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Journal of Danny Green

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ZOMG 250.000 views! & Texture Cache/LOD system

Noiiice, I guess that's some kind of landmark in journal-land?

I wonder who will be the first to get 1,000,000 views :-O

'Tis the season to pimp some sweet new artwork...

Too bad I don't have any great new in-game screens or artwork to show in this post [ just scrooolllll down the last few entries ].


This image of the game's Vulcan Minigun will have to do. Click on the picture to watch the classic Predator scene staring Jesse "Future Gov." Ventura along-side Arnold "Future Governator" Schwartzzeneggeraaaaa;hdddfffff...go on. Click it.

Mini-gun's Model Specs -
1024x1024 Color-map
1024x1024 Normal-map
1024x1024 Specular-map
~8,000 triangles

On a similar note, my characters have > 40MB of texture data each. To load all game textures @ their highest resolution would require ~4GB of RAM.

I devised a Texture LOD / caching system to handle the situation.

Basically, before, I was maintaining 3 directories High/Low/Medium, hand re-sizing the source 2048x2048 character, vehicle, environment, weapons, etc...that was a major pain.

I have come up with a ~250 line solution using windows find structures and the fantastic DevIL library. I esentially have my source 2.5GB directory "LOD1", and use FindFirstFile()/FindNextFile(), DevIL and some ShellExecute() commands. I kick off the process by running the game's .exe with a -Generate_Texture_LOD cmdline parm. It's all done as a pre-process to running/releasing a build, I generate 4 other directories which hold 0.5, 0.25, 0.125, 0.0625 scaled versions of the source texture. It takes about 3-4 minutes to re-size all the textures [ they are mixed, tga, bmp, jpg...some with alpha channel ].

This results in a memory usage of ~2.5GB down to about ~10MB.

@ the start of the game, I un-cache all texutures [ load the LOD5 version, which is trivial and takes 0.01 seconds or similar negligible ]. On-demand in the game I load all needed textures @ the user's selected texture resolution. So only needed textures are loaded into RAM. I also un-cache textures that are unused after X seconds. I could extend it further by using D3DXTEXTURE9::SetLOD() calls [ which would only give me control over the video RAM, it would still be loaded into regular RAM ] and determining the screen size & texel ratio and manage the loaded texture LODs that way.

I also have a hard ceiling on the number of texture loads per frame, so there are now no real "locking load times" that screw up multiplayer on slow machines as the game/netcode loops are never getting hit in that situation.

Anyways it was a pretty basic setup and I'm quite happy with the results, obviously the memory usage has gone down nicely. On average ~200MB in the lower texture resolutions [ 512x512, etc.], which is cool and keeps me
But yea, still cranking on other parts of the game, stay tuned for an update soon with some good stuff.

Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas!

::drunk christmas weekend emoticon::

- Danny




Yet another new bridge... :-)

I've been searching and searching for a bridge that will look good in my city...I tried a golden gate style bridge but I wasn't really happy with it. The bridge has been a source of problems in the test sessions lately, particularly the collision detection. Hopefully this bridges' simpler design will solve that. The curves of the last bridge would cause the vehicles to bump/hop while driving. This bridge performs much better, though the angle might look odd when the bridge meets the ground.

I found this bridge in Portland, Oregon...I really like it. I think it fits my scenes perfectly. I put some filters on this screenshot to make it look like a painting...

Reference images...

Regular screenshots...

In the spirit of my last entry...here are screenshots of the texture, and the bridge in Milkshape3D. It didn't take me long at all to make this model, but I'm happy with the way it came out. It weighs in at 860 triangles, and a single 512x512 texture.

Small version of the texture...

Inside Milkshape3D...

You can see some undeveloped real-estate in some of those screenshots, I'm going to be designing a 'grungy' seaside area to blend between the dock/harbor areas and the actual city. I'll try to work on that a little in the coming days, but I have to focus on the traffic AI for now.

- Dan




Yes...more progress. Good. *Rubs hands together*

Alrighty I was working until 7AM last night to wrap up some stuff. Then I had to get up 3 hours later at 10AM to go play ice hockey, and hit the gym. Ugh...I'm tired as hell right now, but I've never been happier :-)

I'm gonna go lay at the pool and pass out for like 4 hours right now lol.

Here are some new screenshots of the Sniper rifle, grenade launcher, and RPG. I've still got to polish them up some more, but it's a good start. As usual comments are welcome.

Grenade launcher...

Screenshot of the sniper rifle...

The rocket propelled grenade (RPG). This is some gangsta' shit right here ;-)

It looks awesome to see the rocket fly away, with smoke coming out of the back, then a huge explosion. Ah, it's awesome. Though with the price tags on these weapons, don't expect to see many of them in the cities.

And a screenshot from the other half of the game, the real time strategy view...just so people don't think I'm making some kind of GTA clone, it's really far from it.

More sniper rifle...without the zoom, I suppose.

I'm gonna rest up and then get some more work done tonight.

- Dan





I just had a multiplayer test yesterday with some people from my publisher, Strategy First.

They were up in Montreal, Canada...and I'm down in Raleigh, NC. There were 3 guys from my publisher playing, and I started up 2 clients here in my apartment.

When you start the game...I pull down a .html document from my Radioactive-Software website. That document contains among other things (MOTD, etc.) the IP address of the 'Master Server'.

The client then goes out to the master server, pulls down a list of active 'Gang War Servers' on the internet. The client then pings them all and sorts. I'm running the Master Server, and a few game servers off a T1 line in my office near by.

I was a litte suprised when I had a ~35 ping on one client, and a ~65 ping on the other. They all about a 70 ping. I thought it would be alot higher than that. It's strange that my ping was the same as theirs.

Anyways....this was the first time I've tested the game on the 'net with more than 3 clients. Everything went exactly as I expected it to...there were no crashes in the few hours we were testing it (except one crash on exit), and there were no sync issues, which I was very happy about.

Also there was no lag, my prediction algorithms held up great :-) Bandwidth was also very nice, I spent a lot of time optimizing it down to the bit.

I'm glad to have a solid game, technically, to build off of at this point. I'm going to make sure everything stays stable.

Things are coming along nicely gameplay wise as well. I've got a lot of ideas for the game....let me know what you think of these, they'll be the first into the game:

- "Conquest", the purpose is to just eliminate the other gangs, or reach a score of X (20,000 by default).
- "Command point control", the purpose is to control 5 randomly positioned command points throughout the city, signified by a flag or something. Control is defined by no other gangs coming within 15 meters of the point, for a period of 30 seconds (or something like that).
- "Hijack", the purpose of this gameplay mode is to hijack armoured cars and drive them back to your headquarters. There will only be 1 armoured car ont he map at any time, so gangs will be fighting for it. If you get an armoured car back to your HQ, your gang gets $100,000. The first gang to cap 5 armoured cars, wins the game.

I'm gonna try and have at least 10 gameplay modes in the game....it should be sweet.

Sorry for the infrequency of updates to the journal, I've been very busy lately :-)

**Sorry there is no fullscreen anti-aliasing on these screenshots. I should have taken some screens during the test yesterday, oh well. I just grabbed these a second ago, I was playing around an empty server.




Yay, 400,000 journal views...

Yes. 400,000 plus journal views. This calls for an animated .gif


Wait for it...

Waaaait for it...


I'm uh, glad I could waste so much of your time over the last few years with my ramblings. Game update comin' in a few days...BE READY.

- Danny




XAudio/XACT & Respawn Bunker Part #1

Well I guess I'll start out with the pictures, and hope you'll stay around for the Audio stuff lol.

Respawn Bunker/Forcefield
I literally just came up with this little forcefield effect a few minutes ago, I think it's pretty cool. Basically if you're inside the forcefield you can't take damage but you can shoot out @ people...it's a way of preventing spawn/base camping.

More importantly I've received the respawn bunker from one of my contract artists, David Miranda. He did some work for me on Urban Empires, so I picked him to design the main base/respawn bunker that will be used in the game.

I need to write a custom set of interior shaders / multiple spot light / shadowmapping / etc. for the inside of the bunker...so it will probably be a day or so before I can get some interior screenshots of the bunker.

Here are some shots of the forcefield and the bunker in-game, etc...


Here are some images of the bunker w.out the forcefield...

Here is what the bunker looks like inside the unreal3 engine.

XAudio & Cross platform audio creation tool (XACT)

I've never used this library before but I only had a FMOD license for Urban Empires, not this new project...so I had to switch sound libraries.

Surprisingly it only took probably 4-5 hours to get it into my engine, and take out the previous two sound libraries I had in there.

I'd gone from DirectSound->OpenAL->FMOD->XAudio

I think XAudio is my favorite so far. Though it lacks the incredible functionality of FMOD, the ability to use the XACT tool to author sounds outside the game is awesome. I can test out how the thunderstorms will sound, I can adjust the volumes on different types of explosions...it's really great.

I was planning to go into a lot of detail about how much I love this setup, but I've been working foreeever and now I need to play some Counter-Strike lol :-D

Here is an image of the Cross Platform Audio Creation Tool (XACT), setup for my current 'small project'...

Until next time...

- Danny




Wrapping the first IGF entry up.

I could really work on this game forever :-D

I just watched the Dick Tracy movie made back in 1990 (Al Pacino, Warren Beatty, Madonna, etc.) I really enjoy that movie, and it gave me some ideas about my game...I'm setting up the illegal business stuff today.

It turns out I can resubmit a version to the IGF around October sometime, hopefully I'll have a lot more cooler stuff in then. Still this version should get the job done, given that they accept beta versions at this stage.

I've got the traffic doin' it's thing, here's an image of a traffic car with debug information shown.

If I can just be accepted as a finalist at the IGF I'll be a happy camper :-D

Still, I'm getting a ton of happiness out of just playing the game now...I can't wait to get it into beta testing and see what other people think!

When you die, the camera circles you and the cops walk up to your dead body...it looks awesome in motion @ 1280x1024 :-D

Alright, I'm off to add numbers rackets, gambling, prostitution, safehouses, warehouses...all that good stuff into the game.

- Dan





This is one of those defining moments in the life of a game. I'm going to be rather candid....this is the first time I've ever been worried about the progress of the game, hell, worried about anything relating to a game...but then again this is my first commercial game, and my first "deadline" ever.

Nearing one month to the initial deadline to the 2006 Independent Games Festival (IGF) and I've hit a brick wall from the perspective of my production schedule. In order to enter the game into the IGF, you can't have sold it commercially before the IGF through a publisher. That means if I don't get it submitted on Sept 4, then I can't submit it at all because I've also got a publishing deal signed, and there is no way they'll wanna wait another year, or any way I'd wait another year to release it.

It's all or nothing right now for the IGF, which has really been my inspiration behind all this. Plus there's a $20,000 first prize in the IGF...which divided amongst all my team members (wait...it's just me) equals a very nice payday for me if my game wins.

I've set a schedule for myself over a 2 month period, and the first 35% went great, I'm at the 40 -> 50% mark now and it has slowed to a halt.

I've been wasting my time tinkering with the ragdoll physics and the little things that don't affect the game for shit. This is a classic mistake/problem that every programmer can relate to....feature creep. It consumed me for a while there, but no longer. I've still got a month...which is a decent amount of time, given the "gameplay" stuff I've still got to do, worst case I could back out some of the more advanced features for the initial submission deadline.

I'm re-planning my whole operation, and I'm going to get this done. I'm backing out several half completed features, and I'm going all out on completing the more important things (Hell I don't even have the traffic AI working in this build, I took it out a while ago and never got around to re-doing it) there are a lot more important things than ragdoll physics.

The game can still have bugs at the point of the first deadline, but it needs to be "feature complete, or beta status" according to them.

One other option I do have, and this is rather crafty ;-), but I could just make a simple "kill as many people as you can" in x amount of time, arcade game using the Gang War engine...and submit that, then submit my final, beta tested strategy/RTS version 3 months later in January, for the final round of the competition. By then the game will be much closer to completion, and hopefully finished by March, and time for the IGF.

I don't know about this, maybe I should e-mail the chairperson? Or maybe they would not even mind if some features were misssing? I don't know. Any suggestions are welcome, I could use some input.

The IGF is just icing on the cake in the big picture though, I really want to be a part of it. I guess the retail release date is still: "When it's done"...I don't like deadlines, if you can't tell ;-)

Alright...back to work. This could be a IGF showstopper, or one of the hurdles I overcame...I'd prefer the latter.

- Dan

[EDIT] Here's a screenshot of the first thing I've completed since this revelation..the Civilian/Police AI, they already panic and run away, and the cops come towards you and try to keeeel you.

If you've played half life you know that enemy soldiers have this radio chatter type sound they emit when they're close the player, I think that adds so much to ambience of the game...I've got the same thing with a CB radio and the police...it sounds cool :-D




World Editor Video (pt.1) - Terrain & Entities

The last few days I've been working on a real-time world editor for the game. Specifically I've been working on the terrain and entity tools.

Entity Tool - Ability to place objects ranging from helicopters to barrels, and buildings. There are translate, rotate, and a 'face cursor in world-space function so far.

Terraform Tool - Adjust terrain up/down with adjustable brush size.

Here is a link to the video I uploaded showing the two tools -


This also opens up the ability to have destructable terrain, the Havok physics representation is updated in real-time. The texture locks on the GPU version of the heightmap are the bottleneck at the moment. I'm really excited about this :-o

I'll be improving the editor and adding a lot of stuff like trigger boxes for gameplay events, more customization of the environment/time of day, and all the standard stuff like road and fence tools. Hopefully I can get 2 more videos of the editor uploaded showing different tools and the overall progress without getting into game-specific content ;-)

Here are some screengrabs from the video for those who don't wanna watch it :-p

Terrain Editor...

Entity Editor...

- Dan




Work in progress...Stuff...

I've been designing this level/building interior over the last 2 days. It ties into the new gameplay system that I've finally decided on. More info later.

Anyways, everything you see here [ all 20,000 triangles ] were hand placed in Milkshape 3D over the last 2 days, about 20 hours of work. I'm also coding, and managing all other aspects of the project. Lots of work has been going on in terms of the vehicle physics as well.

On to the slide show....all this is WIP...

Here is how the building started out...

Building's exterior created by an art studio I contracted...

I then designed a plan for maximum strategerie...said plan was quickly thrown away when I had more ideas.

Some assets created for the scene.

Un-lit textured view...all this is in Milkshape3D.

My head hurts....

Here are some more older lightmap shots...all WIP stuff...

I designed the entire interior using only a single 2048x2048 texture.

I believe this is the most efficient way of doing things, though others may argue against it. IMO this method provides a trivial way to adjust texture resolution/quality, and minimizes Draw() calls. Though 2k^2 textures are hell when it comes to lower speed/bandwidth cards, a simple D3DTexture9->SetLOD() call, or pre-sizing all textures into separate directories fixes the problem. I'm tired of re-sizing them by hand so I've written a routine to package up to 5 levels of detail for all textures automatically. When loading the textures I just append whatever directory name into the texture's load path.

Lots of work is going on...should have some interesting stuff soon.

- Danny




Work in progress

So after about 12 hours of continuous work, I've managed to get about half of the "lobby" window in place and mostly functional. Though I still have a TON of things to add.

Now you can play click the "Multiplayer" button from the main menu...then use the "Server Finder" (mentioned in the last journal entry) to find a server to connect to. Once you connect
to a server you'll be presented with this window...the "Lobby".

This is a work in progress..about 50% complete...just a basic layout of the lobby.

I've added a fully functional chat system, server notifications, message of the day, server names and some other cool features to the game already.

I'm about to add a vote-kick system into the game. Every player will have a "kick button" next to their icon. If OVER 50% of the players in the server click a players kick button, they'll get booted out of the server. Very democratic I must say.

I've never designed a multiplayer game before...I was suprised at how many little things you need to worry about to get a completly stable chat/lobby system going. I'm pretty sure there's no way to crash the chat system now, I spent a few hours testing/fine tuning everything. The network library that I'm using (RakNet) is very stable, and easy to work with. I'd recommend it to anyone trying to quickly implement multiplayer into their game.

I'm testing all of this by running the deticated server on my laptop, while running the client on my main computer, and connecting over the LAN. I've also tested it on the internet, I had one of my friends accross town download and run the deticated server...everything work just as planned. I have 3 computers on my LAN that can run the game, so I've got a pretty solid test area right now. I'm very happy with the way things are progressing.

I'm hoping to be racing around town against my roommate sometime in the next 2 days, and I expect to have the Lobby window filled out by tommorow. :-D

- Dan




Win. ?!?

Wow, don't think I've ever worked so hard to get something finished on time, evar, in my life.

Just uploaded a new 930MB ( ~2.3GB unzipped ) version of this game for an undisclosed publisher to check out ;-) I'm nervous ... pray to the programming gods for me.

I just did 15-18 hour work days Fri, Sat, Sun - and now it's Monday and I've been awake way too long ... I was driving to my office at 6AM in some of the thickest fog I've ever seen to kick off the upload [ faster to drive the DVD to office and upload then to upload from home ]. It was quite an adventure.

'Suppose I'll get some rest now.




Which gun should I add??

I was going to add a M16A2 into the game, but since I already have a M4 I think that would be a waste...so I've got one open weapon slot.

Here is the current list of confirmed weapons...

*Spelling mistakes are not intentional!!! Please point them out!
/end sarcasm *points to copyright laws*

1 - Glocck 17
2 - Bereta 92f
3 - Kolt .45 [silver metal color]
4 - Sig P220
5 - Walter P22
6 - Uzi
7 - MACK-10
8 - Deagle
9 - Car-15 / M4
10 - C4 explosives
11 - Grenade launcher (with rotating chamber)
12 - Sawed off shotgun
13 - Street sweeper 12 gauge shotgun
14 - Spaz-12 shotgun
15 - AK-47s [short edition w/folding stock]
16 - MP5k
17 - Steyer AUG
18 - Silenced Walter PPK
19 - Butcher knife
20 - Hunting knife
21 - M21 sniper rifle
22 - Hand grenade
23 - Baseball bat
24 - .38 special
25 - G36 Commando
26 - .357 Magnum revolver
27 - Tauruas PT940 [shiny silver]
28 - Mossberge 500 shotgun
29 - 1920's Tommy gun w/cylinder clip
30 - ???????????????????????

Soooo what's #30 gonna be? Any ideas or obvious missing weapons would be appreciated.

- Danny




What the hell have I been up to?

Hey guys :-)

Sorry for not posting anything here for so long. I've been really busy, and I'm sort of working on two projects now :-) For info about Urban Empires see the bottom of the post [grin]

Sooo what have I been up to?

The project is not announced publicly yet, and I don't really plan on doing so until a public version of the game is nearly ready for release. The game is also unsigned, so I guess I'll be looking for a publisher soon. Otherwise I'll self publish this one. Hopefully some publishers will be interested in it :-)

I have scheduled 4 months to work on this project, artwork is 80-90% complete, and the code is probably 60-70% complete after about 1.5 months of work :-D

I'm happy about that. This project also has about 5% of the budget Urban Empires had ;-) And is similar in terms of 'SCALE!'.

I have been coding for about 8-9 weeks now and I've got a lot done.

All I'm going to say is '64 player online xxxxx combat, where you get to build your own xxxxx'...basically. With a few twists, etc. :-)

Terrain WIP image from earlier tonight -

UPDATE: Some of the 'things'...this is all early WIP stuff...

In the last few weeks I've...

- Design / Spec artwork
- Draft concept art
- Game engine core [ input, win32, scripting, misc, etc. ]
- 128-bit HDR rendering pipeline and asset management system
- '1 million' particle gpu based imposter/particle system.
- GPU based instancing system for foliage/trees, etc.
- Model loading / rendering with color/norm/spec maps on all objects.
- Terrain lighting / ambient occlusion algorithms.
- Soft shadows & a 'new' sort of hybrid shadowing/lighting system :-o [ more later ]
- 90% All necessary in-game shaders
- Minimap rendering / generation
- Volumetric clouds
- Network code infrastructure
- Water rendering / shading
- Video playback
- 10 million other things I'm forgetting

That's it for Mystery project 1

Aaaaand as most of you know that I've been working on a multiplayer RTS/Action gangster game, Urban Empires, for many years now. Well I'm still working on it...but I'm going to release that small project first. :-)

There are many reasons for me doing this. I'm sorry for the people eagerly awaiting the release of Urban Empires ( hehe )...it will be here soon enough :-)

Due to my *cough* lack of entries all my sweet stuff has fallen off the main journal landing page...

Fortunately you can click the month links at the right side -> to get to all the other entries :-)


- Danny




Weapons pics

Arrrgg...waiting for some files to transfer....figured I'd post some new pics of the guns I just added into the game:

I'll have another update soon, with more substance...

- Dan




Weapons in-game finally

Well I finally got the first 10 of 30 weapons in-game...arg. I spent many hours double checking / rewriting the tangent generation code as I thought that's where the problem was. Then it turned out I was just passing in the wrong handle to my effect file...*shakes fist at fate*. Important thing is that I have weapons in-game now, plus level of detail functionality...so I can render 1000s of these essentially for free [if they were somewhat evenly spaced throughout the game world, not all within 25 feet of eachother].

The HDR allows me to do all kinds of lighting effects I couldn't before, like sharp highlights on the weapons...*contemplates adding bloom effect to weapon's metal*...naaah. Anyways I'll be tweaking the weapon shader to make it look even better.

And another screenshot of the vehicles...I fixed the shadow aliasing/resolution issues...*cough single 4096^2 shadow map texture for entire scene*, still on any modern card filling 4096x4096 texture w/a single instruction pixel shader should be nothing, especially since the city geometry is sitting in nice static vertex buffers. Well at least I still get 70+FPS @ 1280x1024, so it's not the limiting factor in the scene at least, there are 400 vehicles and 100 weapons in the world.

- Danny




Weapon muzzle flashes, early dropship screenshots.

Hey guys, I'm about to check out so I'll keep this quick [ been working for many hours ].

I posted a WIP image earlier of the aerial dropship based on the V22 Osprey design ... my artist finished the model. The main LOD0 comes in at 11,500 triangles with 4096^2 maps [ that's 150MB of texture data ]. This model is crazy.

I'm in the process of rewriting/refactoring/optimizing key parts of the game for the final time/iteration *fingers crossed*. The terrain is still in 'temp status' that's why it's totally flat and featureless ;-). Terrain is next up on the chopping block. The biggest change will be separating the map into chunks of flat-hilly areas mostly generated w/perlin noise. The other [ new ] part of the maps will be tessellated much more and will be based off a usual fractal mid-point displacement algorithm to generate some sharper mountains to contrast the smooth hills.

So before I can go on to the terrain I've finished some other systems such as optimizing the building/env object rendering system, the character rendering system [ I know I said it was done before - but there are so many fine details ]...especially when dealing w/150MB texture data per asset and 10,000+ triangles per asset. There are so many LOD systems and considerations. Some of the recent additions I made today include...

- Muzzle flashes on character model [ adapting the model's 2nd light to match muzzle flash direction and color ]. I also added heat blur and dynamic lighting on the terrain. This is best displayed via video format - but until I get the terrain and the rest of the game back together screenshots will have to do ;-o
- Support for interior lighting on character model[ adapting the model's 2nd light to match interior building lighting ]
- Optimization of building/env object rendering [ creating lower detail (LOD) pixel shaders ]
- Optimization of specular texture size. Why load a 2048x2048 color/normal/specular map set when the specular map plays such a small role in the overall display of the model. Running things w/a 2048^2 color/normal map and a 256^2 specular map looks nearly identical...and gives a very nice speed increase.

I'm having all these assets created at uber resolution ... but my main work/test machine is still a 32-bit XP machine. Luckily I'm forward looking and am including uber-resolution modes where things are unnecessarily high detailed. Usually 4-8x higher resolution than I can really test/show in these screenshots. Hopefully somebody w/ a DX11 1750MB card somewhere can show me how it looks :-p

Eh...on to "the work in progress" screenshots. I've stripped out nearly every aspect of the game for a final optimization pass ... so remember that lol.

I'm embarrassed of these screenies, due to the lame-flat-terrain in the background. Don't worry - I'm waking up bright and early 2morrow to finalize the terrain/random generation system for good :-o

Note lighting on front of helmet ( bleh just noticed skinning error on the bottom of the torso armor...will try to fix that tomorrow as well )

EDIT-Just got this one fixed ... here is the updated version

Now continue on w/screenshots...




Water update #2

I think I've got the coloring about right on the river now...I added fog to the water shader, and spent a while tweaking the color, that seemed to do it.

I actually went through and used a dynamic cube map for the reflection on the water, and it didn't look NEARLY as good, so I backed it out and stuck with the static cube map. I'm still going to pursue using a dynamic cube map for the reflections though.

That's my only real gripe with the water now...the reflections don't line up. But...eh...it looks a lot better than it did yesterday lol.

Here is a new image of the water. Overlayed is an image of the Chicago river just for reference...I think I need to make the river a little smaller [grin].

Some more images....

The water really did look too 'metallic' before. Let me know what you guys think about this water! I think it's close...or at least 'good enough' for now.

I also had a great idea about how to expand the gameplay, so I'm busy implementing a new 'territory overlay' system. I'll post an update on that tommorow...it's going to be awesome. Its sort of similar to the way it's handled in the game 'Rise of Nations', you'll be able to easily see the clashing areas between expanding gangs.

Ahh...time to chill and PLAY some games, then crash for the night.

- Dan




Water screenshots & video

One of the many things on my 'TO DO' list was to find a way to get some decent looking water into the game. So here I am. This method of rendering water has been heavily borrowed from a old ATI DirectX 8 example app. I think it does the job well though.

This video has a pretty crappy framrate...sorry 'bout that. I'm just tryin' to get some feedback [grin]. The screenshots don't really do this type of thing justice.
Video preview:

Video download.

It's basicly a grid deformed in real time, with two EBMs for the ripples, also an indexed Fresnel map for the surface color of the water. I wish I had the time to take in all this stuff and REALLY know it....but right now getting it in-game was my main priority.

The environmental bump mapping uses a static cube map so the hilights/reflections don't really match up. I'm going to eventually just generate a cube map of the environment every few frames....and use it for the vehicle reflections, and now for the water as well. It all should look a lot better once I get around to that.

I'll do it sooner than later if it's too obvious, check out these screenshots and let me know what you think...I could probably get better results with the reflctions if I keep tweaking the cube map as well...I'll get on that tommorow.

I don't know...right now it seems like it's "too good" for the game lol. I dunno, let me know if you think it stands out. I think one issue is the mismatched reflections, also the water doesn't receive shadows right now...nor is it affected by the fog of war...I think that might be another reason it looks out of place.

On to the screenshots.....

//I swear if anyone makes a joke about a hurricane....

//I was planning on adding beaches to the game, instead I think I'll just stick with a river.

//A un-textured prototype of a bridge that could be in the game...

//Screenshot of the ragdolls, and droppable 'items'

//Early sunset accross the river.

Ah..I'm tired as hell now though. I'll have another update soon, with more progress. Let me know what you guys think of this water!

- Dan




Warbots Update - Nearing the finishline - Lots of Screens

Hey guys,

I've been working on this vehicle combat game Warbots Online for about 6 months now, and I can see the light :-D. I'm going for a sort of 'counter-strike but with vehicles' feel for the game. It supports up to 64 players per multiplayer server. I have 2-4 items left on my todo-list, expect to be done soon... I've been contacting a few publishers and will start a larger/more exhaustive search in the coming days/weeks. I've been running nonstop on this for like the last 5 days :-o wowow is all I can say 3:?
I've been tweaking nearly every aspect of the game from redoing the entire custom shadow/lighting system [ I only use a single 2048 texture for all lighting/shadowing, free filtering, but it only 'works' on terrains, its a sort of how Source engine does shadowing, but I can do different objects @ different resolutions, and I have one channel left for the lighting ].

I've made the maps smaller [ which blew up a lot of stuff ;-o ] but this is to sort of promote the more action oriented play that I want to achieve.

Anyways since the last update I've COMPLETED... (off the top of my head) -
- weapons working 100% again
- added envinment props [ Wind turbine, powerlines, radar station, warehoues, etc.]
- added night vision
- added Depth of Field post-process
- Cleaned up maps
- (WIP) working on replugging all AI functionality
- Added new set of rocks/bushes/trees for each of the 3 environment types
- Made maps 4X smaller
- Added collision detection on convex and concave meshes in the environment
- Added the scoreboard
- Finalized Havok physics system
- Wrote an abstracted Havok physics wrapper for the vehicle construction system
- Fixed all the things with the 3 different environment types [ rock, snow, grassland ]
- Fixed bugs with the bases/spawns
- Wrote a custom control/physics system for the tank (hovercraft still needs work)
- Added headlights to the vehicles
- Fixed wheels penetrating the ground.
- Got the 24 hour cycle working
- Added self shadowing to the normal maps on the terrain
- Added smooothed ground/road under all environment props

I've got about 2 things left, and some small things...I want to be done with a 'Alpha build near BETA' ready to send out.

Blah, my fingers hurt...I'll just post up a bunch of screenshots like I always do XD

Latest Screens from the builds in the last few days -
NOTE, Yea the sky is kinda, whiteish...I'm working on that now...it's a combo of the HDR/Tonemapping/DOF/God Rays...I will make each of those effects togglable.

New Tree/Rock/Bush models on a snow map -

New Tree/Rock/Bush models on a grasslands map -

Catching some air...the game is paused and you can fly through the dust/etc...it's pretty sweet -

Creepin up on an installation -

Landing a little toooo hard lol, I broke mah carz ;-/ I still think this looks cool, it shows the headlight system and the dust effects which only come out @ each wheel if that wheel is on the ground, I can modify it per-material as well as add small dirt/debris effects -

Some pics of me tear-ass-in around the maps...


Building interiors with their own shader...

Assorted images of the new environment assets,etc...

Debug visualization of the imposters/imposter types...this is the system running at 1-2% capacity, I've tested with up to 1,000,000 imposters

Debug of the vehicle self shadowing

My work machine died on my, I had to throw a 3rd HD in there to fix everything and setup a dual boot so I could transition to the new main work HD. Everything went seamless, back up to 100% in 2-3 days, no loss of any data...and a MUCH better work experience...

Thats all for now...should be able to post more frequent updates now as things should start wrapping up.

- Dan




Warbots Online - Update!

Hey guys I've been reaally busy on a lot of things:
- Website / image galleries / etc.
- Normal mapping on terrain
- Finalized model / texture LOD caching system.
- Desert environment set
- Arctic environment set
- Redo grass environment set
- 5 new maps into the game
- Messing with the sky / lighting system
- Message of the day system & game controls screen
ahhh...lots of stuff.

Website / Concept Art
I've setup the Warbots Online game's website here - http://www.warbotsonline.com
You can click the image of the site to go right to the image gallery -

You can see most of the game's concept art in that gallery.

Also there are some screenshots there as well...but I'll be nice and post them here ;-)

Well you saw the list of things up there, I'll just put up some screens and note anything of interest.

I'm still close to finishing this little game, I'd projected 4 months to work on it, I thought I could have it done by the 2 month mark...I'm nearing 3 months now. So, it's still 'on schedule' :-D

I'm happy with how things are starting to look / play / feel. Despite a lot of hardware failures lately [ some quite annoying and expensive ] I've been trucking on and getting as much work done on this as I can.


A pretty isolated shot of some of the normal mapped terrain.

I'm also working on a map scripting system, it's about 60% complete, and I have 5 maps in the game right now.

Alrighty, well that's how it's progressing. I'll throw up some videos any time now...maybe tommorow.

I'm still playing with the sky lighting in the above images, it might look too intense, but I guess I just picked screenshots where it's quite noticible :-)

- Danny




Warbots Online - Statue Scene (Video Link)

Hey guys...a reaaally quick update in addition to the one last night...I just 'finished' the scene for the main menu, I was just going to go with a spotlight and a black background...but I think a dark skydome looks much better.

The scene uses the exact models / shaders / render path that the 'actual' game does.

I uploaded a quick 1 minute video of the scene to YouTube as usual [grin]

btw...Havok physics update Part #4 coming later tonight maybe...

">Click here to view youtube video of Statue Scene

Or click the preview image...

- Dan




Warbots Online - BETA Download

August 12, 2009

Game's website - http://www.warbotsonline.com

BETA Installer download link ( ~650MB ) -

BETA Readme.pdf download link (~1MB ) -

F.A.Q. (Questions and Answers)

See the previous entry for many screenshots, and links to 3 High Definition videos (720p) posted on YouTube. Please let me know your thoughts, at the very least I could use as many people to download the game and install it and see if it runs [grin]...

The game takes up about 2GB unzipped, and requires a sorta-modern-computer to run...see the F.A.Q in the above link for more information.

It's the first release of this particular game, and any game I've made to the public in ~5 years :-o So be gentle lol. This game has taken about 10 months, $1,000s of dollars, and many years off my life-expectency to produce up to this point lol. There is a full credits list in the ReadMe.pdf, there are a few people I contracted to do artwork for me, including an art studio. I'm still looking for a publisher for this particular project, we'll see how that goes.

I'll be including a multiplayer patch in the coming days, so we can frag eachother...I've already got game servers up and running in Raleigh, London, Dallas, and Atlanta. This release is mostly to test hardware compatablity, and to help me fix major compatablity issues.

I've tested the game on 32-bit XP, 32-bit Vista of all flavors, and 64-bit Vista Ultimate.

I'm going to work on the updates for the game's homepage, and the Radioactive-Software homepage, and then probably sleep. Thanks again if you can d/l the game and help me out with testing!

- Dan

P.S. These are the controls for those who can't be bothered to read the .pdf




Warbots Online - Beach Assault Map (Part 1)

Hey guys...omg two updates in a 4 day timespan. I'm trying to change my evil ways of one dev-journal update a month ;-)

I've been putting time into the most complex gameplay mode (and map) in the game, the "Beach Assault". One team is sent in on landing crafts (LCVPs) with a goal of destroying the enemy artillery batteries and securing a beach head. Once all four artillery batteries/bunkers are captured then the attacking team wins. If they can't make it before the timer runs out then the defending team wins. There are 1000s of CPU soldiers, and 64 human players per-online server. Players control their 'warbots', but they can get out of their vehicle at anytime and play on foot in a first person shooting mode.

I'll detail the specifics of the spawning system and other details on the next part - I expect this should be a 2-3 part series of journal updates over the next couple of days, given the amount of work still required until the map/gameplay mode is finished.

Here are some screenshots of the work I've done in the last few days...if you want to see screens of the first person shooting mode, or read about the other stuff I've recently done just scroll down to the previous entry. The biggest thing I've done was to add an extra layer to the map, so now instead of it being only brown, there is grass away from the beach, that combined with some new tree artwork really improved the quality of the map IMO.

There are lot of layers - obscacles [ hedgehogs, barbed wire ], grass, trees, bushes. Rocks still need to be added into this map. Still I'm very happy with the results.

Here is a view from one of the artillery installations that have to be captured by the attacking team.

This screenshot shows an arial view of the map...you can see there are 32 landing crafts each holding 1 player's vehicle, and 16 CPU controlled soldiers.

A view from closer down right near the seawall where the grass/sand meet.

Behind the artillery looking towards the beach.

A small infantry / soldier battle taking place on the beach, I've got two obstacle types in the game, the headhogs [ the X cross tank trap things ], and also some barbed wire setup.

This screenshot also shows how well the dynamic imposter system works on the humans in the game. I've probably coded 3-4 dynamic imposter sysetms over the years, none have been this stable. I based my last system, and this current one off this article on gamasutra [Dynamic 2D Imposters ].

In the screenshot there are only actually 4-5 humans who are 3D geometry, the rest are faked with dynamic screenspace quads. This is a truely dynamic imposter system. It's setting the viewport for each soldier in the world and rendering a dynamic version of each soldier every n frames or whenever the view angle to that soldier changes past some delta.

To increase the realism of some aspects of the scenes [ in particlar interiors of buildings / capture points ] I've been playing around with some SSAO:

LOL, just kidding this isn't ssao, just regular offline ambient occlusion on the artillery model xD It works to great effect on the sandbags...

And finally here is a side-by-side before 'n' after of a tree model. [ The texture used is the same ] ...

Lots more work to be done...heres a small list of the things I'll be adding to this map in the next few days ...

'til next time [ part deux :-o ]...

- Dan




Warbots Online - 2 Early Videos

Hey guys, in addition to all the stuff I posted yesterday...I've created/uploaded two videos of the game :-) So you can finally see it in motion a little bit at least.

The videos are embeded on the http://www.warbotsonline.com - Warbots Homepage for easy viewing.

But as usual I'll add clicky images here, as well as a bunch of preview images for those who don't want to view the video :-)

Other than that, I'm still doing a lot of polishing on the game. I just got the volume/sound controls implemented, I'm working on coding some nice self-shadowing for the objects, and I'm also working constantly on the AI and adding the command point gameplay mode in.

For night fighting I'm going to allow vehicles to launch up flares to illuminate the terrain, I can hook this into the existing projected terrain lighting framework.

Well, enjoy the vids, post a comment or whatever lemme know what you think so far :-) Remember it's a WIP, and the game is 2-3 months into development.

Another update soon...

Video 1 shows the tank chassis with the machine gun weapon mounted on it...

Video 2 shows a flyby of the grassland environment...

Video 1 [ Tank ] Preview images...

Video 2 [ Grasslands ] Preview images...

- Danny



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