Author Topic: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)  (Read 8561 times)

Mantic

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #40 on: April 24, 2019, 01:32:12 PM »
...Instead I could focus on the more creative aspects like basebuilding, character creation (integrate Icon's NPC mode?), RP, tabletop, as well as exploration and building on the ability to see the game world without being attacked.

It would be interesting to hear some ideas for development direction, especially from those in the community who think they might still have a use for Paragon Chat even after game servers are widely available.

Oh yeah, extending the character editing could go farther than Icon. Technically, it already does in Paragon Chat, with the definition-editing allowing access to just about everything, plus component scaling, though scaling hacks seem to result in characters not actually being visible across the network.

I don't know if the interest sparked by this code release will spur development of more, or more versatile, tools for working with the game files, but anyone working on extended resources (graphics/models/costume components/maps/missions/etc.) for private servers could use a way of implementing and testing those files properly apart from a server connection. Of course, we've had related discussions about this -- years ago now -- so I'm not unaware of the scale and complexity.

Codewalker

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Re: The Room in the Elephant
« Reply #41 on: April 24, 2019, 06:52:45 PM »
Also . . . base building is great, but what about full map building?   Such as utilizing the tileset pieces found in mission maps or the zone maps.  How feasible is that?

The map editor has been on my radar for a while. It's fairly low-hanging fruit and even once private servers are floating around, using PChat as a lightweight map editing tool may still be desirable in order to make maps without requiring a full developer setup (SQL Server and running all the server pieces). There's just a few issues that need to be worked out in order to do things like pick texture files without having to have all of the piggs extracted and in the right place.

That said, the map editor is a royal PITA to use with a steep learning curve. The base editor is much more user-friendly, especially with all of the score additions and tweaks. But it would still be nice to have in order to make real maps that can be loaded into the game proper.

I don't know if the interest sparked by this code release will spur development of more, or more versatile, tools for working with the game files, but anyone working on extended resources (graphics/models/costume components/maps/missions/etc.) for private servers could use a way of implementing and testing those files properly apart from a server connection. Of course, we've had related discussions about this -- years ago now -- so I'm not unaware of the scale and complexity.

Maybe somebody will finally make the geo import/export/file converter tool that I've been trying to get somebody to write for years now. :P

aeb

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #42 on: April 24, 2019, 08:10:13 PM »
But is it really Base Building if it's not equal parts hack and brilliant?

I really don't think you need to worry. If it's truly as great as described, someone will take it into their heads to build Mt. Rushmore out of paving stones, stone blocks and rocks or something. ;)

No, I'm not being facetious. I used to play a home decorating game on Facebook called YoWorld. With a wide variety of chairs and tables, decorating a house or apartment was a snap. So one of the better builders built a scene of a sailing ship on the sea out of patio furniture, and invited all and sundry to ogle it. :D ;)

KingCroyd

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #43 on: April 25, 2019, 01:24:56 AM »
Codewalker, you're awesome! Thank you for all your hard work!

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #44 on: April 25, 2019, 11:18:13 AM »
But is it really Base Building if it's not equal parts hack and brilliant?
Why, yes. Yes, it is! Just better.

That's like asking if it's really costuming if it's equal parts hacking database and brilliant. You betcha!
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Shenku

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Re: The Room in the Elephant
« Reply #45 on: April 25, 2019, 04:44:53 PM »
Maybe somebody will finally make the geo import/export/file converter tool that I've been trying to get somebody to write for years now. :P

If anyone ever figures out how to do it, and the steps involved with just getting meshes added into the costume creator and what the skeletal configuration is, I (and others too probably) would almost certainly jump at the chance to add new costume model options for everyone to use. Starting with (At least on my part) proper long hair styles with Ghost Widow's styled physics supporting hair meshes, cause it always bothered me that players never got any options like that, and I'm tired of faking it with capes... Assuming it's practical to even add, if not, more hair options just in general is always good, and something I would be more than willing to work on if the opportunity presents itself.

Piledriver

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Re: The Room in the Elephant
« Reply #46 on: April 27, 2019, 04:43:21 AM »
...proper long hair styles...

I would never want to see hair in City of Heroes that looks like the stuff people made for Sims 3. Unsatisfying as the geometry for hair in City can be, it's not in that realm of fugliness. Besides which, the Cryptic engine has issues with transparency; it can't render soft transparency masks very well, apparently due to DXT compression artifacts, and fails spectacularly with multiple layers of transparency.

Solid geometry hair meshes could be done much better (by someone very skilled at optimizing low-resolution topology and manual UV mapping), but it's something I'd hope we can be honest about setting high quality standards for. Once anything gets added into the game nobody can avoid having to look at it.

« Last Edit: April 27, 2019, 04:49:34 AM by Piledriver »

GamingGlen

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #47 on: April 27, 2019, 05:11:10 AM »
The flowing animated hair is not that big a deal to me.  What is a big deal is having the static hair not obeying gravity.
When I've worked on a comic book-like story with a long-haired girl not standing up (e.g., being knocked down during a fight, not what you're thinking you pervert :P ) I've had to graphically edit the hair to flow down instead of sticking straight back in mid-air, especially the pony-tail(high). 

But overall, even that's not worth the effort as I'd rather have effort going into more hair styles.  And, add shorts for guys (with plaid option for golfers and old men :D ).

Mantic

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #48 on: April 27, 2019, 06:20:21 AM »
I have to admit I don't play a lot of high-end modern games due to the system demands, but is hair that obeys gravity a common thing now? I recall the Yukes pro wrestling game engines always playing with mass and spring systems for hair geometry, so at the level they're at now it's probably pretty impressive. Less so when their polygon budgets were comparable to City of Heroes. Not the most trivial effect, either, even if players take it for granted.

Ghost Widow's hair cape is similar but only works with a sheet, with no collision mechanism for interacting with other dynamic sheets. I recall back when a costume addition allowed two sheets/capes to be layered on the live servers it had to be prohibited because the interaction caused significant lag (whether that meant rendering or network I never knew, but reports sounded like it was network).

Given the source for both server and client is out there, I suppose a similar system to the Yukes engines could be attempted for City of Heroes. I think it would ramp up the system requirements a bit, though, and who knows what the dynamic LOD system would make of those components. Plus, if Paragon Chat and Icon are to remain uncontaminated that could lead to a compatibility split.

I agree that the Sims 3 hair with alpha masking was both ugly and extremely inefficient. It didn't animate, either, or even conform with the character's bones. Not good! Some of the solid geometry ("Maxis match") hair for The Sims is nice, though poly-counts are usually way too high for what they accomplish, and would be even more unacceptable in City of Heroes, where the whole base character model might be under a thousand triangles.

Graphics improvements in City of Heroes would probably come better from increased texture resolution (nothing insane, just maybe 200%) and wider use of normal maps. I'm pretty sure even mid-range computers from well over a decade ago had enough memory to handle that much, but Paragon Studios kept it low because it would have taken a lot of time to recreate the old textures or else there'd be resolution dissonance with newer items. In some cases, though, I think they bumped up the resolutions anyway. I'd have jumped in blowing up some textures for override mods, starting with things like logos and faces, but don't understand the texture headers well enough to set the resolution. Also, if a texture isn't already using the various shader maps it's not always there to do anything with. Nevermind how demotivating all the hoop-jumping converting through multiple formats just to check a texture on the mesh is.

Going back to the source code option I suppose the texture effects could also be improved or expanded. Make the reflection/specularity masking 8bit instead of 1bit and separate it into two effects, for instance.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2019, 06:32:01 AM by Mantic »

adran06

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #49 on: April 29, 2019, 02:30:02 AM »
Paragon Chat is awesome and I really hope it stays! I also hope you'll update it so it has the current AE and Costume stuff to be the i25 versions, since I almost always open Paragon Chat while in Queue to work on my stuff (mostly AE) while waiting. Any chance of this happening?

aeb

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #50 on: April 29, 2019, 08:16:37 AM »
I thought of one thing I and others - RPers and non-RPers - in PChat have wished for: more working doors. We hope it's not impossible. I, at least, am not asking for every door. However, there's a Diane's Diamonds mission map, and at least a few of each bank, and so on. If we could connect a map that fits to the doors in, we'd have a fuller, richer environment that - if the discussions I've had are right - would appeal to RPers and non-Rpers both. :)

Azrael

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Re: The Room in the Elephant
« Reply #51 on: April 29, 2019, 12:48:47 PM »
The map editor has been on my radar for a while. It's fairly low-hanging fruit and even once private servers are floating around, using PChat as a lightweight map editing tool may still be desirable in order to make maps without requiring a full developer setup (SQL Server and running all the server pieces). There's just a few issues that need to be worked out in order to do things like pick texture files without having to have all of the piggs extracted and in the right place.

That said, the map editor is a royal PITA to use with a steep learning curve. The base editor is much more user-friendly, especially with all of the score additions and tweaks. But it would still be nice to have in order to make real maps that can be loaded into the game proper.

Maybe somebody will finally make the geo import/export/file converter tool that I've been trying to get somebody to write for years now. :P

Eh.  Well, I just caught this thread.  It certainly blew my mind, a little unexpected....some of the revelations that came from your personal viewpoint.

The humility was touching.

Firstly, you're very super-modest.  You're straight talking but a man of your word.  You, sir, under-estimate your importance to here...us...the whole CoH community.

We had...'NOTHING' after the shut down.

Icon.  Paragon Chat.  These were pivotal keystones in the community.  They gave us...?

'Hope.' 

Your 'labour of love' on the SG bases honours the original game.

What I didn't expect...was that you were basically, 'alone' doing all that.  So SCORE is somewhat 'loosely' affiliated.  The reality of that made me pause.  Well.  It wasn't a company working 24/7.  It was human people...doing it in their spare time for the love of the game and the community.

You didn't play the game on the server.  I can't say I'm surprised.  To me, of little consequence, personally.  But I always had you down as someone who had his own 'code.'

Paragon Chat.

1.  Don't. give. up.  Others have said it.  It's its own private server.
2.  I would like to see those experiments with the power and combat system come to fruition.  I know it's hard work.  But you can, at least study the original servers/code with the release into the wild of i24/i25. 
3.  Make Pargon the 'Minecraft' of the private servers.  We have 'no' authoring tools.
4.  (So, for that missing 1.3 on the timeline?)  Map Creator ('low hanging fruit?'  I'll take your word for it.)
5.  We've see Demonhunter/Leandro/Score's efforts on the 'alt' maps.
6.  You've talked about LUA mission creators?  'YES please.'
7.  Annexe PC as the 'distributed private server with creative tools.'
8.  The private servers don't invalidate your work.  It's hard work.  You busted your you know whats doing the base stuff.  (Ergo, burn out.)
9.  Yes.  Include the NPC/villain/mob stuff into regular PC.
10.  Street sweeping. 
11.  Dev' the tools to do AE+.  (ie.  Lua missions creator + map/zone creator.)
12.  The above are (LUA support is...) on the timeline of PC +

All I want is a 5 man super team micro server.  I was always under the impression that reverse engineering effort was the direction you were going on.  (Yes.  I'm presumptuous as much I pontificate...)  So, I earnestly implore you to go with your inner convictions.

Paragon Chat 3.

1. Low hanging fruit Map Creator (no one has that yet.  Beat them to it.)
1a. Zone creator re: above.
2. LUA script for mission support merged into AE+.
3. Micro server.
4.  The GM admin' tools (I wasn't quite sure what you mean by those...but it involves spawning NPCs?)

Unbroken Shard i25.  Is missing one thing.

CONTENT CREATION & MICRO SERVER.

Reason.

We create our own story and can play it.

I always thought that was going to be the direction.  I don't know how hard it is to do those two?  But some of it's already on PC timeline.  So, if you did the SG base stuff to that standard?  I'm sure you can put the smack down on a map creator.

You're not invalid.

You're work is not invalid.

You're part in this community is NOT invalid.

If anything, it just got more clearly defined.

I didn't realise.  I do now.

I always thought Paragon Chat (and the live server protocol hand off?) was part of an unholy war to democratise the 'dead' game so it could rise from the Ashes and never die again so we could all preserve it?  (Feel free to use that as a Paragon Chat byline...)

I don't see that invalidated.  The private servers are vulnerable.  And until somebody 'packages' it up so we can all run it on our pc...(and you've hinted after 6 years...it still hasn't happened...)  And it still won't have creative tools for some time either?

PC can annexe with the Private Servers.  It could be the leading Dev' tool.  I'd move swiftly to include a map creator if that is low hanging fruit.  Then I'm guessing putting in the Icon Npc stuff is doable? 

Not sure how far along you are with LUA stuff on the PC timeline...but integrating that as an AE+ mission creator with the stuff below...is the real challenge?

The hard part?  Bringing the combat and powers stuff to fruition.

Then you have a micro server with mission authoring tools.

Sincere (and fond) regards,

Azrael.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2019, 12:59:08 PM by Azrael »

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #52 on: April 29, 2019, 07:35:00 PM »
You helped us keep the torches lit, Codewalker. Nothing you have done for us is irrelevant or invalid.
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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #53 on: May 01, 2019, 03:07:36 AM »
As others have said, You kept the lights on for us when others refused to. Thank You Codewalker.

Tonight (Apr 30) is the first I'd really heard of the COX SCORE debacle. Like so many others, I made my peace with the fact that the game was gone a while ago. I still rant and rage about it, but I never expected it to come back in any form I knew. I don't really even fire up PChat anymore. I spend my time in Star Trek Online when I do any online gaming at all. (Which is where I finally gathered the rumors that something BIG had happened and went looking)

I am still trying to come to terms with my own feelings about all of this. "Three May Keep a Secret if Two are Dead" springs to mind. (Ben Franklin, 'Poor Richard's Almanac') I have no doubt that most people working on the original SCORE project genuinely believed that they were keeping this secret in good faith and only until the time was right. But I must ask myself... "Would the time ever have been right?" As other community members slaved away in good faith supporting the successors, or PChat, or the efforts to buy the IP, we all bemoaned how all we really wanted was our same old ten-year-old game back. At what point did it become less about protecting the project, and more about coveting the precious private party? Six Years of time?

As fair disclosure, and for those of you who may vaguely remember me from when I was still active on the TN, I was once-upon-a-time a volunteer at a domestic violence shelter. I know all about disclosures, NDAs, privacy and security and the like. I fully appreciate the concept of a multinational corporatrion with hundreds of lawyers just sitting around on their asses waiting to earn their paycheck is a VERY scary thing. But the adage above about keeping secrets holds true. Sooner or later word WILL get out there. It's a contingency that MUST be planned for.

And yet, here we find ourselves, almost eight years post-closure... six years after this private server apparently went live. And the coverage I have read tonight tells me that nobody planned for this revalation. And that, in turn, tells me that at least some were perfectly happy to continue to play in their private world, open only to those in the know, on the 'right' social networks. And that, as Eliot said in his blog post, https://massivelyop.com/2019/04/17/into-the-super-verse-the-death-of-the-city-of-heroes-community/ destroyed our sense of being a united community. I held my torch high for eight long years. Now I feel cheated.

We all knew on some level (at least here at TN) that SCORE existed. But with absolutely no public news that there was anything remotely close to a working port, those of us who weren't 'the cool kids' had given up that a working game server ever could be built, let alone that it had already happened some years past. All we knew for the last 6 years was that you, Codewalker, were slaving away on ParagonChat, and that there was SEGS, which continuyed to founder despite the best attempts... and that the money poured into titans and the other successors was very slow to show any return.  Those of us who hung out at Google Plus, or Slack or TN or Discord only had the word of our community fellows. That is the real betrayal, that we were lied to by those we thought so like us; that only people on reddit, or with the right connections, got an invite to the party. That is a community, and innocence, that we can never get back now. It used to be, that I'd see Paragon's shield or Arachnos spider and think "Hey, there's someone in the know... someone who GETS IT..." Now, I'll forever wonder "were you one of the ones?"

I used to loudly proclaim to all who grumbled on Champions Online and Trek Online about the grinding, about the pay-to-play gotchas, about the ships or power sets priced higher than a monthly subscribe "you know, there was a different way... a better way... a community of forgotten lore where none of these tropes existed and we played for the fun of it!" but now I see... our own community has also turned into the haves vs the havenots. I don't care if it was 30 people or 30,000 people; it was still the elite few who got access while the rest of us languished with only memories of what it used to be to have a game and community to call devoutely home.

I was approached by someone several years ago. I suspect now a part of the original SCORE team, asking me if I wanted 'in' on something big. I thought about it for two days, before finally deciding to politely pass. I didn't like the level of secrecy I was told would be involved. I instead made some general efforts towards some of the successor projects with feedback and offers to write lore or do testing; all of which still largely languish at Alpha phases these years later. And now I see that I was right to politely decline. It's one thing to hold to secrecy when the lives of specific individuals are on the line against a real and present danger... It's entirely another when you're being offered a golden ticket that everyone you know wants, and all deserve, and would benefit by.

I guess I'm just not wired up that way. Nor would I want to be. I'll probably play around on one of the other servers and see if I can spark up some of the old magic. But I can't say that the team members of SCORE don't deserve at least some of the anger directed towards them. not the death threats and over-wrought vitriol... but yeah, you sat on something precious for years and lied to our faces about it. No amount of explaining or apologizing for why it went on so long, or why it would have continued to go on like that had karma not intervened, will erase that betrayal.

but thank you Codewalker for providing the rest of us with something.
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Azrael

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #54 on: May 01, 2019, 01:43:59 PM »
What I didn't realise was that Codewalker was basically on his own with these efforts in Icon, Paragon Chat.

I thought he (presumption of mine) was the leader of the SCORE team and was, with Leandro and the SCORE 'team', leading the efforts in decoding reverse engineered servers efforts as a matter of priority and that Paragon Chat was the bi-product of those efforts.

And that any delays to the effect are it being done part time, and being 'done right' and 'when its ready.'

I guess things, in reality, are always different to what we 'think.'

Couldn't grudge Codewalker just putting on his slippers and just kicking back and playing one of the private servers.

But he's put a mountain of work into PC.  And it has merit.  Even with the private servers out there.   There is a need for a compact micro server for a handful of 'local lan' or 'small server' amount of players 1-5.  Maybe a few more.

Perhaps Codewalker could get some help on Paragon Chat...and co-ordinate those efforts himself.  His own 'discord' team.  There's Demonhunter who could rack up some 'alt-universe' maps.  So, you get a 'different' narrative to the 'main' private servers.

Create the lua scripter to augment the AE (so it becomes AE+) and have somebody create a narrative.

He has the 'four stacks.'  It's just a matter of getting the combat working.  (No small task.)  But it's got a neat and 'lite' compact server thing going on.  Smooth as butter.  Well implemented (see SG bases.)

1. Combat. 
2. AE+ LUA mission creator.  (LUA scripting is already on the PC timeline.)
3. Map creator.

What's not to like about those?  Two of those are creative tools to get content for the community.

The 1st one is the iceing on the cake.

All on a 'bomb proof' distributed micro-server that any one (?) can set up?

I will echo 'part' of the last line of the previous post.

'You kept the lights on for us.'

and?

'Thank You Codewalker.'

For giving 'us' something in the meantime.

I still think you have much more to give (if you wish to...) and that Paragon Chat can be an example to the community of a well coded app' that can contribute to the community.

Get a map maker out there like the SG base thing you did?  Be great.  Sooner or later, the coh community is going to want new content to create new missions and zones.

I write posts like it's easier done than said.  But it is, in reality, a show of support.  I hope Codewalker doesn't feel deflated by recent events.  He needn't.  It sounds like he'll reflect on things for a little while. 

He's highly regarded for his monumental efforts in helping preserve the CoH legacy.

Azrael.

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #55 on: May 01, 2019, 03:04:00 PM »
Alright, I'm going to start nudging the conversation from here.  Please keep this thread about Paragon Chat specifically going forward.  If you want to discuss the recent news, join this conversation already under way.
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aeb

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #56 on: May 04, 2019, 10:09:38 AM »
I'm wondering... Is there anything computer users who aren't technicians or programmers or anything help with in developing PChat? Something where we can learn enough to deal with this one little part without becoming full-fledged technicians or programmers or anything? I've been wishing I could do more without having to go back to school. :)