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Kick-starting a virtual world - problem analysis/ideas/suggestions/your needs

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Lex4art, May 13, 2017.

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  1. Lex4art

    By:Lex4artSep 10, 2017
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    Isn't this performance problem already fully covered by graphics settings? On lowest settings it is possible to run any Sinespace location even on DX11 "videocard" integrated in an Intel CPU *I guess*... Loading time will be solved with texture streaming (sooner or later).

    For me main problem is still same: lack of randomness (that "Positive unpredictability level" thingey) and as consequence - boredom, Space is the same all the time. For example, there was a stress test for servers and 30+ people and it took me only 10-15 minutes to use all fun things that Sinespace can offer:
    [​IMG]
    After that it is only rare chat and that is all. Hope upcoming updates will start to actually solving this problem, there was some announcements here and there ). More items in shop, more avatars - this stuff also will add some to that "Positive unpredictability level" ).
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017
  2. Trilo

    By:TriloSep 11, 2017
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    Texture streaming might sound like a magic bullet to you, but it seems a little ridiculous from my perspective.

    Essentially, what it does, is take the next gen virtual world of SineSpace and throws you right back to 2003. All the objects come in blurry and blocky, and then depending on what's in your view, and your connection speed, textures will rez up and load. While sure, that dramatically reduces the time it takes for the initial download, it makes the sustained connection speed a much bigger deal (since content may continue to stream in for tens of minutes afterward). For people with fast connections and no bandwidth restrictions, that's no big deal (other than the quaint-ness of being back in Second Life again), but for users on lesser connections or with caps... those are huge deals.

    Currently, there are no user preferences that allow users to specify a maximum texture resolution that they download... that's all up to the content creator/experience designer. If you build a space with 4K/8K textures everywhere on the desktop platform, that's what you force them to download and attempt to render. Allegorithmic substances can reduce the download size, but the other side of that coin is that they carry a render cost and like any texture, the higher the resolution the greater the video memory impact is.

    Perhaps including some kind of cap for texture/material sizes to user settings makes sense? I think that's a fairly common option for many game titles (top end and otherwise), in my opinion overloading a machine's VRAM is one of the main reasons people on modest machines have terrible experiences (once they run out of VRAM the app crashes or performance drops to many seconds per frame).

    I wasn't in-world for the stress test, but I think it's extremely premature to talk about all the fun things Sinespace can offer. The tools for creating content (and interactive content at that) are still in their infancy, and with many Space devs being single user or tiny team operations I'm not sure that there are even very many regions with a lot of fun stuff happening yet. I'd kind of figure that the kinds of stress testing they're doing at this stage is just to get #'s of live user accounts on a region and fighting lag monsters. Hopefully in the next few months we'll be doing load tests that involve shoot 'em ups, races, chases, and more interactivity.

    I still think, though, that if SineSpace is going to try and do all the things, it's important to make sure the useful info is available to users before they click the button to download. Downloading a region is a bit like being held in a penalty box, I think that from the people I've met in-world there is very little patience for long downloads (especially when it results in an experience they don't get much out of). Perhaps it would be possible for users to still have access to the XMPP chat system during download? That way people wouldn't feel so isolated, and could get reassurances from other users that what they're experiencing is normal.
     
  3. Lex4art

    By:Lex4artJan 20, 2018
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    Not answered post from September... it's time to react!
    This magical bullet is just more complex, composite:
    1)Find most artistic, stylish way to handle low-res textures while hi-res versions are loading (my suggestion was to use "clay" (pure matte white) material instead of blurry ugly low-res textures; later Adam mentioned that it will be possible to use lowest MIP of every texture in material that can give cartoon-like look without ugly low pixels too, objects will be filled with single color). Combined with GI (realtime, baked) plus newest multiscale SSAO (from post-processing stack v2) and this "no texture style" may actually look very nice.
    2)Implement huge library of handy materials (based on 2K-8K textures) into the SineSpace user client (like MMOs/Multiplayer sandboxes doing) and into developer pack. So, developers will use those high-quality material library often and the users will not have to download them from internet because they're already ebedded in their client. This will cut average download time, not always (some people will use only their own content anyway) but good enough I presume. Same way handle handy models library, skyboxes HDRIs lib, sounds, etc. - better download heavy client once and receive a lot of commonly used content right there on HDD with 100+ MB/s performance.
    3)Substance materials, handled same artistic/stylish way - for example, 1x1 px substances are almost instant to build and this can be used as a part of cartoon style from p.1
    Will be good to have auto-adjusted level of quality script (first that I found - link) + maybe something like this will be useful as "default settings adjuster per client".

    +1 here, downloading speed/estimate time will be nice to have on downloading screen, chat is useful there too ).
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
  4. Trilo

    By:TriloJan 20, 2018
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    The downside of having the host graciously provide a huge library of handy materials based on 2K-8K textures, whether paid or for a fee, is that then it's essentially clipart. Creators who are striving to push the envelope and create Art (with a capital A) aren't likely to be satisfied using provided clipart, no matter how high the resolution. I also think such a library might lead to a lot of builds looking like different levels of the same video game.

    Digging deeper, building such a library in means additional storage space/costs associated with doing that. As a user I certainly wouldn't want to pay for it, and if Sinewave is picking up that tab then it means we're all paying for it. If Sinewave's going to do any kind of gratuitous hosting and storage, I'd personally rather they do it for the most commonly used shaders, which would result in reduced file sizes of regions as well as items.

    And trying to bake such a 'huge library' into the client (to avoid hosting costs and reduce user download times) would be to significantly bloat the client app (since it would carry the additional weight of a huge library of high resolution clipart).

    FYI, the useful information is actually available about a region before download. In the explore section, when you click on a region name, it loads the splash screen at right and displays the size of the download. If a creator has or wants to display additional recommendations or provide additional information about the region, they simply need to include that info in the region description and splash screen.
     
  5. Lex4art

    By:Lex4artJan 21, 2018
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    This is complex situation IMHO, life is cruel and limiting and everyone must deal with it somehow:
    - For very rare type of Creators (less than 1%) who will make all range of the content by themselves (materials, models, sounds, music, scripts...) there is no problem with default provided content - they will simply ignore it, spent months and years of their life doing that they need because they can allow it (have money/time/motivation reserves for dozens of months).
    - For 99% of Creators [main bulk of us] it will be a good leverage because their motivation/free time/money usually wearing out after month or two and because of that creating something decent is only possible via using "clipart" in different proportions, usually something like "do core idea content by myself and for background use available assets"). See, for example, how Unity's "Neon" competition turned out with almost everyone using Asset Store assets in different proportions with their own content. Or how Lumion creators, using not so huge library of default background content, did something truly unique in the end.
    - For 94% of those 99% of Creators it will be better to use high quality default content as much as they want (more than that - better motivate them to use it for better "Face of the SineSpace"), because right now most locations on the SineSpace servers "throws you right back to 2003" as you said before. On 10/10 result there is need to happen smartly organized connection between high-end content providers, Creators who need to buy that content to have more variety, and SineWave itself to have their fee from those sales. But how to make it possible without fully moving to creating levels inside Client - no idea...

    After all real world around us (man-made part of it) is full of clipart - same materials (bricks, concrete, carpaint, metals...), same shapes of objects (desks and seats in office, same models of cars, same spoons and forks...). But with different lighting/combination/ageing/decals/scale/rotation this all looks normal. So, more variety to default lib/features to tweak in materials and meshes - more variety to user worlds; not perfect but will do the job + bring ways to earn money for Creators-content providers and SineWave.

    Edit: an afterthought - with good quality of "starter kit" maybe it will be more than "a lot of builds looking like different levels of the same video game", something like "with first glance I can feel that those levels belong to a SineSpace virtual world" - unified style can be a good thing, if all done properly.

    In modern world hosting 10-30Gb of data with 10K downloads per month is very cheap and trivial task IMHO. Also, if we put a lot of popular content to client this means we will save a lot of traffic later because than more Creators will use it instead of their own heavy content than more Users will not need to download from their locations/items. This way it maybe more profitable to have as much as reasonable content database in the client in the end ).

    Our cruel real world limitations simply didn't allow any other ways to provide hi-res content, yep. So, it's choice "to have it and receive a bit repetitive but nice 99% of maps or not to have it and stick with current situation".

    I've seen it (hard to not to )), just wish to have more feedback while loading a location + it's not so easy to memorize location size every time you're travelling. Currently I suspect there is download speeds like 200-300 KBytes per second and what can be downloaded in 20 seconds on my 8MB/s connection usually takes me 10-15 minutes. Just having a clear current download speed feedback will be a good thing to find problem on user side or server side....
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2018
  6. Lex4art

    By:Lex4artFeb 23, 2018
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    My feedback on the "Home" feature:
    Home UI and concept problems 1.jpg
    What was done right:
    - Stability. Never crashed for me, rock solid no matter that I did with object placement and materials assignments.
    - A two versions of houses for start, available for everyone (free).
    - Hotkeys from Unity edtor works here (W to translate, E to rotate, Ctrl + Z to undo and so on).

    What was done wrong (usethissong as a background for correct mood). An imaginary dialogue in SineSpace headquarters before development of Home feature was started "So, it's our core feature - should we do a thorough research for references in order to have best examples of simple and effective UI for building virtual world/object manipulation? We need some money to buy G-MOD and other popular sandbox games plus up to week to learn how they ticks. This will helps us avoid months of exhausting work and wasted effort/motivation, it's seems to be a complex task. - Nah, it's easy-peasy, just put some menus here and there, no need to see how other teams did it - we're cool enough and full of original ideas, we'll do it in no time! And no games while you on the job, we're not charity house! Get back to work!". And something was done this way:

    - "Fun" begins right from the threshold after user clicks on "Edit room" button and for some reason camera automatically switching to the view from ceiling in an place you didn't recognize, and it's locked (only panning available). Very confusing, 50% of users will simply leave room editing and never come back. Why that very confusing camera switching happens at all?
    Home UI and concept problems 2.jpg

    - Usage of Areas. E.g. you can't put this thing here because there is an areas and you're currently not switched to the correct one. Guess most of remaining 50% of users that did break through first "wellcome to the ceiling, Spiderman!" event will soon drop editing their Homes because of how annoying those invisible borders/areas are in usage. You can't just grab an item/material from your inventory and drop it right there - you need to know that your house split on some areas, and they're exist for only for the one reason - to piss you off. You can't delete this item because you're in the wrong area. You can't even select this item!

    - Okay, 5% of users still trying to figure out how to survive in SineSpace Home decoration interface. Time to put an item (like a chandelier) to the good use. You drag it to the scene in front of you and ... nothing. You did it again and ... nothing. You rageqit. But worry not, those items were spawned! On the ceiling above you, you just don't know were you should look using this types of assets. Same for every over type of assets. Oh, you bought a wall-mounted asset but you can't spawn it at all and use unconventionally because... there maybe no walls in your house, only floor and ceiling. Or only floor. Or your home has ceiling but it's 50m height and not flat. Were this thing will be spawned? No idea, try to search it later via objects list (don't forget to switch to the correct area too).

    - For reasons I don't know there is dedicated inventory for furniture items. And if that was not enough - there is third separate UI for material placement... areas-depended of course + 2/3 of the screen are covered by windows.
    Home UI and concept problems 3.jpg
    All items/materials are already listed in your standard inventory and all that you need is a function to drag&drop items from there to the level:
    Home UI and concept problems 4.jpg Home UI and concept problems 5.jpg

    - A lot of building functions on the top of the screen that is actually not needed for majority of users. For example below how many buttons, menus and options were used to move object around on this video? Maybe it's better to hide all those buttons and menus under one button "Advanced edit tools" - this will drastically simplify UI (there will be no additional menus at all! Only one button for "Advanced mode") and users will be less confused...

    - That limitation (objects must be spawned on the floor, on the wall or on the ceiling... and nothing else) is really annoying. Why, just why? We have object, we have optional "align to the nearest surface" feature and that is it. But nope, let's make things complex, limited and unfriendly with tons of categories and rules about what can be spawned and were...

    In the end it's still good idea, it's technically works but all those accomplishments are buried under nightmarish Areas concept and not coherent UI/camera modes.

    P.S. There is another imaginary dialogue in SineSpace headquarters after failed Home launch: "Okay, it's not popular for some reasons - but it's our core feature and we need to iterate and search for the working variant, maybe ask people what is wrong? - Nah, let's completely ditch that Home feature for a half of a year and do something else. More dancing, more music - we're secretly making dancing simulator, not a puny virtual world to live!".
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2018
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  7. Adam

    By:AdamFeb 23, 2018
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    Haha Lex, I always appreciate your frank feedback - we do have some improvements coming around, actually most of those things we know about. :)

    As for placing anywhere - hold the Alt key - it's a bit undocumented, but we're making that the default mode soon.
     
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