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Star Trek Gaming => Star Trek: Online (MMORPG) => Technical Info & Artwork => Topic started by: Zach on 01 March 2008 03:40 PM

Title: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Zach on 01 March 2008 03:40 PM
Alot of MMORPGs that i have played over the years have had loading screens and such when you switch from one area to another - matrix online is good recent example. You would get a loading screen from one district of the city to another.

I think that in todays world, we have more than enough computing power and technology to ensure seamless enviroments in STO. I am talking about beaming from your ship down to a planet with no waiting time, just the 5 to 10 second transporter effect/cycle - i am talking about manually taking your shuttle into the atmosphere of a planet and flying it down to the planet surface with no loading or transition screens. I am talking about the demise of the long lived and much hated loading screen where you have to wait 2 freakin minutes for your computer to load the next enviroment.

We have enough technology to make it happen.

What does everyone else think?!?! Are my needs a part of tomorrows world?!
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: BLZBUB on 01 March 2008 05:46 PM
 I hope you are right here Zach, and we can have a seamless environment. Waiting for things to load is, imo, a crappy way to run a game in todays technology. And, by the time ST:O does launch, we will be a year ahead of our current computing tech., so I fail to see why seamless transitions would not be implemented!
 Just for example,say, when you take a shuttle out of your ship, as the bay doors open...the outside environment loads along the edges of the opening doors. And as you enter the atmosphere, there could be cloud layers that you pass through, which are hiding the terrain loading as you descend! Things along those lines are easily accomplished with right-now tech. and should certainly be implementable by 12 to 18 months from now.
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Botany Bay on 01 March 2008 06:07 PM
I agree with BLZBUB. Its absolutely possible to make the universe look and feel seamless when the transitions are made in a clever way: Turbolifts, Transporters, Shuttleflight, Public Transportation, Warp Transfer, Wormholes...

All this can serve as a highly sophisticated loading screen, that makes you totally forget what it actually is: A nice distraction during loading times.
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Random Redshirt on 01 March 2008 06:09 PM
I would like to see STO be as seamless as possible, but in some cases that may not be practical, so loading screens may be necessary, but I would like them to be used only for seperating things like instanced areas in WoW were or whatever the case may be. I don't want to see a loading screen every time I cross a sector, or jump to warp or something.
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Zach on 01 March 2008 06:11 PM
Quote
when you take a shuttle out of your ship, as the bay doors open...the outside environment loads along the edges of the opening doors. And as you enter the atmosphere, there could be cloud layers that you pass through, which are hiding the terrain loading as you descend!

Thats the kinda thing i meant acutally, i just didnt have time to expand as much as i wanted to.

Of course there is still going to be loading involved, but as long as you make the loading occur in a dynamic enviroment where you can still do stuff, the issue of loading screens becomes irrelevant.

People hate static loading screens cos you just have to sit there and wait, there is nothing you can do.

I hope they will implement it.

I am curious, how is loading handled in game likes WOW? Anyone know?
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Random Redshirt on 01 March 2008 06:13 PM
I am curious, how is loading handled in game likes WOW? Anyone know?

Loading generally only occurs when going into an area that is "dedicated" such as a battleground, and instance or a raid dungeon. It also occurs if jumping between the continents via ships and zepplins. Otherwise, your journey within a continent is seamless.
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Sarevok on 01 March 2008 07:23 PM
Quote
I am curious, how is loading handled in game likes WOW? Anyone know?
In Guild Wars, when you go to any other area than the one you're in now (leaving/entering a town, entering the next area of a mountain range, traveling to another continent) you get a loading screen. When you've recently (as in, during the last hour) been in that area it takes only a few seconds, if you've been there longer ago, or worse: never, it can take a few minutes.
Mind you, these times are on my computer, wich only just makes the minimum system requirements.

I think seemless loading is great, but may not be always practical. High-end computers can probably manage seamless loading, but what if you're playing on a computer wich barely meets the requirements? I think they would start lagging whenever the player even comes near a new area. For this reason I suggest that maybe you could have a setting wich allows you to choose wich to use, something like:

[ ] Use seamless loading (the area you are approaching will load in the background)
[ ] Use a loading screen (any new area you enter won't begin loading untill you actually enter, and you will see a loading screen till it's fully loaded (greatly increases performance on slow computers))
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Botany Bay on 01 March 2008 08:02 PM

I think seemless loading is great, but may not be always practical. High-end computers can probably manage seamless loading, but what if you're playing on a computer wich barely meets the requirements? I think they would start lagging whenever the player even comes near a new area.

Not forcingly because the clever made transitions can be made as fast or slow as needed by your computer. You have a slow computer, then your turbolift-transitions need a few seconds longer and so do the shuttlecraft entries into a planets atmosphere or the warptransfers.
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Sarevok on 01 March 2008 09:26 PM
Yeah, but if you're going about it that way, you would basically be replacing a loading screen by a loading video clip, is that what you're suggesting?
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: MrJuliano on 01 March 2008 09:27 PM
I think WoW's solution is probably pretty similar to what we'll see in STO. Unless you are going somewhere very far away instantly, you won't see loading screens. When just traveling through the world, you'll seamlessly go from shard to shard with no interruption.

Most likely, we'll see them when beaming down to an away mission, or beaming up from one, or if we have some sort of "transport hub" that goes from one place in the galaxy to another instantly.
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Starbear on 01 March 2008 11:04 PM
Personaly I think computers as they are, are not ready for seamless worlds. Ok now that I got the brunt of my stance out I'm going to back it up with some examples.

I've noted that in game development its less about seamless vs. zoned, and the real argument is massive enviornment vs. detailed enviornment. You see in the past I've noted the games that have zones generaly have a higher ammount of detail in them, little things that help the world feel more like a real world rather than a game.

I'll use SWG as an example, SOE chose to go with a seamless world for SWG (aside from going from planet to planet) in the end this lead to a bland feeling Star Wars world. I think the two strongest examples of this are the city of Theed (Capital of Naboo) and Coronet (Captial of Corillia). Both cities are ment to be very big and very detailed, Theed is amazing large and very styalized as if it was a northern italian city. When you get into SWG you find a collection of copy-paste houses built around major POIs such as the Palace of Theed, and the Starport where some of the fights of SW:Ep1 happened. In the end all it does is make the world feel small and uninspired. If they had used zones they would have been able to create a massive ammount of detail, and guide the players to areas of high detail. POIs would have been more interesting as the PC isn't loading the whole region at once but rather just the POI, so walking around Theed Palace would have felt more like the movies, instead it had no furniture and was mainly just one hall way which isn't how it was portrayed in the movies.

Coronet is another exmaple, in books and other games Coronet is like a matrapolis, with cars flying around it and a vast system of monorail like trains. In SWG you got a collection of skyscrapers and a star port. There were no roads leading out of the city, no monorail like trains which seem to be in all the books and in many of the games that feature the location. It just felt like they painted the ground to look like sidewalk and ploped a few buildings and called it a day. The area had a lack of detail because your computer was forced to load everything around the city as well. If it had been zone based the detail of the city may have been much higher.

Now thats not to say that you can't have the feel of a vast and open space, games like Anarchy Online, World of Warcraft, and Lord of the Rings Online have proven that its possible even with a zone based system. I worry about "seamless" games because they do tax hardware a bit more, and having zones generaly means a higher level of detail. Personaly I'd deal with a 10-20 second or so load screen if it ment that the world of trek seemed more realistic.
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Falin on 01 March 2008 11:16 PM
seemless loading, what does that mean? well make it that a player doesn't realize he's going through a loading screen. for instance, since it's easier to understand and imagine, I'll use a star gate reference.


Imagine inStargate, the person enters a stargat, while they're loading the loading screen they see is the wormhole effect, when the sceen's finaly loaded, they see themselves walking out the new gate. now transpose this idea to Startrek, in space, a shuttle launching from a shuttle bay should flow easily out. hiw do we acomplish this? well we make the shuttle door opening the loading screen, player wait for doors to open and then suddenly they're fuly loaded without even knowing a loadinga ction took place. same for planetary atmospheric landings, the player would see the fireball around the shuttle until they finish loading the planet, then seamlessly break through the fireball into clear atmosphere.

As for transporters, obviously, the transporter effect is the loading screen deal/
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Bajoran Berrie on 01 March 2008 11:47 PM
seemless loading, what does that mean? well make it that a player doesn't realize he's going through a loading screen. for instance, since it's easier to understand and imagine, I'll use a star gate reference.


Imagine inStargate, the person enters a stargat, while they're loading the loading screen they see is the wormhole effect, when the sceen's finaly loaded, they see themselves walking out the new gate. now transpose this idea to Startrek, in space, a shuttle launching from a shuttle bay should flow easily out. hiw do we acomplish this? well we make the shuttle door opening the loading screen, player wait for doors to open and then suddenly they're fuly loaded without even knowing a loadinga ction took place. same for planetary atmospheric landings, the player would see the fireball around the shuttle until they finish loading the planet, then seamlessly break through the fireball into clear atmosphere.

As for transporters, obviously, the transporter effect is the loading screen deal/

i think falin is completely right here, small pieces of video linkage would be best to disguise the loading process. proper seamless loading would i think be too taxing on non-high spec machines. and alienating the non super intensive gamer means a smaller community which ultimately means the game probably wont be as good.
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Botany Bay on 02 March 2008 05:11 PM
Yeah, but if you're going about it that way, you would basically be replacing a loading screen by a loading video clip, is that what you're suggesting?

Yes and no:

Imagine a transition from one huge zone to another huge zone with a little instance in between, that loads pretty fast. This instance is small enough to make your computer not suffer from heavy lag while it loads the next huge zone, but this instance is still big enough to allow you some little actions. Nothing big, but big enough to make you forget, that this instance is actually nothing more then an animated loading screen - a loading instance, so to speak.

Lets say you transfer from deck 12 to deck 21 on a huge spacestation. The turbolift would be such a very small instance.
Or you leave the huge zone of the ship with your shuttlecraft and transfer to the games space content zone (the orbit of your ship). The instance would be your shuttlecraft. You can launch the start sequence. The main window does not really show you the shuttlebay, but an animation that looks exactly like the shuttlebay you leave.
When you make your shuttle land and you transfer from the space zone to the atmosphere zone your shuttle becomes an instance again. Actually your avatar is transfered from your shuttle to an instance, that looks exactly like your shuttlecraft, you dont even realize the difference. In this instance you only see clouds through your window.

Hope that cleared it up a bit.
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Zach on 05 March 2008 05:28 AM
I guess i just want STO to be immersive - and the idea of a loading screen appearing on the screen for even a second, only serves to remind you that you are not immersed in Star Trek - or at the very least, it breaks that sense of immersion for a few seconds.

When i am playing STO, for that period of time, i want to be entirely in Star Trek. I dont want to be reminded of the real world by a stupid loading screen! No no NO! For those 2 or 3 hours, or 30 mins, i want to be in Star Trek without interuption - I wanna "live" that life.

Hope i am making sense lol. Maybe im just tired..... :O  :ilovestartrek:
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Kinneas on 12 March 2008 06:17 PM
You always have to break away from the illusion at some time...but while in it...try and make the illusion as complete as possible.

Anything that could pop up at any time and say 'loading'  pushes one away from the illusion.
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Random Redshirt on 12 March 2008 07:17 PM
Heck, we could always go to commercial! That's what they did on the shows afterall.

:P
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Nova on 12 March 2008 07:24 PM
Heck, we could always go to commercial! That's what they did on the shows afterall.

:P

Thats True, all though personally I would rather not experience any loading screens and I we did, then It would have to be so transparent to the game that one wouldnt notice anyway.
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Botany Bay on 12 March 2008 08:29 PM
Heck, we could always go to commercial! That's what they did on the shows afterall.

:P

Haha, did we finally find a way for a play-for-free game? Comercial brakes?

Even if the game is for free, comercial brakes in an MMO would be the most silly thing I would have ever seen.
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Bin hawkins on 05 April 2008 06:57 AM
OK I haven't made a post here in a long time.  It's been a very long time since I've commented on star trek online.  But this certain topic is definitely something that I have to comment on.  The only reason why I've never played and MMO and don't like them very much is because they always have those loadings screens.  I'm a impatient gamer and I don't like having to wait for my game to continue.  Especially if I know it's possible for them to make a game that can be seamless.  I know it's possible.  And here is proof.  It's called infinity: the quest for earth.  It has a seamless engine.  If you program it right and use the right type of technology it's possible to have a massive universe without the lag.  This is how they do it.

They use a technology called Procedural Programming

 I quote

"Procedural Programming  is a technique to let the computer generate the game universe on-the-fly, in real-time on request, rather than manually building everything. Because of this, the generated universe can be absolutely huge. In Infinity, billions of worlds, most of them never explored by any player, are awaiting the adventurous soul." 

end quote

Now isn't that interesting billions of worlds they say.  Most of them never explored by any player.  Now that sounds like star trek if I ever heard it.  But of course this game is not star trek it is infinity.  Oh and that seamless space two ground you're talking about they did it.  And not by hiding the loading window.

 And I quote again

"Infinity's engine features a completely seamless experience. You can fly in space and land on planets.. without any loading times or unnatural transitions." 

End quote

your guyses ideas were pretty good I have to put it that way but these guys have you beat.  Not to sound hostile of course. here is a video of it in action.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCzDKj3hjOE So if say they use the Infiniti engine in star trek online which I doubt.  You can take :shuttle: to the surface land it and take off again and land :shuttle: in your :Constitution: whenever however you want to.  This is the kind of game play a I'm expecting for star trek online.  But I doubt I'll get it.  Another one was real time combat.  You know halfing to go and get buffs to have a fight.  I can see that now you walk into a bar and ask another player hey you wanna go get some buffs.  Kind of reminds me of drugs.  No in My perfect star trek online they would use real-time combat instead of a bunch of numbers on your computer.  So you can take your :kill: and shoot a :wink: whenever you want and wherever you want say in the bar.  Start a brawl you know fun stuff like that.  Anether thing that I really want in this game is to be able to lookout the main window of a docking bay and see one of my friends looking out of a window on his :Constitution: pulling out of the station.  In a zoned game this is not possible as he would've had to been rendered.  That's one of the things I kinda liked about star wars galaxies as you go walking around your ship say you're luxury yacht you can look out the window and see the planet you're in orbit, of and if someone's piloting the ship you can actually watch things fly by.  Another thing that a zoned game cannot do.  Don't call me an infinity freak. but I just think that what they're doing over there is what should be being done to star trek online. star trek online cannot be made in a traditionally manner as it is not your everyday science fiction show.  I also think that they should take in mind real sizes and distances another thing that infinity is doing

I quote again

"Unlike most other games, Infinity respects the relative scales and distances one could find in space. Realistic orbits are used, and planets move in real-time. Many systems have multiple suns, with a complete hierarchy of celestial bodies orbiting around each other. You will find moons and asteroids in orbit of larger planets, themselves orbiting the sun(s)."

End quote. 

Essentially I guess really all I want is a star trek simulator.  Which I bet is what your warning zack a star trek simulator.  That's what we all want right.  Of course we're not gonna get it unless we make it.  I say when infinity comes out we make a star trek mod of it.  Only it doesn't include people walking around and stuff like that.  No extensive starship interiors that could throw a kinky in our operation.  In less they change it which  I doubt.  Ah well I'm done with my rent if you manage to get all the way through this post I congratulate you. :D

this is Bin Hokens sining of :blueshirt:
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: SpeakThoseWords on 23 May 2008 09:20 PM
Perhaps more and more MMOs will "go to commercial" in the future... perhaps you could even offer free or discounted accounts to people who wanted their loading screens to "go to commercial..." that actually sounds kinda cool in a way.

But in all seriousness, I think that Procedural generation is kind of the way to go for ST:O... even before I knew what Procedural Generation was.  I would suggest that the STO Dev team develop all the assets that the plug into their ProceduralGen system, but that some kind of AI should be used to create billions of unexplored planets for all these players.

That said, loading assets takes time, even if you aren't "loading" their arrangement, and as such, I would suggest that minor loading times would still exist, but be small enough to be coverable by those ten second transitions.  I would suggest animated loading screens over mini-instances, because, in theory, you can carry memory-heavy stuff (including other players) with you into your mini instance, ruining its effectiveness as a loading screen.  Much better to stick with some tried and true animations.  Of course, vary them, but I don't think a ten second shuttlecraft sequence, or teleportation sequence will really ruffle to many feathers, especially if the clip comes from the actual show (or SFX team behind ST).

The other GREAT comment was "Massive Environment vs Detailed Environment" to which I say: both.  Or if that sounds too good to be true: Balance.  Obviously, space is massive... and undetailed. Obviously, the vast majority of cities and towns (or used sections) of visited ST planets are small... and can contain great detail.  And you transition between them.  Sounds like a great plan, to me.  I'm not sure that we have to pick between detail and size for the whole game, just for various environments, or at worst, separately for the ship, for planets and for space.
Title: Re: Loading Screens or a Completly Seamless Universe.
Post by: Athos on 23 May 2008 09:27 PM
Definately no loading screens!