The "original look and feel"

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karx11erx
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The "original look and feel"

Postby karx11erx » Sun Jun 01, 2014 6:32 pm

Everytime people are asking which Descent modification to use - D2X-XL or Rebirth - they are getting the same answer: Rebirth would give player the original Descent look and feel, while D2X-XL would offer a lot of enhancements to the original game - the latter implying that D2X-XL would change the look and feel of the game.

While superficially sounding true, that answer is actually wrong. The truth is a little more complex.

It is true that D2X-XL's main focus is on improving the original game experience. It does so by offering prettier models of the player ships and powerups, replacing the coarse original textures with high resolution textures and offering some of the effects that are good standard in today's shooter games, like lightmap based lighting, shadows, particle effects (smoke, fire, rain, etc.), glow and lightning effects and additional sound effects.

It also allows level designers to incorporate all these features in their levels, and to build more complex levels, containing more complex user interaction with a level.

D2X-XL does however not a priori change any of the physics, or any of the robot AI of the game. It gives freedom to the player to do so to some extent (e.g. by increasing the Fusion gun's power, or by utilizing extra powerups a level designer may have placed in the level), but it is up to the player to make use of that freedom. These additional features are also only available in levels built specifically for D2X-XL and which are therefore marked with a special tag.

In a standard level, D2X-XL behaves just like good old Descent 2 from 1994 does; And if you want to, you can make it present such levels like the original game did: You simply need to add a command line switch ("-pureD2") to it.

So while D2X-XL can make Descent look different than the original game, it will not make it feel different (provided "look" is not the same as "feel" for you).

So if the original Descent is all you want, D2X-XL can give it to you just as much as Rebirth. Unlike Rebirth, it can however give you a lot more if you wish, and there is more than the list above comprises. D2X-XL will e.g. give you the original Descent 1 gameplay without you having to use an extra executable. It's all in D2X-XL. It will also give you stereoscopic rendering for a variety of output devices, like anaglyph glasses, stereo TVs and the Oculus Rift. Btw, stereoscopic rendering is actually something the original Descent 2 could do, too. So in a sense, D2X-XL is just offering the original game's "look" here as well. What is more, D2X-XL is able to give you the same or a better multiplayer gaming experience than the original game: Multiplayer levels built specifically for D2X-XL can support up to 16 players in a match. D2X-XL also offers fun multiplayer modes from Descent 3, like Monsterball and Entropy. D2X-XL stands by your side, even if you are more into a classic team based multiplayer experience like CTF. The original game's CTF implementation was lackluster and half-baked. D2X-XL fixes that and provides a full blown CTF mode the way you are used to have it from other popular 3D shooters like Quake or Unreal.

The only price you have to pay are some extra downloads (actually only of which is mandatory: The resampled and improved game sounds). Even when installing the game (on Windows), D2X-XL will do most of the work for you. You just need to drop it in your main Descent folder and launch it, and D2X-XL will create all the extra folders it needs, giving you the file structure for adding additional high resolution content for D2X-XL, like models or textures.

So please stop differentiating D2X-XL and Rebirth by their ability to maintain the original look and feel. Actually that's not what makes them different. The difference are all the extras you can have with D2X-XL, if you - and nobody else - want to.

You decide. ;)
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Re: The "original look and feel"

Postby darkflamewolf » Thu Jul 03, 2014 2:51 am

Ignore all 'dem haters Diedel. You do good work. :drink:
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Re: The "original look and feel"

Postby Alter-Fox » Thu Jul 03, 2014 12:40 pm

There's this ridiculous attitude among a big part of the Descent community where they're obsessed with the lack of graphics. These... peculiar creatures... seem to believe that complex graphics automatically mean a game is shallow in all other ways.
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Re: The "original look and feel"

Postby karx11erx » Thu Jul 03, 2014 1:10 pm

Let's see what these have to say about Sol Contingency. 8)

I can imagine them going all schizophrene over it. :P
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Re: The "original look and feel"

Postby Sirius » Sat Jul 05, 2014 11:29 pm

Yeah, absolutely. I expect Sol Contingency to cause a split in opinions - not just because it looks different but because it's all but guaranteed not to play exactly the same. All I personally ask is that it's close - closer than D3 was for sure - but past that we'll have to see.

Advanced graphics present a few challenges - mostly because they tend to change the rules on things related to visibility. If you've got lots of glow effects and specular lighting, what you're seeing is more "busy" and it gets harder to quickly tell where a ship is behind all those effects, etc. With careful visual design many games still make sure it's easy to tell at a glance what you're looking at (Starcraft 2 is the first one I can think of though it may not be the best example in the genre).

But, it's still different, and for fairness you really want every player in the game to have most/all of that stuff to prevent undue advantages. For Sol Contingency, that's not a problem. It's also not too much of a problem for D2X-XL in one sense, as it generally gets played as its own game, not mixed in with other versions like Rebirth (partly because you can't, of course). There is still some variability in who has which effects enabled - e.g. smoke can slow down systems significantly, but if you turn it off you can see things other players can't. Lightmaps are more subtle - again I usually play without them so I can load levels faster, but that changes what the lighting looks like because the level's in-built lighting could be pretty much arbitrary depending what the level designer did with it.

I imagine for the "serious" games like ladder matches, that could become a point of contention. I think the main block is a mental one though; ladder players like to know exactly what they're getting, and they understand their version (it's a mod of a mod - long story) pretty well since it resembles what they've played for years and is never really anything but that. D2X-XL is more complicated so it's a harder sell, and I suspect many of the people concentrating on being the best 1v1 player may see it as an "unnecessary distraction" - most of them play D1 most of the time too...

For other things, like CTF, co-op or just regular FFA anarchy, that's where I think the better opportunity is. XL's advances are wholly welcome in co-op especially, as long as it still feels stable to the players - they don't want the game to crash, or weird netplay bugs to creep in. That's where the last couple months' changes are really going to help... one of the more regular co-op players I know is still saving up for a new computer but once he makes it, fingers crossed I can get him to play Anthology some. :mrgreen: He'd probably like to see Pumo Mines too.

I have heard from a number of people who just don't want "all that extra 'stuff'". I'm not sure how stubborn they are about that belief. I know that you can turn that "extra stuff" off, so maybe if I walk them through that it might yield some more useful feedback.
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Re: The "original look and feel"

Postby karx11erx » Sun Jul 06, 2014 12:57 am

Well put. :thumb:

The funny thing about the "extra stuff" that all of it (and much more) is just plain standard in all games since 1999.
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Re: The "original look and feel"

Postby Alter-Fox » Sun Jul 06, 2014 1:27 am

Not only more visual clutter, there's more "physical" clutter when you have a more detailed environment. Descent and Descent 2 never had that (D3 had a bit but not to the same level). A physical environment like that definitely changes the way the game plays compared to a very bare environment like D2, especially where cover is concerned.
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Re: The "original look and feel"

Postby darklord42 » Sun Jul 06, 2014 1:32 am

I have said it before and I will say it again, if a "pure" experience is all what you want, go with dosbox. Projects like Rebirth, which do little more then let the game run natively are superfluous as the game already runs just fine on most obscure systems. Dosbox does all that and gives the users some nice options in terms of sound/graphics hardware from the day. Especially when your graphics improvements amount to little more then just scalers anyway. It tunnels ipx network over the internet just fine and emulate the serial/modem connection if you prefer. That goes the same with a lot of the Doom ports which emphasize "classic". What I want from an open source project is to do a lot more then just run natively, I want them to actually improve the engine. Make it so I can make better level geometry, more interesting maps, new game types. Perhaps some decent level editors! Let me put in new textures, and or models. There are plenty of projects that do this. Some I can name off my head: Alephone (Marathon), eduke32 (duke nukem 3d), FSO (freespace 2), Zandronum (Doom), probably some others I'm forgetting.
Last edited by darklord42 on Sun Jul 06, 2014 1:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The "original look and feel"

Postby karx11erx » Sun Jul 06, 2014 1:34 am

It is pretty clear that anarchy and ctf games will probably not be played with D2X-XL - which is a pity at least regarding CTF as D2X-XL offers a real CTF mode and not the half-baked one the original game has. D2X-XL also doesn't force any visual improvements on its users: You can chose whichever features you like (e.g. CTF), and turn off all others.

Making coop with D2X-XL work again is one of my main concerns right now, because coop really is fun with D2X-XL. Just think of the great huge D2X-XL specific single player missions available. Some of them you don't even want to play alone (I have heard the term "legendary difficulty" in connection with Boiling Point ... :roll: ).
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Re: The "original look and feel"

Postby Alter-Fox » Sun Jul 06, 2014 3:34 am

Yah I had to delete the hxms from the hog just to get to the (awesome!) ending :P.
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Re: The "original look and feel"

Postby karx11erx » Sun Jul 06, 2014 9:54 am

I won't. People should play a game the way they want to, because the game's purpose should be to make them have fun (whatever that means for them), not force the dev's concept of having fun on them.

If you want to rebalance Boiling Point, go ahead. It's really a bit over the edge. :twisted:
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Re: The "original look and feel"

Postby Weyrman » Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:35 am

then call it "Simmering Point" :jump:
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Re: The "original look and feel"

Postby karx11erx » Sun Jul 06, 2014 3:20 pm

:lolol:

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