Fractalus 1.x: ideas for future updates

reflame
Posts: 33
Joined: 2014-Sep-05 03:38

Several views

Post by reflame » 2022-Apr-29 01:54

Michael, your post reminds me of one of my ideas that I haven't posted yet: After some upgrade of his ship, the player could be allowed to switch between several views, for example camera behind the ship, bird's perspective etc.

It would be interesting to see the shape and size and relative position of Valkyrie compared to mountains, crashed ships etc. Now I can only roughly estimate it from the shadow.

reflame
Posts: 33
Joined: 2014-Sep-05 03:38

Randomly changing aliens

Post by reflame » 2022-Apr-29 02:38

I will write something more about the aliens: The current alien is imho only scary when it is dark (at night, dawn or dusk) or when I forget to mentally "brace" against the scare. I think it took Luke an enormous labour to do it as it is now, but still it seems to me like a plush toy. I would like it to grimace believably, but it would imho require the facial skin to move believably, otherwise alien's face seems as if is made of a very (really very) thick, hard and inflexible skin which makes it a bit "impersonal".

But maybe it would be too much labor, I don't know. I suppose that even high-budget epic films (like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars prequel trillogy) could not create CGI characters with believable moving of face skin before this was achieved by a ground-breaking technology used in Avatar film (for example in Star Wars III in the dramatic scene when the soldiers start to shoot Jedies, there are CGI characters which seem very unnatural to me in this respect, not convincig as living, breathing believable beings...) - so I have no idea whether making the face a bit believeable and grimacing can be feasible for a solo effort of one person with other commitments. I have no idea.

IMHO the original alien was extremely cleverly done artistically: who has seen a photo, he might ask "you call this scary??" But aliens's grimacing face full of teeth... Its moving and winging eyes, focused at me, full of self-confidence and intense hatred... The alien scare haunted me for years; I did not _remember_ these details but they certainly have a HUGE credit for the total effect... So the artists of the original game has imho done a wanderful job, but their task was much simpler than Luke's, because their alien had far less frames per second and far smaller pixel resolution than Luke's graphics.

Randomly generated features of aliens
Now I will suppose that making the fist impact more believable and making grimaces with moving skin would be too much labor - and so I will suggest something else: The alien scare is imho decreased by the fact that I know exactly what is going to happen, what I am going to see if the pilot turns out to be an alien. To counter that, the remake could have random changes. For example sometimes the alien will be shifted much to the side, sometimes it will jump less high, sometimes it will hit the glass from a greater proximity (his T-shirt will almost touch the glass) than other times; sometimes it will be overall bigger or smaller, or maybe deformed by a linear transformation (x->1.3*x, y->y). Sometimes the leap can be from longer distance (and take longer time)... I don't know: maybe such a long leap, if the graphics is done cleverly, could have an intensity, that the player would almost have a feeling that something (the alien or its fist) will fall through the monitor and hit him.

I don't know how much labor it would be to create several monstrously mutilated versions. Or it could have (with some random probability) horn(s), three possible shapes, many random colors and very different size. And (more or less independently on this), some aliens would have striking spots, scaring scar, disgusting blisters/ulcers - again: the shape randomly chosen independently on the color etc.

And something that could probably take less effort (but I am a programmer of algorithms with very little knowledge of graphics) and yet fulfill the goal nicely: Various parts of the alien (eyes, face, hands, shirt...) could have random colors (each part would, of course, have a different random formula because some colors are less suitable for eyes than for the skin etc...)

And as my experience is that the alien is more scary when it is dark, I try to think up how to use this if it is a day in the game. I don't know. Perhaps some aliens could have a color similar to the background mountains, maybe something like a mimicri. I don't know what would work.

And once the sound is added, it could also be randomly chosen from several possibilities. Lion road once, dramatic music other times, or sometimes with no sound effect...

Alternative ideas
I can imagine several reasons why these idea can be refuted: Faithfulness to the original game and the background information found in the manual (or maybe elsewhere). Or maybe it would be A BIT more scary if I did not know what to expect, but it would look VERY funny and ridiculous, degrading the game to something like a "cheap comics". Maybe the increase of the scare would not last long, because the player will get accustomed to what he can expect. (This could be dealt with by assigning some of the possible features a very little probability of occurence...)

Maybe the right way to increase the jump scare is to make the player more tense by making alien's damage cumulative. Or by forcing the player to use much attention, for example by making the "evil" aliens visually very (but less and less with the difficulty level) distinguishable from "good" defectors that must be taken on the board. Or making some aliens knock the airlock with a sound very (but less and less with the difficulty level) distinguishable from pilot's knocking... Etc.

I don't know which of these ideas are reasonable. Maybe most of them are crazy and infeasible, but let's consider this a brainstorming where even crazy ideas are allowed.

Jammer777
Posts: 1
Joined: 2022-Apr-16 13:04

Re: Fractalus 1.x: ideas for future updates

Post by Jammer777 » 2022-May-23 12:29

Awesome game, only two small things would make it perfect...
Both are related to sounds:

1. Making the alien make a loud, scary sound when he pops up. It is supposed to be scary and right now it's totally silent.

2. Making the airlock knocking sound a lot louder and more obvious, like on the Atari 8-bit. I can hardly hear it right now. The sound itself could be a lot more stacatto sounding and the volume should be a lot higher.

Thank you for all your effort making this great remake. It's amazing!

reflame
Posts: 33
Joined: 2014-Sep-05 03:38

Re: Fractalus 1.x: ideas for future updates

Post by reflame » 2022-May-23 14:29

You are right, but on the other hand, imho the need to focus attention (to hear the airlock) adds to the game thrill...
Reflame

Loafmeister
Posts: 31
Joined: 2016-Jan-11 15:54

Re: Fractalus 1.x: ideas for future updates

Post by Loafmeister » 2022-May-25 09:44

Some very good ideas here (talk about detail!). Well done, amazing read!

reflame
Posts: 33
Joined: 2014-Sep-05 03:38

Re: Fractalus 1.x: ideas for future updates

Post by reflame » 2022-Jun-24 20:02

Thanks, Loafmeister :D :D :D

Today I've encountered a small, probably hard-to reproduce bug in version 1.0.0 : When a pilot (actually an alien) was approaching, something hit me (very probably a saucer) and threw me away. But I was hearing steps and so I decided to wait for the pilot. The pilot with white helmet came near and then he stopped moving although he was making steps (moving feet and body). So I said: Cool, what now in this deadlock? But a short while later, an alien jumped at me, but the pilot was stil there.

And an easily reproducible bug which I have sent Luke by email some time ago: If I hit "return to the mother ship" while an alien is knocking at me, the alien does not vanish, it is there during the whole return sequence... "Alien in mothership" :-)

reflame
Posts: 33
Joined: 2014-Sep-05 03:38

Unrealistic aiming

Post by reflame » 2022-Jun-25 15:25

Hi all,

Today I played again and I was again reminded of something I have see often: Sometimes it is pretty hard to hit a very close turret, but at high distances, it is (relatively) very easy; the turret explodes even if my missile imho clearly misses it.

I find it very hard to believe that the game honestly bases the hit/miss decision by a defined distance between the turret and flying missile (that it: a distance of a point from a line) that triggers the explosion.

I think this definition of hit would be the only honest definition, that it is the only realistic approach (even in case that the game approximates it somehow because it is infeasible to calculate it exactly). But under such definition, the "angular margin of error" when aiming at very distant turrets should be extremely low. But that is not what I observe. So I think that the game is more benevolent in evaluating hits against distant targets than against nearby targets. Am I right, Luke, please?

I think it is not only unrealistic, it also allows an easy winning strategy: In my experience the player starts in an area with a particularly high density of turrets (and probably also pilots). So I must quickly fly away, maybe shoot a few turrets before the following strategy can be applied, but then: I will slowly fly high to see all turrets from afar. When I see one, I decrease the speed to zero and destroy the turret.

In my experience, this strategy is incredibly easy compared with any other that I tried. But it is much less fun than the one I used before: trying to sneak through the canyons to minimize exposure, and trying to to perform actions (evasion, destruction of nearby turrets and rescuing the pilots) as quickly and efficiently as possible while I am often under heavy fire. When I have destroyed (almost) all turrets, I can rescue the pilots without hurry, with no threat present.

So in my opinion this feature of 1.0.0 remake is not only grossly unrealistic, but also offers an easy winning strategy, one that is not so much fun, thrilling and enjoyable. So I propose that this should be dealt with. I think it is the second biggest enjoyment killer. The most serious one is imho that the first minutes are very tense (destroying turrets and racing against energy loss from enemy fire), but then it is just a tedious, almost civilian mission to load the required number of pilots. That is my experience, what is your one?

Pavel

reflame
Posts: 33
Joined: 2014-Sep-05 03:38

Unrealistic aiming

Post by reflame » 2022-Jun-25 15:25

And that reminds me:

I suspect that the original game (and maybe even the remake?) had to devise a very clever fractal algorithm which gave a realistic impression of flying over irregularly structured mountains, even though it DID NOT HONESTLY work with the 3D model of reality (graphics done by a calculation of 3D points, angles etc.), because this honest attitude would be too hard in terms of processor speed.

So I am very curious: how much is that true? Can someone give me a link to any article about the fractal or graphics algorithm used in (original or remake) Fractalus, please?

And can it be that this gross discrepancy in aiming nearby/far targets is an inevitable consequence of this fractal algorithm which does not fully work with the 3D realistic model?

Thanks.
Pavel

reflame
Posts: 33
Joined: 2014-Sep-05 03:38

Unrealistic aiming

Post by reflame » 2022-Jun-25 15:32

Or is this discrepancy deliberate to allow the player to shoot at very distant turrets with an angular margin of error big enough to make for the fact that the ship heading cannot be controlled by the player absolutely smoothly?

I don't know if it is caused by slow computer, but I think not: I observe that the game accepts the commands in "quantums": The inclination change (or heading change) caused by "left arrow" (etc.) depends on the length of this key being pressed, but this dependency is not fine. If I hold the key for ca. 0.2 seconds, then the ship makes a small heading change. If I press it for ca. 0.4 seconds, then it makes a change several times bigger. But there is nothing in between. (If I hold it for a very short time, no course change happens at all.)

So in my opinion this is a very coarse control; I would like a finer one and I believe it should be achievable, when I see how fine the displayed movement of hills is (I estimatee it is more than 10 frames per second). So I would certainly welcome a finer control and less forgiving shooting to distant turrets.

reflame
Posts: 33
Joined: 2014-Sep-05 03:38

Re: Fractalus 1.x: ideas for future updates

Post by reflame » 2022-Jun-25 15:51

And when we speak about the margin of error in aiming: I think that destroying the vacant crashed ships is easier than it should be; if I am near and I shoot in a very loosely the reasonable direction, I destroy it. (With a beautifully strong explosion, I like that :lol: )

It is often easier to take off, aim the nose down and keep shooting than to try to aim - I mean to estimate the position of the smoking vacant crashed ship hidden behind a small hill and to pilot in such a way that I get it into sight.

I propose this difficulty should be increased at least a little bit (or maybe very much).

Now someone can tell me that this change is not compatible with what I said somewhere: That I like how vulnerable the crashed ships WITH pilots are to accidental proximity kills when I try to destroy a nearby turret and do not aim (at least a bit) carefully.

I think that to satisfy both these considerations, the difficulty (required aiming precision, whose increasing will decrease the chance of uninteded hits) should be kept the same for ships with the pilot, but should be significantly increased for vacant ships. I think there are several ways how to explain that this is realistic, for example:

a) Life organisms can be killed far more easily than a crashed ship can be blown up, and therefore a far less exact (precisely aimed) "proximity hit" can kill the downed pilot (which is represented by the destruction of pilot's ship) destroy the pilot than a proximity kill needed to destroy the vacant ship.

b) The energy replenishment upon rescuing a pilot can hardly be explained in a different way than that the pilot carries a significant amount of fuel. So let's say that if the pilot is still in the crashed ship, then the ship contains a lot of highly combustible (flammable) liquid which can be brought to explosion by a "proximity hit" far less exact (far more distant) than a proximity hit needed to destroy the vacat ship made of ultra-solid titan&duranium armor...

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