Thursday, 31 January 2013

Thursday Reload

Progress on P002

Woke at 2:30AM today so after some quick emails, I dived right into Reloaded before anything else distracted me.  The last prototype only had two clipping planes in effect and so the mission this morning was to get the bound boxes fully occluding.

Occlusion Solution

After all sorts of crazy vector techniques to figure out where to place my planes, I finally figured out a method which I liked. It is fast and simple. I detect which sides of the bound box the camera can see, then disregard the other faces. I then work out which edges of all the faces define the contour around the remaining sides. I then create planes against each of these edges to form a volume starting at the camera and extending into infinity, respecting the edges of the item doing the occluding.


As you can see in the above screen shot form the P002 prototype, the big block is occluding the boxes behind it, and even knows the size of the objects and can avoid occluding the ones on the very edge of occlusion (see the box on the left which you might think would be occluded but a little bit of it sticks out that should still remain visible).  When you use planes to clip things, you have a handy method of determining distance from the plane before you clip which is cool.

I have been gently instructed not to show you any programmer art in future screen shots and demos for the remainder of 2013, so the above demo had a little extra time spent on it to add a skybox plus floor and wall textures from the Reloaded asset collection which is already being build as I write this.  Although you cannot see it, the bricks in the semi-transparent wall use parallax mapping which makes them stick out even though they are mapped to a perfectly flat polygon.

As I have put in 6 hours on P002, I think I will quit while I am ahead and do some other TGC tasks to ensure my workload remains nice and even.  The next bit of the occlusion system will involve solving the problem that individual occluders that sit next to each other do not join forces to hide an object. Each only partially occludes to the object remains visible and you get distant objects remaining visible when in the real world you simply cannot see it. Maybe something along the lines of merging occluders that share two dimensions or something, we will see.

Awesome New System

I find the best way to test a new system is to leap in and start using it, which is what I have done. I have set it up using Synergy alongside my main machine, and have transferred all Reloaded project work to that machine. I have installed only the tools the Reloaded project needs and will be coding from there moving forward.

Dishonoured: My all time newest favourite game of all time

I have added an inspirational backdrop, and sorted out as many of the tools I think I will need. Check out the tools for 2013 and do let me know if you have a better suggestion for any of the software types I have chosen. As it's a new system, now is the best time to discover new tools that make life easier!

My first real deadline is the end of February when I hope to have enough coded that I can design a map, click a button then jump directly into playing the game, complete with light-mapping, occlusion and some of the newer Reloaded graphics and shaders.  I will be sure to reveal a video of this when the time comes, and post lovely graphics of the progress along the way.

Other News

As it's 'going' to be a long day, I am going to dig a few holes in the garden to keep my mind fresh and then resume some AGK project work running up to the usual 7PM clock off time.  Sometime between now and then, I am expecting delivery of a brand new state of the art convertible Ultrabook, my newest weapon in my attempt to win the next Ultimate Coder Challenge.  I can also reveal that the secret item I mentioned a few blogs ago is the remarkable new Gesture Camera from Creative. These two pieces of hardware will form the basis of my competition entry and the development will be stretched over a 7 week period starting mid-February.  I will be running a separate weekly blog for this, but don't worry I will keep my daily appointments here, perhaps with a more informal perspective on how the competition is going for me.

Signing Off

I must say it's really refreshing to be working on FPSC again.  It was my pet project for many years around 2006 and I had a blast. Having the opportunity to go back in and do a major spring clean and wholesale replacement of ancient technology is simply awesome.  Once I've got the boring back-end engine stuff out the way, I look forward to bringing you massive explosions, flame throwers, insane physics and lush landscapes!

As a quick taster, here is an explosion our artist prepared earlier:



Have a nice day!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Wednesday Glued

Lee Did It Again

I hope this is not a habit forming, but I seem to have glued Wednesday onto Tuesday (again). That is, not actually do the 'sleep' bit between Tuesday Night and Wednesday morning.

It Was Worth It Though

The time was about 2AM and I was not the least tired, and I knew I was out the office over the weekend. I had planned to finish my PC build that weekend too. It was at that moment I decided to finish my build there and then. I was in a finishing mood because I had just finished single player Dishonoured and was quite pleased with myself. I had a power supply, a USB front panel, a fan controller front panel and a sound card with front panel to install. The goal was to quiet the machine so it would not hum.

The finished system that will create Reloaded in 2013!

It took two hours to do the hardware swap, and a further two hours adding software and other small tweaks. I managed to get the noise level from 45-47 decibels down to 42-43. The ambient noise level in my office at 5AM was 41-42 so my machine now operates a mere 1 decibel above what I regard as 'human quiet'. Little things like the ticking of a clock, the wind outside and the breathing of the house all contributed to making 41 decibels with all machines switched off.  The upshot is that I have built a machine that makes virtually no noise, and with fan control can be made even quieter! I had to look into the case several times to confirm the fans where indeed working, and the machine was, in fact, on.  I then did some stress tests and used Prime95 to attempt to melt the CPU and get it really hot. I got up to 69 degrees at the chip before I backed off and increased fan speed on the case. I have the bios automatically increase the main CPU fan as needed, but I can control the case fans from the front panel now. In theory I should not need to fiddle with anything as it's highly unlikely I will be running at a prolonged 4.4Ghz and even if I did, the CPU is quite safe under 70 degrees.

FPSC Bug Fixing

It looks like I also fixed the FPSC V120 issue causing some failures on Windows 8 (the OS thought FPSC was a virus). Just as I thought I had a final official release, a new bug came in related to leaping spawned crates. Working on that as I type this, and hopefully I can narrow it down and fix for a new release today too.


Reloaded Prototype P002

I have made it right with my brain to do some work on the prototype today, getting the occlusion system further along so basic shapes can be culled from a scene with hundreds of objects. It will be a good first step towards working out a good indoor outdoor occlusion system that works in code.  I've decided not to use the GPU occlusion system as it will add time to the R&D and might cause problems later on when it comes to different cards supporting different variants of this feature. At least good old simple code works the same no matter where you put it.

With occlusion done entirely real-time with nothing more than a list of objects to work from, the last element of 'delay' experienced during the classic FPSC build step was loading all the game media in and preparing it for the start of that level.  The good news is that the map editor already has the assets loaded in (to edit with), so we can assume this step is instantly eliminated.  Once the occlusion is dealt with, I will probably look at the scope of work to incorporate the 'play game' actually 'inside' the map editor executable and in theory reduce the build time to zero.  I might allow myself 2 seconds grace to transition from map to game, and game back to map. More than this and we are back where we started I think.

Signing Off

It's been a fun couple of hours, and when 7PM comes around I will watch an episode of Time Team through bleary eyes then flop off to bed to have a long sleep. I have been reliably informed that new graphics are coming in for one of the AGK projects I am managing, so will be doing a little bit of that Thursday I think.  

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Tuesday Delivery

Back In The Office

After a whistle stop tour of England, I am back in my Welsh Office answering emails and getting my head straight with the week ahead. I discovered a LARGE box waiting for me, but resisted the urge to open it until I need it. I know what is inside, but it means opening up the new system I am building and a lot of fiddly finger cutting work. Replacing a power supply is simple but involving (and my 8 pin auxiliary power plug is completely hidden by the darn fan and located at the furthest point from the power block - madness). Lots of interesting emails and plenty of news, but I will cherry pick some of them for you!

The Ultimate Coder Returns

I am finally able to reveal my TRUE identity! In addition to being your own personal narrator for all things TGC, I am now a challenger in the second Ultimate Coder Challenge. Da daaaaa!

Official opening post here: http://software.intel.com/en-us/blogs/2013/01/27/soon-the-perceptual-conversion-of-7-ultimate-coders

If you where unfortunate enough to join my original blogging efforts, you will know that I entered the first such Ultimate Coder challenge and lost badly. I created an app that was incomprehensible to the judges and only impressed them with my general lunacy.

It was an honour and privilege to be picked the first time, and shocking to be picked a second time. They must be gluttons for punishment (as they have to read ALL my ramblings). This time around I have been tasked with creating an app that pushes the limitations of a device called the Gesture Camera. This hardware is a forerunner for the technology described by Intel as Perceptual Computing and promises the concept of interacting with your computer without the need to touch, type or wiggle your pointer.

All you have to do is wave your arms and talk in your normal voice, and the computer figures out what you want. If the computer feels like it, your instructions will be obeyed.  I will be keeping my app secret until the challenge starts mid February, and will likely start a new blog series just for that competition. If this sounds interesting to you, you'll be reading TWO of my blogs, but at least one of them is only one post per week so that's good.

I am looking forward to the challenge, and for all your DBP coders out there, I will be writing a DBP plugin to access the SDK/API for the camera, so you may find many of the blogs revealing.  That's right, this app will be written in Dark Basic Pro!  Watch this blog space for more details.

Freedom Engine Frozen

It is always sad when we lose a friend, and today we lose a lovely fluffy friend called Freedom Engine. In order to direct as much energy towards AGK development, we have decided to suspend all development on Freedom Engine in 2013. Official post here:

OFFICIAL POST : http://forum.thegamecreators.com/?m=forum_view&t=203265&b=47&p=0

The decision was not easy given the amount of work that has gone into it, and the extraordinary potential of it. For those who don't know about this, check out the landing page at: www.freedom-engine.com

The plan is to return to this brand once we have added more things to AGK. Things that are quite clearly missing from the 'complete package' including a debugger, an easier deployment mechanism, better help and a solid compiler and IDE.

A general feeling amongst the ranks was that Freedom Engine was a little too futuristic for most developers, who still prefer their offline tools and work pipelines. Cloud has it's place in this environment, including storage, code sharing, automated deployments so forth, but it makes sense to get those things running in the AGK product before launching off into orbit to re-invent the way we are used to coding.  Freedom Engine will have it's day, but not today.

Signing Off

Today is something of a half day shift half night shift, and looks to be that way for the rest of the week. I plan to go back to Wigan to clean a house so will not be frolicking with system builds this weekend, but you never know with my blogging habits.  More blog Wednesday!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Monday 5AM

Early Morning

It's early, dark and quiet in the Bamber household. I woke from what I though would be a huge sleep but it seems eight hours un-interrupted was all I needed. It's now 5:30AM and I am about to set off for my meeting, which just happens to be 108 miles away from where I am typing (that's almost three hours of morning traffic to the layman - six hours round trip).

The Plan

Going to nip over to England, have a chin wag for six hours, then pop over to Wigan to drop off some presents, then hop, skip and jump back to Wales and try to avoid any snow. My place-holder rent-a-vehicle is a Peugeot 107 which I have been reliably informed has only three cylinders (even my outboard has four). Can't remember the last time I drove a car under 2.5 litres so it's gong to be an interesting ride!  Sods law says I get a freak snow drift!  I don't think I will have any time to do much work when I get back so will probably make it an early night so I have more of Tuesday to work from.

Reloaded News

Though not mentioned in the Kickstarter or any blog post since, one of the things I bought to plug holes in the new PC was a sound card. This sound hard had a 3.5 front panel gadget which allows volume control and port access from the front which is a feature we don't get these days.  I mention this because the sound card has what is called a 3D chip, which I am guessing hardware accelerates the process of figuring out what sound to produce when you bounce it off complex geometry. It's early days and I have not seen the sound card API yet, but one of the things I will probably do after the main Reloaded product is do a little research into sound tech. I did a little environmental audio and 3D sound when I worked more in DirectX land, but it will be interesting to see if these types of API are still around. If so, it should be a case of playing the sound through a static scene pre-built into the sound card, so that any sound played is affected by the entire scene. That is, a closed door would not need to fake a slightly quieter sound beyond, the door would actually 'block' the sound at the source, and based on what material the door was made out of, you would here the modulated result of the sound waves hitting that surface, and every surface before and after.  Maybe I am exaggerating what this card can do, and it's not something that will distract me from the main Reloaded product simply because only one in two hundred will actually one of these hardware accelerated sound cards. Almost everything on the Reloaded development will be focusing on features everyone can enjoy, not just the precious few.

Signing Off

Looks like I got my Monday blog after all. I also got through another level of Dishonoured last night too, and I 'think' I am on the final level, at last. Just have to play a few more hours and then my 'research' will be complete.

Saturday Plus Sunday

Third Time's A Charm

I think this is the third time I have glued two days together in the last ten days, and it's probably not good for me. As you may know I received the parts to my new system on Saturday and that evening I set about taking an old one apart and assembling the new one. It took about 13 hours including installation of some basic drivers and tools, and I am pleased to report everything when perfectly fine first time. 

The only stumble was that the new motherboard only had USB 3.0 ports, and Windows 7 did not have USB 3.0 drivers during the installation step which meant the keyboard and mouse died as soon as I entered a Windows page. The solution was to insert an old PS/2 keyboard into the combo PS/2 port they kindly left on and I completed the installation via the keyboard only.

Once I was in Windows, I installed all the motherboard drivers (including the new USB 3.0 driver) and all was well with my ports and mice again.  The over-clock I had purchased disappeared and the Easy Tune provided by Gigabyte was certainly easy but not particularly nice, so I un-installed that and was about to over-clock it the old fashioned way when I found Overclockers UK had saved a profile in the BIOS which was a perfect 4.4 Ghz over-clock  and a generous 2100+ memory over-clock too!

I Name Thee Noisy Bugger

I had bought the parts that would produce a nice quiet PC, but I neglected to consider the parts that where staying in from the last system. That is, the Power Supply!  It generates a rather annoying 65db under any load which was quite a distraction. At first I thought it was the CPU fan and the case fans, and spend all kinds of time switching to voltage reduction on the fans, inserting Ultra-Low interceptors on the fan cables and then I realised it was the power block.  I've had to send off for some more parts, and will put the machine away for another week. If I am to use the machine for the next few years, I may as well make it do everything I need it to do, which is to be quiet enough that I can think, and also not have gaping holes in it.  Another small issue was that the new motherboard had no floppy IDE and no HDD IDE (of course) and only 6 SATA ports and some other strange things. Next week I plan to plug these holes and hopefully have a machine I can start loading up with software and work files.

Lights Camera Action

I thought it would be a great idea to video capture the whole thing, from taking out the old board to assembling the machine and plugging it in. As you can imagine, it's a LOT of footage so will take time to convert to something you tube will accept, and I might have to (will have to) time lapse it so you don't have to sit through 10 hours of head scratching.

Signing Off

I have a meeting all day Monday, but will resume my antics and blogging Tuesday. If we can call this blog Mondays blog, then I have technically not missed a work day so far in 2013 ;)  It's 3PM now, and I plan to be asleep for 8PM so going to load up Dishonoured and see if I can get to the end of the single player mission so I can shelve it (and allow some new games to rush in). The problem with researching games is that when you find a good one, you tend to do a little too much research!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Friday Night Chill

Feel Good Friday

I guess everyone gets that Friday feeling, even if you work from home, you only see your boss in the mirror and Saturday is an almost identical day to Friday. I have it, especially now it's gone 10PM and the working day is done. I am spending my leisure time de-RAIDing a set of HDDs to find out which one has errors in it (by formatting each one in turn), then when I find it dropping it in the bin (or getting a new one if it's still under warranty) and repairing the rest ready for a new machine build.  Oh what fun!

Lee Makes a Machine

The HDDs are currently part of a PC that I use for secondary backups from my NAS drive, which my current main machine will be fulfilling a few weeks from now. First job is to build a new machine and run it through some insane tests before it can be called my main machine. If it does not melt, I will use it.

I am sure you want to know the specifications. I have ordered the raw ingredients from Overclockers UK, and even though I selected the 5-7 day build time for the motherboard + chip + memory, I got an email less than 24 hours after I ordered to say the whole lot had been shipped. Amazing!  In addition to the basic MB bundle I also added a BlueRay writer and discs and a new 240MB SSD to act as a rapid overflow drive (to install things like Dropbox, Installer Builds, etc). The leaves my main SSD (128MB) large enough to be the core Windows drive but small enough to allow nightly back-ups of my system set-up and source code (the two things you scream about when you lose HDDs).  I also added the Asus GFX 660 graphics card, which is not the fastest puppy out the gate but very useful. When I start the Reloaded project, I don't want to code on the fastest GPU on the planet because the only people capable of playing it would be those who own the fastest GPU on the planet. Instead, I have ordered a mid-range card so I still have the feature set and power to test some advanced shaders, but can simulate each side of the fence from the GTX 650 through the GTX 680+.

The motherboard is a Gigabyte Z77 and the processor is an Intel 3770K, and Overclockers have kindly figured out the best memory to run with this combination which is are modest 8GB Patriots. The bundle can be found here: http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=BU-123-OE

I am sure professional system builders are laughing in their coco right about now, and I agree my attempts to build a PC are probably ham handed, but I long ago decided that I build machines to have a little bit of choice about what I use every day, but by no means do I consider myself an enthusiast in this arena.  My rigs don't have flashing lights, water tubes, ice vapour pouring out the vents, insane clocks and whatnot.

I picked this set-up because it produces a safe 4.4Ghz speed (kindly pre-overclocked by Overclockers UK), will have full SSD storage for every day use, can burn 25GB of data in a few minutes, will allow me to play around with the latest PhysX advances thanks to the GTX 660 and probably the most important, it will be utterly completely silent.  Every component has been chosen for it's insane silence, and the graphics card which is usually the worst offender, uses DirectCU II which means ultra quiet fans that only produce 21 decibels at idle and 22 decibels at full load :)

If all goes well, the delivery is Saturday morning which means my weekend has turned into a machine-building-weekend.

The Days Business

In regular news, I have successfully sent off an estimate for new work which Dave (our tireless TGC coder) will kindly undertake, and another estimate for a third party artist we use from time to time to start around July, I have made new builds of one of the AGK projects and totally updated the feedback documents of two other AGK projects, and finally I have cleared my inbox which is now empty.  The business of the week has been concluded 100% successfully and my weekend is mine, all mine!!

Signing Off

While the test machine SLOWLY formats two 1GB drives to find the culprit, I have a few things I can do now including another few levels of the Dishonoured game which I have sensibly left alone during this week's activities. As I need to be up for most of tommorow, I shall not make this a late one but it's only 11PM so the night is young! Might also do some forum reading, add a few social posts here and there, and generally muck about on the comp until I get sleepy.  What a happy day Friday has been!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Thursday Not Friday

Lee, It's Not Friday!

I have corrected myself about four time today. I keep thinking it's Friday, when it's actually definitely Thursday!  I have some important things to do Friday and this might be why I want it to be here so I can get on with it. One of the things I have to do as a head developer type bod is to prepare estimates for future projects, and Friday is one such day. It is one of those jobs that has far reaching implications, and in this case asks me to accurately predict how long a project will take, and projects can take months. It's like throwing a snooker ball across a football field and predicting how many centimetres it will go before you throw it. Only experience in both throwing and judging distances can you ever hope you get something that bears any resemblance to the outcome.  Friday afternoon, I throw about five snooker balls and bet the bank I know precisely where they're going to land!


Room With A View

Thought I would take a photo of my lovely Welsh view so you can see what I see every day (on those days I working in daylight):

Somewhere in Wales

It's nice compensation for not being able to Ski this year. Those mountains are very much like the ones you see when you're dropped off the ski lift and look out over the vista you are about to plummet. I might arrange the next TGC convention so we meet in the Alps and combine a meeting of minds with huge amounts of skiing and beer.


Fun Times Ahead

I probably should not mention this, so I am going to use evasion and cryptographic speech to tell you anyway. You will only know what I am talking about later on, when you read more blogs. Something arrived on my door step and it was very big. I opened it and it was smaller than very big. I plugged it in, and lo, it was good. Very good. Stonkingly, ziffingly, smagdogglingly good! And better. It's also got very little to do with anything I have blogged thus far this year, and I will be able to reveal more and all in February when it will make a whole lot more sense.  All I can say is that every fibre of my being is being restrained from playing with said object so I can remain professionally focused on my real job and because this exciting item has been confined to the weekend and dare not look upon it during the week.  Be excited!

DGS - A New Master

Another day, another master, this time the Dark Game Studio gets a few tweaks, ready for a UK release later this year. I had to change a few things around so it would work better on Windows 7 and 8, which included changes to DBP and FPSC Free installers. This of course meant making NEW installers. The original DVD was mastered in 2008, so you can imagine it was tense for a moment as to whether any of it would work on the frontier OS that is Windows 8. The good news is that thanks to my work with Vista, the DVD pre-warns users of the ADMIN and UAC requirements, and with a few text tweaks was good to go.  Spend most of the day testing on Windows 8 and Windows XP so should be good to send out test masters to various eager beavers.

AGK Project B Hand Over

Another good bit of news is that Dave, one of TGC's top coders, has successfully integrated himself into one of my former AGK projects which means I have more time in the Reloaded camp.  I will still have a finger in the pie for some time, but Dave has made the transition very smooth to such a degree I have no doubts or concerns about the future of the project in question. Sorry I cannot use titles for these mysterious AGK projects, but they are either under NDA or in a pre-release state and can only be revealed when the marketing for the titles kicks in later this year.

Monster Hardware Thoughts

One of my hard drives just melted on my test machine today, just disappeared, just like that. The cheek!  My hard drives do not get holidays, that's the rule.  Fortunately it only stored backups of backups, but it does represent one level of redundancy down the drain, so I need to open up the machine and swap out the dud (if I can figure out which HDD it is, they all look the same).

As I contemplate opening up the PC, it occurs that I have not built a PC since my current one was over-clocked which was about two years ago.  It further occurs that my processor must be two years old and my overall architecture a little dated. It does the job very well but there is no harm in having a faster system for 2013 is there?  Would make a cool series of blogs too, especially for those of you who are unfamiliar with ripping a machine down to it's wires and building it up from scratch.  My preference is always to go for fast and silence, air cooled not water blocks, super fast drives and chillingly powerful GPU, over-sized power supply and easy access case. No flashing lights and no colour co-ordination. It is usually a machine designed to be the ideal development machine rather than the bell of the ball at the next frag-fest.

I've had a look to see if there are any developer discounts floating around but the processor I have my eye on is $999 which pretty much ends that line of enquiry.  That's not the PC, that's just the tiny little chip in the middle of it all. The other costly components are the motherboard, memory, graphics card and power supply. I will likely relegate my main machine to the new test machine, and use the test machines case (identical to the main machine) as the housing for my next monster creation.  It's not just the cost, but the time it will take to build and re-install my life onto, so the timing has to be right also. My favourite store for buying bits is Overclockers as their site seems to be designed around the needs of the PC builder, and sometimes compile a special "motherboard + processor + memory" pack which they have tested in-house for stability, compatibility and rock star qualities.  The more I type, the more I think I will jump to the overclockers site now to see what they have. It's 6:30PM now and my DGS DVD tests are all but complete, so I think I might have a wonder :)

Signing Off

Been a few days since I played an FPS game so there is a danger I will slip back into the old funny-duddy mindset. I have a nice pile of them now, so if Friday goes well I might reward myself with a few hours of Borderlands 2, and check out these amazing customisable weapons I have heard about :)

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Wednesday Day Shift

A 9 to 5 Day

Well my plan worked, mostly. After gluing Monday and Tuesday together, I managed to get up today at 3AM.  Took four hours to get out of bed, but managed to wrangle a normal day shift. It's now 2PM and have another four hours to go, with plenty of little tasks to keep me busy.

We Have Art

While I have been tinkering with Reloaded research and prototypes, our Reloaded artist Mark Blosser has been working on a series of weapons for the new product.  I can reveal a sneak peek at one of them now, the Uzi, within an FPSC classic level. Notice the reflections on the metal and the high quality arm and hand graphics when you reload. While I play with occlusion, Mark is working on small enhancements to this weapon to include accuracy cursor and additional animations that come into play based on what the player is doing. More on this in the next art video. In the meantime, here is the sneak peek video:



More Videos

Rather than produce a video of the P002 in it's current form, I am going to get it closer to finished first so you can see what occlusion is all about. In the meantime I will see what I can do about raiding the art chest and getting more sneak peeks to you, as we all love a bit of eye candy from time to time.

Signing Off

I was going to do a little P002 today, but I only have enough time (due to logging off at 6PM) to work on a new UK retail product release of Dark Game Studio and make sure the master does not explode when it hits a DVD drive.  Still, maybe it won't take four hours and I will find time to add the top and bottom clipping planes before my time is up.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Tuesday All-Nighter

Day Night and Day

The view from my office window has less snow in it every time I look.  My day started about 4PM Monday and apart from two hours to eat one meal and 30 minutes to eat a second meal I have been at my keyboard the entire time, and it is now 2PM on Tuesday. That's 22 hours minus 3 hours solid typing text and reading text. Not even any FPS games in there too, just solid graft.  My mission is to get this 'go to bed' trick accomplished. I messed up on Saturday Sunday when I passed the 7PM milestone, got my third wind and worked through to 2AM. This time I plan on pulling the plug at 7PM and collapsing. This should get me up in the AM for Wednesday.  Let's hope.

Emails and Things

It is fair to say lots of my hours are spent answering emails, blog comments, forum posts, chasing bits of AGK work and generally bobbing about, but it never really feels like progress to me. Today I have progress to report.

My Progress

I decided to kickstart the P002 prototype on Monday evening, which was to tackle the visibility occlusion (or hidden surface removal) problem. The old system chopped everything into a 100x100x100 grid and attempted to make portals out of everything. That ate memory, took ages to build and the result was not super fast or 100% reliable.

My new idea is to keep it simple. Give every object in the scene a sphere and bound box (and convex hull volume if need be), then produce occlusion volumes for each object from the cameras perspective. Anything entirely enclosed in one of these volumes gets hidden, and also removed from the occlusion test (as it is a given that anything they may have occluded has already been occluded by the larger volume that swallowed it whole).  The sphere to volume check is quicker, so will act as an early out condition and speed things up.  I am also tinkering with the idea of grouping objects casually into a basic hierarchy, simply to allow all objects contained in what will be understood as a large interior space to be occluded in one go if the entire encompassing structure is hidden. That is, if there are 200 objects inside Building A, and Building A is occluded/hidden, then I instantly hide the 200 objects inside that building by traversing a pre-prepared list of objects, rather than asking each object if they where inside the building (in real-time). I won't go nuts and put everything in a hierarchy as tree traversal can be just as costly when you have n * n to deal with, but something efficient that makes sense would be smart.

This P002 prototype will NOT take a weekend as I have to write my own 3D vector / plane / volume / frustum math code, and it takes my brain a while to wrap itself around it.  After a good 4-5 hours the current prototype creates 100 objects randomly in the scene with a camera roaming around, then works out the bounds of the box and produces eight vectors, one for each corner of the 3D box in world space, then works out a left and right plane from the camera to each side of the box. This effectively allows me to hide any objects that are to the right of the left plane and the left of the right plane. It works great for two planes, but for my next version (on Wednesday) I will need top and bottom planes and up to three front facing planes to describe the visible faces of the box. Also all boxes are current unrotated so you only ever see two sides, but ideally I want to spin all boxes in random angles on three axis so I can create an occlusion volume that perfectly matches the shape of the oriented boxes.  The far plane I can forget about as it stretches into infinity and I absolutely want to hide everything beyond the box. I then apply this technique to every box in the scene and in theory each box should be able to hide every other box no matter where the camera is placed, even if it is placed high up looking down on the boxes.

All sounds a bit complex without lots of illustrations but a simple search on Google should show you what I am talking about as it's a common technique in most engines.  If I need more definition I will upgrade to convex hulls or quick hulls which will enclose the object much nicer than a big stonking box, but we will see if that is required.  The key here is to get a technique that FPSC Reloaded can use for outdoor and indoor scenes, and the best way to know that is to mock-up some typical scenes and throw this new occlusion system at it.  Ideally I want to start with a disorganised scatter of seemingly arbitrary object meshes, and have a system that automatically groups them and then occludes them, all at real-time speeds (no build time allowed).  If I succeed, I will have defeated the second biggest bottle neck of FPSC. The first being light mapping which was squashed thanks to P001 prototype (see previous blogs).  Once P002 has been conquered, I will play a little more FPSC classic to see what the third biggest bottle neck in the build step is, and come up with an P003 that defeats it.

Signing Off

Have a good five hours still to go, but I am over the hill now so it's just a case of keeping busy until 5PM. An FPS game might be in order, but my inbox generally fills up in the afternoon so I dare say more important things will emerge as the afternoon unfolds. Last time I made a snowman to keep myself awake during the weekend. This time there is only enough powder for a snow gnome one foot tall so that's definitely out.  Coffee is also not a good idea right now. I will probably open up Google and do some casual research into techniques such as LPP, occlusion tricks, real-time shadow mapping and the like.  All useful stuff to pack my brain with for the many tasks ahead!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Monday Nightshift

Not Exactly To Plan

As you read, I glued Saturday and Sunday together to make a very long and tiring day, so I could go to bed early and be back on day shift. Well I went to bed at 2AM (Sunday late=Monday) so as you might expect, I am back on night shift.  I get my second and third wind in the evening so sleeping was not on the cards and did some more rendering research and emails (and social site updating) instead.

Workloads

Fortunately my two big AGK apps are awaiting art from various quarters, which frees me to play in the field of the third AGK app this evening. However that will not take me too long, and so I have decided to start on the second Reloaded prototype (I feel like inventing something) and also try to squeeze in another FPS game during my shift.

The game 'Borderlands 2' arrived on my door mat this morning, so that sits in it's shrink wrap until I can turn my attentions to it. My video blog also attracted a comment that the renderer should use LPP for interior scenes in Reloaded (Lighting Pre-Pass) which is a form of deferred rendering that is kinder to the memory of your graphics card and allows multiple shader techniques to take place. I have done some light reading on it, and it does seem to be a more evolved concept that basic 'catch all' deferred rendering so I will be factoring that in when the time comes.

The video blog I posted featured some new visuals for FPSC fans, and I want to iterate that there are no new shader techniques in there, I simply switched from point lights to area lights.  Once you see it with shaders, new dynamic lighting techniques and viewing it from a live first person perspective, your jaw may very well drop off!

Prototype P002

My naming convention precedes a three digit number with the letter P. P for prototype and the three digits anticipate that I will make 999 prototypes before I start coding Reloaded. Fear not, I am just protecting myself if I get to 99 and otherwise have no where to go. Coders from the 80's will remember creating line numbered programs and wanting to squeeze a line of code between lines 14 and 15, grr!

P002 Project Unknown

As I write this I am not 100% sure what this prototype will be, whatever takes my fancy, but it will probably target a serious gremlin in FPSC classic. The two bottlenecks are light mapping (sorted in P001) and visibility occlusion. This second one is a bottle neck because the current engine chops up the scene about five times to produce the data I use to decide what polygons should be drawn and which to keep hidden. It hits the build time, the real time rendering time and produces lots of horrible artefacts like parts of your scene disappearing in front of your eyes and worse, causing an open window to force the engine to draw the entire universe in one frame, causing massive frame rate drop. And I mean MASSIVE!

The solution is to ditch the old one, and use a new one.  A simpler one. One which is sympathetic to the cards of today and predict scenes that are based outdoors, with the player standing on a hill looking at the entire level on one shot. In such a scenario, you may as well switch occlusion culling off you would think. Well no, not if each building contains 500 items to pick up and eat. It has to handle interior spaces as well, with lots of dividing walls and plenty of gaps to see through.  Not an easy problem to solve, and I don't think I will be using BSP for this one ;)

The best way to solve it is to read some articles while listening to some thinking music, then start a prototype to try out the speed of each rendering technique. Thanks to Dark Basic Pro, I can knock prototypes up in hours instead of days, so I should have some good results by this evening. I also have a potential weapon in my closet called Dark Occlusion which is an add-on we have been selling for a while to DBP users. It does exactly what you might expect, hiding objects blocked be nearer ones to save rendering the whole lot. The demo I ran looked very impressive, occluding over 90% of the entire scene with apparently no performance drop, so we'll see if it can handle an indoor/outdoor FPSC scene with thousands of items from small apples to huge castles :)

Activating the Blosser

I can also report we have activated our secret weapon, the mighty Blosser. His sub-systems have been working in preparation for some time, conceiving all manner of unfathomable creations but prior to this very day you have been protected from his unfathomableness.

We can't reveal any art today as it's just too hot to put in the blog. We are going to have to let it cool down so mere humans like us can handle them, and once they are safe I will post a few glimpses.  Providing we all don't turn instantly to stone, I will post a few more.

The current idea is to go for a modern day theme for our asset library, as this will remove as much narrative and context from the selection allowing you to create a wide variety of games.  If we picked 'bog monster on Mars' as the theme, we would just have a thousand bog monster games each month, so setting it plus minus 80 years from today you have the basis to create a huge array of stories. We are also tinkering with the idea of throwing in items from 1920 through to 2093 so you can have period pieces at one end and some futuristic innovations too.  They will all integrate nicely with the baseline 2013 theme as well, so you can mix and match as you see fit.

If there are overriding objections to this plan, post your comments here as they route directly to my inbox for instant scrutiny.  Think of this blog as the hotline to Lee (or as many would prefer to think of it, a hotline AWAY from Lee).

Signing Off

Plenty on my plate this evening, so will get cracking and report on my progress with the P002 prototype on Tuesday (if any).  Thanks also for the kind comments in response to my video blog, and will be sure to make one for P002 when the time comes.  Catch you later!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Saturday and Sunday

A Productive Weekend

I played some more Dishonoured, only to discover what I thought was a 'kill the bad guy' last level was NOT the last level, and the story stretches before my hero for new adventures. Played a little further (to 5AM) and called it quits as I wanted to be up on Saturday before 4PM so I could see the snow!

A Pie Filled Weekend

As my Raspberry Pi case and power supply arrived the previous week, I made it a point to try them out, and wow are they cool. Amazing what a bit of plexi and power cord can do for ones general outlook. I assembled the case around my 'naked' raspberry pi, plugged in the very sensible power supply and it sprang into life!



Of course I had to add an HDMI cable and display, mouse and keyboard, but I was in the desktop within 20 seconds and playing games and coding Scratch. I had hoped to get AGK onto the device on day, but the device is pretty underpowered compared to the devices I generally deal with, and it might be as well to focus elsewhere for the time being.  I do feel the device could do with a cool kick-ass B.A.S.I.C language built into the distribution so kids can discover the fun to be had with a basic device and a basic language. Maybe one day, if no one does this in the next few years.  I am sure we could boil AGK right down to run most commands on the device as it has everything we would need such as OpenGL, usual file and memory systems, network, e.t.c. It's still a great device and I get a kick every time I plug it in!

A Reloaded Weekend

My reference to productivity was not in respect to my Pi assembly, but my work on the very first pure Reloaded prototype. Drum role!  That's right, I've decided to start Reloaded coding today, the 20th January, ten full days before I had planned to start.  I could not resist.



My first challenge and prototype was the 'real-time light-mapping while editing at full speed'. Rather that wait for the 'build step' to make all your lovely light maps, what if the editor was constantly building them in the background (using threads) and then showing you it's progress within the editor as you create your level. Cool huh!  Well it was just a theory until I wrote some code to do it.  I say was, cos' I did it.

I thought I would need to write a whole new set of DarkLights commands to conduct real-time lighting of meshes, but as it turns out, the lighting scene can be reset and launched again pretty quickly.  I will still need commands to overwrite existing light-maps, and a few more concurrency tricks, but generally it went very well.  The proto took six hours or so, and on my machine achieves frame rates of 5000 fps with light mapping in the background taking it down to 4500 fps :)

I also took the opportunity to experiment and refine the area lighting approach to lighting a scene. Instead of dropping a single light in the scene, you add about 20 lights in close proximity, and they create much more realistic shadows and lighting on the surrounding scene. I have done a before and after comparison so you can see what FPSC Classic does and what Reloaded is going to do. I will let you decide which is which:



The prototype itself is also pretty cool. You can move the 'placement' object around the scene, and when it moves, the light mapper is triggered to work out a new set of shadows and lighting for all affected surfaces. If you keep the object moving too much, the system removes the old shadow of the object until you have made up your mind. Depending on the workload, the new shadow takes anything from less than a second to several seconds to be created (in the background) and then the mesh is 'double buffer swapped' instantly into view. In the meantime, because all this is done on a background thread, your main editing experience thumps along at thousands of frames per second for smooth experiences for the end user.

Finally, I added a mode to jump directly into my light mapped scene so I could see it from different angles which was very cool.  In the final reloaded, you will (should) be able to jump directly into the level and wonder about (and do some more editing) while the light mapper continues to work out which surfaces it has not yet updated and get on with the job of lighting.  Removing this 'light map waiting' is perhaps the largest bottle neck for FPSC classic users and should produce a great level editing experience.


YouTube Video Link: 

To further entertain you, here is my first blog video of 2013, which shows the finished prototype and the various modes I added to test my ideas. I am pretty happy with the balance of quality and performance in this one, and further work inside DarkLIGHTS module (a DBP plugin) will see this integrate nicely into Reloaded.

Prototype P002 will probably focus on the other big bottleneck from FPSC classic which was the occlusion system. The original version had a huge memory hungry system of constructing the entire level in a grid system, then working out what you could see through portals carved into this 4D grid database. It had the habit of eating massive chunks of memory and not giving it back so my thought is to throw it all away and think of the problem a fresh. I have had a few years to think about it so should come up with some solutions that work for us.  More on this in a future blog.

Signing Off

There you go, another big one, and on a Saturday, which I said I would not do! Ah well, now you know something of the mind of Lee. Can't even follow my own rules, even the ones where the paint is still wet!  It's 6:05AM now, technically Sunday, and I had planned to treat myself with some food and a Top Gear, but it pushes me dangerously into Sunday daylight. What to do, what to do. At least it's not a work night :)

Friday, 18 January 2013

Friday Blizzard

Snow Storm Blitz

Not in reference to the game, or the acclaimed developer, but the scene from outside my Window today, which can only be described as an angry white Christmas!  It was stormy last night, but today (and now) it's horizontal snow and it's shot blasting everything not nailed down.  It's actually quite nice to look at, all white and clean. Only occurred to take photo evidence once it got dark so here is the shot:


What you are looking at is a window, and that lovely curve of white on the other side is snow!!  Both roads into where I live are now blocked off my the police due to dangerous levels of snow drift on the roads and Saturday it looks to continue, so I might make a snowman if I get up early enough.

You can also see other lovely things in the photo, from left to right, my stack of games played and yet to play, a metal yellow pyramid from the DarkBASIC classic days, a larger crystal pyramid with an Egyptian head inside it, cello-tape, binoculars to look out of the window with, the red apple pealer which is a 100 year old design and absolutely has to be seen to be believed, my clock and bag of bits, a money can which has since filled up with foreign coins and I can't fit any more in and a landline phone which I positively don't answer under any circumstances due to the fact 100% of incoming calls are cold calls selling me something. The certificate is a framed printout of the latest company created to bring joy to the world, but more on that in months and years to come (I like to think three years ahead).

FPS Game; Dead Space

Yep indeed. Not a first person game, a third person one.  I thusly looked past this control system (which was torturous and slow) and focused on the excellent use of light and shadow (and fading smoke and sparks) to create some very nice scenery. This one again used a single point of light casting singular shadows out from the characters and scene elements within a specific cone range. Done correctly, you only need one incident light at any one time to create the atmosphere you want for a particular area in your level, and the game benefits from that increased performance which smooths out game play and makes the world a better place.  It will be a very strong argument now for adding more than one shadow in the scene after playing so many games that used only one per location!

I was also send some videos of Crysis 3 (not yet for sale) which looks very tasty visually, and time will tell whether the gameplay is equally engaging or a glorified sequence of cut scenes and shooting from a fixed rail through the level.  I have high hopes for this one however.

Friday Night Beer

It is Friday night, and I will be killed by a Snow Yeti Saturday, so I have cracked open a Beer and decided to write my blog. I have ticked a lot of boxes today across the whole spectrum of tasks I have to do. So much so, I think I have deserved an extra episode of Top Gear and permission to load the final level of Dishonoured and defeat the evil bad guy with all my super powers and all my saved ammo.

Signing Off

It's only 11:20PM now, so plenty of hours to muck about on the computer.  I've ticked all the tasks in my diary so effectively off the hook now until Monday when I shall resume my professional ministrations. Until then, I have the ingredients of an authentic Irish Coffee winging it's way to me from Asda home delivery for Saturday and providing the snow lets the van through, my weekend is shaping up nicely.  For fellow UKers, good luck riding this storm and remember, if you don't need to travel, I recommend you bolt the doors and launch yourself into your favourite FPS game!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Thursday Purchase

Another Day

And another recommendation for an FPS game to buy, this time from a member of the TGC team; Borderlands 2. Apparently this one really takes the art of customising weapons to a whole new playground, and keeps the player in a constant change of subtle weapon refinements all the way through the game play. Now that is the kind of thing I want to see, and adopt for Reloaded down the line. Not quite a 'weapons maker' add-on, but certainly the ability to drop weapons down, tweak their attributes from the editor (not through NotePad and luck) and then maybe even in the game allow the attribute tweaks through scripts and some simple collectables too.  I ordered through www.play.com as they where £8 cheaper than Amazon so that will be winging it's way to me as I type this :)

borderlands.wikia.com/wiki/Borderlands_2

Day Start

As usual my day started just shy of 2PM, and with Dave back in the team from his super extended vacation, I can begin the process of handing over some of my AGK project work over to him, freeing even more time for me to play FPS games (er, that is, develop the awesome Reloaded product).  I have pretty much dedicated January to clearing backlog and preparing my brain for pure Reloaded coding, and hopefully by the 1st Feb I will have nothing to do except code coll and exciting prototype modules that can bolt into place at the appointed hour. I can't wait to start, and look forward to blogging some real substance in the months to come.

The Snow Storm

Apparently there is a big big snow storm heading for the UK shores, and apparently it's going to be something to be concerned about. I just sold my 4x4 (almost) which means I will be without the exact set of wheels one needs to survive such an event.  My plan is to hide here until it blows over and then emerge once it is all over and then decide whether I need another 4x4, or whether I can get away with two wheel drive. It's sods law that for the entire time I owned it, there was no sight of snow, and almost to the day I don't own it any more, the snow arrives. Typical.

Signing Off

I know this is an early blog, and I know that you know that my day has only really just begun. I have some serious hand-over coding and communicating to do this evening, plus eat, plus get stuck into some AGK project tinkering but mainly break out another FPS game and get an hour in before they start to pile up too high.  When they say a career in the games industry is akin to playing games all day, I am beginning to feel like they have a point. Apparently our newly returned Dave has already played every game mentioned in my blog, so maybe it's a given that game coders play games all the time, and I have somehow missed the point all these years.  Still, I can always catch-up :)

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Wednesday Take Two

After Tuesday

After the blog on Tuesday  I carried on and did quite a bit of work on one of my AGK projects to the point of finishing and distributing a completely functional alpha version. No small achievement.

And Today

On the same role, I compiled and released what might indeed be the final FPS V120 version (BETA9), but this evening got a few emails along the lines that the version was not quite exactly 100% of the way there with what has been described as player wobble. I have yet to see this, but there are suggestions that it is there, in the knees of our would-be FPSC hero.  Still need it to be reproducible before we can act, and hopefully that can happen eventually. It is likely related to machine speed rather than anything else, which often explains two different experiences from you would assume the same piece of code.  The adventure of the wobbling player continues...

A New Competition

It's very early days yet, and I may still not be entering it, but there is a chance I will be running TWO blogs over the next few months as I participate in a 'blogged competition'. The great news is that it directly relates and feeds into the Reloaded project which means at the start of the competition you will probably see more Reloaded development in one week than you have seen so far from this entire blog series.  I will of course mention the links to the other blog, and cross-blog from time to time so you are not left in the dark too much. I will try not to make blogging my full time job!

Signing Off

It's charging up to about 2AM and quite early for me still, with a plan to crank out a quick prototype for a meeting tomorrow. Hopefully it won't take me long, and then I can 'maybe' install one of the new FPS games, leering at me from the window ledge.  I have been assured Dead Space is NOT an FPS game so I may as well get it out the way and give it an hour's play. I will let you know what I got up to.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Tuesday Arrivals

New Arrivals 1, 2 and 3

Wonderful things dropped onto my doormat today; Dead Space 1 and 2 and Fallout 3.  This keeps my FPS (probably TPS) collection stocked for continual research through the FPSC Reloaded project.  The last game I played was Call Of Duty MW3 which gave my brain enough material to work with, so I am not going to burn through too many games at once.  I will make a nice pile of them and pick them when my mind craves new FPS experiences.

Night Owl Hours

My day started around 1PM today which gave me a few emails to catch-up on, but managed to get a little of everything done today including a new update the DarkNET for DBP which is now up to V2.0.2. This update adds performance improvements to the original version, and if you have not downloaded this in some time I recommend grabbing it. I have added a new installer which is much smaller than the old one.  There is a though about using it to replace the Reloaded multiplayer system, but that's a HUGE AND DANGEROUS thought as multiplayer is not included in the Reloaded line-up.  Still, having an up to date and kick add networking solution for DBP is a great position to be in.

FPS Creator Final Update

It's not the first time I have uploaded what I believed would be the final FPSC update beta, but I think the one I uploaded today should be the one. It is V120 BETA9 and solves the last of the little tweaks that could be reasonably reproduced. If all goes well with this last final public beta test, it will be used as the final V120 official update and propagate to all FPSC users through the automatic update system in the software.

Signing Off

My working evening is not over yet, but I wanted to get this blog written before midnight so it 'technically' goes out on Tuesday (it's namesake), rather than Wednesday early hours.  On a personal note, I switched from playing Muse Unplugged to System Of A Down (nostalgia decision) but it's a bit heavier than I remember it when I did music concerts many 'many' years ago. Might have been the beer that cushioned the system of the ears :)  Probably find something more Muse like (but not Muse) as you can only listen to that one a few hundred times before you want a change.  Maybe some Sum 41...


Monday, 14 January 2013

Monday Mornings

Afraid I Missed That One

I did however get confirmation that Dead Space 1 and 2, and Fall Out 3 where winging their way to be as I write this. Exciting times!  I am not sure how much work I can squeeze in between playing all these great games, but I will try my best :)

Other News

I have done more in the AGK project landscape to move those along nicely, specifically the production of a graphics list which would instruct an artist exactly how the asset files should be sized, what format they should be in, what context you would find them and the aspect ratios involved, plus a working prototype from which they can see the asset in action. Quite a comprehensive submission, but essential for the artist to know exactly how their artwork is to be received and interpreted.  Just waiting on these before I can proceed in that area.

Emails Emails

A common ritual for Monday is an extra bulk of emails from the weekend. I usually ignore work related emails and focus on the fun ones, so that Monday can be used to sort out the what I call 9 to 5 emails that require a professional eye and a considered response.  Get an email from me over the weekend and expect the exact opposite half the time :)

Signing Off

Not much to report except regular housework around the TGC stalls, but perhaps more interesting things afoot once I break out a few new FPS games. I have received word of one small (hopefully last) tweak to FPSC V120 and then we can go official on that one. It's been a long time coming, but I think the new version is pretty solid and should keep most users happy until we have Reloaded to replace it.  We will keep the open source access to the source code to keep things free and easy, and well before Christmas we will start to show off some of the Reloaded goodies we have in store for you.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Sunday Warfare

Bring Out the Big Guns

Today I broke out the big guns of FPS games with installing and playing a few hours of Modern Warfare 3, which is one of those brands that has people cueing outside shopping malls for two days straight to get the first copies. I waited a few months for the cues to die down and then bought myself a copy online :)  I am looking at the game to see what modern FPS games look like and to pick up a few tips for my own FPS Game Making project; Reloaded.

Result of Play

It was the first game that frog marched you at gunpoint right into the action, with the player (me) abandoning all the usual precautions of conserving ammo, selecting good save points and admiring the view.  The game moves so quickly, you are flying through scenes that probably took months to create and refine at the speed of a bullet. After about two hours, I decided to get off the roller coaster and catch my breath. I finally stopped in the South African jungle at the start of that mission so I could study the trees, water, player mouse look, jumping, guns, zoom modes, scenery, shadows, lighting, sky effects, explosions and anything else that popped up.

Analysis of MW3 Gameplay

I am pretty certain this is not the game which best describes how FPSC Reloaded games will be presented. MW3 tends to design a narrow linear rail along which the player is forced to follow, and any deviation is met with an invisible wall you cannot jump over. This allows the artists to put a lot of nice details into the path they know you are going to take, but it does leave you in no doubt that you're not free to roam. I charged through wasting lots of ammo, charging headlong into the fire, then restarting again until I got further, blasted through the gorgeous cut-scenes and story plot, followed the instructions as the game presented them. 

I really liked the simple way the gun system works, with nice depth of field effects when zooming, slick shifting between the various melee and gun options, reload, grenade, all the basics done very well.  I think we have most of them in FPSC now, but I think a little polish to the input controls and effects would make a world of difference.

The shadows and lighting in the game where mostly fixed, with some dynamic shadows, again it seems from a single 'sun' point and only on certain objects too. In the forest for example, every tree cast a good quality shadow, but only one or two actually had moving shadows (and moving trees). My guess is that this was to keep performance as high as possible, but the quality of the static shadows is pretty remarkable so I might look further into how they did this!


I am not a fan of being told to run down one path, press a key, move somewhere else, press another key, and more or less get through the level unchallenged. As two dozen enemies swarm into a scene, it's great fun picking them off, but it does not require any higher level thinking, just reaction skills and remembering to pillage some ammo or a new weapon from time to time.


If there was one reason for keeping this installed on my C drive (that's right, it would not let me pick another drive, grr) is the explosion and gun firing systems. The flak, sparks, tracers, fire, smoke, debris, splashes, whips as the bullet narrowly misses your head, all add to a visceral combat experience and is what perhaps puts MW3 on the map. 

Summary of a Game

As I say, despite it not something I could play every day, it has a lot to teach me and with luck, I can achieve an approximate level of player control and technology in Reloaded.  Art will always be a tough nut to crack, and to create a game that rivals MW3 would be pretty much impossible for a small team, but thanks to the Game Creator Store, Reloaded will start with over 5000 game objects for users to create levels and games with, and of course more items are always being added.

Signing Off

I know I promised no blogging at weekends, but it made sense to record my thoughts off the back of playing a new FPS game, and it means I have been a little productive during the day which is always nice!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Saturday And Still Standing

Day One Continued

Just a quick report to confirm I did make it to the end of Saturday!  I nearly nodded off around dinner time, but switched the heater off and left the house into the freezing Welsh winds.  Fixed a towing bracket, changed some license plates, sorted out an attic inside, put up two chipboard walls with severely inadequate tools. Had a lovely steak meal.  It is now 12:30AM (basically Saturday just gone midnight), which puts my vertical hours tally to 33 hours and climbing.  I could probably sleep now.

However

I did mention that bit about second wind, and the thing about this second wind is that because your body clock says you work from 9PM to 3AM, that is exactly what it wants to do right now. Crazy I know. I have made a cuppa and have decided to play some C&C and Dishonoured to fill the gap where work might creep in.

Signing Off

Will probably not blog Sunday due to extended sleeping, but catch up with antics on Monday when I shall be setting out my initial plans for graphics work for Reloaded, and working out which part of the massive source code to tackle first (amongst other projects of course).  Until then, good night!!