, Foreground


  • Put the image in the background (The clay texture, or whatever background image is selected)


  • Put water currents and moving particles and bubbles in the midground, as well as some small microbes or bacteria (only for looks)


  • Place the player cell and the other AI cells on the foreground, with little granules of rock, sand, and gravel floating through the water and interacting with the cells. Also place little bubbles and small bacteria/microbes, as well as water current/flow animations.



I think that by using these we could add some more immersion and realism to the Microbe Stage.

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Concept Animation   Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:10 am

NickTheNick wrote:
First of all, I suggest this be uploaded into the OP. I'm on it.

Also, I think the camera should be bound to the player's cell. This would eliminate the need for that mini-image of the cell in the bottom corner, which would in effect minimize the GUI. I wasn't sure what system we would be using, so I went with the option that was easier to animate. This sounds good to me.

I also think that the overall environment looks really flat, as well as barren. This is no offense to you Oliver, you did great work (thanks :D ), but it is our concept itself that needs specification. Something Spore did really well in the cell stage, particularly in the 2005 GDC presentation, was giving a sense of depth and 3D-ness. A quick google search of the "Spore cell stage" should yield some good results. Some of the tricks I noticed that they used to do this was to:

  • Divide the environment into multiple layers: Background, Midground, Foreground





  • Put the image in the background (The clay texture, or whatever background image is selected) This would of course have to move as the player moves if we were to use a follow camera setup.





  • Put water currents and moving particles and bubbles in the midground, as well as some small microbes or bacteria (only for looks) I used some water currents in the midground of the animation, but they weren't really clear enough.





  • Place the player cell and the other AI cells on the foreground, with little granules of rock, sand, and gravel floating through the water and interacting with the cells. Also place little bubbles and small bacteria/microbes, as well as water current/flow animations. That would certainly help with immersion.






I think that by using these we could add some more immersion and realism to the Microbe Stage.

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