Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Tuesday Rocks

Some Shader Success

You will never find a more challenging maze that is the shader coders daily life. Every little dust of wind will affect the output of your shader, and when you are in experimental shader writing mode the problems magnify beyond belief.

I spent most of the day in a pitch battle against thin air for the most part, unable to make contact with anything and not even knowing whether I was winning or not.

Two hours before writing this text I decided to go right back to first principals and get something small working and work my way forwards. The technique worked and I can now sigh a little with my terrain now accepting a shader shadow and rendering alongside my other shaders. Phew!

Mark Art

After my green and white splodge screenshot I have now been banned from posting any more 'developer art'. The idea is that as we get closer to the release, this blog becomes part of the product marketing and we don't want any 'dislikes' or 'misunderstandings' over the final quality of the project.

To that end, I will only post prepared artwork from our esteemed artist Mr Blosser and Mr Peter.  Here is one such sample, a render of some rock which I will attempt to coax into my new terrain shader very soon.

Normal Success

Perhaps I celebrate prematurely but I just got an email from the Terrain Module author with some new source code which solves the normal issues I was experiencing.  Fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly this evening and we can get normals updating as the height changes. After my early shader work, I have concluded the normals are vital to the success of our terrain so I am very nervous about checking out the new code!

Signing Off

I would have shown you a sneak peek at the 'decent demo' with a terrain background plus shadowing, but it's not top draw so you will never see that version of it :)  Once we get something stunning, and our QA guy approves it, just maybe, you can have a sneak peek at Reloaded terrain.

More work due this evening, but looking at the clock I seem to have done an 8 hour stint without a break and currently light-headed.  Some food, then more lovely coding!!


  1. That rock shader/texture looks amazing! I can't wait to see it flowing over smooth terrain!

    I'm very glad Kaedhodro (is that how you spell it? That's just from memory), the author of BlitzTerrain (I think), is helping you out so much. I just hope for your sake that his normals code helps greatly :)

  2. I kind of love the In-Dev shots. This is a dev blog and so I expect there to be such screenshots like the latest we got from the terrain.
    I just hope you and your QA guy could rethink the way, new shoots are shown.
    Other than that, the rock looks nice but can't really comment on it, as it's not the final "ingame shoot". But I can see where the terrain textures might be going to.

    1. I agree with you, DarkGoblin. We all love the programmer art. It's the most interesting part of the whole blog. Rick, maybe you could have a watermark in the images that says something like "Temporary Artwork"? This is a dev blog after all and not a product advertisement.

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  4. My understanding is that these are all developments in progress and not final outputs. Lack of screenshots is depressing as I've been getting more excited about the recent visuals than I have about anything else in the past couple months. But if you gotta follow the rules I understand. :)

    The only people that would be disappointed in what you have shown recently would be those that dont understand the concept of development stages. Though I think most of the people following the blog have that understand and are getting just as excited as I am. Just my two cents but I'm sure you already agree.

    I cant express how excited I got with your painting textures examples and terrain... completely unreal from what we all might have expected to ever come to FPSC.

    Anyway to see dev art is what keeps my hopes up. Not entirely the flashy stuff.

  5. Personally I would much rather see and think that blog images or content examples of reloaded dev showing such as the recent painting of terrain, water and paths and so on provide anyone watching Reloaded progress who have any interest much more encouragement to support and continue supporting Reloaded because viewers can actually see progress of something which gives some idea of the dynamics and power of the engine. The image of the rock block very nice though it is simply shows a texture which could be simply a photoshop image relating to anything with little relevance to anything inside a game engine.

    The power of the previous few days dynamic videos however is far superior as a marketing tool to me at least albeit only containing proto type textures/colours.

    I think viewers do like to see development progress visuals as it shows just that - progress and a picture or better still a video shows that far better than anything else i.e. "a picture or better still a video paints a thousand words" in a dynamic way and viewers don't need to see of prototypes of dev as they fully understand the reasoning behind whats being shown. Releasing anything within reason is better than nothing.

    I fully understand the need for quality control of the core engine itself of course which is an entirely different thing. The eye candy will naturally follow when the core is done. People do understand that.

    Eye candy whatever the quality, being a bonus will not sell Reloaded as anyone following its progress now or seeing it later can see past that at least if they have and where with all, at all and will be looking for game features, functions, dynamics and mechanics and the quality of those in the first instance - the eye candy putting the polish on it.

    The dev progress content is too me at least both very interesting and generates further interest in viewers wishing to follow Reloaded progress and who are looking for a potential game engine to develop with.

    As said if you are going to Blog then the type of dev image content shown is all better than any amount of text descriptive you can write even though that itself may be of considerable interest to more hardened devs.

    Clearly imaging of things like animated character movement sets or animated Terrain building much better than a single screen shot no matter how good any single image may look. i.e. a character visual itself no matter how good has little power to hold any interest or viewer attention - the actual character is of little importance, but the animations and AI depicted on the other hand is what users are looking for.

    Seems like theres plenty of time to get to a stage where anyone following Reloaded needs to see polished eye candy and at the moment the physical engine progress is what anyone would be interested in despite it being nice to have the bonus of advanced visual imaging to go with it.

    At the moment I would much rather see something of the progress - Editor or Engine features or functions in dev themselves in action i.e. terrain or segment polygon building, physics progress, than of anything else as thats what its all about and we fully understand that there is at this stage no need for nice textured visuals which are not much use to anyone without an engine to use them inside. If such is needed for in the case of the terrain for example to show height and shading then thats a different matter but the engine has no need of advanced textures at this stage to show off its potential and sell it.

    That time will come will hopefully come soon enough for the quality of visual imaging promotion but if it does not then there wont be any need for it at all. First off the engine and editor core is of paramount importance and everyone understands that even anyone new to game making - its not difficult to get ones head around that.


  6. Why cant you youst add ( PRE ALPHA TEST) or some thing like that or (Develop Testing art.Finished result will be 10x/100% bether)
    i love to see your progress with Photo`s and probly lots of other ones too. Haters gonna hate. and True product do gets dislike or hater`s. :)meaning that if a product dont have dislike or some sort of hater/hater`s then it`s supicious to be some thing nasty ex fake or a virus etc. youst an ide to put out( i have heard this word of wisdome before so :). ps Norwegian+Dyselexia and am a lover of your developing blogg&work your liek John carmak from id but with progress blog info to look for every day/night:D

  7. Come on, Lee. Talk to Rick for us. Pester him until he lets you post more dev artwork, even if it does have to have PRE-ALPHA or UNFINISHED ART emblazoned across it.

  8. I hate to say I am getting a little frustrated with Rick, I am starting to feel like he hasn't a clue how to market a product and is extremely paranoid. It is ridiculous you are not allowed to post work in progress stuff, about a tool game developers will use to make games! Key word, GAME DEVELOPERS who I am sure are all too familiar with developer art.

    Seeing some progress is better than no progress. The videos, images and likes are exciting because we are starting to see this tool being developed with all the features we desperately need.

    Keep in mind this blog is hardly the front page of TCG, I see no problems with you sharing this art. If anything it is coaxing us readers into buying the product, not repelling us!

    Grah, I'm so angry right now. >:(

  9. ... I'm so sorry with what I started here :D
    Never thought about such a response by the community in addition to my simple post.

  10. You need to bear in mind that Rick is a business man first and a developer 2nd.

    90% of the people following Lee's blog are FPSC fans that have already paid the pledge and understand the products history. Rick is targeting people that probably only play games and may take a gamble on a new game engine but will only do that if it looks like a ps3 or 360 game. From a business perspective it doesn't pay to produce the geeky development stuff we are interested in. Lee just does that because he is also a geek.

    Personally I agree this blog should not be perceived as a marketing tool for Reloaded as it wasn't ever supposed to be that but if that's the only place TGC are marketing the product outside of their website you can understand wanting to make the quality good.

    if you can't upload development pics on a development blog where can you show them! LOL

  11. I will be honest... most of the people that follow the blog are game developers, generally the ones that make their models themselves. So anything to do with the editor itself really generates pure excitement for the product, not entirely what models and such might come with it. I'm sure even those generating content for FPSC-R already can agree.

    By the way... its the step by step advancements that have brought me back to the blog each day... not entirely anything that looks polished. I think this blog should be the background dev blog where you can watch the progress and perhaps the forums or the website itself can be where we see new things like FPSC-R models and animations and etc.

    I'm with Nomad on his last line there by the way lol If we can't see rough developments here where can we? :D

  12. Please calm down folks. My concern comes from the visual perception people will have when viewing Reloaded images. It's important that we show it in it's best light with our best content. I don't see EA and Valve sending out rough work in progress images and for good reason.

    First impressions count and it't my job to ensure the quality bar is set high (which is a good thing).

    I'm hopeful that Lee now has the textures he needs to start showing quality work in progress shots.

    I seem to have sent Lee into no visual mode at present. He's like that at times. I will have to re-code my instructions to him! :-)

    1. I'm sure we all understand WHY you're doing it, Rick. We just don't like it.

      It's your job to attract potential buyers outside those already waiting for Reloaded (the hardened game devs). As such, you have to make sure that Reloaded appears as though it can create console-quality games in a way that the casual gamer can take advantage of. That's a big market to tap into. Of course, WE all know what Reloaded can and can't do, and WE know that the screenshots show awesome new stuff being born, but to an industry-newbie, it just looks like terrible artwork.

      So yeah. We understand why you do what you do. We just don't like it. Hopefully we can get some decent artwork into the engine so we can see stuff in development without destroying the appeal of Reloaded.

  13. Thats good to know Rick.

    Lee's blog is getting very exciting now with all the dynamic shadows and terrain goodness.

    Having the odd picture to look at does help break things up a bit and the videos really help to sell the new features and functionality. There's no substitute for actually seeing how the new features are shaping up in Reloaded.

    Perhaps Lee could create a sister blog which is private so only people that register and understand they are looking at alpha demos and screen shots can look at that media.

  14. Hi Guys,

    Thanks for the comments, and I completely understand where you are coming from. As a super-geek developer, I want to share everything with my fellow coders, even the ugly stuff! I don't fancy starting another 'private' blog as this would mean more time away from coding. New art is coming in all the time now, and the product is slowly being clicked together so I dare say there will be more 'decent' shots in the future (and when Rick's not looking) ;)