Thursday, 31 July 2014

More Zombie Fun

Zombies are behaving themselves more now, just need some tweaks to the models and then the first iteration of them will be done. I could do with another week on them, but alas it would detract from the V1.009 work and the demo improvements.  The two areas I think could be improved is using ragdoll instead of fixed animations, but that would mean an overhaul of the current system to allow custom-rigs to be used. Similarly, I would have liked to tie the Zombies into the existing AI system but that would mean code to allow custom animation sets to be used in that system.  In order to balance everything out I will finish off the Zombie Pack as is, and then put it into testing on Friday, and then if the feeling is that V1.009 and demo improvements are not as critical as ragdoll and AI for Zombies, then that's what will probably happen.

Having some good fun making small levels and testing my Zombies over obstacles and such-like, and the shot above shows a scene from last night when I was doing some late testing and having my brain chased around the level. Today I made this small level a graveyard and it's typical how graveyards and Zombies go together :)

I did notice the physics slow-down around certain gravestones, caused by compressed polygon shapes in close proximity to the player during a physics simulation. The solution is to provide the entities with simpler box shapes, and the work being done this week on the Importer will very soon allow me to do just that. It does mean an update to some objects in the store, but the reward you get for the download is a faster physics system!

It's 7PM now and time for a bit of a chill, then maybe I can return in the evening to finish off a little project I have been tinkering with in the engine. I am going to keep it a secret for now, but it was very quick to add and I think you might enjoy the novelty. Expect it to be part of V1.009 build :)

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

FPSC Reloaded Characters Getting Into The Spirit Of Being Shot

Another busy day on Zombie Farm, and making sure they do all the right things. Found some time to check other upcoming characters to the Modern Day asset library, in the form of our Shotgun guy.

As you can see, he does like to pose for the camera when afflicted by a strange object animation bug, but the pose was so striking I thought to capture him for prosperity.

Work stampedes forward on the Importer which might give me something to release to the alpha testers on Friday, and we are boiling down the ingredients of the Construction Kit to ensure that buildings created with the tool will appear the correct scale when compared to the rest of the game assets, and yet provide the flexibility to create a lot of interesting shapes.

It's gone 6PM now and the sun is shining, so going to finish off the last bug I was toying with (zombie model vertices being mutated) and then wander into the fresh air and do some raking.

I also strayed into a site called which I have heard about on and off, and with the recent acquisition talks decided to take a closer look.  Curious to know if anyone would trade a few blog post days in exchange for regular twitch broadcasts (not both as I need to code right now), and perhaps expand it in the future if it turns out to be a useful resource for you guys.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Get Back To Work You Slacker

Got a funny video through the Reloaded grape-vine today, and felt the need to share it. I dare say we will see more of these as the project wears on, but it's amusing nonetheless.

Not sure it's complimentary, being blown up virtually, but it's probably a healthy release for the community to vent themselves at the evil that Lee does. Making people wait for features is not my primary motivation whilst coding this project, but I guess it can seem like that sometimes.

Today I took a break from V1.009 tweak work and started the task of finishing off the Zombie Pack. Now V1.008 is out the door, you have the engine that is capable of running the extra things the Zombies needed to do, so I can get these guys off the store so you can enjoy your belated purchase.

In case you forgot what they look like, here is a group shot of the characters you will be saying hello to when the pack hits the store.  If you are still a Bronze pledger, these little monsters might just be enough to get you to increase your support for the development and help us make more!

Right this very second I am just finishing off writing this blog at 2:45PM and getting the Zombies to walk at the correct speed for good foot planting, and then I can start creating names for all my Zombie friends. Thumbnails are being created for them Wednesday, and then I can hand them off for internal testing.

In other camps, the Construction Kit is getting a once-over to make sure our completion plans are going to produce some nice buildings whilst retaining ease of use, and Ravey is knee deep in Importer parts, but has reported some good progress.  All in all, a busy team, trundling merrily along!

Monday, 28 July 2014


With the launch of V1.008 out to all pledgers, I can now start the work on my next chunk of work, and thanks to the reams of feedback on the demo we launched my work will involve improving the visual and the speed of the demo, and cram some more features into it.  At the same time I will be tweaking and fixing the IDE and editor for the V1.009 launch, and we have decided that it might make sense to divide what was going to be a large V1.009 release into a series of smaller updates. This way you can get something sooner and it means we are not going AWOL every time we start a new version number.

Whilst I work on V1.009, I have assigned Ravey to finish off the Importer and Simon to finish off the Construction Kit.  Fixes and tweaks aside, we feel you want to see more progress, quicker so you can play with more stuff. I will keep an eye on both modules, and bring you news as it happens.

As we have released V1.008, I will spend a little more time each day visiting the forums and help answer any questions you might have.

I will be participating in a live developer chat at 8PM GMT hosted by Intel later tonight and I would invite you to join if you have time. I think the link you need is:

At this stage, RealSense has nothing to do with the Reloaded project, and is more my way of getting down and dirty in new and emerging technology. Before I get 'comment flak', don't worry about the live chat, it's two hours of my time to become a better program and share the intellectual wealth :)

I have a few more hours to code and then I need to do the rehearsal live chat, and will probably return in the evening to check emails and small tweaks. Until then, I hope you enjoy the V1.008 update and especially enjoy playing with the Rocket Launcher ;)

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Testing Testing Testing

Preparing V1.008 build, and today we've done more testing than coding, and that's saying something. More testing Friday too, looking for show stoppers and solid reproducibles.  A short blog today as I have an evening shift to get through, but I wanted to share a picture as promised.

One of my pet peeves to be tackled when I start the V1.009 work is the way terrains are textured. Right now a single channel controls which of the five textures should be painted to the ground. Unfortunately this means there can be zero overlap of arbitrary paint types and you get a sequential blend through the texture range. I will be thinking about how I can provide a good blending system for terrain textures without incurring more performance hit or requiring more resources. Eventually the goal is that you could blend the dark grey coal texture directly into the light pave texture without stomping through the immediate moss, mid and grass textures.  Using several channels of a texture slot would do it, but I don't have too many of them to spare, and I am using all 16 texture slots for terrain!! I could plum for 32 slots but I think some cards would fail at that, slow down the render even more and no-one will thank me for it.  There is a way (several I guess) I just need to think one up!  No blog Friday evening as I am leaving the country and passing through another for the weekend, but will resume and return on Monday to help answer any V1.008 release questions!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Very Loooong Day

Blogging late at night as my work run on and on this evening. Created two builds today for testing, and getting very close to a final V1.008 beta. Just needs a bit of quality testing we should be ready for release!  That said, it's well past midnight and as you know my ritual of getting up to do a normal 9 to 5 means it's way past the mark, so I will keep this blog brief and hopefully provide some nice visual shots on Thursday when I have more time to test the build and smell the roses.

I did some research into HBAO (an improvement over SSAO) but could not find any DirectX9 or Pixel Shader 3.0 source code to help me get it implemented. If anyone can locate this code, I would be most grateful!  If you find a technique that relies on DX11 or deferred rendering, then I cannot use it but you can dig out a nice HLSL shader file and accompanying source code that works with DirectX 9.0 I will be very happy.  Still doing the pre-bake but for users with higher end graphics systems, having instant ambient occlusion as a real-time shader (as heavy as it is) might appeal.

Won't bore you with the tweaks done today, but two big ones involve new IDE code which prevents the FPSC-MapEditor.exe code from launching multiple times and Simon managed to reduce the GPU video memory hit by around 400MB which was an amazing saving, and we suspect there can be more to save if we dig deeper!

For now, going to finish this uploading and catch some Z's!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

One Of Those Bugs

A good day of bug tweaks and fixes, but some 30 minutes before the end of my working day I hit one of those 5 minute bugs that turned into an hour, and then ate into the time I should have left the office. You get them from time to time, and it's always just one more quick code line change and you're finally done. Well in hindsight it was top ambitious to introduce physics weights and frictions and expect it not to screw up every other aspect of the physics system, and fail to achieve the original fix in the process. Phew!  Now 30 minutes past the hour, I've decided to cut my loses restore the functionality that was in before but keep the code that I will need to return to at some point. I think the bottom line is that setting the mass of the physics object AFTER the initial creation takes more than a single line of code, and the actual values involved are themselves a mixed bag. It seems I was scaling the dimensions of the object down, but in doing so the new smaller values when multiplied produced even smaller results, making the 'volume' measurement meaningless, and yet this value is being used to control the mass in the present physics objects. It is not supposed to work, but it is?!  I will need a fresh day and a fresh brain to think through this strangeness, but for now I am going to start the build, test, installer test, process which I should have started an hour ago and hopefully finish before too long.  Also the jump seems to have gotten itself broken in the last day or two as well, which is another odd thing. Was it me, or some other check in code?  We will see in time!

No pictures today as simply no time to do anything visual, it's all been deep dark code work, which does not make for great screen shots!  Often I continue coding while writing my blog, and in doing so I just discovered why the jump stopped working. It seems when you entirely switch the water off, the jump code was being skipped. I changed it to allow jump if you are above the water line OR if there is no water in the level, that is, you can be in a deep ravine that used to be under water but jumping is now allowed.

Hopefully the build will pass the quick test and we can get it out to the internal alpha testers to see if it's heading in the right direction, that is, once I've tested my own code, checked in the teams code and tested that too. Phew!!

Monday, 21 July 2014

A Day Of Mostly Talking

Amazingly, I clocked about 4-5 hours of talking today!  Shows how many major decisions had to be made in light of our demo release last week. The decision is one that I hope will please everyone reading my blog. We have decided NOT to pull the demo, and instead spend some weeks improving it based directly on the feedback from the community.  Our objective was to show the great results you can get from using our game maker, and we did not make the grade, so we're going to continue working on the engine until it does. Remember the marathon we went through to get performance great on low-end hardware, well now we're looking at the visual and game play feedback with the same venom.

The first tweak to go in the demo is the brightness and contrast adjustment, and when you put the old and new renders side by side you can see how much nicer the new one is. I don't think we have any debate here, and we have also added F2 and F3 controls so you can adjust these settings to suit your own project levels.

I achieved the new setting values by taking a screenshot and putting into PSP and tweaked it until I was happy with the balance. I then migrated that know-how into a post process shader to achieve the same graphical modifications, but this time in real-time.

My next assault on the dated visuals is to make our entities blend much more naturally into the scene.  As almost every game has some form of baking step, I figured I would research my own for inclusion into the standalone export part of the engine's tool set.

I only had a few hours over the weekend but started a quick prototype which applies something called Ambient Occlusion mapping to the brick stack and to the inside of one of the buildings.  Here you can see ambient occlusion around the creases of every polygon and also a point light which is casting the shadow. The scene does not get have it's normal mapping, specular, diffuse coloring and other small touches but you can clearly appreciate how these baked shadows will contribute to the final scene.

My plan is to create a system which can take a game export, extract the static geometry, batch them by locality and texture groups, apply the baking process, then insert the pre-baked geometry back into the level. I still need to find a solution for baking shadows on the terrain (which is a woefully stretched mega texture right now) and somehow keep the memory footprint for a whole level worth of light-map textures down.

I am also going to add the UZI and SHOTGUN characters into the demo as well to really mix things up, and I am sure some engine features will come from implementing those and getting the AI just right.

At the same time as making these engine improvements, I will also be recruiting a top artist to help me blend in the demo scenery for a more pleasing layout. For example the left wall in the first screen shot is a sharp line intersecting the grassy floor which is much too clean. Adding some floor textures to blend with the wall, maybe small grasses or fallen rock pieces will blend it better into the scene.

While I work on the engine and visual elements, my Ravey and Simon team will be working on the remaining editor and engine elements relating to the main list to ensure development of the strictly editor based features proceed at pace as well.

Our hope is that we can put out another demo at the end of this enhancement work that will not only improve the perception of the product, but provide additional features for the next major build. It will also mean you will get extra assets, more in-game features and a much nicer end result when you have finished your masterpiece and ready for the pre-bake.  Don't worry though we are not inserting the pre-bake into the test game process, and your real-time shadows will still work in the improved engine, only in the standalone game export phase (at this point). There might be calls to have the pre-bake as a button in the IDE so you can see what it looks like on the fly, but bear in mind industrial quality pre-bakes can take hours :)

Final bit of good news. I got a good slot and cool interview via N4G site over the weekend, which was nice:

Friday, 18 July 2014

What Did We Learn Today

Another week, another build, and for this week perhaps another lesson. A question was put to me today, backed by the feedback since we launched the game demo. Should we pull the demo off the site?  Personally I think it's a great demonstration of game play and what anyone can do with Reloaded in a very short amount of time, but it seems the wider world are looking at it as a direct comparison to any other FPS game out there. Certainly for the modern FPS games such a comparison is not complimentary for us, and may even damage future pledges. I am interested to hear what you guys think, keep it up there as a demonstration of where we are now or pull it and only return it when it 'looks' better and has more 'game' in it. Opinions welcome.

Is it something as simple as adjusting the gamma, brightness and contrast, improving the render and assets themselves or is it more about improving the game play?

The current game demo for Reloaded

For a quick preview, I used my favorite art package to play with the colour balancing of the current opening scene, producing this:

Increased gamma correction by 1.6, brightness up 33 and contract up 55

I recall a few requests for a 'brighter, crisper' visual, so is this something we should be spending a little time on?  I am also looking into the modern methods of lightmapping games these days, whether it's radiosity mapping or something more advanced.  Might spend a few hours over the weekend experimenting with some lighting effects to see if we can get the visuals up a notch without re-doing the entire asset set.

On today's news, the build is almost ready, just doing the last few hours of testing now. Hopefully the alpha testers will approve :)

Thursday, 17 July 2014

It's Been A Bad Day - Please Don't Take Your Picture

Don't worry about the title, I'm just listening to R.E.M and it's late ;)  A normal day of development, getting stuck into small fixes to make the engine better and better. Also been reading the honest feedback on the demo we released, and it's getting clearer what we have and what the expectations are for most people.

We've had a few salvos along the lines of our engine looking like something from the early 2000's, such as this one:

Copyright Counter Strike (c) 2000

Personally I think we have a few things in the Reloaded engine that beats this visual, but we can take our lessons from almost any source (pardon the pun). Or something more recent, I dug out the same FPS brand 12 years later:

Copyright IGN & Counter Strike (c) 2012

Again more things to learn but not a radical departure from what we have now, minus the graphical assets which will come in time with model packs. I did notice a huge abundance of baked lighting in the scene and heavy use of bleached out backdrop spheres (the buildings in the distance are painted on the skybox). If you want a button which takes an hour or two to bake in all shadows and ambient occlusion into the static geometry, we can do that if that's what you need.  I'd also argue our pistols look better than the one in the above shot (but I am bias).  

I urge anyone who suspects the Reloaded engine looks like something from 2002 to send me a screenshot so I can dissect it and find out if there is any technique we can use to close the perceived gaps.

User Created Level in FPS Creator Reloaded (c) 2014

Aside from the need for more and varied assets, I don't think we're THAT far back in time, but I am willing to be taught a valuable lesson in visual fidelity of games over the last decade if you are willing and ready with shots :)  I'm not saying anyone is wrong, I'm just suggesting it might not be as far back as 2002 ;)

Just finishing off some emails, this blog and maybe a fix or two and then retiring for the evening. Friday is the day I wrap everything up and do some last minute testing before we give the build to the alpha testers and competition winners to see if we caught most if not all the remaining glaring bugs for V1.008.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Post Launch Polls Are In

I realized this morning that I had neglected to post a blog yesterday so 'oops' for that! The day after a demo launch often involves running around making sure everything worked, and I am glad to sat that it did. The reaction was mixed, with some positive messages coming out and some scathing insights as well. No-one likes to hear criticism, unless you're trying make the worlds easiest to use game creator :)

Had a strategy meeting today to discuss the launch, the early feedback and the plans moving forward.  As one mind the team does feel the visuals are falling short of the general expectation of the general public. With titles such as Titanfall knocking around, it's easy to see why the bar is set very high these days and explains why we've had more than one comment putting the current game somewhere in the previous decade. From this, one of the questions raised was whether we should even be looking to match or beat these top titles, especially for a small team with a limited art budget.

We still plan to have something for Steam in September, but what form that takes will be the subject of further discussion in the weeks to come as we complete V1.008 and V1.009.  I could reveal more, but I want to give the ideas we discussed time to settle and gain gravitas before I promise you all some lovely vapor.

Releases and feedback aside, our character artist has not been idle and is starting on some re-skins of our soldiers, adding more variety to the combat area.

A hostile bunch these guys, featuring a pistol Pete, rocket-man Rodger, shotgun Sam and Uzi Tom (names have been changed to protect the guilty). My suspicion is that if we added these guys into the new game demo, doubled the speed of weapons fire and reloading, tripled the number of soldiers and made it a two-shot kill combat system, it would get the heart pumping!

One feedback that did resonate with me, and one I want to resolve as quickly as possible, was a comment from one reviewer who stated that there was a "disconnect and weightlessness" in the weapon usage. If anyone agrees, can you give me your insights how this can be resolved. Something specific that I can get an artist / coder to look closer into and come up with some adjustments.

Our timetable is still set to get you the V1.008 build next week so not much longer to wait before you can make your own versions of the demo game!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Demo Launch Day

After many fruitful weeks of careful additions, plenty of performance testing and tuning, and a good heap of testing, we have a version ready for public consumption. 

We discovered at the 11th hour that the demo required administrator level access, and we added shims to the installer to make the demo execution automatic, but it was a bit of a fudge, so we went back and made sure the demo (and indeed ALL Reloaded standalones) could run in standard user mode which means there is no write access required to the program files area.  This delayed the demo launch a few hours, but we felt it was worth it. I am typing this at 4PM, building the 'final' demo installer ready for one last batch of tests before release.  For those in the States, you should have your demo served up for dinner, and for those in jolly old England, you'll get yours after tea!  We are eager to learn what you think of our first standalone demo level!

In other news, during my exhaustive testing over the weekend I snapped a few shots which I thought were funny.

Taking A Break From The Game

Maybe there is a silly competition to be had in the future to grab the funniest ragdoll death poses in the demo.  Here is another one:

Dat's Godda Hurt

The demo release will be announced in all the usual places, so keep your eyes peeled today, and we hope you enjoy the game. My challenge to you; can you get to the end of the level without dying?  Good luck!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Light Insect Flatulence Orchestra

The title of this blog is so named in recognition of the new sound effect we have added when the enemy scores a near miss with the player as they fire their woefully inferior Colt 1911 hand guns.  Apparently the original sounds resembled farting insects, so they have been toned down for the latest build to go out to the alpha testers this evening along with a host of other tweaks, too numerous to mention. Not that the list is particularly long, but because it's Friday, there is some sun left and my brain has been hammered this week. Just finishing off checkout, compile, test, encrypt and upload, then I can eat and walk and dig, then maybe I can return later this evening for emails, more testing and maybe tweaks.

As we're familiar with the level now, we thought it was a little easy so we have given the enemies the ability to fire bullet indefinitely and much quicker too, so those piddly Colts will be decidedly dangerous!  Hopefully you won't have to wait much longer to get your hands on the sample game demo, and we certainly hope you will approve.

I would have liked to get a few more tweaks in, and to be frank, I would have liked a whole extra week on polish and testing, but time is a wasting and we have a long way to go. On balance, it is perhaps best you get to play this version so you can see the stride we have made since the last public build of FPS Creator Reloaded.

Out of curiosity, which do you prefer for the title page button text "EXIT TO DESKTOP" or "QUIT"?  It's a minor point, but I am curious if there is a divide here. Questionnaire aside, have a great weekend and I think I can promise the release of our first official Reloaded game demo come next week!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

One More Tiny Teeny Day

We decided to do one more day of testing on the demo, and some more small tweaks, largely due to the feedback from our internal alpha testers. The demo is now better for it and hopefully we're VERY close to a download everyone can enjoy.

Above is a shot you will probably see a lot of, which is the aftermath of a direct hit with a rocket.  When you get to play the demo, learn how to dodge!

Friday is my day to tweak up some niggles in the main software. In the main it is looking good but with the focus on the demo we have some extra functionality exposed in the IDE which needs solidifying. Hopefully the demo can continue to be tested while I work on the main game creation side, and my gut feel at this stage is to release the demo but sit on the main software for a week or so in order to ensure you get the best build possible.  It will also give me time to work with the internal alpha testers on what will prove to be some considerable feedback given the feature gap between this one and the last one we released.  In a conference call earlier today, Rick calculated we have hit over 300 fixed items in the space of a few weeks, and each of them has the potential to take us a step backwards, so the word next week will be testing, testing and more testing.

Clocking at 5PM today to do a little digging while the weather is not too bad, but will probably be back later to do a few more hours testing, e.t.c. No matter how many times I play the same level over and over, I still get a kick out of the different outcomes available. It's subtle stuff, but it's also the fun stuff. It also means the demo will have a LOT of testing under it's belt!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Final Day Of Demo Tweaks

Just about ready to release to the internal alpha testers now. We've done all the broad strokes and now it remains to find out if it holds water in a larger test. It's great fun to play but will it play good on our testers systems?

Many small tweaks but a significant one is the introduction of a whole series title screens, one for each of the major resolution sizes. This way we retain 1:1 pixel quality on the final screen. It bloats the executable final size a little, but for the quality it is worth it.

One or two illusive bugs remain hidden and almost impossible to reproduce, so I wait in hope we can produce steps to reproduce every time. Once I have that I can squash the last of them.

Really pleased with the art coming from our 2D and 3D artists at the moment, as it really adds that touch of polish to the final demo.  Can't wait to share with you more characters including the UZI Dude and the SHOTGUN Soldier, after the demo is released of course.

One final push for testing, and then a release, and then we will see what people think.  I would have liked more time to test it through the alpha testers, at least a week, but time is a ticking and I am sure you would want it sooner rather than later, and it's certainly playable enough to have fun with now.  A bit more building, testing and uploading, then I can stop for a moment and contemplate food.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Improved Ragdoll Day

Spent the whole day tweaking and testing 'The Escape', our new Reloaded Sample Level and it's playing pretty good. The biggest change amongst the many tweaks was a nice balancing of the ragdoll and explosion forces so that the characters can be thrown into the air, but not too crazily, and also react in cool ways to being shot in different places. My favorite is a head shot with a high force weapon, which literally takes the character off his feet for some spectacular game play moments.

Here is our current title page artwork, and the graphical elements to make it real will be done Wednesday, which is the final day for 'tweaks' before internal testing begins in earnest.  With a little more time we could have added a cool Uzi wielding enemy to the mix, but we think it's already pretty tough to beat the level and it's always good to keep something back for the next demo, so he will sit in the green room until called.

The plan for THU/FRI is to return mostly to the main software build and ensure everything we've done in the demo gets into the build as I am sure some of you will be eager to get your hands on the improvements disclosed in this blog over the last few weeks :)

Despite the big dark cloud in the sky, I think I will wrap up and take my walk before some welcome food. I went a bit crazy on the on-line shopping site and bought lots of different kinds of healthy nuts, so it will be fun going through them. I also bought a bottle of red wine, as that's good for you too!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Final Touches And More Rockets!

It's amazing how much rocket launchers and explosions can add to the fun factor of an FPS game!  We seem to have transformed the game play from a basic charge from A to B into a death dodging gauntlet of mayhem.

Right now we're just putting the final touches to a demo level which will show off the progress we have made in the last few weeks, which involves quite a bit of play-testing!  As you can imagine, it's a fun time at the moment.

Still a few mysteries to be solved like why the characters can sometimes take it upon themselves to levitate a few feet of the floor at seemingly random intervals, or the curious case of the missing checkpoint, but mostly we're just tweaking and trying to make the best game play we can in the time available.

I had to share this as well, which is an internal video showing a bug, now fixed, but it was pretty funny so wanted to put it in my blog for prosperity. We will look back on this version and laugh (oh how we laughed).

Friday, 4 July 2014

Friday Build Day

As per usual, more tweaks, more fixes, a few small additions all to get a good version ready for everyone. This evening I am making a build for internal testing which contains some of the new goodies, and I must say we are all enjoying the rocket launcher in the team at the moment.

Work has already started on the Uzi character but he will probably not make it into the next build, but this just makes V1.009 even more special when it finally launches. For now our attention is on V1.008 and the ragdoll plus rocket fun we're currently testing.

I have added a new GRAPHICS SETTINGS menu item and connected it up so you can now choose the shader technique from the standalone game, and it toggles in real-time so you can see the game change in the background.

Probably for the first time since the project started, we have a report that Rick actually smiled while playing the latest demo game.  High praise indeed!

It's 5:30PM now and I need to start my final tests for a build, and then by 6PM I can start the upload and swam off for my walk.  The rain clouds look to have moved in, but you know what they say, "there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes" ;)

Thursday, 3 July 2014


Plenty more developing done today, with the final touches being made to the rocket mechanism and now working on all the things that make ragdoll and rockets look sensible in the game. Also some new progress from our artist on the uniform for a character who will be armed with an UZI. By re-using the style of the Rocket Guy (far right) we can speed up character production and also get a theme going (as though the characters belonged to the same unit).

Time has really sped today and just as I was about to solve the issue of the 180 degree reversing ragdoll, it was 6PM.  Time for walkies, foodies and chills. The good news is that all major features are now in that we planned for the next build, and it's all about tweaks and refinements now.

We also noticed a recent drop in game performance with the last few additions, so we will be spending some exclusive time ensuring the frame rate is no worse than the hot fix build 1.0071.  I need to maintain performance at all costs, even at the cost of one or more features we have added since the last update.

In other news, we are getting some new sounds into the engine which raise the bar one notch further, and now we have a particle system there is a sense that we could start swapping in some higher quality particle effects as part of the game experience going forward. That said, we remain focused on the goal of getting this build solid, tested and out to the community with all due diligence.  One more day of the week to go, and I hope to have something pretty cool to play with by close of business, ready for our internal testers to take over and see if we missed anything.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Rockets and Ragdolls

It was one of those days where several discrete blocks connected together to form something greater than the sum of it's parts. With Simon on Projectiles, Ravey on Particles and Lee on the Rockets we finished, checked in the code and when connected created a very cool glimpse into what would soon be possible. I am pleased to be able to present you with a rare video to show what we have mid-development of the rockets and rag-doll's work, and one thing is for sure, this part of the development is going to be a lot of fun.

Doggy walking time in 5 minutes so I will keep the blog brief today. Plenty very small tweaks done but huge strides in terms of whole new features in the engine for particle generation, explosion creation and projectile management. We are basically rewriting the FLAK system from scratch as Simon wants to understand every bolt, and the old classic flak system was a little ungainly after seven years of abuse.

The plan for tomorrow is to touch up the visual and force effects we have now, make sure the game runs good on standard Windows 7 & 8 configurations and general house keeping, and of course continue the housekeeping of tweaks to ensure the editing and testing experience is good.

On a closing note, if you wanted to check out my latest video interview, and can look past the completely round head, here it is:

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Picture Blog

Another good spell of work today, and a little less back ache which is good. Today will be a blog with lots of pictures I've stored up for you.

Today the Rocket Man officially appeared in the engine. He does not have the power to arm his rocket and fire at stuff, but he's rigged and ready to go.  

Between compiles I have been experimenting with some tweaked lighting models. One of them is to use pre-baked ambient occlusion texture map and slerp it with the direct lighting model from the sun based on the ambient global term. This results in you seeing more of the rock details, even if the shadow and sun conspire to try and make the entity very dark.  Of course setting ambient to zero will give you your striking dark shadows and entity shading again!

Also been watching a few YouTube videos of real rocket launchers to get a feel for what our rockets should feel like. Of course real life and computer games are sometimes worlds apart, but it's good to start somewhere and I've never been one for just copying what some other games do (at least, not as a starting point).  That said, I must admit to having watched a few GTA5 rocket fights!

Finally here is something from last night, where I gave the Spec Ops character a glowing eyes illumination map to test the new _I support violently requested by the community.  While I was in the code, I also added _O support which now stands for Ambient Occlusion Map support.  

I had another shot which I would have liked to share with you which shows one of our character models exhibiting a facial bones problem when in ragdoll mode causing his teeth to multiply by a factor of ten and thrust out of his jaw into the world but that was a little silly...