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ROSS’S GAME DUNGEON: THE CREW

Here is the next Game Dungeon after a long hiatus! This turned into one of the more ambitious episodes I’ve done. I’m generally happy with how it came out, in fact, this one might be my favorite “non-weird game” episode. I think in the future I may have to scale down Game Dungeon a little bit one way or another, just so there’s more time for the movie. The one thing I don’t want to sacrifice is the writing, however, so that should remain consistent regardless. Writing is often the easiest part of making these videos actually.

I cut some more material that was going to be in here, some of which I may use in a follow-up episode later on. Also, while I’m not in a situation to have play sessions with fans currently, at some point in the future, I’d be interested in trying a group road trip with fans in The Crew on PC. I figure at least some people have it since I announced when it was free back in 2016 on twitter. I can’t even imagine how the game would handle 100 or so people all in the same place. It could be it would just glitch out, but it would be interesting to try out.

Anything can happen the way things are at the moment, but assuming things don’t change, I hope to have more videos this month.

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Love drives the hate race

 

Love/hate relationships with games leave... strong impressions. Often you can never shake them, even years later, and the thoughts they arouse don't make sense.

 

Not being able to go back to some of these games would feel like a big loss to me. I try to archive them, but there's only so much I can do.

 

GTA:San Andreas has some nice driving moments. Turn the HUD off and go out on your own during the night. Meander up mount chiliad in a ute, police trying to follow you but instead tumbling off the road as you listen to

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZR_flTSm5M on the country radio station.

 

The best thing I have discovered to do in any video game with driving: turn off the damned minimap. I end up playing these games "through the minimap" and find it impossible to appreciate the driving. I don't ever learn to navigate on my own either. Even if turning off the minimap completely breaks the game, it's worth it.

 

 

 

Encoding issues with this video

 

On the topic of love/hate relationships: this video. The content is great, but the video itself is difficult to watch for extended periods.

 

 

 

I can tolerate low quality video fine. But the oscillating quality levels popping in and out every few seconds on loop gave me a headache. All of the footage of The Crew in this video is like this.

 

Here are another representative pair of consecutive frames, minus the gif paletting:

 

 

 

I was wondering if this is what youtube is normally like and I only just started noticing today. Then the video switched to carma 2 and it felt like a smoky haze had lifted.

 

 

 

Youtube's current codec config just seems completely incapable of handling The Crew. Bitrate exhaustion causing the motion prediction to give up?

 

The x264 (AVC) version of the video has this problem, the vp9 version does not. If you have the option I recommend watching the vp9 (webm) version:

 

...
137          mp4        1920x1080  1080p 5136k , avc1.640028, 30fps, video only, 1.28GiB
248          webm       1920x1080  1080p 7765k , vp9, 30fps, video only, 898.04MiB
...

 

This second variant is lower quality overall but a tleast it stays consistent. Much easier to watch. The DCT blocks occasionally do a dance, mostly visible as road lines doing a jiggle wiggle, but that's not too bad compared to the dubstep keyframing of the mp4 version.

carma.jpeg.0035533400c2dc06a71d0606f5da52d5.jpeg

hatch.thumb.jpeg.de43e2713756328cfe34af8b575f5a19.jpeg

ute.gif.2ac5a948304bc0222a87f85b49ae2359.gif

Edited by Guest (see edit history)

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oh hey, I just remembered that I made an account on this forum forever ago, and I think I have an interesting thing to point out, so I'll paraphrase the comment I posted on the video here.

 

so I actually live in Roswell, New Mexico, and I gotta say; they kinda blew it. like, geez. this town is kind of dumpy, but it's not THAT rural. hell, if any part of town looks like what the video shew, that would be way off on the outskirts, but the UFO museum (which is totally real, btw) is right in the middle of main street. the game should be showing the MOST urban part of the city.

 

and, also, what the actual fuck is that giant Space Needle-esque tower there? I've lived here my entire life and never seen anything remotely like that. where the hell did they get that from? I genuinely have no idea what that's supposed to be.

 

it's kind of a bummer that they screwed up my town a bit, because the overall aesthetic of the buildings and scenery is absolutely dead on.

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Rain and roads

 

There's something really ill-looking about the wet-state roads in this game. They're such perfect mirrors of "not the sky", looking completely stark and alien against the road. Perhaps if they had some diffusion or imperfections to their surface, but as it is they look like glitches. Are we looking into hell? An alternative dimension?

 

Ross: you may have an uncanny valley with the road geometry, but my problem with them is purely non-euclidean.

water.jpeg.7336651c151aeedb981a3e45235413b6.jpeg

Edited by Guest (see edit history)

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You can throw all the tech you want into a game, but if at the end of the day, smearing a color filter is the solution to all your issues, then you might as well just give up, why even bother have lighting, just make everything grey, who cares.

 

I'm in the same boat. Many baked lighting games look way better than dynamic or cyclic ones. Games like HL1 might have blurry textures, but the edges and the lighting are sharp and crisp. Most of all: the game has a theme and character without needing 2D filters or gray-zoning of everything.

 

If you are noticing the lighting constantly, then it's probably bad lighting.

 

Dynamic day/night lighting vs pre-baked lighting is similar to a review I once watched (read?) of the remake of Abe's Oddysee into 3D. The 2d version allowed artists to do a lot more with each panel/scene. The 3D version made everything much more generic, likely because of the greater amount of time and effort involved to make the scenes.

 

Pre-baked lighting lets a dev control everything and fix areas that look bad. Dynamic lighting teaches a dev just to tolerate the bad bits, because there's no global fix that does not cause lighting issues elsewhere.

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I grew up in Seattle, and I gotta say, they made the roads HUGE. Seattle's roads are infamously tiny and difficult to navigate. I would have loved to see that in a racing game, a sort of puzzle map. I just chock it up to people who've never been to Seattle wanting to base a game there. I don't think I've ever seen Seattle accurately portrayed in a movie or videogame. But then, maybe they just wanted to make a racing game fun, as I doubt it would be any fun racing around real seattle.

Previously Fanatic4500

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What kind of hurts is that Ubisoft has proven that it is totally able to make really really nice nighttime settings before in The Division, which makes every other one of their games look like trash when they're in a similar setting by comparison.

 

SqnsGoQ.jpg

 

I make stuff. Look at it at https://www.youtube.com/user/MadmanEpic. Or don't. I can't really tell either way.

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Also, dat flashback to 28 years ago.

Ross-passion.thumb.jpg.44a3b9d191834f5840d5e708d637ef3f.jpg

Come the full moon, the bat flies whose boiling blood shall stem the tide.

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RaTcHeT302: Great post. It's honestly epidemic. I could understand if it was an indie game trying to be more artsy, but these are behemoths with budgets of tens of millions of dollars. I'm still amazed the devs for Battlefield 3 said they would ban people fixing the color with the mod, like I mentioned in the Human Revolution episode.

 

As for the video quality, the copy I uploaded was very clear, so the problem is all on Youtube. I can look into providing a copy to download later on.

 

You can throw all the tech you want into a game, but if at the end of the day, smearing a color filter is the solution to all your issues, then you might as well just give up, why even bother have lighting, just make everything grey, who cares.

If you are noticing the lighting constantly, then it's probably bad lighting.
These are great quotes, I think I'll mention that latter one in a follow up episode later on if I remember.

 

Just a heads up, but you can mod out the brown filter from just about any modern game, along with a bunch of other gfx mods, by using ReShade (The Crew presets).
Yes and no. I used a reshade preset on the crew, it helped some things, but it never got to looking "good." Here's a few general issues I run into, depending on the game:

 

-I'm not sure I've ever seen a game where you can completely correct a full tint filter. It can accentuate the opposite color too much and drown out emphasis where the color should be there.

-I mentioned Burnout Paradise, that's one where you really can't fix things, because the color of the tint being used will change depending on what time of day it is. Check and mate.

-The Crew also lowers the contrast on the image. This looks awful during the day, but if you correct it, then night driving is even worse.

-It's uncommon for me to find a profile that really fixes the situation. Unfortunately many people will overcompensate or just get too artsy themselves.

-It kind of requires you to be a lighting expert yourself, which I'm not.

 

Granted, it can improve many games, but I can't think of case where it just completely FIXED the problem.

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Some of you might appreciate this. I made this 10 years back. Here is a screenshot from Unreal Tournament 3 in beta:

 

00135809a.jpg

 

Here is the edit I made of it to reflect the "new and improved" style:

 

newimproved.png

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I work for a large game company(mobile) , as a 3D artist, and if all the other game companies work in similar ways.. believe me, there are artists in the development teams wanting to make things look natural, with true to life colors and little or no color filters. The issue is that people who make the environments don't have the last word on the subject. If there is some higher level producer or lead who wants a color filter, there's not much we can do to oppose that. You might try to hold your ground, try to change their mind but in the end if they feel it looks "cooler" or more "dramatic" or "cinematic" with a color filter then.. that is it. The best win you can get sometimes is to lessen the intensity of some filters - it can be WAY worse, and if no one would try to oppose it during development, the games would be way more monochromatic..

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I work for a large game company(mobile) , as a 3D artist, and if all the other game companies work in similar ways.. believe me, there are artists in the development teams wanting to make things look natural, with true to life colors and little or no color filters. The issue is that people who make the environments don't have the last word on the subject. If there is some higher level producer or lead who wants a color filter, there's not much we can do to oppose that. You might try to hold your ground, try to change their mind but in the end if they feel it looks "cooler" or more "dramatic" or "cinematic" with a color filter then.. that is it. The best win you can get sometimes is to lessen the intensity of some filters - it can be WAY worse, and if no one would try to oppose it during development, the games would be way more monochromatic..

 

i would probably tell them to fuck off but, I'm usually a very insistent, "in your face" kinda guy, I would probably just straight up refuse to do it and move on and just do more important work

and i refuse to just do more work for nothing, I'm not working extra to make things look worse, piss off, I just don't like this whole "slave till you drop dead" corporate mentality, if something bothers me I don't like to wait around like most people, I try to take a stance and if I can I do try to solve the problem at hand, but if you guys really want this so badly, then you can do it yourselves, or pay me better, how about that

 

work is tiring enough, i don't need more bullshit busy work, in my mind at least

 

When you say "extra work" don't imagine that color filters take a lot of time to add. It's added in seconds. Plus you can't really take that "I won't do it" stance if you'd like to have a good standing in the company. Furthermore if you won't do it, they will get someone who will and really you haven't earned anything but a "difficult to work with" assessment. In the end the best thing you can do is to lessen the harm and maybe (I think) climb up the ladder so you can one day make the big decisions.

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I work for a large game company(mobile) , as a 3D artist, and if all the other game companies work in similar ways.. believe me, there are artists in the development teams wanting to make things look natural, with true to life colors and little or no color filters. The issue is that people who make the environments don't have the last word on the subject. If there is some higher level producer or lead who wants a color filter, there's not much we can do to oppose that. You might try to hold your ground, try to change their mind but in the end if they feel it looks "cooler" or more "dramatic" or "cinematic" with a color filter then.. that is it. The best win you can get sometimes is to lessen the intensity of some filters - it can be WAY worse, and if no one would try to oppose it during development, the games would be way more monochromatic..
Thanks for clearing that up, I was wondering how this stuff happened. It didn't occur to me that it's the producer calling the shots, they have a stupid idea in their head, so that's what's done. I think I read before some game executives are wannabe movie producers, so they'll bring over the same mentality, not understanding or caring that it's the same thing (I forget where I read that though). I may mention this in a followup episode.

 

Anyway, it's a reminder of how top-down large scale game development is. This is one of the reasons mid-level studios make a lot of my favorite games, you'll have people at every level who are invested in the game.

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Well... I don't have much to comment on the graphics and filters like everyone else here did, but I can make a commentary on the "story" portion of this game.

 

I didn't played The Crew, so all I know about it's plot is what Ross said in the video. But I've played Tom Clancy's The Division, also published by Ubisoft, and that game's plot invoked on me the same mixed feelings Ross had.

 

On the plus side, The Division's protagonist is the kind of "cardboard" I can get behind: It's a customised character with zero backstory and zero dialogue. As much as some people love to mock the "silent protagonist" trope, I think some games benefit by sticking with it. If the objective of the game is to immerse the player and want him/her to explore this world they have created and meet it's people, it's better to have a blank sheet where it's up to your imagination than a guy that's trying to fake a personality and a motivation. But just like in The Crew, everything and everyone else feels like cardboard. There are no memorable characters, no memorable antagonists, the last mission is just a excuse to enter the Dead Zone, the PvP-centric portion of the game, and it ends with a cliffhanger.

 

I see both games as two sides of a coin. The Crew is the game that didn't need a complex plot, but they decided to shoehorn one because they are "artsy" like that, while The Division story could be interesting, but it's undercooked thanks to it's open-world nature and Ubisoft's wanting to play "safe". And I bring up "open-world" here because that's the trend Ubisoft wants to follow: Games with massive "worlds" to explore, and not much ambition on everything else. Oh, and also adopting the "games as a service" model and shoving up that horrible Uplay DRM. (EDIT: Did I forgot something else? Oh, right! Also "realism")

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So Ross, I just thought I’d put this out there. When you were trashing Human Revolution, I pointed out that most if not all of your criticism was based on extremely subjective criteria, like “I don’t like exaggerated clothing styles, so it’s bad” or “This reminds me of anime which I don’t like, so it’s bad” or “This game’s politics don’t sufficiently align with mine, so it’s bad.” And here, I think you’ve indulged in an even more subjective view.

 

Surely, you must realize that almost no one plays driving games to aimlessly drive through the environments, no matter how nice they are. The environment in a racing game is like the condiments on food—if the only thing a restaurant has going for it is a huge selection of good condiments, but the food is just mediocre, of course the restaurant is only going to be perceived as a mediocre, because people go to restaurants for food not condiments. So you can’t really be surprised that this game was dismissed as mediocre—the only reason you have any interest in it it’s because of your extremely niche taste for going on Sunday drives in video game worlds. For most people (at least the ones this game was aimed at) if they wanted to go on a road trip they would just go on one.

My little gaming blog

https://corktowngaming.wordpress.com

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