Thursday, 10 October 2013

Thursday Was Long And Lush

The Two Ended Candle

I got up early today for a Skype call, and stayed up to code. The downside to that plan was that I did not stop and it's now 2AM. A quick calculation and you have a very tired Lee.  So much to show you, but no energy to translate it into blog.  That said I will try.

Here is a nice shot from inside a tent with the light rays streaming through the canvas netting casting the old shadow density.

As the word self-shadowing was mentioned over twenty five times in commentary, I decided to check it out and add it to the entities to see what happened.  Turns out the performance hit was negligible compared to more oppressive issues elsewhere in the engine, so it was a nice bonus.

I am however hitting a brick wall that has stolen three hours of development time, a small triangle of non-shadow in the top left corner of the test game screen where the nearest two shadow cascade views are not quite getting enough scene to calculate all the shadow for the main screen. It's one of those five minute fixes that frustratingly never gets solved, despite no less than five different ways to fix it.  I have run out of time and eyeballs for one day but there cannot be much more I need to do before I find and fix this one. It does not get in the way of anything, it's just a visual annoyance!

All that said, here is the latest shot using the new self-shadowing and adjustable shadow strength.

I had a little fun placing some items around, but I had planned to spend a few hours creating some nice scenes for a video we are working on. Alas all that time was spent tweaking the self-shadows and eventually getting lost in the put of 'non-shadowing triangle hell'.

The Lush Hand Of Salvation

As a wonderful refreshing change of scenery, Mark rather timely, sent a preview of the second terrain texture set.  As you know we have been prototyping the desert theme for our asset pack, but it was felt as we went along that a green scene is an excellent visual, so we added a terrain theme of 'green lush'.  I'm really happy with what Mark created, especially the new grass, and hopefully this will increase the type of environments you can place your games.

It speaks for itself really.  I can't wait until we explore more terrains in the future such as ice world, fire world, alien world and underground world. So much creation, so little time!

Signing Off

My apologies in advance if there are spelling errors or typos here. I cannot even see the words now, I'm just touch typing to the end of this blog :)  I have uploaded a new version for the internal team, so hopefully Rick can distribute that to the artists. Rick is doing something at the weekend with Reloaded and 15,000 people, but I will allow Rick to reveal as much as he feels is appropriate through his own social feeds.  For me, I wish to eat, drink and be sleepy.  The software is coming along nicely now, and the IDE looks pretty solid with it's new icons and reduced less complicated appearance.  I will leave that surprise until the beta though, something to anticipate!

Call To Action

One last thing. If you could tell two of your closest computer savvy friends about this blog, and get them to read a page or two, I might be able to get my daily views up and over 1500.  I hope to improve my readership counter as well as the code inside Reloaded, so anything you can think of to achieve that would be most welcome.  As always, let the comments flow!!


  1. I have to say, the self shadowing brings back a richness and some much needed depth that I thought was really lacking without the offline lightmapper.

  2. One word: AMAZING.

    All three of those screenshots look insanely good. In my opinion, we only need a little floating dust particles in the air that interact with the lighting and I dare say the visuals would be pretty much complete.

    I will say it again, I am astonished by how good this looks! Good job.

    1. I agree with you about particles.

  3. So pleased that I decided to pledge... I was on the fence in terms of waiting it out to see if Oculus Rift support would be added down the road or getting in from the get go. After watching the progression being made here - I simply can't wait to start creating with Reloaded!!! Thanks for all the hard work - it is looking outstanding!! (really looking forward to seeing an updated video!)

  4. Well, having seen these screenshots and after followed this blog since the beginning, I've just pledged GOLD! It is looking phenomenal, the shadows really do add a whole new dimension. I personally never used the original FPSC even though I own it, and don't know to what capacity I will use Reloaded, but in either case I fully support TGC and see them doing great things with it! Great job Lee.

  5. We can all see must be making progress now as the screen shots are coming thick and fast and very good they are too :-)

    SS looks great, a big plus - cooking on gas now! I am sure that will make a lot of people very happy.

    Rick suggests some dust in the air in the first screen shot I can see why it would add to it there and in availability in general. I am not sure what such a feature would require or if it would be part of a larger one handling such environmental/visual effects of all kinds. clouds, gas, water, your sand storm, weather, steam and so on for both indoor and outdoor use or at what stage any of those things may be considered or added.

    I am happy with what we see - its more than I expected in many areas thus far.

    I have only one concern and its not really that perhaps. I am sure not. The only thing that has bothered me for a while and I am sure this is because Reloaded is only in development and that is the general Shader use I think resulting in many objects, the building shown and the planks of wood sticking out there, building walls the edge/corner of the free standing walls shown, barrels, plastic bags and including the Characters and weapons I have seen in some shots - depending on the lighting to some extent perhaps - all seem to have the same surface Shader and look to much to me as if they are all made of too similar a material particularly when the light catches them - despite differing textures. All have a kind of slight somewhat plastic or ceramic type feel to them visually to me at least. Just looks a little unnatural and unreal to me occasionally in some shots more markedly than others.

    I understand that perhaps this is because I said its early days yet so just commenting on what I see up until now and I am sure all will be fine at the end of the day with a little more visual diversity in that area for various materials.

    Don't shout at me now I am only having my say and passing on what it seems to me to be
    the case "currently"

    I could live with it anyway. Still all looking great to me.


    1. Excellent. You've finally pointed out to me what has been wrong with these screenshots so far. What you said about materials is too true, everything looks a little unnatural.

    2. Indeed. I was having a hard time working out why the scenes didn't quite look as good as they should. It's because everything looks slightly like plastic.

  6. really nice,
    cant wait to testdrive it
    the more screens ic the more i believe that my game will move to reloaded
    especially like the last screen with the grass

  7. I think it really does need a video to understand those light rays. In that screenshot they look nothing short of exaggerated, but I'll reserve my opinion for the moving pictures.

    The self shadowing has helped immensely, and in that scene things really start to pull together. I think normal maps are still missing which could really help add some much needed depth and the floor texture is just really not very nice anymore. It's so bland, and I'd love to see you show off brighter, more natural floor textures for future scenes.

    The grass screenshot is interesting. I dare say that the grass strands are far to vibrant, and also, bloom lighting at night? That's not right! I can see the moon up but in no way should it bloom things like that. I also noticed the floor texture does not match the grass texture very well at all, and I think it spoils the scene a bit. (And the gun should be destroyed, it looks so out of place there! :P)

    However, it's some really nice progress and I really appreciate the change of texture scenery at long last. I really am not a fan of the desert theme, and am still a little sad that you've chosen to focus on it. But that doesn't matter to much because people like myself will end up using their own textures anyhow.

    1. "I think it really does need a video to understand those light rays. In that screenshot they look nothing short of exaggerated, but I'll reserve my opinion for the moving pictures."

      I agree completely. Lightrays shouldn't be easily visible except in a moving scene. If they are instantly noticeable in a screenshot, then they are very over-done.

      "The self shadowing has helped immensely"


      "and the floor texture is just really not very nice anymore. It's so bland, and I'd love to see you show off brighter, more natural floor textures for future scenes."

      Totally agree.

      "I dare say that the grass strands are far to vibrant, and also, bloom lighting at night? That's not right!"

      Haha that's what I thought when I first saw it :P

  8. Yet again nice work lee,your building a very nice piece of software there.Thanks to everyone working in the background also.I'me not worried about anything at the moment,its early days.Cant wait to test.

  9. I will have my final say on the current screen shot.

    They are wonderful - why?....

    Well because of what they show and not what they don't show.....leaving out any thoughts of what users may see and consider what and where improvements could be made.

    The screens shots show "forward and continual progress" and that's what is good about them in the main. A lot has already been done to accommodate feedback along the way and Reloaded has thus far continued to improve.

    Its very early days yet. Most of all of the comments here about the visual look of these appertain to things which may well be fair comment I am sure but no doubt will be variable and adjustable and different to an extent unknown but certainly allowing users some flexibility to make the visual look of their games different and as they wish to have it to a large degree.

    Shaders and Textures and a number of other major features are very complex subjects and are of some significant importance to game makers and game players and therefore it is only right to give them the consideration they deserve.

    Screen shots and other visual images unfortunately do impact on viewer perception and things adjudged rightly or wrongly especially at first impression when potential public and purchasers look at them.

    However here Lee is not trying to be a a game level designer or artist as he is hardly able to find time to sleep leave alone spend a great deal of time doing those kinds of things. That does not mean you cant suggest and comment of course but bear in mind the these facts and the screen shots, videos and so on will get better when TGC are able to provide them. Right now thats not quite the time.

    Lastly these major features of things like Shaders, Textures and perhaps I can name others like Lighting, Entities, Characters and whatever Segment or building system is eventually put in place and perhaps other features are in and of themselves major areas of Game Making and very complex. They will have as being so predominant, a major impact on Game Making and Game Playing.

    In a major game development tool these things will or may have an advanced level of user/game
    maker feature management, editing and manipulation and extended capabilities thereof in built as part of the editor system providing for a high degree of game maker intervention and manipulation of the various game elements so as to provide flexible control of these things and the results which show up in their game. This of course may be supported by any level of scripting or coding which that editor or tool includes so as to change various settings, parameters and alike.

    I guess you will understand what I mean here without elaborating. Such things could require a major investment in a game making product and don't think it is appropriate here at this time at least.

    I trust in TGC and Lee and that the flexibility of these things will be sufficiently adequate for Reloaded users and that you will see this to be the case as things progress.

    Many of the points raised regarding the screen shot visuals will probably be easily address in any case via access to the Reloaded default settings provided in script or editor and as simply as that. Additionally many users will wish to make their own textures anyway and with a combination of these things achieve a level of flexibility which will suit their particular need.

    Again I am sure everything will pan out well in the end. Still very early days and I am very pleased with it all myself overall.

    Though commenting myself I can see past what we see in the specific screen shots here to what Reloaded is really about and will be capable of and as said look to what is already been achieved not what is not yet fully implemented and which may yet be to follow.

    Keep up the good work. I'm lovin' it. More screen shots please :-)

  10. Will FPSCR feature any multiplayer improvments? Stuff like destructible objects (windows, barrels etc), sprites, more multiplayer modes? I mean, playing with your friends the game you just made is a big part of the whole "fpsc experience" and the ability to tweak many more parameters than fpsc offered (f.e how big the names above the players will be or when they should disappear etc) out of the box (without mods etc) imo would really add a lot to it.

    I am sorry if this is not the right place to post this question. And sorry for the bad english too.

    1. Its too soon for multi-player talk as we haven't even started the indoor map tools yet for buildings.

    2. It is definitely the right place to ask, and don't worry about your English.

      As Tyrone said, it's really too soon to think about multiplayer. As far as I know, Reloaded has no multiplayer ability at all right now.

  11. You should not worry about your question or English we are understanding lot here.

    Multi Player - not yet perhaps later in Reloaded development.


    Sorry I have to comment further as I am almost becoming enthusiastic here.

    Must be good as I can see Lee is enjoying himself and in preparing some level work to give you these screen shots. I can see he would like to stop now to make some more levels. Not too much of that please until you finish Reloaded so we can play with it :-)

    Lee I hope that you eventually find the time to make a nice game with Reloaded so you can marvel at your own work here.

    For the rest of us I suggest that if you have been a past user of FPSC Classic you should not have much to complain about here. When you get to boot up Reloaded and jump in to your level you should start to really see the difference and potential here.


  12. i'm really amazed! i like it, i like the "green asset".. i think it would look even better with some trees on it.. anyway, i wonder if the "tree spray tool" can also spray rocks :)

  13. Now that is a corker. All need now is a transition on night and day. With settings. A spot on water world and weather system and I will be happy and everything else I would let you all do. But now it seems shadow ocd as been assessed and dealt can you boys let us have an ask for things. I agree your stuff was needed but can lee polish up night day and other bits and then I will be happy too. :)

  14. Let us all celebrate the 1st AAA visuals to come out of Reloaded.

    Now that self shadows has been added to the real time dynamic shadow system the graphics in Reloaded are absolutely stunning. I'm so glad that everyone can now see just how important this was and how this is going to be the future of FPSC.

    There will be a genuine sense of awe building levels now and dropping in entities to have them magically cast real time dynamic shadows on themselves and the world. I simply cannot wait to get my hands on Reloaded now and start using this.

    The fact Lee has been able to enable self shadows and still maintain good performance is a credit to his development skills and very clean, optimised code. I don't want to under estimate all the other awesome work Lee has done on the other parts of the engine but he has just taken FPSC graphics to a point where we can never look back again.

    This is AMAZING.

  15. Noticed that the moon looks like an oval. Its an issue I noticed in FPSC-classic as well. So I can only assume we are still using skyboxes and not skydomes?

    1. Its still a skybox
      however - there is plenty of time to add a skydome feature
      into reloaded but that probably just wont make its way into the beta
      but in a later version it might just happen

    2. Skydome would be awesome indeed but surely hard to design. a box is a simple unwrapped flat 6 squares how do you do a dome. But any animation or none stagnant skies would add great atmosphere. Anyway all we can do is speculate for now.

  16. I don't think that Reloaded or the visuals will ever be quite AAA title standard as to be fair that's asking a rather lot for a non multi million dollar development. It's getting carried away just a little.

    I don't think that sky box or sky dome will make any difference to your issue as there is more involved me thinks but may be wrong there. You also clearly need perhaps more importantly a method of adjusting aspect ratio to a users display and or other advanced methods to prevent and adjust for distortion of objects like spheres and discs.

    If you look at the very early proto video of the weapon scope in the dynamic shadows proto and look at recently depicted screen shots of the same weapon the first instance the scope is correct and a correct disk shape and in the latest screen shots the same weapon scope (eyepiece) is not and is distorted to the oval. This with the same weapon.

    Of course the proto example was probably done in DB pro and the latter in Reloaded and who knows at what aspect ratio/screen resolution which ideally needs to be auto or be manually adjustable too match a users system/desktop resolution in Reloaded games.

    Such things would indeed or should be available when talking about your AAA titles while on the subject but not necessarily going to be available in Reloaded.

    1. If you look at an oval thats on one of the sides of a skybox straight on it looks great. But as soon as you move the mouse to the right or left it becomes an oval. This is because its essentially on a flat plan so basically looks like a picture on a wall at an angle.

      For example here's an FPSC project I'm working on and it looks great straight on but from the side it also becomes oval. Not sure how we can get around this issue though. Unless we made certain objects in the sky decals or something that also face the player lol

  17. Another update on the aspect ratio issue and distortion of discs and general screen image distortion. This has always been and issue with many indie engines which is perhaps made more difficult to overcome by todays variation in the base engine systems and users monitors which are now often wide screen based.

    One clearly needs a match between the engines default aspect ratio management system and display and both the game makers and game players display and resolution settings so that all are in keeping or a method of adjusting these to compensate for any difference and distortion from the intended and depiction of real world accuracy of the game objects and the game world scene as reflecting real human vision interpretation of the real world.


    1. This is not a big issue. There is a simple fix for any resolution/distortion/aspect problems, and that's to make sure the resolution is or can be the same as the user's screen. Very easy. Just use GET DESKTOP WIDTH() and GET DESKTOP HEIGHT(). Some games (eg. GTAIV) also allow you to adjust the aspect ratio separately to the screen res, which is unnecessary but could be useful for some people.

      My recommendation to Lee is this:

      - Fix the PERFORM CHECKLIST FOR DISPLAY MODES command, which on some computers returns resolutions that aren't supported and doesn't always return the ones that are. It even returns random squiggles sometimes.
      - If you can't fix that command, at least make the game default to the user's desktop res by using GET DESKTOP WIDTH()/HEIGHT().
      - Make a menu that lists all available resolutions, and add the GET DESKTOP WIDTH()/HEIGHT() resolutions into the list to make sure the native res is available to the user.

  18. I am still awed by the terrain generation. The green is good but so is the dry vegetation. A few more trees I think. Great job!

  19. These screenshots are amazing!! Absolutely loving the second one with the self-shadowing!! Now, if only everything didn't look rather like plastic.... ;)