Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Tuesday Forest Making

Blog Peek Day

Another new high for my modest developer blog, with over 1,188 views yesterday, which is always a nice statistic to start off my blog writing each evening. It means I know there are a few humans out there reading it, unless it's 1000 web spiders!

Progress With A Picture

Spent more than half the day with some very boring Visual Studio 2012 project cleaning work to get all binaries using the same VC redistributables. The hope was to achieve Win8 native compatibility. After over half a day work, absolutely no joy. The executable refused to run as though I did nothing. Ah well. At least my projects are consistent and all share a common dev setup moving forward.  The less half provided some amusement and a new picture for you all:

What you are looking at is a new 'spray entity' feature of the editor which slightly modulates the scale and tilt of the entity you have selected and randomly sprinkles them into the map around the cursor.  The upshot is that with three or four tree types, you can create a very dense and convincing forest in less than 20 seconds.  Position, rotation and scale are sufficiently different enough to fool the brain into thinking lots of different trees are surrounding you, when in fact there are only six in the scene above.  It took me longer to find a place to start for a decent shot than it did to create the scene in the first place.

The downside is that all these trees are clone objects, which means they are all gobbling memory, performance and draw calls.  I have an idea how I can group common mesh texture batches and vastly increase performance, whilst reducing overall memory usage.  I have decided to postpone this optimization in favor of more needed features of the engine for the beta. When you get your hands on this feature, go easy with it or you will find your terrain populated to such an extent it will turn your game play performance into something resembling a sequence of screen shots!!

Of course this is without self shadowing. When I add S.S, each pixel of the forest scene will be more expensive and more performance hungry. Another issue is that trees and veg are very hard to occlude so a certain amount of overdraw may prevail where semi-transparency is used.  Fear not, it is all part of the development of a monster games engine :)

Windows 8 Work

As excited I am about adding physics, characters, AI, e.t.c I really want to get this basic software running on all the Windows devices around me, and it's nagging me that it does not run on a fresh Windows 8 machine.  I am going to dedicate another half day to debugging exactly why the software just stalls on this OS, and get it dealt with once and for all. It's probably the one item on the list leading up to the BETA everyone will agree on. Compatibility with the minimum spec cannot be considered a B priority for a commercial product, even at beta.

Signing Off

The good news is that I have eliminated VC distributables as the cause of the software inconsistency on other systems, which leaves more likely reasons such as file write access, permission protocols or strange manifest related nonsense.  I will be very happy when I finally corner THIS bug!


  1. The random attributes of placed trees is a really nice addition, thanks for that Lee! I hope we can turn it off though in case there comes a time we don't want the game touching a single value on our entities.

    Windows 8, while it pains me to say that compatibility with it is vital, I can't help feeling sad that you are having to spend time on making sure that disgrace of an operating system plays nicely with reloaded. Here's to hoping it doesn't absorb too much of your time or you'll give me another reason to hate it so. ;)

    In terms of features, what's the bill on GUI development? It would be really groundbreakingly useful to have a GUI system that allow the more technical people to construct user interfaces for things like puzzle interaction, custom inventories and the likes. I can't stress enough how limited FPSC was in this regards.

    I'm sure some people might disagree with me, but it's features like these that will really help the engine launch off as a varied game creator than a Call of Duty clone maker.

    1. i agree. sure its a FPS creator, but it has the potential to be so much more than just a shooter. I even go as far as ebing able to modify movement mechanics, ie turn off jump, turn off gravity, turn off weapons.
      it could lead to some interesting game design rather than the same shooter over and over with different models.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Totally agree with you. So much potential and yet restricted by a name

    4. I totally agree with all four paragraphs, Huknar. Particularly paragraph 2. Can't stand Windows 8...

  2. first of
    Yes Yes Yes!!
    really nice shot
    (I have decided to postpone this optimization in favor of more needed features,... how come i doubt that you will postpone.)

    Regarding GUI
    it would be nice to see a glimpse of the current GUI System, thats all
    keep up the great work, lee and Co.

  3. Thanks for the screen shot showing the added feature. Personally I think its a stunner. You are teasing the senses :-)

    Its more than a screen shot.

    What I like particularly about it is that it shows Reloaded doing what it is intended do show it doing - and doing it very well. I had only in the last few days looked at some top Titles and and how they do this and considered Reloaded doing the same. Now it does.

    Carry doing it well across to other things and its way to go for Reloaded.

    Windows 8 and beyond is seemingly a priority. I don't see how you can be successful if Reloaded does not have compatibility beyond Windows 7.

    When Reloaded was announced I like many would have hoped for improvement to some of the core features Indies would look for. Larger world size, Terrain and associated stuff, better Physics/collision, improved AI. Seems we will have that and more so I am beyond happy. Icing on the cake.

    TGC seem to be committed and determined to see Reloaded as being more and pushing the bar for the product to new heights and have a good plan as always for moving forward. I think you know what you are doing.

    I have to say I congratulate you for all that and hope it gets there. To date if it all pans out well for the product I must admit it already surpasses and exceeds what I would have reasonably expected even if I always like everyone else hope and wish for more as a matter of our nature.

    Everyone wants a great deal from an engine/game maker - cant blame them for that. As its inherently firstly an FPS I think Reloaded stick to the above mentioned principle of quality and "Doing It Well" before considering a large undertaking of accommodating other game or types or application. Not that they should be ignored or not be provided for wherever possible and if possible.

    Performance a bit of a bind as has always been the case, is the fly in the ointment of course and I cant help there. Choices, complexities and limitations not sure why we have to face such problems in life but there you go. Life should be simple eh!

    Carry on regardless as they saying goes.

    Anyway all great stuff and looking forward to it progressing even more.

    Thank you.


    1. I agree that it should be able to do the thing it advertises for well, and that's to make first person shooters, but I cannot help feeling the missed opportunity for developing and marketing the software as a game creator, I think it would end up performing better in an age where I dare say, first person shooter games are phasing out.

      I think someone mentioned calling it "Reloaded" as about to "FPSCreator Reloaded" and I agree wholeheartedly with that statement.

      Especially when you consider that it is the only TGC product that is able to make extensive, custom designed games without programming. If you extend that courtesy to games in general, then good gracious me you have a product with limitless potential.

    2. "in an age where I dare say, first person shooter games are phasing out."

      No! Surely not! Why on EARTH would FPS games be leaving?? They are the most immersive type of games. TPS just don't cut it. I always wish GTAIV had a 1st-person mode so I could feel like I was actually in the city rather than staring at this guy who is in the city. And then of course I have to imagine Oculus Rift support and nearly die with excitement for the possibilities of the Rift.

    3. I think the shooters are dying, not the first person part.

  4. Hunkar,

    I believe everyone agrees with that even TGC. Rick has clearly indicted recently why the Name and even new Reloaded logo is as it is in that it is currently seen as being an aid to the initial success of Reloaded as primarily an FPS game maker and from which it can be extended as a platform to include a wider range of possible game types and uses if you like.

    There is no reason why anyone should in any case use Reloaded exclusively as an FPS maker. You don't need to make a Shooting game with it if you don't want to it could be used for other things as has been shown even with classic with a little ingenuity and out of the box thinking. There are and probably be a lot of different models packs that could have content that could be used for many purposes too.

    Personally in fact at least initially I may well do more other kinds of things with Reloaded than make a shooter though I may look at that too if it suits the need.

    I have used FPSC classic even a number of times to develop commercial non FPS/game 3D world walk through interactive presentations for a number of customers I have so it can be done. It is painstaking and hard work as its not designed for the purpose but can be done. With the extension of that in Reloaded with added features like terrain and more I am sure that i will be able to use Reloaded to an even greater extent for non FPS/game projects in a commercial environment. These are competitive fields and as said Reloaded is not exactly designed for such but I am sure it can and will be done.

    Give TGC some space to breath and they will give you more options I am sure. They are fully aware of what you are saying and have the intention of extending the FPS aspect to include other genre and options without doubt.

    Who knows you may even see some kind of port/integration to AGK2 or vice versa at some time but don't quote me on that. Its all a long future - hopefully.

    Rick keeps saying and repeating categorically that Reloaded is a long term project and TGC are up for the long haul to make sure its what users want and need obviously as long as its in keeping with sustaining TGC commercial aspirations and is technically possible. At the end of the day these things are complimentary - whats good for TGC is good for users and vice versa. Its a boat we all sail in and if it sinks we all sink. If it floats we all float. Its a partnership and that's what seems to be happening. that can only be good for everyone concerned and the product.

    I applaud TGC for the approach and hope we will all together gain much benefit from that and go forward together. Its the only way.

    So I think you will get what you want.


  5. I know why it won´t run on Windows 8 - simple cause Windows 8 is the worst crap ever. Thank god for Windows 7 !

  6. Nice work again lee,enough said.