Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Tuesday In The Library

Integration Goes Well

I have started getting my prototypes to behave again after the massive step to integrate the terrain editing into the main IDE. All playing happily together again. This means I have separate AI, Terrain Edit, Physics and Combat prototypes to use for work on those specific areas, but all key work instantly feeds through the main engine automatically via the module files shared amongst them.  The bottom line is that it means my compile times are vastly smaller, and I can run the prototype much more quickly than launching the entire editor each time. No sense loading in all the characters and AI stuff if I am working on the terrain editor or the main map editor core.

Sounding Out

As part of the physics prototype, I have added the material sound system and are now able to work with this as the main testing platform with our sound guy. It's working very well and a great way to instantly test new sounds as they come in, and more importantly, for the sound guy to test his own work before announcing it to the rest of the team.

Right now we are working on weapon sounds, footfalls and experimenting with some barrel rolling sound effects though not sure if this last one will make it in as a main feature yet.

Backing Up The Lot

Since getting back I have been aware that backing up should be stepped up at this level of the project where every file counts.  To that end I have spent some time cleaning up older archives and ensuring only new files for the Reloaded project are kept at the front.  It's vital that should a PC decide to go on an extended holiday, I can get back up and running on a second machine. Always good advice, but especially now!

The Reloaded Library Forms

In my absence, a whole pile of lovely art was waiting for me, so I decided today was a good day to start organizing the new asset library for the Reloaded project.  Here is a rather nice render to keep your visual eye candy streaming in.

If you ever wandered why enemies in games sometimes have masks, scarfs and other facial obstruction's it's that if you removed it all the faces would be exactly the same. The problem with creating a game engine is that unique faces are a drain or artist time and GPU rendering. By hiding the face, you can confidently send hundreds of them into the battle without the player knowing any better.

Fortunately we DO have more characters with different faces, but we also want you to be able to drop in a handful of soldiers without changing your entity brush each time.  Maybe in the future we can add a system to randomly change the face on characters automatically so you don't have to worry about this particular scenario.

The library is small at the moment, but that is good for me as it allows everything to be tightly tested with physics, visual shader rendering, performance, back-end attribute data and how they work as a part of the whole game engine.  Still, six categories and growing so we're well on our way there.

A Call TO Action

I am in need of some parallel help if anyone from the Dark Basic Pro community is reading today's blog. Take a look at the shot below:

As you can see, a typical snipe position and a few victims in the distance, but the thing I want to point out are the green boxes placed around the base of the protruding hills in the terrain. This is my very quick hack to define obstacles that the enemy characters have to navigate around to chase the player.

I am looking for someone with some experience of DarkAI to write a new very small prototype which will take 1024x1024 height data and create a series of DarkAI polygon obstacles that contour around the raised parts of the terrain. y current technique is to detect a height difference of 50 units, and if detected, slap a box there.  Crude, and is a performance hog.  I need a system that can do this in real-time (as the terrain height data is being modified). Does not have to be 60 fps, just something that can be fired off and the DarkAI obstacle map adjusted in less than a second, ready for real-time game play.

It's something I am getting around to, but it's a B priority while I cobble everything else together so having someone produce the goods in parallel to what I am doing would be very helpful.  Just email at lee@thegamecreators.com or comment here for more information!

Signing Off

Well this is the end of another long day. Just going to let my PC finish off the backups, drop box and SVN uploads, then call it a day.  Rick kindly ran my new IDE on Windows 8 and totally broke it, so I am also getting a Windows 8 test machine set-up to start the compatibility work sooner rather than later.  I am sure it's just a few file permission related pebbles, but it's enough to prevent Windows 8 users having a good time!

Wednesday will see more Asset Library work, and a start on the entity mode in the IDE, to ensure selections are placed smartly on the new terrain instead of 'through' the terrain as the current version likes to do.  I also want to clean up the IDE a little more so what little there is in there feels more polished and less half-baked.  Coming together though, and with some new icons and art, will look as good as it's coded ;)


  1. Hi! Great work! I'm really looking forward to it. I did have a couple questions, though. The characters are looking so good, I've been wondering how many polygons will the characters be? What's the realistic limit of polygons for a character model for Reloaded for everything to still run smoothly? And what format will be compatible? .X, .3ds? etc Thanks!

  2. how easy is it going to be to build underground labs in reloaded?

  3. Hi lee.
    A few questions.
    As a debate hit the forums the other day could you clarify or clear up if kickstarter stretch goals are still happening And where we are if they are.

    Also will dynamic lights as in attach light to an entity as in swinging lantern or torch light held by npc enemy etc.

    If any original kickstarter Original content as been dropped.

    This would clear a lot up. I think and will calm or at least keep us in what is happening like sky lights barter and sound 3d etc. I am happy if all will be added. I don't expect it all in beta. Or half before xmas and look forward to playing with an environment for months.

    Any insight be great. And keep up the good work

  4. The high end character consumes around 4000 polygons, with LOD version stepping down to less than 700. Like any engine, add too many characters in close proximity and you will be testing your GPU! The format will be DBO (an internal DBP format).

    For the release, terrains will be sealed meaning no underground building, but once we have the basics in place, and the Room Blob prototype starts to appear, a special underground blog and associated terrain exclusion map will be introduced to provide.

    The original Kickstarter failed to gain enough pledges so the details on that page are not a strict list. Our private investor gave us some ideas for new media, and encouraged us to take direction will produced the best result so naturally energy has been taken away from some of the items that would have been implemented should the Kickstarter have succeeded. That said, the list is pretty comprehensive of what we intend to do with Reloaded so it's a good basis for comparison (and hopefully not a club to hit us over the head with). Attaching dynamic lights to entities is a good idea, though attaching that entity to a character as a lantern who walks around casting real-time dynamic shadows on everything might be a tall order for the initial release. The focus has been on getting outdoor shadows correct and fast, and then that research will naturally lead to a good interior shadowing system after release. The order in which we implement features is pretty common sense right now, with good terrain and entity editing to priority for the IDE and clever and fast game play for the main game engine. All content created so far is of a theme which will fit a single genre well and give us the best shots and videos. Once that genre is exhausted or at the very least competent, we can look at additional content ideas like Ninja, Angels and Horrific Creatures.

  5. Thanks for the insight. Just needed to know. Asi was wanting to be able to change the icon to personal each game made. And cameras on weapon and casting light from weapons and enemies. Is there a chance if you get the day and night cycle going to be able to sort of switch the shaders to stop the day shadows and add the underground light system. A swith so the engine can sort of trigger the desired lighting for situation. Just a thought. I am less worried about models and the like, as I won't be using any of your stock unless I dabble but doubt it. Well ninja be used a lot and maybe a monster. I would be more happy with a great barter inventory and be able to have a character choice or creation done simply. And have animated huds. Be able to put video onto it. Check out elite dangerous for what I mean by huds animated. Anyway yes I can wait a while for stuff but when we wait onn the blob can you add icon change ability package and security cryptd save games etc. This I feel would be wise with your stock made. As not want some quick design game made with no protection. Anyway as long as it all comes with a great weather system by February I be tickled pink ;).

  6. Information about the AI terrain obstacles; would these functions be required without any Matrix1 commands?

  7. You can use whatever system you like to produce the solution. I can then work from that template during integration. I just need an extra pair of hands (and legs) as I dash for one of the finish lines.

  8. lol. OK. I have started something that should do the trick; I will get on with it on my day off in the weekend, but there isn't a lot of spare time at the moment.

    It should be fairly straight forward to modify and link up with your system. I am assuming that it would be desirable to have different layers of terrain so that the AI can walk up and down hills; for this I have grouped the elements into terrain layers where waypoints on a lower layer can link up with waypoints on a higher layer without using up any additional AI containers, which you could set according to your needs.


  9. I have just had the busiest 2 weeks of the year at work, but I have finally had some time to continue extracting AI terrain obstacles, and will be getting on with some more today. So far I have sampled the height-map pixels for comparing ground pixels to obstacle pixels.

    Next I will finish the comparison function and create a means for converting this information into obstacles.

  10. That would be awesome as it's still on my TODO list :)

  11. I have just completed aspect which allows the AI to walk around a terrain as part of the obstacle system. I have posted progress images in the DBP forum. Next phases is real time updates, seeing how fast I can make it work and how well I can simplify the obstacles themselves.

  12. Can't wait to see the finished article ;) Thanks for the update!!

  13. I my self like others, Wonder where dbpro is going. As you use it as the main engine for reloaded, I am sure you are aware of what has, Been going on with it. There is alot of people on the forums along with my self, Will we see updates to fix the problems we are having? Thank you and great work !

  14. There are no plans to fix any issues with the latest version of DBP while we work on the Reloaded engine. The good news is that the internal version of DBP gets stronger and faster every day so you can be sure that at some point this version will be made available to DBP users down the road. What form or shape that will take is certainly up for discussion but for the immediate future my focus is on making Reloaded faster, more stable and jam packed with cool game making goodness.