1. Past hour
2. ## Здесь

@khawk posting at Russian with English translate GameDevNet approve ?
3. ## State vs Stateless Designing a modern GPU Interface

Hm thanks, I'll try to play around with sorting, because quicksort in JS isn't all that fast anyway (since it runs a callback for every comparison). Got a couple more questions if you don't mind. 1. How do you deal with non-discrete data like model matrices? You can't encode them in a 128-bit draw call, unless you put them in a big list or something. 2. Are draw calls supposed to be "compiled" on every frame, or are they cached inside objects?
4. ## what is difference between pixel and fragment exactly in openGl ?

However, I'm not sure if individual samples generated for MSAA count as separate fragments, since FS is only ran once.
5. ## Allocator design issues

If your allocation interface is at the C++ object level, instead of the blob-of-bytes level, then it's easier to support a common interface. A linear allocator can deallocate a C++ object (by calling the destructor), it just doesn't actually free up any address space until a later unwind operation takes place. If the allocation interface is templated by object type (i.e. Allocate<T>(arraySize) instead of Allocate(sizeof(T)*arraySize) ) then the pool can also implement the common interface (expect probably only for a single T per pool instance, instead of any T). If you're going to go down this path, consider a regular function pointer and a single void* parameter. std::function is pretty heavyweight for such a low level consideration as tracking individual allocations..
6. Today
7. ## Why are enums broken

I wouldn't really say that bitset is a clean/perfect solution to this problem because it's basically the same as using an int to represent an enumeration or collection of flags. You lose the benefits that come with the actual enum-language-feature.
8. ## Why are enums broken

Of course, and that’s exactly the reason the standards committee prefer libraries over language features. But if what you need is a bitset or a list or a vector, they’re there. Complaining that such features aren’t built into the language is pointless, which was what @Oberon_Command was responding to in the first place.
9. ## ARPG Weapon Types Feedback

Well, I don't have, at the moment, much consideration for too much realism (in terms of real world use) and dual-wielding seems to be a very typical way to go in ARPG. The idea of having it in place of single pistol is quite good, though, and simplifies things a bit. Yes, DPS-wise things are very similar, although play style might be different (high damage/low speed and the other way around, in this case). I had not considered armor penetration, though, which is also a nice idea. That's the idea I'm trying to come up with the minimal set of equipment that would still give plenty of options on how to create builds. Skill-wise, I will likely group those weapons where possible. Thanks for the answer, it did give some nice ideas on how to trim down things a bit
10. ## Insomnia keeps me company

I face the same issue, sometimes I workout early morning that by afternoon I would start getting tired because of work and all but it doesn't work. Instead sleeping at 9PM I wake till 3AM and then start dozing off by 4PM. I hate this.
11. ## Opinions on cryptocurrencies

I am no financial expert and neither any hard core level investor but I think Crypto's are a bubble. Fiat currency is worse but still I never liked crypto, not saying because I did not get in at the right time or anything, but if I don't get the concept I can't just agree if it is good or not.
12. ## ARPG Weapon Types Feedback

Why do you need duel wield for pistol? It's not something used in the real world. I guess it depends on what feel you want the game to have. It's like shooting several arrows from a bow at the same time; if that would work people would do it. They don't. Many games that add dual-wielding pistols are balanced so that just using "one pistol" is very weak compared to other weapon choices, which means that is not an option. How are rifles and assault rifles different? Rate of fire, crit and damage all forms DPS which is normally all that matters in an ARPG. Range or different armour penetration might make a more important differance. Or maybe they use different ammo (if you use ammo). Try to avoid adding "everything" to the game, if many things are the same mechanics-wise anyway.
13. ## Isometric view with 2 grids & tile size

I have been work the same things recently and hope I can shed some light. A) The windmill consist of more than 2x2 tiles indeed, it´s because it has an unnormal height. Unnormal heights are the meaning that the building or object is taller than what one tile can render. To do this, you use the same x&y grid coordinate but you take account for the height, which is calculated by adding ( or removing ) extra values to Y. If you take your isometric cube in photoshop and try to make it taller by adding more cubes on top, how would you do it then? The same principle applies in the game as well. B ) Your cube looks like that because you are putting a plane on the terrain. You should just render it as a quad facing the camera. And use the tile positioning system. this way it will be a camera facing quad like in photoshop and thus display the image correctly as your artist will make it according to a front facing quad. In my solution, I render the terrain as quads facing the camera but using the isometric grid math to get the correct positioning. I use the same formula to render my objects as well.
14. ## Action points or not?

Again it depends on what kind of game you want to make. Complicated/many stats = Slower. Feels more like a simulation. The player needs to calculate more. More streamlined = Feels more like a tactical game, like chess. I would prefer to easily understand what each stats do, than a system that might seem more "realistic" on paper. These often do not work out so well in games. I want my choices when choosing or developing my characters to be distinct and have a ingame effect.

16. ## Updating Orientation with Angular Velocity

@alvaro, something like this would be sufficient but I'd rather define the angular deceleration, times it by the inertia tensor & that would give torque I could minus torque * dt from the angular momentum then get the angular velocity
17. ## Isometric view with 2 grids & tile size

Okay, so it seems that I do not understand some tricks, how images work an isometric grid. If you have a look at of a finished game, it looks like there are no image tiles for the buildings. Instead, fully 2d images applied on a predefined gridspace at once.The windmill occupies 2x2 gridspace (red lines), but needs much more tiles to display the image? (blue lines) In the violet circle, the building takes a 3x3 space on the grid. Is the image composed of tiles or one single image? Last guess I would have are 3d objects. If I'm drawing an image at my grid, it looks like But it should be drawn like Is this a camera issue or am I just to stupid to understand something major about isometric perspective? Or has this something to do with the source image? All isometric graphics I found on the net of buildings, trees, and so on, are square images and already in isometric perspective, like the gray box. Some are a set to compose a building like seen here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tile_set.png, but the composed ones of that tiles doesn't look as good as for an example, an image like this one (from a 3D game) That's what I'm trying to achieve. Bake a 2d image in isometric perspective in Blender of a building like that, and get it on the grid as a whole, occupying gridspace depends on the size of the building. Not possible?
18. ## Need some advice on "interactable" entites in ECS

You might miss a point, the system in ECS We have had in one of our games the 'object handles interaction' approach but it was that the object needed to do a lot of checks for interaction. I refactored this to a system based approach. The door just has some logic that knows what should be done if an interaction succeeds, this makes it easier to implement more interaction objects from the general interaction component. Second, the door has a requirement component that implements checks for certain circumstances that have to be match. Now we have a system that I'll call game-master system that does all the interaction based on certain rules. The subject wants to interact with certain object so tells the system the own component (player/NPC, inventory) and the components it want to interact with. The system now performs the data processing work, looks for a requirement component and passes the player component and iventory component to it to do some checks. If successfull, the interaction components 'Do' function is called that will proceed with the interaction; swing the door or open the inventory menu of the chest for example. This way you can add new components for requirements and interaction more easily

20. ## Project Spark [Programmer, Designer, Artist]

We are still looking for at least one experienced co-programmer that will work on the system with me together
21. ## problem with windows API: can't get a correctly sized client area

I use windows with WS_OVERLAPPED set but don't use AdjustWindowRect, instead void Surface::Size(uint32 width, uint32 height) { RECT rect; Drough::memset(&rect, 0, sizeof(rect)); GetWindowRect((HWND) handle, &rect); SetWindowPos((HWND) handle, 0, rect.left, rect.top, width, height, SWP_NOMOVE | SWP_NOOWNERZORDER | SWP_NOZORDER); } does well for me
22. ## Automatically change animation start position

I found a workaround which was to make the animated objects children of a game object which wasn't animated. I could than move the parent object and the animations would stay in the desired position.

hello , i am working on a project with sdl lib and then bang there is an error with my program please help me : 1>#*@!.obj : error LNK2019: unresolved external symbol __imp__glewInit@0 referenced in function "public: __thiscall #*@!::#*@!(int,int,class std::basic_string<char,struct std::char_traits<char>,class std::allocator<char> > const &)" (??0#*@!@@QAE@HHABV?$basic_string@DU?$char_traits@D@std@@V?$allocator@D@2@@std@@@Z) here is my classed : #pragma once #include <string> #include <SDL2/SDL.h> class Display { public: Display(int #*@! , int mother#*@!er ,const std::string& shit); virtual ~Display(void); void SwapBuffers(); bool IsClosed(); private: SDL_Window* my_window; SDL_GLContext m_GLContext; bool m_isClosed; }; #include "Display.h" #include <GL\eglew.h> #include <iostream> Display::Display(int width , int height ,const std::string& title) { SDL_Init(SDL_INIT_EVERYTHING); SDL_GL_SetAttribute(SDL_GL_RED_SIZE, 8); SDL_GL_SetAttribute(SDL_GL_BLUE_SIZE, 8); SDL_GL_SetAttribute(SDL_GL_GREEN_SIZE, 8); SDL_GL_SetAttribute(SDL_GL_ALPHA_SIZE, 8); SDL_GL_SetAttribute(SDL_GL_BUFFER_SIZE, 32); SDL_GL_SetAttribute(SDL_GL_DOUBLEBUFFER, 1); my_window = SDL_CreateWindow(title.c_str(), SDL_WINDOWPOS_CENTERED , SDL_WINDOWPOS_CENTERED , width , height , SDL_WINDOW_OPENGL); m_GLContext = SDL_GL_CreateContext(my_window); GLenum status = glewInit(); if(status != GLEW_OK) { std::cerr << "glew failed to initialize" << std::endl; } m_isClosed = false; } bool Display::IsClosed() { return m_isClosed; } Display::~Display(void) { SDL_GL_DeleteContext(m_GLContext); SDL_DestroyWindow(my_window); SDL_Quit(); } void Display::SwapBuffers() { SDL_GL_SwapWindow(my_window); SDL_Event e; while(SDL_PollEvent(&e)) { if(e.type == SDL_QUIT) { m_isClosed = true; } } } #include <iostream> #include <GL\glew.h> #include "Display.h" int main(int argv , char** argc){ Display display(800 , 600 , "#*@! this problem!"); while(!display.IsClosed()) { glClearColor(0.0f , 0.15f , 0.3f , 1.0f); glClear(GL_COLOR_BUFFER_BIT); display.SwapBuffers(); } return 0; } 24. ## [Rev-Share] Looking for a Skilled Concept Artist Hello, A small game development team is looking for a talented and skilled Concept Artist to join our team. Responsibilities: - Character Art and Design - Environment and World Concept Art - Creature Art and Design - Concept Artist capable of bringing ideas to life. - Familiarity with Fantasy Themes and Exaggerated Art Styles. - Understanding of Form, Lighting and Color Theory. - Ability to work well in a team. Only serious applicants should apply. Samples of your work must be present in your initial contact. Only shortlist applicants will be contacted. email: canvasbushi@gmail.com We hope to hear from you soon. 25. ## visual studio release settings Found the culprit. I had in preprocessor something alike _debug_ Thanks 26. ## Why are enums broken Thats it - great that somebody actually brings that up! And guess what, i am one of such a person who actually only uses the features that they want and dont accept new ones until i evaluated and weighted them by a lot of categories. 27. ## visual studio release settings The release settings should automatically link only release libraries. Any dependencies that pull in the debug libs? ## Popular Entries ## Recent Blogs 1. Background It's been a few days since I put my latest alpha of my entry for the Tower Defence challenge on itch.io and my project page: https://lawnjelly.itch.io/ramsbottom I think I've covered the requirements for the challenge, and made the game a bit above just the requirements so it is a bit more fun to play and has some longevity. The reason I entered this time is because I'd been watching the previous challenges with a little envy, and had been waiting for one that seemed simple enough (I think the last one I looked at had multiplayer and I knew that could be a bit of a bag of worms). My usual low level c++ / opengl approach would probably be overkill for a small / low timescale game, so I decided it would be a good opportunity for me to try out Unity engine, which a lot of people are using currently. What went right 1. Using Unity Rapid development, well suited for this type of small game. 2. Attempting to get as much of the challenge completed asap, then leaving further time for more features / polish. I finished much of the base functionality in the first week, then spent time on and off in the next few weeks just making it better. There are lots of advantages to getting something 'finished' up front, and this is a development model I am trying to move towards. You can 'call time' at any time, and still have a functional product. Unforeseen events always seem to appear and limit the time you can spend on a project. This approach guarantees that even in this situation you will still have a 'product' rather than a half-done version of your 'glorious vision'. 3. Using the asset store, not building all the models myself, and using sites such as freesound for the sound, and creative commons music. For small learning games such as this it didn't make sense for me to make the assets. I know it takes me 2/3 of the time to make artwork etc, and while I am improving at it, I am better at (and enjoy) programming more than making artwork. 4. Finding some good tutorials to learn Unity (then throwing out their approaches!). There are some great tutorials out there (brackys for instance), and these are good for learning unity specific stuff, but in some cases I could instantly see better ways of doing things. I put this down to many tutorials being pitched at total beginners, who are happy to get anything on the screen. But e.g. using Unity editor to lay out levels just seemed ridiculous and limiting. What went wrong 1. C# . I hate it, absolute abomination of a language. I spent more time than should ever be necessary screaming at the damn thing, it makes visual basic look like Shakespeare. I could write a whole blog post just on the things about it that make me seethe, but yeah, if I could avoid ever having to use it again, that would be great. 2. Monodevelop Yeah, see point 1. Pretty bad. I might have to see if I can get another editor working if I use Unity again. I hear VS code may be worth a go (I'm on Linux). Monodevelop seemed really keen to reformat my code in stupid ways I couldn't turn off, and kept trying to autocomplete words incorrectly (that I also couldn't turn off). 3. Lack of debugging support. This may have been due to my setup, it might not be straightforward to get debugging working on Linux (I'm assuming with Unity it is possible to do step by step debugging?). This meant huge problems debugging anything but the simplest code (I had to resort to lots of Debug.Log statements). 4. Unity editor. I'm not really a drag and drop sort of guy. I tried to avoid having half the game 'code' being a particular setup in the drag and drop editor. I'm not even sure how to backup that stuff, I'm sure if I'd have had a crash I could have lost the lot. Come to think of it, did I have to backup all the assets too? With all that .meta stuff? I don't know. At least with code you can zip it up small and keep lots of backups. There should be an option in the menu to save your entire project in a compressed form without all the bloated assets etc, just the stuff that is a pain to lose. 5. Unity build times. I had massive problems with excessive build times taking hours when changing platform particularly, it kept baking lightmaps (or maybe something with shaders?) when as far as I knew I had tried to turn them off. Eventually more by luck than judgement, I found that deleting some skydome assets I had imported and deleting (rather than turning off) an extra light finally cured the problem. Far too little debugging info is given out by the build tool logs, to enable you to know WHY your builds are taking hours. Googling reveals I was not the only one with this problem. Don't just tell me 'baking lightmaps', tell me which light is causing this, which objects etc etc. Conclusion Overall I found the challenge very worthwhile. There are several of us working on it, and bouncing ideas around and spurring each other on works very well. Also a little hint of friendly competition is good too! I managed to get fair basic grounding in Unity, and have a better idea of whether it would be worthwhile using in any future projects.. I may use it for a couple more small games, or evaluate some more current engines (Unreal, or perhaps something more code orientated). Doing such small projects is also great for experiencing and practising the whole development cycle including release and marketing. This can give a much better perspective on how much time you should invest in different stages, and improve your ability to schedule / finish larger projects. It is something I would recommend to beginners through to advanced developers. 1 comments 2. Hello In my second post, I would like to talk about such things as "Magic and Mechanics, Character Development, Interface and Weather Conditions." At once I would like to note that this is only part of what already exists at the moment. In the process of developing the game, one way or another, some of its elements will be supplemented. For example - globaly numbers and stats (25 points of damage, 35 armor, 81.995% of oxygen in the blood), I DO NOT SEE meaning and therefore I WILL NOT do this.(those figures, which in the screenshots - are approximate.) Everything has its time. So, let's begin! MAGIC: At the moment there are 3 magic skills. 1) Fireball. Average damage. Long flight. A small radius of hit. Relatively small cost of mana. The Fireball is not only the average damage at low cost of mana, but also a good way to illuminate the narrow and dark places, for lack of the best! Noel studied the art of twisting mana in energy clots in his youth, like his sister. He always got a good ball-shaped form, so this spell, he applied without much difficulty. But not in combat. And in battle he still was not, although he was very anxious, during the attack of robbers on the village ... He is often visited by the thought: "What if I went with my mother to defend village... Was she alive? Was I alive?" 2) Electroball. (yes, that's right.) Not an Electric Ball, no-no ...) High damage. Short flight. Large radius of hit. The average cost of mana. Electroball appeared relatively recently. Of course, earlier many races used the power of air magic, to create thunderstorms and a downpour to water the crops. But recently, metropolitan engineers are increasingly using the magic of electricity for various inventions. Electroball, Noel learned by chance ... Carolyn often showed her husband how to use the magic of electricity, and later, for fun, began to train and Noel to slightly push his father. "Look, Noel is almost getting it! Come on, ????? and you can do it!". He did not succeed ... 3) Healing Waves. Zero damage. Static healing (40 units). Fixed radius of application (around itself). Average radius of hit. Low cost of mana. Magic is not only destruction, chaos, pain, death, but also healing, help, hope, life. Unfortunately, as a child, Noel was not very worried about healing spells. Despite the fact that they are owned mainly by women (I would like to remind you that there were no magical academies in the village, and the main types of earnings were: trade, ore mining, logging and harvesting.) Herbs and treatment, mainly engaged women .) I think that now Noel regrets about it more than ever. Why so few? I explain. MECHANICS: Directly to business! Features: 1) To each hand - each spell! Many of you, for sure, played TES 5: Skyrim. (if not - very curious game) Among all the variety of aspects of the game, I was interested in the possibility of using spells, both with two hands, and with each separately. I decided to implement a similar mechanics. Almost any spell can be cast alternately from each hand, or simultaneously from two hands. It looks something like this: The chip is that regardless of the current cooldown (recovery time), you can switch to any other spell right in the battle, by pressing just one button (currently it's Z and X - the spell sheet back and forth). Thus, if there were a lot of spells, it would be difficult to control each of them (mana cost, radius, cooldown, whether it is selected and on which hand, etc.). Of course, for hardcore hardcore fans and / or fans of Magicka, this would be a trifle, but still the game is not only aimed at fighting, but also on survival, so keep an eye on the indicators (more on this below). P.S Do not forget that 3 spells - this is the realization that there is at the moment! Ultimately, this number can and will be increased. 2) Mana. Mana regeneration is a rather ambiguous thing. At the moment, passive recovery is extremely small. And flacon with mana are not restored to the "sleep" of the Hero. Accordingly, saving on mana is extremely important. So, throwing all the magic in a row is not the best idea. There is also a chance that after the death of the enemy, you can absorb some of his mana (and some health or experience). 3) Enhancement of magic skills, their reorganization and rethinking. At the moment, each of the skills has its own (not a hero) level. For the enhancement of the character (improving his health, mana, protection, etc.), there are "Points of Characteristics". To improve skills - "skill points". This is how (approximately) the tree of improvement of skill looks. Everyone of skills has his own! Where there is no branching - you need to learn the previous feature of the skill. Where there are ramifications, you can choose to improve. (or improve everything at once, if you have enough points) Learn what will happen next, before you can not learn the previous skills - you can not. Intrigue But something, I'm still spoiler. For example, the "Healing Wave" skill can temporarily increase the Hero's resistance. So it's not just a healing skill, it's also a useful buff. (Gain) Also, some skills will be universal - for example, you can simultaneously deal damage and reduce enemy defense. And this is ONE skill with ONE hand! Imagine how many effects there will be if EACH of these skills can be applied from ANY hand. (x2, but with different CDs) 4) What was said at the beginning, but perhaps part of you, did not betray this value ... I'll just repeat: This is not the final version. This is what is now. And this is what works now. I hope you heard me Let's continue! CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: In addition to the development of skills, there are also points of characteristics, which I mentioned earlier. You can choose what you think is necessary for improvement: More health, more mana, increased resistance, and maybe a good LUCK? Perhaps I will tell more about it (I think the rest is understandable, except for the figures). Luck is a unique indicator. From this depends, how often Noel will find the islands or dungeons. Will there be spring water, palm trees with bananas, coconuts or trees? Also how valuable will be the loot (items, reward) in the dungeons. It also depends on it on how good the weather will be. (about the weather - a little lower) Of course, luck does not give a 100% chance that Noel's life will turn into a fairy tale. No no. This is only a small percentage of the total fate of Noel. Someone does not even feel it, but someone will always smile at it. Funny paradox - in life a person can be unsuccessful, but in the game vice versa. That's just ... In life, to improve your luck - it's not so easy, right? So ... I would advise you to take a chance and raise this luck, at least in the game. Let's talk more about the mechanics of mana restoration, which I touched lightly ... Many are familiar with such projects as Dark Souls, Bloodborn, etc., where to restore something, you need to go somewhere or use something (usually bed / fireplace / bonfire / potions). In Noel Hope, you will initially have 3 (at the moment) type of flacons. A health potion. Mana Potion. And a potion of rage. Potion of Health - restores health. Mana Potion - restores mana (that's a surprise ...). A potion of rage - increases the damage from all abilities for a specific time. Also, falling into a rage - your vision changes. You see better in the dark, but worse with light. Side Effects - Oops! Each of flacons is restored after your sleep on the ship. In certain locations, you can find an extra flacon. (For example, in chests with treasures, or after killing particularly dangerous monsters.) In dungeons/ instanced dungeon or special places without a fixed value (for example, a shipyard / port / berth / quay), the bubbles will not be restored. It will be necessary to carefully choose when to spend them. In addition to the potions, there will also be items of equipment, but I will talk about them, as well as about the dungeons / islands, later. Not this time, no. Mechanics of Survival: An important element is survival. Noel has indicators not only of health, mana, experience, but also hunger, thirst and temperature. Hunger is not a very frequent phenomenon, if you sit at home on a chair and look through some forum. But on a ship, in the middle of the MAGIC ocean, where strange and sometimes not very understandable phenomena happen - hunger is a dangerous thing. You will have to get food either on the islands, or in dungeons, or through attempts to plant a seed. The islands have to be found, as well as the wildfowl itself, which must still be caught. And to grow seeds found on a flooded boat or in a commercial barrel, or maybe in cargo on ships - it's a complicated matter. Watering with MAGIC water - will not work! And even if you find normal water (or get it through the magic of steam), will the seed come up? Increase the chances of success - will help perfume. But I'll tell you about them later, in a new post: P Thirst - it tortures people more often than hunger. Perhaps right now! Want to drink? You should just go to the kitchen, but Noel has a problem ... MAGIC water can also taste unusual, but you can not call it drinking. Fortunately, the ship was designed so that it can accommodate special mechanisms that allow processing some liquid into drinking water. Of course, these mechanisms only on drawings. Temperature - this is something that should pay attention more often. On average, the body temperature is 36.6. I tried to realize this indicator as realistic as possible. (although realism in RPGs with magic is ... mmm ... Conditionally?) Depending on the weather conditions, from the magic of enemies / spirits and Noel himself - his temperature will change. If during a meteor storm, Noel is touched at least by a little meteorite, then he will get a burn. And accordingly the temperature of his body will also rise. If during a snow storm, you want to swim in the water - the temperature of the body will fall. And so on... The same applies to his temperature at various islands / dungeons / locations. In addition to the visible indicators - there are those that appear after some events. For example, when lifting loot (inscription) or while running.(stamina) Stamina is only consumed during the run. Well, actually, the INTERFACE itself with all the elements: WEATHER: Less words - more screenshots. Rain with fog: Light snow: Snowfall: Meteorite clouds: Toxic fumes: Just a sunny weather: Tornado: The weather also affects the speed of the ship. During a storm or a hurricane - the speed of the ship is much lower than during a calm. I will draw your attention. These are NOT finite types of weather phenomena. In total there will be more! Perseverance. The work. Well, you understand. I'm just lazy. On this I will finish the story about magic and mechanics, as well as the development of the character and weather phenomena. I'm more than sure that you probably have more questions In each post, I will give more information, figures, screenshots and plot. Thank you for attention! I hope it was not boring to read! To new posts. P.S. Original Text on russian Language: 1 comments 3. All of this week was spent rewriting the whole game in Unity Engine. What can I say... It took me over a month to make a game in OpenGL + Kotlin, but it took only 1 week to learn Unity and do it there. I guess I'm a little bummed that I didn't start using Unity earlier. But at the same time I'm VERY happy that I switched. It made my life so much easier and programming in Unity is FUN! What I've Done So I haven't implemented new features per se (except for particles), but only redid the old ones. But still here's a list of what I've done: Added collision detection (which was only few clicks in Unity) Added GUI (main menu, splash screen, resume menu) Improved pathfinding Added object placement Added new tower Added heath bars Added event management system Added sounds Added particles (enemy exploding) Added enemy waves Next Week This coming week I think I'm finally going to start implementing new features and make the game feel like a proper game. I plan to finish at least one fully playable level, but I'll see how it goes. Thanks for reading! I'll see you next week! 2 comments By EddieK 4. In order to increase the aesthetics, we looked for tips on the post-processing filter for our engine and came up with the idea of using a VHS / Analog post-processing filter, Because my teammate had already built OpenGL shaders in the past and that's kind of his hobby, he gave me the link to shadertoy. This site is amazing! There're a lot of shaders to use as a base we can build on, and it's also 100% web thanks to WebGL. This shader in particular caught my eye: It's really cool, and yet there are no VHS artifacts that can really obstruct the players' view . So I did a little tinkering with JMonkeyEngine and got this result: I'm really happy with the results. I could however reduce the blur amount: it can be annoying it it's too high... 1 comments 5. Welcome to this week’s From the Forum. In this post, we highlight a few Corona Community Forums posts that cover important topics. Custom Timers Several Corona developers are starting deep discussion topics that you may find interesting. This topic dives into taking an OOP (Object Oriented Programming) approach to using timers based on objects. Take a chance Game designers have to make quite a few decisions when designing games and those decisions could mean the difference between success or not. In this thread, the question of how much randomness should a game have is discussed and a link to a great resource on skill vs. chance was shared that every game developer should read. Cool retro TV shader Our community is great. They love to share. In this post, see a great new shader that lets you add a retro-TV look to your game. Do you have a particular forum thread that was helpful for you? Let us know about it! Email support@coronalabs.com, put FTF: and the forum title in the subject, and include the URL in the email. We will consider adding it to an upcoming edition of From the Forum. View the full article 0 comments 6. Try the third demo of Rail Route - a rail network simulator! We intended it to demonstrate how contracts work. You will find quite a big rail network inspired by Prague railways to prove your dispatcher skills. Still no building & research (career mode). We hope it will be our next release. Any feedback is more than welcome! Tell us what else would you like to see in the game. Download on our blog: https://railroute.bitrich.info/2018/06/15/demo-r0-3-released/ 0 comments By dozd 7. Hey All, Blog is a day later than usual, there was a bug with saving that I wanted to complete before posting. The auto save feature was not saving some global variables correctly that was needed for the room randomization scripts. In order to resolve this I had to re-write the scripts as it was really messy and caused a huge headache. The re-write is great, I took about 30 lines of code down to about 10 so it was a great optimization at the same time. The good news is though it works flawlessly with auto save now. It works perfectly on the phone so if there’s a crash or you don’t finish a run it auto saves from the last room you cleared and the save is deleted upon game over. Items added for touch controls: Changed size and location of vstick and on screen buttons Made it so the item you equip to a button is now displayed on the button itself!! Added a pause button to the GUI. Pressing this pauses the game and draws the inventory. Hitting pause again un-pauses the screen. Added a go to main menu button on the game over screen Added a continue game button on the title screen. If there is no save present it will display no save found. Bugs fixed: If you have full health hearts are now pushed out of your way. Was a bug stopping this from happening on the phone Save game issue resolved Issue resolved on player not being destroyed on game over Features added: Added smoke to the explosion animation. Slowed the animation down. Changed smoke color on fireballs. Title Screen!! Added what will be the official start screen. This will also be random. The blurred background will be chosen randomly and show different room layouts. The character shown on the right side will also be chosen randomly between all enemies, boss, and player!! Added fade in screen transition for new game There might be some little changes I forgot. Gameplay video showcasing everything above and was on an iPhone 7 Plus. View the full article 0 comments By SOS-CC 8. So I used python 3 for ios on my ipad to do part one of this assignment. Part One: create a guess my number game: numSpecial = 0 time = 0 guesses = 0 g = 0 i = 0 import random numSpecial= random.randint(1,9) print ("guess my nmber, biatch! between 1 and 10") while g!= numSpecial: time = time + 1 if time > 5: print ("you took too long, loser") elif g > numSpecial: print ("too high, shithead") guesses = guesses + 1 elif g < numSpecial: print ("too low, asshole") guesses = guesses + 1 elif guesses > 10: print ("I have had enough of your shit") else: print ("you found an error") g = int(input("what is your guess?")) if g == numSpecial: print ("you guessed right, you are not as stupid as I thought.") i = input () Part Two: figure out where in the program the computer recognises time and place a time limit on the game. And no it doesn't have an ending because I haven't covered ending a program in the text yet. 0 comments 9. So we had our first hater... but first please listen to one of our music we think we was bashing against. After that, let's hear the context. Context Our development blogs on gamedev mainly focus on the actual development of our game(s) and any related research that we've done. So, our target audience is other video game developers. We also have our own subreddit where our target audience is everyone. Thus, we decided to make our subreddit public and allow subscribers to post content that follows the rules, which they are mainly about posting relevant content. Recently, we've been gaining more popularity and finally gained our 25th subscriber! 🎉 However, with popularity means more human attention. One thing I know about humans is that there are among them douchebag, troll, egoist, evil [and so forth] people. Inevitably, we were bound to attract the attention of one of those toxic people and so we had our first experience with what we call a hater. The Hater The hater firstly unannouncedly posted this on our subreddit : The person actually posted music of his game [I suppose]. It is an electronic music video. While it's true that we post vaporwave music videos on our subreddit, they follow the rule that it's about our game and our company. So I decided to remove his post and send him a warning as a message : Now, I don't clearly understand exactly what he meant by "Someone better than you, and wanted to make you feel better" but I do understand that this guy is saying he's better than us and that him posting his content on our subreddit would make us feel better (lol). I suppose the "better than us" part is related to our music, which is meant to be that way to fit into the game design of the game. Anyway, as you can see, this guy is so cool because he breaks rules. Wow. But wait, there's more! Just before I banned him, he posted this on our subreddit : Of course we banned you for posting content about your game on our subreddit to gain popularity. Our subreddit specifies precisely through rules that it is meant to be a platform of communication for our company and a way to keep our subscribers in touch with the development of our games. Just look at r/fallout for example. Their first rule says that all posts must be directly related to Fallout. Are they not cool to ban people who disrespect that rule? No, it does not make sense. Reddit is a magnificent social network that allows specific sub-forums as ours and it's actually what defines it. Anyway, I decided to ban him and then ignore him. I've always been more of an observer than someone who needs to express his opinion loudly and publicly on social networks but because this is the first time we had a hater for our game, I just needed to post about this. What we learned from this : Added a rule about not spamming that allows us to give warnings and ban people from our subreddit. Ignore banned people. Made our subreddit restricted instead of public. Now, only approved redditors are able to post on our subreddit. Toxic people take time from us video game developers that we could put into making our game(s) 3 comments 10. Last two months, I've worked on improving my code. I also added new gameplay elements and did a new system to create the levels faster and more efficiently. Not a lot to show right now but the next updates will be more interesting for this devlog. 2 comments ## Latest Forum Topics ## Latest News 1. Esoteric has announced the general availability of their new spine-cpp runtime, an idiomatic implementation of the Spine Runtimes API for C++, making the integration of Spine in your C++ based projects a breeze. The Spine Runtimes for Unreal Engine, Cocos2d-X and SFML have also been updated to use the new spine-cpp implementation. You can try out the new spine-cpp runtime as well as the new integrations for Unreal Engine, Cocos2d-X, and SFML in the 3.7-beta-cpp branch on Github. Check out the CHANGELOG for information about API additions and breaking changes. The Spine-C++ guide shows how to operate the new runtime and integrate it in your custom engines. 0 comments By khawk 2. GameDev Townhall is a topic posed to the GameDev.net community for discussion of events and issues affecting games and the game industry. Participate in the comments below. The game store battle is being fought over content moderation. Valve yesterday announced in a blog post that they are going to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that they decide are illegal, or straight up trolling, explaining that Valve shouldn't be the ones deciding what games players can and cannot purchase and play. itch.io's creator followed that up with its creator saying Steam's new hands-off curation policy is 'ridiculous': Discussion point: Will Valve's open market work? Is itch.io's moderated market the better option for developers and gamers? Is there another option? 3 comments By khawk 3. Today, Oculus announced Oculus Connect 5 (OC5) with a message that sounds as though it's a bit of a turning point for the company: Celebrate the last five. Believe in the next five. The event will take place on September 26-27 in San Jose, CA. There isn't much information right now, leaving plenty to speculation, but you can sign up for updates on the website at https://www.oculusconnect.com. 0 comments By khawk 4. Free tickets are available to The Business of Indie Games Virtual Summit happening next month from July 24-27, 2018. There will be 30+ well respected indie devs, producers, and industry veterans speaking about strategy, finance, and marketing of indie games. You can easily sign up on the website at https://businessofindiegames.com/info. 0 comments 5. Apple today introduced ARKit 2, a platform that allows developers to integrate shared experiences, persistent AR experiences tied to a specific location, object detection and image tracking to make AR apps even more dynamic. Apple is also unveiling the Measure app for iOS, which uses AR to quickly gauge the size of real-world objects, as well as a new open file format with iOS 12, usdz, which is designed to more deeply integrate AR throughout iOS and make AR objects available across the ecosystem of Apple apps. In related news, Epic announced support for ARKit 2 in the Unreal Engine 4.20 preview available this month, enabling developers with the latest AR features on iOS devices. Learn more from the Apple Newsroom post. 0 comments By khawk 6. Raph Koster's new book Postmortems is now available for purchase. This first of three volumes is the beginnings of many of the essays and writings Koster has shared over the last several decades. It focuses specifically on games he has worked on, from LegendMUD and beyond, and is a compendium of design history, lessons learned, and anecdotes from the games industry. The foreword for the book is written by Richard Garriott. Contents include: Early days, creating board games, and the lessons learned MUDs, including DikuMUDs design, administrative practices on LegendMUD, and the struggles on MUD governance The resource system, playerkilling, and evolution of the game economy model of Ultima Online Postmortems, design philosophy, and a design overview on Star Wars Galaxies The transition of MMOs Design diary and transcript of Andean Bird Tech architecture and postmortem of Metaplace Here's an excerpt from the book discussing playerkilling with Ultimate Online: A longer excerpt can be found here. Raph Koster is a veteran game designer and creative executive who has worked at EA, Sony, and Disney as well as run his own company. The lead designer and director of massive titles such as Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, he’s also contributed writing, art, music, and programming to many other titles. He is the author of the classic book A Theory of Fun for Game Design. In 2012, he was named an Online Game Legend at the Game Developers Conference Online. You can find the book on Amazon and other retailers. 0 comments By khawk 7. Interactive Gaming Ventures has joined forces with Epic Games to identify independent game developers building promising titles using Unreal Engine 4, and to bring teams meeting desirable criteria into the their investment portfolio. Led by former PlayStation President and CEO Jack Tretton, Interactive Gaming Ventures plans to invest in two to three experienced indie teams per year, at$1 million to $5 million per project, over the next seven years. “We are looking to provide exceptional independent teams building games with Unreal Engine the support structure, cash infusion, marketing resources and relationships that will help them achieve incredible financial returns,” said Tretton, Managing Partner, Interactive Gaming Ventures. When a studio takes investment from Interactive Gaming Ventures, it maintains control of its IP and creation process. Interactive Gaming Ventures helps fund milestone deliverables, manages promotion and distribution, and then shares in a project’s success once it ships. “This partnership falls perfectly in line with Epic’s philosophy, meaning that we only succeed when developers succeed,” said Joe Kreiner, head of Unreal Engine business development at Epic. “From programs like Unreal Dev Grants to one-to-one conversations where we connect teams with strategic opportunities, we have an honest motivation to help our licensees get ahead. We couldn’t be happier to make it even easier for Interactive Gaming Ventures to get behind Unreal indies.” Interactive Gaming Ventures provides investment capital and management strategy to help independent developers force-multiply their scale and success, focusing on teams looking to ship first on PC, with the option of taking their game to console and mobile as well. Joining Tretton in leadership at Interactive Gaming Ventures is Studio Wildcard CEO Doug Kennedy, whose company is behind the Unreal Engine-powered ARK: Survival Evolved franchise, which has sold more than 13 million copies across PC, console, mobile and VR platforms. “Epic has been an incredibly supportive partner for Studio Wildcard over the years,” said Kennedy. “ARK: Survival Evolved started off as an independent game released in early access and grew to be a phenomenon beyond our wildest dreams, thanks in part to the Unreal community and Epic’s support. This is a foundation of stability and massive potential, and we’re looking to build on it in collaboration with even more Unreal Enginedevelopers.” To contact Interactive Gaming Ventures, visit interactivegamingventures.com. Download Unreal Engine and get started for free at unrealengine.com. 0 comments By khawk 8. The EnhanceMyApp podcast returns! In this week's episode, we discuss mobile app monetization strategy with Trevor Williams, SR Director of Monetization at Hi-Rez Studios. From general monetization tips to targeting users and retaining them, this is another episode you do not want to miss! Check it out now and subscribe today! https://goo.gl/DzPhbb 0 comments 9. WILD WEST Bandit for FUSE The pack contains the following Clothing items, that you can easily alter the material type, substance, and colour. Check out the Promo Pics on this product page, which depicts the clothing. The Pack contains: Hat Scarf Sweater Belt Trousers Trouser Over ChestBelt Pack is already imported and set up in fuse - simply follow the easy instructions and a scene is provided that shows the Avatar in FUSE, with the full costume assembled. Purchase for just$14 from the below Arteria3d website link   WildWest Bandit – arteria3d
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## Recent Articles and Tutorials

1. This is an excerpt from the book, Unity 2017 Game AI Programming - Third Edition, written by Ray Barrera, Aung Sithu Kyaw, and Thet Naing Swe, and published by Packt Publishing. This book will show you how to use Unity 2017 to create fun and unbelievable AI entities in your games with A*, Fuzzy logic and NavMesh. Path following and steering Sometimes, we want our AI characters to roam around in the game world, following a roughly-guided or thoroughly-defined path. For example, in a racing game, the AI opponents need to navigate the road. In an RTS game, your units need to be able to get from wherever they are to the location you tell them navigating through the terrain and around each other. To appear intelligent, our agents need to be able to determine where they are going, and if they can reach that point, they should be able to route the most efficient path and modify that path if an obstacle appears as they navigate. Obstacle avoidance is a simple behavior that allows AI entities to reach a target point. It's important to note that the specific behavior implemented in this post is meant to be used for behaviors such as crowd simulation, where the main objective of each agent entity is just to avoid the other agents and reach the target. There's no consideration of what would be the most efficient and shortest path. Technical Requirements You will be required to have Unity 2017 installed on a system that has either Windows 7 SP1+, 8, 10, 64-bit versions or Mac OS X 10.9+. The code in this book will not run on Windows XP and Vista, and server versions of Windows and OS X are not tested. The code files of this post can be found on GitHub. Check out this video to see the code in action. Navigation mesh Let’s learn how to use Unity's built-in navigation mesh generator that can make pathfinding for AI agents a lot easier. Early in the Unity 5.x cycle, NavMesh was made available to all users, including personal edition licensees, whereas it was previously a Unity Pro-only feature. Before the release of 2017.1, the system was upgraded to allow a component-based workflow, but as it requires an additional downloadable package that, at the time of writing is only available as a preview, we will stick to the default scene-based workflow. Don't worry, the concepts carry over, and when the final implementation eventually makes its way to 2017.x, there shouldn't be drastic changes. For more information on Unity's NavMesh component system, head over to GitHub. Now, we will dive in and explore all that this system has to offer. AI pathfinding needs a representation of the scene in a particular format; we've seen that using a 2D grid (array) for A* Pathfinding on a 2D map. AI agents need to know where the obstacles are, especially the static obstacles. Dealing with collision avoidance between dynamically moving objects is another subject, primarily known as steering behaviors. Unity has a built-in tool for generating a NavMesh that represents the scene in a context that makes sense for our AI agents to find the optimum path to the target. Pop open the demo project and navigate to the NavMesh scene to get started. Inspecting our map Once you have the demo scene, NavMesh, open, it should look something like this screenshot: A scene with obstacles and slopes This will be our sandbox to explain and test the NavMesh system functionality. The general setup is similar to an RTS (real-time strategy) game. You control the blue tank. Simply click at a location to make the tank move to that location. The yellow indicator is the current target location for the tank. Navigation Static The first thing to point out is that you need to mark any geometry in the scene that will be baked into the NavMesh as Navigation Static. You may have encountered this elsewhere, such as in Unity's light-mapping system, for example. Setting game objects as static is easy. You can easily toggle the Static flag on for all purposes (navigation, lighting, culling, batching and so on), or you can use the dropdown to specifically select what you want. The toggle is found in the top-right corner of the inspector for the selected object(s). Look at this screenshot for a general idea of what you're looking for: The Navigation Static property You can do this on a per-object basis, or, if you have a nested hierarchy of game objects in your hierarchy, you can apply the setting to the parent and Unity will prompt you to apply it to all children. Baking the navigation mesh The navigation settings for the navigation mesh are applied via the Navigation window on a scene-wide basis. You can open the window by navigating to Window | Navigation in the menu bar. Like any other window, you can detach it to be free-floating, or you can dock it. Our screenshots show it docked as a tab next to the hierarchy, but you can place this window anywhere you please. With the window open, you'll notice four separate tabs. It'll look something like this screenshot: The Navigation window In our case, the preceding screenshot shows the Bake tab selected, but your editor might have one of the other tabs selected by default. Let's take a look at each tab, starting from the left and working our way to the right, starting with the Agents tab, which looks like the following screenshot: The Agents tab If you're working on a different project, you may find that some of these settings are different than what we set them to in the sample project from which the preceding screenshot was taken. At the top of the tab, you can see a list where you can add additional agent types by pressing the "+" button. You can remove any of these additional agents by selecting it and pressing the "-" button. The window provides a nice visual of what the various settings do as you tweak them. Let's take a look at what each setting does: Name: The name of the agent type to be displayed in the Agent Types dropdown. Radius: Think of it as the agent's "personal space". Agents will try to avoid getting too cozy with other agents based on this value, as it uses it for avoidance. Height: As you may have guessed, it dictates the height of the agent, which it can use for vertical avoidance (passing under things, for example). Step Height: This value determines how high of an obstacle the agent can climb over. Max Slope: As we'll see in the coming section, this value determines the max angle up which an agent can climb. This can be used to make steep areas of the map inaccessible to the agent. Next, we have the Areas tab, which looks like the following screenshot: As you can see in the preceding screenshot, Unity provides some default area types that cannot be edited: Walkable, Not Walkable, and Jump. In addition to naming and creating new areas, you can assign default costs to these areas. Areas serve two purposes: making areas accessible or inaccessible per agent, and marking areas as less desirable in terms of navigation cost. For example, you may have an RPG where demon enemies cannot enter areas marked as "holy ground." You could also have areas of your map marked something like "marsh" or "swamp," which your agent could avoid based on the cost. The third tab, Bake, is probably the most important. It allows you to create the actual NavMesh for your scene. You'll recognize some of the settings. The Bake tab looks like this: The Bake tab The agent size settings in this tab dictate how agents interact with the environment, whereas the settings in the Agents tab dictate how they interact with other agents and moving objects, but they control the same parameters, so we'll skip those here. The Drop Height and Jump Distance control how far an agent can "jump" to reach a portion of the NavMesh that is not directly connected to the one the agent is currently on. We'll go over this in more detail up ahead, so don't sweat it if you're not quite sure what that means yet. There are also some advanced settings that are generally collapsed by default. Simply click the drop-down triangle by the Advanced heading to unfold these options. You can think of the Manual Voxel Size setting as the "quality" setting. The smaller the size, the more detail you can capture in the mesh. The Min Region Area is used to skip baking platforms or surfaces below the given threshold. The Height Mesh gives you more detailed vertical data when baking the mesh. For example, it will help preserve the proper placement of your agent when climbing up stairs. The Clear button will clear any NavMesh data for the scene, and the Bake button will create the mesh for your scene. The process is fairly fast. As long as you have the window selected, you'll be able to see the NavMesh generated by the Bake button in your scene view. Go ahead and hit the Bake button to see the results. In our sample scene, you should end up with something that looks like the following screenshot: The blue areas represent the NavMesh. We'll revisit this up ahead. For now, let's move on to the final tab, the Object tab, which looks like the following screenshot: The three buttons pictured in the preceding screenshot, All, Mesh Renderers, and Terrains, act as filters for your scene. These are helpful when working in complex scenes with lots of objects in the hierarchy. Selecting an option will filter out that type in your hierarchy to make them easier to select. You can use this when digging through your scene looking for objects to mark as navigation static. Using the NavMesh agent Now that we have our scene set up with a NavMesh, we need a way for our agent to use this information. Luckily for us, Unity provides a Nav Mesh Agent component we can throw onto our character. The sample scene has a game object named Tank with the component already attached to it. Take a look at it in the hierarchy, and it should look like the following screenshot: There are quite a few settings here, and we won't go over all of them, since they're fairly self-explanatory and you can find the full descriptions in the official Unity documentation, but let's point out a few key things: Agent Type: Remember the Agents tab in the Navigation window? The agent types you define there will be selectable here. Auto Traverse Off Mesh Link: We'll get into Off Mesh Links up ahead, but this setting allows the agent to automatically use that feature. Area Mask: The areas you set up in the Areas tab of the Navigation window will be selectable here. That's it. The component handles 90% of the heavy lifting for you: placement on the path, pathfinding, obstacle avoidance, and so on. The only thing you need to do is provide the agent with a target destination. Let's look at that next. That's it. The component handles 90% of the heavy lifting for you: placement on the path, pathfinding, obstacle avoidance, and so on. The only thing you need to do is provide the agent with a target destination. Let's look at that next. Setting a destination Now that we've set up our AI agent, we need a way to tell it where to go. Our sample project provides a script named Target.cs that does just that.   This is a simple class that does three things: Shoots a ray from the camera origin to the mouse world position using a ray Updates the marker position Updates the destination property of all the NavMesh agents The code is fairly straightforward. The entire class looks like this: using UnityEngine; using UnityEngine.AI; public class Target : MonoBehaviour { private NavMeshAgent[] navAgents; public Transform targetMarker; private void Start () { navAgents = FindObjectsOfType(typeof(NavMeshAgent)) as NavMeshAgent[]; } private void UpdateTargets ( Vector3 targetPosition ) { foreach(NavMeshAgent agent in navAgents) { agent.destination = targetPosition; } } private void Update () { if(GetInput()) { Ray ray = Camera.main.ScreenPointToRay(Input.mousePosition); RaycastHit hitInfo; if (Physics.Raycast(ray.origin, ray.direction, out hitInfo)) { Vector3 targetPosition = hitInfo.point; UpdateTargets(targetPosition); targetMarker.position = targetPosition; } } } private bool GetInput() { if (Input.GetMouseButtonDown(0)) { return true; } return false; } private void OnDrawGizmos() { Debug.DrawLine(targetMarker.position, targetMarker.position + Vector3.up * 5, Color.red); } } There are a few things happening here. In the Start method, we initialize our navAgents array by using the FindObjectsOfType() method. The UpdateTargets() method runs through our navAgents array and sets their target destination to the given Vector3. This is really the key to making it work. You can use any mechanism you wish to actually get the target destination, and all you need to do to get the agent to move there is set the NavMeshAgent.destination field; the agent will do the rest. Our sample uses a click-to-move approach, so whenever the player clicks, we shoot a ray from the camera into the world towards the mouse cursor, and if we hit something, we assign that hit position as the new targetPosition for the agent. We also set the target marker accordingly for easy in-game visualization of the target destination. To test it out, make sure you baked the NavMesh as described in the previous section, then enter play mode, and select any area on the map. If you go click-happy, you may notice there are some areas your agent can't reach—the top of the red cubes, the top-most platform, and the platform towards the bottom of the screen. In the case of the red cubes, they're too far up. The ramp leading up to the top-most platform is too steep, as per our Max Slope settings, and the agent can't climb up to it. The following screenshots illustrate how the Max Slope settings affect the NavMesh: NavMesh with the max slope value set to 45 If you tweak the Max Slope to something like 51, then hit the Bake button again to re-bake the NavMesh, it will yield results like this: NavMesh with the max slope value set to 51 As you can see, you can tweak your level design to make entire areas inaccessible by foot with a simple value tweak. An example where this would be helpful is if you had a platform or ledge that you need a rope, ladder, or elevator to get to. Maybe even a special skill, such as the ability to climb? I'll let your imagination do the work and think of all the fun ways to use this. Making sense of Off Mesh Links You may have noticed that our scene features two gaps. The first one is accessible to our agent, but the one near the bottom of the screen is too far away. This is not completely arbitrary. Unity's Off Mesh Links effectively bridge the gap between segments of the NavMesh that are not connected. You can see these links in the editor, as shown in the next screenshot: The blue circles with the connecting lines are links There are two ways that Unity can generate these links. The first we've already covered. Remember the Jump Distance value in the Bake tab of the Navigation window? Unity will automatically use that value to generate the links for us when baking the NavMesh. Try tweaking the value in our test scene to 5 and re-baking. Notice how, now, the platforms are linked? That's because the meshes are within the newly-specified threshold. Set the value back to 2 and re-bake. Now, let's look at the second method. Create spheres that will be used to connect the two platforms. Place them roughly as shown in the following screenshot: You may already see where this is going, but let's walk through the process to get these connected. In this case, I've named the sphere on the right start, and the sphere on the left end. You'll see why in a second. Next up, add the Off Mesh Link component on the platform on the right (relative to the preceding screenshot). You'll notice the component has start and end fields. As you may have guessed, we're going to drop the spheres we created earlier into their respective slots—the start sphere in the start field, and the end sphere in the end field. Our inspector will look something like this: The Cost Override value kicks in when you set it to a positive number. It will apply a cost multiplier to using this link, as opposed to, potentially, a more cost-effective route to the target. The Bi Directional value allows the agent to move in both directions when set to true. You can turn this off to create one-way links in your level design. The Activated value is just what it says. When set to false, the agent will ignore this link. You can turn it on and off to create gameplay scenarios where the player has to hit a switch to activate it, for example. You don't have to re-bake to enable this link. Take a look at your NavMesh and you'll see that it looks like the following screenshot: As you can see, the smaller gap is still automatically connected, and now we have a new link generated by our Off Mesh Link component between the two spheres. Enter play mode and click on the far platform, and, as expected, the agent can now navigate to the detached platform, as you can see in the following screenshot: In your own levels, you may need to tweak these settings to get the exact results you expect, but combining these features gives you a lot of power out-of-the-box. You can have a simple game up and running fairly quickly using Unity's NavMesh feature. This tutorial is an excerpt from the book, Unity 2017 Game AI Programming - Third Edition written by Ray Barrera, Aung Sithu Kyaw, and Thet Naing Swe, and published by Packt Publishing. Use the code ORGDA09 at checkout to get recommended eBook retail price for $9 only until July 15, 2018. 0 comments By khawk 2. Raph Koster is a veteran game designer and creative executive who has worked at EA, Sony, and Disney as well as run his own company. The lead designer and director of massive titles such as Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, he’s also contributed writing, art, music, and programming to many other titles. He is the author of the classic book A Theory of Fun for Game Design. In 2012, he was named an Online Game Legend at the Game Developers Conference Online. The content below is an excerpt from his book Postmortems, published in June 2018 and now available on Amazon and other retailers. This is adapted from a speech given in Spanish entitled “Una carrera,” delivered at GameDay Peru in early 2015. I was given the Online Game Legend award at GDC Online in 2010. The citation read in part, Raph Koster has led a prolific career. As the lead designer on Ultima Online and the creative director on Star Wars Galaxies, his contributions helped lay the foundation for the many massively multiplayer games that followed. Koster's professional credits span nearly every facet of game development, including writing, art, soundtrack music, programming and design. Raph Koster is considered a thought leader, as a frequent lecturer and published author on topics of game design, community management, storytelling and ethics in game development. His A Theory of Fun, published in 2004, is considered seminal by educators and members of the art game movement, as well as being one of the most popular books ever written about games… I worry that people look at a career and see only this: the jobs, successes, awards and invitations to give talks. But that’s not how life is, and that’s not what I feel like inside. Upon hearing about the award, my mother asked me for a favor. “Please,” she told me, “mention that you are Latino. People don’t know, and you have a duty to encourage kids with dreams.” I lived in Lima, Peru, as a boy. Videogames were not common. Oh, I had played them in the States before arriving in Peru in 1979, and I continued to see them there when I went back to spend summers with my dad. My dad also sent me a copy of Dungeons & Dragons, the red box Basic set, as a birthday present. I already read like crazy: a book a day, usually science fiction or fantasy or murder mysteries. And I don’t mean just Hardy Boys or kids’ books — those, yes, but also Theodore Sturgeon and Isaac Asimov and Robert Ludlum. I was indiscriminate. Of course, I started to create worlds, to draw little maps. Thus began my course of study: I wanted to play those videogames that weren’t making it to Peru. Pengo and Q*Bert and others weren’t in the list of the ten or so games within a few miles of where I lived. In fact, there were so few that I can still recite the list of what was available: Spider at the rotisserie chicken place; Asteroids, Gorf, Berzerk, and Star Castle at the mall. On the bus we played the Game & Watch series — the dual screen Donkey Kong and Donald & Mickey. I had a Casio game watch, the one with the falling triangle blocks where you had to make a pyramid. With the help of videogame magazines, I made board game versions of the videogames I didn’t have access to. Porting a digital game to the world of tabletop play taught me the most basic thing: that games can manifest in many ways. Pengo could be decomposed into turn-based strategy. AI could be mimicked with dice or simple rules. I started out like any other apprentice in the arts, by copying things. On my first original game, one called Jungle Climb, I basically took the ideas from the various Donkey Kong games, and drew a crude vertical platformer board. You moved a space at a time, and dodged just like you did on the LCD Game & Watch games… which was pretty dull pretty quickly, in a tabletop setting. I then started to challenge myself on the visual front; Egyptian Graverobber required you to play against another player who controlled all the “AI” monsters, and try to get down to grab all the treasures and then escape. It still used basically the same mechanics. It took several games, but eventually I took on the challenge of actually trying to create something with rules of my own invention. Based in part on the massive Gary Jennings novel Aztec (a decidedly mature read for someone who was probably thirteen at the time), The Hunt for the Treasure of Quetzalcoatl, spanned a dozen tall thin boards, with countless enemies, a randomized event generator from shuffled event decks, and a randomized quest order based on drawing cards from a separate deck. It took hours to play, and supported a bunch of kids all playing different creatures and monsters. I look back on it now, and with hindsight, I say to myself “wow, it’s almost as if I knew at age 12 that I was going to be a game designer as an adult.” But that’s a lie. I thought I was going to be a writer or teacher, you see. Everyone in my family had always told me so. I started to do things like take existing games and do revamped versions, to try to improve them. One in particular was a remake of TSR’s Dungeon! I’m really not sure that my take was any better, but there it was. I rather quickly found to my dismay that my previous games had mostly just been about level design, map design, incident decks and movement rules. There was a whole new world at work in more sophisticated games — there was math, and statistics behind everything, stuff I just didn’t understand. My try at a state-machine game based on sword fighting, creatively entitled Swordplay, was a miserable failure because just about everything led everywhere. I soon discovered the issue of “degenerate strategies” without knowing the term. This basically led me to the library. I didn’t think I was “studying.” For me, reading up on this stuff was just part of the game of making games. By the time I hit high school I was researching ship-to-ship combat for a game called Legal Pirates, which was actually what I turned in for a class assignment in history class. It came with an annotated bibliography; as it happens, this was not the last time I had a bibliography for a game design, even though it was never required of me again. It was around when I was thirteen that I discovered that computers would actually let me make my own games. Oh, I had started playing with a Pong home console well before moving to Peru, and we had an Atari 2600 with quite a bunch of cartridges. But it was clear, from reading Video Games and Electronic Games and Compute! and Creative Computing that computer gaming was where the real action was. I started learning some MS-BASIC on my dad’s CP/M-based Osborne 1, hacking Colossal Cave and playing ASCII versions of Pac-Man and Wari. I begged and begged, and my great-uncle got me a 16K Atari 8-bit computer. I don’t have that one anymore, because I upgraded three times before I was 16, ending up with the 130XE. I still have it, along with my collection of games on floppy disks. And so I threw myself into trying to create games again, just in a new medium. My friends and I took ourselves very seriously. We actually called ourselves a company, and we put a copyright symbol by the company name (which is legally nonsensical, of course). It took a few tries, but I made a game called Orion. And it was actually fun. It was imitative, for sure, featuring light cycles and spaceships. It consisted of linked games, so you could keep score of who won in each of the challenges. You can actually trace the progression of my programming skill over the course of the games; the first one was the light cycles; the second, I could move ships vertically but not freely; the third had free movement but not independent shots; and so on. I even had the brainstorm to bring in the kids’ game of Capture the Flag into video game form. After five linked games, I felt like I was a game developer. I wrote a second one, a pretty terrible one where you flew around over a moonscape and shot down aliens before they reached the ground, while dodging explosive satellites. We managed to sell a copy of that one to a friend, in a Ziploc baggie. But then I stopped. I finished high school. I went to college. I thought I would go be that writer, teacher, artist. I studied poetry, and music, and art, but this time “for real.” I even got an MFA in poetry. A sheepskin doesn’t make a poet, it turns out. While in college, I ran a play-by-email roleplay campaign, but otherwise didn’t really do much with game development. Macintosh computers were everywhere on campus—I was out of touch with programming and found the complexities of working with the newfangled graphical interfaces impenetrable. I could help fellow students with their Pascal homework, but I couldn’t put a sprite on screen. I could max out the campus high score in Crystal Quest, but I couldn’t make so much as a text adventure. My roleplay campaign was presented at a conference on academic computing by the head of the computer program, but all my creative energies went to writing. I got pretty unhappy in grad school. There were academic politics. The writing that was in vogue felt utterly disconnected from most people’s lived experiences to me, a sort of hermetic and self-referential body of work infatuated with other academic writers. I recall huge arguments over whether Stephen King was more important a writer than whoever we happened to be studying that week. I am pretty sure I was proven right by time. But the Internet was starting to boom. To stay in touch with friends, we started using email. And after email, a friend pointed out that there were these crazy games, reminiscent of the D&D campaigns I had run as a kid, but run over the Internet. They were called MUDs. MUDs were text-based virtual realities, but I didn’t know that yet. I started out playing them, then in less than a year, making them. I could use the writing skills I had acquired for doing MUD development. And MUDs were communities. Managing them, I had to study politics and sociology. The result was that the industry knocked at my door. And so I got lucky, helping lead Ultima Online, by the time I was 25. I say luck, and it was indeed luck. But it also happened because we dreamt of fantastic worlds and the future of cyberspace. That wasn’t something that we were equipped to build, but we tried anyway. Even on a giant project like that, I still found myself drawing little maps with pencil. They don’t look that different from the ones from grade school, if I am honest with myself. In some ways, it feels like I ran to stand still. And as I ran, I ran with more ambition, because you have to challenge yourself, you have to beat the boss. By the time I did Star Wars Galaxies, I was inventing new technology around procedural generation techniques, to do something that wasn’t quite possible: ship a 4 gigabyte game on a CD. I was teaching myself all the disciplines of all my colleagues, so I could do things like do all of the interface design for the game. I finally understood those mathematics behind everything, and now I was trying to turn them into magic, to allow other people to live improbable lives in impossible places. I came to see games as gifts. I have a daughter. She lives with Type I diabetes. When she was young, I made a videogame for her called Watersnake. The snake lives under the water, and the landscape scrolls by, all starfish with cute eyes and seaweed. The snake is always drifting down. If it hits the bottom, well, that’s a seizure and coma and possible death from a hypoglycemic event. If it goes up too high, it pokes above the water where it can’t breathe, and suffers slow damage that can never be healed, equivalent to the slow damage caused by constant high blood sugars, the slow neuropathies and circulatory damage that occurs. You have to toss food to the snake — cupcakes, steaks, pizza, fried chicken, juice boxes — kids’ foods, things that she would want to eat herself. And you do it in order to pick up prizes under the water. Each food uses the real world glycemic index of that food to cause the snake to swim upwards, and them slowly come down. Fast carbohydrates cause the snake to shoot up to the surface and possibly the sky; slower proteins and fats cause gentle arcs. Watersnake was a gift to my daughter. I have a mother. She always worries that I will forget the cultures from which I sprang, my heritage. I made a game called Andean Bird, one of the very first “art games,” for her. In it you fly over the littoral islands off the coast of Peru, in the form of a sea bird of some sort. You fly, and you experience the wind and the sunrise and the sunset, and you listen to music and you flap your wings and read a small poem about the ways in which our memories of cultures and heritages erode. Andean Bird was a gift to my mother. I realize now that games themselves have been my teachers, all this time. There came a moment when I realized it was my turn to teach. After all, you take turns in games. The result was a book called A Theory of Fun for Game Design, where I tried to share back what I had learned by ranging widely over other fields. My tools for making abstruse topics easy to swallow were the same little cartoons that I drew when I was twelve. But now, of course, I take it all so so seriously. I have a tall shelf reserved just for books that are about games, for for fields that impinge directly on the sorts of games I make. Books about hypertext, books about virtual law. Books about industry history, and books about cultural anthropology. Books about the way in which virtualizing our world provides opportunities for constant surveillance, and books about how societies find ways out of pickles like that. Books about chance, and books about economics and books about cognition, and yes, still books about poetry. Because games deserve to be taken seriously, and players deserve to be taken seriously, and most of the worst mistakes I have made over my career, the worst game design mistakes, have happened because I failed to do that. Ultimately, what I do deserves to be taken seriously. So I set out to help the world create their own games, without having to go through that study process. I created a platform called Metaplace which was intended to democratize the creation of online worlds, so that we could get back the creative explosion of them that had existed in the days before World of Warcraft. Spoiler: it didn’t work. But working to create tools was yet another new design challenge, another new way to look at the problem. Even though the platform didn’t do what we hoped, people still made amazing things. Many of our best users are developers in the industry now, some of them on award-winning titles. The platform hosted a President speaking by video, arcade games and Nordic myth and lectures and parties and games about 9/11 and games about fuzzballs. In the end, though, you really can’t skip past the learning, I think. Those who seem to—say, lucky ones who lead a major title when they are 23—do so because they are learning in public, running forward like mad, because it is their passion. It’s their art. Yes, I said “art.” The world has changed a lot since I started. Now everyone plays games. I’ve made some for that “everyone,” like Island Life, My Vineyard, and Jackpot Trivia. There is also now a bit of a science to making games; more is understood about verbs and loops and arcs and grammars, and I helped that to happen. There are even classes inside virtual worlds, and you can go to a games program and learn how to make games from an actual teacher. And if you want to get creative with games, you don’t have to know how to make them yourself anymore. The games themselves are canvases and brushes, tools of creativity in their own right, and yeah, I helped make that happen too. Lately, it has brought me all full circle. I’m back to working with cards and tokens and cluttered tabletops these days. It’s fun and challenging to work with few moving parts, without the crutches, but also with a limitless field of possibility, the way it was when I was thirteen. It’s fun to be able to go back to the prototype, back to experimentation, back to the heart of design. With a tad more confidence than before, perhaps, but never with too much. I know what pitfalls are out there now, after all. But I also know that one learns from failures, from trying. That you dive into the thicket in order to understand it. In the end, games connect us and teach us. They carry us from the simple to the complex; but only if we are willing to play. Willing to play in our lives, willing to play with learning, willing to play and challenge ourselves. This is the race we run. We are our own opponent. It’s not a bad thing to be a kid inside, if we never stop learning and never stop in that process of slowly growing up. If we as game designers sometimes feel like we don’t fit into society, well, it’s because games form cultures, all the way in our youth, and sometimes someone is needed who can stand outside the culture and impart lessons. That is, in a sense, your cultural heritage. You probably grew up with games. You can make them, and not be ashamed of it. You can love them, and not be ashamed of it. You can look at them, see their flaws, the ways in which people misuse them for exclusion, and work to make a change. Every year from now on, games will be a larger part of our world. They will change society as a whole. Learning to design them will prepare you for this new tech-mad planet. It’s a career. It’s a long road. You had better start running now. Read more anecdotes, stories, and game design tips from Raph Koster's Postmortems. Available on Amazon. 0 comments By khawk 3. Aaron is hosting an AMA in the GameDev.net Business and Law forum. Click here to participate! “$100. Gone.” Jonas leaned back in his chair, staring at his screen in disbelief. His social media ads had failed. A few weeks before, he had launched the beta for his first game, Startup Company, and planned to use the ads to drive pre-release sales, but to no avail. Frustrated and out 100, Jonas started looking for another marketing method — one that could successfully generate the excitement and sales he needed for Startup Company’s launch. And that’s when he found influencer marketing. His plan was simple: gather a list of YouTube and Twitch influencers, send them free Startup Company keys, cross his fingers, and hope they play it on stream/video. After hours of searching for and sending 500+ emails, Jonas waited. The result? The game took off. Within two weeks of its launch, hundreds of influencers were playing Startup Company and sharing it with their viewers. His success began to snowball — as more people starting playing the game, more content creators started making videos about it. With the help of those creators, Startup Company sold over 50,000 copies within its first two weeks on Steam. Jonas had made a hit. After seeing successes like Startup Company’s, many game devs have begun looking at Twitch influencer marketing as a means of spreading their game across the gaming community. The only problem? They have no idea how to start. The world of Twitch influencer marketing is frightening. But by educating yourself on the platform and learning the proper methods for conducting sponsorships, you can use Twitch to achieve your sales goals just like Jonas. But before you do anything…. 1. You must formulate detailed goals. To succeed on Twitch, you have to know why you want to work with influencers in the first place. Are you trying to… Drive beta users for QA testing? Collect feedback? Generate hype around your launch? Develop a tight-knit community? Promote a new patch/feature? Or blast your game to as many people has possible? Be sure to set your goals early. They’ll provide a framework for the rest of the campaign you’ll build shortly. 2. Next, set a budget. How much money can you realistically spend promoting your game? Your budget should reflect your goals — if you want to maximize awareness around your launch, you’ll have to hire more influencers than someone looking to drive a few beta users. We’ll talk more about promotion strategies and pricing shortly. But for now, go ahead and map your available funds. 3. Now brainstorm promotion ideas and their requirements. Many game devs think there’s only one way to work with Twitch influencers: Don’t get me wrong — that strategy will work occasionally (just look at Jonas). But if you want to run long-lasting campaigns that help you reach your specific goals, you’ll have to go deeper. There are thousands of ways to promote your game on Twitch — too many to list. But here are a few to jog your mind: Sponsoring an event between streamers from the same Twitch community (e.g. the “Binding of Isaac” game directory) would work great for developing your game’s community within a tight-knit group. Paying a large streamer to play your game for 1–2 hours would allow you to generate brand awareness, hype an upcoming launch, and/or increase sales. You could even give them a discount code to share with their viewers if your goals are sales focused. Offering social media promotion to streamers in exchange for on-stream promotion could be a great way to generate buzz on a low budget. On top of promotion ideas, you’ll also need to plan the smaller aspects of your promotions. For instance, do you want your streamer(s) to: Place your branded graphic in their info section? A streamer’s “info section” is a small section below their stream where they place links to social media pages, gear lists, and most importantly, sponsored graphics (like in the image above). Post timed discount codes in their chat? (Most chat bots have this capability, so ask your streamer which one they prefer.) Promote sponsored content on their social media channels (e.g. post to Twitter announcing your partnership)? This is your time to get creative. The more engaging, entertaining, and easy your promotion ideas, the faster you’ll reach your goals. 4. Gather a list of streamers. After you’ve set your goals, defined a budget, and planned a promotion strategy, it’s time to find the streamers who will spearhead your campaign. Streamer delivering sponsored content to their viewers, circa 2018. …but before you start searching, it’s important you understand some key Twitch influencer marketing metrics: Followers: How many users have chosen to see a streamer’s broadcast in their “Following” list. Average Concurrent Viewership: The average number of viewers in a streamer’s channel. Follower Growth: How many followers a streamer is gaining daily. This number should always be positive. Monthly impressions: The number of unique visits a streamer had on their broadcasts throughout the month. Engagements: The number of chat messages sent during a given stream or over the period of days or months. The higher the engagements, the better. ACV is the main determinant for how much money you have to pay a streamer for sponsored content — as their ACV increases, so must your budget (generally). There are a few ways you can discover new streamers and measure their analytics: 1. Do it manually. Head to Twitch, click on a game, and start watching streamers that pique your interest. Measure how many viewers they receive on a daily basis and how many followers they gain. Observe how active and positive their chat rooms are. Determine whether you like their personalities. If everything matches up with your goals and your budget, you’ll know the streamer is a good fit to promote your game. This method is pretty monotonous, but it can work if you’re just starting out. 2. Use a tool. Twinge.tv is great for discovering new streamers and viewing their metrics. Or, if you’re looking for something more powerful, PowerSpike is a good option. It has all the metric measurement features of Twinge and more. The platform also allows you to post a “campaign” to a marketplace where streamers can apply (like a job board) — this is great if you don’t feel like manually searching for streamers. Full transparency: I work with PowerSpike so I’m biased towards our platform, but any tool will work for your needs. Once you have a list of potential streamers… 5. Find their contact information. If you manually searched for your list of streamers, you’ll have to manually find each of their points of contact. There are a few common places you can look for contact info: 1. The info section. This is where most streamers link to their emails or Discord servers. If a streamer’s info section is crowded, just Control + F and search for “@,” “gmail,” or “email.” If nothing comes up, you’ll have to look elsewhere. 2. Twitter descriptions. If the contact info isn’t in their info section, there’s a good chance they’ve linked it in their Twitter bio. You can usually find a streamer’s Twitter account from their info section. If it’s not there, however, you can Google “[streamer name] + Twitter” and (if they have an account) it will appear. 6. Send a sponsorship proposal. We’re finally getting to the good stuff. A “proposal” is an email that introduces you to a streamer and informs them of your sponsorship offer. It usually acts as your first impression, so it’s important to get right. Here’s the process I use to write proposals for custom-managed campaigns at PowerSpike: Greet the streamer and tell them a bit about yourself and your game. Briefly mention how you discovered their stream. Make it personal. Next, tell them you want to send them a free copy of your game and let them know you want to sponsor them. Give a brief description of your promotion idea. Then, provide an offer for how much you’d pay them for completing the sponsorship. Let them know when you’re looking to start the deal. Lastly, encourage ongoing communication by inviting them to a short voice call to further discuss the deal. Once your proposal is completed, send it to the streamer on Discord, Twitter, or email. Then wait. If the streamer accepts your proposal, great! You can move on to the next step. If they want to negotiate your price or requirements, that’s fine too. Talk it out with them. Be honest about what you’re able to offer and how far you can go in terms of pricing. If the offer goes out of your range or they decline to accept, it’s no big deal — thank them for taking the time and move on. 7. Send the necessary deal and promotion materials. Once a streamer accepts your proposal, there are only a few things left to do: If money is involved, send a contract. You can skip this step if you’re using PowerSpike. Set a time and date for them to complete the sponsorship. It’s best to let them choose this time, but don’t hesitate to propose your own time frame if it’s important. Send the necessary resources (e.g. game keys, branded info section graphics, tracking links, documents that restate your requirements, etc.). Lastly, ensure the streamer knows to include #ad or #sponsored in their stream titles or social media posts during sponsored content. If you‘re unsure whether this FTC rule applies to your sponsorship, more info can be found here. Almost done! 8. Watch the sponsorship. There are several reasons why you’d want to watch your sponsored content live: Viewers like to interact with devs. You’ll make them feel like they’re a part of your project by talking with them in the chat, and that’s cool. You can collect feedback and answer questions. The streamers and the viewers will know you care. Just be sure you aren’t micromanaging from the chat. Let your streamers do their thing and you can interact with their communities. 9. Record results, pay the streamer, and restart. It’s done. And now it’s time to measure the results. How many clicks did your website get? How many game copies did you sell? How much feedback did you receive? Did the streamer provide high-quality content? Were they professional? Did you set the grounds for an ongoing relationship? And most importantly: Did you achieve the goals you set in step one? I hope so. But if not, you can always learn from your mistakes and try again later. Once all your requirements have been fulfilled, you can pay your streamers and restart the process! By now, you should have a great understanding of how you can sponsor Twitch streamers to achieve your marketing goals as a game developer. To quickly recap the process: Formulate your goals. Set your budget. Brainstorm promotion ideas. Gather a list of streamers. Find their contact information. Reach out and propose the promotion ideas and sponsorship offer. Send necessary deal and promotion materials if they accept your offer. Observe the sponsored content. Record results, pay the streamer, and restart. And that’s it. Good luck out there! If you're interested in trying PowerSpike for free to kickstart your influencer marketing efforts, feel free to DM me and I'll help you out! Originally posted on Medium at https://medium.com/@aaronmarsden/a17045c32611. 0 comments 4. Byron Atkinson-Jones is a game designer, writer, speaker and teacher from the United Kingdom (Byron's twitter). He has been in the games industry for 21 years and continues to expand his own knowledge as well as other on the art of video game design. He's worked on a number of games, including FIFA, Football Manager, and NHL. He is also a tutor in his spare time and has students of various ages from around the world. Want to know the best ways in which to get a job at Ubisoft? Or are you unsure which field of game design you should become an expert in? In this interview, Byron discusses the best ways for young video game designers to get into the games industry. Hi Byron, thanks a lot for speaking to me. Firstly, did you study game design at university? There weren’t any games courses when I went to university - I did computer science. Has your degree been important for you in order to work in the industry? If you were studying now would you do a game design course instead? The degree is the first foot in the door of most companies, it certainly helped me as the Job I was going for required a degree. I wouldn’t do a games course these days; I’ve not really been that impressed by the courses I’ve seen up close. Do you think it is difficult for young wannabe game designers to get into the industry? I guess a degree isn't enough, they need to do something that makes themselves stand out, right? Anybody starting out as a designer is tough enough anywhere, unless you’ve got a proven track record of published games it’s a hard call to allow somebody very new to be at the helm of a product that’s going to cost a lot of money. Most I knew went in via a different route such as QA. What would you recommend to university graduates trying to make their way in the industry? Make as many games as they can to add to their portfolio, it’s important to finish those games and get them in front of as many people as possible. It’s never been easier to do that now that we have too, so like Unity. I guess they don't necessarily have to show they can come up with any original ideas do they? Only that they can do what is likely to be required of them at a studio? Originality isn’t necessary but the ability to commit to and finish a game is. When I was interviewing for a AAA (as in the one interviewing potential candidates) I was always more impressed by those that came in with Games they were making either by themselves or with others. Are there certain elements of game design that are more in demand than others? For example, should a student concentrate on one element more than others in order to get a step ahead? No, early on in their careers they should be generalists. Chances are they are not going to get to work on what they want from day one so why restrict what you can apply for? So it is best to narrow your field as you grow into the industry I guess? Although it is important to have a broad range of skills? Better to go with the flow, see where your career takes you. I never imagined when I started out as a coder I would end up doing stand-up comedy for instance. I guess young wannabe game designers shouldn't put so much pressure on themselves then? Yeah, totally, no need to rush! Looking back, is there anything different you would have done in your career? No, I’m pretty happy with the way it’s turned out. Is the teaching going well? I love teaching - it's amazing seeing somebody who thinks they can't make a game leave at the end of the week having made a game. Could you tell me a little bit more about the course you offer? It is a course we do in various locations around London. The class size is usually 22 people. Mostly in the age range of 16 to 22 and it's open to all. You said earlier that you have not been that impressed with game design courses that you have seen, why is this the case? In general, I wouldn’t recommend a games course, mainly because games courses are in their relative infancy and the wider world hasn’t caught up - for instance what if you try to get a non-games job? There could be bias against you if the recruiter doesn’t consider a games course a ‘real’ degree. Of course that bias is ridiculous but it’s a possibility currently. Also, as with all universities the quality level is vastly different. This is down to funding and how integrated the university is with the industry. This is perhaps something we have to change as an industry. I guess the games industry is constantly changing so the lecturers themselves also need to continue learning in order to be up to date. It is not like a history lecturer for example teaching about the history of Ancient Greece, for example. That’s one aspect yes. Any other reasons why you think the quality is lacking sometimes? It’s complicated, I’m sure they will get there but at the moment a lot of work needs to be done. Would you be able to recommend a potential route for a student that wants to work for Ubisoft, for example? That's a tough one. The best thing is to look at what they are after. What current jobs do they have? Also, try to meet up with them when they attend games conferences like develop, GDC etc... noting beats meeting the actual people doing the recruiting and being able to ask them questions. Would you recommend unpaid internships so they can get their foot in the door? Never work for free, never. If somebody has an unpaid position, run a mile. Everybody should be paid for their work, bet it actual money or a revenue share in the product. I know it seems like a good way to get experience but it isn't. Have you ever been tempted to work as a developer for casino games? Would you ever advise a game designer to work for an online casino games company to build experience or is that completely different? Very early in my career I worked as a coder on slot machines and it was a fundamentally toxic environment to work in. It was a completely male dominated workplace and it became Lord of the Flies very rapidly and just was not a pleasant work environment. As a result, I try not to work in male only environments. It’s not really game design working on slot machines - it’s more about statistics and art (to make them look flashy). So you wouldn’t recommend it as a stepping stone? Personally - no. 0 comments By khawk 5. This is an excerpt from the book, Mastering C++ Game Development written by Mickey Macdonald and published by Packt Publishing. With this book, learn high-end game development with advanced C++ 17 programming techniques. One of the most common uses for shaders is creating lighting and reflection effects. Lighting effects achieved from the use of shaders help provide a level of polish and detail that every modern game strives for. In this post, we will look at some of the well-known models for creating different surface appearance effects, with examples of shaders you can implement to replicate the discussed lighting effect. Per-vertex diffuse To start with, we will look at one of the simpler lighting vertex shaders, the diffuse reflection shader. Diffuse is considered simple since we assume that the surface we are rendering appears to scatter the light in all directions equally. With this shader, the light makes contact with the surface and slightly penetrates before being cast back out in all directions. This means that some of the light's wavelength will be at least partially absorbed. A good example of what a diffuse shader looks like is to think of matte paint. The surface has a very dull look with no shine. Let's take a quick look at the mathematical model for a diffuse reflection. This reflection model takes two vectors. One is the direction of the surface contact point to the initial light source, and the second is the normal vector of that same surface contact point. This would look something like the following: It's worth noting that the amount of light that strikes the surface is partially dependent on the surface in relation to the light source and that the amount of light that reaches a single point will be at its maximum along the normal vector, and its lowest when perpendicular to the normal vector. Dusting off our physics knowledge toolbox, we are able to express this relationship given the amount of light making contact with a point by calculating the dot product of the point normal vector and incoming light vector. This can be expressed by the following formula: Light Density(Source Vector) Normal Vector $$LightDensity = Source Vector * Normal Vector$$$$Light Density = SourceVector \cdot NormalVector$$ The source and normal vector in this equation are assumed to be normalized. As mentioned before, some of the light striking the surface will be absorbed before it is re-cast. To add this behavior to our mathematical model, we can add a reflection coefficient, also referred to as the diffuse reflectivity. This coefficient value becomes the scaling factor for the incoming light. Our new formula to specify the outgoing intensity of the light will now look like the following: Outgoing Light = (Diffuse Coefficient x Light Density x Source Vector) Normal Vector $$Outgoing Light = (Diffuse Coefficient x Light Density x Source Vector) \cdot Normal Vector$$ With this new formula, we now have a lighting model that represents an omnidirectional, uniform scattering. OK, now that we know the theory, let's take a look at how we can implement this lighting model in a GLSL shader. The full source for this example can be found in the Chapter07 folder of the GitHub repository, starting with the Vertex Shader shown as follows: #version 410 in vec3 vertexPosition_modelspace; in vec2 vertexUV; in vec3 vertexNormal; out vec2 UV; out vec3 LightIntensity; uniform vec4 LightPosition; uniform vec3 DiffuseCoefficient ; uniform vec3 LightSourceIntensity; uniform mat4 ModelViewProjection; uniform mat3 NormalMatrix; uniform mat4 ModelViewMatrix; uniform mat4 ProjectionMatrix; void main() { vec3 tnorm = normalize(NormalMatrix * vertexNormal); vec4 CameraCoords = ModelViewMatrix * vec4(vertexPosition_modelspace,1.0); vec3 IncomingLightDirection = normalize(vec3(LightPosition - CameraCoords)); LightIntensity = LightSourceIntensity * DiffuseCoefficient * max( dot( IncomingLightDirection, tnorm ), 0.0 ); gl_Position = ModelViewProjection * vec4(vertexPosition_modelspace,1); UV = vertexUV; } We'll go through this shader block by block. To start out, we have our attributes, vertexPosition_modelspace, vertexUV, and vertexNormal. These will be set by our game application, which we will look at after we go through the shader. Then we have our out variables, UV and LightIntensity. These values will be calculated in the shader itself. We then have our uniforms. These include the needed values for our reflection calculation, as we discussed. It also includes all the necessary matrices. Like the attributes, these uniform values will be set via our game. Inside of the main function of this shader, our diffuse reflection is going to be calculated in the camera relative coordinates. To accomplish this, we first normalize the vertex normal by multiplying it by the normal matrix and storing the results in a vector 3 variable named tnorm. Next, we convert the vertex position that is currently in model space to camera coordinates by transforming it with the model view matrix. We then calculate the incoming light direction, normalized, by subtracting the vertex position in the camera coordinates from the light's position. Next, we calculate the outgoing light intensity by using the formula we went through earlier. A point to note here is the use of the max function. This is a situation when the light direction is greater than 90 degrees, as in the light is coming from inside the object. Since in our case we don't need to support this situation, we just use a value of 0.0 when this arises. To close out the shader, we store the model view projection matrix, calculated in clip space, in the built-in outbound variable gl_position. We also pass along the UV of the texture, unchanged, which we are not actually using in this example. Now that we have the shader in place, we need to provide the values needed for the calculations. We do this by setting the attributes and uniforms. We built an abstraction layer to help with this process, so let's take a look at how we set these values in our game code. Inside the GamePlayScreen.cpp file, we are setting these values in the Draw() function. I should point out this is for the example, and in a production environment, you would only want to set the changing values in a loop for performance reasons. Since this is an example, I wanted to make it slightly easier to follow: GLint DiffuseCoefficient = shaderManager.GetUniformLocation("DiffuseCoefficient "); glUniform3f(DiffuseCoefficient, 0.9f, 0.5f, 0.3f); GLint LightSourceIntensity = shaderManager.GetUniformLocation("LightSourceIntensity "); glUniform3f(LightSourceIntensity, 1.0f, 1.0f, 1.0f); glm::vec4 lightPos = m_camera.GetView() * glm::vec4(5.0f, 5.0f, 2.0f, 1.0f); GLint lightPosUniform = shaderManager.GetUniformLocation("LightPosition"); glUniform4f(lightPosUniform, lightPos[0], lightPos[1], lightPos[2], lightPos[3]); glm::mat4 modelView = m_camera.GetView() * glm::mat4(1.0f); GLint modelViewUniform = shaderManager.GetUniformLocation("ModelViewMatrix"); glUniformMatrix4fv(modelViewUniform, 1, GL_FALSE, &modelView[0][0]); glm::mat3 normalMatrix = glm::mat3(glm::vec3(modelView[0]), glm::vec3(modelView[1]), glm::vec3(modelView[2])); GLint normalMatrixUniform = shaderManager.GetUniformLocation("NormalMatrix"); glUniformMatrix3fv(normalMatrixUniform, 1, GL_FALSE, &normalMatrix[0][0]); glUniformMatrix4fv(MatrixID, 1, GL_FALSE, &m_camera.GetMVPMatrix()[0][0]); I won't go through each line since I am sure you can see the pattern. We first use the shader manager's GetUniformLocation() method to return the location for the uniform. Next, we set the value for this uniform using the OpenGL glUniform*() method that matches the value type. We do this for all uniform values needed. We also have to set our attributes, and as discussed in the beginning of the chapter, we do this in between the compilation and linking processes. In this example case, we are setting these values in the OnEntry() method of the GamePlayScreen() class: shaderManager.AddAttribute("vertexPosition_modelspace"); shaderManager.AddAttribute("vertexColor"); shaderManager.AddAttribute("vertexNormal"); That takes care of the vertex shader and passed in values needed, so next, let's look at the fragment shader for this example: #version 410 in vec2 UV; in vec3 LightIntensity; // Ouput data out vec3 color; // Values that stay constant for the whole mesh. uniform sampler2D TextureSampler; void main() { color = vec3(LightIntensity); } For this example, our fragment shader is extremely simple. To begin, we have the in values for our UV and LightIntensity, and we will only use the LightIntensity this time. We then declare our out color value, specified as a vector 3. Next, we have the sampler2D uniform that we use for texturing, but again we won't be using this value in the example. Finally, we have the main function. This is where we set the final output color by simply passing the LightIntensity through to the next stage in the pipeline. If you run the example project, you will see the diffuse reflection in action. The output should look like the following screenshot. As you can see, this reflection model works well for surfaces that are very dull but has limited use in a practical environment. Next, we will look at a reflection model that will allow us to depict more surface types: Per-vertex ambient, diffuse, and specular The ambient, diffuse, and specular (ADS) reflection model, also commonly known as the Phong reflection model, provides a method of creating a reflective lighting shader. This technique models the interaction of light on a surface using a combination of three different components. The ambient component models the light that comes from the environment; this is intended to model what would happen if the light was reflected many times, where it appears as though it is emanating from everywhere. The diffuse component, which we modeled in our previous example, represents an omnidirectional reflection. The last component, the specular component, is meant to represent the reflection in a preferred direction, providing the appearance of a light glare or bright spot. This combination of components can be visualized using the following diagram: Source: Wikipedia This process can be broken down into separate components for discussion. First, we have the ambient component that represents the light that will illuminate all of the surfaces equally and reflect uniformly in all directions. This lighting effect does not depend on the incoming or the outgoing vectors of the light since it is uniformly distributed and can be expressed by simply multiplying the light source's intensity with the surface reflectivity. This is shown in the mathematical formula Ia = LaKa The next component is the diffuse component we discussed earlier. The diffuse component models a dull or rough surface that scatters light in all directions. Again, this can be expressed with the mathematical formula Id = LdKd(sn) The final component is the specular component, and it is used to model the shininess of the surface. This creates a glare or bright spot that is common on surfaces that exhibit glossy properties. We can visualize this reflection effect using the following diagram: For the specular component, ideally, we would like the reflection to be at is most apparent when viewed aligned with the reflection vector, and then to fade off as the angle is increased or decreased from this alignment. We can model this effect using the cosine of the angle between our viewing vector and the reflection angle, which is then raised by some power, as shown in this equation: (r v) p. In this equation, p represents the specular highlight, the glare spot. The larger the value input for p, the smaller the spot will appear, and the shinier the surface will look. After adding the values to represent the reflectiveness of the surface and the specular light intensity, the formula for calculating the specular effect for the surface looks like so: Is = LsKs(r v) p So, now, if we take all of our components and put them together in a formula, we come up with I = Ia + Id + Is or breaking it down more, I = LaKa + LdKd(sn) + LsKs(r v) p With our theory in place, let's see how we can implement this in a per-vertex shader, beginning with our vertex shader as follows: #version 410 // Input vertex data, different for all executions of this shader. in vec3 vertexPosition_modelspace; in vec2 vertexUV; in vec3 vertexNormal; // Output data ; will be interpolated for each fragment. out vec2 UV; out vec3 LightIntensity; struct LightInfo { vec4 Position; // Light position in eye coords. vec3 La; // Ambient light intensity vec3 Ld; // Diffuse light intensity vec3 Ls; // Specular light intensity }; uniform LightInfo Light; struct MaterialInfo { vec3 Ka; // Ambient reflectivity vec3 Kd; // Diffuse reflectivity vec3 Ks; // Specular reflectivity float Shininess; // Specular shininess factor }; uniform MaterialInfo Material; uniform mat4 ModelViewMatrix; uniform mat3 NormalMatrix; uniform mat4 ProjectionMatrix; uniform mat4 ModelViewProjection; void main() { vec3 tnorm = normalize( NormalMatrix * vertexNormal); vec4 CameraCoords = ModelViewMatrix * vec4(vertexPosition_modelspace,1.0); vec3 s = normalize(vec3(Light.Position - CameraCoords)); vec3 v = normalize(-CameraCoords.xyz); vec3 r = reflect( -s, tnorm ); float sDotN = max( dot(s,tnorm), 0.0 ); vec3 ambient = Light.La * Material.Ka; vec3 diffuse = Light.Ld * Material.Kd * sDotN; vec3 spec = vec3(0.0); if( sDotN > 0.0 ) spec = Light.Ls * Material.Ks * pow( max( dot(r,v), 0.0 ), Material.Shininess ); LightIntensity = ambient + diffuse + spec; gl_Position = ModelViewProjection * vec4(vertexPosition_modelspace,1.0); } Let's take a look at what is different to start with. In this shader, we are introducing a new concept, the uniform struct. We are declaring two struct, one to describe the light, LightInfo, and one to describe the material, MaterialInfo. This is a very useful way of containing values that represent a portion in the formula as a collection. We will see how we can set the values of these struct elements from the game code shortly. Moving on to the main function of the function. First, we start as we did in the previous example. We calculate the tnorm, CameraCoords, and the light source vector(s). Next, we calculate the vector in the direction of the viewer/camera (v), which is the negative of the normalized CameraCoords. We then calculate the direction of the pure reflection using the provided GLSL method, reflect. Then we move on to calculating the values of our three components. The ambient is calculated by multiplying the light ambient intensity and the surface's ambient reflective value. The diffuse is calculated using the light intensity, the surface diffuse reflective value of the surface, and the result of the dot product of the light source vector and the tnorm, which we calculated just before the ambient value. Before computing the specular value, we check the value of sDotN. If sDotN is zero, then there is no light reaching the surface, so there is no point in computing the specular component. If sDotN is greater than zero, we compute the specular component. As in the previous example, we use a GLSL method to limit the range of values of the dot product to between 1 and 0. The GLSL function pow raises the dot product to the power of the surface's shininess exponent, which we defined as p in our shader equation previously. Finally, we add all three of our component values together and pass their sum to the fragment shader in the form of the out variable, LightIntensity. We end by transforming the vertex position to clip space and passing it off to the next stage by assigning it to the gl_Position variable. For the setting of the attributes and uniforms needed for our shader, we handle the process just as we did in the previous example. The main difference here is that we need to specify the elements of the struct we are assigning when getting the uniform location. An example would look similar to the following, and again you can see the full code in the example solution in the Chapter07 folder of the GitHub repository: GLint Kd = shaderManager.GetUniformLocation("Material.Kd"); glUniform3f(Kd, 0.9f, 0.5f, 0.3f); The fragment shader used for this example is the same as the one we used for the diffuse example, so I won't cover it again here. When you run the ADS example from the Chapter07 code solution of the GitHub repository, you will see our newly created shader in effect, with an output looking similar to the following: In this example, we calculated the shading equation within the vertex shader; this is referred to as a per-vertex shader. One issue that can arise from this approach is that our glare spots, the specular highlights, might appear to warp or disappear. This is caused by the shading being interpolated and not calculated for each point across the face. For example, a spot that was set near the middle of the face might not appear due to the fact that the equation was calculated at the vertices where the specular component was near to zero. You enjoyed an excerpt from the book, Mastering C++ Game Development written by Mickey Macdonald and published by Packt Publishing. Use the code ORGDB10 at checkout to get recommended eBook retail price for10 only until May 31, 2018.
By khawk
9. The Game Dev Loadout podcast (here and here) has shared their recent Cliff Harris interview with us. The original interview transcription is at Game Dev Loadout. You can also see more podcast interviews from Game Dev Loadout here on GameDev.net. Game designer, programmer, and running a one-man games business, Cliff Harris of Positech Games (@cliffski32 on GameDev.net) is behind strategy and simulation games such as Production Line, Democracy, and Gratuitous Space Battles.  In this interview, Cliff talks about his journey in the game industry, emphasizes on making sure you are taking advice from the right people, and why you need to invest in a great chair for yourself and your team. How did you get started in the game industry? I started programming as a kid when I was 11 on a tiny home computer and then I kind of got out of computers, had all sorts of weird careers working on the stock market and in I.T and boat building and playing the guitar. I taught myself C++ from a home study course on floppy disks then I started making games and that was 20 years ago so it was before indie games were really a thing. I worked at Elixir Studios and Lionhead for 3 years and then I quit that and been full-time indie ever since. What was that push that made you join the game industry? At that time in the U.K, you couldn’t get a job as a programmer unless you had a former qualification as a programmer or you already had a job as a programmer. I always wanted to program video games like a lot of people did and it became possible with the internet that you could program games from home. It was a hobby that turned into a career and a proper business. What is something we probably don’t know about in AI mechanic that we should know? The thing that people don’t realize about AI is that it’s very easy to make something seem alive with few lines of code. Like I have two cats and they really both are predictable. Sometimes the way my cats behave I think you are just few thousand lines of C++. When you break it down, it’s not that difficult to program NPC’s in games that behave and move in quite a natural way. It’s funny because some stuff that you consider easy, it’s almost impossible. So like finding your way out of a maze, we’re pretty good at that but computers are rubbish at it. If you want to program an NPC with text so that it seems to converse with you in a way that doesn’t seem too scripted, that’s not too hard. The reason people tend to encounter rubbish NPC in AI games is due to an obsession with having voice acting for everything. It’s easy to program an NPC that can talk to you about 100 different topics with thousands of different variations that sound fluent and responsive to you. But if you want to record a thousand lines of dialogue and you have got some big name actor then, you can’t afford it. So that’s actually the bottleneck. The other possibility is the translation. The problem is the minute you translate it to German, it’s absolute chaos. The sentence structure is different and you obviously have to pay a little bit to translate the text into German. And if you have got like 20 languages and there are tons of different phrases in each language, suddenly that’s what becomes expensive and difficult. But as you program, it’s fairly easy and fun. Production Line Would you suggest new developers stick to text or voice acting? If you want to capture the whole audience and to have a successful indie game, you probably are going to want it in like 10 different languages. So to get it professionally done is probably like 10 cents a word. So every time you type like one line of dialogue, it’s going to cost you like 50 dollars. If you want to record the audio and then you want that in 10 languages, that’s going to cost you even more. And does it really add to the experience? I’m not sure it does. And the other thing is that I am very impatient and I value time a lot so I’d rather read the dialogue personally than hear it. I want to talk about the worst moment of your career, that one moment that’s still vivid in your mind. They are a few. I have left a game company in a very heated argument, which is funny because I recently bumped into the guy I had that argument with and he’s fine, and I am fine and we get along, but it was just really stressful. I have had bugs that are really bad. I had a bug that could potentially destroy someone’s computer and someone reported a problem to me and I was like “No, I am sure this is not a bug of mine” and I looked into it and I did a lot of experimentation to get this bug to trigger on my PC. I thought “Oh my God, I cannot believe I had made this mistake.” Yeah, I remember frantically coding this patch for it and putting it out immediately and no one else got infected by it. But I was really worried. It was a very rare circumstance but it would delete stuff on your hard drive. It started happening to me but people had anti-virus so it was like a flag going “Hey, what are you doing?” That’s a reputation-destroying bug that deleted a file where the player goes to delete some content intentionally and under certain circumstances, the file name that would be passed in would be empty and given the structure of that code it would then start to delete everything. I had to make loads of checks in all of the areas of my game that can never delete a file. There’s so much code wrapped around this and I can never ever get into that position again because that was bad. From the heated argument story, how did you handle the situation and what was the outcome? Well, I handled it badly, actually, everyone handled it badly. I mean, I had been in this company too long and I was very frustrated and sort of wanted to leave but I had stayed on the assumption that things would change. I just lost it, I got into a very strong argument and someone there had stormed off. And that was it, that was how I left. Looking back on it, I stayed in the company too long. I am very Indie, I don’t like working for other people. I am not very easy to employ because I am quite outspoken and maybe not massively respectful of authority. So it was kind of like a bad fit. To be honest I have stormed out of another job as well. So what should we take away from that experience? The game industry is a lot like the music industry because almost everyone in the music industry makes no money and some people make piles of money. And then there are many more people who want to be in games than the industry will support, which is a lot like music. So you end up with very stressed people who are doing what they love doing, they are very passionate about it and very intensely into it and they are working very hard. It is basically a recipe for everyone to get into huge fights and hate each other. It’s a bit better now I think but there were a lot of companies where people would work very long hours and they would work very late and they go beyond what you would normally put into a job. They aren’t massively well paid at any point. Also, the game industry attracts people like me who are fairly introverted, so we have good technical skills but not very good people skills. You put all that together and it is going to be tough. But I don’t think people hold grudges, I mean I have had two huge arguments with people, some famous and some not and always ended up getting along with them because ultimately very few people come into the industry for money because there isn’t much. So generally you realize that everyone is here just to try to make cool games and work on great stuff no matter how much we like kind of get on each other’s nerves. What are bad recommendations that you hear in your profession? There are a lot of people that will give you advice. Like if you go on to Reddit and sort of say “Oh I am thinking of making this game, oh I am thinking of porting to this platform”. You will get a massive amount of advice and almost all of it will be rubbish. That’s because the people who are always on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, just sit there, waiting on giving advice to others. I am never like I have to go there and post it and see if anyone is ever asking about something I know about. I’ve read a huge amount of stuff that says there is no point in advertising your indie game. Some of them might say that I have spent like a $100 on Facebook Ads, I didn’t notice any difference in the number of downloads of my game and what you can take from that is you know one person who spent a$100, they did not receive a direct difference. I’ve spent $265,000 on Facebook Ads over the years, so as you can imagine I am pretty convinced they work. But what I am saying is that I have literally a thousand times more data points on that issue. So if you see me talking about the Pro’s and Con’s of Facebook Ads, well I know what I am talking about. If you hear me talking about whether Android or iPhone is a better platform, then just slap me and tell me “Cliff you have no idea, no you don’t know anything about it”. Because you have never made a mobile game and I think that’s the most important thing, you have to know whose advice you are taking and on what basis. We will have an intuition about games and stuff and what should work, what shouldn’t work and often our intuition is wrong. I honestly think that free to play should not work but it clearly does. I think that there is no way you can run an entire games business based on selling virtual hacks, I know that cannot possibly work. But I know it does. So you have to listen to specific people on specific issues. What is one of the best investments you have ever made? Could be an investment in time, energy, or money. Okay, I’ll give you two, time and money. The time thing is learning how to code my own game engine. I learned to code everything like graphics, sound and whatever from scratch because I had to. It gives you a big insight into performance and why your game may be slow. I get to code very fast stuff when I need it. Also, I am not relying on anything else. I am not paying any money to Unity and if they update Unity or Unreal and it breaks everything, obviously I don’t care because I am not using it. So that’s given me an independence that’s very helpful. Obviously, it takes a lot of time. Gratuitous Space Battles The physical thing which I have told a lot of people over the years is this chair that I’m sitting in. If you’ve got a tech startup and you have coders and you have money then buy these Herman Miller Aeron chairs for everyone. It was 800 pounds which is a lot,$1100. I am fully aware that it’s a crazy amount of money. But I sit on it ten hours a day and they last forever. It affects your health and mood. It really is a good investment and even if you think it’s kind of over the top and unnecessary. Don’t buy a $20 chair from a cheap shop. Make some sort of investment in your comfort because in the end you spend a lot of time sitting in front of the keyboard and it’s so much better for you to be comfortable when you do that. BETA PHASE: Rapid Fire Questions What was holding you back from joining the game industry? I don’t know. Nothing would stop me right now but back before I joined, the industry was tiny. It was not something people did. Nobody knew anyone in the games industry, but now nothing would hold me back. Back then it was just like “that’s not a real job”. What’s the personal habit that contributes to your success? Getting out bed early. I was a real workaholic. I would be working at my desk by 8 o’clock, which doesn’t sound that early but for a computer programmer, it is because then we work till like 8 o’clock in the evening. Just learning how to get out bed and go straight to work without messing around, that’s the best thing. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Ask for more money. Most of the time you don’t get it, but occasionally you do and it’s just like free money and you’re like “Hey, they weren’t going to give me that unless I said it”. It’s really awkward but do it. What’s that great marketing tip to make yourself and your game stand out? Put faces in your games. Read into Neuroscience, a disproportionate amount of your brain is dedicated to looking for faces and looking for emotions in faces and if you have three images of games and if one of them has a face in the image, that is the one everyone looks at first. What resources should we game developers use to get started today? If you are technically-minded and if you want to be a programmer more than anything else, then buy some good C++ books and learn how to code everything from scratch. If you’re not, then use Unity but don’t put off the idea of coding from the ground up, it’s very valuable. Imagine you woke up the next morning in a brand new world and you knew no one, you still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have today, your food and shelter are taking care of and you have a laptop. What would you do step by step on the path to join and become successful in the game industry? I would make a PC strategy game and sell it on Steam. It would be 2D, top down. I would find an artist to do like revenue share on it and I would do all my end marketing and game designing and code it from scratch, probably don’t even need ‘Unity’ to do that and it might even be easier. That’s the safest and best route to actually making a game that will make money. You can listen to the entire podcast and more interviews with developers and others in the industry at Game Dev Loadout. 0 comments By khawk 10. I recently worked on a path-finding algorithm used to move an AI agent into an organically generated dungeon. It's not an easy task but because I've already worked on Team Fortress 2 cards in the past, I already knew navigation meshes (navmesh) and their capabilities. Why Not Waypoints? As described in this paper, waypoint networks were in the past used in video games to save valuable resources. It was an acceptable compromise : level designers already knew where NPCs could and could not go. However, as technology has evolved, computers got more memory that became faster and cheaper. In other words, there was a shift from efficiency to flexibility. In a way, navigation meshes are the evolution of waypoints networks because they fulfill the same need but in a different way. One of the advantages of using a navigation mesh is that an agent can go anywhere in a cell as long as it is convex because it is essentially the definition of convex. It also means that the agent is not limited to a specific waypoint network, so if the destination is out of the waypoint network, it can go directly to it instead of going to the nearest point in the network. A navigation mesh can also be used by many types of agents of different sizes, rather than having many waypoint networks for agents of different sizes. Using a navigation mesh also speeds up graph exploration because, technically, a navigation mesh has fewer nodes than an equivalent waypoint network (that is, a network that has enough points to cover a navigation mesh). The navigation mesh Graph To summarize, a navigation mesh is a mesh that represents where an NPC can walk. A navigation mesh contains convex polygonal nodes (called cells). Each cell can be connected to each other using connections defined by an edge shared between them (or portal edge). In a navigation mesh, each cell can contain information about itself. For example, a cell may be labeled as toxic, and therefore only those units capable of resisting this toxicity can move across it. Personally, because of my experience, I view navigation meshes like the ones found in most Source games. However, all cells in Source's navigation meshes are rectangular. Our implementation is more flexible because the cells can be irregular polygons (as long as they're convex). Navigation Meshes In practice A navigation mesh implementation is actually three algorithms : A graph navigation algorithm A string pulling algorithm And a steering/path-smoothing algorithm In our cases, we used A*, the simple stupid funnel algorithm and a traditional steering algorithm that is still in development. Finding our cells Before doing any graph searches, we need to find 2 things : Our starting cell Our destination cell For example, let's use this navigation mesh : In this navigation meshes, every edge that are shared between 2 cells are also portal edges, which will be used by the string pulling algorithm later on. Also, let's use these points as our starting and destination points: Where our buddy (let's name it Buddy) stands is our staring point, while the flag represents our destination. Because we already have our starting point and our destination point, we just need to check which cell is closest to each point using an octree. Once we know our nearest cells, we must project the starting and destination points onto their respective closest cells. In practice, we do a simple projection of both our starting and destination points onto the normal of their respective cells. Before snapping a projected point, we must first know if the said projected point is outside its cell by finding the difference between the area of the cell and the sum of the areas of the triangles formed by that point and each edge of the cell. If the latter is remarkably larger than the first, the point is outside its cell. The snapping then simply consists of interpolating between the vertices of the edge of the cell closest to the projected point. In terms of code, we do this: Vector3f lineToPoint = pointToProject.subtract(start); Vector3f line = end.subtract(start); Vector3f returnedVector3f = new Vector3f().interpolateLocal(start, end, lineToPoint.dot(line) / line.dot(line)); In our example, the starting and destination cells are C1 and C8 respectively: Graph Search Algorithm A navigation mesh is actually a 2D grid of an unknown or infinite size. In a 3D game, it is common to represent a navigation mesh graph as a graph of flat polygons that aren't orthogonal to each other. There are games that use 3D navigation meshes, like games that use flying AI, but in our case it's a simple grid. For this reason, the use of the A* algorithm is probably the right solution. We chose A* because it's the most generic and flexible algorithm. Technically, we still do not know how our navigation mesh will be used, so going with something more generic can have its benefits... A* works by assigning a cost and a heuristic to a cell. The closer the cell is to our destination, the less expensive it is. The heuristic is calculated similarly but we also take into account the heuristics of the previous cell. This means that the longer a path is, the greater the resulting heuristic will be, and it becomes more likely that this path is not an optimal one. We begin the algorithm by traversing through the connections each of the neighboring cells of the current cell until we arrive at the end cell, doing a sort of exploration / filling. Each cell begins with an infinite heuristic but, as we explore the mesh, it's updated according to the information we learn. In the beginning, our starting cell gets a cost and a heuristic of 0 because the agent is already inside of it. We keep a queue in descending order of cells based on their heuristics. This means that the next cell to use as the current cell is the best candidate for an optimal path. When a cell is being processed, it is removed from that queue in another one that contains the closed cells. While continuing to explore, we also keep a reference of the connection used to move from the current cell to its neighbor. This will be useful later. We do it until we end up in the destination cell. Then, we "reel" up to our starting cell and save each cell we landed on, which gives an optimal path. A* is a very popular algorithm and the pseudocode can easily be found. Even Wikipedia has a pseudocode that is easy to understand. In our example, we find that this is our path: And here are highlighted (in pink) the traversed connections: The String Pulling Algorithm String pulling is the next step in the navigation mesh algorithm. Now that we have a queue of cells that describes an optimal path, we have to find a queue of points that an AI agent can travel to. This is where the sting pulling is needed. String pulling is in fact not linked to characters at all : it is rather a metaphor. Imagine a cross. Let's say that you wrap a silk thread around this cross and you put tension on it. You will find that the string does not follow the inner corner of it, but rather go from corner to corner of each point of the cross. This is precisely what we're doing but with a string that goes from one point to another. There are many different algorithms that lets us to do this. We chose the Simple Stupid Funnel algorithm because it's actually... ...stupidly simple. To put it simply (no puns intended), we create a funnel that checks each time if the next point is in the funnel or not. The funnel is composed of 3 points: a central apex, a left point (called left apex) and a right point (called right apex). At the beginning, the tested point is on the right side, then we alternate to the left and so on until we reach our point of destination. (as if we were walking) When a point is in the funnel, we continue the algorithm with the other side. If the point is outside the funnel, depending on which side the tested point belongs to, we take the apex from the other side of the funnel and add it to a list of final waypoints. The algorithm is working correctly most of the time. However, the algorithm had a bug that add the last point twice if none of the vertices of the last connection before the destination point were added to the list of final waypoints. We just added an if at the moment but we could come back later to optimize it. In our case, the funnel algorithm gives this path: The Steering Algoritm Now that we have a list of waypoints, we can finally just run our character at every point. But if there were walls in our geometry, then Buddy would run right into a corner wall. He won't be able to reach his destination because he isn't small enough to avoid the corner walls. That's the role of the steering algorithm. Our algorithm is still in heavy development, but its main gist is that we check if the next position of the agent is not in the navigation meshes. If that's the case, then we change its direction so that the agent doesn't hit the wall like an idiot. There is also a path curving algorithm, but it's still too early to know if we'll use that at all... We relied on this good document to program the steering algorithm. It's a 1999 document, but it's still interesting ... With the steering algoritm, we make sure that Buddy moves safely to his destination. (Look how proud he is!) So, this is the navigation mesh algorithm. I must say that, throughout my research, there weren't much pseudocode or code that described the algorithm as a whole. Only then did we realize that what people called "Navmesh" was actually a collage of algorithms rather than a single monolithic one. We also tried to have a cyclic grid with orthogonal cells (i.e. cells on the wall, ceiling) but it looked like that A* wasn't intended to be used in a 3D environment with flat orthogonal cells. My hypothesis is that we need 3D cells for this kind of navigation mesh, otherwise the heuristic value of each cell can change depending on the actual 3D length between the center of a flat cell and the destination point. So we reduced the scope of our navigation meshes and we were able to move an AI agent in our organic dungeon. Here's a picture : Each cyan cubes are the final waypoints found by the String pulling and blue lines represents collisions meshes. Our AI is currently still walking into walls, but the steering is still being implemented. 0 comments 11. As DMarket platform development continues, we would like to share a few case studies regarding the newest functionality on the platform. With these case studies we would like to illuminate our development process, user requirements gathering and analysis, and much more. The first case study we’re going to share is “DMarket Wallet Development”: how, when and why we decided to implement functionality which improved virtual items and DMarket Coins collection and transfer. DMarket cares about every user, no matter how big or small the user group is. And that’s why we recently updated our virtual item purchase rules, bringing a brand new “DMarket Wallet” feature to our users. So let’s take a retrospective look and find out what challenges were brought to the DMarket team within this feature and how these challenges were met. DMarket and Blockchain Virtual Items Trading Rules Within the first major release of the DMarket platform, we provided you with a wide range of possibilities and options, assuring Steam account connection within user profile, confirmation of account and device ownership via email for enhanced security, DMarket Coins, and DMarket Tokens exchanging, transactions with intermediaries on blockchain within our very own Blockchain system called “Blockchain Explorer”. And well, regarding Blockchain... While it has totally proved itself as a working solution, we were having some issues with malefactors, as many of you may already know. DMarket specialists conducted an investigation, which resulted in a perfect solution: we found out that a few users created bots to buy our Founder’s Mark, a limited special edition memorabilia to commemorate the launch of the platform, for lower prices and then sell them at higher prices. Sure thing, there was no chance left for regular users. A month ago we fixed the issue, to our great relief. We received real feedback from the community, a real proof-of-concept. The whole DMarket ecosystem turned out to be truly resilient, proving all our detractors wrong. And while we’ve got proof, we also studied how users feel about platform UX since blockchain requires additional efforts when buying or selling an item. With our first release of the Demo platform, we let users sign transactions with a private key from their wallet. In terms of user experience, that practice wasn’t too good. Just think about it: you should enter the private key each time you want to buy or sell something. Every transaction required a lot of actions from the user’s side, which is unacceptable for a great and user-friendly product like ours. That’s why we decided to move from that approach, and create a single unified “wallet” on the DMarket side in order to store all the DMarket Coins and virtual items on our side and let users buy or sell stuff with a few clicks instead of the previous lengthy process. In other words, every user received a public key which serves as a destination address, while private keys were held on the DMarket side in order to avoid transaction signing each time something is traded. This improved usability, and most of our users were satisfied with the update. But not all of them... You Can’t Make Everyone Happy….. Can You? By removing the transaction signing requirement we made most of our users happy. Of course, within a large number of happy people, we can always find those who are worried about owning a public key wallet. When you don’t own a public key, it may disturb you a little bit. Sure, DMarket is a trusted company, but there are people who can’t trust even themselves sometimes. So what were we gonna do? Ignore them? Roll back to the previous way of buying virtual items and coins? No! We decided to go the other way. Within the briefest timeline, the DMarket team decided on providing a completely new feature on Blockchain Explorer — wallet creation functionality. With this functionality, you can create a wallet with 2 clicks, getting both private and public keys and therefore ensuring your items’ and coins’ safety. Basically, we separated wallets on the marketplace and wallets on our Blockchain in order to keep great UX and reassure a small part of users with a needed option to keep everything in a separate wallet. You can go shopping on DMarket with no additional effort of signing every transaction, and at the same time, you are free to transfer all the goods to your very own wallet anytime you feel the need. Isn’t it cool? Outcome After implementation of a separate DMarket wallet creation feature, we killed two birds with one stone and made everyone satisfied. Though it wasn’t too easy since we had a very limited amount of time. So if you need it, you can try it. Moreover, the creation of DMarket wallet within Blockchain Explorer will let you manage your wallet even on mobile devices because with downloading private and public keys you also get a 12-word mnemonic phrase to restore your wallet on any mobile device, from smartphone to tablet. Wow, but that’s another story — a story about DMarket Wallet application which has recently become available for Android users in the Google Play. Stay tuned for more case studies and don't forget to check out our website and gain firsthand experience with in-game items trading! 0 comments 12. I got into a conversation awhile ago with some fellow game artists and the prospect of signing bonuses got brought up. Out of the group, I was the only one who had negotiated any sort of sign on bonus or payment above and beyond base compensation. My goal with this article and possibly others is to inform and motivate other artists to work on this aspect of their “portfolio” and start treating their career as a business. What is a Sign-On Bonus? Quite simply, a sign-on bonus is a sum of money offered to a prospective candidate in order to get them to join. It is quite common in other industries but rarely seen in the games unless it is at the executive level. Unfortunately, conversations centered around artist employment usually stops at base compensation, quite literally leaving money on the table. Why Ask for a Sign-On Bonus? There are many reasons to ask for a sign-on bonus. In my experience, it has been to compensate for some delta between how much I need vs. how much the company is offering. For example, a company has offered a candidate a position paying$50k/year. However, research indicates that the candidate requires $60k/year in order to keep in line with their personal financial requirements and long-term goals. Instead of turning down the offer wholesale, they may ask for a$10k sign on bonus with actionable terms to partially bridge the gap. Whatever the reason may be, the ask needs to be reasonable. Would you like a $100k sign-on bonus? Of course! Should you ask for it? Probably not. A sign-on bonus is a tool to reduce risk, not a tool to help you buy a shiny new sports car. Aspects to Consider Before one goes and asks for a huge sum of money, there are some aspects of sign-on bonus negotiations the candidate needs to keep in mind. - The more experience you have, the more leverage you have to negotiate - You must have confidence in your role as an employee. - You must have done your research. This includes knowing your personal financial goals and how the prospective offer changes, influences or diminishes those goals. To the first point, the more experience one has, the better. If the candidate is a junior employee (roughly defined as less than 3 years of industry experience) or looking for their first job in the industry, it is highly unlikely that a company will entertain a conversation about sign-on bonuses. Getting into the industry is highly competitive and there is likely very little motivation for a company to pay a sign-on bonus for one candidate when there a dozens (or hundreds in some cases) of other candidates that will jump at the first offer. Additionally, the candidate must have confidence in succeeding at the desired role in the company. They have to know that they can handle the day to day responsibilities as well as any extra demands that may come up during production. The company needs to be convinced of their ability to be a team player and, as a result, is willing to put a little extra money down to hire them. In other words, the candidate needs to reduce the company’s risk in hiring them enough that an extra payment or two is negligible. And finally, they must know where they sit financially and where they want to be in the short-, mid-, and long-term. Having this information at hand is essential to the negotiation process. The Role Risk Plays in Employment The interviewing process is a tricky one for all parties involved and it revolves around the idea of risk. Is this candidate low-risk or high-risk? The risk level depends on a number of factors: portfolio quality, experience, soft skills, etc. Were you late for the interview? Your risk to the company just went up. Did you bring additional portfolio materials that were not online? Your risk just went down and you became more hireable. If a candidate has an offer in hand, then the company sees enough potential to get a return on their investment with as little risk as possible. At this point, the company is confident in their ability as an employee (ie. low risk) and they are willing to give them money in return for that ability. Asking for the Sign-On Bonus So what now? The candidate has gone through the interview process, the company has offered them a position and base compensation. Unfortunately, the offer falls below expectations. Here is where the knowledge and research of the position and personal financial goals comes in. The candidate has to know what their thresholds and limits are. If they ask for$60k/year and the company is offering $50k, how do you ask for the bonus? Once again, it comes down to risk. Here is the point to remember: risk is not one-sided. The candidate takes on risk by changing companies as well. The candidate has to leverage the sign-on bonus as a way to reduce risk for both parties. Here is the important part: A sign-on bonus reduces the company’s risk because they are not commiting to an increased salary and bonus payouts can be staggered and have terms attached to them. The sign-on bonus reduces the candidate’s risk because it bridges the gap between the offered compensation and their personal financial requirements. If the sign-on bonus is reasonable and the company has the finances (explained further down below), it is a win-win for both parties and hopefully the beginning a profitable business relationship. A Bit about Finances First off, I am not a business accountant nor have I managed finances for a business. I am sure that it is much more complicated than my example below and there are a lot of considerations to take into account. In my experience, however, I do know that base compensation (ie. salary) will generally fall into a different line item category on the financial books than a bonus payout. When companies determine how many open spots they have, it is usually done by department with inter-departmental salary caps. For a simplified example, an environment department’s total salary cap is$500k/year. They have 9 artists being paid $50k/year, leaving$50k/year remaining for the 10th member of the team. Remember the example I gave earlier asking for $60k/year? The company cannot offer that salary because it breaks the departmental cap. However, since bonuses typically do not affect departmental caps, the company can pull from a different pool of money without increasing their risk by committing to a higher salary. Sweetening the Deal Coming right out of the gate and asking for an upfront payment might be too aggressive of a play (ie. high risk for the company). One way around this is to attach terms to the bonus. What does this mean? Take the situation above. A candidate has an offer for$50k/year but would like a bit more. If through the course of discussing compensation they get the sense that $10k is too high, they can offer to break up the payments based on terms. For example, a counterpoint to the initial base compensation offer could look like this:$50k/year salary $5k bonus payout #1 after 30 days of successful employment$5k bonus payout #2 after 365 days (or any length of time) of successful employment In this example, the candidate is guaranteed $55k/year salary for 2 years. If they factor in a standard 3% cost of living raise, the first 3 years of employment looks like this: Year 0-1 =$55,000 ($50,000 +$5,000 payout #1) Year 1-2 = $56,500 (($50,000 x 1.03%) + $5,000 payout #2) Year 2-3 =$53,045 ($51,500 x 1.03%) Now it might not be the$60k/year they had in mind but it is a great compromise to keep both parties comfortable. If the Company Says Yes Great news! The company said yes! What now? Personally, I always request at least a full 24 hours to crunch the final numbers. In the past, I’ve requested up to a week for full consideration. Even if you know you will say yes, doing due diligence with your finances one last time is always a good practice. Plug the numbers into a spreadsheet, look at your bills and expenses again, and review the whole offer (base compensation, bonus, time off/sick leave, medical/dental/vision, etc.). Discuss the offer with your significant other as well. You will see the offer in a different light when you wake up, so make sure you are not rushing into a situation you will regret. If the Company Say No If the company says no, then you have a difficult decision to make. Request time to review the offer and crunch the numbers. If it is a lateral move (same position, different company) then you have to ask if the switch is worth it. Only due diligence will offer that insight and you have to give yourself enough time to let those insights arrive. You might find yourself accepting the new position due to other non-financial reasons (which could be a whole separate article!). Conclusion/Final Thoughts  When it comes to negotiating during the interview process, it is very easy to take what you can get and run. You might fear that in asking for more, you will be disqualifying yourself from the position. Keep in mind that the offer has already been extended to you and a company will not rescind their offer simply because you came back with a counterpoint. Negotiations are expected at this stage and by putting forth a creative compromise, your first impression is that of someone who conducts themselves in a professional manner. Also keep in mind that negotiations do not always go well. There are countless factors that influence whether or not someone gets a sign-on bonus. Sometimes it all comes down to being there at the right time at the right place. Just make sure you do your due diligence and be ready when the opportunity presents itself. Hope this helps!
By RyRyB

By khawk
16. This reference guide has now been proofread by @stimarco (Sean Timarco Baggaley). Please give your thanks to him. The guide should now be far easier to read and understand than previous revisions, enjoy! Note: The normal mapping tutorial has been temporarily moved, to be added back as its own topic, to help separate the two for more clarity.   If anyone has any corrections, please contact me. 3D Graphics Primer 1: Textures. This is a quick reference for artists who are starting out. The first topic revolves around textures and the many things an artist who is starting out needs to understand. I am primarily a 3d artist and my focus will therefore be primarily on 3d art. However, some of this information is applicable to 2d artists. Textures What is a texture?

By classical definition a texture is the visual and esp. tactile quality of a surface (Dictionary.com).

Since current games lack the ability to convey tactile sensations, a texture in game terms simply refers to the visual quality of a surface, with an implicit tactile quality. That is, a rock texture should give the impression of the surface of a rock, and depending on the type, a rough or smooth tactile quality. We see these types of surfaces in real life and feel them in real life. So when we see the texture, we know what it feels like without needing to touch it due to our past experiences. But a lot more goes into making a convincing texture beyond the simple tactile quality.

As you will learn as you read on, textures in games is a very complex topic, with many elements involved in creating them for realtime rendering.

We will look at: Texture File Types & Formats Texture Image Size Texture File Size Texture Types Tiling Textures Texture Bit Depth Making Normal Maps (Brief overview only) Pixel Density and Fill Rate Limitation Mipmaps Further Reading     Further Reading Creating and using textures is such a big subject that covering it entirely within this one primer is simply not sensible. All I can sensibly achieve here is a skimming over the surface, so here are some links to further reading matter.

Beautiful Yet Friendly - Written by Guillaume Provost, hosted by Adam Bromell. This is a very interesting article that goes into some depth about basic optimizations and the thought process when designing and modeling a level. It goes into the technical side of things to truly give you an understanding on what is going on in the background. You can use the information in this article to find out how to build models that use fewer resources -- polygons, textures, etc. -- for the same results.
This is the reason why this is the first article I am linking to: it is imperative to understand the topics discussed in this article. If you need any extra explanation after reading it, you can PM me and I am more than happy to help. However, parts of this article go outside the texture realm of things and into the mesh side, so keep that in mind if you're focusing on learning textures at the moment.

UVW Mapping Tutorial - by Waylon Brinck. This is about the best tutorial I have found for a topic that gives all 3D artists a headache: unwrapping your three-dimensional object into a two-dimensional plane for 2D painting. It is the process by which all 3D artists place a texture on a mesh (model). NOTE: while this tutorial is very good and will help you in learning the process, UVW mapping/unwrapping is just one of those things you must practice and experiment with for a while before you truly understand it.

Poop In My Mouth's Tutorials - By Ben Mathis. Probably the only professional I know who has such a scary website name, but don't be afraid! I swear there is nothing terrible beyond that link. He has a ton of excellent tutorials, short and long, that cover both the modeling and texturing processes, ranging from normal-mapping to UVW unwrapping. You may want to read this reference first before delving into some of his tutorials. Texture File Types & Formats In the computer world, textures are really nothing more than image files applied to a model. Because of this, a variety of common computer image formats can be used. These include, .TGA, .DDS, .BMP, and even .JPG (or .JPEG). Almost any digital image format can be used, but some things must be taken into consideration:

In the modern world of gaming, being heavily reliant on shaders, formats like the .JPG format are rarely used. This is because .JPG, and others like it, are lossy formats, where data in the image file is actually thrown away to make the file smaller. This process can result in compression artifacts The problem is that these artifacts will interfere with shaders, because these rely on having all the data contained within the image intact. Because of this, lossless formats are used -- formats like .DDS (if lossless option chosen), .BMP, and .TGA.

However, there is such a thing called S3TC (also known as "dxt") compression. This was a compression technique developed for use on Savage 3D graphics cards, with the benefit of keeping a texture compressed within video memory whereas non-S3TC-compressed textures are not. This results in a 1:8 or greater compression ratio and can allow either more textures to be used in a scene, or can be used to increase the resolution of a texture without using more memory. S3TC compression can be made to work with any format, but is most commonly associated with the .DDS format.

Just like the .jpg and other lossy formats, any texture using S3TC will suffer compression artifacts, and as such is not suitable for normal maps, (which we'll discuss a little later on).

Even with S3TC it is common to use a lossless format for the texture format, and then apply S3TC when necessary. This is done to provide an artist with the ability to have lossless textures when needed -- e.g. for normal maps -- but then provide them with a method for compression on textures that could benefit from S3TC compression, such as diffuse textures. Texture Image Size The engineers who design computers and their component parts like us to feed data to their hardware in chunks that have dimensions defined as powers of two. (E.g. 16 pixels, 32 pixels, 64 pixels, and so on.) While it is possible to have a texture that is not the power of two, it is generally a good idea to stick to power-of-two sizes for compatibility reasons (especially if you're targeting older hardware). That is, if you're creating a texture for a game, you want to use image dimensions that are the power of two. Examples, 32x32, 16x32, 2048x1024, 1024x1024, 512x512, 512x32, etc. Say for example, you have a mesh/model and you're UV Unwrapping, for a game you must work within dimensions that are a power of two.

Powers of two include: 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, and so on.

What if you want to use images that aren't powers of two? In such cases, you can often use uneven pixel ratios. This means you can create your texture at, say, 1024x768, and then you can save it as 1024x1024. When you're applying your texture to your mesh you can stretch it back out in proportion. However, it is best to go for a 1:1 pixel ratio and create the texture starting at the power of 2, but the stretching is one method for getting around this if needed

Please refer to the "Pixel Density and Fill Rate Limitation" section for more in depth info on how exactly to choose your image size. Texture File Size File size is important for a number of reasons. The file is the actual amount of memory (permanent or temporary) that the texture requires.
For an obvious example, an uncompressed .BMP could be 6MB, this is the space it requires to be saved on a hard drive and within the video and/or system RAM. Using compression we can squeeze the same image into a file size of, say, 400 KB, or possibly even smaller. Compression, like that used by .JPG and other similar formats, will only do compression on permanent storage media, such as hard drives. That is to say, when the image is stored in video card memory it must be uncompressed within the memory, so you truly only get a benefit on storing the texture on its permanent medium but not in memory during use. Enter S3TC The key benefit of the S3TC compression system is that it compresses on hard drives, discs, and other media, while also staying compressed within video card memory.

But why should you care what size it is within the video memory?

Video cards have onboard memory called, unsuprisingly enough, video memory, for storing data that needs to be accessed fast. This memory is limited, so considerations on the artists' part must be used. The good news is that video card manufacturers are constantly adding more of this video memory -- known as Video RAM (or VRAM for short). Where once 64 MB was considered good, we can now find video cards with up to 1 GB of RAM.

The more textures you have, the more RAM will be used. The actual amount is based primarily on the file size of each texture. Other data take up video memory, such as the model data itself, but the majority is used for textures. For this reason, it is a good idea to both plan your video memory usage and test how much you're using once in the engine. It is also advised that you have a minimum hardware configuration for what you want your game to run on. If this is the case, then you should always make sure your video memory usage does not go over the minimum target hardware's amount.

Another advantage of in-memory compression like S3TC is that it can increase available bandwidth. If you know your engine on your target hardware may be swapping textures back and forth frequently (something that should be avoided if possible, but is a technique used on consoles), then you may want to consider having the textures compressed and then decompress them on the fly. That is to say, you have the textures compressed, and then when they're required, they're transported and then decompressed as they're added to video memory. This results in less data having to be shunted across the graphics card's bus (transport line) to and from the computer's main memory, resulting in less bandwidth utilization, but with the added penalty of a few wasted processing clocks. Texture Types Now we're going to discuss such things are diffuse, normal, specular, parallax and cube mapping.
Aside from the diffuse map, these mapping types are common in what have become known as 'next-gen' engines, where the artist is given more control over how the model is rendered by use of control maps for shaders. Diffuse maps are textures which simply provide the color and any baked-in details. Games before shaders simply used diffuse textures. (You could say this is the 'default' texture type.) For example, when texturing a rock, the diffuse map of the rock would be just the color and data of that rock. Diffuse textures can be painted by hand or made from photographs, or a mixture of both.

However, in any modern engine, most lighting and shadow detail is preferred to not be 'baked' (i.e. pre-drawn directly into the texture) into the diffuse map, but instead to have just the color data in the diffuse and use other control maps to recreate such things as shadows, specular reflections, refraction effects and so on. This results in a more dynamic look for the texture overall, helping its believability once in-game. 'Baking' such details will hinder the game engine's ability to produce "dynamic" results, which will cause the end result to look unrealistic.

There is sometimes an exception to this rule: if you're providing "general" shading/lighting like ambient occlusion maps baked (merged) into the diffuse, then it is ok. These types of additions into the diffuse are general enough that they won't hinder the dynamic effect of running in a realtime engine, while achieving a higher level of realism.

Another point to remember is that while textures sourced from photographs tend to work very well in 3D environment work, it is often frowned upon to use such 'photosourced textures' for humans. Human diffuse textures are usually hand-painted.

Normal maps are used to provide lighting detail for dynamic lighting, however this is involved in an even more important role, as we will discuss shortly. Normal maps get their name from the fact that they recreate normals on a mesh using a texture. A 'normal' is a point (actually a vector) extending from a triangle on a mesh. This tells the game engine how much light the triangle should receive from a particular light source -- the engine simply compares the angle of the normal with the position and angle of the light itself and thus calculates how the light strikes the triangle. Without a normal map, the game engine can only use the data available in the mesh itself; a triangle would only have three normals for the engine to use -- one at each point -- regardless of how big that triangle is on the screen, resulting in a flat look. A normal map, on the other hand, creates normals right across a mesh's surface. The result is the capability to generate a normal map from a 2 million poly mesh and have this lighting detail recreated on a 200 poly mesh. This can allow an artist to recreate a high-poly mesh with relatively low polygons in comparison.

Such tricks are associated with 'next-gen' engines, and are heavily used in screenshots of the Unreal 3 Engine, where you can see large amounts of detail yet able to run in realtime due to the actual amount of polys used. Normal maps use the different color channels (red, green, and blue) for storing gray scale data of lighting information at different angles, however there is no set standard for how these channels can be interpreted and as such sometimes require a channel to be flipped for correct function in an engine.

Normal maps can be generated from high-poly meshes, or they can be image generated, that is, being generated from a gray scale map. However, high-poly generated normal maps tend to be preferred as they tend to have more depth. This is for various reasons, but the main one is that it is difficult for most to paint a grayscale map that is equal to the quality you'll receive straight from a model. Also, you will often find that the image generators tend to miss details, requiring the artist to edit the normal map by hand later. However, it is not impossible to receive near equal results using both methods, each have their own requirements, it is up to you on which to use in each situation

(Please refer to the tutorial section for extended information on normal maps.)

Specular maps are simple in creation. They are easy to paint by hand, because the map is simply a gray scale map that defines the specular level for any point on a mesh. However, in some engines and in 3D modeling applications this map can be full-color so the brightness defines the specular level and color defines the color of the specular highlights. This gives the artist finer control to produce more lifelike textures because the specific specular attribute of certain materials can be more defined and closer to reality. In this way you can give a plastic material a more plastic-like specular reflection, or simulate a stone's particular specular look.

Parallax mapping picks up where regular normal mapping fails. We create normals on a model by use of a normal map. A parallax map does the same thing as a normal map except it samples a grayscale map within the alpha channel. Parallax mapping works by using the angles recorded in the tangent space normal maps along with the heightmap to calculate which way to displace the texture coordinates. It uses the grayscale map to define how much the texture should be extruded outwards, and uses the angle information recorded in the tangent normal map to determine the angle to offset the texture. Doing things this way a parallax map can then recreate the extrusion of a normal map, but without the flattening that visible in ordinary normal mapping due to lack of data at different perspectives. It mainly gets its name from how the effect is created by the parallax effect. The end results are cleaner and deeper extrusions with less flattening that occurs in normal mapping because the texture coordinates are offset with your perspective.

Parallax mapping is usually more costly than normal mapping. Parallax also has the limitation of not being used on deformable meshes because of the tendency for the texture to "swim" due to the way textures are offset.

Cube mapping uses a texture that is not unlike an unfolded box and acts just like a sky box when used. Basically this texture is designed like an unfolded box where it all is folded back together when being used. This allows us to create a 3d dimensional reflection of sorts. The result is very realistic precomputed reflections. For example, you would use this technique to create a shiny, metal ball. The cube map would provide the reflection data. (In some engines, you can tell the engine itself to generate a cube map from a specific point in the scene and have it apply the result to a model. This is how we get shiny, reflective cars in racing games, for example. The engine is constantly taking cube map 'photos' for each car to ensure it reflects its surroundings accurately.) Tiling Textures Now, while you can have unique, specific textures made for specific models, a common thing to do to both save time and video memory, is tiling textures. These are textures which can be fitted together like floor or wall tiles, producing a single, seamless texture/image. The benefit is that you can texture an entire floor in an entire building using a single tiling texture, which both saves the artist's time, and video memory due to fewer textures being needed.

A tiling texture is achieved by having the left and right side of a texture blend into each other, and the same for the bottom and top of the texture. Such blending can be achieved by the use of a specialist program, a plugin, or by simply offsetting the texture a little to the left and down, cleaning up the seams, and then offsetting back to the original position

After you create your first tiling texture and test it, you're bound to see that each texture will produce a 'tiling artifact' which shows how and where the texture is tiled. Such artifacts can be reduced by avoiding high-contrast detail, unique detail (such as a single rock on a sand texture), and by tiling the texture less. Texture Bit Depth A texture is just an image file. This means most of the theory you're familiar with when it comes to working with images also applies to textures. One such would be bit depth. Here you will see such numbers as 8, 16, 24, and 32 bits. These each correspond to the amount of color data that is stored for each image.

How do we get the number 24 from an image file? Well, the number 24 refers to how many bits it contains. That is, that you have 3 channels, red, green, and blue, all of which are simply channels which contain a gray scale image, but are added together to produce a full color image. So black, in the red channel, means "no red" at that point, while white in the red channel means "lots of red". Same applies to blue and green. When these are combined, they produce a full color image, a mix of Red, Green and Blue (if using the RGB color model). The bits come in by the fact that they define how many levels of gray each channel has: 8 bits per channel, over 3 channels, is 24 bits total.

8 bits gives you 256 levels of gray. Combining the idea that 8 bits gives you 256 levels of gray and that each channel is simply gray scale and different levels of gray define a level within that color, we can then see that a 24 bit image will give us 16,777,216 different colors to play with. That is, 8 bits x 3 channels= 24 bits, 8 bits= 256 gray scale levels, so 256 x 3= 16,777,216 colors. This knowledge comes in useful when at certain times it is easier to edit the RGB channels individually, with a correct understanding you can then delve deeper into editing your textures.

However, with the increase in shader use, you'll often see a 32 bit image/texture file. These are image files which contain 4 channels, each of 8 bits: 4 x 8 = 32. This allows a developer to use the 4th channel to carry a unique control map or extra data needed for shaders. Since each channel is gray scale, a 32 bit image is ideal to carry a full color texture along with an extra map within it. Depending on your engine you may see a full color texture with the extra 4th channel being used to hold a gray scale map for transparency (more commonly known as an "alpha channel"), specular control map, or a gray scale map along with a normal map in the other channels to be used for parallax mapping.

As you paint your textures you may start to realize that you're probably not using all of the colors available to you in a 24 bit image. And you're probably right, this is why artists can at times use a lower bit depth texture to achieve the same or near the same look with a lesser memory footprint. There are certain cases where you will more than likely need a 24 bit image however: If your image/texture contains frequent gradations in the color or shading, then a 24 bit image is required. However, if your image/texture contains solid colors, little detail, little or no shading, and so on, you can probably get away with a 16, 8, or perhaps even a 4 bit texture.

Often, this type of memory conservation technique is best done when the artist is able to choose/make his own color pallette. This is where you hand pick the colors that will be saved with your image, instead of letting the computer automatically choose. By using a careful eye you have the possibility to choose more optimal colors which will fit your texture better. Basically, in a way, all you're doing is throwing out what would be considered useless colors which are being stored in the texture but not being used. Making Normal Maps There are two methods for creating normal maps: Using a detailed mesh/model. Creating a normal map from an image.
The first method is part of a common workflow that nearly all modelers who support normal map generation use. For generating a normal map from a model you can either generate it out to a straight texture, or if you're generating your normal map from a high-poly mesh, it is common to then model the low poly mesh around your high-poly mesh. (Some artists have prefer for modeling the low-poly version first while others like to do the high then the low, in the end there is no perfect way, its just preference.)

For generating normal maps you can always use the Nvidia Plugin, however it takes a lot of tweaking to get a good looking normal map. As such, I recommend Crazy Bump!. Crazy Bump will produce some very good normal maps if the given texture it is generating it from is good. Combining the two methods. It is common, even if you're generating a normal map from a 3d high-poly mesh to then generate an image generated normal map and overlay it over the high-poly generated one. This is done by generating one from your diffuse map, filling the resulting normal map's blue channel with 128 neutral gray, and then overlaying this over your high-poly generated one. This is done to add in those small details that only the image can generate. This way you get the high frequency detail along with the nice and cleanly generated mid-to-low frequency detail from your high-poly generated normal map. Pixel Density and Fill Rate Limitation Let's say you have a coin that you just finished UVW unwrapping, it will indeed be very small once in-game, however you decide it would be fine to use a 1024x1024 texture. What is wrong with the above situation? Firstly, you shouldn't need to UVW unwrap a coin! Furthermore, you should not be applying the 1024x1024 texture! Not only is this wasteful of video memory, but it will result in uneven pixel density and will increase your fill rate on that model for no reason. A good rule of thumb is to only use the amount of resources that would make sense based on how much screen space an object will take up. A building will take up more of the screen than a coin, so it needs a higher resolution texture and more polygons. A coin takes up less screen space and therefore needs fewer polys and a lower resolution texture to obtain a similar pixel density.

So, what is pixel density? It is the density of each pixel from a texture on a mesh. For example, take the UVW unwrapping tutorial linked to in the "Texture Image Size" section: There you will see a checkered pattern, this is not only used to make sure the texture is applied right, but to also keep track of pixel density. If you increased the pixel density, you would see the checkered pattern get more dense; if you decrease the density, the checkered pattern would be less dense, with fewer squares showing.

Maintaining a consistent pixel density in a game helps all of the art fit together. How would you feel if your high pixel density character walks up to a wall with a significantly lower pixel density? Your eyes would be able to compare the two and see that the wall looks like crap compared to the character, however would this same thing happen if the character were near the same pixel density of the wall? Probably not -- such things only become apparent (within reason) to the end user if they have something to compare it to. If you keep a consistent pixel density throughout all of the game's assets, you will see all of it fits together better.

It is important to note that there is one other reason for this, but we'll come to it in a moment. First, we need to look at two related problems that can arise: transform(ation) limited and fill-rate limited modeling. A transform-limited model will have less pixel density per polygon than a fill-rate limited model where it has a higher pixel density per polygon. The theory is that a model takes longer on either processing the polys, or processing the actual pixel-dense surface. Knowing this, we can see that our coin, with very few polys will have a giant pixel density per polygon, resulting in a fill rate limited mesh. However, it does not need to be fill rate limited if we lower the texture resolution, resulting in a lower pixel density.

The point is that your mesh will be held back when rendering based on which process takes longer: transform or fill rate. If your mesh is fill rate limited then you can speed up its processing by decreasing its pixel density, and its speed will increase until you reach transform limitation, in which your mesh is now taking longer to render based on the amount of polygons it contains. In the latter case, you would then speed up the processing of the model by decreasing the amount of polygons the model contains. That is, until you decrease the polygon count to the point where you're now fill rate limited once again! As you can see, it's a balancing act. The trick is to maximize the speed of the transform and fill rate processing (minimize the impact of both as much as you can), to get the best possible processing speed for your mesh.

That said, being fill rate limited can sometimes be a good thing. The majority of "next-gen" games are fill rate limited primarily because of their use of texture/shading techniques. So, if you can't possibly get any lower on the fill rate limitation and you're still fill rate limited, then you have a little bit of wiggle room to work around where you can actually introduce more polygons with no performance hit. However, you should always try to cut down on fill rate limitations when possible because of general performance concerns

Some methods revolve around splitting up a single polygon into multiple polygons on a single mesh (like a wall for example). This works by then decreasing the pixel density and processing (shaders) for the single polygon by splitting the work into multiple polygons. There are other methods for dealing with fill rate limitation, but mainly it is as simple as keeping your pixel density at a reasonable level.       MipMaps It is fitting that after we discuss pixel density and fill rate limitation that we discuss a thing called Mipmapping. Mipmaps (or mip maps) are a collection of precomputed lower resolution image copies for a texture contained in the texture. Let's say you have a 1024x1024 texture. If you generate mipmaps for your texture, it will contain the original 1024x1024 texture, but it will also contain a 512x512, 256x256, 128x128, 64x64, 32x32, 16x16, 8x8, 4x4, 2x2 version of the same texture, (exactly how many levels there are is up to you). These smaller mipmaps (textures) are then used in sequence, one after the other, according to the model's distance from the camera in the scene. If your model uses a 1024x1024 texture up close, it may be using a 256x256 texture when further away, and an even smaller mipmap texture level when it's way off in the distance. This is done because of many things: The further away you are from your mesh, the less polygonal and texture detail is needed. This is because all displays have a fixed display resolution and it is physically impossible for the player to decipher the detail of a 1024x1024 texture and 6,000 polygon mesh when the model takes up only 20 pixels on screen. The further away we are from the mesh, the fewer the polygons and the lower the texture resolution we need to render it. Because of the whole fill rate limitation described above, it is beneficial to use mipmaps as less texture detail must be processed for distant meshes. This results is a less fill-rate-heavy scene because only the closer models are receiving larger textures, whereas more distant models are receiving smaller textures. Texture filtering. What happens when the player tries to view a 1024x1024 texture at such a distance that only 40 pixels are given to render the mesh on screen? You get noise and aliasing artefacts! Without mipmaps, any textures too large for the display resolution will only result in unneeded and unwanted noise. Instead of filtering out this noise, mipmaps use a lower resolution texture for different distances, this results in less noise. It is important to note, that while mipmaps will increase performance overall, you're actually increasing your texture memory usage. The mipmaps and the whole texture will be loaded into memory. However, it is possible to have a system where the user or dev can select the highest mipmap they want and the ones higher than this limit will not be loaded into memory (as the system we're using now), however the mipmaps which meet or are lower than this limit will still be loaded into memory. It is widely agreed that the benefits of mipmaps vastly outweigh the small memory hit. NOTE: Mesh detail can also affect performance, so the equivalent method used for mesh detail is known as LOD -- "Level Of Detail. Multiple versions of the mesh itself are stored at different levels of detail. The less-detailed mesh is rendered when it's a long way away. Like mipmaps, a mesh can have any number of levels of detail you feel it requires.

The image below is of a level I created which makes use of most of what we've discussed. It makes use of S3TC compressed textures, normal mapping, diffuse mapping, specular mapping, and tiled textures.

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Thanks!
3. ¡Saludos!
Espero que esté bien Me llegué a esta comunidad, y por el momento me siento muy cómodo entre todos ustedes. Grandes talentos y grandes proyectos. Es un placer para mí estar en un ambiente tan activo y grandioso. :] Mi nombre es Gerald, vivo en Islandia. Creo que me quedé en esta comunidad durante mucho tiempo, y no quería perder la oportunidad de dejar aquí mi oferta como productor musical, componiendo bandas sonoras para videojuegos. Trabajó en otros proyectos más pequeños, pero nunca tuvo la oportunidad de componer una banda sonora dedicada a un videojuego.    Echoes of the Storm es un proyecto personal como productor de música dedicado a videojuegos o contenido audiovisual. Realmente quiero participar en proyectos porque, al mismo tiempo, esto significa un desafío para mí, con ello, un mayor aprendizaje y oportunidades de mejora. Puedo componer en varios géneros musicales, aunque principalmente produzco música orquestal y folclórica en algunos casos. Luego también produzco heavy metal (a veces mezclándolo con orquestal) y música electrónica. Dejaré algunos audios adjuntos en este mensaje, pero también puedes escuchar algunas cosas más en mi sitio web (aún tengo que actualizarlo un poco). Si estás interesado en hacer música para tu proyecto, simplemente contáctame y podremos estar de acuerdo. Que tengas un buen día, gracias por leer y hasta pronto!
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Contact us at info@ravenmusicgroup.net for any of your inquiries. Thank you for your time and looking forward to establish a potential business together. Best regards, Jaap Visser Raven Music Group
5. My name is Nick Torretta, I am a professional composer and founder of Elastic Music.  For almost a decade I have been writing music for all forms of media.  My work has been featured in internationally televised commercials, sitcoms, reality TV and films.  I have written custom scores for 7 indie game titles and I custom score projects for ad agencies and Boeing. I've just wrapped up a couple projects (including a full mod conversion endorsed by Blizzard) and I'm ready to take on more projects.  I've found video games to be the most satisfying and exciting projects! My rates are indie friendly, and I usually offer a hefty "first time" discount!  I also pride myself on flexibility, communication and working to achieve the game creator's vision instead of my own. You can view my portfolio at www.elasticmusicproductions.com.  I welcome your messages, questions or feedback and look forward to working with you to create something truly special.