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The irony of it all (thoughts on 7D2D and Caves...)


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Posted (edited)

I was thinking that 7D2D was first created in 2012 when a fully voxel world, at that time, would use a huge amount of memory, stress the graphic cards and provide any number of technical challenges to the devs.

So, here we are, 8 years after the Kickstarter, with a fully playable world and (AFAIK) the only game on the market that has a FULLY destructible world.

Still, the devs had to add many other elements to the game (AI, Structural Integrity, Vehicles and so on...) so they're again struggling to squeeze out of modern computers (and Unity) the necessary power to run the game smoothly.

That's why I was struck by the thought that, after all, dragging development along for all these years it's probably the best thing that could have happened to this game (and to us).

Think about it: now, on average, players have better machines, more memory, faster CPUs and GPUs, more hard disk space and better graphics overall.

This game will actually benefit A LOT from better hardware. While most other games out there on the market are tailored around the available tech, this game was initially developed with a vision in mind without completely understanding (at the time) the shortcomings of choosing a fully destructible voxel world. But that "bad choice" could be what has actually made this game great among the copycat run-of-the-mill games that flood the market.

Oh! The irony of it all. :popular:

 

Edited by Jost Amman (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

Which reminds me that this sucks because it does not have ironing boards.  This is an injustice that cannot be tolerated!

 

As opposed to injustices that can be tolerated like not having zombies wearing speedos.

 

EDIT: And isn't Minecraft at least equally destructible?

Edited by Maharin (see edit history)
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I don't know... the game is more CPU bound than anything, and I'd assume it was always that way.  Years ago, Crysis had such high system requirements for its time that it sparked its own "Can it run Crysis?" meme.  I think a lot of people thought that bringing systems to their knees was a good thing.  And part of me can see that angle, in the sense that it gives a game longevity.  The game you bought gets even better years later, as you upgrade your hardware.  I guess if you want to drive innovation as a software developer, you push the envelope in how much your software demands of the hardware.  But if your goal is the most successful game, you match your software with what's on the market when the game's scheduled for release.

 

To expand on your point, the pairing of voxels, full destruction, and procedural generation can be thought of in at least two different ways.  On the one hand, it's an albatross around TFP's neck.  It's far too ingrained in the code even if they wanted to axe the features for better performance.  I believe Joel once said if he had to do it all again, it might not be a voxel game, or they'd at least curtail the 100% destructible world to avoid the performance hit it creates.  And I can see why.  There's a sizable portion of the gaming community that just doesn't get what the big deal is with voxels.  We see it on a perhaps weekly basis.  'I can run Conan or Valheim or whatever the flavor of the month is smooth as butter, and I have an expensive graphics card.  Why is this game so bad?'  TFP is a victim of its own success on this.  If 7 Days still looked like Minecraft, then more people would take their cue from that and compare it to Minecraft and other voxel games.

 

On the other hand, the voxel/fully destructible/procedurally generated worlds are a unique selling point.  A killer feature.  If you can get a gamer to look critically, you can say "look what I can do!" and dig an epic, multi-layered, one-of-a-kind mountain fortress that they've never seen anything like in 1000 hours of playing Fallout or what have you.  It's just a shame that, while TFP have invested so much in disguising the voxels - with terrain smoothing, an ever-increasing selection of block shapes, and POI overhauls to have thinner, fancier, less blocky walls and decor - they've also shied away from what really makes voxels and procedural generation shine.  Namely, caves.  Sure, 7 Days has mining, and that both works well with voxels and is a well developed system now.  But complex, unpredictable paths through the terrain, that scratches a different itch: a more exploratory itch, that I've enjoyed since the days of ASCII-based rogue-likes.

 

I didn't start writing this meaning to swing the conversation towards caves, but you got me thinking about the pros and cons of voxels and I couldn't help but arrive there. :rolleyes:

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10 hours ago, Crater Creator said:

I didn't start writing this meaning to swing the conversation towards caves, but you got me thinking about the pros and cons of voxels and I couldn't help but arrive there. :rolleyes:

 

There was something floating around recently that they were working on adding something like "terrain POIs" to random gen.  If those can be placed underground then they could, with a few dozen pre-generated cave POIs, return caves and underground exploration.  But they'd have to make them reinforced somehow so that they don't auto-collapse a world by stepping foot in one or by whacking a piece of trash on the ground.

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  • Jost Amman changed the title to The irony of it all (thoughts on 7D2D and Caves...)
On 6/10/2021 at 3:31 AM, Crater Creator said:

I didn't start writing this meaning to swing the conversation towards caves

 

User name checks out. Sort of.

 

I would not be surprised at all if the very early design phases of Minecraft included attempts to play with SI (beyond sand), but were abandoned because of the cave issue. And so it has outstanding underground caves, and also you can build your entire fortress in mid-air.

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7 hours ago, Boidster said:

 

User name checks out. Sort of.

 

I would not be surprised at all if the very early design phases of Minecraft included attempts to play with SI (beyond sand), but were abandoned because of the cave issue. And so it has outstanding underground caves, and also you can build your entire fortress in mid-air.

 

Well, what is "the cave issue" exactly?

  1. Performance cost at world generation time?
  2. Performance cost at runtime?
  3. People surprised/mad when POIs built above a cave collapse?
  4. People surprised/mad when their base built above a cave collapses?
  5. Inconsistent SI results with cavities that span many chunks?

Did I miss anything?  If we dissect those...

  1. The change from infinite worlds to generating the whole world at once bloated generation time way more than caves ever did.  One dev mentioned that if they were to do caves again, they'd use a Perlin worm algorithm.  It's a method of stringing segments together, and then you'd add decorations and cave POIs.  It's a lot like generating the roads, but underground, so I'd expect a similar efficiency.  In other words, I'd think optimizations for quick road generation would translate straightforwardly to quick cave generation.
  2. I'm least sure about this one but I think the biggest factor for runtime performance was overdraw: rendering too much that you couldn't actually see.  Hopefully the occlusion system, added after caves, would mitigate this in caves now.
  3. They're big worlds, with enough space to have cities, but also terrain features like mountains where you don't have cities.  There could likewise be a rule to not place POIs above caves.
  4. As for player bases, I happen to think it's more interesting when the particulars of your build site can have more pros and cons.  But setting that aside, the UI could indicate when you're placing a block, if the block supporting it is on a solid column down to bedrock.  This would be a good feature anyway, since newer players are always digging under their bases with deleterious results.
  5. I don't think this even matters with regard to caves.  The only effect is that sometimes you have a cavern that should collapse, but doesn't.  I can't recall anyone really lamenting that.  Besides which, player made mines have the same issue.

In fact, all but item 1 also apply to mines or whatever else players do underground.  Which I guess supports my point: caves are such a no-brainer thing to do when you're doing a voxel game anyway.  If it's all solid down there, why even have a hundred-block-deep layer of stone?  Might as well have higher mountains and let people reach bedrock in 20 blocks.  What a waste!  Yeah, it's a sandbox and people can use that solid space to make cool things... but there's all this effort to make the surface interesting, when there's nothing special about that. The surface looks interesting in regular, non-voxel games.

 

7 Days to Die really is, if you'll pardon the expression, just scratching the surface of what it could do with voxels.  And when voxels are one of the game's big selling points - the tradeoff for lower graphics fidelity and performance, in fact - that's disappointing.

Edited by Crater Creator (see edit history)
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19 hours ago, Crater Creator said:
  • People surprised/mad when POIs built above a cave collapse?
  • People surprised/mad when their base built above a cave collapses?

 

These two would be what I was referring to, but without the reactions of players. Just the concept of trying to place POIs, under current SI rules, when the sub-surface may not be solid. And likewise the need for players to determine whether their base foundations are solid - an especially daunting task (again, under current rules) for a new player.

 

I guess I might add one: the ground collapsing under you unexpectedly. Under current SI rules, caves would have to be relatively small if they aren't going to cause sinkholes. I think it is fun to have to poke at the flooring of POIs to make sure it's not going to collapse into a basement pit of ferals. Not so sure it would be fun if I have to poke at dirt to prevent a similar fall (sans ferals I guess, unless we really get into Minecraft territory and start spawning zombies under ground).

 

There are several ways to solve the issue; I think your ideas are just fine.

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Posted (edited)

Caves were very fun, it's a shame they had to be removed (mainly) for performance reasons.

 

However, it all goes back to my OP: years have passed since then and the current computers can handle much more plus the game's being actively optimized the more we get near Beta, so I think it'd be possible to add caves back (in one capacity or another) without compromising too much performance,

 

As for the SI problem, the solution would be simple: don't add caves under POIs (or vice versa).

 

Edited by Jost Amman (see edit history)
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C++ (64 bit)  Done!

 

Its almost impossible (currently) for the C# compiler to compare and that's including a programmer tweaking the code in "un-natural" ways.

None tweaked C# is several times slower and additionally you will (currently) get an initial performance hit.

 

 

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18 hours ago, Jost Amman said:

As for the SI problem, the solution would be simple: don't add caves under POIs (or vice versa).

Which is great until people have seemingly randomly collapses of bases they've built.  Or we bring back the old issue where blocks would randomly break in 1 specific spot with no apparent reason.  Super annoying to place a block on the ground and have it break when you can place blocks for 100 meters in any direction and they're fine.

 

I'd love to have caves back (and the old massive orbs of resources) but if they can't make them somehow stable or not interact with surface SI (as obviously in the real world things are built on top of caves and don't just randomly collapse) they're probably more trouble than they're worth.

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The fact that it is still in early access is good for me personally. I am glad that i get something new every time, including technical improvements.

But there's only one thing that bothers me... every time - gameplay degrade.

Edited by n2n1 (see edit history)
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Regarding the caves.

With my knowledge (i do not pretend to anything, but i had experience in low-level programming) - i do not see any problems to have these caves.

Those excuses that are provided to us - can not justify their absence. If someone could adequately, in technical language, explain why this is impossible to implement - perhaps he would be able to close this theme.  Lengthy explanations are not appropriate.

 

Besides, we already had caves!

in addition, the problems that they allegedly generate (such as occlusion) seem to have already been solved .... Well, what new problems are associated with them? Who can answer?

Edited by n2n1 (see edit history)
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6 minutes ago, n2n1 said:

these caves

POI caves are in game, not that many, but plenty of underground sections of standard POIs and couple mine type deals. They seem fine, as the entire ground within them is defined by the POI designer - no SI issues with random gravel or such unless someone digs into them in the wrong place.

 

The random caves that had a couple iterations, were a nightmare for SI, and before the current occlusion system, they were drawing tons of hidden blocks tanking graphic performance for no reason. They also contained zeds, which could end a nightmare as they're trying to dig out. Plenty of the things have improved since, I'd say all except the underground pathing, so they Might work better in the current patch. But I doubt there's even the desire to try, they were just that bad of a mess... :)

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1 hour ago, Vaeliorin said:

Which is great until people have seemingly randomly collapses of bases they've built.  Or we bring back the old issue where blocks would randomly break in 1 specific spot with no apparent reason.  Super annoying to place a block on the ground and have it break when you can place blocks for 100 meters in any direction and they're fine.

 

I'd love to have caves back (and the old massive orbs of resources) but if they can't make them somehow stable or not interact with surface SI (as obviously in the real world things are built on top of caves and don't just randomly collapse) they're probably more trouble than they're worth.

Actually, even IRL sometimes buildings collapse if built over caves.

This happens all around the world in specific places so the wise engineer will use special techniques for the foundations (as some players do in game).

 

11 minutes ago, n2n1 said:

Regarding the caves.

With my knowledge (i do not pretend to anything, but i had experience in low-level programming) - i do not see any problems to have these caves.

Those excuses that are provided to us - can not justify their absence. If someone could adequately, in technical language, explain why this is impossible to implement - perhaps he would be able to close this theme.  Lengthy explanations are not appropriate.

 

Besides, we already had caves!

in addition, the problems that they allegedly generate (such as occlusion) seem to have already been solved .... Well, what new problems are associated with them? Who can answer?

As far as I can remember, the main problem was not so much "static" SI, but more about caves making vehicles lag at high speeds because of the added CPU load of SI calculations while passing over a cave, even when it's not visible.

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Yes... but.... caves don't need to be generated on every meter, in every chunk.

It is enough to have a small amount for a certain area in the ratio so that the "loss of performance" does not exceed one POI ....why is the question posed as if it is implied that there should be many of them? Any POI makes a decrease in performance... why not refuse the cities then? there's a lot of POI...

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2 minutes ago, n2n1 said:

Yes... but.... caves don't need to be generated on every meter, in every chunk.

It is enough to have a small amount for a certain area in the ratio so that the "loss of performance" does not exceed one POI ....why is the question posed as if it is implied that there should be many of them? Any POI makes a decrease in performance... why not refuse the cities then? there's a lot of POI...

As I understand it, it's not the same as with POIs.

 

When you run around with your vehicle you're touching the terrain which in turn may be connected to an underlying cave system. In that case, the game has to do SI checks to see (e.g.) if the ground will crumble under your vehicle. The same is not true for POIs since you normally don't run at full speed inside POIs with your bike! :madgrin:

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On 6/10/2021 at 1:55 PM, Maharin said:

But they'd have to make them reinforced somehow so that they don't auto-collapse a world by stepping foot in one or by whacking a piece of trash on the ground.

I will argue that that would be kinda fun though, never really feeling safe from rare random environmental disaster. :)

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31 minutes ago, theFlu said:

POI caves are in game, not that many, but plenty of underground sections of standard POIs and couple mine type deals. They seem fine, as the entire ground within them is defined by the POI designer - no SI issues with random gravel or such unless someone digs into them in the wrong place.

 

The random caves that had a couple iterations, were a nightmare for SI, and before the current occlusion system, they were drawing tons of hidden blocks tanking graphic performance for no reason. They also contained zeds, which could end a nightmare as they're trying to dig out. Plenty of the things have improved since, I'd say all except the underground pathing, so they Might work better in the current patch. But I doubt there's even the desire to try, they were just that bad of a mess... :)

 

This guy gets it. Caves were fun however they came with downsides.

they were typically very safe spaces and super large. One Alpha I built a house inside a cave, add a wall and dig out the deep crack in the ground and it was a totally safe base. Occasionally a random zombie or two would spawn but they were never a problem.

game could randomly slow down to a slide show this probably had to do with my now two previous video card, I am sure it also had something to do with a giant unknown space underground that I would likely never interact with.

yes caves were fun but they also were kind of an easy mode for the game. 

Mid the choice is old large expansive caves or consistent performance, I’ll take consistent performance.

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47 minutes ago, Jost Amman said:

Actually, even IRL sometimes buildings collapse if built over caves.

This happens all around the world in specific places so the wise engineer will use special techniques for the foundations (as some players do in game).

Yes, but it's not common.  Also, there are ways to detect caves that don't involve tremendous amounts of digging to see if caves exist.  I just don't think it would be fun to be forced to dig out pillars to bedrock (not that I haven't done that before, but it was by choice, not necessity) on the off chance there might be caves under part of where you want to build your base.

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On 6/12/2021 at 2:01 PM, Crater Creator said:

 One dev mentioned that if they were to do caves again, they'd use a Perlin worm algorithm.

 

The original caves were implemented using a perlin worm algorithm. Then they went to a kind of crater explosion algorithm that created very chaotic "noisy" caverns nearer to the surface, but abandoned those and went back to perlin worm but greatly limited their scope so that caves were rare and often only extended 20 meters to a dead end.

 

If they revisit caves in the future they probably will stick to the perlin worm algorithm-- but it won't be a new thing.

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23 hours ago, doughphunghus said:

I will argue that that would be kinda fun though, never really feeling safe from rare random environmental disaster. :)

I get the sentiment behind this but with the broken leg debuff the way it is the novelty of that would wear off very quickly for me.

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