More a pre-alpha, in usability, concept and naming

Started by cajomi, December 24, 2006, 07:02:01 am

Previous topic - Next topic

RealUser

I can understand cajomis complaints. The usability isn't really good when it comes to placing an object or a camera. Placing the cam was so easy in TG0.9! Why not taking the same technoque in TG2? I hope Matt will implement it again like it was in the "good old days". ;-)
Markus / RealUser
...................................................................
visit my Renderosity Gallery at
http://www.renderosity.com/mod/gallery/browse.php?username=RealUser
...................................................................

Tangled-Universe

I've been cursing a lot because of the new camera system, but after a few days intensive playing with all TG2's features I'm getting pretty used to it. It's very easy now to fly around and look for nice POV's.
I'm using a 2 button mouse and by pressing:

L-ALT + LMB = adjust heading and pitch
L-ALT + RMB = move camera position side or up/down wards
L-ALT + LMB+RMB = move camera position or zoom in/out

I suggest people should practice by using only a power fractal generated terrain to fly through, instead of a terrain full of displaced etc. features.
It's really as easy as that, don't forget to press "set camera" after you've found a nice spot!

More ontopic now: I can imagine some of the frustrations of Cajomi about this release. It's obviously not even nearly finished, there's a lot of work to do. So yes, it can be buggy, unstable, non-userfriendly etc., but you'll stil get a tech preview which can give amazing results with enough practice.

Only thing which bothers me a little is that as with TG 0.9x you'll have to pay for extra functionality while this isn't even a beta version at all. I consider paying for a beta is so so, but for something not even nearly a beta version? This feels rather strange to me.
Therefore I'm still doubting whether I'll soon buy the deep version or not. Well, what do you buy then (in advance)? A full product? Like a few years ago...it could now take another few years to be finished...? TG 1.0 never showed up, people payed 90 bucks for TG 0.xx beta with free upgrades till version 1....version 1 never showed up and now you get 100 bucks discount for TG2 (which isn't finished by far)...This is all not a big deal to me, but it feels rather strange, can't explain in which way exactly and maybe my english isn't good enough to clearly express my thoughts/feelings.

Nevertheless I think we all still have to be very happy about this release. It takes some time to get used to.
A lot of time for me personally, but I'm pretty determined to get the same level of results as with TG.
You'll need a little bit of determination and I think some people here, generally speaking, have a certain lack of it. Of course it's completely different and sometimes illogical compared to other apps, but when I look into the forums and read the questions I can strongly feel some people haven't been looking for the answer for maybe longer than 15 minutes to half an hour.

Patience is a virtue  :)

Martin

P.S. This "story" is meant to be in general, not specific for Cajomi, just to prevent any inconvenience  :)

efflux

I don't there's much to complain about really. The app is not expensive yet it is breaking into territory that no other computer app on the market can achieve. This has to be remembered. It is way way beyond TG 0.9. The only thing I want is more info on function nodes. This tech preview is usable despite the instabilities. If it was expensive then we'd have something to complain about.

nikita

@efflux Ever heard of Vue Infinite?  ;)

Quote from: RealUser on December 28, 2006, 06:09:38 am
I can understand cajomis complaints. The usability isn't really good when it comes to placing an object or a camera. Placing the cam was so easy in TG0.9! Why not taking the same technoque in TG2? I hope Matt will implement it again like it was in the "good old days". ;-)


As Tangled-Universe said: You get used to it very fast. And I guess the reason that it isn't done like it's been before is that fact that it doesn't make sense anymore when you use infinite procedural terrains and/or multiple planets.

RealUser

@nikita: slap forehead! You are right! Certainly, it would be very complivated to "browse" over a whole planet with this way of selecting the view. It would be suitable for hightmaps though. But if i think about it, it really makes no sense. On the other side i find it difficult to get to the point where you want your camera and view point. Maybe i need some more time to get used to it.

Markus
Markus / RealUser
...................................................................
visit my Renderosity Gallery at
http://www.renderosity.com/mod/gallery/browse.php?username=RealUser
...................................................................

nikita

Yes on the other hand I agree it's probably a difficult way for users with older computers.
And there could be a possibility to automatically fit a top-view preview to the area the user is using at the moment. But development for this feature would probably take time which planetside obviously never has enough of ;D

Zylot

even on old computers, if your mouse-hand is fast you can keep moving the camera on 5 or 10 level detail till you get it right...  without much delay.

Oshyan

Lots of good discussion in this thread. We are certainly reading all of this and taking all feedback into account. :)

Regarding the cost of the current TG2 pre-purchase options, the fact that "TG1" was never released, etc. - these are perfectly valid and important concerns. There are many things in the history of TG and Planetside as a company that have created problems in making consistent releases, contributed to delays in development, etc. I have only been working with Planetside for a few months now but I've been involved with TG's development for years from the outside, and have been following TG almost since the beginning. I'll admit I have a pretty biased perspective as an employee, but I honestly think we are in a better place than ever before to create a quality finished product in a reasonable amount of time.

We have also comitted to a 2007 release for the final Terragen 2 product. This means that when you buy one of the pre-purchase options now, you will get a free update to the final release equivalent of your purchased product (TG2 Deep or Deep + Animation) when it is released in 2007. Whether you feel confident making that kind of purchase now based on the release date promise is entirely up to you.

There is no doubt that Planetside's long-term history is spotty at best when it comes to release dates. However we set a date for the Technology Preview and we met that date. There are issues in the current release that we are aware of, some of them serious enough that we are comitted to fixing them and releasing an update to the free Technology Preview. We are showing that we can execute on our promises and we will continue to do so through to the 2007 final release.

We do not expect everyone to buy in the pre-purchase period, of course. Those that do will save money in the long-term and will have more frequent access to development updates leading up to the final release (as compared to the free Technology Preview releases), as well as being able to use TG2 commercially in the meantime. The cost-savings is an acknowledgement that purchasing at this time requires faith in Planetside and we of course want to reward our early adopters and supporters.

When TG2 is finalized it will be even more capable than it is now, it will be much more stable and better able to interoperate with other applications. These factors combined will make it a competitive professional-level product and if you consider the prices of other such products in the market, it makes sense that we would not be sticking to $200-300 for the full version.

Whether you purchase now at the reduced price, counting on our release date promise, or wait to ensure that we will meet it and purchase at the higher price is a personal decision. We appreciate the early support, but we recognize that the Technology Preview is not a full enough demonstration of product delivery and quality for many people to buy at this time.

I am confident that we have overcome past issues and will be able to continue delivering product releases and updates on time. We will continue to only make firm release date promises only when we are as certain as possible that we can make them and so we will not be able to release a specific date in 2007 until a later time.

Regarding the issues with the 3D preview and the lack of a true replacement for the top-down terrain view in TG 0.9: Some have already mentioned the difficulties in providing such a top-down view and making it effective in a planetary context such as that which TG2 uses. This is definitely a significant issue, and there are others also involved such as the computation time of displacement-based terrains. We will definitely be investing time in improving the options available for placement and adjustment of cameras, objects, terrains, etc.

Finally, on the subject of the Function Nodes and seeing the "insides" of the higher-level shaders: Although it's true that the higher-level shaders are essentially built using low-level functions, they are not created directly this way and so they can't be directly viewed in this way. The basic building-blocks may be largely the same, but the actual construction and connection process happens at an even lower level which I don't think we presently provide a visualization for in TG2. It may be possible in the future to allow an inside view and adjustment of these things; that remains to be seen.

We do hope to implement a macro-type system (similar to World Machine) that would allow anyone to create a sort of higher-level shader with its own set of controls which then hook into internal nodes and settings in potentially complex and interesting ways. Thus sophisticated shader writers could create simplified controls for average users and distribute their macros/shaders for others to use if they so desire. This is also similar to some functionaly MojoWorld provides, I believe. Given an expansion of the Function Nodes and other controls (graph-based shader controls, etc.), this very well might provide the functionality that is hoped for.

As far as the Function Node documentation goes I will be honest, as the primary documentation writer I unfortunately don't have much of a clue how each node works. :D The connection of nodes is a straightforward thing, it works exactly like the rest of the network. So documenting that specifically is obviously not necessary. What you seem to be talking about is something like the current Node Reference, but of course including the Function Nodes. We do intend to document the function nodes and all other nodes over time. These will all be available in the node reference. But of course it takes time to do this. There are 100's of nodes overall, including the function nodes, and each has potentially 10 or more settings of its own. We would welcome any serious contributors to the node reference. If anyone is interested in and feels qualified to contribute to this reference please contact me privately.

I have to say that I have been extremely impressed and pleased by the amount of information that has come out of the community in the short time since release. In less than 2 weeks we already have multiple tutorials, image-based setting references, and over 1000 posts in discussion on the forums here in about a week of being open. We certainly will continue to take responsibility for full baseline documentation of TG2, but I think ultimately the knowledge gained here through experimentation and sharing will be at least as valuable. Just having seen so many things already that are beyond what I had seen achieved in the prior test cycle, I am convinced that there is not much new that I could tell many of you. :D

- Oshyan

jo

Hi,

With regard to using functions, if you want more insight into how to use this stuff you might do well to look up examples of using RenderMan shaders, as well as checking out the book "Texturing & Modelling : A Procedural Approach". This is a great book for getting started with programming shaders. If you're interested in this stuff I think it's a must-have. To me the most interesting chapters ( from my second edition copy ) are the first 5. The rest of the book is interesting, but those first 5 chapters are gold.

The great thing about TG2 is that you can build many of the shaders described in the book visually using the nodes, as opposed to actually having to use text based programming. I have built several shaders out of the book using TG2, and I added some function nodes I thought were missing from Matt's original selection to mkae things a bit easier. I will probably add some more of what I regard to be "standard" shader builder blocks to the function nodes in the future. I intend to spend a lot of time with the function nodes, and we do have some changes in mind to make programming and debugging shaders with the function nodes easier.

I think someone mentioned they felt that it was a bit tricky to work with the noise nodes already in TG. I agree, and hopefully we can get some more straightforward and well understood noise nodes in there soon. To me there is quite a lot of stuff in TG2 which is much more "high level" and therefore maybe not quite so useful for low level function node stuff as if there were more elemental noise functions available. Even though a lot of the basic noise functions aren't something you would want to be obvious in a shader these days, they can still be very, very useful for creating more complex effects.

I would heartily recommend that anyone interested in using the function nodes get a hold of the T & M book. The first few chapters are really good and will definitely give you firm foundation for moving forward with creating interesting effects from using the function nodes.

Regards,

Jo

RealUser

Markus / RealUser
...................................................................
visit my Renderosity Gallery at
http://www.renderosity.com/mod/gallery/browse.php?username=RealUser
...................................................................

nikita

December 31, 2006, 08:01:47 am #25 Last Edit: December 31, 2006, 08:05:55 am by nikita
click

edit: Oops, seems I just found the old version - I corrected the link.

efflux

OK. Thanks. The book is very expensive though. I haven't too much time at the moment to experiment with TG but I think it'll be a case of trial and error. Mojoworld is a good place to come from for a bit of understanding.

RealUser

@nikita: Thanks for the link. Uhh, very expensive.
Markus / RealUser
...................................................................
visit my Renderosity Gallery at
http://www.renderosity.com/mod/gallery/browse.php?username=RealUser
...................................................................

rcallicotte

There's a digital version soon to come out (it seems) at Amazon for about $16 - http://www.amazon.com/Texturing-Modeling-Procedural-Approach-Kaufmann/dp/B000FO6XZW/ref=ed_oe_d/102-5268861-2636166?ie=UTF8&qid=1174053479&sr=8-1

Quote from: efflux on January 03, 2007, 08:20:21 am
OK. Thanks. The book is very expensive though. I haven't too much time at the moment to experiment with TG but I think it'll be a case of trial and error. Mojoworld is a good place to come from for a bit of understanding.
So this is Disney World.  Can we live here?