Friday, 20 February 2015

Swan Song

It's been a hoot, but we have come to the end of this road. I hope you have enjoyed this blog over the last two years and that you gleamed insight into the daily trials of a games engine in development, and the coder responsible.  I would like to thank the thousand or so followers of my daily rant, and together we have clocked just shy of half a million views which is pretty cool.  FPS Creator Reloaded was a pretty apt name for what was meant to be a simple revision of the classic version, but as you saw over the many months of progress we ultimately re-wrote most of it.  As we developed, it became clear that a new more expansive name was required, and finding that name would be very difficult.

As it transpired, after a full day dedicated to brainstorming a new name, and buying the required sites and a certain level of due diligence, we decided on a name, and it only remained to convince the entire pledger community it was a good one.  When we announced, I was pleasantly surprised that almost everyone liked it, and more crucially, understood what it meant in terms of the product direction and vision.

As my final post on this blog I would like to introduce my new blog, which can be found on the newly christened GameGuru website at  The general understanding is that this blog will be a little more official, and using approved images rather than back-door programmer art, but perhaps this is all for the best. A more professional polished blog will certainly have it's advantages.

It only remains for me to once again thank everyone who read my posts, and I do hope you will join me over at the new site to start a new adventure, which tracks my journey into the world of Steam development and the high and lows associated with being part of the largest game distribution channel on the PC. This blog-spot page will remain for prosperity and a lasting monument to the formative years of Game Guru.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Getting Better Every Day

Each day brings fewer and fewer new bugs added to the list, and once more I fixed ALL of my bugs but as at 5PM I only have one bug remaining, which is a crazy one which takes 15 minutes to reproduce, but for the rest of my tests I have gone through the whole software, ever button and menu item, every key press and feature, and it stood up very well.

Also played some more multi-player today and it's holding up too, with the ability to host and join with built-in content instantly, and for custom and store assets the workshop auto-subscribe system also works well, and you can get up and running with a new level with only an extra 20 seconds added to the process, so everything is looking good for some kind of release next week, and allows me to relax a little on Friday and hopefully spend most of the time testing and making small games :)

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Five Hours Later

After I walked the dog, I returned to the PC with every intention of making some food and watching a bit of Netflix, then I decided to see if I could get my task list down by one item, which was around 7PM, and now at 20 minutes to midnight I am perhaps half way through this 'one' task which just happens to be a text swap both in the IDE and the Editor to prepare what is called a Translation Kit.

I had not planned to do this before the Steam launch as it is quite pervasive to swap out lots of hard coded text for external file reference text, but it appeared in my Wrike list and would have prevented me from finishing my Steam release so I started it, and I think I can finish it by Thursday afternoon which will mean we can start the translation of GameGuru almost at the same time as the main release, and whether this was wise we will see.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Welcome to 1399

Ever seen such an ugly bunch of reprobates, well they are coming to a game maker near you, and they're bringing their weapons and bad breath with them in what is bound to be a medieval gathering to remember, so get ready to party until it's 1399!

Of course get too close and it turns from a wonderful fantasy adventure into a barbarian brawl, and it's gonna hurt!

In other news the day was spent putting our world to rights in our monthly strategy meeting, and it's good to report that we're on schedule for a successful launch of GameGuru on Steam.  We've all agreed the priority should remain on stability, performance and key functionality before launching into a gamut of new 'toys' but we will have resources to ensure a steady stream of new content in the form of DLCs and free assets added to the core product over time, so exciting times ahead and can't wait to play your crazy multi-player levels when we release in March!

Monday, 16 February 2015

And Then There Were Four

So I went from zero tasks up to something like twelve, and now I am back down to four, and a little more stability in the software for my trouble, so things are going well, with other cool stuff creeping in from time to time, including new thumbnails for our new as yet unannounced content:

Tomorrow is my monthly strategy meeting to decide some last minute things before the big reveal at the end of the month, at which time I will not even be in this country but in the States attending the GDC 2015 and dividing my time between talking about GameGuru and drinking Guinness (while talking about GameGuru).

As it's the last 'proper' week of tweaks before the week of 'testing', I am adding a third sentence to my blog today to show a screenshot of one of the sample multi-player levels, again created by a member of our kick-ass community of game makers!

Friday, 13 February 2015

Through The Mists Of Development

The second day, and with a few internal Steam keys out the door we're getting generally good responses, and a few tweaks we still need to solve before the main Steam launch, but we're knocking those tasks out the park and getting back down to a scatter of issues, with Ravey focusing on multi-player stability which is starting to take the strain of more than a few of us using it.

As more content comes online, it's great to start seeing the 'variety' of games that can be made with GameGuru now, and a glimpse of things to come. With the addition of creepy sounds and Zombies, the Asylum horror pack is starting to look like a real game which was of course always the intent, but it's nice to see it emerge slowly from the mists of development.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Launch Day With A New Name

It's the day we've been working towards, looking forward to and also dreading, the day we announced our Steam launch of GameGuru, the new face of game creation and our new home for the next decade.  I could not sum it up better than the press released from Develop, linked here:

The ball is now in motion, and if there was ever a day one, this would be it. The world has been informed and it's now our responsibility to deliver on every single grand design we ever hinted at over the last two years. The current build which is being hammered, ready for Steam Early Access, is focusing on getting the basics very solid and the basics covered. The process is quite ruthless, but not much has been dropped and in fact we've added quite a lot of content in a short amount of time in terms of stock assets you'll get out the box.

By now all pledgers will have received the email containing details of the goodies you will be getting as an honored member of our pledge based development. You get the full Steam product for free, extra keys for your friends and family, plus if you are Silver or Gold, some great DLC vouchers which will allow you to get new model packs we will be releasing on Steam. One of our strategies is to commission content on a rolling basis so you will get new assets all the time, in addition to any assets created by third parties through the built-in store.

Not only have we added medieval buildings and scenery objects but also characters and weapons too, so you'll have a great place to start your own fantasy game (and if you want ye' old' rocket launchers in 7th century England, that's fine too).

Deciding on a name for our game creator was extremely difficult, if not impossible, and I am also pretty sure not everyone will like it. The simple reasoning behind it is that we have to move beyond FPS and the 'shooter only' constraints of the old title. Within the next few years we'll have expanded the product to include third person, driving, flying, deep diving, space adventures and everything in between. For this we need a brand name that is simple to remember that can over-arch all the genre's we plan to support, and speaking personally, I am a little sad to see the old name go, but our future is as much about Third Person and Adventures as it is about First Person and Shooting, and we're making a bold statement to the universe that this is what we want and we're going to do it.

Of course there is no rest for the weary, and I must dive right back into the code and continue the last of the tweaks before some seriously intense testing next week ready for the countdown to the actual Steam launch.  I hope the new pledger installer works for everyone, but don't worry if you get the occasional issue, chances are we've already fixed it for the Steam build, and rest assured our internal alpha team will be giving the Steam pre-build a blast before it goes live.

More than my usual two sentences, but no ordinary day you will agree. Might post a little more on Friday but for the next two weeks there will not be much more than 'tested the product today, it was better'. Standard stuff, but absolutely essential for a successful and trouble free launch. If anyone is attending GDC I will be there for all five days, on the GDC show floor for four of them and doing my fair share of Guinness tasting throughout. As always, you are welcome to track me down and join me for a few swifties, always a good time at GDC!  I will post my schedule and locations closer the time :)

And finally, as I cannot say it enough, a huge thanks to the entire community who have helped us get this far, and I hope you will join us on our continuing mission to explore strange new genre's, to seek out content and new model packs, to go boldly where no game maker has gone....before.


Welcome to FPS Creator Reloaded Version 1.01

Today we are releasing V1.01 of FPS Creator Reloaded. You will find this new build in the My Products section of The Game Creators website;

With this release we’d like to tell you our news!

Announcing GameGuru
With the technology developed to date we are launching a brand new game creation tool called GameGuru - an easy to use game maker that allows anyone to make, share and sell any kind of game on their PC. You can see it listed here in the Steam coming soon list;

Heading to Steam
From 2nd March we’ll be distributing GameGuru exclusively through Steam as an Early Access title. The main reasons for this are:
* The multiplayer code is built on the Steam networking system
* GameGuru will be much easier to manage through Steam – for example, the taking advantage of the Steam Workshop makes sharing and playing multiplayer levels much easier
* A single build means single focus, better for everyone
* We’ll widen our customer base which in turn will strengthen the community and allow us to bring you more features
* The Game Creators will be able to help you publish the best games made in GameGuru onto Steam

Thank You to our FPS Creator Reloaded pledgers!
Your support has helped us complete the project and we are very grateful for your backing.
On launch day we will be sending you all a set of Steam keys based on the pledge level you made:

* Gold: 5 GameGuru Steam Keys + 4 Model Pack DLCs due in 2015 (total value over $120)
* Silver: 4 GameGuru Steam Keys + 2 Model Pack DLCs due in 2015 (total value over $90)
* Bronze: 2 GameGuru Steam Keys + 1 Model Pack DLC (total value over $39)

You’ll be free to share your Steam keys with friends and family and then play against each other in your own multiplayer maps!

GameGuru is now our main game making project here at The Game Creators and we have lots of developments planned for 2015 and beyond - you will get lifetime updates for Free :-)

One Steam Price
Our aim is to make GameGuru a mass market product and as such it will have a price that appeals to the Steam community - $19.99. 
Plus GameGuru is royalty free so if you create the next Skyrim or COD the revenue you generate is all yours!
All the original FPS Creator Reloaded model packs will be merged into the main Steam product. This means anyone who buys GameGuru will receive:

* GameGuru
* Modern Day Model Pack
* Horror Model Pack
* Zombies Model Pack
* Vegetation Plus Pack
* The ability to save their single player games as standalone exes

We’re also working on some new fantasy and cartoon models that will be part of GameGuru. The benefit of adding all the media into the core means that users can make multiplayer levels and easily link up with friends and only have to send their map file before a multiplayer session begins.

Over the coming months and years we plan to add many new features so our community can effortlessly design the games of their dreams.

We hope you enjoy GameGuru and as always please keep sending us your feedback and suggestions.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Down To One And At Number One

About two hours ago my task list had a SINGLE item in it, that's right just one fix and I have completed everything assigned to me at that point, alas the bug required some tricky multi-player stuff to reproduce so it was not a quick fix, and since then a few more items have emerged from a recent MP session so I guess it's back to work for me.

In other news, our Theory Test app, which teaches you how to pass your driving test, has just hit Number #1 on the Top Paid iOS UK charts, beating Minecraft and Angry Birds, which of course will not last for long, but it's a great feeling to be at the number one spot once again, and I am pretty sure it won't be the last either, now if I can just get our game maker to Number #1 on Steam ;)

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Just Four Left

Though delegation and blindly fixing stuff, I am now down to just FOUR items on my task list which is a nice feeling, and naturally the universe won't want me to be happy for too long so I expect the list to increase again in the next round of internal tests but at least I am on top of the project which is where I need to be.

As part of my fixes, I occasionally have to create small levels to test, and this lead me to test a possible collision show-down with the above statue, but it was in vein, the collision was super fast and smooth, and the ugly looking stone statues made no complaints either, so I think everyone was happy in the end.

Monday, 9 February 2015

She's Dying To Eat You

A gruesome image below but a great day for completing tasks! Between the team we've knocked off off 26 in one day, and have dropped below the 40 item threshold which is cool considering it was over 200 at one point and we've been adding lots of items since that count.

I present to you one of our lovely Zombies, currently integrated into the main build along with Cartoon genre plus a few more game levels to flesh out the offering when you first install and use the product, and right now I am trying to get as much of the final asset assembly together as quickly as possible, so this is sure to be another hectic week but it will be worth it come the end of Feb!

Friday, 6 February 2015

The Good The Bad

A good day in terms of getting a good solid build ready for an early submission to Steam which was always part of the plan to test things out, and everything looked good apart from a few niggles added to Wrike.

My own day however has been marred with the inability of my brain to work out why the Steam SHIFT+TAB does not work (the Steam UI Overlay system), and from 9AM to 9PM I've battled and mostly failed. About an hour or so ago I discovered the using the SetForegroundWindow() helped a little, but it's a dangerous command and flaky inside the child window setup I have for the software IDE and DX app.

I've finished on a high note with the toggle now working from the IDE, and if you ALT+TAB the app it also works in the game, but it does not work when you CLICK inside the editor or game, and the mouse highlighter and click definately do not work.  I've fired off an email to the Steam guys and maybe I can get some insight into how to debug the GameOverlayUI.exe module which so far has been the cause of all my Friday bane and suffering.

Also not eaten since 9AM too so going to put something on TV and eat food, forget about input focus, windows messaging, directinput cooperative modes, keyboard and mouse focus, activation and foreground permissions, and hopefully my brain will create a short list of new things to try when I return tonight or Saturday.

Also some fellow kindly reversed into my car which now has a very deep hole, bent plastic and shards of glass where my front bumper and fog light used to be. Only found out about it today when the garage asked about it, retraced the cars tracks to the pub car park, somewhere between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. I could start an investigation, or an insurance claim, but there's no use crying over spilled milk and it was a nice reminder by the universe that leaving my car defenseless in the middle of an empty car park on a Wednesday night is not a good idea on so many levels. If the Steam launch goes well, I can just buy a new bumper, or if it goes really well a new car (not really, my Honda Accord is the best car I've had, anyhoo, back to the eating and developing stuff).

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Marvelous Multiplayer

Ravey had another day (and night) to work on the multiplayer, and managed to reduce overall packet traffic by 75 percent, which meant our second eight player deathmatch went smooth, even with some users harboring high ping rates, which means we're good to go here with only minor tweaks and fixes to follow.

For my own efforts, knocked a few more items off the list, and added the same number back on as we continue to refine the software for a Steam release, but now faced with the strangest of bugs which manifests itself in the form of hiding all the sounds in the game, as though the game window itself is unable to play sounds or has zero volume, or something, so hopefully I can solve this before I log off for an early night, ready for the big Friday when lots of things are planned and also marks the end of the first week of 'solid testing'. 

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Running Out Of Tasks

After obliterating my priority tasks with a vengeance, I am now working through the last five 'normal' items on my list, and I am sure there will be many more added but it's nice to get my work visible at a glance on a single page, good for moral, and with my Pool Night tonight I can hopefully come away with a win there as well.

In other news asset generation continues at a good pace on the Character Kit which will fool your gamer with a crafty use of beards, and thanks to a standard pipeline we're documenting it also means you can craft your own beards in a modeler and add them to the selection, not to mention the extra beards we will be selling through the store too (don't worry hair pieces and false noses to follow in the near future).

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Multiplayer Mayhem

Today we tested the first EIGHT player multiplayer mode session with a map I created specially for the occasion, and aside from two issues relating to the dreaded 'guaranteed packet' effect, the whole experience was pretty cool, with players jet packing all over the sky, shooting fellow players in the midst of serious network testing and generally having a good old time in the level I affectionately entitled 'Holy Shotgun'.

In addition to testing the latest multiplayer code from Ravey, which was the fruit of a coding stint that kept him awake until 5AM, I also tested about ten fixes I made during my own late night session, all of which did not reduce the stability of the 'almost final build' except for a missing texture which was an easy tweak to the installer, and despite changing just one file, I still tested the whole software again, button by button, feature by feature, and I saw that it was good.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Finished My Game

As you may know I've been occasionally playing far Cry 3 single player mission to learn how a great FPS game is put together, and I can proudly proclaim that I have completed the single player mission and finished as a goodie goodie, an experience that really reconnected me with what makes good combat AI, weapon handling and general level content, and I am sure these subtle lessons will leak into my work as a games engine engineer.

Today has been mainly about very minor tweaks and a whole lot of testing on a build which was almost the one ready for release, but we've identified a few issues that simply could not be ignored, and so we have decided to get those fixed and repeat the testing circus again on Tuesday, with the hope to have something REALLY solid later this week, so watch this space for announcements and I think you will like what you see!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Earliest Post Ever

Friday is going to be a busy day so decided to post my blog in the morning instead, and this way ensure that something gets posted as I will be leaving the office at 3PM today to celebrate someones birthday and help myself to the local mead.

My task list is quite meager today with just three crash bugs to attend (and as I write this at 7:30AM I have already fixed two of them), and currently looking at a report that the Fantasy Characters (third party content) was crashing the new character animation system, so that has been dealt with though you can see from the shot above that the relative difference in size between these and the new Reloaded once are causing the chappies to float a little.  I dare say there will be a lot of work and tweaks to the engine as more custom content comes in and needs to be anticipated correctly when importing.

Given the 'seaming' abundance of time, I will be spending most of it building and testing versions, and of course uploading Steam editions as this will be our new testing ground in February in accordance with our plan to start testing the Steam infrastructure and the Multiplayer as part of the main experience.

The plan at the start of the year was to spend all January adding the remaining core functionalism and all of February testing it, with a release to Early Access in March in time for GDC.  It's great that this plan has worked so far, and I am looking forward to making lots of maps and testing every corner of the software, and it's very rare I get a WHOLE MONTH to test something prior to release so done correctly I think we can assure ourselves of a stable release.  Granted we still need to add lots of things, lots more optimization opportunities and increase the available content, but as 'core engine' products go, I think it will present as an interesting product to many Steam users who perhaps have had their fill of playing game after game, and would not mind making one for a change.

Exciting times ahead and looking forward to seeing how our 'very tentative' Steam pre-test goes this weekend with our alpha testers, as this will be the first time we have used Steam keys for a beta test!  Fingers crossed :)


Our new project management software Wrike has a pie chart and bar graph which shows the contrast between newly submitted tasks and tasks completed, and today we beat Week 2 in terms of completed items which was pretty cool!

My remaining tasks with a day to spare is to solve the Windows XP BSOD which relates to an issue with the engine crashing out on one of our alpha testers, and to make a build for the weekend and also transfer final files for a Steam build too, which is timely as I am pretty knackered from the last two days and looking forward to an early night's sleep for an early start Friday when I plan to start work at 7AM to get a little more done in the final day of 'functionality' development, from here on in it's all testing and minor tweaking.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Games Day - Three Done, Two Nearly There, More To Come

In addition to the various fixes afforded today, I took a serious look at the game levels we will be bundling with the core product and after I got the light-mapper to work again, the speed of the games where pretty good and I had a lot of fun running around as a player rather than a fixer, and aside from some AI and Performance tuning I think we're on our way to creating a great game play experience.

Also participated in a multi-player test this afternoon which successfully uploaded a new level to the Steam Workshop, hosted that game, joiners informed through the software that they need to subscribe to the item, which was then downloaded locally for them, and the game could be connected and run, complete with custom content in an encrypted package to protect the artists assets, and once again I see this as being one of the most fun and engaging features of the product, despite it being one of the last things we elected to add.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Some Great New Sample Levels Joining The Build

Another great day of fixes, and following on from a 15 hour day yesterday I only had a handful of issues left to deal with before the next big build, which mainly includes taking new assets, testing them and adding them to the core asset collection to be part of the installer, and including the new (very cool) levels that will be provided as samples for new Reloaded users, and example shots provided below as a taste of what is to come.

One tip suggested by Rick to share is that when you lightmap your scenes, and have a dynamic shadow such an animating tree casting on the floor, and your entity is not being shadowed that sits under the tree, make sure you set the Entity Shader Technique to HIGHEST as this is the only one which supports shadow-shading.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Content And Sample Game Levels

With the bulk of the 'functionality' work concluded last week, this week, the third since the start of 2015 will be about adding content, game samples and testing everything as we layer on the final fixes and polish before a major build for some serious testing during February.

Many of the sample levels created for us by third parties either through competitions or directly as a contribution sometimes dipped into legacy or custom content, and so we are painstakingly bringing those into the core asset library, renaming them, putting them in the correct category folder and using a cool new hack I created, the old levels can be instructed through a .REPLACE feature, to swap in the location of the new entity to replace the old one, avoiding the need for the level artist to have to go in and manually replace anything, which I thought was a very nice time saver (and sanity saver).

Friday, 23 January 2015

Flea Swatting Stage

After the monster UBER Character work yesterday and last night, today was a little nicer with some opportunities to squash little bugs and tweaks, which has gone well so far, so the plan is to continue getting the list down to reasonable levels, and then make a test and build for the internal alpha testers for the weekend.

Finally finished at 3:30AM last night, but the Uber Character can now hold any weapon style, and when stood can pivot his upper body around to face and shoot you, and transition to normal animations, plus blend the two states together using a special frame override which can impose static frame poses onto a running model animations, which I thought was a nice touch!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Coding To Rocky Theme Tune

You just know no bug is safe when you're casually playing movie themes in the background, and then the Rocky theme tune comes on, so it is perhaps best for the bugs that all of today I was working on the Uber Character task, which involves adding Rocket, Shotgun, Uzi and Assault Rifle animation sets to the character animation system which was estimated at 6 hours and looks to be taking entirely that allocation.

I also added a sub-task to this goal, which was to use the new animation frames created to pose the upper body of the character for twisting and firing, and I was about to start writing new DBP commands to override an animation with fixed animation frame poses, when I discovered a SetFrameEx command that I must have written years ago that does exactly that, which I thought amusing and very very useful indeed, thanks TGC!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Crashes Be Gone

A crash that has been plaguing the software for sometime has now been squashed, and turned out to be the rather simple fact that the Steam API needed to be totally closed down when the executable was terminated, or modules would be left hanging and dire consequences ensued.

As Pool Night is 'Singles Knock-Out' I have decided to stay at home and have an evening of 'more work' which according to my task list on Wrike means I start the code which will allow the Uber Character to hold ANY weapon style (pistol, shotgun, uzi, rocket, none), partially to give this character template life in the first build to help future character artists but mainly to provide the necessary character for the multiplayer gaming where each player can naturally select and run around with any weapon, and you want to see that in a good way, so it's my mission for the evening and hopefully I can get another task knocked off before the final 'function' week is over and we move tentatively to internal testing of a near-final build that will eventually become the Early Access release on Steam.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Strategy Meeting Day

A good meeting today and one decision is that we will likely be releasing a build for all pledgers at the start of February so something for you to look forward to, and also as part of the meeting before we headed off for lunch was a funny rag doll pose as I was defeating characters in the new Get To The River level which will feature in the final Early Access build (thanks to our recent competition winner):

It was great fun winding my way around a brilliantly designed level, and then started to realize I was in the GTTR (Get To The River) level, just massively embellished, and sure the AI can be a little slow to react but the combination of pistol, shotgun, uzi and rocket men as I battled to get to the jetty and the river was pretty awesome and I look forward to sharing it in the next two weeks!

Monday, 19 January 2015

2015 - Week Three

With base line multiplayer sessions in the main IDE, finalized performance and visual settings abd a dwindling list of priority tasks, all that really remains is the Character Kit and Workshop functionality to be introduced, which are the goals for this week, and with a strategy meeting thrown in the week has been reduced by a fifth, but I am also skipping the Pool knock-out Wednesday night which gives me half a day back so all in all should be a good productive week.

Also tackled some left-over nags regarding the Zombie support in the engine with fixes to the ability for them to walk OVER dead zombies, use whole body detection (instead of half body shooting bug) and the last one which was the random vertex corrupt which turned out to be a head reset feature which the Zombies have no use for, and I wanted to post a second picture of something you do not see every day (not that you see Zombies every day), is our total dominance of the Android Educational Chart, perhaps the dream of every app developer and all thanks to the power and awesomeness of App Game Kit 2 now available on Steam (blatant plug):

Friday, 16 January 2015

Welcome To The Slightly Drunk More Than Two Sentences Blog Post

Well after only 2 hours sleep between THU and FRI, and then a solid stint through to 5PM I decided to play fair to my own body and start to shut down the serious stuff.  The new build for the internal alpha testers was uploaded, my own tests went well, a GREAT result from our first Reloaded multi-player mash-up through Steam and a fantastic end to the week.  Surely I deserved a 'blended bourbon' and Cherry Zero mixer (or four) :)  I write my blog post-JD so excuse the exaggerated arm waving but the two sentence tether has been removed for Friday and I am free-styling my way through this post!

A very VERY early snapshot of my Character Kit prototype which I am confining to a weekend (or three) development so it does not get in the way of the main engine work.  More uniforms have been created as well.

If I had to choose from music for this shot, it would be The Ecstasy Of Gold by Ennio Morricone.  Maybe one day I can get away with this on YouTube without getting sued..

Speaking about todays work, a HUGE pile of completed items lies in my wake, and for the first time we had a multi-user mashup in the engine which means each of us make a quick level, then hit the M button and played the level over Steam and had a blast!  It was SO COOL!

On other news, the children of AGK2 continues to blaze a trail on the popular app charts.

I'll give you a guess, we did not develop Toca Hair Salon 2 ;)  We also got a nice treat from the real world too, you know, the top selling and top paid iOS and Android charts that all developers dream of being on.  Not bad for a few weeks of work with the ultra powerful and cross-platform king App Game Kit 2!

If I said this app took just 'weeks' to develop from scratch, you would not believe me so I will not stretch your credulity, but I started it mid-Jan and handed over the project by early March to start the Reloaded project back in 2013 or 2014, so long I cannot recall :)

Now back to Reloaded, hurray!  With Friday a resounding success, the plan for next week is to finish off the multi-player (Ravey) while I continue to close the stability gaps in the product to produce something as close to solid as a rock for the Steam Early Access release.  It's already feeling pretty solid, but with weeks of functionality development and a whole month of testing ahead, I am pretty confident right now.

Not to mention by little weekend task of moving the Character Kit closer to completion, and if possible, inclusion into the main Early Access release. The plan is that characters can be created for both the single player games AND the multi-player games, and the ability to put your own faces on the characters will be especially cool in the multi-player side of things.  It's one thing to frag a friend in a death-match, but quite another to run up to them and see their own face staring back at you :)  It's gonna rock!!

That's slightly more than two sentences, but it's Friday so enjoy the rambling. Just got stuck into a bowl of pasta, Godfather sound track in the background, a bourbon mix by my side, a dog waiting for his walk and a time team in my future, the perfect Friday for a saddy-coder who's social life was tied to a tree and left for the wolves many many moons ago.  Until Monday, enjoy your weekend and be happy!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Short Two Sentence Blog For Busy People

Today was meant to be about adding the multi-player button to the main IDE, which has taken all of 45 minutes, with the real bulk of the day being work on shadows and using more DirectX 9 hacks to do things like making the shadow camera render target NULL, accessing the depth stencil surface directly from a render which increases performance, improving the PCF for HIGHEST REAL-TIME and ALL PRE-BAKE settings.

After last nights victory at Pool and the subsequent celebrations I am not really in the mood for chilling out this evening, so will be returning to Wrike and knocking off a few more items into the completed column, not least because some new issues have been reported from yesterdays build so plenty for me to be getting on with before the planet I am on blows away altogether.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

All But One

Great day today, and solved a nightmare of a bug which had the power to wipe out whole chunks of level entities at a single stroke, so that will be in an emergency build going out to the internal alpha testers this evening, and my last item from the current urgent list is the issue of the LOWEST shadows looking rather crude, and I have a sneaky suspicion the shadow textures have been using debug 256x256 render targets all this time, instead of the intended 2048x2048 ones!

Apart from that, the software is looking very well with more progress on the skin tone part of the Character Kit (all asset generation right now) and the multiplayer hook which can now take advantage of the Workshop system on Steam so hopefully Thursday will see another rush of completed items and move us ever closer that stable solid release we are aiming for by the end of January.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Another 10 Bugs Fixed

Slow and steady is the grind to eliminating the remaining small mountain of bugs and naggy issues, and they are dropping one by one which is great fun, and with each build the software gets stronger, such as the new ability for the static lights to really stand out and work very well in the new lighting process.

Also, new character skins emerge from our character artist as he juggles asset creation for the newly forming Character Kit, which will not only have the ability to play musical heads but also allow the user to choose from a wide variety of realistic skin tones with the slide of a mouse.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Many Fixes - Custom Media Happy

I had about ten items on my urgent list for today, and defeated all but one which I am likely to solve this evening as it's the zero rag-doll animation death issue which should be pretty simple to deal with, but in the main I am happy with the fixes including a serious one which prevented certain entities from the store from rendering properly, including off the shelf stuff as seen below.

I also started work on the Character Kit, which is a very simple tool which will allow you to assemble unique characters for your level, and although the first version will only contain a few bodies, heads and texture variations, it will be designed to be expandable both from the store and from your own custom contributions.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Seven Hours On One Task - But It Was Worth It

I started with about eight or so high critical tasks, and ended the first part of my day (9AM-7PM-No-Food) with seven left to do, but it was a great day though as I have increased the loading speed of the whole test game pipeline, largely by moving plenty of the 'load once' instructions to before the editor starts, and also making a 4 second improvement in the step that generates a mega texture for distant terrain rendering. On my system, an empty level used to take 16 seconds from clicking Test Game to starting the game, but in the new build it now only takes 9 seconds and I have identified a 1.5 second pause when generating water and 4 seconds when initializing physics, both of which I think I can shave down, but it might not make it into the priority list, moving on.

You will notice I am exceeding my two sentence barrier today as it's Friday and you will need some mind fuel for the weekend. Happy to provide!  Above is a cool new character skin from our artist Adam, who will no doubt be making an appearance as either a default character or a skin choice for the future Character Creation Kit.

It's now one week back, and 5 dev days into 2015 and I am still feeling very charged from my rest over the holidays.  I have booked my flight to San Francisco to attend GDC in March, and my all accounts looks to be a great show with Intel exhibiting outside the Expo hall for ALL FIVE DAYS (of which I may very well be part of), and Steam are preparing something pretty big it seems surrounding their mysterious Steam Machines device(s).  I will be blogging and tweeting there as per usual, so if you want to catch up for a drink of Guinness and a Pie, I'll be following the attendant crowds as we stumble from one drinking hole to another.

Work on the Steam side is also going very well, with our resident Steam-tech-head Ravey solving the various challenges that will allow you to create, share and play not only your stock asset levels, but also store and custom content too, in glorious multi-player.  I can't wait to see what the community does with THAT, exciting times and let's hope we cover enough bases for our Steam launch (early access build).

My Friday night plans are pretty typical of a bedroom coder, eat something quickly (as the body needs energy after 10 hours in the saddle), walk the dog, make some tea and continue my quest to knock all the high priority items off my list before I go to bed.  Rest assured there will be more on Monday, but I'll still get a buzz out of clearing my proverbial inbox.  As it is Friday, I might treat myself to a J.D & Coke, a recipe I have improved by substituting regular for something called Coke Zero Cherry, which makes an awesome mixer and is literally one calorie (could them, one).  Now if only they could distill a 1 calorie bourbon, fat gits like me can rejoice the world over and drink ourselves thin!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Coding To TV Theme Tunes

Having listened to the theme tune to Morse over the last two days, I decided to start listening to a collection of 50 TV theme tunes on YouTube, I continued to plug away, defeating all manner of high priority nasties from the ever-trying-to-grow-larger list of tweaks and fixes needed to make a solid piece of software, and doing quite well at it according to Wrike, our new project management software which gave my a scare earlier today when it refused to bring up my daily list of tasks for a good few minutes past 9AM.

It is quite rewarding to stick to existing functionality rather than invent new stuff to pile onto the creation, as it means I get more time to actually use what already exists, and iron out those rough edges that I have taken for granted but would be a jarring experience for any new user, which I am concluding would be the majority of Steam users coming to the product, and I can report a warm fussy feeling as the product becomes rounded every day I sit down to work on it :)

58 In 3

Yesterday (and the two previous days) saw the completion of 58 tasks, plus 19 deferred and 8 cancelled from the mega tweak list of 180 items, meaning we're well on our way to achieving our goal of a good candidate build by the end of the month.

In other news, the newsletter is out, so for more information beyond this miniblog, you can read this much better blog:

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

IDE Stability And Shadow Flicker Fixed

I've been informed that my comment about finishing in two months was a little erroneous in that it gave them impression that I would have the 'entire' product finished in two months, when in fact my intent was simply to highlight that I will have a stable early access build ready for a Steam launch at that time, and the final product will in reality be a work in progress as we continue to add features to the game maker.

Been trialing a new project management system over the last two days called Wrike which has proved to be very efficient at making me efficient, and as a result quite a lot of naggy little issues have already been eliminated from the engine making the internal build I have right now very cool, and it has been suggested that an early internal build can be made to our internal alpha testers in the not too distant future, lucky fellows!

Monday, 5 January 2015

First Official TGC Day Of 2015

Happy New Year fellow game creators, I will be spending the next two months in the deepest darkest cave I can find to finish the Reloaded project you've been following for the best part of two years now, and in order to do that I am redirecting all energies to a single point of focus to ensure I deliver. 

To this end my daily blog will be condensed into two sentences only (plus optional screenshot or video) to re-enforce my laser-like focus on the goal and to keep you informed about the project all be it in a highly compressed and efficient manner until such time as I can return to the surface and the sunshine and join you again in the wonderful world of game creation.