It's time to get back to the matter at hand, working on DaggerXL which has the potential to someday be, unequivocally, the greatest Elder Scrolls game of all time!
Thankfully because we aren't really obligated by any sort of momentum from the TES community at large, both Lucius and us modders alike have as long as we need to make everything perfect. Yet in spite of this, I still am somewhat concerned as to how inconsistent and disorganized much of the work in the texture project has been. I know I'm at fault just as much as (if not more than) everybody else here, having not been actively following the project and commenting on peoples' work.
I think when I made the original texture project thread, I insisted that we all just pursue our own styles and not worry about how heterogeneous the texture pack may look. That was fine at the time, but as we have seen multiple people each making their own attempt at replacing the same assets (portraits, UI elements), it's made me wonder what most people would ultimately want at the end of the day - a single harmonious texture pack right off the bat, to which they could later make their own alterations as they see fit, or an incomplete collection of replacements for random things throughout the game, of debatable consistency and quality.
Given the scope of Daggerfall's artistic assets and how relatively few people in turn are working on it, I can't help but wonder if it would be in our best interest if we all worked together to pursue a more cohesive vision for what a graphically overhauled Daggerfall ought to look like. It's not that choice is bad - on the contrary, I love the artistic licensing people have taken in applying their own styles, skills and influences to "fill in the gaps", so to speak, in envisioning what old graphics from 1996 would look like had Bethesda's artists not been limited by space and technological constraints when they originally produced them. But they need a strong, unified base to stand on in the meantime.
So, just a few observations of mine to consider. From what I've seen, there are (more or less) two different ways that people feel a modded DaggerXL should eventually look:
- "Bethesda" style. Minimal deviation from the original graphics in mood and color. This is what the game would look like if Daggerfall's artists, like Mark Jones, uncovered the original higher resolution versions of the artwork they produced and released them to the community.
"Realistic" style. This is the kind of look you see in games like Mount & Blade. Textures all more or less look realistic, like they're derived from photographs or other stock sources.
On top of that, people have differing views as to how dated the game should look, and what liberties should be taken with the engine's technology:
- Software appearance. The game technology is just like the original Daggerfall, except perhaps with greater draw distances and a larger resolution. As if the game were released a year or two later with the fabled 640x480 display mode, for example. Minimal/no texture filtering, no shader effects, etc.
Updated "sourceport" appearance. Minor visual improvements added on top of the base game, like many mid-90's shooters offered out of the box for more powerful machines. Think of Build engine games (Blood, Duke Nukem, Shadow warrior). Colored lighting, maybe some shadows, particle systems. Some sprite objects may be replaced with voxels.
Complete overhaul. 3D models, higher resolution/poly versions of everything. Possibly a non-MIDI musical score.
To me, I want DaggerXL to look as vanilla and native to its year of release as possible. The Bethesda style, the sourceport makeover. I want it to still resemble Bethesda's game from 1996, but with graphical goodies that would make sense for its time - voxels, tinted lighting, etc. DaggerXL is not a new game. It's the true Daggerfall, the way Bethesda would have wanted it to have been fully realized. When it's done, I want it to feel like Bethesda's work - even locations modded in by other players shouldn't look vastly different from what's already in the game. I imagine massive caverns, forests, and riverside harbors - but in the same low poly 3D as everything else. People have talked about modding in the other Tamrielic provinces, but if they look anywhere near as detailed as the ones in Morrowind and Oblivion, it just wouldn't feel right to me.
At the end of the day, the additions intrinsic to the sourceport such as voxel mapping and improved lighting may be more than enough to satiate me. These aren't demands or anything, it's just my opinion. But I was curious as to where the rest of you fall o nthis matter as well. What vision for DaggerXL are you striving for?
Food for thought, during our festive holiday season of debauchery and excess.