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Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

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Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  the_grim on Wed Apr 14, 2010 1:57 am

If any of you haven't heard of Siggraph, it's the biggest computer graphics event in the world, held annually in Los Angeles. There are smaller local events as well, one of which (called "SpringGraph" is being held next week in Helsinki, Finland. Website here if you're interested: http://www.siggraph.fi/main/

Most of the greatest breakthroughs in computer graphics have started as a Siggraph paper. The "content-aware fill" in Photoshop CS5, Digital Emily by ImageMetrics, various realtime HDRI rendering techniques (also utilized in Crysis), and so on. Microsoft labs has showcased its Photosynth algorithm in Siggraph, and Crytek its realtime indirect lighting. Basically, Siggraph is the cutting edge of computer graphics! Smile

As I conveniently live in Helsinki, I'll be attending the event next week. Wink There are some interesting lectures, mostly covering coding-related topics (like the examples above). The main keynote, though is "Making of Alan Wake" by Saku Lehtinen from Remedy. Smile To show off a little more of the benefits of living and studying in Finland, Saku was teaching architectural visualization at our faculty a few years back (he also held a lecture on Max Payne 2 Razz)!

Anyway, I'll be sure to update you guys on the things he talks about in the event. Wink Maybe I get some ideas on where to take our mod...
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Re: Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  Hawkeye|Puppy on Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:16 am

wow that photoshop content aware looks like its going to make texturing the most easy thing on the planet

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Re: Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  the_grim on Sat Apr 24, 2010 5:41 am

OK, I saw the keynote yesterday, and I've just got one word to say... WOW. Shocked

I'm probably gonna have to buy an Xbox 360 just for that game. I'm serious. It looks like it's going to be the best thing ever, and there's absolutely no way we're going to reach that level in our puny little mod. Of course it's absurd to expect that a few hobbyist guys could surpass the quality of a professional studio working for 6 years in the first place, but I'd just like to clarify that it's not going to happen. Wink There are so many things that are just so thoroughly polished in the design of Alan Wake, that we're really going to have to work hard to get anywhere near that experience! Look at this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjNZT9QobIY

On the other hand, we've got one thing for us that Remedy doesn't - we can copy their ideas to use directly in our mod! Razz I've got a lot clearer picture of what the gameplay is going to be like, after seeing the things in the keynote. Some notes:


  • Alan Wake is going to be pretty linear, it's no sandbox game. Story is the most important aspect.
  • The gameplay area is approximately 10km x 10km (there was a map shown of the area, but it's not public. All I could find was this: http://i35.tinypic.com/332ce9h.png)
  • The enemies are called "the Taken". They're basically possessed citizens, who are protected by the "Dark Presence" haunting Bright Falls. The Taken are invulnerable until their shadow armour is worn off by shining a light at them - then they can be killed with conventional weapons. There are also poltergeist events and whatnot.
  • Brightly lit areas are "safe havens", and flares create a temporary "shield" around you. I didn't see any HUD elements in any of the gameplay clips, the safe areas are indicated by flare effects that look natural but are as easy to spot as some "here be safe" arrows on the HUD. Wink


I think most of those elements should be incorporated into our mod as well. What do you think about free-roam vs. story-driven? I heard a rumor on Alan Wake forums that the daytime in AW is more free-roam, and the night consists of linear story missions. I think a story-based game could create some intense moments, and it would be kind of stupid if you can just go around anywhere and casually walk around eg. in a mine area, and then by nightfall it's suddenly a dangerous place...

The Taken are incredibly well designed. Their shadow armor conceals their appearance, making them look pretty much like menacing, dark silhouettes until a light is cast upon them. The effects when the shadow armour wears off and regenerates are very well done and look awesome! Smile Maybe we could try to add an "armour mode" to our enemies, and make the suit effect of the mode be pitch black? The characters are also really well animated, without custom animations changing their posture and movements our enemies are not going to look as menacing as would be desirable. The default "alert slouching" of Crysis characters just doesn't look very good... Sad


OK, some ideas there. The other presentations in yesterday's event were mostly interesting as well, though most of them were more coding-related. There was eg. a presentation by Mikko Mononen, the lead AI programmer in Crysis. Smile
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Re: Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  CrustyDoom on Sat Apr 24, 2010 6:13 am

Really awesome ideas there. I could imagine a dynamic where you must prepare for nightfall and at the same time solve quests during the day. Maybe if you spend to much time questing in daytime you would suffer during nightfall from lack of ammo/medpacks/batteries/whatever.

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Re: Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  Hawkeye|Puppy on Sat Apr 24, 2010 8:26 am

Interesting ideas there grim Wink

I'm just a bit concerned however that if we go completely with the Alan Wake style/gameplay, then anyone who has played Alan Wake will have no reason to play our mod (gameplay wise). I don't really want the mod to be a 'cheap copy' of AW since if we really work hard we could potentially create something haunting and original with the AW feeling when it comes to atmosphere.

Think of it like a cover of a song, a good band would go in and change the song and possibly make it better. A bad cover is an exact copy. I'm in the direction of taking the alan wake style and changing it into our own creation.

I've been thinking of a proof of concept type scene for the last few days.

It starts off with the player riding a motorbike down a road in a forest at night, the player is in control of the camera (or complete control).

The player then turns a corner where a huge tree is across the road.

Because the motorbike is going so fast the player slides it on its side and rolls off as the motorbike is stopped by the tree.

the Player then gets up and brushes them-self off as the motorbike's lights and engine is still on.

they then walk over to the bike with gusts of wind blowing through the trees.

slowly picking the bike up the player turns it around to go back the way they came. A man like figure is standing there in the light of the headlamp.

The player quickly drops the bike and pulls a gun. because the bike is now on the ground the headlamp is pointing towards a tree and the figure must be somewhere in the darkness.

The player pulls out a flashlight and shines it towards where the figure was ready to shoot. Nothing is there...

quickly lifting up the bike the player jumps on and starts speeding off down the way he came, a screaming type sound is heard as something hits the back of the bike. the player managed to get away.

Now speeding the player is flying down the road when they suddenly see a police car up ahead which turns on its lights.

the police car turns around and parks behind where you have stopped. The officer gets our of his car.

The player who is half scared to death gets off his bike to go talk to the office but the officer shouts him to stay on his bike.

There is a snapping sound in the woods to the players right, slowly bringing out his torch the player turns it on in the direction of the sound. A bleak human like face peers back at him from behind a tree. The officer who has walked up to the bike and hasn't seen what the player is looking at starts to ask how fast the player thinks he was going.

The player who is more anxious and frightened now starts to tell the story of what had happened and warn the officer something is 'out there'. The officer replies that the player is probably in shock from the crash and goes back to the car to radio in.

The player starts to move the flashlight back and forth through the wooded area searching for the thing he had seen.

Nothing, nothing is there in the woods. the player sighs with relief.

Strangely the officer has not come back from his car, all the player can see in his wing-mirror is the light inside.

The player decides to get off and slowly walks up to the open door of the car, a dripping sound. the player gets up to the door and looks in only to see the mangled body of the officer.

The player starts to run back towards his bike, screeching sounds echo around him. He stops as a figure is standing infront between him and his bike.

The player draws his gun instantly and fires, the blinding flash makes it impossible to tell if he hit, as his sight quickly returns the figure is gone. The player jumps onto his bike and now sturggles to get it started.

The police siren starts sounding off and on and he can hear footsteps on the roof of the car. Finally the bike starts and the player speed off to the sounds of screeching and the siren behind him.

Fade to black.




So yea that was a small idea i've been running through my head. but anyway I would like to suggest that maybe we all come up with small scenes (in CE2) individually of how we imagine a small section of the mod to feel/ play like. I think it would also help each of us in the creation of horror, since I've never really done a horror gameplay style apart from the odd indoors area that I've never finished so I need practice.

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Re: Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  CrustyDoom on Sun Apr 25, 2010 9:21 am

You should write a novel hawkeye. Razz

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Re: Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  Hawkeye|Puppy on Mon Apr 26, 2010 5:48 am

CrustyDoom wrote:You should write a novel hawkeye. Razz

lol about a player Razz

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Re: Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  CrustyDoom on Mon Apr 26, 2010 6:35 pm

But seriously I could see it all happening as I was reading. Quality stuff. I really like it. I totally agree on the scenes idea. If we have 10 or more scenes like this it would be much simpler to fill in the gaps gameplay/story wise, and would give us a good foundation to start from.

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Re: Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  dfpcmaia on Mon Apr 26, 2010 6:56 pm

Wow i like the story, it seems very interesting and it's a perfect introduction to the mood.. Adding the lines to the script will be fun i guess

anyway, about the video, something that CE2 does A LOT better is facial expressions. You can see how the characters pretty much only have mouth animation (for lip syncing of course) and some very basic eyebrow movement and some blinking. You can see how fake it is at 1:45, 1:48 and 2:28 in the video the_grim showed. Also, some bad shadow glitches in 2:28 and some bad texture work in character's faces and in the scene where alan drops the coffee mug. CE2 -- Well, CE3, would fix all of those problems. But one thing, I'm a bit confused with the deferred lighting in Alan Wake, mostly the blur points sideways but at 1:40 it points vertically? Also in 1:40 there's a small lens glare in the bottom left corner of the screen, I'm not sure if CE3 has lens glare.. One more tiny little thing, can CE3 replicate that during 3:32?

And something I really really really want is awesome sound and music like shown in the video, that's why I'm very picky in music. And Crusty, when creating the music keep an atmosphere with a small melody (like the one that plays during 0:02 - 2:05 and the one that starts playing right after, and the one that starts at 2:56 is pretty good although the singer ruins it), and for intense music (although not creepy intense) you could use the one that starts during 2:42..

And WOW. That was an AMAZING trailer. It is very polished, after SIX YEARS right? Damn... Anyway, how long is our mod going to be? 5 hours or 20 hours? Because if we keep at a reasonable time then we could (dare I say) polish it as well as Remedy.
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Re: Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  the_grim on Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:44 am

Due to limitations of the console platform, in Alan Wake things such as textures, shaders (skin SSS) etc are of course below the quality in Cryengine 2. Crysis has a powerful facial animation engine, but we need to be able to use it to its full potential, to create cutscenes with believable facial expressions...

The lighting, however, is something that Remedy's in-house engine does very well. That's no surprise, seeing as light is the main element in the gameplay... Razz Deferred lighting surely helps in allowing level designers to place multiple lights - that's something that can seriously cripple some of our ideas when using CE2. CE3, of course, would fix that problem as well. Wink Also the shadow casting is unbelievably good in AW - every tree casts a shadow in every scene, and by sunset the shadows from trees on a hilltop, for example, can become several kilometres long and are still being rendered sharply. I'm not sure if CE3's lighting engine introduces any improvement to that.

The vertical flare dfpcmaia pointed out is a conscious design decision - things like that are used as visual cues for the player to mark "safe havens" (ie. well-lit locations) in the environment. Wink The designers didn't want to use obvious HUD elements for markers like that, and I think it's a great choice!


Oh and a great story, Hawkeye|Puppy! I was thinking something similar but instead of an obvious "monster" mutilating a police officer, I'd go for having the player see an unexplained glimpse of his missing wife, then driving off a cliff or something. Wink The killings would only start more slowly, further in the story.
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Re: Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  dfpcmaia on Tue Apr 27, 2010 4:21 pm

oh, we also need to discuss the whole fear system thing, since no one started it and I'm getting a bit too anxious, I'm gonna TRY to do something very very simple. But I kind of don't know how to do it. But in theory this is what we would have to:

- DAMAGE AND HEALTH: create some kind of double healthbar for enemies, we could base these guys off the nk nanosuit guys, because we could have their energy bar be their health against light and once their energy bar reaches zero their health bar would be exposed for us to shoot them!
- LIGHT AS A WEAPON: I was thinking maybe we could attach a hazard entity where the light is but it would only affect enemies. But we would have to add the hazards to each independent light.
- FEAR SYSTEM: So ok, we need two variables for this one: 1. The amount of enemies near the player. 2. The amount of lights near the player. I'm not sure how we are going to approach this but I'm sure with the proper math nodes in the flowgraph this is doable. And, depending on the result of both variables we could add the desired effects like the player shaking, the heart beating sound, etc.
- A.I: Well, since there is a great variety of enemies here, and as seen in alan wake some of them throw things and engage in melee combat (as long as they dont have guns, but never seen one of those dark zomibe people holding guns) we would have to use the "throw grenade" animation (as a placeholder until we have new animations) when they throw things.
- EFFECTS: The glow the enemies have when their "energy" meter drops to 0, the whole blurry darkness when they are not being attacked by light, and the sparks when they are being attacked by light, and when they disappear after you shoot them..

so, how i was thinking for now we only do the light thing, and the fear system.


Last edited by dfpcmaia on Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:11 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  the_grim on Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:07 pm

Great, someone's actually thinking features through in an organized manner! I've actually been trying to implement the light system, but so far I've only looked into getting the third-person flashlights cast dynamic shadows... Apparently that's hard-coded and needs to be changed in C++ (I know which line to change though). I also looked into the scripts of the flashlight item made by jlim - as it's a weapon (can be held by the player, not an attachment such as LAM), it's using an ammo type, and that could be used to reduce the enemies' suit energy when hit. Wink Regular weapons would then reduce health only if suit energy is zero. Now we need to figure out how to make the suit energy invulnerable to other ammo types... Maybe that can be changed in the LUA scripts, but I'm sure it can also be flowgraphed in if necessary.
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Re: Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  dfpcmaia on Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:36 pm

great, at least someone's at work.

I'm not sure if the double health bar thing is doable on the flowgraph.. Since you didn't mention I assume you either know what to do or you didn't try anything yet. In case you didn't try anything yet I was thinking: I'm not sure how to approach this but to make a double health bar we could simply use one health bar and when it reaches 0.001 or something it resets but this time all ammo types (light ammo not included) work, and when the health bar reaches 0 the enemy dies instead of simply having his health restore (simple logic:once node for that).

Anyway, how exactly does this light ammo type work? Anything inside the light's radius takes damage? Like a Hazard Entity?

When do you think we would see the whole light thing coded?
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Re: Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  CrustyDoom on Sat May 01, 2010 4:41 am

Why not just make every enemy have a nanosuit and use only one suit power as vulnerable to light and health as vulnerable to health? Well of course it's not that simple, but you get the idea.

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Re: Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  dfpcmaia on Sun May 02, 2010 6:37 am

also, does anybody know how to put the hud on top instead of the bottom?
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Re: Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  dfpcmaia on Sun May 02, 2010 4:13 pm

EDIT: Alright! You know how the possessed creatures and sometimes objects look blurry and stuff?? Why not just activating r_motionblurshutterspeed=1 to the console?? It adds the same effect. One tiny little issue though. Any camera movement makes everything blurry and distorted since well, it's a tweak to the motion blur. But is there a way to make that console variable work only on the possessed objects? I'm guessing not but this would certainly give the look we wanted..
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Re: Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  the_grim on Mon May 03, 2010 12:37 am

Xzero has made a motionblur material shader, this could be useful. Wink

The "light ammo" is simply that the flashlight is a weapon that shoots invisible bullets every 0.01 seconds or so.
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Re: Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  dfpcmaia on Wed May 05, 2010 7:08 pm

the_grim wrote:Xzero has made a motionblur material shader, this could be useful. Wink

The "light ammo" is simply that the flashlight is a weapon that shoots invisible bullets every 0.01 seconds or so.

hmm i haven't seen his work yet..

anyway, IGN reviewed Alan Wake already, here's the link: YouTube - Alan Wake Review
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Re: Alan Wake presentation at Siggraph Finland

Post  dfpcmaia on Thu May 06, 2010 2:38 pm

Another review, from GameTrailers:
GameTrailers - Alan Wake Review

Anyway, I think we can use these reviews to our advantage, we need to polish some things more than others, and fix some mistakes.

- Voice work and character development
IGN: Complimented on the character development, saying they are actually better than the absurdness of the plot. They said voice work was just fine.
GameTrailers: Said voice acting was very uneven, and said the same thing about the characters themselves.

- Atmosphere
IGN: Complimented on the sound design, which was perfect. Also said the game knows how to build tension.
GameTrailers: Said the lighting really set the mood. Atmosphere was a highlight of the game. Presentation really sold the game here.

- Gameplay:
IGN: No complaints, they said the combat system was spot on.
GameTrailers: Said that you have to be very strategic when using your flashlight, and using your weapons carefully is key, but didn't really say if the combat system was good or not.

- Story:
IGN: Said it was a bit short, ending was pretty unclear and unfinished (à la Halo 2)
GameTrailers: Also said it was short (said the game lasts about 6-12 hours -- in my opinion REALLY SHORT) and the ending feels like there could be room for more.

- Misc:
IGN: Great experience, fun, and highly recommends it, but is short and has an ending to be desired.
GameTrailers: Excellent use of lighting and sound, which ultimately built the presentation, story is pretty good, recommends it (if you're willing to cough up the money). Said it was overhyped, it lacked the thrills they were expecting to see. Surprisingly the story and design got the lowest score.
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