The fog-of-war experiments have finally shipped. This post is about what the current fog-of-war is and isn't.
It is not suitable for real play
We will cover this more below, but it's worth starting here. We do not recommend subjecting your players to this feature. Stories are important, and unfinished stuff like this can suck the fun out of a moment when they mess up.
This is a design demo, made to get a feel for what it means to have 3d fog-of-war
We have not played games with volumetric fog-of-war before, which means that while we have theories and strong opinions of what play would be like with this feature, we don't actually know.
That means we need something bare-bones and ugly in-game so we can prod it and realize how limited/incorrect our assumptions were. This is always the way of design, and we'll slowly iterate toward something we can be proud of.
The catalog of jank
Alright, let's get into the stuff you are definitely going to see.
Visuals are bad
Yup. The visuals are deliberately unfinished. Putting effort here before we know if this is the approach we will stick with would be a waste.
You can see through the fog
Seeing stuff like:
- the mesh isn't closed in some places?
- you can zoom inside the fog and see stuff?
- z-fighting out the wazoo?
Yup! The mesher for the fog isn't final in any way, and we only need it to be good enough to be able to play-test basic scenarios and discuss behavior.
It doesn't respect [EXISTING FEATURE X]
Fog doesn't respect:
- cut volume
- object picker
Yuuup! The expected behavior seems obvious in many cases, but we still need to play with it and work out the nuances. This kind of stuff will make fog-of-war a true feature in TaleSpire and make it feel like a natural part of play (one-day :P).
It blocks the GM's view
Yup. One of the open design questions is how the fog should interact with GMs and their tools. For example, what happens when you have multiple parties, each with their own view through the fog?
The tooling is rubbish
- I can't clear the fog
- placing in build mode makes no sense
- using the selection tool for placing fog is cludgy
Very yup. We hacked in something to add fog as this is the bare minimum required to play test. Once we have done that, we will be able to design things that feel good.
It doesn't reveal in many cases when my creature can clearly see it
Yup yup. Plenty of bugs still to iron out and lot's of implementations trade-offs to wrangle.
It's slow / There is no visual feedback that it's working
More 'yup', and this one is tough. Adding an additional dimension to a computational problem is intimidating. We spread the workload out over frames to limit the hit to the fps; however, making this speedy will be a challenge. There is no doubt a bunch of low-hanging fruit we can start with, however.
We also should be able to make visual feedback more immediate too, and it's surprising how far that gets you.
So why release it at all?
Fog-of-war is going to be really a cool feature in time. The above is not intended to be a downer. It's perfectly normal for a prototype like this to be very rough until we find out what it needs to become.
Since the alpha, we've taken every step of this journey alongside the community. Your suggestions, requests, and bug reports have shaped the whole project. Hell, the very funding of the game itself was thanks to you.
By getting fog-of-war out in your hands, we know we'll get to see it put through its paces and used in ways we even hadn't considered. It feels like the ideal feature for this and it's going to be a blast to grow this with you.
Warm regards from everyone over here at Bouncyrock