Asset Replacement Reboot

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Ravenwing
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Asset Replacement Reboot

Post by Ravenwing » 23 Sep 2019, 00:12

Rather than piling on top of the MOAR thread, I thought it worth starting a new thread. I think OpenMW and the modding landscape has changed enough in the last few years to warrant revisiting several of the old assumptions that seem to have been made. Additionally, the relatively quick (and very unfortunate) failure of that project implies we should look on things with fresh eyes.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, please see this thread and this thread.

The project goals would be largely unchanged, and I've been thinking a lot about many of the details, but before we even begin discussing most of that, I think we need to establish how the project is to be organized. I would LOVE to volunteer to fully administer the project, but I simply don't have the qualifications to justify that to anyone, or the time necessary to do so. Moreover, I don't think the project will survive with one or even two main admins. Deonsion put a bunch of time and effort into setting up what sounds like a very nice custom solution to help maintain the project, but then seems to have disappeared (I honestly don't know what the circumstances were) effectively crippling the project.

We need a system that doesn't depend on the benevolence and attention of a single person (i.e. increase our bus factor). In an attempt to try and solve this myself, I spent a couple days this week looking for digital asset management solutions. Most of what I found was not only not free, but exceptionally expensive. I am very willing to chip in several dollars to help pay for hosting etc. but $3,000/month is not anywhere within our collective realm of possibility. I also learned how very out of my depth I am, never having attempted to set up something like this before.

The only promising lead I turned up was something by Entermedia, which they say is open source. You can create a free account with 100 GB storage, but I really didn't understand many of the settings and suspect this isn't entirely what we're looking for.

From what I can tell, what we need is some hosted space with the ability to set up user permissions to allow contributors to easily upload and track completed assets. Ideally it would have a check in / check out system so we don't get double ups. As long as we have relatively good communication, it shouldn't really be much of a problem, so don't think check out is necessarily essential. We need something that can be administered by multiple people, with a master account that can be passed along like many of our accounts here (our PR accounts come to mind). It also needs to be able to lay dormant for a month or two without disappearing into the ether, so it can be picked back up and continued should people or motivations disappear. It does not necessarily have to be free, but relying on donations from users is probably not the most stable.

So I guess this is my plea for help! Rebooting MOAR would be great. I think we actually will have a fair amount of help in regards to actual asset creation, as there always seems to be one or two people a month looking to help in some kind of assets related way. But in order to capture that and flesh out the rest of the goals and guidelines, we really need some kind of digital solution to help track what's being worked on. As I said before, I am happy to help with administration and even some of the asset creation once the system is set up, I'm just out of my depth in getting the initial bits sorted out.

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AnyOldName3
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Re: Asset Replacement Reboot

Post by AnyOldName3 » 23 Sep 2019, 01:41

One thing I'd like if we were doing a MOAR reboot would be to make sure that all new assets have a PBR material set up, otherwise we're going to have to start again in a few years. At this stage, we're not settled on what parameters we're going to eventually support, but for the most part, any sensible set of textures and values can be converted into any other sensible set.

The hard part with this, though, is going to be coming up with a way of baking a PBR material into something that looks okay with Morrowind's gamma-incorrect Lambert+Phong/Gouraud setup so that the new assets can be used in the meantime. While it's theoretically possible (and should be automatable), it's much harder to find a guide explaining how than the other way around (which requires a human to do all the work). Worst-case scenario, I guess someone could write some code that does a bunch of maths to see what gets the most similar results.
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silentthief
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Re: Asset Replacement Reboot

Post by silentthief » 23 Sep 2019, 18:56

AnyOldName3 wrote:
23 Sep 2019, 01:41
One thing I'd like if we were doing a MOAR reboot would be to make sure that all new assets have a PBR material set up...
I'm all for this. I don't know much about it though (like can we get Blender made assets to support this or if NIF files exported from blender would allow this, for example). It would also be great if there was a way to make it so this can be done in a way that works without totally crapping the look of the original assets. I mean, mixing the results would probably be glaringly obvious (and our assets should in theory replace ALL the original content) but it should hopefully not make some mod makers content look awful either.

I know for a while there @DestinedtoDie was kind of overseeing the example suite. I hope that they are okay, but it looks like there has not been much activity from them for a while. It is a large task to do - replacing ALL assets in the game with ones that are not legally Bethesda's IP, as there is just so much of it.

ST
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Ravenwing
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Re: Asset Replacement Reboot

Post by Ravenwing » 23 Sep 2019, 23:40

Damn you two! My point was it’s not even worth discussing unless we’re able to set up a hosting system that we can use to collaborate on! Lol, but I do very much want to talk details as well. ;)

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AnyOldName3
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Re: Asset Replacement Reboot

Post by AnyOldName3 » 24 Sep 2019, 01:53

Worst-case scenario, we could just chuck it all in a git repo or cloud storage thing and have absolutely no management at all. If we're not yet at the point where two people are considering working on the same mesh, a system to manage that isn't necessary yet, even if it would be nice to have.
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Ravenwing
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Re: Asset Replacement Reboot

Post by Ravenwing » 24 Sep 2019, 06:36

AnyOldName3 wrote:
24 Sep 2019, 01:53
Worst-case scenario, we could just chuck it all in a git repo or cloud storage thing and have absolutely no management at all. If we're not yet at the point where two people are considering working on the same mesh, a system to manage that isn't necessary yet, even if it would be nice to have.
Fair, and indeed I don't think we need some rigorous management system unless the project grows far beyond expectations. I don't really envision more than maybe 10 artists working on the project at a time. I took a look at what Tamriel Rebuilt is doing, since they have a fairly similar use case to us. Looks like they're using their own custom system though :/

I took another look at the Entermedia database I linked about earlier and just going through all the settings had me annoyed again. So I think, certainly for the time being, a cloud storage setup is probably fine.

How do people feel about simply using Google Drive? Only 15 GB free, but by the time that gets used up, we can either pay for more storage (only $2/mo for 100GB) or will have hopefully found a better solution. I know we all like FOSS solutions as much as possible, but it's not like these are assets that we own anyway. It easily allows spreadsheets and other docs to be right there alongside to help keep track of things. Plus I think most users are already fairly familiar with how it works. Only annoying thing is the admin will have to invite people to share with them, but there's always going to be some amount of required activity on the admin's part.

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Mistahtokyo
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Re: Asset Replacement Reboot

Post by Mistahtokyo » 26 Sep 2019, 16:02

A total lack of structure would not be good, nor a free-for-all grab since, while the total mesh/texture count is high, there are generally popular/common meshes and textures that are more likely to see work than others. In that case, it's good to establish some idea of what's being worked on. At the very least have a forum style setup for people to claim assets, then a common upload spot to dump the progress in.

Certain rules need to be established as well, such as how long a claim can be held without progress before being opened up for others. Another good thing to consider is ordering the meshes into a list of most used/visible in-game to least so that the project can start out taking on the most important/noticeable pieces first, then gradually work down to things like rings and amulets, etc.

Edit: Also before even starting out, has anyone asked recently whether or not projects like Skywind have any interest in sharing/releasing assets for use in Morrowind? Ideally the project should make use of existing modern asset replacements to avoid duplicate work.

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lysol
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Re: Asset Replacement Reboot

Post by lysol » 26 Sep 2019, 17:52

The Skywind idea has been brought up several times before. IIRC, there was a guy from the Skywind team here many years ago, and I think I remember that the issue was that Skywind has seen several artists come and go during the years, and that it is almost impossible to get in contact with all of them because there has been so many of them. The artists has only given permission for their art to be used in one Skryim mod, anything else would need each artist's explicit permission, and again, most of them has left a long time ago already.
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Mistahtokyo
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Re: Asset Replacement Reboot

Post by Mistahtokyo » 27 Sep 2019, 16:53

There's plenty of artists who have made great models and textures for their team that are still active. Being able to use all of the assets would be nice in some ideal scenario, but even a small percentage of assets that need not be redone is a step forward. I do recall one or two mentioning that they would release their own work eventually, but only after Skywind's release.

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Berandas
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Re: Asset Replacement Reboot

Post by Berandas » 27 Sep 2019, 18:56

Just FYI I am still keeping the whole MOAR thing alive on my Gdrive (data-wise) and there are still people doing little contributions from time to time. I also shared it with the Atlas project some time ago.
Though I should probably do a little cleanup and update the files and guidelines for the newest Blender version.

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