I work on it whenever I can
Aug 27 2012 12:49 PM
Roger Fang and I (Mark Jordan) made Armada for Dreamcast in 1999. We upgraded the Armada Online engine and added new areas recently. We are preparing to transfer to a cloud server, so anyone who wants to try it is quite welcome. [The current server should support up to 500 simultaneous players.]
We wanted the effects to remain visually interesting and chaotic with repeated firings. To accomplish this, we broke the effects down into components, and used real time transformations and a lot of randomization, instead of prerenderd animation. For example, the beam weapon effects are made up of several parts. Each beam has a scaled core stretch flat, 2 origin flares, 2 destination flares, and a second stretch flat that stetches across the length of the beam as it fires, to enhance a sense of directionality. Because the color values in the source textures are relatively dark, the appearance of the effects often "emerge" from alpha addition, rather than resemble the bitmaps used to make them.
The engine supports normal maps, blur, and glow bloom, and can display a very large number of effects in the context of a server-based game, where all objects have actual locations/collisions that are identical for all players (no approximation or prediction, basically a synched rts processed on the server). One benefit of this method is that you can dodge, and overall the feel of play is more solid since small movements make a difference in combat.