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Journal of Danny Green

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Huge 'Warbots Online' Update / Lots of new stuff..

Hey guys,

I wish I had more time to type up updates...instead they turn into once-a-month-dumps of 100s of hours of work. The sad part is this is going to be a massive update, and it's only part of the work I've done since the last one [ with the first BETA release ]. By the way if you have not downloaded the BETA please doooo it ;-) See the entry from last month for details, or go here for the link to HD videos, and the 1st BETA download.

Well where to start - I suppose what I'll do is just type up a description of each major addition to the game and include screenshots... :-D I've also been making a lot of progress in terms of the games multiplayer stuff and fixing all the feedback/reports I've received from people who have tested the BETA. That is progressing well...this is just a sh*t load of work :-o

You guys are my main source of feedback for the project at this stage, so as usual I'd appreciate any comments or feedback on the project...[grin]

Warbots Vehicle/Robot Construction
This is where the players will construct their vehicles/robots and then take them out to the battlefield. I was inspired by that one batman movie, tim burton did ;-) [ ok apparently Joel Schumacher directed the movie I was thinking of ] I'll include a reference screenshot of the scene I'm talking about. The scene includes god rays, ~12 dynamic lights, full normal/specular/color mapping, I used my GPU particle system from the nuclear explosion I've been working on to create some smoke, I'm also am running some other effects I can't even think of right now in addition to the standard materials/shaders/HDR pipeline that is used throughout the game.

I will post a large screen-by-screen progression image showing the progress of the cave over the 2-3 days I created it @ the end of this post.

The scene has an automatic camera that moves through the level, but it is controllable through some slider bars. I will post of a video of it soon :-D

Beach Assault gameplay
This is one of the new gameplay modes / maps in the game. All this is still a team assaults the beach, the other team defends, etc. More information soon, you can imagine how it plays out though ;-)

Siege Escort gameplay
This is another of the new gameplay's sort of a push mode - one team tries to get the nuclear device from one side of the map to the other team's base where it detonates in a massive nuclear explosion [twisted].

The large device just crawls through a convinently placed ravine that leads to the enemies base, having people from your team around the machine moves it forward, if the enemies prevent the attack team from getting near the device they slow it's progression.

Either way there is a bigass nuclear explosion at the end of it lol. I wrote a GPU particle system supporting up to 1 million particles, in practice even 65,000 is overkill for a nuclear explosion. I simulate 4-5 main areas of the explosion...the nuke in Crysis has been studied many times by me ;-) I've spend countless hours tweaking the effect and I'm still not happy with how it looks - so no screenshots yet :-]

And yesh - the device is big enough so players can drive under / through it's treads & do battle all around / on it while it's moving xD

I'm just going to show some early stuff, and I'm not even showing the actual map, this map is just a test created for the shadowing system I just wrote today.

New water shader / Full terrain shadowing
I've written a new water shader for the 'Beach Assault' map that's going to be in the game...this required a new water shader. I also set it up so there is full shadowing on all objects now including self shadowing of buildings, and terrain. It's visible in the above screenshots.

New soldier model
This model was created by Tom the same artist who did the pillboxes, trees, siege machine, buildings, and a lot of other work for me :-D

As you can see the model has a very low target triangle count [
The ragdolls look a lot better with this new model, I've not really had time to play around this stuff was just put in the game a few hours ago.

More vehicle construction screenshots...
Here is the batcave from the Tim Burton 'Batman Forever' [ edit: Joel Schumacher did it, not Tim Burton :-o ] I really liked the lighting, I was watching the movie and thinking damn that would make a cool vehicle construction area. I also wanted to write some new shaders and effects.

Progression of the vehicle construction cave...
*This shows the progress of the cave model I created, as well as the shaders and effects ;-) About 60 hours spent on this scene, the effects, and the in-game code/etc.

Alrighty, until next time guys! I'm dead tired and want to sleep/relax. I'll have a lot more updates soon, I have more new stuff to show :-)

- Dan




Warbots Online - BETA Download

August 12, 2009

Game's website -

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




3 HD Videos, Public Demo/BETA release in days...

Hey guys,

Yea I know it's been a while since the last update...I'm like the drunken delinquent game developing uncle you never had :-o. In spite of the lack of updates to the developer journal, and my website, and my forums, has been progressing at an unprecedented rate for me.

I'll be releasing a pretty full featured BETA/Demo version of Warbots Online (placeholder name) in the next few days. August 11, 2009 was my goal date. I was hoping to have multiplayer ready by the 11th, but I have enough to focus on without that in the equation. The demo version will just be single player/offline practice. With the online BETA to follow ~1 week later. I'm not going to require an e-mail or anything to download the demo/BETA...I'm just putting it out there and if you wanna play it...go on, if not, then just send it right back ;-) The upcoming Warbots demo that I'll release will be the first "anything" that I've put out in the public in the last 5 years ... that sounds kind of crazy, and I guess it is.

For those of you who want an update regarding Urban Empires, my gangster game...I was hoping to have some new images ready by today, but I'm working on so much stuff, getting the Warbots BETA out there in good shape, I had to delay that update. Urban Empires is so much more complex than just about anything I could have chosen to's still in the works and I'm much happier with the way things are looking.

So anyways, back to Warbots - the vehicle combat game - I have not posted an update for like a month, so let me try to recall some of the major stuff I've added into the game since then...
- Lua scripting for the robot AI.
- New map 'Wasteland'.
- Wheel/Tire track rendering system.
- Ragdoll physics on the humans.
- Air transport ships / Human reinforcement system.
- Hovercraft physics / visuals.
- 'Gib' system for dirt/shells/body parts/etc.
- Fixed alt-tabbing.
- GPU based flag rendering.
- Decal system for scorch marks, etc.
- Ambient battlefield smoke.
- Human lasers - visuals&sounds.
- 'TV/interlacing' viewfinder shader, and viewfinder functionality.
- Tanks traps, 'hedgehogs', barbed wire fences.
- A HL style damage awareness system.
- FPS optimization, profiling, and tuning of almost every aspect of the game.

Obviously I've tweaked so many little pieces of art, code, and misc. that it would take me about as long to do the work, as it would to document it I just do the work 8-)

As far as the BETA...the to-do list looks like this
- Vehicle/weapon selection screen
- Improve Robot AI
- Encrypt assets

Then the small tasks before releasing
- Disable the grasslands,desert,and arctic map...only the wastelands map will be in the demo/beta
- Remove unused assets from game directories
- Update the installer package
- Add the havok physics logo / splash screen
- Edit the documentation .pdf file

That's probably about 20 hours of work, or about 2 days. It'll be out there Wed. morning, or Thursay morning EST time [ 24-48 hours from now ]...


Below are the download links, and screenshots from the HD Videos I've created and uploaded. These videos will show how the first Demo/BETA release will look [ minus any last minute changes/adjustments/tweaks ].

The screenshots posted under each video link were taken from the HD video feeds, the FPS are ~30-40 while recording a full 1280x720 video, the game easily gets 70-80 FPS when not recording a HD video. Basically ignore the FPS readings in the screenshots/videos.

These video shows a bit of everything while controlling one of 4 different vehicles, there are only going to be 3 of the many weapons included in the public demo/BETA. The videos show driving, shooting, ragdoll physics, the new particle effects, the air dropships, human combat, vehicle combat, dynamic time of day, the new environment artwork, and just about everything in between.

*NOTE: Make sure you have flash 10 installed, and click the HD link on the bottom video bar. Otherwise you will get a blurry mess ;-) Not 720p goodness.

Warbots Online HD Video #1 - Driving 0:55 long.
Youtube HD Link - ">

Warbots Online HD Video #2 - Battle Formations 1:34 long.
Youtube HD Link - ">

Warbots Online HD Video #3 - Combat Gameplay 4:43 long.
Youtube HD Link - ">

The BETA/Demo version of the game will be released in the next day or two...stay tuned!

- Dan




Warbots Battle Video - Freeze Frame

Hey guys, sorry for the lack of updates. It's not because I've not been working - I've just been very busy on Warbots and Urban Empires.

Warbots is currently being pitched, I just sent out a new build last night..hopefully I can find an interested publisher soon and move on with that project.

One of the coolest (IMO) things I've added into the game recently is 1000s of autonomous humans/droids to the battlefield. They will basically add ambience to the world, but they will also effect the gameplay, the players can only control the vehicles though. I can scale the humanoid system up into the 10,000s easily, but it's really pointless beyond 2,500 given all the other stuff that has to occur in the scene [ 64 fully animated potentially unique vehicles, 2 bases, 5 command points, terrain, water 1000s of trees/rocks/shrubs/etc...]

I did some little tricks to get the humans working in this volume, it actually doesn't use an impostor system [ yet ], I do use instancing and some "odd" ways of packing transforms/positions/rotations into the instancing shader to reduce state changing and really make this even possible. The model used is still a place holder as well. The system still needs a lot of testing on other machines :-D This project is juuust about ready for a BETA, if I can't get a publisher soon, I might just do the self publish route for this least I need to get it into testing soon.

Anyways, here is a preview image of a video I've uploaded to youtube showing a "freeze frame" of a battle...

Download link
">Click to view Warbots Online - Battle Freeze Frame video
*NOTE: If the video looks blurry, make sure flash 10 is installed on your machine


More Stuff...

I've been working on countless other parts of the project, including an update to the Warbots Homepage...

You can now create accounts, login to the game using the account. I've got stat tracking working, all the database/web/stat frontend is in testing, I've been evolving this stuff over the last 2-3 years so it's pretty stable. Just X amount of work.

I've been working on the options menu, making everything in the game scaleable. I'd already coded the rendering fallbacks I just had to hook things together...the player can modify -

Other Stuff...

I've been running the app through the D3D debug runtimes for the first time in a while, wow, I'm sort of embarrassed some of the things I let slide ;-) But they are all fixed up now :-D

My workspace is a pile of keyboards, to-do lists, and other programming paraphernalia stacked under an array of monitors lol... I need a vacation lol. First I have to get this latest project signed and out the door...

I'll keep you guys updated on the process as best I can :-D

- Dan




Shield Defense Gameplay + More

Shield Defense / Command point Gameplay
Lately I've been working on the main gameplay mode that will be in the game. I'm calling it 'Shield Defense' for now.

You basically fight for control over 5 command points on the map, each command point has an active intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silo that will launch a missile at the enemy's base/forcefield, wearing it down, until their base is exposed. The missile only fires if the command point is under a team's control. So the players/teams will be fighting for control over the command points, they'll be fighting to hold the command points, and they'll be defending their base's forcefield from direct attacks, and everything inbetween.

A team loses once their base/HQ is destroyed. :-o

Early Vehicle Construction Bay
I'm working on this building model where the players will construct their vehicles...

Lol - Waterworld *OLD SCREENS*
This is the product of running random data through the road/smoothing algorithm.

These screens are a few weeks old, I've been meaning to post them for a while...the god rays / animated clouds are in these old screens...I'm currently editing those systems.

Kevin Costner :-o

That's it for now... :-D I should be done with this any day now, I'm still tweaking some things. Another update coming soon.

- Dan




Quick update with more screenshots...

Hey guys,

I've got a quick update with a composite image of some new screens of the game.

In addition to the usual stuff/improvements/WIP items, I'm working on a Vehicle Studio / Spray paint shop, where you can plaster unlimited decals all over your vehicle to give a unique look in the multiplayer servers. Obviously it will be flattened into a single layer/texture in the end so any number of images files can be combined onto it in real-time.

Since the last update I've:
- Cleaned up the areas around the buildings / bases.
- Made more improvements to the dynamic terrain road/building smoothing algorithm.
- Removed the clouds for now
- Removed the god ray post-process for now
- Tweaked the HDR

The above changes give it a cleaner look IMO, but I still need to get my high-res animated clouds into the game in a way that looks better than it did before.

*Ah, also, I'm at 600,000 journal views now :-o

">This calls for a celebration!

Thanks for letting me waste your time over the years :-p

- 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'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/'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 - 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




Havok + Main Menu Statue + Roads + More...

A quick break from the Havok Physics updates, I've made a LOT of progress in terms of tuning the vehicles, and I'll have Part 4 of the Havok Physics Implementation ready in a few days. Let's just say I'm leaving games of CS:S just to drive around on the different terrains, and tweak the vehicle physics. It's so addicting...

So I spent today working on the Havok physics implementation, adding roads into the game, and a ton of other things. The game is really getting close to being releasable.

It looks like what I'll do is release a 'Alpha' tech demo, that is only offline, and only contains 1 robot type and a few weapons and maybe 2 levels in a few weeks. I suppose I will also be shopping around a much more complete version of the game to potential publishers by that time I hope. We'll see...

On with the update...

Main Menu Statue
I put this together today and setup the in-game rendering path...I just had a lame 2D bitmap stretched across the back of the main menu, it's now replaced by this sort of 'visualization'. I'm happy with how it turned out, it looks 10x better in motion :-o

These images are generated using the exact in-game rendering code. I'm still tweaking the ambient values of the object and of the background to get the HDR to play nicely.

Raw lighting FPS :-}

Raw texture output...

In-game Roads
It is now also possible to dynamically add roads. I'm already blending between 3 sets of normal/color/specular maps for my terrain so adding another 3 for a road layer was out of the question.

I duplicate the terrain, sample the already smoothed normals from the modifed terrain heightmap, and calculate a blending value per-vertex. I also then pack another blend value into the heightmap texture that is used for some vertex fetching and sample that inside the road pixel shader to make it even smoother looking visually. If you don't smooth it out you can get some very nasty 'jaggies' you can see the road lines very obviously. I'm happy with how it turned out, I'm also working on getting some themed art assets made, so I can make 'levels'...think old worn down wind-farms, and abandoned radio stations...things like that.

I've left out all the Havok Physics stuff, like I said earlier I'll get around to posting part #4 with the "tuned vehicles" in the next day or two.

- Danny




Havok Physics (Part 3) & Video Link

In the first entry I showed the Havok visual debugger, which is one of the coolest tools I've used before. In the second I showed the integration of rigid bodies on the large 512x512 heightfields, and into my game. Last night I finished the Untuned vehicles...what this means is that the integration into the game is complete, it's just a lot of tweaking and tuning of each of the 100s of vehicle parameters.

I will post a video and preview image at the end of the post as usual...I made this one at 3AM last night ( that sounds wrong lol ) but, I'll probably have another one at the end of tonight/2morrow with even more vehicle types and even further stabilized physics.

Here are the basic 'components' of a Havok vehicle, each has many parameters that can be tweaked....You can use your imagination to figure out what each component is for xD

I've spent most of my time tweaking the suspension, engine, and transmission. If you adjust the mass of the vehicle itself or the wheels you can get some cool effects. Playing around with this system has given me some ideas in terms of letting players totally modify each aspect of the suspension, engine, etc. of their warbots. This is very closely aligned with what I had originally seen for this game. I wanted to make it 100% physics based where you can blow wheels off vehicles, scar terrain, etc. I've obviously had to compromise my vision [ mostly to get the 64 player per server thing to work ;-) ], but use of Havok has really given me some new ideas of what is possible in a game.

I've just got the physics working on the little buggy for now. I still have to do the Tank, Hovercraft, Heavy Mech and Light Mech types at least before I can release a demo of the game.

Here is the preview image of the video, showing 64 havok vehicles, the 512x512 heightfield (500,000+ triangles), and a few 100 dynamic rigid bodies....

">Click here to view the video on YouTube

Or click the image....

- Danny




Havok Physics (Part 2) & Video Link

So in the last entry I showed the remote visual debugger that Havok lets you play around with, it's very cool. Today I have an update showing some in-game images and a video. The vid/screens show implementation of a 32bit sampled heightfield in Havok, as well as standard rigid bodies ( little boxes in this case ). Vehicles are also implemented but aren't ready to be shown yet :-D

Also some may be wondering why I've switched physics libraries...I'd really rather not say specifics about each library, but it seems as most of them would force you to represent your terrain mesh as a triangulated shape. Havok is the only physics lib I've seen [ I've not used Bullet, or a few others ] that allows these kinds of heightfields and the associated optimizations. PhysX [ 2.5 or 2.6 I think ] was the last physics library I fully implemented, it just IDLED at 20 FPS with 50,000 triangles in the terrain, and no objects spawned....Havok can handle 'heightfields' of 16000x16000 which is really amazing. The others like ODE, Tokamak, etc were a little too 'low level' and lacking the sorts of advanced/convenience features of a physics library like Havok, PhysX, or Newton. I have not talked about Newton yet, but IMO it handled large static terrains much better than PhysX it seemed. Though it is amazingly easy to use and has a lot of great features like Havok/PhysX [ easy encapsulated vehicles, etc. ] it seemed to lack general stability back when I was using it [ version 1.5 was a long time ago ]. I've spent some time checking out Newton 2.0, and it looks very promising.

Still, I'm sure there could have been some special library specific optimizations that I could have missed, paging of physics terrains, etc...but why even deal with all that when Havok spoon feeds it to you, and it works perfectly, and painlessly. It seems a little too good to be true, especially since some commercial games have used Havok's vehicles 'right out of the box' to quote from the Havok docs :-D

Here is the preview image of the video, showing the 512x512 heightfield (500,000+ triangles), and a few 100 dynamic rigid bodies.

">Click here to view the video on YouTube

Or click the image....

This all works with 100% support from the visual debugger as the scene is running on one machine, I can view properties of it on another computer on the network.

That's my little update for tonight...phew, time to take a snapshot of everything and relax with a few brewskies :-D

- Danny




Havok Physics [ Part 1 ]

So I've made the leap to the Havok physics engine...after fully implementing ODE, Tokamak, Newton, Ageia PhysX, aaaand my own hand rolled...I, uh, think I've found what I've been looking for ;-)

In a few days I've put all I really need into my game engine [ used for Warbots, and Urban Empires]....large scale terrains, vehicles, and standard rigid bodies. I'll add the ragdolls into the game once I get back to focusing 100% on Urban Empires, but a solid physics solution was the major hangup in me not wanting to push that game out the door a long time ago.

Below, I'll post an image of the Havok remote visual debugger....and some about it...this is running on another computer, seperate from the game. I can visualize the scene's physics components using this tool.

I can run the game at 70-90 FPS with remote visual debugging on the physics, it idles around 90-140 FPS w/out any Havok Physics. The terrain is made of about .5 million triangles, it uses Havok's sampled heightfield functionality.

Also there are 64, 4-wheeled vehicles [ most possible in this game since it's only 64 players], and 128 'boxes' in the scene. The small insert screen shows them. This achieves 70-90 FPS on the 'host' machine while streaming the debugging visualization info to another.

I've done about 5 physics engines now, and Havok is the best, hands down. I'm so glad Intel got them up and changed the license terms for commercial PC only games!

*~1/2 million triangle terrain, 64 vehicles, 128 dynamic rigid bodies...from Havok's point of view.

Obviously, way more to come...very soon. Tomorrow I extract the matrices and attach them to the visual representations, record cool videos, and have fun with it :-D

- Danny




Robot Self Shadowing & Ground Illumination Flares

Sorry I've not much to show in terms of screenshots / videos like in the last entry [ to watch the 2 videos of the game ].

I've been putting a lot of work into various GUI elements like the scoreboard display, the end game screens, command point gameplay integration...things of this nature. I also have to spend time on the map selection and robot loadout screens. Lots of tinkering with the 3D sound parms as well.

Ground Illumination Flares
Since it's pitch black on the battlefields [ except tracers etc. ] I decided to make it so players can launch up ground illumination flares to brighten the battlefield for a few the disadvantage of giving away their position. These could actually also be used as signal flares I suppose.

The effect itself has two stages, first the 'flare' is represented as a very bright red dot with a dense smoke trail & associated sound effects. After the flare starts to fall, it enters the 2nd stage where it is highly luminous and the smoke trail becomes much more intermittent. The flare also moves around as it sails to the ground illuminating the area.

Also adding a random flicker to the brightness value of the flare adds to the realism.

Here is a screenshot of the 2nd stage of the flare deployment...compared to a reference image I found on the internet...

Robot Self Shadowing
Self shadowing can have a huge impact on the scene was missing until now, while I decided the best way to do it. Right now I'm going with a filtered floating point shadow map per-object that is within distance [ and always on the player's robot/vehicle ].

Oh...btw...I also edited the texture of the 6 wheeled is how it looks along with some self shadowing

Here are some screenshots w/out the textures so you can see the shadowing clearer...

Well that's it for now...

I have 4 items left on my to-do list before the game is done and I suppose I will see how many more publishers are interested in the game :-o I need to polish the demo up, create some documents describing the game, the pitch e-mail, etc.

Bah, so much work to do.

- Danny




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 - 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




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 -
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 working title ... Big Update xD

[ Warbots Online ]
Hey guys, yea I've been using 'Warbots Online' as a working title for the game I've been posting about lately [ mostly because is available xD ]...but yea, that's the name I'm going with.

The game is basically 64 player per server online combat. Gameplay modes - teams, deathmatch, command point control, ticket based play, etc. Players build their own mechanized robots from a set of chassis and weapons, the maps take place in 3 different environments [ grass, snow, desert ]'s a pretty standard game, should be fun when it's finished in a few weeks...

Most players drive the robots etc...I on the other hand will be driving around in this xD -

I don't feel like typing up all kinda of info about the game right now, I'll save that for the website later.

I've been working on this game for 1 month and 29 days. I'd hoped to be done by today...but I'm very close.

I have about 9 items left on the to-do list.

Really, here is the to-do list...the game is like freakin' done man...

Anyways, as soon as the offline portions are done I might release a stripped down version of the game for free [ only giving access to maybe 10% of the stuff ].

I also need to find a publisher for it.

Finished Respawn Bunker
Yes with the addition of the light shafts from the spot lights, the building is done IMO...

Early Gameplay video
Ahhh I keep recording videos and uploading them to youtube, but then the next day I add cool stuff into the game, and it's already out dated...but there will be a gameplay video VERY soon.

Here are some preview images of the latest video, it's really wild lol...

Respawn bunker testing xD
So I had this ferrari model sitting around, I figured I might as well use it. [ other than as my exclusive in-game vehicle online lol ]

It's kind of like bringing a knife to a uh...robotic missle and machinegun fight xD

A new vehicle type
Not sure if you noticed but I added a new vehicle type into the game...a 6 wheeled job. I'm still working on the mechs, and the hovercraft, etc...

That's it for now guys! Videos, more info, and a website coming soon...

- Danny




Respawn Bunker WIP, Part #2 (Lighting)

Respawn Bunker Lighting
Sup guys, I introduced the respawn bunker asset in the last entry. I only showed the exterior [ because I had not written an interior shader for this game ].

Well I spent some time today and wrote the shader path for building interiors.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I custom rolled most things for this asset alone, since it's the only one I can see being in this project, but still it will be trivial to modify the framework to support different types of lights per object. Right now I've got it setup to handle 10 dynamic spotlights PER OBJECT. If you can simulate spot lights you can do directional and point just the same, spot lights being the more complex of the three.

I moved the calculation of the tangent/bi-tangent/normal matrix into the pixel shader so I can do a loop through all the lights and get lighting on the normals/specular and reflection also. All with a single draw call per material.

The bunker asset was created by one of my contractors/buddies David Miranda

To recap, here is the exterior of the respawn bunker that everyone will spawn in...

Here is the beginning of the shader, support for 1 point light! Yeaa!

//Close up of the floor

Then I added support for multiple lights...

I obvioulsy still have to add lots of props, shadowing, etc...and mainly axis aligned light shafts from the ceiling lights. are some pics of the interior shader as it stands today.

Remember this is a WIP, after 1 day of work ;-)

Oh I also got fading names displayed on the various active players...

That's all for today...[grin]

- 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 @'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 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 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'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




Crepuscular rays #2, New sky rendering, GPU Grass

Ok I guess I have to make multiple updates per day here lol. Is anybody even reading these? bwahaha *ping* Also it should be noted that I've been working on this "new project" for 1 month and 17 days [grin]

I'm still hoping to finish this new/smaller game by the end of the month [ offline mode, not the 64 player online mode ]. I also hope to release a demo so you filthy pirate hookers can play around with "it". :-D

Crepuscular Rays #2
I made some slight modifications to the algorithm in GPUGems3 to allow transparent occluders when generating the rays. For some reason they had a step() call in there which does not play nice with my new sky rendering system/clouds...I adjust that and it's all peachy now.

Let me just say that I think this screenshot is the sex, but that's just my opinion. More about that later. [grin]

The volumetric explosions, and battlefield smoke will play very nicely with this post process...I'm literally on the edge of my seat trying to get the visual stuff out of the way so I can start orchestrating some epic battles.

Dynamic GPU grass rendering
Standard stuff, re-using a lot of code from the GPU based tree/particle system...I'm pushing 80,000 triangles per frame on the grass alone.

These scenes are millions of triangles per frame in a lot of situations, I need to add some detailed draw debugging for I can get the exact numbers [ I guess I could use PIX, or ShaderPerf, or the others...meh ].

I achieve anywhere from 120-60 FPS on my 2.4GHZ Core2Duo, 4GB RAM, with an ATI Rage Pro Turbo 2X AGP with 4MB of video RAM...fear it. Ok I'm running a 9800GTX+in this box, but

New Sky Rendering System
I've updated my tech with a more standard sky system, somebody shoulda kicked me in the teeth a long time ago and said, dude, add more clouds.

Here is a look at the system [ 3 of the 9 layers ] inside Milkshape3D [ my vertex manipulation application of choice ]...

Obviously every aspect of the new sky is dynamic, and animated. I've got a few scrolling cloud layers, scrolling background clouds, etc.

And a raw dump of the sky with the grass background. There is a different background for each environment. [ grass, snow, desert ]....

More updates tommorow, or whenever I get motivated to knock more off this to-do list.

- Danny




Crepuscular Rays Part #1

Well since you were all taken so much by my last entry on AI/Pathfinding/Ambient Occlusion I'll try to pick an intersting topic for this post lol.

Crepuscular Rays

Ah yes, crepuscular rays [ no relation to fatty corpuscle ], or 'god rays', or 'sweeet sweet light shafts', take your pick...whatever you call them, they're badass :-)

Crep. Rays are to the bloom effect, what the bloom was to the lens flare :-o

Here is an image from Wiki...incase you don't know what the hell I'm talking about.

So yea, there we have it.

My implementation is based off the article in GPU Gems 3. I read the article a while ago, but saw a youtube video when I was designing my GPU particle system, and the dude was demonstrating various post processing effects in his particle engine. I was instantly taken by the effect, seeing it in motion.

I sent the dude a message and he got right back to me, and I had it ingame in no time, it dropped right into my existing HDR pipeline a little too easily lol.

">Here is the video that inspired me [ the crep. rays are like at the end of the video, it's an interesting watch though ]

I'll have another update in a day or less with -

- 3 More tree types added into the environment [there's just one now]
- Heavy dynamic instanced grass / tall grass patches
- Updated crepuscular rays
- Mayyyybe some gameplay

Without further here are some screenshots of the effect :-D

55 Samples per pixel :-o One of the first images after I got the effect into my pipeline. I use MRTs to output to a postprocessing texture the size of the screen. I'm poised to implemented motion blur an depth-of-field into this game...but it might be overkill combined with the HDR/Bloom/Crep.Rays lol.

After more tweaking...

Until tomorrow or the next day, peace.

- Danny




AI Pathfinding & Terrain Ambient Occlusion

I'm still rushing to have this "small" project out there in the next few weeks, hopefully finished [ offline mode ] by the end of the month, and the 64-player networked games working a week or two after that. I should come in A little over half of my projected 4 month timeline on this new game.

AI Pathfinding / Terrain Navigation

As promised, I finished the pathfinding aspects today...the scene actors can navigate the environment avoiding trees, water hazzards, and whatever else needs to be avoided.

I handle the pathfinding on a few levels, first I resolve the path on a global, 'tile' scale. As the actor is traversing the generated path, they will make slight adjustments to avoid things like, other actors, or medium sized rocks, etc.

First off here is a raw output of the "AI walkability table" that is generated when each map is loaded...and is used to resolve the path on the global level.

White = walkable.
Black = unwalkable.

Now that I've got my walkability table generated, let's see some in-game debug visualization of the AI paths [ I always love these :-D ]

btw. Ignore the blue triangles, that is part of an optimized raycast debug function that I wrote to speed raycasts up, the visualization is just part of the world-space picking ray cast from the camera/mouse pointer.

So yea, now that I've actually got a working pathfinding know what that means??? ZOMG BATTLEZ :-o I will have video footage from the front lines very soon.

I'm still rushing to have this out there in the next few weeks, hopefully finished [ offline mode ] by the end of the month, and the 64-player networked games working a week or two after that.

A random picture of a tank

Oh yea, I went there.

Terrain Ambient Occlusion

I know screen space AO is all the hotness lately, so I've taken a step back like 10 years and just computed the ambient occlusion as an offline pre-process...because I'm cool like that.

Actually I did it because I'm going to use the resources for the SSAO to render dynamic light shafts / crepuscular rays :-o This effect is really awesome if done correctly, so hopefully I can do that.

Anyways back on topic lol, it's very easy to generate the ambient occlusion for terrain as an offline process [ I was actually using it as a precursor to implementing Oats' Ambient Aperture Lighting algorithm, but went for a different terrain shadowing/lighting algorithm, this ambient occlusion is just a small part of it.

So basically what you want to do is determine the average occlusion ( how visible ) a point in 3D space is. You do this by casting a bunch of rays from the 3D point [ in the shape of a hemisphere ;-) ], and based on the number of rays that escape into the atmosphere, you can determine the average occlusion of that location.

I load a hemisphere model of various resolution and use it to cast the rays. Here is a visualization of the 19 rays I cast for each point on the terrain...

So what does this raycasting get me?

A purdy image like the following is the direct output of the offline ambient occlusion...

Here are 2 small images showing only the terrain, rendered with the ambient occlusion. You can see how it adds yet another layer to the terrain's lighting equation, and I think it's surely worth the few minutes of pre-calculation.

Alright guys, back to work I go.

More updates soon!

- Danny




Quick update on "the mystery project" :-p

I have some more screenshots of the little "project" I'm working on now.

For more information about it, etc. see the last post. I hope to have this game done by the end of the month [ at least the offline components ], it's going to be close. I'm really enjoying working on it, it's a nice releif from the massive-massiveness that is Urban Empires :-o

I'll probably release the alpha of this new game for free on my website, and I was thinking about just giving away a cripled version of the game, only allowing access to a small amount of the available options. You'd have to buy the game if you want access to everything online.

Things I've done since 2 days ago, updates to the mini map/displaying data on it, increased rendering distance, and improved distant object rendering, improved water shader rendering [ added planar reflections, sea foam ]...bleh I'm not going to try to think back lol...I've basically improved every part of the game. I'm pretty happy with how it's starting to look :-)

I still need to add...

- Volumetric clouds
- Dynamic grass patches, etc.
- Medium level foliage
- More variety in imposters
- Fully implement the 2 other environments [ Snow and Desert ]

And I'll be happy with the visuals at least for the ALPHA/BETA release of this game.

On the non-rendering-related page, I'm writing all the physics for this game from the ground up. I'll have the pathfinding done tomorrow and can start to get some gameplay on. I'm specing everything assuming the full 64 players/bots per-server.

REMEMBERZ : These are all works in progress...though any suggestions are appreciated!

Until next time...

I'll have more progress on this little project in the coming days.

- 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 ) 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




Oct 1. 2008 - Quick Status Update

Hey guys...the game is 99% artwork complete, 90-95% code complete.

I still have to get the car physics working as well as I want...I'm tired of wrestling with the raycast PhysX vehicles...I'll be working ona true rigid body simulation of the vehicles in the next week....the implementation will be very similar to what I was doing with Newton Physics. I loved how my Newton cars would slide, loose traction, burnout, sway around corners...they were so realistic compared to these raycast approximations.

I'm also working on a lot of optimizations in terms of the physics, it looks like I'll have to partition the static physics world to get the kind of results I want [ performance wise ] ...

I also have to re-do a lot of the multiplayer, to the new specs, and re-work and implement some of the gameplay elements that I had in there.

Overall I'm very confident that the game will end up being a much better product than it would have been if I pulled the trigger a year ago, before I re-did all the artwork etc.

Stay tuned for more updates....

P.S. I'm also playing around with a real-time camera in the Radioactive-Software control center. Game development action broadcast straight to your eye/ear holes 24/7. I give you... The Dan Cam. lol. [ errrr it doesnt work in firefox, i'll fix that later xD ]




Vehicle Test Track - Early Video

I uploaded a quick 1 minute video showing the test track I'm using to fine-tune and refine the vehicle physics...

Expect drifting videos've already got some decent physics using Ageia, but it's probably 60% what I had with Newton. I had to stop using newton because of stability issues, so far Ageia is 100% stability wise.


or just click the picture...


Also be sure to scroll down and scope out those last 2 badass weapons that my artist made for the game :-o

- Danny



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