If you don't know what that is, it means people can ask a bunch of questions and I type furiously to answer them in the time allotted.
This will be Friday, February 12th, starting at 1pm Eastern (10am Pacific) and going for ... a while?
I have made a new reddit account with the fabulous name of "Jonathan_Blow" for these purposes. (Note the underscore! There are some other accounts with similar names!)
Maybe we can also get some other people from the team in there answering questions.
I don’t have a Reddit account. If you’re willing to answer a question here:
In general, what’s it called (in computer graphics) when the screen’s brightness adjusts to compensate for travelling between outdoors and indoors (or rather, bright areas and dark areas)?
And what shader algorithm did The Witness use for this purpose?
In some games (e.g. Halflife 2 (heh, I’m a decade out of date)) the screen as a whole adjusted, but I noticed The Witness seemed to do something that had more “volume” to it, and that shadows seemed to fill in the more distance polygons first.
You can see what I am talking about in this Let’s Play (which is not my video) at 28 mins and 20 seconds into the video; looking at the rocks in the chute and how the darkness fades in/out the crags of the rocks before the rocks themselves.
Basically, what should I google to research how to implement similar features?
That is called HDR (High Dynamic Range).
In case Jon doesn’t have time to respond, I believe that is called Eye Adaptation or Automatic Exposure (or at least that is what Epic calls it in Unreal Engine: https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/Engine/Rendering/PostProcessEffects/AutomaticExposure/index.html).
A quick google search turned up a paper on an eye adaptation technique: http://repositorium.sdum.uminho.pt/bitstream/1822/17831/1/ledda_afrigraph.pdf
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-dynamic-range_rendering This is what you want.
Here is a tutorial for implementation HDR in OpenGL: http://learnopengl.com/#!Advanced-Lighting/HDR
There’s a lot of misnomers around to describe this effect, because there are two separate operations in play here – Tone Mapping and Automatic Exposure.
First of all, we render our scene to a high dynamic range buffer – which as far as games rendering is concerned means it can store values (usually much) higher than the 0->1 range for each color channel (depending on the platform/gpu, The Witness uses fp32, fp16, or fp 11_11_10) Once all the rendering is done, we apply a tone mapping operation to convert back to the low dynamic range image (i.e. fixed 8 bits per channel) that we need for display. The Witness uses an operation similar to the “filmic tonemapping” John Hable devised for Uncharted 2 – he covers it, and a lot of the other “standrd” tone mappings on his blog: http://filmicgames.com/archives/75
Tone mapping operators require an exposure value as input, and it’s there that we apply the automatic exposure. It uses the average luminance of the current scene (calculated on the gpu by literally down sampling the hdr buffer and averaging the pixel luminances over and over until we have a 1×1 single channel hdr image) as a target value and drives the luminance that we use to calculate our exposure towards that value over the course of a few seconds – which is how you get the nice eye-adaption effect as you move between bright and dark areas.
…ok, so that was a very high level description and there’re a lot of smaller details involved, but these two methods are pretty much boilerplate standard in games nowadays.
Thanks, that gives me plenty to go off of
Why did Thomas doubt ?
Would you be willing to tell us if certain theories are actually in the game or not? Ie. So we don’t waste our time looking for things that don’t actually exist in the game. (As you say, it’s not healthy looking for these things!) :)
If you haven’t done so, take an hour or two and visit http://www.reddit.com/r/thewitness. There are a lot of fun and curious theories about extra secrets or easter eggs. It’d be awesome if you were to join the discussion there as well.
I’m not big into social media (aside from a very rare tweet or site comment) so I will not be able to join the AMA but, if no one else asks, I would be interested in the following:
1) You have mentioned in interviews that you have a file with many different game ideas in it and that The Witness was the idea you chose. What was the line/paragraph that you had written that grew into the idea for this game?
2) I remember many, many years ago a preview of this game on Kotaku where there was a very bare bones island with a handful of puzzles. There was a maze, a windmill and a mountain. How much of what the final game became was present in that initial idea and what developed over time?
Also, for other people reading this, if you have not done so already I highly recommend checking out Luis Antonio’s blog as he has been writing some fantastic blog posts on the work he did on The Witness:
It is very interesting to see how the world changed over time and some of the thought that went into creating the art and architectural style and how little details can pass unnoticed because they feel so natural. If you loved the game I think that you will enjoy it.
I’ll definitely be checking that out. I’d just like to say that The Witness is one of the rare games that I allowed myself to get hyped about. Normally I try to avoid all hype, because it can make a very good game seem mediocre because it wasn’t as good as the image you’d built in your head. Know then that when I say that The Witness has exceeded my expectations I am talking about something very rare indeed.
It is evident that a whole team of extremely skillful people have worked for years to produce a great piece of art, and for that, I am very thankful. Every brushstroke was carefully and deliberately placed, the systems are robust and bug-free, the world has a sense of place that I had not until this point seen. The work is a beautiful synthesis.
I’ll be there, particularly interested in The Witness design process and your collaboration with FORUM and David Fletcher Studio’s. Groundbreaking work Jonathan-really excited about your work and The Witness
Will this AMA be strictly about The Witness? None of my questions are really related to the game, but they’re more about Blow’s general design philosophy. I don’t own any platform that can play The Witness, which is making me super sad.
So I guess I missed it… I have a question that could sort of be a spoiler to some people. Hopefully I’m late enough on this thread that it’s no longer very relevant and no one but Jonathan will read it. But if anyone else stumbles across this, I will add a warning and many spaces before asking. I’m sorry if this is the wrong place, but I couldn’t think of anywhere else to ask the team themselves;
Is there going to be a patch on the PS4 that addresses/fixes that one of the flowers is missing on the lake? It may seem like a small thing, but I’m really a bad OCD completionist with my games and just want everything I do to count. According to the reddit community this has already been patched and fixed on PCs…
Those twenty spaces I added auto condensed themselves to one… haha
Where are you selling The Witness retail?
I have looked for an answer to this question and I hope I haven’t missed anything obvious.
But could you please explain the inspiration for the title?
I could be misremembering, but I thought I read a long time ago that it was somewhat related to the short story The Witness by Jorge Luis Borges. Even if that’s not the case, that is a fantastic single-page story to read!
By the way, what I love about this game is the sheer aesthetic beauty combined with sheer logic puzzles. I’ve seen stunning games and logic games but never the two combined into a masterwork of art.
Jonathan, Thekla, I have to say that, even when I’m failing at The Challenge, I find myself utterly delighted, laughing (if somewhat maniacally)! Thank you for it all!