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The Golf Club | June 9, 2023

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Ask The Dev - Jim O'Brien

Ask The Dev – Jim O’Brien
Anthony Kyne
  • On September 4, 2015

This week, we’re going to do something a bit different with the Dev Diary and open it up to the community. Jim’s volunteered to be the first one to give it a go and answer all things art related. We’ll open it up to each member of the team over the coming months.

Question 1

FRSTDWN: – Not sure if clothing is art but if so will we ever get more options? Shorts…sunglasses the option to wear no hat. Stuff like that. Basically just more options

HB Jim: – Maybe some limited options can be made available sometime soon. Some more colours and patterns on the existing clothes can be added fairly easily. I’ll see what I can do about getting some more for the next update later this year. No Hat should be do-able as well, just some small changes on the art side and a little support from the engineers.

New models are expensive to add. A new hat could cost a decent amount of money as well. That soon adds up if we add just a few new items to both the male and female player models. So we have to evaluate whether it’s more viable if we could sell those new items either as a clothing pack or individually as micro transactions or if it’s even worth it with the current backlash within the hard-core gaming world, which I’d say we’re part of, to paid DLC. More clothing content is definitely what we want to be doing though, we just have to make it cost effective for us and if it’s worth doing unless we do a TGC2

Question 2

Brighttail: – Tell him well done on that damn drone that flies around and distracts me

HB Jim: – Lol, what drone?

Question 3

XRangerD: – Open up some items for modding by users. Clothing items, flags, signs, walls, fences and perhaps even buildings could have community development. These could be edited and returned to HB for inclusion if practicable. I’m certain you would end up with hundreds of near-complete art items at zero cost to the studio. Selection, polishing and testing them would be the studio side.

HB Jim: – Thanks XRangerD. New clothing items are unlikely due to the financial considerations mentioned above. Modding existing clothing textures might be possible. I’m looking in to that now and if I get clearance to pursue it, I’ll figure out a submission process.

Regarding flags, signs, walls, fences and buildings, it can get quite complicated. Just one prop model, needs its textures, normal maps, ambient and occlusion maps, 3 levels of detail, a collision mesh and an icon for the editor. All of those objects need setting up in a particular way inside of Unity. I’d probably need someone full time just to receive, review and edit those items.

Producing a Golf Club Development kit, detailing polygon budgets, texture budgets, naming conventions, file structures etc. would help the community produce content that is more likely to get approved and also be processed easily on the studio side. That’s something I don’t have time for in the short term but will seriously look in to it as a more long term strategy provided I get clearance to pursue it.

Question 4

UrsusArctos: – Any news about the look and behaviour of “steep” terrain? Sloped at 80 or more ° it should look and behave like rock. Might even better be a designer definable surface behaviour.

HB Jim: – The terrain is basically mapped from the top down. Beyond a certain point you will get uv stretching and it might be expensive to pass another uv set for the steeper slopes and blend it in to the regualar splat maps. I think all the regular terrain surfaces are considered to be Heavy Rough. I can chat with Paul to see if we can assign physics properties to the different splat channels

Question 5

UrsusArctos: -Any news about the water above level zero and flowing rivers and creeks? The last info (we’r trying to find a way) is some month old.

HB Jim: – Yes, I spent a bit of time looking at it and it’s high up my priority list not just for the Golf Club but also for the Greg Norman Team. I doubt we’ll see multi level water in the short term but it’s going to happen one way or another. In my tests I created a water plane, a box basically with a water texture on it. I placed it like a prop and then sculpted the terrain around it. Multi surface water will not have the same quality as our current water does. We have solutions in mind but require specialist engineer time for this and I’m unsure how soon that engineer would be available to support this.

Question 6

UrsusArctos: -Any news about the bridges above level zero? adjusting to the ground-level at the start and end of the bridge and including and automated “snap”-in for the elements used.

HB Jim: – I may be adding some more small bridges before the end of the year. I’m unsure when snapping will be implemented. Bridges above zero – let me think on it. It might be ok for one off bridges but much more complicated for sectional one. They would need vertical snapping too.

Question 7

UrsusArctos: -Any news about the rotating trees?

HB Jim: – We will not get rotating trees in The Golf Club. The Unity tree instancing requires all the trees of the same type be facing the same way. I do have a task to evaluate SpeedTrees in Unity 5 should we ever move to that. SpeedTrees will allow for rotation of the tree as they have pre-rendered billboards from a number of angles.

Question 8

UrsusArctos: -Any news about the resizing/streching objects on X,Y and Z axis independend of each other?

HB Jim: – I haven’t looked at this at all but it might be bad for performance. Uniform scaling, I beleive, is far more optimal, particularly with objects requiring collision. So, for the time being I’d say we will not be supporting non unifor scaling of objects.

Question 9

UrsusArctos: -Any news about autoadjusting objects to lie on the ground? Rakes, benches, cars, buggy’s, fences, walls etc. Even buildings without autoflattened ground.

HB Jim: – Maybe for the Rakes, Cars and Golf Carts. It’s possible but may affect course generation time slightly. I’d prefer not to allow walls and buidlings to be placed on slopes.

Question 10

UrsusArctos: -Any news about the retaining walls at levels above 0 and auto snapin of the terrain at the “retained” side?

HB Jim: – Maybe, like the bridges above zero, it’s simple enough for one off items but not for sectional items until we have the snapping in. Auto snapping of the terrain at the retained side is probably not going to benefit anyone as the terrain resolution is not small enough to get the terrain to align. That’s part of the reason why it can be difficult to work with retaining walls.

Question 11

Han: – Any new buildings and bridges in the pipeline ?   Such as stone ruins, farmhouses, suspension type bridges (if eventually we will be able to raise  bridges above ground level).
HB Jim: – I may be adding some small bridges before the end of the year and possibly a couple of small buildings to enhance the Tropical, Delta and Highland themes. Bridges above ground level, as mentioned above may be possible provided they are one off bridges. Sectionals I would hold back until snapping functionality is added

Question 12

Han: – Any new vehicles too ?  Tractors, stationary planes and helicopters come to mind.

HB Jim: – I’ll see what I can do. I’d rather upgrade the cars before adding new content but I’ll look in to it.

Question 13

Han: – What new trees, bushes and plants can we expect with either new themes or globally available ?
HB Jim: – No new Global plants in the next update and I’m unsure how soon any more will be added. It’s relatively low on my list for now. The Swiss Theme, an update to the Alpine Theme has some new bare/ dead trees.

Question 14

Han: – Are there any variations on retaining wall types, both height and material construction due any time Soon™ ?
HB Jim: – I’d like to get some more in there but am tempted to hold off until snapping is functional

Question 15

StormGolf73: – I can help with assets if you need. I started another post about clothes and asked in Anthonys stream about it. It wasn’t shot down but basically “its something we want to do Jim just needs time” more or less. If I can help in any way let me know, would love to be a part for penny’s on the dollar :) In my signature you can see I work at a 3D animation company, I model and render environments all day long. Attached are a few sample shirts I pulled from the game assets and edited up just for fun.

HB Jim: – Thanks StormGolf73. The sample shirt designs are brilliant. I’m looking to get the all clear to try these out and we can continue to chat offline on this.

Question 16

bigtee: – Enjoying the themes jim, they add a nice dimension to the game. Hows the australian theme coming along ? also, are greens on swiss theme same as alpine ?

HB Jim: – Thanks bigtee. No progress on an Australian Theme just yet unfortunately. It’s on my list but a long way down that list right now. The colours of the Swiss Theme greens are a little different but the default green speed is the same as Alpine.

Question 17

Bubba Spieth (DDawg): – Where is my PACIFIC WEST COAST THEME? LOL

HB Jim: – It’s a long way away. Feel free to send me some reference so I can assess how much time is required to put it together.

Question 18

Royce: – Can we get some other type of retaining walls such as steel, rock/stone or different types of wood textures? Variable height retaining walls is also a must (think along the lines of the 17th at Sawgrass).
HB Jim: – I’ll see what I can do, variable height is a bit tricky and not something I’d spend artist time on in the short term. Ideally we’d have a more procedural solution than us creating dozens of duplicates and varying slopes/ heights.

Question 19

Royce: – How about some telephone poles (if you were really slick you could design them sort of like cart paths, where they “connect” with actual cables between points)? A flag pole would be nice too.

HB Jim: – We can add poles with fixed cable lengths but procedural cables would be a lot of time and effort that could be better spent elsewhere. When we get snapping, we can consider adding poles.

Flags poles are a maybe – the hole flags are expensive so having dynamic flags for the user to place would affect performance in a big way. We could maybe, at a stretch, limit the user to one flagpole

Question 20

Royce: – A plain white clubhouse, something with a 1920’s look (think Augusta) would be lovely, so many courses have this “plain” style clubhouse (would also work for residential houses bordering courses). Speaking of which, more residential houses please. Maybe some single story ranch homes in brick & wood siding?

HB Jim: – I’d love to add a lot more buildings. Setting aside the time and cost for us to make them. There’s a memory cost to having them included in the GNCD. We may have to limit how many different buildings can be used in a ny one course. If I do get some more buildings in the pipeline, I’ll be sure to mention it.

Question 21

Royce: – What about some hedges to border different areas? The current set of bushes doesn’t really work well for creating a border.
HB Jim: – It’s something I want to have but do not have the time right now – It needs to be sectional, like the walls are now, but the rendering of the hedge will be tricky.

Question 22

Royce: – Would it be possible to select the color of bunker sand independent of theme? I want the more whitish sand bunkers in Boreal for example. Also selecting the color/texture/pattern of grasses within each theme would be awesome. This kind of stuff gives our wonderful course designers more options to create those unique courses.

HB Jim: Paul has been working on this, so yes we will get that.

Question 23

Royce: – More structures in general would be great. Tiki style cabanas for the tropic theme. Some stone buildings for links/highlands and row houses to give that British look?

HB Jim: The Tropical/ Delta and Highland Themes do need some theme specific buildings and I’m trying to get some time set aside to get those made.

Question 24

Royce: – How about a simple white picket fence?

HB Jim: I think we will get these in in the next few months

Question 25

Royce: – Flowering tree (i.e. Cherry tree, apple tree etc)?

HB Jim: I’d like to get some of these made but I can say we won’t see them in the next few months.

Question 26

Royce: – Sprinkler head covers to place in the fairway would be nice to add a small touch of authenticity.

HB Jim: I can add those to the model list for sure.

Question 27

StormGolf73: – Related to the bunkers….Is there anything that can be done with the shading that is currently used on the edges I personally (without seeing what it would look like) would probably prefer not to have the fake shadow edge shading. It looks quite bad on many courses. It’s one of the only things that really stands out graphically to me. you’ll notice it more when you have a finger of the bunker sticking out, the shadow separates from the bunker and instead of giving it “depth” it totally looks fake and distracting! Seems to happen quite a bit on well sculpted bunkers…which is what we prefer right?

HB Jim: – Paul is looking at the shading on the bunker edges. We’ll see how that progresses and update you on this.

Question 28

Bubba Spieth (DDawg): – While I’m at it …How about Hedges that can be used as walls? This is a recycled request …

HB Jim: – It’s something I want to have but do not have the time right now – It needs to be sectional, like the walls are now, but the rendering of the hedge will be tricky.

Question 29

Merace: - The main thing that stands out to me on courses is the sharp edged line between the fairway grass and rough. Is it possible to smooth this out some?

HB Jim: – It’s something we want to fix. Paul is looking at a possible solution for it.

Question 30

Soop: – Is there any chance that HB Studios will be releasing any real courses?  Since the importing real terrain data feature will not be released to the general public for the GNCD it would be cool if HB Studios had a DLC of real courses.

HB Jim: – No, we will not be releasing any real courses. People are welcome to create their own versions of real course in the Greg Norman Course Designer. There are some amazing courses out there based on real life ones.

Question 31

TaS: – Sod wall bunkers?

HB Jim: – Not any time soon. It will require a big change to our terrain system. We simply don’t have the mesh resolution in the terrain to support it right now. If we increase that resolution, generation times would become unacceptable. Also, the required uv mapping of the sod walls is different to that on the rest of the terrain and would require a second pass which again will increase generation times.

Question 32

Bubba Spieth (DDawg): – Recycled: Ability to rotate background …

HB Jim: – I think Paul said it might be possible but it’s a way done the priority list for me.