Friday, 29 August 2014

Blog Spike

Had a nice spike in my blog readership, probably due to the flaming comments section over the last two days :)  Again, had a great pure day working on ambient occlusion and my little system can now light map on command, skip any light map objects that have already been lit, invalidate other entities that share an light map with one that has been moved/deleted/invalidated. It can also bounce between lit and non-lit to mimic the movement from IDE editor to Test Game. All this is in the integratable prototype and once I have solved one last 'strange' crash, I will be moving it to the main engine for final integration. I will then stick it on an 'F' key and see what happens :)

Also got some great new art in today, featuring new concrete columns and some military/outpost decals which you can slap onto the side of anything you want, giving the place a little personality.

In other close of week news, the Construction Kit is marching along, now with the ability to switch between building block themes, switch texture variations so the tile based block building process looks less formal and more random and is just about ready to involve an artist to produce the high quality geometry and textures we need to make the CONKIT results look topper. As you might have guessed, the theme of the first set of 'prefabs' will be Concrete!

I had some more shots prepared, but I think I will avoid further flame and hold it back until I can show a genuine leap forward, that is, integrated into the Test Game and using the new static_basic.fx shader I am writing for the specific purpose of creating a fast and nice looking static geometry render. Until then, enjoy your weekend and thanks again for your encouragement!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Baking In The Engine Room

Freshly recovered from fighting yesterday's flames, I am back, big as life and twice as ugly! Spent the first few hours sorting out some character ragdoll and waste twist issues, emails and other small touches, but spent most of the day working on the Pre-Bake Ambient Occlusion code (finally).

Here is the present HIGHEST shader with everything ramped up high and no real-time shadows present, to give you an idea of the raw clay my pre-bake is working with.  After applying my new lightmapping process, we get this:

As you can see, because we used a simpler shader with the light mapping texture, we have doubled the render frame rate, and the ambient scatter and directional light shadows bring out the depth of the scene.  I will be introducing stuff back into the shader such as bump mapping, specular and other touches but our watch word for this work is performance which retaining visual quality, so hopefully we can strike a good balance with this technique.

In other news, new art is being formed for a more interesting set of modern day scenes, including lots and LOTS of concrete. As ambient occlusion on terrain will take some time, I figured I would get some entity floor down so we can see nice ambient scatter on the ground. It turns out these extra pieces will also make for some great building blocks when creating game levels too!

Once the pre-baker is integrated within Standalone Export (and perhaps even Test Game) and seamlessly working, I will switch my focus over to some serious performance work and see if I can reduce the overdraw currently hammering graphics rendering performance. This technique above should allow me to make some savings inside the shader, and other rendering processes overall, and get your FPS back to a high level.

Finally, for those users moving on to pastures and Engines new, the best of luck with your future projects. Also remember, you have life-time updates to this technology you helped create, and you are welcome back to check our progress any time!  I can guarantee that performance and visual quality will improve and our final release will be an awesome game creator!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Big Steak, Small Sleep, Late Code

It was a meeting day today with almost six hours of solid talking (mostly from Gabby Lee) and it was topped off with a Guinness and 16 oz T-Bone. Naturally when I got back into the house, it was time for a Sueno :)  Stirred into a sort of consciousness about 6PM and felt like coding my little fingers off, so I did. Plenty small but crucial fixes towards the next build, and also managed to catch up on some emails too.  One email was from my artist who has more cool stuff to show, and will shortly be converted to entities for my level making fun.

In addition to these, I have a series of concrete and steel wire assets cooking which will really allow some awesome scenes to be knocked up.  I look forward to revealing those shortly too!

My intent was to do some pre-baking ambient occlusion to give myself a booster feel-good result, but when I looked at all the little but essential tweak items, I decided to clock those off instead to keep things solid. I will do the pre-bake stuff Thursday as I have a fresh day on that and should get some good progress!

During the meeting we did discuss a possible name change for our eventual Steam launch and spent a good hour just bouncing some crazy ideas around. In a funny round-about way we returned to FPS Creator, perhaps dropping the Reloaded part and expanding the FPS to mean "First Person Simulator" so we can enter non-violent markets such as schools and other kid-friendly organisations.  I am opening the floor to any readers of my blog to throw some names at us while we decide on this critical question. Who knows, you might come up with a name that resonates with the team and we adopt it.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Houston, We Have Triplanar

After a three day bank holiday break, I returned to a huge inbox of questions, action points, feedback and comments from all across the Reloaded spectrum. Took a while, but whittled them down to five, and one of those was a useful email from Rick showing a great tutorial on Triplanar terrain texturing. So well described was the technique, that it formed quite quickly in my head and I was able to see how it could be grafted to the current terrain shader.

As you can see, the rock texture is not stretched now and uses it's own XY and YZ texture UV look-ups to create a perfect vertical mapping. It cost me a little performance (from 205fps down to 187fps) but will measure less than 1-2 fps when down in the 60 fps range.  For this trade-up in visual quality, I plan some more aggressive performance work to get that back with interest.

We also had a team meeting just before the holiday break and it was agreed that performance be given the highest of priorities where-ever possible.  To this end I will be working on shadow baking and render reduction so that we can get high frame rates on the lowest of hardware (integrated graphics).

The good news is that I have already made a good start on this process, and I will be getting some extra modern day assets this week which will allow me to show off what this new pre-bake step can do in terms of visual improvement and overall performance increase. I was using a new Ultrabook this weekend and was able to run around a small scene with characters chasing me and weapons free action at 70-90 fps, so we are not too far away from where we need to be.  Watch this space for some new 'pre-baked lighting' screen shots which should be worth a thousand words :)

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Short Code Week

I am off to a PR meeting Friday so this will be a short four day coding week for me. Today I finished the UNDO and REDO for terrain painting, and added these to a new EDIT menu on the IDE.  Improved weapon accuracy system so the whole weapon set are a lot more accurate, allowing inaccuracies to come from in-game motion rather than built into the gun. I also added new fields for RANGE and DROPOFF in the weapon entity properties so you can control these from your level editing session, and they work a treat!  You can now fire through fences again (and another other transparent entity), and I have fixed the distant black issue on LUSH2 terrain, and did a little command line magic for Ravey who will need this in a week or so.

Also got a nice new preview of more modern day asset items from Adam, so I cannot wait to add these into the demo level once V1.009 features are bedded down.

The next things on my task list are more small but important editor and engine tweaks, a closer look at video memory use to see if I can make some big savings and avoid those quarrelsome crashes that occur as a direct result of running out, getting characters to explore INSIDE buildings and finally looking to finish some level of support for the ambient occlusion light mapper which has been pushed to the end of the V1.009 list due to it's relative importance compared to bug fixes and vital improvements to the editing experience.

Probably won't be a blog Friday as it will be a LONG day, but I will tinker over the weekend and might provide an update then. If not, I will write again next week and until then, have fun and enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A Non Widget Day

After many days of widgets, widget for breakfast, widget for dinner, widget for tea, widget for supper, I finally wrestled myself some non-widget tasks to make my Wednesday more fulfilling.  I write this blog at 3PM (early) as I wanted to record a little micro-victory in that as I was creating the REDO code, which I had given myself a whole hour to work on, I started to craft in the ability to add Entity Move to the list of things you can Undo. Great I hear you cry, but that would have extended my original hour and the knock-on would have been EVERYTHING else on my list shifted on!  I took the decision to add it to my task list, but not on Wednesday's list. There it can sit and marinate in a little quality time until suck time as a decision is made which day it shall be coded. This might turn out to be a better strategy to get more tasks done in a day and stays eternally vigilant about tasks that distract!

Other tweaks so far are the File Menu now has the IMPORT MODEL option, which will be having it's debut with V1.009.  The black texture on standalone model issue was finally fixed, which now allows all multi-material models to work in test game AND standalone game. Against my better judgement (on the grounds of performance) the engine now supports these types of models and the store already features this multi-textured leviathans which certainly expand artist choice. I may come back and optimize how the engine handles these down the road :)

The remainder of the days tasks consist of some gun accuracy work and some small editor tweaks and improvements, and in total will represent a good amount of work for Wednesday. In other camps, Ravey is doing well with Steam SDK research and Simon is charging full steam ahead with the Con Kit with a special focus on how the various components will be textured.

On a personal note, my favorite mouse, the one I went on eBay and replaced like for like when the original went scatty, is now exhibiting a strange 'double-left-click' issue every now and again which is starting to get a little noticeable and ever so slightly distracting (maybe 20 times a day). A mouse is a personal thing and finding a replacement is a hard task!  In other animal news, I discovered a Mole had been making it's way across my newly laid grass lawn (well not lawn, big flat area of soil with grass seeds coming through). Funny thing is, the line was almost perfectly straight, a compliment to my earlier work of removing all the rocks and debris from the dirt. To be continued...

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

More Widget Work

I did not anticipate the widget taking so much time, but with the addition of scaling per entity instance and having to store this, and handle it, and various UI changes brought about from a conf call yesterday, it grew slightly. The good news is that the current incarnation is done, and Wednesday I look at adding a free flight system to the editor so you can fly about but get back to top down whenever you want. Hopefully it will all make sense by the time the alpha testers get a hold of it.

I also found an hour to solve the black texture issue on standalone exports, which involved going through the model files one byte at a time, but it's in there now.

A short blog today as I need to eat, and skipped lunch to play a little catch-up.  Had planned to do a little ambient occlusion work but just ran out of minutes for Tuesday :(

Monday, 18 August 2014

Another Widget Day

The introduction of the widget has the potential to upset quite a few users as we fundamentally change the interface used to select, place, modify and delete entities. This transformation could be even greater when we consider adding the ability to 'mouse roam' over the terrain in edit mode, which will remove the top down restriction currently present. You could almost call the top-down way of editing a signature feature of FPSC and the potential could be that we make the editor 'more difficult' as we create more of a 'modeller' flavor.  To this end we are being very careful how to re-design the editor controls and taking extra time to do this.

A year ago I would have shown you a current screenshot, but as some users might take offence at programmer art and early design, you will simply have to imagine the state of play from the nuggets written here.  At present the system calls up the widget which allows the entity to be positioned, rotated and scaled, and to call up the properties panel. The right mouse button was being used to extract the entity from the map, and duplicate the entity, and also to delete the entity once finished.  The new suggestion is that we re-purpose the right mouse button for a mouse-look to control the navigation of the camera through the editor, and move the controls over to the widget buttons. Time and testing will tell if this is the right course to take.

Managed to get a few other tweaks sorted today so it was not 'all' widget stuff, including fixing the vertex corruption of the shotgun soldier, and also reducing the size of his weapon a little. As you can see in the shot, the gun is a little too big for him!

Ravey and Simon have performed Stirling work today with the conquest of the Steam SDK and the introduction of layers to the Construction Kit.  Again, too early for screenshots but exciting advances in functionality happening.

My next task over in my last hour of the day is to get the ragdoll system to include hierarchically correct bones for non-standard custom character models, such as those converted from ANIMER so you can bring in more characters without waiting for the core Reloaded team to produce a new set of characters. Expect these improvements to be part of the V1.009 build due later this month (if things go as well as today).

Friday, 15 August 2014

Widget Day

I spent the day integrating and repairing the new Editor Widget system which will add additional controls for entity manipulation.  Getting the rotation widget to behave itself in a real-world setting was pretty tough, but it is settled now and working fine.  No previews at this stage, due to severe programmer art.  Showed the internal team and the feedback was to add four new buttons on the widget to quickly switch between Position, Rotation, Scale and Entity Properties. 

The last one is a hint that we are changing around how the left and right mouse buttons work, so I will be curious how many users I can upset with this one! That is, I will be curious of the feedback when we release this enhancement to the editing capabilities.

At the end of the day it was integrated, but for some baffling and foggy reason the mouse pointer is not lining up with the widget, making gadget selection very horrible. At it's the end of a 9 hour stint with only a salad for company, I will leave this one for a new day when my fresh brain can solve it in five minutes.

I did manage some quick light mapping work somehow, and got textures and shadows to cooperate so here is a very early sneak peek of ambient occlusion with a low quality texture and no special shading effects.  You will notice however the creases are properly shaded to create nice inter-object lighting.

The next step on this module would be to add normals, specular, illumination and perhaps even metallic cube map reflection, depending on time and final shader performance.  Not sure whether the occlusion map texture needs to be carried into the pre-bake process but I have a spare texture slot so it's no big deal if the answer is yes.

In other news we have started our researches into Steam multiplayer and general SDK, and have made some great construction kit progress too. Both too early to show shots, but getting closer! Until Monday, have a great weekend and happy creatin!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

A Barrel Of Tweaks

I have managed to get to Thursday and drag with me a number of inbox emails that had not been actioned, so I decided to target them with action and responses so my plate looks cleaner for next week, and to that end I have been tackling little questions and small fixes before returning to the challenge of AO lightmapping.

The characters no longer cannot do a 'hip flick' issue as I have added code to set a maximum amount of hip turning that can be done per cycle, and the results are subtle but good with enemies swinging weapons around before bringing them to bear, and no sign of any hip flicking. Time and V1.009 test will tell if this solve this issue.

Also fixed the muzzle flash of UZI weapons so they no longer penetrate the barrel of the gun being fired which made the whole effect lose it's visual quality.

I am also downloading a 4.5GB project from a Reloaded user who wants me to see what can be done to speed up the engine and stop it occasionally crashing. When I asked for a snapshot of the files I did not expect nearly 5 GB but it's the only way to reproduce this one, so download we go.

Last night I spent a good deal of time, hours in fact, answering forum questions and suchlike, so I hope my contributions helped. Early feedback on V1.0085 are good so let's hope that continues as we plug away at V1.009 which will promise to be a very good build for all.

In other news, the importer has been getting even more TLC, as a direct result of new feedback from the alpha testers who are putting the importer through some tough times. All good, and will make the final result stronger!

I also want to blog in no uncertain terms that the Jet Pack took me three hours of coding, with the remainder contributed by a third party artist and did NOT distract the core development of Reloaded in any, shape or form. Indeed it added a new LUA command allowing the player to achieve flight, created a new HUD Layer system which can be re-used in future for more cool things like helmets, exo-skeletons and even first person vehicles (with more art and code). It also allowed us to trial a new incentive scheme which might increase pledge levels and allow even more core engine development.  It also, perish the thought, allows people who want a Jet Pack in their game to have one. For more information on how you can help us make this early beta of Reloaded more popular, visit our new incentive scheme page:

I may also have omitted to say what improvements where added to the Hot Fix, so I will list them here if you are interested in the murky details:

Custom character control via scripts, ragdoll model repair, physics weights and friction, entity LOD shadow fixes, support for multi-texture entities, brass ejection from Colt 1911, adding Shotgun character, new LUA Jet Pack command, proximity mine and remote explosions, improved muzzle flash positioning, better behavior for Rocket Man, one stage undo, transparency issue for for glass entities, new zoom mode for RPG, accelerated IDE speed and better time slicing with external apps, improved Escape level beginning for easier demo play, BSP weapons pack fix

I extracted this direct from my 'jobs done' list so I apologize it's not pretty, but should give you some guidance on what your friendly neighborhood Reloaded coder is getting up to.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Occlusions, Hot Fix and Free Flight!

As some of you may know, the V1.0085 version has been officially released and available to all pledgers right now.  You can find it in your TGC Product Page and will include some small fixes and also a Single Stage Undo feature which you can try out (intended for V1.009 but you get it early).

The remainder of the day I have been working on the Ambient Occlusion mapping system for the engine, and after the oohs and aahs from the conference call I had at 4PM, I figured I would show you what my current prototype looks like:

You need a programmers eye to see the potential and the problems.  I am happy with the technique in general, but you will notice the facets of the curved surfaces have seams between light map texture info, so I am thinking of some kind of diffuse component in the vertex structure to over-rule situations where small lightmaps are not appropriate (and might save video memory too as it's per vertex rather than per pixel and the phong smoothing will make it look nicer).

I can also announce the start of a new incentive scheme which you can use right now to get some free goodies for your game making fun (and to help us gather more resources for continued high-octane development in the Reloaded lab).  Rather than repeat information, here is a link to learn more:

If you log into your TGC account and visit this page (and you a pledger), you will see a simple forum you can fill to recommend a friend to FPSC Reloaded. If they pledge, you and they get 8 new cool Jet Pack models, granting your in-game character the ability to FLY!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

How To Create A Gimble Proof Rotation Widget

I finished off late last night squeezing more speed out of the Grass shader and can now show a decent 72 fps in my GTTR level demo.  I have sent out a version for testers, but I think the next update V1.009 will delivery on the performance improvement hinted at in previous blogs.

Today was meant to be a wonderful day of creating the Ambient Occlusion Mapping prototype, and the day started off with some nice sketches on how the shadow mapping textures might be stored for the terrain and various geometry batching techniques, then I got a challenge to create a rotation system for our new editor widget that had been proving difficult to master.  it took SIX hours, but managed to get a fully working rotation widget with the help of a LOT of 3D math:

This little ugly duckling allows the user top grab the edge of any of the three axis discs and rotate the target object around naturally. No gimble lock in sight and always rotates the right way. It has been alleged that this widget is now better at rotating objects than Unity, though sources are unwilling to come forward with any proof :)  The above graphics are of course placeholder art from yours truly but the mechanism underneath is a thing of beauty!

I can also reveal another sneak peek at some objects for V1.009 and the new improved demo:

It would have been nice to share some early AO mapping shots, but this work has now been pushed to Wednesday and I hope to bring good news then. Wednesday is also a busy day for releases as I plan to launch the V1.0085 hot fix and green light the re-release of the new TGC store weapons as well. Good vibes from the alpha testers suggest you will not regret updating to V1.0085 but as always, make plenty back-ups and protect yourself from catastrophe!

Going to eat and walk and rest a little now, but will likely return to have some AO mapping fun as I still have it in my head that I need to do 'something' in that direction before the sun goes down.

Monday, 11 August 2014

The Universe On Hold

Just as the question of Zombie quality has been raised at the end of last week causing a freeze on those assets, a new question has been raised on the quality and completeness of the Jet Pack collection due for release as part of a special incentive scheme.  To answer this, I have created a quick Jet Pack demo and distributed it to my alpha testers to get some opinion and feedback on whether it represents a suitably juicy incentive, and whether it's something the community wants in it's present state.  While I wait for the results of this, I have frozen the release of the Hot Fix which would enable the Jet Pack to 'fly' as it where, mainly due to any additional code that might be required if the verdict is a resounding 'no'.  Early feedback suggests 'yes with conditions' but we need to give them some time (one Earth revolution).

In the meantime, work proceeds on our competition announcement which will include videos of the winners and links, and looks set for a release Tuesday. 

I can also share some images on new assets being produced to extend the modern day asset library, and also to help me flesh out The Escape demo with more interesting scene items.  More to come next week as our artist is on a well earned break in the highlands!

Had some time at the weekend to play with the new V1.009 Importer, which allows you to import existing entities, mess with them a little, and export them as brand new entities for immediate use in your level. Here is my silly soldier statue, and had I a stone texture to hand it would have completed the look but I only granted myself ten minutes to be silly that day.

I have also vowed to really focus on performance for a few days this week so that V1.009 can include a sizable speed boost for fans of FPS. In addition to improving the speed of the terrain and grass shader on the LOWEST settings, I also added a rather nifty optimization which uses the hardware occluder of the GPU to poll how many water pixels are on the screen, and if there are not very many, or any, I reduce the water reflection detail and content right down to bare minimum. I do this dynamically so the closer you get to water being rendered, the higher the detail you will see reflected in the water. To give you an idea of speed improvement, the old GTTR level on my machine originally ran at 51 fps (V1.008), and after some shader tweaks ran at 59 fps, teasing me to find an extra 1 fps gain in the code somewhere. After my dynamic-water-detail trick, I was getting 66 fps!  Not bad for day one ;)

Friday, 8 August 2014

Friday Hurray Day - And The Secret Is Revealed

Allowed myself the luxury of spending Friday testing my HOT FIX V1.0085, and making a video for a new toy we will be releasing next week. As you are my loyal blog readers, I can reveal to you first that the secret project was indeed a JET PACK.  Took less than a day to create the mechanics for first person player flight, and the rest was artist time and small tweaks here and there. The result is a quite frivolous collectible that will not fit well with your existing level projects, but instead disrupt the trend and produce some interesting new level ideas.

We further thought that by producing a non-critical item, we could have something which might be used as an optional incentive for existing pledgers. The purpose of this virtual borble will be made clear next week when we announce a new scheme you might be interested in.

For the die-hards out there, the above was literally a few hours of work and some testing, so it barely affected the progress of engine development, and in fact has contributed a new system called HUDLAYERS which will allow more HUD objects to be created and used in your games in the future, such as helmets, ecto-skeletons, equipment that cannot be classified as a weapon such as a ladder you might want to carry around the level, e.t.c.

With some key fixes Thursday night, my BUILD C is looking good so far and my plan is to continue testing it and only change this installer if I (or my alpha testers) find a show stopper. This will then become the V1.0085 HOT FIX to be released Monday.  For your reference, these are the improvements available in the next version:

  • Support for the Jet Pack and new Zombie Script commands
  • Added real brass ejection to the Colt 1911 complete with physics
  • Added new Shotgun character to the Modern Day Asset Library
  • Added Proximity Mine to Weapons, booby traps for the player!
  • Single Stage Undo feature for terrain editing and entity creation
  • Added RAGDOLL field allowing custom characters to use Ragdoll
  • Transparency Mode 5 (glass) now renders in correct order
  • RPG Weapon can now be zoomed for more accurate explosions
  • Improved 'The Escape' level to make initial minutes easier
  • Fixed issue causing weapons and ammo to turn blue after test game

Also got a link to a GREAT review of Reloaded, and on reading it I started to remember just how cool the whole FPS Creator concept is.  Thanks for the review and I hope to justify the coverage with even more features and cool assets to keep everyone spinning. The review from N4G is here:

Last night I also had a play with the Importer (due for V1.009) and it's looking very solid. It's so empowering being able to take what had been fixed and rigid entities, modify them in the editor, and save out new variants of them, in mere minutes. When you start to use it, you will see what I mean. Top work Ravey!

Next week my list shows that I could be working on characters 'inside' building, tri-planar texturing of the terrain to improve cliff visuals and starting the ambient occlusion pre-step which will turn any level into a stunning version of itself (replacing dynamic shadows that will speed things up too). Alas I also have a huge raft full of Zombie feedback which effectively stalls most of this while I figure out what I can do to make the Zombie pack better before it goes out to the public.  I will continue the dialog with the internal testing team until we reach a good balance of quality, without spending the next year on it ;)

P.S. My plea for more pledges in yesterdays blog did not work too well, so looks like I will be loosing my £5 bet with Rick :)  Not giving up though, I am going to rack my brains over the weekend and think of some clever scheme. Failing that, I will personally make 50 pledges and hope no-one figures it out. Here is a helpful link which you can use to stop me emptying my bank account:

Thursday, 7 August 2014

What Is This Talk Of Widgets

While I beaver away making key core corrections in the Hot Fix build, Ravey had finished the grunt work on the Importer and sprayed in the territory of testing. I figured it made sense to give him two plates to spin as testing all day can get a little samey, and I elected to give him one of my V1.009 tasks to be chewing on.

You may be pleased to learn this will be making it's way into V1.009 but aside from my quick sketch I did during todays call, I will leave it up to you to guess which feature this will be.  It won't be exactly like this as we are splitting the functionality of it, but having said too much already I will do a better reveal when we have a prototype running.

A few more compatibility tweaks from me and then a build for my lovely alpha testers. A mixed bag the likes of which even almighty Bob has never seen!  I will be asking them to focus on the new Importer module, see if they can trip it up (as Ravey claims it is now indestructible, allegedly).

As a final note, I also helped adjudge the competition winners last night, and spent hours playing some AMAZING games. I had to stop several times and wonder HOW aspects of the game where created, and very warm and fuzzy to know we chose LUA over keeping the FPI system :)  If anything, it spurred me on to make more fixes, tweaks, visual and performance improvements so these highly creative users can do even more with Reloaded!

P.S. If you have not already pledged, and are a regular reader of my blog, you can do me a solid and pledge in the next few days. I have a bet with Rick that the demo would have increased pledge levels by 25%, and I think my bet has backfired :(  Hopefully the new Hot Fix V1.0085 and the subsequent launches it will spawn will help excite the community and generate a few extra pledges.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Tougher Zombies

My dogged attachment to recreating the slow and meandering zombies from the old B-movies did not sit well with the internal alpha testers.  A stack of feedback post-it notes awaited me today, so apart from some critical engine fixes, that is what I have been working on.

The new zombie (still designed as a low zombie) is now three times faster, more responsive, animates at different speeds from each other, plays sound at different speed and volumes, and uses more groan sound effects by default. Adding these together created a much more interesting zombie scene and I think a benefit to everyone who tries out the Zombie Pack when it is released. Going to include a new Zombie test to the testing team and see what the reaction will be.

I did get a few odd requests like Zombies should have pistols and they should navigate around complex obstacles, but in my universe zombies are quite stupid and will keep clawing towards you until they find brains, and they certainly don't lock and load!  Perhaps a new pack in the future which blends the world of zombies with the world of mutants. As we all know, mutants, enhanced humans and alien hybrids can certainly operate simple equipment!

In other news, the latest build fixes the issue with disappearing textures on Legacy Pack models and the RPG now has a proper zoom mode for those occasions you want super accuracy on your rockets!  The importer has undergone another round of small tests to ensure it's solid for the release, and we are seeing our first of the new segment pieces in the Construction Kit which will hopefully be met with approval when we make it part of a future beta.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

V1.0085 Out For Testing

As hinted at yesterday, a hot fix will be required for V1.008 in order to allow the new ragdoll Zombies to function, and that means handing it over to our tame group of alpha testers.

It also contains a new 'toy' which will be revealed soon too.  For more hints what extras will be in the Hot Fix, you can check out the weekly news bulletin released today at

Well the good news is that the build has been sent, which temporarily frees me up to do a few tweaks in anticipation of the feedback from these tests. I have decided to attack something that has been bugging me for a few weeks now and that's the apparent speed drop of the editor experience, which in turn seems to be slowing down the IDE. As a side by side test I broke out the old FPSC Classic editor, and it was clear I was loosing some responsiveness.  I have a call at 4PM and no doubt a world of pain responding to the testing feedback, but between now and then, and the spare five minute blocks I find, I will see what I can discover about this drop in editor frame rate.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Zombies Got The Rag

As you may know we are nearing the completion and release of the Zombie pack, and I sent it out to some testers over the weekend. The feedback was two fold. One, the zombies are too slow and Two, the death animations where 'less than ideal'.  The first was easier to handle, as the intent was indeed to create slow moving B-movie style zombies but I will certainly make this clear in the pack description when it goes live, and the second point was a little more thorny.

I decided on the more difficult more path and went back into the ragdoll system to ensure the Zombies could be included in the fun. We now have Zombies that can ragdoll. Once again, thanks to early internal testing, you have a better release as a result.

I have also enabled and tested the WEIGHT and FRICTION properties of all dynamic objects, so you can now decide if your kettle is made of lead or feathers.  In addition, I have been putting priority on quick fixes coming hot of the community press such as the transparency 5 issue and erroneous explosion locations.

It looks like there will be a Hot Fix after all as I want to get these new Zombie powers into the official version ready for the release of the official Zombie pack, so I will be spending most of this week testing and fine tuning to make sure the hot fix is good.  As a bonus you will also get access to some of the extra things I did as a direct response to the community feedback so far so one of the things you will be getting is a Single Stage UNDO feature for terrain, painting and entity addition and removal. Not the most sophisticated undo you will ever see, but it means that accidental hill or deleted entity can now be restored!

Friday, 1 August 2014

V1.009 Is Underway

Now that the Zombie Pack is nearing completion, I have more time to stare longingly at V1.009 and the Improved Demo. Today I have improved the shotgun character guy so he cannot shoot while running, which makes him an effective close range enemy. Other tweaks to ensure rockets and shotguns don't stick through the players head and improved some game play elements about the fighting sequence.

New weapons in the store, but we've found a store issue which prevents their immediate discovery, but as privileged readers to the blog I have a link so you can see them: These should work fine with V1.008 and bear in mind we are always improving the weapon system as we work on the overall game engine so expect more in the future!

I wrote on my paper list today that I would do 2 V1.009 things, 2 demo improvements and 1 editor related feature. Just done the V1.009 tasks and decided to tackle the UNDO feature for the editor. It won't be comprehensive by any means, but if I can add the feature to 'undo' a terrain edit that messes up your hard crafted level, I think that would be welcome. It will take half a day but I think it's worth spending.

As it's Friday I will leave you with a little teaser on the thing I have been working on in my 'leisure' moments on Reloaded.

Until next week, have a great weekend and if at all possible, have a great time out there!  For myself, it's been raining cats, but hopefully I can get outside later this evening and do some raking.