Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Power Play & Zombie Heros

For me it's been a day of two halves, with half of it without power.  The good news is that I now have a switch box next to the consumer unit which when activated will draw power from an outside diesel generator when the main grid decides I've had too much juice. Every day not coding is a crime in of itself, and with such power technology available it made sense that I was prepared for those days.  I have now rescued about 10 days from each year where I can carry on coding regardless.

While I was battling with a toggling power supply, the team set to work making the A.I smarter, faster and more enjoyable.  It was not clear what value getting Simon to create a sample level for the product would yield as we had great content coming from the community and we would have got around to making a small game before too long. What happened however is that for the first time we started looking at the engine as game designers rather than game technology developers.  We played our own level and started to ask some very hard questions about what we had created.  The first internal video review was nothing short of obscene, and as we continued to craft the essence of the game play we noticed a big reduction in rude words and a glimmer of sunshine break through when the enemy character did something unexpected and cool.  I think we all agree we need more sunshine in our AI and sample level, called 'two compound', but we're close to an internal alpha testers release so we can get some early feedback from further afield.  It goes out with some qualifiers, but we will be working on those while the testing takes place.

In other camps, the store and art continues to trickle in. We are maintaining our focus on quality rather than quantity, but once all the systems are in place and tested the trickle of store uploads should in time turn into a flood.  Here is a sneak peek of Mr Boss Zombie which I grabbed last night when I had a serious bout of 'let's improve the shader quality of characters'.

It turned out all characters on HIGHEST shaders where entirely being self-shadowed so always appeared dull. The V1.007 build only self-shadows the parts of the character that fall in shadow, which makes the details pop a lot more and you can now appreciate the normal mapping contribution.

Right now I am playing catch up to recover the few hours I lost this afternoon, which mostly involves answering the email back log that can pile up even in just a few hours, and also to test the build I have uploaded for the internal team and make sure nothing nasty creeped in at the last minute.  This part is pretty critical however as any changes I made need to be skillfully done as not to mess up all that has been tested so far.  Time for some more tea, and then onto my email and testing mountain.


  1. great looking zombie boss :D and great to see the horror pack came out early for gold/silver pledgers :).. keep it coming lee m8 its fantastic to see and read :)

  2. Umm...why is he shiny? Skin in real life doesn't have specular reflection, so why does he? If this is your idea of better character shaders...well, I don't know what I might have to do :P

    I don't know, it's hard to tell from a still image, but it looks to me like his entire body (clothes included) has specular shine on it.

    1. I'm just catching up on last week's blog entries now, so I haven't read the more recent ones that came after this one yet.

      But speaking in general, I most strongly agree about skin and specular reflection. That has always been my biggest pet peeve about CGI uses to ruin movies like Star Wars. However I don't really see specular reflection here. The lighting here looks more ambient (hence cartoon-like) to me. What really stands out to me though (now that you mention it) is that his texturing looks like a crude patch-job. For example, a flat-looking keyhole texture was used as his bellybutton. His arm tattoo??? - is that what it is supposed to be? ...doesn't match the rest of his body lighting-wise; there's a big discontinuity around the top of it just below his shoulder there. His shirt-straps over his shoulders look like it's textured onto his skin - like it's painted on. I'm guessing this guy's a work in progress...

      I will say though, the rips in his shirt/gut do look 3D from this angle.