Thoughts on VR and Uru

Anything that isn't directly related to Age Creation but that might be interesting to Age developers.

Re: Thoughts on VR and Uru

Postby dendwaler » Mon Oct 17, 2016 11:47 am

although shouldn't the scale be 0.3048, since 1 Unreal unit = 1 centimeter ?

Oh you are undoubtely right about the scale. :D :D
It was just an estimate on sight, i did not look up the real measurements.
So i did not know that. :oops:
Yes, the hardware is always a problem not to lag behind, you cannot win that race.
I cannot afford so much new pc related wishes, since i am retired.
So i probably will do it with the cheap alternatives of vr, until the high ends are lower priced.
May be i even prefer a new pc earlier.
Those wonderfull Worlds are called " Ages" , because that is what it takes to build one.

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Re: Thoughts on VR and Uru

Postby Sirius » Sat Oct 22, 2016 4:09 am

Okay, last evening was the first actual walk into an actual Cyan Age ! Whooopee \o/

Well, kindof. Obviously it was ugly and clunky and laggy enough that only me could be hyped about this, hehe.

This was in Unity, since I can't get VR to work in Unreal for now. Also, since Unity does not import textures, it was all textureless again. Ugly, but at least I could feel the scale of things. Also, this time I imported the collisions, meaning I could move around the Ages. Didn't feel any kind of motion sickness despite the lack of teleportation and bad framerate.

I wandered a bit in textureless Kemo, and the trees and "troon"-trees are indeed quite tall (although that isn't really surprising). Then I strolled in textureless Cleft, which was also fun. The best parts were sitting in Zandi's armchair (man, that thing looks comfortable), and peering into the Cleft from the top of the ladder (the cleft is deep, I couldn't help but wonder what it looks like when it's filled with water as described in the Book of Atrus). So yeah, not much more to it, but it was fun.

One thing I noticed, is that all the useless benches Cyan put in each Age are a LOT more useful than they are in the base game - standing up in room-scale VR can be a bit tiresome after a while, and sitting on both the virtual bench and your real-life floor is quite relaxing.

Anyway. Not much progress on the Unreal side of things, since it still refuses to connect to my VR headset.
So instead I'm working on a few Ages within Blender. There are a lot of things to fix before exporting to Unreal anyway.
Since VR pictures are mostly useless, enjoy these shots of the Cleft and Gahreesen into Blender.
Show Spoiler

Still haven't had a glimpse of Gahreesen in VR. Since everything is way taller than you are in this Age, stereoscopy probably won't be noticeable. But I'm sure it will look impressive either way.
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Re: Thoughts on VR and Uru

Postby Sirius » Tue Nov 01, 2016 5:46 am

Smallish update, since the forum isn't currently very active anyway.

I managed to get multitexturing to work in Unreal.
Show Spoiler

This is from the Kadish forest, near the pyramid (lots of objects are missing, but you might recognize the area).
It took me a while to figure it out, but once you know how both Unreal and Plasma handle texture blending, you can convert most of the craziest material to Unreal in just a few clicks, with more flexibility than Plasma ever allowed. I even managed to get texture swapping with distance working (in the picture the trees' bark is more detailed from close-up but doesn't suffer from tiling when far away).

Now, I know this isn't much compared to what Andy posted when he was experimenting with UDK at the time ;)
But to me, it means I should be able to convert the visuals for an entire Age in a very short time (understand a few days'/weeks' work, depending on size and complexity) while remaining very close to the original Plasma look.

Hmmm... I think I'll try to convert the whole area from the shadow path puzzle to the pyramid, then restore lighting to something Uru-like. Should be interesting to compare both versions.
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Re: Thoughts on VR and Uru

Postby dendwaler » Tue Nov 01, 2016 7:22 am

Good work, but the multitexturing as you did now is no problem indeed.
It splits the objects on material level and keeps the original uv layout in tact.

The difficult part is a material based on two or more texture layers,then it becomes impossible. (Only for the ground mesh there is a blending option)
Unreal has only 1 texture layer per material , so a texture can be blended on a vertex color but not over another texture.
Additional you can have a lightning layer which uses another uv layout, it always uses UV1, but you can have many uv layouts i f the imported mesh has more.
I have imported the complete Kveer, but the texturing was horrible. The lightning was tricked in plasma everywhere, so the result in unreal was very bad.
But bringing in your own lightning there is another story.
:) May be i have a picture from it somewhere.

edit , here it is.
Show Spoiler
Those wonderfull Worlds are called " Ages" , because that is what it takes to build one.

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Re: Thoughts on VR and Uru

Postby Sirius » Tue Nov 01, 2016 8:17 am

Huh ? Not sure we're speaking about the same thing, Dendwaler. Of course, Unreal imports different materials correctly - that much isn't an issue. But materials using multiple layers with different textures (what I call multitexturing, although that might not be the exact way to name it) is entirely possible, and once again not really hard once you get the hang of it.
My screenshot wasn't to showcase the trees using a different material than the ground, but to show the ground blended correctly from the greenish texture to the pavement, then into the rock.
The previous shot wasn't great, though. Here is another one:
Show Spoiler

Here you can better see the three textures used. They are setup in such a way that PyPRP won't import them correctly, but can be restored in both Blender and Unreal, by having a look at how they are setup in the PRPs. PRPs are tricky to understand, but over the years I've learned how they handle texturing, and know what PyPRP will and won't import, and how to restore what is broken. That's why importing Ages into Blender takes me so much time.
Here is the material used in the previous screenshot:
Show Spoiler


Kemo would make a better example as it uses almost a dozen grass, sand & rock textures all blended together, but I didn't fix it in Unreal yet. However I'm 100% sure it's doable. Heck, I'm sure you can even import Plasma's fake lighting into Unreal and get a 99.9% similar render - that's how powerful the material editor of Unreal is (now, you obviously don't want to do that - it's better to let Unreal handle all the lighting ;) ).

Hmmm, maybe I'll have a look at K'veer before doing the whole of Kadish. This would make good training, and I'm sure Yali would approve :lol:
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Re: Thoughts on VR and Uru

Postby dendwaler » Tue Nov 01, 2016 10:12 am

Thx for posting the material editor layout.
That shows me how you did it, its far less complicated then i thought then.
I did not found the way how to do that, i also tried lerps but in a wrong way .
I will try this with a few of my own textures. :D
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Re: Thoughts on VR and Uru

Postby Sirius » Tue Nov 01, 2016 10:24 am

In case you're wondering (since it's hard to see the white texture in the screenshot), the lerps are controlled by the ALPHA_BLEND_FILTER texture, which is a simple gradient that acts as stencil for the other two textures. Cyan uses it frequently, but it's less common when working with Blender.

EDIT: oh, and here is another useful example of lerp:
Show Spoiler

This is the material used by the floor in CC's K'veer - "Floor Test". This is useful when you have a base texture (here it's the orange tiles texture), and a second one with an alpha channel overlayed on top of it (here it's a crack textures, even though it appears black in the texture sampler).
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Re: Thoughts on VR and Uru

Postby Deledrius » Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:39 am

Yali wrote:Apparently falling in VR is no fun. Goodbye Teledahn bridge puzzle.

My goodness, can you imagine the jump to the door in Gahreesen? Or the walk over the chasm to the door in Kadish Tolesa?

dendwaler wrote:The most difficult part is bringing the puzzles back in, with a different coding platform as using blueprints.

I think this would probably be the easiest part. Designing good puzzles is hard, and that's already been done. Making/converting the art assets is hard and takes a lot of work. Sure it'd take some doing (and there will probably be some frustrating edge-cases as usual), but implementing the existing puzzles for the most part should be far simpler than most aspects of porting.
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Re: Thoughts on VR and Uru

Postby Sirius » Thu Dec 01, 2016 1:33 pm

Deledrius wrote: dendwaler wrote:
The most difficult part is bringing the puzzles back in, with a different coding platform as using blueprints.

I think this would probably be the easiest part. Designing good puzzles is hard, and that's already been done. Making/converting the art assets is hard and takes a lot of work. Sure it'd take some doing (and there will probably be some frustrating edge-cases as usual), but implementing the existing puzzles for the most part should be far simpler than most aspects of porting.

Hmmm, yes and no.

When it comes to visuals, it's actually fairly simple to port. Materials can be recreated in Unreal easily with their excellent material editor (I don't think any other engine is as powerful on their material editor, actually).
Yes, meshes are time consuming because you need in Blender to do things like remove doubles vertices and find in each mesh the few triangles with messed up UVs - it's a strange behavior of PyPRP, and it's super-annoying to find which triangle has wrong UVs, so it takes some time.
As for placing lights once in Unreal, well, this isn't terribly hard and is quite fun. Also, since the lighting system is completely different you're not looking to reproduce 1:1 Uru's lighting, so you can get creative and have some fun with it.
So yeah, it's time consuming but it's also very simple, and you can do it in no-brain mode while listening to music or even a book (glorious modern era).

As for puzzles ? Well, in my opinion, these are the hardest. Reasons:
- Unreal's API is very close to how the engine itself works - meaning weird C++ naming conventions and tons and tons of functions with similar names (which make it hard to know which one you're looking for).
- Of all the programming languages available, Unreal picked... C++. While a reasonable choice for programming, it's the worse language for merely scripting behaviors. Oh, and obviously, you're stuck with using Visual Studio - forget about other compilers or other IDEs, Unreal will simply refuse to work with them. And Visual Studio is... Well, let's just say I'd prefer ANYTHING above VS.
- Fortunately, you can use the Blueprint system to visually script behaviors - which takes longer than coding but make it slightly easier to find the function you're looking for. It's still the same annoying C++ API behind it, though.
- Also, the mental effort required to convert a Python script using the Plasma API to a C++ script/blueprint using Unreal's API is much much higher than just removing doubles in every mesh of the scene.
- And obviously, you still have to link your script/blueprint to objects within the scene - animations, lights, detector regions, etc. Although not terribly bad, Unreal's interface is quite clunky compared to Unity.

Deledrius wrote: Yali wrote:
Apparently falling in VR is no fun. Goodbye Teledahn bridge puzzle.

My goodness, can you imagine the jump to the door in Gahreesen? Or the walk over the chasm to the door in Kadish Tolesa?

Depends how the VR controls are. Proper positional tracking and a "point to teleport" system instead of jumping helps you remain stable while enjoying the height. So does sitting on the floor while playing. By comparison, riding subworlds would be a LOT more uncomfortable.

But well, with standard "hold-key-to-run" movement, bad tracking and playing without being seated, that gets a lot more uncomfortable. The worse I've tried is running/falling in a direction while you're looking in the other :D


(and I'm positive Unreal has an issue with laptops having both Intel's integrated graphics and a GPU - which means I have to buy a new PC, even though my current one can handle most VR apps just fine. How delightful.)
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Re: Thoughts on VR and Uru

Postby Sirius » Fri Dec 09, 2016 1:17 am

Inching closer... :D
Show Spoiler

Alright, importing materials took way longer than I expected. One point for Deledrius.
But ! My import scripts now correctly import all materials with its FULL multilayering infos ! Which means I can export an almost Plasma-like scene in just a few seconds, provided it's correctly setup in Blender.

Next step will be tweaking the lighting to get something more Uru-like. I'm really excited about it :P

EDIT:
A bit of normalmapping and parallax brings the whole thing to a new level, far beyond what Plasma can do.
Show Spoiler

And it looks just as good in VR.
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