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About this blog

Development diaries for the whole project, consisting of updates to;

  • Project website and marketing.
  • How the game development progresses
  • What have I been learning for the past week

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Entries in this blog

Dev Diary #041 - Slicing Images

Hello and welcome to this weeks dev diary! Today I'll show a couple of ways to slice up your images into smaller portions, one that doesn't require any plugins and one that need you to download a script. The following tutorial uses the default settings for GIMP, just like a fresh installation with no previous installations that might have retained some of your old settings. The GIMP Version is 2.10.12   The Manual Way Slicing the image manually can be really work intensive, depending how many parts you want to slice your image to and is by no means an efficient way to do it, but will suffice for anyone who wishes to divide their image to 4 x 4 tiles or less. 1. When you have loaded up the image you want to slice into smaller pieces, go to image > Guides > New Guide...   2.a When you click on the "New Guide..." the following box appears. 2.b Now you have to do some math and divide your image into as many parts as you want. You have to do this both horizontally and vertically as many times as you need guides. For this tutorial I'll make the image into 4 x 4 tiles, meaning 3000x3000 pixels in size, as per 12000 / 4 = 3000 - this means that I need to space all the guides 3000 pixels apart from each other, adding 3000 to each position. i.e. the first guide to 3000, the second guide to 6000, and the third guide to 9000. 3. After you have added your guides, your image should look like this;   4. Go to Image > Slice Using Guides - Click it and GIMP will divide the image for you into separate images and switch your view to the last piece. The original image will still be intact. GIMP will use the same filename that your original file has, but add to the row and column number to the end of the name, like seen in the above image filename, on the top right corner. Original filename in this example is; M5213A-texture-12000x12000.png The last piece has an addition at the end of it; M5213A-texture-12000x12000-3-3.png The below image showcases how GIMP organizes the tiles. First number represents the Column and the second number represents the Row;   5. Save each image separately, by going to File > Export As... (or using shortcut of Shift + CTRL + E). The file extension is the same as the original file's, so no need to change any setting when saving the files. The default export path is the one that the original image resides in, so you may want to create a new folder for the image slices. There is also several plugins that helps with saving multiple tabs in GIMP.   The Much More Automated Method 1. First, download these plug-ins; ofn-layer-tiles Export Layer 2. Install both plugins into C:\Users\"Your-Username"\AppData\Roaming\GIMP\2.10\plug-ins Note that the "2.10" folder is the version of the GIMP you have installed and will change after each update that changes the first or second version number. Now your plug-ins folder should have these files.   3. After opening GIMP and your image file, remove the ".png" from your layer name. This will ensure that the "Export Layers" plugin names the layers correctly. 4. Go to Layers > Tiles > Split tiles (by rows and columns)...   5. Choose how many rows and columns you want, no need to change other settings, unless you want to specify different naming schemes. Read the plugin instructions for more information on that. For the purpose of this tutorial, I will be splitting the image into 4 x 4 tiles, just like before. By default, the slicing process named the files with the same logic as GIMP, the first number represent the Column and the second one is the ROW. The only difference is, that the plugin starts the numbering from 01 instead of 00, that GIMP starts from. This can be changed in the settings how ever, if this is important to you. To make the numbering start from 0, change "{column1:02d}-{row1:02d}" to "{column0:02d}-{row0:02d}".   6. Press the "OK" button and the plugin will change the image into separate layers. 7. Go to File > Export Layers... Choose the folder you would like to save the images to and your preferred file format. After you are done, click "Export". The Plugin will save each layer as a file and depending on the size of your original file, this could take some time.   Conclusion For my needs, these plug-ins are gems. I'm just surprised how come GIMP does not include these kind of functionalities out of the box. But then again, open source programs tend to rely more on community to add more functionality to the core program in the form of plug-ins and scripts. One thing that should be a out-of-the-boc functionality, is the "Save All" option for saving all open documents easily and fast. Hope this was of use to you and I'll see you on the next one! You can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

ProjectTaival

ProjectTaival

Dev Diary #040 - Further Examination Of Heightmap Upscaling

Hello and welcome to this weeks Dev Diary! Today I'll be continuing on how upscaling heightmaps affects the end result, when you wan't to create more detailed terrain with ease. After last weeks test with the heightmap upscales, I decided to try to upscale the heigthmap even further - from 3000 x 3000 pixels to 40 000 x 40 000 pixels, just to see if there would be any return on investment. Or in other words, if there would be any benefit from the extra detail, that the upscaling algorithm creates.   Initial Testing First, lets compare the first set of renders. Like last week, all the settings remain unchanged between renders and only the heightmap is changed between them. This is done in order to eliminate the changes that changing the the lighting or camera angle could cause by creating/showing shadows in different perspective, if moved between renders. Plane 8m x 8m in size. Subdivided several times, first by 100, second by 6 and third by 1 (or 100:6:1 subdivision) Diffuse Scale 1.0, midpoint 0.5 (defaults) Resolutions from top to bottom; 750 x 750, 3000 x 3000, 40 000 x 40 000. The above 750 x 750 pixel heightmap sample is from the original 3000 x 3000 heightmap.   The above 3000 x 3000 pixel heightmap sample is from the upscaled 12 000 x 12 000 pixel heightmap.   The above 10 000 x 10 000 pixel heightmap sample is from the upscaled 40 000 x 40 000 pixel heightmap.   Both upscales were made using the original 3000 x 3000 pixel heightmap and slicing a 1:16th piece (or 1 km2 piece) from the bottom left corner of each of them, in order to highlight the difference in details. As you can see, the differences are most notable between the Original and the smaller upscale, but from there, the added detail is a tad harder to notice - but it is there. After this, I also tried to ramp up the data points, or in other words subdivide the plane even further and see how much that changed the outcome. The settings are identical, but the subdivision is greater (100:10:1 instead of 100:6:1 subdivision) 750 x 750 pixel heightmap sample, with the 100:10:1 subdivision.   3000 x 3000 pixel heightmap sample, with the 100:10:1 subdivision.   10 000 x 10 000 pixel heightmap sample, with the 100:10:1 subdivision.   The added data points did increase the level of detail quite a bit. The difference between the two upscales are still hard to see, but still visible after closer inspection. The difference is more visible on 4K monitors, but can be seen on Full HD monitors also. Having these images on top of each other and toggling between them shows the differences much more clearly.   Going For More Detail Since it will look essentially the same on the rendered images, if I increase the land area of the plane in order to try to bring out even more detail out of the renders, I'm not conducting those tests. How ever, there is still one more way to up the ante - an even further zoom in to the minute detail differences of the upscales. To do this, I needed to take even smaller samples, dividing the heigthmaps in 8x8 grids (instead of 4x4 as shown above) and taking one piece out of each of them. For consistency, I'll use the bottom left corner as a sample. 375 x 375 pixel heightmap sample from the 3k heightmap, with the 100:10:1 subdivision.   1500 x 1500 pixel heightmap sample from the 12k heightmap, with the 100:10:1 subdivision.   5000 x 5000 pixel heightmap sample from the 40k heightmap, with the 100:10:1 subdivision. Edit; You can see the difference most clearly on the illuminated back portion of the landscape as more "grain" or roughness among the white. The Question Remains But is it really worth it? That depends if you want all the possible variation out of the heightmap, that could possibly get squeezed out of it, as it is not necessary. but it might just create enough minute differences in the terrain, that the end result will look more natural in the end. But on the down side, the more faces you have, the more the performance hit will be. Even as the added data points, or mesh resolution will affect the performance of the game, Skyrim also has high def mesh mods, which make the original rather low poly models into much more detailed meshes, especially the rocks, mountain faces and characters. In this light, it might be more than feasible to increase the detail level of your terrain meshes even further. The land area of the smaller samples of the above testing is roughly 500 square meters, that has been fitted on a 8 by 8 meter plane object. The second thing to consider is how many objects you would need to divide your terrain in to, in order to maximize the resolution you can get out of the heightmaps. As creating a single object that would be miles long would require some serious machine power and RAM from your computer, it's not feasible for all to make a large monolithic map area. Creating a large amount of smaller pieces on the other hand is more work intensive and requires more time and patience from the developer to insert them all in the game world and line them all up in the correct order.   The Conlusion Edit; The benefits of upscaling your heightmap only show, when you divide it to smaller samples > the smaller the pieces, that you divide your upscaled heightmap at, the more benefit the upscaling has. Alternatively, the same benefits of the upscaled heightmap can be seen when making a larger and closer to IRL size map, but to my knowledge, a huge monolithic map with lots of detail takes up more processing power. Though this might be an utterly out-dated notion these days - I need to do more research on that. What i know for sure, is that it limits the amount of subdivision that can be used while editing the landscape, as Blender is very likely to crash on my PC when I go with any larger subdivision than 100:10:1 and the amount of subdivision matters. Edit; When you are upscaling your heightmap, the algorithm you do it with matters the most, as the more the algorithm creates more gradual shades between white and black while trying to make sense of the original shapes, the more likely you get more added details to the landscape. Still, this method is not for purists, as it does not bring the absolute original shape of the land back to the image, just adds more variation. Edit; As an example, if you know that the heightmap represents a 4 km2 sized area and the accuracy of the satellite/airplane measurement was something between 2 - 30 meters. If your heightmap has an accuracy rating of 10 meters, then by upscaling the heightmap to 10 times the size of your source image, your get a simulated accuracy of 1 meters. If you want to have more granularity than that, you can go for as large as you want (or can), but at some point there will be no visual benefits. To determine that point, you need to experiment for your self on a case-by-case basis. Edit; As the GameDev forum does not show the images in full screen, some of the differences between the images is apparently lost, when trying to spot tiny differences. The original images in full screen show the differences much more clearly. You can download them from here 040.7z All in all, the more you are willing to work for your terrain mesh fidelity, the more you seem to be able to get out of upscaling your heightmaps. This seems to continue as far as you your self are willing to take it, or at least to much smaller (or larger, depending on how you look at it) scales than what my testing indicates here. It will be interesting to see how much of a performance hit it will have, when using a higher detail mesh for terrain. This will be revealed when I get to the first testing phase, with only a small land area and the 3D character model that I created earlier. But before that, next weeks Dev Diary will be about slicing big images seamlessly into smaller image files semi-automatically using GIMP, so stay tuned! Thank you for tuning in, and I'll see you on the next one! You can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

ProjectTaival

ProjectTaival

Dev Diary #039 - Upscaling Heightmaps

Hello and welcome to this weeks Dev Diary! This week I will be showing some comparisons on how upscaling heightmaps effect them and what potential gains that might have for the developer. First though, a tiny report concerning my PC; I re-installed my Windows 10 to see if that would reduce the crashes I have been experiencing. So far, there has been only one BSOD during night, after the computer had been on for 3 days straight. Previously my computer crashed at more irregular intervals, sometimes even after 24 hours and the next few days stay up just fine for 4 or 5 days. It is clear though, that despite running DISM and SFC after every crash, there were some corrupt files that were causing the more sudden crashes.   The Theory Behind The Practice The theory behind the upscaling of the heightmaps was, that since most re-scaling algorithms add some details to the file, as they try to retain the details of the original file, upscaling heightmaps with certain algorithms should add granularity to the image, thus making the elevations smoother. This in turn should reduce the need for tweaking the 3D model after the heightmap has been used for it. The below examples share the same settings, that are; Plane 8m x 8m in size. Subdivided several times, first by 100, second by 6 and third by 1. Static light source - the lighting was unchanged between renders. Static camera - the camera remained stationary and settings unchanged between renders. Displacement effect scaled down to 0.1333 Above is the 3000 x 3000 pixel heightmap and below is the 12000 x 12000 pixel heightmap. The difference is really subtle when compared to such a large area, as the covered area if the heightmaps are about 4 square kilometers. The differnece becomes more apparent when you scale down the area, as seen below; Above is the 750 x 750 pixel heightmap, taken from the original 3000 x 3000 pixel heightmap. Below is the 3000 x 3000 pixel heightmap, taken from the upscaled 12000 x 12000 heightmap. As you can see from the above pictures, there is noticeably more detail on the higher resolution heightmap, as there are much more height differences, due to more graduation in the heightmap image. It seems like lighting changed a bit, but in truth, those are extra bumps in the terrain. The effects of upscaling the heightmap could still be much more visible, if the sample image used for diffusion were even smaller. I'll try upscaling the heightmap even more in the future, and see where the differences become not worth the hasle, but it might well be, that depending on how much detail you want to have in the 3D mesh, there is no upper limit. At least when using a decent quality source for the heightmap.   The Raw Images It wouldn't be so educational without the source image examples, now wouldn't it? Here are the side-by-side comparison images from the bottom left corner of the upscaled heightmap; As you can see, the differences are must harder to spot from the sample images. The only clear difference is, when you compare the "Nearest Neighbor" with any other method of upscaling the image. I personally like the results of the "Preserve Detail V2" without the noise reduction effects, which makes the road tracks quite clear also.   Conclusion This is but one example of how testing different solutions can bring benefits to developers, be it a beginner or a pro. Even when graphical designers often say, that upscaling regular images in conventional ways is not a wise thing to do (for a good reason), it depends highly on the application you need the upscaled image for. Hopefully this was beneficial to some of you. Thank you for tuning in, and I'll see you on the next one! You can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

ProjectTaival

ProjectTaival

Dev Diary #038 - Story Time: Of Amūńe

Hello and welcome to this weeks Dev Diary! Today, as promised last week, I'll be explaining how Astuvansalmi relates to the last weeks title; " Amūńe, The Old One ". Facts and Speculation Known facts are rare, as the Finnish language, or any language on the Finnic lands, have never had written language until fairly recently. Spoken stories were the only known way that people taught their customs and culture to each other - the way of the land, one could call it, due to it's organic nature. This is also why the names of the gods have changed and split into multitudes over the millennia, hence we can only ques what was the original names of the ancient gods, that were recently called by their modern names. Facts at the Astuvansalmi are as follows; There resides one of the oldest and largest rock painting collection in the northern Europe. It has seemingly had religious significance for many millennia, as there has been found several items from different times. Most significant ones are amber statues of a man, a woman, a boy and a bears head, which points to the sites religious meaning. The human figurines were named as following; Statue of the man is called "Astuvan Ukko", the "Ukko of Astuva". Ukko can mean several things, "Old Man", "Grandfather" or when talking about a god, "The Old One". Statue of the woman is called "Astuvan Akka", the "Akka of Astuva". Akka means "Old Woman", "Grandmother" or a feminine "Old One", when used from a goddess. Also the largest one found. Statue of the boy is called "Astuvan Poika", the "Poika of Astuva". Poika is a straight translation for "Boy", so there's no mystery there. The head of the bear is a reference to the forefathers, as bears were widely considered to be the ancestors of the locals, which has also been called "the Bear Clan". All of the figurines had a hole through them, which indicates that the statues were actually a necklace or a pendant at one time, considered to bring good luck to it's wearer. In what aspects of life the luck was supposed to show, can only be speculated, but since there is an indication of two greater spirits or gods and their son, with a bears head, that could very well mean, that the purpose of the necklace was to bring good fortune in life in general - Abundance of sustenance, fertility and strength from the forefathers - praying for the continuity of the family or clan. Picture of "Astuvan Ukko", photographed by Ritva Bäckman , 1990. One of the pictures on the rock depicts a woman with a bow, who was named "Astuvan Tellervo", Tellervo being the daughter of the god of the forest Tapio. Because it is thought that women were not allowed to hunt, the depiction is considered to be divine in nature. It is also possible that the depicted woman had been considered to be the mythological and/or deified foremother of the clan. The pictographs also depicted many pictures of moose facing west, but one was standing looking towards the east. East was considered to be the living place for the good gods, as the Sun rises from the east. Moose was one of the most sacred animals, as the Sun was considered to being a Golden Moose riding across the sky by many northern cultures at the time, some of the native peoples telling the same story even to this day. The rock also had several paw imprints, that points to the sacred nature of the site. Some of the paw imprints were made with bear paws, which could also mean that the "Karhulaiset", or the Bear Clan had claimed the site for their own, as the bear clan had seemingly a habit to mark their territory with marking the walls with bear paws (According to the Finnish Wikipedia site). It could also be, that the Astuvansalmi was one of the holiest place in the Southern Finnish territory back in the 3000 - 1200 BCE time-period and was regularly fought over (my own speculation). Astuvan Tellervo, by Ohto kokko.   a Son of the Gods? Mikael Agricola, the "father of literary Finnish", who created the first written form of Finnish, wrote that according to Tavastians, Väinämöinen is said to have been the god of chants, songs and poetry. In Kalevala he is seen as an ancient hero, born from his mother, Ilmatar and fathered by water. "Väinä" literally means "stream pool", which is also very depicting of being a god of chants, songs and poetry - "the words were just flowing off of my tongue", as one of the sayings go. Also a tidbit that not many might know; Väinämöinen was one of the inspirations for Gandalf, Tom Bombadil and Ents in general, in the Lord of The Rings. It could also be, that the necklace depicted a son of the gods, which there is no certain information about. But if it did depict the son of the gods in the necklace, it could be the earliest sign of Väinämöinen or some similar deity was infact being worshiped on certain situations. This is pure speculation though, but might hold true, if more finding pointing toward this possibility are uncovered. Sadly, as the Finnish soil is rather acidic, not much survives for long periods of time, when it comes to most of the decomposing materials. The oldest fishing net found in the Finnish-Karelian region is the Antrea Net, which dates back to 8540 BCE, making it one of the oldest fishing nets in the world ever found, so there is hope yet.   The Connotations of Amūńe Amūńe is Veps for "Ammoinen", "Muinainen", meaning "Ancient", referring in this context to the ancient gods of the Ancient Finns. Veps on the other hand is considered to be the Sanskrit of modern Finnish language, or in other words, a great grandfather of the modern Finnish language, that is considered to have the most similarities with the Late Proto-Finnic language. Thus a fitting common name to depict the old gods (the Old Ones), the oldest speculated culture and/or ancestors of the people of this larger northern Finnic region in general. At first, I was referring to Ukko with the Amūńe, but since I made some further research last week, I learned quite much about how many different age layers there are with the Finnish gods, or any ancient mythology for that matter, as all of the ancient religions bind around the natural order of things, as they work as a way to rationalize and/or depict in metaphors how the world works or what has happened in the past - what occurrences has led the world to this moment or situation in general. The first speculated animal representing Ukko could have well been the White-Tailed Eagle, according to Unto Salo, a 78 years old archeologist and emeritus Professor at the University of Turku. According to him, the roots of the Uralic mythological "Ukkoskotka", or "Thunder Eagle" can be traced remarkably far, or at least to 5000 BC. But it begs a question, as the Native American's has legends of the "Thunderbird", which is also depicted as an eagle. This could indicate that the "Thunder Eagle" may have been a thing even before the first Native American's crossed over to the American continent 30 000 years ago, or sometime between 30 000 and 10 000 years ago, that is estimated to have been the period when multiple waves of Native American's arrived to the American Continent. This is only my own speculation currently, as it might also just be a cultural coincidence. After being known as the "Thunder Eagle" and before the similarities with the Greek Zeus and Roman Jupiter became apparent, Ukko was known as a God of the Hunt and Fertility - of which the fertility aspect can be seen even on the later iterations, as Ukko is later known as the God of Thunder and Rain, rain being one of the necessities for crops to grow. Akka therefore represents most likely the ground in which the crops grow, the mother nature, or equivalent to Gaia, before the more well known pantheon of gods overthrew the old gods, known as Titans in the Greek mythology.   Conclusion This research is related to the backgrounds of the upcoming RTS title and the larger mythos behind my other planned works. This is only the tip of the iceberg thus far, as there is still much to uncover from the depths of the past. I still need to gather more material from archeological and language study findings about Finnic pre-history to have a more complete and enticing setting for the game, so stay tuned. Thank you for tuning in, and I'll see you on the next one! You can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn • Feature Photo; Painting by Robert Ekman in 1867 called Lemminkäinen tulisella järvellä where Lemminkäinen asks help from Ukko ylijumala with crossing the lake in fire on his route to Pohjolan häät.

ProjectTaival

ProjectTaival

Dev Diary #037 - Amūńe, The Old One

Hello and welcome to this weeks Dev Diary! Today I would like to continue where I left off last week and that is texturing of the created heightmap. As it happens every so often, I had to redo the heightmap for two reasons; In order to get a more precise heightmap of the area and... To have the texture implemented as easily as possible. After all, this is just an initial map for the game, where I can study the following;  How to make and define water  How to implement vegetation in a most efficient manner (most likely procedurally generated) How to optimize big maps for high frame rates, with as little sacrifices to quality as possible Unit styles, movement and animations etc. Building systems in general Test out multi-level camera systems More on those on later Dev Diaries.   The New Map This new perspective of the area is roughly 4 km² (or in miles; 1.544409mi²) in size, but the heightmap's precision is 2 meters, compared to the last weeks example's 30 meters. In other words, it is 15 times more accurate than the previous one, but there seems to be a problem still - when presented as a one huge map, Blender crashes if I try to make it as accurate as possible. This means, that I can't use all the accuracy that the heightmap has to offer with a single monolithic map. This is why I most likely need to try and divide the map into 1 km² chunks at the very least and combine them in the game engine. I'm currently planning to try this on Unreal, Unity and Godot engines to see which one is the most intuitive and easy to use. I kind of like the Godot Engines GScript language (based on Python), but the vidual programming functions make the Unity and Unreal engines more desirable currently. It will also be coming to Godot Engine, but we'll see on what timetable. Here is a preview of the current map; And from a top view; Despite not being able to use all the detail that the heightmap makes possible, it does look kind of nice. Still, I haven't touched the shaders at all, which makes the ground reflect lights like it was some kind of plastic. To help make sens of the map and it's size differences, I'm using the Blender's grid as a tool of measurement. Many tutorials are there to just show how to make something, but most often everything is done without precise measurements, which should be taken into account when actually making the assets for your game. This ensures that you have some hard points to measure your world and characters towards, to make sure that 1 meter or foot is consistently 1 meter or foot within the game world. Command and Conquer is one example, where the scaling of buildings and units were not so accurately measured and even though it didn't bother me personally, I like to keep close tab on scales from the start to ensure that there is good fundamentals for higher immersion at a later point of development.   Tip Of The Week - For Beginners When I first tried to implement the ground textures for the map, the color image was misaligned in Blender, even though the heightmap and the color image were perfectly aligned in the images them self. This is how the map looked before aligning them in Blender; Last week I shared a link to the simple tutorial that I used to create this map also. The video showed, that the person in question aligned the map texture by hand in the UV editor. I found another, more precise way to align the texture to the map. Bare in mind, that this might have drawbacks that I don't currently even know. Once you have added the texture like instructed in the video, you can align it by left clicking "Vector" on the side-panel and select "Texture Coordinate". This simple adjustment aligned the textures perfectly with my heightmap.   Conclusion How does the title of this week's Dev Diary correspond to this weeks topic? You can hunt for answers or find out the answer on the next weeks Dev Diary.  Thank you for tuning in, and I'll see you on the next one! You can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

ProjectTaival

ProjectTaival

Dev Diary #036 - The Height of Humility

Hello and welcome to this weeks Dev Diary! Today's topics revolve around my attempts to create a height mapped terrain. As mentioned earlier, after several hours of watching tutorials and finding most of them lacking in beginner friendliness, I was a tad frustrated to say the least. But after letting the issue rest for a week and indulging in my addiction (yes, Total War Three Kingdoms was more addictive than anything in a long while, which also made it a pleasure to analyze as a striving game dev), it clearly helped me internalize some things about the tutorials that I had watched and tried out earlier, as now just this morning, I got the following results just with a few minutes of fiddling from memory; It still lacks finer detail, but keep in mind, that this is a 10x10km sized heightmap, a "tad" smaller than the previous 60x60km that I quickly made using SketchUp. For the final game it is most likely necessary to make the map out of several pieces, in order to be able to make it as big as I have envisioned it to be. Still, the first target is to make the 10x10km playground for testing purposes. Here is a preview of the textures I'm going to be using with the terrain, which also works as a followup hint from last weeks puzzle - where is the first map based on?; I'm still looking for sources for higher quality height maps, but no luck so far. Those who are interested in trying out for them selfs to create terrain from heighmaps, an easy tool can be found here, originally made for making Cities Skylines maps from any place on earth you might want to build your own city at; Terrain.Party It might turn out that it is easier to make a map from a medium quality heightmap at first and do the details by hand, but we'll see. One major thing pointing to that plausible outcome is the fact that I have managed to make Blender crash several times because my PC runs out of memory, when I try to increase the quality too much on the current heightmap. Conclusion For the coming week I'll be working out the textures and after that focus more on the height map it self, as texturing the ground makes it easier to visualize while modding the settings for height differences and smoothness of the terrain. I'll also leave you with a link to a simple tutorial on how to make a textured 3D terrain from heightmap. Thank you for tuning in, and I'll see you on the next one! You can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

ProjectTaival

ProjectTaival

Dev Diary #035 - Arms of Black and Gold

Hello and welcome to this weeks Dev Diary! Today I will be talking about some examples of the building and advancement related mechanics of the RTS title and some trivia about the history of the location, where the first map will be based on. Also note that this Dev Diary contains an Easter Egg, if you'd like to go for a information hunt.   Building With Purpose One of the easiest way to add more depth to tactics and strategy, is to build a more comprehensive building variety and varied options for how the player can improve them over time. One of my personal favorite activities in RTS games is building a base, which makes this a particular interest of mine. Today's examples are going to be Walls and Societal Synergy.   The Walls Suitable for ancient times, the first type of "walls" the player can make is fences, which offer very limited defense against enemies and wildlife. Depending on materials around your first village, it can be build from rubble or sticks - or from sticks and stones, for added rigidity. Ancient building methods also include dirt and sand slopes, which are mostly just to make the terrain more advantageous for the defender. Another, more advanced type of wall is sand or dirt filled wooden wall, which is harder to break when built right. The point of the above examples is granularity - a slight advancement in building techniques, dependent on what is lying around your starting location and how skilled your builders are. Current plan is to make every starter unit have just rudimentary skills to survive, something that was common for most of the people those days. By crafting stuff and depending on other attributes of your starting character, he/she will figure out new ways to improve upon what they build, making even the starter structures they build more durable and practical to use even later in the game. Which brings us to... Societal Synergy Building synergy is a term used for buildings that complement each other in some way. a Modern real life example would be a raw material extraction site, that is close to the factory, that is close to the warehouse that has mass distribution capabilities, making the production and commercial cycle more efficient. Similarly, Societal Synergy means societal structures that complement each other. For example, at first the player will have the ability to build only simple structures - every character knows how to make a simple hut and every character will be able to build their own home initially. You are able to increase the skills of everyone to maximize the overall advancement of the society as a whole, or just some certain characters, so that you don't need to speed grind the surroundings of your village bare of natural resources. These learned characters can then pass this knowledge to one apprentice at a time at first and as the teaching characters skills increase, they can have multiple apprentices and eventually even schools for their trade. The most important skill for your character early on, is what foods to gather and how to track and hunt wildlife better. Ancient Northern Fenno-Scandia was a really inhospitable place, with relatively little indigenous variety in food, which consisted mostly of various berries, herbs, Water caltrop, fish and game. Agriculture was possible in some areas, but hard due to short summers and long winters. Hunting skill is one of the most important ones, as it benefits the character's military skills also and provides food for the whole unit on long marches, making the supply line more efficient.   Conclusion In short, my aim is to make technological advancement feel and function as organic and entertaining as possible and give the player a feeling of how their society is advancing through time. Technology trees might play a part in the bigger picture, but the progression is mainly character by character based. Only units defined by the player will have a shared XP pool, like military units or builder groups, that consist of multiple characters. There is also no plans in making storage houses or service buildings to serve just the immediate surrounding of the building, but the inhabitants will use the closest building available to fulfill their needs, even if it is straight from the hunters lodge, if the player allows it. The title of this Dev Diary is a hint of where the height map of last weeks Dev Diary was taken from and will be the initial area for the game. The size of the height map area is 60 square kilometers. Thank you for tuning in, and I'll see you on the next one! You can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

ProjectTaival

ProjectTaival

Dev Diary #034 - Blender For Brains

Hello and welcome to this weeks Dev Diary! It has been a sincerely exhausting week, as learning the ropes with Blender has been all but convenient. And here is why;   Yet Some More Simple Lessons I started of with some beginner tutorials for how to make landscapes from heightmaps. I followed the said tutorials to the letter, but for some reason the shortcuts did not work, even when I did exactly, as the guy in the video, even re-watched from three to six times, to see every possible little detail that I might have missed. Well, it turned out, that the so called Beginner tutorials did require foreknowledge about the workings of Blender, as some skipped on what shortcuts to press in some stages and some outright cut off part of the video, where the method of selecting was not revealed. Only at fifth tutorial video, where the person in question used visual keyboard and had not cut content from the video, explaining simple way to make real 3D image from maps from start to finish. The little basic thing that all the other videos I watched had missed, was to press TAB in the Layout Workspace, which turn it into "Edit Mode", and only then you can select faces of the object. The intuitive way of unwrapping the object would be a simple one click in the object mode, which would select the object "in the right way" for the "U" shotcut to work. Or better yet, unwrap could be part of the right click menu, as it might be one of the most used functions in Blender.  Lesson of this is; always try to find tutorials on the user interface of the more complicated software, no matter how frustrating it might be. My impression from the hype behind the Blender 2.8 was that it should be even more intuitive than before, but apparently, it's still nowhere near intuitive enough to start using without more careful study of the basics - unlike with SketchUp.   The Alternative In the end, I didn't manage to make a working 3D terrain with Blender, even after working several hours with it, until late yesterday, when I had limited success, but nothing to show just yet, due to blender crashing with trying to subdivide the plane mesh to 60 and subdividing another 60 after adding the heightmap, so that the details would come out more. But to prove a point publicly, I started googling for SketchUp plugins - and today I found what I needed. A Simple tool called "Bitmap to Mesh", which turns any bitmap (or png) heightmaps to workable meshes. Here is the heightmap, while it is processing; And here is the ready mesh;   No extensive tutorials, only 6 steps; Draw > Mesh From Heightmap Context Menu > Mesh From Heightmap Context Menu > Mesh From Bitmap Choose the Start Plane Choose the Width Choose the Depth And after processing, you have a rudimentary heightmap, ready for you to tinker with to make it look more terrain like. The above picture is just a test of this work process and does not represent the end product of my tutorial journey. As you can see, the workflow was effortless and extremely beginner friendly, yet powerful enough so that even professionals can start their miracle working with ease. I would also like to press a point here; I found this plugin today and before writing this Dev Diary, managed to get done what I needed in less than a hour, with nothing but a simple few lines of written tutorial. Blender isn't a bad software, but has a much steeper learning curve and needs a much more thorough study of tutorials and getting used to before you can use it effectively. Yet it is a very powerful tool for developers of all kind, like a swiss army knife for a camper - a tool for quite much any job an artist or game developer could need, if they know or learn how to use it. Also to be fare to Blender, it is a humongous task to make something so versatile to be as intuitive as possible. 2.8 is a huge step in the right direction, in my opinion.   Conclusion I'm going to continue with my attempts to create a 3D world map for the RTS game - yes, I just can't shake that desire for a 3D game, even after saying that it would make more sense to do 2D first and touting that I would try to do a 2D (or 2.5D) game as my first release project. As much as I have dear memories from retro games, like the original Command and Conquer, Dune and the original Warcraft series, and even to some extent KKND (Krush Kill n' Destroy), I don't feel inspired by the thought of making a 2D RTS game in this day and era. Following the rationale of making a 2D game despite not feeling inspired by it doesn't seem right to me, as I wan't my first game to become something as enjoyable and easy to approach as a first game can be. I'm not expecting a masterpiece, but it would be nice to set the bar high enough for the game, so something bigger can come out of it at some point. Some developers are more comfortable with quantity of playable games they make, as it is easy to demand too much from the quality aspect, because many artists are more or less perfectionists. But I feel the most inspired by the idea of building a simple foundation for something much larger. Something that evolves through time and effort, yet offers something to do for the gamers and project funders from an early build. RTS as a genre would be perfect for this, as it has very simple foundations, but like other Real-Time -genres, can also branch out in near limitless ways. As a genre it does not appeal to as many people, as Action games do, but I will try to find a way to make something that feels unique. Thank you for tuning in, and I'll see you on the next one! You can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

ProjectTaival

ProjectTaival

Dev Diary #033 - When Mistakes Cost You Time

Hello and welcome to this weeks Dev Diary! Today I'll explain some of my last weeks ups and downs and explain the importance of setting up your tools properly for your work style, before doing major changes to your graphical works.   The Mistake On an earlier dev diary, I mentioned about the importance of learning a habit of saving the different versions of your graphical work. For those, who has years of experience, this is a given and those that often have a habit of regimenting things, this comes more or less naturally. As such, because I have a tad different starting point and despite I like to be organized, at first I forgot to do this. Time wen't by and I learned to save different versions of my graphical works more frequently, which made life much easier. How ever - and here comes the importance of shuffling through your image editing software's settings before doing any larger works. Of course, I didn't do this, as I had no prior need to change any settings on editing software to fit my working style, which I considered mostly to be nitpicking of the pro's. I didn't underestimate it's importance to the workflow, but I didn't see it as important to my self. Well, how wrong was I, yet again and learned it the hard way. As I had no need to change the default settings in Photoshop, I also missed a rather important thing - the autosave function. Basics of the Basics, yet I overlooked that It if I like to fidle with the earlier versions just to see if I find some new way to branch out from that earlier point, the autosave function will overwrite periodically over the old file, effectively erasing the "bookmark" all together. This is why, it seems, that most of my earlier versions of some graphical designs are gone and in cases where you don't like the direction you took at all and just close the file without saving, it's already too late. Lesson to be learned from this - always make a copy of the original backup, when ever you want to try branching out in a different direction from a certain version of your work. The autosave functionality is important to be left enabled, in case the software or computer crashes for any reason.   The Re-Design Which leads to, yet again, the Re-Designs of several assets. Here is an example of several different versions of the Sapphire star; The version history goes from left to right, oldest to newest. I'm still not satisfied of the direction that the re-designs wen't, as the first one might have been the best one overall, but would have required a tad more work on the details. As an example, the outlines should have been colored as sapphire blue to hide the outlines and made it look more gem-like, and a little bit of transparency to the bottom layer, to be able to make more caustic effects to it. The colors used in the first iteration were just white and light teal for the slight lighting effects and Sapphire Blue and Persian Blue, as the base colors. From the second to fourth versions, only 7 different shades of Sapphire Blue were used in all the effects and base colors. EDIT; Backgrounds matter - go take a look at the Reddit page how these stars look against the black background, compared to white. The Editing Process The editing of the Patreon page is coming along fine, although it does take time to re-think my approach, in order to write something that makes more people to want to invest in the project. No marketing text is perfect and it is impossible to write something, that appeals to anyone, which should be always remembered, when designing your Patreon page, or homepage for your project. The first image you give to people about you and the project is important, but I would dare to argue, that it is much more important to be honest about your self and your need to learn and develop your skills in various areas - be true to what you really know and don't know how to do. Be open about the fact, that this is a learning experience to you and just be who you are, that is a much more important factor in marketing. I'd like to call this "Natural Marketing", a way of being honest and straightforward to others, show trustworthiness by your actions and being honest about your own mishaps and successes. No human, alive or long since past, is or has been without any faults. Everyone is a beginner at some point and we all advance in different pace. Accept your self, flaws and all, and do your best to overcome those difficulties. Only you can decide for your self, if this is something you really wan't to achieve. And, you can always change your marketing text later. Good enough, is often just fine for the first publication. This concludes the pep talk for other starting game developers, artists and entrepreneurs, who would like to earn their living as a CEO of their own life.   The Conclusion I'll be honest with you, I have been suffering from sleep deprivation lately, which has been slowing down my work progress and influences my rate of mistakes in my work. Last weeks short notice was partly because of this and the fact, that I had been too enticed in a game that I originally played to study it's mechanics more closely. The game in question is Total War: Three Kingdoms. The Total War series is one of those, that has inspired me to attempt creating a RTS game with similar elements. The TW: Three Kingdoms is the closest strategy game to my own visions thus far, but does not contain even nearly everything that I will try to implement in to the RTS Project. I just hope that the ideas work  as well together in practice, as they work together in theory. Thank you for tuning in, and I'll see you on the next one! You can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

ProjectTaival

ProjectTaival

Dev Diary #032 - Short notice

Hello, and welcome to this weeks Dev Diary! Today's topic is a short and simple update. I have been ironing out the Patreon page and working on the graphics of the tiers for the last week. I have been trying out several styles in the graphical design, but mostly I have done work with the texts of the page. That is quite much it for the last week - no idea how to make this artificially any longer than this, since most of the work was done on the texts of the Patreon page. But for the next week, there will be more to come. Thank you for tuning in and apologies for the extremely short format this time around. See you on the next one! You can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

ProjectTaival

ProjectTaival

Dev Diary #031 - Towards Tutorials

Hello all and welcome to 31st Dev Diary for Project Taival! This weeks subjects are; Starting to make a mini-game as a tutorial on Godot Engine. Preparing for gathering funding for the project. The Mini in a Game This last week has been more productive in a concrete way, than many before it. Don't get me wrong, I have done brain storming all the time in anticipation of things finally working out with the After Effects, but no luck on that front still - I wish there was some app that you could load your After effects project as is and you could render your work using your GPU with all the effects that the CINEMA 4D plugin enables in the After Effects. If you know of any, give me a holler on the comments below. I started doing this tutorial series on YouTube, which was quite efficient at explaining the basics of simple 3D rules and basic GScript coding to make the example stage function. It takes only about an hour or less to complete the whole tutorial, after which I started making a mini-game using and modifying the scripts used i the tutorial. Here is the result so far;   The idea is to make a Pong style, simple ball game with a twist and after that a simple football (soccer) game. The character moves, the ball rolls, but I still need to figure out some things to make it function properly. Luckily, Godot has a comprehensive and easy to use documentation built within Godot, which helps look up different commands and methods. I still have much to learn about GScript, so hopefully it's not too difficult.   Funding the Project Other than making a Patreon account, I found out that you can use this Basic Attention Token -system in your YouTube, Reddit and Twitch channels, so that people can tip you with BAT -tokens, if they like your work or would like to support your efforts. To use this system, you need to download Brave browser and register as a creator on their site. After that they will guide you through the process, as you need to verify your identity to be able to take tips in the form of BAT tokens, or you can convert all your tips straight to Euros or US Dollars. The BAT system is still on it's early stages, but it is the first step to help bring a new and better, much less invasive and more secure way to advertise and tip your favorite content creators. Brave Browser is being developed by the co-founder of the Mozilla project and creator of JavaScript, Brendan Eich. Those who decide to start using the Brave Browser regularly through my referral link, Brave will pay me 5 USD worth of BAT, which helps me, without you needing to pay anything. In turn, you can have your own referral links for you to earn more, just by using Brave browser. US customers are among the luckiest though, as just the US residents (to my knowledge) can get paid just by watching commercials on YouTube, for example or adds in general on any page. Some people have said, that by watching YouTube the whole day, they earned close to 40 USD worth of BAT tokens a day. Remember, if Cryptocurrencies are not your thing, you can have the payment in USD or EUR also. Alternatively, the Brave browser comes with a built in add blocker and script blocker, which can be easily set off permanently, if you don't like them. The Tipping functionality has been built in to the browser as well, making it a breeze to use, once set up correctly. I still intend to use Patreon as a funding channel, as it might take even longer for the BAT Tips to start flowing, as it is such a young system at this point. Which brings me to the last topic; planning my Patreon page. I have been designing my Tier graphics and names for the tier and I will most likely just describe the Tiers as precious metals, as those are universal in every major culture. I have also modeled an octagonal star, that will be part of the design. I have been thinking what could be an appropriate approach to introducing and tell something about myself. I'm still not sure, where the line with too much honesty goes, as I have already been publicly saying, that at an earlier point in my life, I have suffered from depression for a large portion of my life and open up the issue of mental health in general in my draft text quite a lot. I'm also planning to make a pledge, to donate 50% of all the income made from my games and donations that go over 2000 euros, for mental Health Research and Care, and/or Suicide prevention, as that is a topic that should be taken more seriously, as depression and anxiety disorders are getting more common around the world, and WHO estimates, that 50% of these mental problems go un-diagnosed in Europe alone. Either due to peer pressure to not slow down "or you will loose your standing on job markets", or like most of the times, people don't always know that they are depressed. Too many still thinks that depression is a myth and that the real reason is poor motivation or a weak mind, labeling depression as a hypochondria of a weak mind. If you have any suggestions on that or any other matter, please feel free to comment. I have also updated my reddit channel, as I finally created a sub-reddit for Project Taival here; https://www.reddit.com/r/ProjectTaival/ Thank you for tuning in and I'll see you on the next one! You can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

Dev Diary #030 - SitRep 01

Hello, and welcome to this weeks Dev Diary! Today I'll keep this sweet and short by explaining the current situation of the project, in order to do some public book keeping in following order; Horror -title RTS -title Video production Hardware issues State of the Horror -Title The horror title has been in hiatus since the announcement of the RTS game, but not abandoned. It still serves a part in the larger mythos of the stories that I intend to make Majority of the game is still at a concept stage (story, mechanics, events etc.). The model of the apartment building is nearly ready and could be used in a demo version as-is. Most of the models for furniture assets are still in development. Nearly all the generic furniture have been modeled. The main character has been initially modeled, but is missing details still. Textures haven't been touched yet. Development halted and will be continued after the RTS title has been launched, at the latest. State of the RTS -Title All of the game is still at a concept state - no assets have been created yet. Mechanics, features and story elements are being gathered, written down and pondered upon. Under active development. State of the Video Production Part 1 of the real time making of the assets has been edited and ready to be rendered. The status bar for the videos is ready to be rendered. The status texts are a work in progress due to technical difficulties with the hardware. (more on that below) Development halted until hardware has been stabilized and thus rendering the videos is made possible. State of the Hardware Issues Studied BIOS settings and their implications. Daily testing of the stability of several RAM timing, frequency and voltage settings, without borging the performance. Investigating the maximum stable CPU/FSB speed. Conclusion The project has had much more trouble than what I anticipated it could have. Much more so than what I have talked about in public, as some of the slowdowns keep on repeating and no settings seem to fix the crashes with my computer, which is becoming really frustrating, to say the least. While these issues are ongoing, I will start the development of the RTS title, as the videos could take some time to be available at this rate and it would be a waste of time to just wait until I have been able to find the appropriate settings, as testing one settings takes at least a whole day. I just might have to sacrifice more performance than I have been unwilling to do thus far. Completing the videos are now secondary and starting the development of the RTS -title is a major priority. Thank you for tuning in and I'll see you on the next one! You can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

Dev Diary #029 - The Way of the People

Hello and welcome to this weeks Dev Diary! Todays topic will be the mythological and cultural inspiration for the games that are currently under development. Bare in mind, that there will be similarities to every other pre-christian religion and way of life and I'm fully aware of that. These are written in the perspective of the Finnic peoples.   The Nature of the Gods "One of the most notable characteristics of the Finnish mythology is the interdependence among the gods. "Every deity", says Castrén, "however petty he may be, rules in his own sphere as a substantial, independent power, or, to speak in the spirit of The Kalevala, as a self-ruling householder. The god of the Polar-star only governs an insignificant spot in the vault of the sky, but on this spot he knows no master."" ~a take from "The Kalevala, by John Martin Crawford, [1888]" According to the studies and above mentioned depiction of the nature of Finnic Gods, a spirit is considered a God, if it had dominion over some particular thing. Since the star closest to either pole of the earth is seemingly more steady in the sky and all the other stars seem to rotate around it, it makes sense to consider it as a domain of a god. It is highly likely though, that all the hierarchical themes in Finnic mythologies are later Christian and Islamic influences, as the native beliefs around the world were based upon natural phenomenon, which were given their responsible gods and spirits. Two of the most important Gods were; Ukko was the "High-God" of the Finnic mythology, a god of the skies, who was responsible for anything that came or was considered to come from the sky; Snow, Hail, Rain, Thunder, Sunshine and Shadows. He is called in The Kalevala "The Leader of the Clouds", "The Shepherd of the Lamb-Clouds", "The God of the Breezes", "The Golden King", "The Silvern Ruler of the Air", and "The Father of the Heavens". Comparable to the Greek Zeus and Norse Thor, he was also considered to be *the thunderer". Akka was the wife of Ukko, and since Akka means an "Old Lady" or a "Grandmother", it is a fit name for "mother earth" and as such, Akka has dominion over the land and fertility. Not much is known about the specifics of her nature, as she is not mentioned often in Finnic Poems. All the Gods were necessary for harmony on earth, which makes the native mythologies also a spiritual guideline.    The Spirits and Creatures The Finnic mythology has interesting similarities with the Japanese Shinto religion, in that every living and non-living thing had a "soul" and often it's ruler "spirit" and/or God. For example, when ever you were about to cut a tree, you should knock the tree three times with the side of an axe, so that the spirit of the tree could escape the tree and go find a new home, before the tree is cut down. If the bark of the tree was cut before knocking to the tree, the spirit would be wounded and die with the tree, when cut down. By letting the spirit leave the tree, it ensured, by the beliefs of the finnic people, that the forest would continue to thrive. a Similar example would be the "Peijaiset", of which there is many variations, but here is one example. If the tribe were ever required to kill a Bear, for if it had settled near the peoples lands and posed a threat to their people, they would essentially locate the bears nest, wake the bear for it to have a fighting chance and then brought it down in either one on one, if the person wanted to have personal glory or in a group, to bring it down more safely. The wording "brought it down" holds a more specific meaning, as the bear was not hunted out of malice or ill will, but banished away from the tribes lands, to be born again somewhere else. After the bear was brought down, it was brought to the town center and in eastern Finland and Karelia, there were wailer's who cried out to the bear as being either one of their ancestor by name or a son of Tapio, the God of the forest. As they considered bears to be their ancestors, their meat was not always eaten, but when ever they did, their village shaman or "tietäjä" would do rituals and recite incantations, after which the meat was considered to be turned into some other animals meat, like Venison. By eating the Bears flesh, it was also believed that doing so consumes the life-force of the bear. The remaining bones of the bear was then placed next to a ceremonial Pine and the skull of the bear was placed on a branch of the same pine, so that the soul of the bear can find it's way back to heavens and be brought back to life once again. The purpose of the ceremony was to appease the spirit of the Bear, so that it would not bring misfortune to the tribe, as the Bear was the most venerated creation in the nature. Some of the traditional stories of the Baltic Finns tell, that the Bear descended down form the heavens, from the constellation of the Great Bear, in a golden basket, hanging from silver ropes. Even peoples lands and houses had their guardian spirits and mischievous spirits and creatures, like "Maahinen" (which was a tiny human like creature, that lived underground and could often be mischievous), that might take house in your home, unless you kept your guardian spirit at least content. It was also customary to have a house snake, that was considered to be an avatar of the "spirit of the land", "Maan Haltija" and was to be kept pleased to ensure fortune for the household.    Conclusion There would be much more to write about, but it would be wiser to not reveal too much at once. This is why I will end this Dev Diary with the words of Väinämöinen; "Often I have heard it chanted,
Often heard the words repeated:
"Worthy cataracts and rivers
Never empty all their waters."
Thus the wise and worthy singer
Sings not all his garnered wisdom;
Better leave unsung some sayings
Than to sing them out of season." And as always, you can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

Dev Diary #028 - Speed Testing Part 2

Hello all and welcome to this weeks Dev Diary! As mentioned in an earlier Dev Diary (If Memory Serves), I got a new pair of memory, in order to upgrade my 8gb of RAM to 16gb. This did ease the situation with After Effect, as the results can tell, but not as much as I had hoped for. Still, it is more important to being able to do various things simultaneously while rendering video, which was the main goal with this upgrade. After I got home last Tuesday, I installed the new memory kit, tried to find the stable timings with a reasonable clock speed and ran the benchmarks again to see if the additional memory space helped at all. The full article with the first run of tests can be found here. I also erroneously stated in the earlier article, that I had G.Skill RipjawsX 8gb kit in my computer, when I actually had Mushkin Redline 8gb memory kit. The rated specs of the memory kits are; Mushkin Redline, 996805, 1600 MHz, CL 6-8-6-24 v1.65 G.Skill RipjawsX, F3-2400C11D-16GXM, 2400 MHz, CL 11-13-13-31, v1.65 The settings for the benchmark is the same for all the renders; Preserve RGB (Color management turned off) 32 Bit Colors Full Resolution (1080p) Bicubic Asset Quality 60 FPS 25 Seconds Clip There are one peculiarity though; the first 1187 frames (out of 1500) are a static image, which went by fast on every setting. I decided to include this just to see if the quality setting has any impact on how fast it renders the static image frames. The result of that was quite predictable, since if you let After Effects render one of the static image frames once, it will be really fast after that. The real speed test began after that. CPU Clock for both tests were 3250 MHz for all 6 cores. Results with the old memory sticks (4x2gb kit, 1933 MHz, CL 7-10-8-25) Cinema 4D Quality 01 *Estimated Runtime = 2h 28min Cinema 4D Quality 51 Runtime = 4h 51min Cinema 4D Quality 99 Runtime = 11h 39min (*Based on a run-time of 120 frames = 2 seconds rendered in 1 hour)   Results with the new memory sticks (2x8gb kit, 2000 MHz, CL 8-10-10-28) Cinema 4D Quality 01 Runtime = 2h 49min Cinema 4D Quality 51 Runtime = 3h 16min Cinema 4D Quality 99 Runtime = 10h 8min Here is once again a reference image for how to quality settings affected the visuals. I would dare to argue, that the Quality 01 test was erroneously estimated by my part with the Mushkin memory installed, but there is a clear difference with the two other quality settings, which goes to show that 8gb was somewhat a bottle-necking After Effects, as there is very little difference in the memory clocks and timings with the new memory kit - just a tad better throughput (67 MHz), but higher timings. The relatively small difference of about 1h 30min faster rendering on Quality 99 shows, that the most considerable bottleneck remains to be the CPU it self - even with double the memory, it just can't process the video fast enough, despite the GPU assisting being on. Though it has come to my attention, that the After Effects does not use GPU Rendering with Cinema 4D, unless you have a commercial third-party renderer, like Cycles 4D, Redshift, Octane etc. All in all, now my computer seems to be able to handle heavier loads and more apps simultaneously without slowing down to a crawl, which was the other main goal of this investment - and a tad faster rendering when the after effects is left to run by it self over night. As is apparent from the earlier articles, I did hope this investment to have much more impact on the speed of the rendering, but I'll gladly take the gains that came with the new memory sticks. This is it for this weeks Dev Diary, and I'll see you on the next one  And as always, you can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

Dev Diary #027 - The Moving Borders

Hello and welcome to this weeks Dev Diary! Today I would like to reveal more features for the RTS - Citybuilder -title.   Dynamic Borders Border systems are quite rare in RTS games, but not entirely new idea either. Empire Earth 2 had static borders for predetermined regions, which you needed to conquer before you could utilize them fully. Stellaris had borders, which grew according to the influence of the planets you have conquered and by building certain buildings on the planet boosted the accumulation of influence or other resources. Later on they changed borders to be static around the planet and the borders no longer expand due to influence. What I would like to see in my RTS - City builder is similar to how the border system used to be in Stellaris, but toned down a lot, in order to not have instant absorption of the rival territory by having huge influence differences. Instead, as you advance through the territories with your troops, they will expand your border along the path they take and encircled border areas will join together as a bigger whole, so there is no need to march on every inch of the land you want to conquer. By building on the conquered areas, the conquered area will be solidified as your core lands on a certain range, which depends on the building you just built. The influence of the buildings will not grow further than your border, to prevent this passive outgrowth of the borders, but will solidify your claims in the near regions.   Threat System As you gain territory and depending on your military might and relations/decisions with any other player / AI Bot, your neighbors might consider you a threat. If you are aggressive expansionist, other tribes near you will consider you more likely as a threat to them and might seek alliances from their neighbors, essentially creating coalitions in defense against you. Eventually, if you act in a threatening way, they will try to "cut you down to size", meaning they will try to defeat you in order to diminish your regional power and possibly divide your lands to either new smaller nations or integrate your land in their own region. Alternatively, by a peaceful play style, you can unite similar minded tribes under your banner and grow to be a unified kingdom or republic, which will enable you to convince different tribes to join your kingdom/republic more easily.   Culture Groups Just like in Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis -series, there will be several cultures and culture groups, which will play a part in how likely they are willing to co-operate with you. Unlike in the fore mentioned grand strategy games, the cultural differences will not be such a huge obstacle, but will have some limiting factors in place. For example, in trades, cultural differences are not so limiting factor and a Bot will accept beneficial trade deals without considering cultural differences. They might be more hesitant when it comes to trading cultural or religious items, in which they might not see any worth.   Religion Groups Just like culture groups, religion groups will be one of the layers on determining how close your own religion/belief system is to other tribes. The system will have at least 3 layers; Type of the religion - Monotheism, Polytheism or Indigenous belief system. Religion Group - Which subgroup of Polytheism, Monotheism or Indigenous belief system the tribe has. Worship - which deity/deities, saints or spirit(s) the tribe mainly worships at any given time - customizable. The more similar the belief system of the tribes that are trading together is, the more likely they will have good trading relations and possibly even religious trading, which slowly influence each of the tribes religious values, bringing their people closer together and possibly merge to be one tribe, if both cultural and religious similarities become close enough and relations are at maximum.   Conclusion Just to stress again for those that haven't read earlier Dev Diaries - these are only goals to be achieved at some point of development. As I'm new to game development, I will do the logical choice of starting out simple and adding features and mechanics little by little, in order to have a playable version as soon as possible and potentially gather funding much more efficiently along the development. This is it for this weeks Dev Diary - Thank you for reading and I'll see you on the next one And as always, you can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

Dev Diary #026 - Vacation Greetings

Summer greetings from Somero, Finland and welcome to the "26th Dev Diary", that has only little (but something) to do with the actual game. While most of the time here has been for relaxing and some manual labor when helping my wife's family with the crop field upkeep, I took some time with my wife and we went to a little journey to "Häntälän Notkot" (Google Translated page), which has floral indications of iron age habitation. Since the area has had many landslides during it's history, it would be no wonder that all the signs of possible habitats and tools have been buried deep within the soil of the notches and mostly decomposed during the centuries. Signs of free roaming cattle. Ducklings swimming in the ditch/river. After reaching the midway of the nature path of "Häntälä Notches", we took a detour to the "Peuranpolku", or "Deer's Path", where we actually saw one deer on our path. Unfortunately, we weren't fast enough to get a picture. a Partly rotten bridge. Landslide regions on the forest ground. After the "Deer's Path", we continued the original route, which has apparently been changed to go through the village center. According to the original route map, the route should have taken us around the cattle pastures, forest batches and grain fields. But instead, we still had some cultural views on our way; After we got to the car, we went to the local Orthodox Military Cemetery, which has multiple unmarked grave mounds, dated back to the Crimean War, when Finland was part of the Russian Empire. Short history of the cemetery and role of Somero during the Crimean War. Each mound you see here, is a final resting place of an unnamed soldier of the Russian Imperial Army. It is unclear why they didn't mark the graves back in the time, but all who are buried here, perished due to epidemic illnesses during the Crimean War, if I understood the above historical text correctly. This is it for this weeks Dev Diary - Thank you for reading and I'll see you on the next one! And as always, you can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •  

Dev Diary #025 - Additional Features

Hello, and welcome to this weeks Dev Diary  This week I have some more feature reveals for the upcoming RTS-Citybuilder. This update was pre-written on Tuesday last week, as I have been on vacation since 20th of June (20.06.2019) and had to prepare several non-project related things for it, before I could relax at all. But First though, a little recap from the 23rd Dev Diary; Multi Tiered Leveling System - a semi-balanced leveling system, which makes leveling feel more rewarding. Comprehensive Item Upgrades - Any sword, shield, or armor piece can be upgraded through various means. No more useless low level armors. Multi Tiered Spells and Abilities - Even the lowest level abilities can be upgraded to have meaning in late game. No more nearly useless low level spells. Improving Enchantments - Any item can be further improved by enchantments and existing enchantments can be re-imbued  to upgrade the effect to match your level. a Very Rare and Hard To Get OP:d Character Class - This needs a combination of luck and skill to gain. Though even the OP:d character does have it's cryptonite. Tiered Weapon Levels - Just like in MMOs and RPG games in general, Weapons and Armor will come in many tiers, from common to rare/unique. In this game, Unique really means Unique, in that it literally has only 1 piece existing in the game, with no possibility for anyone else to have one like it, unless the founder of such item decides to sell it. This will be really hard to balance, but I will still try this out in practice. As the above list might have hinted, i wish to try and make an RTS game that has similar RPG elements that Starcraft and Warcraft 3 has, as those had leveling heroes and additional items for them to use and improve their stats. In addition to the above list, I would like to see these features and mechanics in the final product; Units consist of multiple characters - I will start at the simple structure of one unit = one model, but eventually I would like to make it look similar to "Lord Of The Rings; Battle For Middle-Earth 2", where units consisted of 8 - 24 or more soldier models, to make the battles feel more immersive and be easier to control. Leveling Units - Not just leveling heroes, but also leveling units. This has been around for a long time and can be found from many RTS titles. Heroes are Born, not Trained - Like I mentioned earlier, it would be neat that from the ranks of your soldiers, heroes rise from your ranks according to their achievements. I'm still torn abut how this should function, but most likely a probability mechanic could make this work the best - a degree of luck and skillful use of units would both be a factor then, instead of the player just being a skillful tactician to pull it off. I also have more flavor ideas for how to make this an even more interesting mechanic, that I will not be revealing any time soon  (or maybe I will) a Guild System for Hero Units - For an example, lets you make balanced or unbalanced Hero units to either use in your PvP skirmishes or making quests that earns them gold and increases their fame for every completed mission. a Fame System - Eventually, this will include a Score Board, where players can see what rank they them self and others are. Also additional sub features for this mechanic are on the planning paper. a Living City - just like in City Builder -games, you must have a functional village to finance your campaigns. This means that there are to be several vocations, housing types and sizes and infrastructure choices. At first this mechanic will most likely be just static buildings generating money on specific intervals, with no need to assign a worker for them. I think this is just about enough for feature plans for this time. keep in mind, that even though I plan big like this, I do realize, that as a first timer I need to start simple and build it up one feature at a time - just as a disclaimer. Also a note about my project's YouTube channel; when I continue releasing footage about the production of any of the games (and possibly even vlogs at some point), I will be adding their links to the following weeks Dev Diary, as well as continue making LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook posts for every released video, as soon as they are uploaded. This is it for this weeks Dev Diary - Thank you for reading and I'll see you on the next one And as always, you can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

Dev Diary #024 - If Memory Serves

Hello yet again and welcome to this weeks Dev Diary!  This weeks topics are; What's happening behind the scenes. Various ideas that have been popping up. How Is Your Memory? As mentioned in last weeks Dev Diary, I have been trying to order an affordable pair of high performance, 16Gb RAM Kit, which is necessary before continuing the video processing with After effects, as 8GB is simply not enough. The second options (F3-2400C11D-16GXM) panned out and was sent to me at last Friday. When the 16Gb memory kit arrives, I can either have a little better performance and much better system responsiveness, or significantly better performance with the same level of responsiveness, that I currently get with 8GB of RAM, while video processing is running background. I just hope that there really is as significant difference in system responsiveness as I have come to understand from various sources that discus the topic of "system build recommendations for video editing", as it would allow me to be much more productive to have my main computer usable while the video rendering is running. With a little bit of tweaking my computers BIOS settings, I managed to get a tad more performance out of my current RAM, which should work more or less on the same values with the 16Gb Kit once it arrives. This is due to the memory Kits being of the same series; RipjawsX, but they still might have different memory modules, which is why it is not a guarantee that the current settings will work on the new RAM Kit. Usually though, especially on older systems, the overclockability of RAM kits are much weaker on 4 stick kits than 2 stick kits, which might make up for the difference in memory modules. Only one way to find out, and that is to try it out. More on that when I actually receive the Kit.   More Ideas On Top Of Ideas One of the ideas I had, was that there is a second option for a first 2D game that I could make (as a practice run before the RTS game), which could be even simpler than an RTS - a side-scrolling crafting game, Similar to "Craft the World". For the past week I have been gathering ideas for all the possible games that I could make. Many of them are overlapping and could be used in conjunction with each other, but one thing is clear - I really do like RPG elements, maybe too much for my own good, as a comprehensive RPG game is not one of the easiest to pull of as a first project. here is a quick mockup that I did while trying out how to differentiate my side-scrolling crafting game from the "Craft The World"; The idea was to try out, what if I made the game with blended textures, rather than tiles? This mockup does not represent how it could look, when done properly, but gives a little hint, if it could work. Using tiles could be seen too similar to several other games that does it that way and in "Craft The World" the tiles look really good (pleasant to the eye) in my opinion. If I did try to make the game with blending textures rather than blending separate tiles, the playability might suffer, as when you have a greater degree of freedom to move, besides left and right, up and down, while digging, there is a risk that you might leave hanging little bits of sand or stone, like could happen in Worms games. To avoid this, there should be also gravity and possible particle physics for the materials (sand, stone, metals), which would end up making the game more complex than a RTS game. Another idea was to make a game that was similar to "Wings", a 1996 DOS Cave-Shooter video game (by Miika Virpioja), as a practice run before the RTS game. It would be rather simple to make, as you only need background and foreground layers, ship and weapon ammo and effects graphics and the rest is placing and programming. It's good to keep options open, even though I was too quick to say what my first game should have been. Realistically speaking, starting from a simpler game should be more sound and practical choice, which would also enable me to polish my plans further for the RTS-Citybuilder, all the while being able to have something released while doing so - as I would prefer that the RTS title turns out as good as possible.   Conclusion I will be away for couple of weeks as it's midsummer festival or "Juhannus" in Finland and other Nordic countries on this weeks weekend. I'll be spending time at the country side with plenty of grilled food and cold drinks and might miss one weeks Dev Diary because of this. I will make a small update that will be auto-released on next weeks Monday in order to not break the continuation of these releases. and let you know some more game mechanic ideas I have come up with. This is it for this weeks Dev Diary, and I'll see you on the next one And as always, you can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

Dev Diary #023 - The Waiting Game

Hello, and welcome to the 23rd Dev Diary  This week is more of a sitrep on the project planning, than anything else. First though, a situation update regarding the memory kit I ordered - RipjawsX F3-1600C9D-16GXM; The first choice was made because the memory kit was relatively cheap considering how tight timings it has. The said memory kit would have costed 76 euros, but apparently I was too late, as the importer stock ran out before the order could be handled. After that, I tried to order the higher clocked model, RipjawsX F3-2400C11D-16GXM. This kit costed 86 Euros, so hopefully this goes through before the stock runs out. The next option is a HyperX Red series memory kit, that would set me back 97 euros.   The Currently Planned Features While the waiting game is going on regarding the video and actual development of the game, I have been brainstorming daily about the mechanics that I would really like to see in the game eventually. Here is a short list of features that I have been tinkering with on paper long and hard. This is not in a prioritized order; Multi Tiered Leveling System - a semi-balanced leveling system, which makes leveling feel more rewarding. Comprehensive Item Upgrades - Any sword, shield, or armor piece can be upgraded through various means. No more useless low level armors. Multi Tiered Spells and Abilities - Even the lowest level abilities can be upgraded to have meaning in late game. No more nearly useless low level spells. Improving Enchantments - Any item can be further improved by enchantments and existing enchantments can be re-imbued  to upgrade the effect to match your level. a Very Rare and Hard To Get OP:d Character Class - This needs a combination of luck and skill to gain. Though even the OP:d character does have it's cryptonite. Tiered Weapon Levels - Just like in MMOs and RPG games in general, Weapons and Armor will come in many tiers, from common to rare/unique. In this game, Unique really means Unique, in that it literally has only 1 piece existing in the game, with no possibility for anyone else to have one like it, unless the founder of such item decides to sell it. This will be really hard to balance, but I will still try this out in practice. Bare in mind, that these are features that will be made after the prototype is finished and will take some time to implement properly and test how they balance out. The main purpose of the fore mentioned mechanics is to grant a higher feeling of success, when you really achieve something. The game will have easily achievable things for casual players, to have them feel like they are progressing constantly. But for those, who like to collect everything, there is plenty of added value, when you find something that is truly unique. And most likely plenty of frustration also, when they learn that there is many unique items that have already been found. Discovery is another thing I would very much like to see plenty of in the final game. All the procedurally generated worlds in games, such as 7 Days To Die, Civilization series and many other titles, have an immense replayability value added, thanks to having randomly generated maps. What I would like to try, is to bring more discovery to a fixed size map, that can be expanded with DLC's as updates or paid content. I still don't know how to do it for certain, but that is one of my long term priorities for the project. I'll keep this weeks Dev Diary as a short teaser of a sort  Also, you may expect an updated comprehensive list of all the planned features in the future. Thank you for tuning in, and I'll see you on the next one! And as always, you can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

Dev Diary #022 - The Mobile Past

Hello and welcome to the 22nd Dev Diary! I have been busy with background research and making a couple of low quality mockups, as promised last week and they definitively are low quality ones. Even though the final looks will be nothing like them, they functioned as a simple test of how to design things as fast as possible, without a digital pen and writing pad (which would be a huge improvement on making concept art). But one thing is, I have never been good at arts - drawing is quite foreign to me and I'm much more comfortable with exact measures and tools to realize those measures. But it would be very good for me to learn to draw better, so it would be easier to test out ideas on paper first, before making anything and possibly having to do major changes after the fact. The After effect project is on hold until I get the 16gb memory sticks I ordered. Since my computer is so old, there is not much sense in upgrading the ram to more than 16gb, which keeps the price under 80 euros. This simple upgrade should make the after effect render a tad faster, as well as keep the computer usable while the after effects is doing it's thing in the background. The plan to use an old basic computer didn't pan out in the end, as it has even more reliability issues than my main computer and only 4gb of RAM, which would make the rendering take too long, possibly weeks, if the PC could even handle it without crashing at some point. But here are the mockups with a real concept art of a hill-fort from an actual artist (Hjalmar Appelgren-Kivalo) from the 19th century (Copyright expired - PD-US-expired); The tower was made using the simple Lines -tool in photoshop and the pentagon shaped fort was made by the Polygon tool. All the details could be made by copying assets over and over again, which made the process quite fast, but when making these on a day after a very poorly slept night, it tends to suppress your flow, no matter what. I'm not sure about what Hill-Fort this concept art depicts, as I couldn't find any information about it specifically. I do know what book I have to buy to find out, and I certainly will.   Another Hill-Fort Here is a HIll-Fort I do know more about. This fort is more than 52 000 square meters in size (within the walls) and the latest use was timed at between 800–1000 AC. A closeby grave site was dated to be from the 600AC, but since only 1% of the site has still been studied archaeologically, all the dates could still change. Currently it has been estimated to have been used only as a temporary garrison fort and for trade and legal proceedings. The Wikipedia article is somewhat outdated, especially the English one, as it states that the earliest signs of agriculture in the region is from 200 BC, though the most current findings from last year put the agricultural activity to have been started closer to 3000 BC. There is several cases of historical Hill-Forts being used in multiple ages, since hill-forst have been mostly built on naturally good defensive positions. Due to this, it is not uncommon to find out, that the same hill-fort has been in use in several time-periods, ranging from stone age to late viking age, or even late medieval times. This is a reconstruction of a stone age house in northern Europe and I won't tell where - this is a little game of search for those who would like to know more  The region this house has been built in has been permanently habituated since 5000 BC and has unusually tightly built buildings (considering the location), dated between 7000BC - 4000BC. I just had to include the hill-fort concept arts and the stone age house picture and a little trivia as a teaser of [Redacted] for you to enjoy and ponder This is it for this weeks Dev Diary and I'll see you on the next one! And as always, you can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •   Edit; Fixed the links to project sites.

Dev Diary #021 - After R&R

Hi, and welcome to this weeks dev diary! First, I must apologize for not having had anything interesting to show for a long time now. Most of the time that could have been used for something productive have sunken into technical difficulties and optimizing the settings of various software that I use and lately especially my hardware issues has taken a toll on the creative time. While I was sick, I did manage to do the benchmarks for the most part, but had to re-run them after suffering several BSOD earlier last week. The situation with my computer looks bleak every now and then to say the least, but for now I have managed to set the BIOS configuration to a more stable settings and finally got 2 out of 3 benchmarks to run from start to finish. The Results The reason for this benchmark is to find the optimal middle-ground for quality and performance, so that the rendering time stays as reasonable as possible with as good quality as possible. One test was only partly finished before writing this Dev Diary, the rendering time for the lowest quality setting is an estimate based on the first 2 seconds it got to render. The settings for the benchmark is the same for all the renders; Preserve RGB (Color management turned off) 32 Bit Colors Full Resolution (1080p) Bicubic Asset Quality 60 FPS 25 Seconds Clip There are one peculiarity though; the first 1187 frames (out of 1500) are a static image, which went by fast on every setting. I decided to include this just to see if the quality setting has any impact on how fast it renders the static image frames. The result of that was quite predictable, since if you let After Effects render one of the static image frames once, it will be really fast after that. The real speed test began after that. Cinema 4D Quality 01 *Estimated Runtime = 2h 28min Cinema 4D Quality 51 Runtime = 4h 51min Cinema 4D Quality 99 Runtime = 11h 39min   (*Based on a run-time of 120 frames = 2 seconds rendered in 1 hour) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Here is the last weeks Render Quality Comparison picture for reference; If you are facing a similar situation of having to decide which quality setting would make the most sense, I hope this helped you a bit, at least. That is all for this weeks Dev Diary, I'm terribly sorry for not having anything more to show, but to make up for that, I will show some low quality mock-up images of my game design for the mobile game thus far. Thank you for your time and I'll see you on the next one And as always, you can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

Dev Diary #020 - After Management

Hello and welcome to this weeks Dev Diary for Project Taival! For the past two weeks I have been trying to find solutions for the slow rendering times, but haven't found anything that would be sure to fix the problem - other than to render on lower quality. Which brings me to one of this weeks topics; quality comparison of the CINEMA 4D Renderer on Adobe After Effects. Just today I came up with an idea to do some benchmarks with the quality settings shown today, so  I couldn't get the estimated time it would take to render on these settings on this weeks Dev Diary. I will do a Follow up next week and render the first 25 seconds of the video on each setting.   The Comparison These were rendered with full resolution and 32 bit color precision. As you can see, the differences are the greatest among the quality setting 01 and 25, which erases most of the pixelation seen on the lowest quality image. The differences between all the other are so small, that for best comparison, you would need to see them change on top of each other, to pick up the differences better. Which goes to show, that this project most likely doesn't need any higher setting, than 25 after all. The highest quality picture does have the best color blending, as the sample rate is the highest possible, but is it worth the wait? Still, the rendering time will probably be so long even at the 25 quality setting, that I need to run it on our secondary, much less powerful, 4 core PC, so that my main computer can be used for anything else.  Unfortunately I have nothing to show about the text graphics yet, as I have been sick for the last week and haven't had the strength to concentrate on actual work. I have, how ever, watched trough several tutorials about how to make 3D and fake 3D text on After Effects and come to a conclusion, that this is the one I'm going to try and utilize in my video; How To Create 3D Glass Text In After Effects I have also watched tutorials on how to make timers and found this one to be the most helpful for my purposes; Countdown Timer With Expressions   Conclusive Determination Even though I'm frustrated on how much longer this video project has taken than I had anticipated, I'm happy that it has progressed even in these tiny steps forward. One of the struggles have arguably been my perfectionist sense, that was never really happy how the floor looked and couldn't just let it be, even when it looked good enough. Other was the earlier mentioned forced re-location f the actual floor element, due to the addition of camera, which threw the original perspective out of whack and misaligned the floor. Not to mention how much it took time off from creative work when my PC was acting up couple of weeks ago and scare me to death with it's BSOD boot loop, as suddenly my computer seem to have finally snuffed out. Luckily, lowering my memory settings below it's specs helped to this, but the computer is a tad slower now, luckily only a few percentile. At the same time, it is not helping that occasionally your time is spent more on finding ways to optimize your workflow or solve performance issues, than actually being able to do the creative work you love to do. The world of an artist would be so much easier if they had tools that "just works". To have something even close to that would be much too expensive for my budget currently, but I will get there eventually  At least I learn more on the way, including patience and tenacity. But on a positive note, this is the actual final version of the floor; This is it for this weeks Dev Diary! Thank you for tuning in and I'll see you next week And as always, you can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

Dev Diary #019 - After Intermission

Hi and Welcome to this weeks Dev Diary! Unfortunately this week I don't have any pictures to show for the progress, as I have not been able to make any prototypes this week. I have, how ever, been doing research on the various ways that the text could be done, and it seems that pursuing full 3D texts is the hardest option here, which has made me lean towards faking the 3D effect with caustics. Since the "Announcement Bar -project" has taken such a long time, this might be a necessary sacrifice to speed up the process. Instead of talking about the "Announcement bar -project", I will be revealing some goals and plans regarding the mobile game project.   The Plan In General The game will take place in an ancient time, before any recorded history, which gives a plenitude of creative freedoms. The ideas I'm having has been largely inspired by the oldest stone structures found thus far, one of which is Göbekli Tepe, that dates back to more than 12 000 years ago and the re-discovery of the Richat Structure, also known as the "Eye of Africa", which looks geologically a lot like how Plato described Atlantis - what if there really was a much older high civilizations before the Sumerians, that was destroyed by some huge local or global cataclysm? Not a new idea by any means, but it is interesting to think about, how things might have panned out before any recorded history. Without taking any part in if it is true or not, it does allow your imagination to go wild with ideas. The early goal is to make a playable, simple prototype, which is expanded from the core mechanics, which are; The game is 2D or 2.5D, with a fixed perspective, similar to all the other popular RTS video games. You manage and command your units by selecting them with a tap. You build buildings by selecting what you want to build and tapping where you want to build it, most likely grid based placing. You need to gather resources in order to construct buildings and fund the training of your troops. Pretty basic stuff. How ever, the interesting part is where I'm planning on going with this game, step by step; Making a PC version of the game; -> With improved graphics and flexibility in managing everything. -> With an eventual goal to add the ability to link your Mobile save to your PC game, allowing you to play your saves where ever you go. Expanding the game mechanics; -> From a simple RTS to City-Builder RTS, with functioning economic mechanics. -> Adding RPG elements to the game (in which the most comprehensive hooks for the game will be designed in) -> Building a diplomacy system for the game, in preparation for PvP elements. -> Making a balanced PvP system, that would make sure that beginners are not steamrolled or have to pay them self's sick in order to not be steamrolled. I have several ideas to combat this issue, some of which have not been tried in any other PvP game that I know of. -> Find a way to add user friendly and extremely affordable micro transactions, that does not make the game pay-to-win (which is a serious problem in my opinion), but pays for the development of the project. and many further developmental plans with ambitious goals, which I would like to hype about endlessly, but shouldn't. One thing I need to say about them as a hint; The ultimate goal is to go beyond City-Builder RTS RPG, where you can choose to be one of your soldiers and level him/her up as your avatar in the world that you created. This might sound like a grandeur mishmash of really difficult ideas to pull of, but I like to dream big - you might not succeed in it, but at least you tried and learned something along the way. No matter how big of a dream you try to follow, even in failure you can walk away wiser than you were before. Either way, you win something. One thing is for certain though - I will need a lot of help to get to where I wish for, with this project. The development of the horror title will continue at the latest once the first commercially viable version of the mobile game is released. That's all for this time. Thank you for tuning in and I'll see you on the next one! And as always, you can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

Dev Diary #018 - After Amateur Hours

Hi, and welcome to the 18th Dev Diary! I honestly thought that this week was going to be all about the 3D texts, but as it happens, there seems to be always a surprise or two behind the corner when you least expect it. a Forced Re-Design I started watching some tutorials for how to make 3D text in After effects. After several hours of watching and doing after their teachings, I saw that the techniques didn't go well with the setting of my video, as the letters color was not shown correctly and they conflicted with the coloring layers that was used in floor versions 1 through 6. This was done to have a greater control over the color theme of the ice. But as it happened, the way I did it was not a good one. After learning that making realistic 3D letters are very dependent on lighting and texturing, I needed better control over the camera angles. Prior V7, I didn't use any cameras, as that didn't seem t be necessary back then. After creating the Camera first time, the floor didn't align with the background anymore, and required re calibration. On top of that, as I tried to color the floor in a different way originally, the floor was in a bright gray tone. Hence, I needed to do the colors all over again and the 3D texts was not on the agenda anymore for time being.   An Opportunity in Disguise As I'm still learning the ropes, it didn't really surprise me that much, that something would need to be re-done eventually - it only makes sense, that you can easily overlook something, when you are not as aware of how things should be done, as a more experienced user would do. Even with experience, mistakes will happen and as such, this is a learning experience. The above picture shows this also, as you can see - the V6 and and V7 floors seem much more squashed than the V8 floor and if look closely, you can see the Bump map is much more visible in the V8 (the bottom one). The whole texture is not visible, as it extends beyond the screen boundaries, but this goes to show, that the high resolution textures have more detail to them, when they are not forced in a very small space, like with the V6 and V7. I also needed to play with the angles of the floor, as for some reason, when I added the Camera to my Composition, the reflection on the ice started to show up in a wrong direction. Fortunately flipping the floor to 90° fixed this issue. Weird how the reflections were working correctly before adding the camera, even though the floor was very close to the same degree before adding it. One difference to before I stopped using the coloring layers for the ice, is that the Caustics settings have very different looking results now, that most of the color settings can be done through the "Caustics" effect. The reflections can be set to be much more sharper and clearer than before, for instance, allowing much greater degree of tuning them. After some more fine tuning the color and appearance of the caustics, I should be able to continue implementing the 3D texts to the video. That's all from the last week, in a nutshell. Thank you for tuning in and I'll see you on the next one! And as always, you can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •

Dev Diary #017 - After Flooring

Hi and welcome to this weeks Dev Diary! This is going to be the last Dev Diary to exclusively concentrate on the floor texture alone. This week is going to be dedicated for making and texturing the floating 3D texts for the "Now Playing" announcements.   A Month, In Short It has taken a lot longer than I first though to get to this point with the Announcement Bar graphics designing. This seems to be a regular occurrence, as it's too easy to underestimate the time it takes to have the project step ready - when it is because something takes a lot longer to render, or some effect doesn't pan out the way you envisioned it in your mind and you need to fiddle with the settings much more than anticipated. There has been days, when I have made this over 8 hours straight, and only thing I managed to achieve, was a tad differently colored end result, if you didn't know what was done under the hood. A good example of this would be the tryouts with the Bump and Normal mapping, which had very subtle differences. Another example was when I tried 15K texture, just to go over the board with the detail I was looking for. That didn't pan out, as the texture it self should have been made in 15k for all the detail to be much more visible than in the 1080p (HQ) texture I showcased earlier.  Even after a month of developing the texture, with a more relaxed schedule, the outcome is still not as good as I would hope it to be, but this has to do. While making the 3D texts for the "Announcement Bar", I might do some subtle color changes, but no big overhauls are planned for the floor. Here is a short history of the development of the announcement bar floor; Caustics really changed the game for me, as it makes the ice look more natural by making it's color and details much more uneven. But now that I look back, I really like the color scheme of the Version 2 the best out of these, which is something I just might change still, while doing the 3D texts. You can also see, that trying to make the frost panned out in the end, as in the version's 5 and 6, the frost layer looks much more natural, than in it's first iteration in the Version 2. The try-out with the snow in the Version 3 was also a result from the frost layer, which turned out to be too much for my taste, as I really like the idea of the reflections from the video showing up on the floor, which the snow layer blocked almost entirely. After hours of fiddling with the snow effect and looking for ways to make it more sparse, I thought that if I was to make snow on top of the ice, a better and more detailed option would be to make it from scratch with Photoshop. This would have made the project step much longer though, which is why I decided not to make any snow layer for the ice. this is when I started looking alternatives, and found the "Caustics" -effect. At first, I added "Caustics" -effect on top of the textures, as seen on the Version 5 picture. This however looked a tad unnatural, as the "waves" made by the caustics effect didn't blend naturally with the cracks in the original texture. After trying several settings to make it work, I couldn't find one that would be satisfying enough, as every time the texture and the caustics -effect looked separate from each other. After thinking about what to try next, I decided to try and delete the "texturize" -effect from every layer that had one, including the normal and Bump mappings, and I only used them within the "caustics" -effect. This is when the Version 6 was born. you can still recognize the used texture from the Version 6, if you try to spot the similarities, but as you can see, it blends with the effect on a whole new level compared to the Version 5. Here is a full render of the frame 391 for a more detailed preview of the whole;   To The Next Step Now it only needs the text layers and animating them for this to be finally ready. If last month was anything to help predicting when it will be ready, i would say at the end of May, 2019. I really do hope, that making the text layers and animating them takes a lot less time than that. but here is a short list of what I had in plans for the 3D texts; Making a simple texture for the texts, with the same method used with the frost layer. Slightly translucent 3D Text. Animated time and position indicators for each song (like in spotify). Now then, it is time for me to start with the next page of this project. thank you for tuning in, and I'll see you on the next weeks Dev Diary! And as always, you can check out every possible mid week announcements about the project on these official channels; • YouTube • Facebook • Twitter • Discord • Reddit • Pinterest • SoundCloud • LinkedIn •
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