Dev Blog 21/02/19

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Mount & Blade games have always primarily focused on the core gameplay mechanics over the visual appeal of the game world. And while this is something which remains true for Bannerlord, we have worked extensively on improving the overall visual quality of the game with the aim of making the experience more immersive and enjoyable for players. In this week’s blog, we would like to talk about one of the improvements we are currently working on, which will help to bring battles to life and will give players a real sense of the gritty and brutal nature of warfare.


Read more at: http://www.taleworlds.com/en/Games/Bannerlord/Blog/98
 
Sasquatch247 said:
how is it that 1 man can create a highly complex, graphically pleasing game in the time it has taken a full team of what, 30 people, to not be able to release a single game? Something is not right and there is something that Taleworlds isn't telling us. To my knowledge they have never addressed this fundamental question, why is it taking so long?

Poor management. 1 person who has a vision of how they want a game to be can consult with themselves in a fraction of a second. Meetings and discussions that take hours or even days between groups of people can take a millisecond in your own brain.

Dy6fT85W0AE2qSH.jpg:large

Dy6fUOqWkAAtuku.jpg:large

Dy6fUg4X0AEL55J.jpg:large

I made these trees from scratch in unreal engine in a couple of days. It wasn't that hard. But I had to make loads of tiny changes outside the scope of the trees themselves to make them look this good. If I was just a 3d artist who worked for a supervisor or art lead, I would have to consult him or her, and he or she would have to consult other 3d artists or higher-ups to make sure my changes were feasible, and they would all have to analyse their part of the project to make sure it would work, and this might get taken to meeting after meeting with no immediate result. A decision I could make in an instant would take a group far longer.

This is why group projects are often completely incoherent if they're not tightly managed. Everybody has different ideas of what they want the end result to be, and even if they all follow the art lead, communicating the exact "feel" you're going for artistically or gameplay-wise can be next to impossible.

Look at this:

blog_post_78_taleworldswebsite_03.jpg

There's a giant seam on the shield rim. The colour texture looks like it's been photoshopped to hell and back and now it barely even resembles metal. The helmets don't read like the material they're supposed to depict. The "workflow" (design process) of the woolen coif looks completely different to the other objects, so the lighting baked into the textures is all wrong.
It's glaringly obvious that these objects were all made by different people. I reckon I could quite accurately work out who made what, and that's not a good thing.

In complex multidisciplinary projects, 30 people don't work 30 times as fast as 1 person. Organising labour, especially on creative prrojects, is extremely difficult and the problems therein are fundamental social dilemmas.
 

Terco_Viejo

Spanish Gifquisition
Grandmaster Knight
NPC99 said:
Terco_Viejo said:
As the blog is practically milked and little more can be taken out of it, I would like to ask two questions. One to the Community and one to the developers.

To the Community:
It seems to you the same as to me that with the years (from 2017 to 2019) the light reflection on the metal of armor and weapons is leading to a loss of it, getting a matte result?
yTWtxqFLxKg4k7CKbBcmNm.png

DkPDdb.gif

blog_post_78_taleworldswebsite_02.jpg

It’s impossible to judge shineiness from still screenshots. Look again at the moving blade in your crafting footage, depending on its angle it flashes or dulls down. In motion, the contrasts between light and dark accentuate the shineiness of the metal, but a still screenshot at the wrong moment will look dull.

To the developers:
As Bannerlord contains facial animations applied at the moment of the "shout of victory - outcome of combat", I would be interested to know if these are represented in battle and if you have tried to endow the npc with jaw movement to include them in the heat of battle.

Example: if an enemy comes to kill you, let them come with the face of wanting to kill you, not with the face of filling out a tax form.
CA9ftw.gif
21603.jpeg
jan6M2x.jpg

I wouldn’t ask for this as I’m watching an enemy’s weapon that can hurt me rather than his face. In battle, I’d like any spare processor power to drive up battle size rather than facial animations.

I'm not talking about the brightness, but rather how the metal has lost the quality of reflecting. I think brightness and reflection are two different things...
Thumb14.jpg
Thumb15.jpg
---

FHoWVpu.jpg

min 6:17-6:18

Nor am I asking for information about something crazy, the animation of opening the mouth exists ...
You know NPC99 that I have respect for you and that on many occasions we have agreed with our opinions, however this time I was not looking for a personal opinion ... but rather a comment from an official source if possible.

BIGGER Kentucky James XXL said:
Sasquatch247 said:
how is it that 1 man can create a highly complex, graphically pleasing game in the time it has taken a full team of what, 30 people, to not be able to release a single game? Something is not right and there is something that Taleworlds isn't telling us. To my knowledge they have never addressed this fundamental question, why is it taking so long?

Poor management. 1 person who has a vision of how they want a game to be can consult with themselves in a fraction of a second. Meetings and discussions that take hours or even days between groups of people can take a millisecond in your own brain.

Dy6fT85W0AE2qSH.jpg:large

Dy6fUOqWkAAtuku.jpg:large

Dy6fUg4X0AEL55J.jpg:large

I made these trees from scratch in unreal engine in a couple of days. It wasn't that hard. But I had to make loads of tiny changes outside the scope of the trees themselves to make them look this good. If I was just a 3d artist who worked for a supervisor or art lead, I would have to consult him or her, and he or she would have to consult other 3d artists or higher-ups to make sure my changes were feasible, and they would all have to analyse their part of the project to make sure it would work, and this might get taken to meeting after meeting with no immediate result. A decision I could make in an instant would take a group far longer.

This is why group projects are often completely incoherent if they're not tightly managed. Everybody has different ideas of what they want the end result to be, and even if they all follow the art lead, communicating the exact "feel" you're going for artistically or gameplay-wise can be next to impossible.

Look at this:

blog_post_78_taleworldswebsite_03.jpg

There's a giant seam on the shield rim. The colour texture looks like it's been photoshopped to hell and back and now it barely even resembles metal. The helmets don't read like the material they're supposed to depict. The "workflow" (design process) of the woolen coif looks completely different to the other objects, so the lighting baked into the textures is all wrong.
It's glaringly obvious that these objects were all made by different people. I reckon I could quite accurately work out who made what, and that's not a good thing.

In complex multidisciplinary projects, 30 people don't work 30 times as fast as 1 person. Organising labour, especially on creative prrojects, is extremely difficult and the problems therein are fundamental social dilemmas.

100% agree. This issue is too obvious to look for plausible excuse or denial...
 

Radovan

Recruit
Tbh at this point I'm expecting them to handle the release just like the creators of Rick and Morty with season 3, just release it without a warning on April 1st.
 

fadohacolu

Recruit
I strongly agree with what Sasquatch has to say, except that I believe the issues that are causing the rift in the community will also cause issues with marketing and selling the game. Not because the community here will fail to buy the game (I'm in the former camp, and am impatient and cynical but will almost certainly buy it day one) but because lack of communication is a fundamental issue. It seems to me that TW put Callum in charge of PR, and called it good, maybe taking a few minutes a week to tell him what he's allowed to post about.

TW's extremely passive approach to PR, coupled with degrading graphics, could spell serious issues for the lifespan of the game. I don't care much about graphics (I still play WB, afterall) but many other people do. At the least, someone may pass the game over after seeing a few screenshots.

And to KentuckyJames, I think you make some excellent points, but what is your take on the graphics looking worse than they did years ago? As others have mentioned, metal looks bad now, the sword is flat and wonky in the screenshot, the shield has a clear seam, etc. I don't believe the regression we're seeing is a mere optical illusion from playing newer and prettier games over the past 8 years. Any idea what would cause this or am I actually going crazy?
 
fadohacolu said:
I strongly agree with what Sasquatch has to say, except that I believe the issues that are causing the rift in the community will also cause issues with marketing and selling the game. Not because the community here will fail to buy the game (I'm in the former camp, and am impatient and cynical but will almost certainly buy it day one) but because lack of communication is a fundamental issue. It seems to me that TW put Callum in charge of PR, and called it good, maybe taking a few minutes a week to tell him what he's allowed to post about.

TW's extremely passive approach to PR, coupled with degrading graphics, could spell serious issues for the lifespan of the game. I don't care much about graphics (I still play WB, afterall) but many other people do. At the least, someone may pass the game over after seeing a few screenshots.

And to KentuckyJames, I think you make some excellent points, but what is your take on the graphics looking worse than they did years ago? As others have mentioned, metal looks bad now, the sword is flat and wonky in the screenshot, the shield has a clear seam, etc. I don't believe the regression we're seeing is a mere optical illusion from playing newer and prettier games over the past 8 years. Any idea what would cause this or am I actually going crazy?

I hate to speculate but because of Taleworld's blatant lack of transparency it's the only way we can try and reason what is happening.

I think this game was in dev hell for awhile, for a reason that they likely will never tell, and as a result a lot of cuts were made. Things like castles being a part of towns, ambushes, castle/town building, joining the cool little small factions, all have been dropped, as well as other features that were meant to differentiate Bannerlord from Warband. Even textures seem to be of lesser quality and rushed, and AI seems close to being lobotomized in recent demos. (As we noticed in the gameplay videos and the recent charge gif where the infantry didn't even take out their spears to repel a cavalry charge..)

Something happened and made TW change their vision and ambition for Bannerlord. I think as a result cuts were made to the game to reign in the scale and a new design process was likely put in place to make development faster... At the price of a few features and graphic design choices..
 

fadohacolu

Recruit
Mithril♡Souls said:
fadohacolu said:
I strongly agree with what Sasquatch has to say, except that I believe the issues that are causing the rift in the community will also cause issues with marketing and selling the game. Not because the community here will fail to buy the game (I'm in the former camp, and am impatient and cynical but will almost certainly buy it day one) but because lack of communication is a fundamental issue. It seems to me that TW put Callum in charge of PR, and called it good, maybe taking a few minutes a week to tell him what he's allowed to post about.

TW's extremely passive approach to PR, coupled with degrading graphics, could spell serious issues for the lifespan of the game. I don't care much about graphics (I still play WB, afterall) but many other people do. At the least, someone may pass the game over after seeing a few screenshots.

And to KentuckyJames, I think you make some excellent points, but what is your take on the graphics looking worse than they did years ago? As others have mentioned, metal looks bad now, the sword is flat and wonky in the screenshot, the shield has a clear seam, etc. I don't believe the regression we're seeing is a mere optical illusion from playing newer and prettier games over the past 8 years. Any idea what would cause this or am I actually going crazy?

I hate to speculate but because of Taleworld's blatant lack of transparency it's the only way we can try and reason what is happening.

Something happened and made TW change their vision and ambition for Bannerlord. I think as a result cuts were made to the game to reign in the scale and a new design process was likely put in place to make development faster... At the price of a few features and graphic design choices..

I tend to agree with this viewpoint, though worse graphics would indicate there was an actual loss of assets. I desperately hope that this is not that case, but as you say, speculation is our only recourse, and there aren't many positive things to speculate over.
 
It is painful to realize that the longer development time might not have even resulted in an improvement in the game. I do hope that their team management has improved and that this year is a productive one. It would crush me if they spent it redoing much of their work.
 

Cordor

Baron
WBNW
Here is a tip, stipulate a release date for an alpha for early access, release that **** as ****ed up and playable as you can. So the next ****ing 20 blogs wont be about your super cool particle effect that noone cares about, but changelogs that actually matter and could generate a bit more of hype. It's clear that a good portion of the game is ready, just ****ing dump it out, people will buy it anyways. And when its done out of early access pc gamer will do a spicy article saying ''HEY THIS GAME IS OUT ITS OK'' and more people will buy it, it aint that hard
 

xdj1nn

Knight
WBWF&S
gotta say this: "I've told you so"

Longer development times do not translate in better releases... The development must be finished and then you can extend the time without releasing to iron-out bugs, but you can't expect a game that isn't finished to be ironed-out and improved before release when it hasn't even wrapped up the basic features it's meant to have.

Given that, given what you guys are discussing, and given the silence TW gives us, the only conclusion I've come up to is that the game won't be much better than WB, still, having even the simplest update in the graphics would cut to some degree. Now-a-days I can't stand WB graphics at all, I've tried playing it again and I simply can't, it's just too square and bland... But then again I have thousands of hours in WB already, so there's that, maybe I've just grown tired of the same thing over-and-over-and-over again with poor graphics...

Once BL hits it's release we'll also get tons of "essential mods" that will improve anything that mods possibly can and make the vanilla BL quite irrelevant, and that will likely happen very fast... So, to be honest, all they have to do is finish the workframe for modders and wrap up the basic features, anything else can be seen as a bonus, and could be made into DLC, I wouldn't complain... It's better that way than waiting 5 more years...
 
fadohacolu said:
And to KentuckyJames, I think you make some excellent points, but what is your take on the graphics looking worse than they did years ago?

Whoever is taking the screenshots is just opening up the game and snapping the first thing that fits the blog. I'm not asking them to completely fabricate them, but some rudimentary scene editing, composition awareness and so on would prevent them looking so ugly. The older screenshots look much better even though they're basically the same assets, because whoever made those actively chose parts of the game that already looked good together.

The metal looks worse because it's at a bad angle. Have a look at this randomly selected sword model from sketchfab:
https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/evilsbane-e8c3e852e0874f07a25da115033d93d4
Click and drag to rotate it. You'll notice that at some angles you can hardly see it reflecting anything because there's only on light source. It looks great from one angle and terrible from another. Metals in modern games will also reflect the skybox to some extent but since the bannerlord screenshot is outside, the skybox is mostly just a featureless flat blue.

Taking screenshots requires a little bit of setup but the ones we've seen so far have been laughably bad. Remember these?
blog_post_70_taleworldswebsite_03.jpg
blog_post_70_taleworldswebsite_05.jpg
How do you publish these and think "yup, these are representative of the game we want to produce"?

Similarly, here are two screenshots from my game. Guess which one I put zero effort into, guess which one I spent 10 seconds thinking about and tweaking the lighting of to make look good.
LGEwf.jpg
Hna2O.jpg
 

fadohacolu

Recruit
BIGGER Kentucky James XXL said:
fadohacolu said:
And to KentuckyJames, I think you make some excellent points, but what is your take on the graphics looking worse than they did years ago?

Whoever is taking the screenshots is just opening up the game and snapping the first thing that fits the blog. I'm not asking them to completely fabricate them, but some rudimentary scene editing, composition awareness and so on would prevent them looking so ugly. The older screenshots look much better even though they're basically the same assets, because whoever made those actively chose parts of the game that already looked good together.

The metal looks worse because it's at a bad angle. Have a look at this randomly selected sword model from sketchfab:
https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/evilsbane-e8c3e852e0874f07a25da115033d93d4
Click and drag to rotate it. You'll notice that at some angles you can hardly see it reflecting anything because there's only on light source. It looks great from one angle and terrible from another. Metals in modern games will also reflect the skybox to some extent but since the bannerlord screenshot is outside, the skybox is mostly just a featureless flat blue.

Taking screenshots requires a little bit of setup but the ones we've seen so far have been laughably bad. Remember these?
blog_post_70_taleworldswebsite_03.jpg
blog_post_70_taleworldswebsite_05.jpg
How do you publish these and think "yup, these are representative of the game we want to produce"?

Similarly, here are two screenshots from my game. Guess which one I put zero effort into, guess which one I spent 10 seconds thinking about and tweaking the lighting of to make look good.
LGEwf.jpg
Hna2O.jpg

Great post, thanks. Very informative, as always. Definitely helps soothe some of my fears about lost assets! Makes another case for TW being almost completely unconcerned about PR, though. That being said, I'll point out that the screenshots of your own game aren't exactly analogous to those TW provides. In the first, 'bad' screenshot of your game, it's giving us a huge amount of information, and is far away enough where the player's camera (probably) won't really be. If your game was completely in 1st person, it might not even be noticeable.

The TW screens in your post appear to be from a 1st person camera perspective, and I'm starting to wonder if those are in fact a good representation of what we can expect the game to look like 90% of the time. I'm not arguing your point, it's just made me think of other things.

xdj1nn said:
gotta say this: "I've told you so"

Longer development times do not translate in better releases... The development must be finished and then you can extend the time without releasing to iron-out bugs, but you can't expect a game that isn't finished to be ironed-out and improved before release when it hasn't even wrapped up the basic features it's meant to have.

Agree 100%. Assuming they didn't have to remake a large portion of the game, this perfectionism is really going to hurt them in the long run.
 

DtheHun

Sergeant Knight
M&BWB
Someone might think this info is not worthy for a whole weekly blog, but they can split it into three parts to prove the true depth of the object.

"To give an example of how this all works in the game, once an agent is hit by a cutting weapon, we spawn three different particles."

Three level of particle AI.  :grin:

Hell, everything can be splitted into three parts, even the atom. I'm not afraid of blog shortage anymore.
 

Terco_Viejo

Spanish Gifquisition
Grandmaster Knight
Please let's do an empirical analysis exercise.
Bearing this in mind
min 1:51

Observe the following video if possible at playback speed 0.25. Look closely at the lamellar and scale armour, I am the only one who sees reflections (skybox + shapes) on the metal surface?
min 8:20

@BIGGER Kentucky James XXL Does this sword reflect anything to you?: https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/soldiers-sword-one-handed-sword-382d19ef125d4df8b158a0cfe59ab068
 
The reflective spheres in the first video and the lamellar in the second are both round objects. Round things reflect stuff from all over so the skybox is easier to see. Flat things on the other hand only reflect from one angle so their reflectivity is harder to see when static.
 

578

Banned
WBVCNWWF&SM&B
fadohacolu said:
I tend to agree with this viewpoint, though worse graphics would indicate there was an actual loss of assets. I desperately hope that this is not that case, but as you say, speculation is our only recourse, and there aren't many positive things to speculate over.


There is nothing that indicates any visual degrade whatsoever when it comes to graphical quality. Callum has said in the past that most developers work on separate builds without everything added into them. Even if that is the case, the graphics themselves from the last demos back this summer were much better in both visuals and animations. (in comparison to previous years)
 

FBohler

Knight
WBNWWF&S
This blog accidentally started really good graphics discussion in this thread!

Love when you guys look for the tiniest details in screenshots to compare with past ones.
 

fadohacolu

Recruit
578 said:
fadohacolu said:
I tend to agree with this viewpoint, though worse graphics would indicate there was an actual loss of assets. I desperately hope that this is not that case, but as you say, speculation is our only recourse, and there aren't many positive things to speculate over.


There is nothing that indicates any visual degrade whatsoever when it comes to graphical quality. Callum has said in the past that most developers work on separate builds without everything added into them. Even if that is the case, the graphics themselves from the last demos back this summer were much better in both visuals and animations. (in comparison to previous years)

Yes, Kentucky James already put me straight on that particular point.
 

578

Banned
WBVCNWWF&SM&B
fadohacolu said:
578 said:
fadohacolu said:
I tend to agree with this viewpoint, though worse graphics would indicate there was an actual loss of assets. I desperately hope that this is not that case, but as you say, speculation is our only recourse, and there aren't many positive things to speculate over.


There is nothing that indicates any visual degrade whatsoever when it comes to graphical quality. Callum has said in the past that most developers work on separate builds without everything added into them. Even if that is the case, the graphics themselves from the last demos back this summer were much better in both visuals and animations. (in comparison to previous years)

Yes, Kentucky James already put me straight on that particular point.


I personally do not go crazy over graphical updates on vanilla, given the fact that the game will be extremely moddable. Let's be honest, it's quite possible most of us will only play 1-2 native playthroughs and move on to better mods like Floris, PoP, new dawn and Perisno for warband. On the matter of graphics, I do not dislike Bannerlord visuals, in fact I think it looks pretty good for the scale it is trying to achieve but modding community will do magic, personalization is everything. Skyrim is still putting out graphical mods and overhauls to this very date.
 
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