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The worlds in Crowfall would be made of voxels

During the Kickstarter, ACE explained that the worlds in Crowfall would be made of voxels and that players could destroy them by blowing up chunks of the ground or dig to create tunnels.

 

The news I've seen so far about the voxels:

- June 2015: Generally it's really hard to use voxels in a game, extremely risky *

- August 2015: Most of the time was spent on of destruction side [of structures?], not on digging or harvesting *

- November 2015: Priority is destruction of buildings / terrain generation. Digging, caverns: not experimented enough yet *

- March 2016: Siege Perilous begins with the Keep that is made of voxels 

 

At this point my interpretation (speculation) is that they've been trying to make the voxelized terrain work in Crowfall to allow digging and ground destruction, but for a few reasons it would not make it in.

 

What I believe the reasons could be:

Voxels make games lag a lot more than normal terrain / structures. (as seen in Siege Perilous)

Moving through the rubble can be very difficult and clunky (as seen in SP)

Fighting on a battlefield full of holes would probably be very complicated, especially for siege weapons and mounts

It's not as fun as they thought nor realistic: in medieval battles afaik even the heavy siege engines weren't creating holes in the ground

It would probably be a real mess to balance terrain regeneration and deal with the tons of tunnels

Technically creating a fully voxelized world in a MMO must be extremely complicated

 

So in the case that the decision would be to not have a terrain made of voxels, I guess it would impact on a few things like the Guinecean whose abilities are centered around burrowing. As ACE explained though they could still make it looks like this archetype really is underground and still give it powers to siege a stronghold by below.

 

Between the fully voxelized world (KS) and only structures made of voxels (SP), there are probably a few alternatives. Maybe it would be possible to have the ground around the strongholds made of voxels. Or only a thin layer of voxels to allow the Guinecean to really dig under the strongholds. Not sure it would be worth it (performance wise) to add more voxels just for that though.

 

I was wondering if it would be possible to transform a regular terrain area into voxels for a limited period of time (let's say during a predetermined siege) so at least there aren't simultaneously too many voxels in the world at any time that create lag issues. Not sure if they could achieve that in real time though, that would probably require an update and in that case it would be too complicated.

 

Testers can already notice how laggy it gets in SP just with the addition of voxelized walls (and a few other things like catapults and the Trees, but I doubt they contribute to the lag) in comparison with the Hunger Dome. The performances seem to drop even before the destruction of those walls begin, so I guess that it's based primarily on the quantity of voxels rendered on a screen and not necessarily their destruction or the physics applied to them. So if this is accurate, having terrain fully made of voxels would be a nightmare as you mention: the total quantity of voxels needed for a 1 meter thick terrain may be orders of magnitude larger than what is currently used to build the walls in SP, and anyway tunnels / caverns would probably require to go way deeper than 1 meter under ground.

 

The plan during the Kickstarter was to allow the players to dig under the walls and siege the strongholds from below. With a Guinecean's power to create mounds that allow allies to travel between them, and give the impression that it's a real tunnel, it could work just fine I guess.

 

I hope they'll find ways to get better performances with destructible walls because I think destruction is a cornerstone of the game and something that distinguishes Crowfall from the other MMOs, and it opens the door to some cool gameplay (getting hit by chunk of walls, creating holes without destroying the walls entirely, explosion when walking over the wall, etc.) and a few other things that wouldn't be possible just with regular destruction textures/animations.

 

On top of the optimization, maybe they could reduce the thickness of the walls, make some walls non destructible, increase the size of the chunks or something else that would maybe lead to higher frame rate.

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