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Unity The GDNET Progress of an Isometric Game Award of the Year [2004-] Goes to:

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Raymond Jacobs (EDI) [cool][grin][smile] There are many people working on RPGs and Isometric engines here on gamedev but few get them to a respectable state. For whatever reasons, usually to do with constraints (life, time, medium) this simply rarely happens. Two engines, however, have risen above the rest and attained that lofty plane. And another has transcended all bounds and can actually be called an Isometric RPG with story. These engines are the ones by VertexNormal and of course, EDI, respectively. VertexNormal's engine was based on OpenGL and was quite technically impressive. The screens are long gone from his site it seems, however I will make guess on its features based on screens I can recall. The game featured lighting, random level generation, items and inventory, animation, fighting and could actually be called an RPG. He nonetheless quit for reasons I am sure are quite similar to mine, which i will expound on in a bit. EDIs project is based on Directdraw and has lighting, animations, fighting, inventory/items, comprehensive interface... actually I would not be in the wrong to state that listing all its features would prove to be too time consuming. It is basically a game now. I look at EDIs project and say to myself, "Wow, this project might well see the end of the tunnel!" That you, EDI, stuck to the original engine and are entering a state that the story can begin to be fleshedout is quite impressive. You have my respect man, your willpower is most impressive. It is unfortunate that all I can do is rate you higher and buy the game when it is released. Nonetheless keep up up the good work and make sure you finish, there are those like me who are counting on you to do what they could not. [smile]. Also, impressive job on creating an 8 page thread in the Isometric Forum ----------

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I don't know if this belongs here Raymond, but if it is cluttering your space say so and I will remove it to its own thread but these thoughts are what made me admire your dedication. I just jumped from technology to technology never getting very far with regards to the game itself.

In other Events: Why the Chaos Engine [mine] failed

That my game would fail is obvious in hindsight. My only prior programming experience were little demos in QBASIC (text rpg, 2d engine quite impressive actually [had GUI, mouse, used EMS, anyone remember XMS and EMS?]) and a ModeX software renderer (cant really call it that though, got only to .bmp textured cube, no shading) in Borland C++ 3.0 DOS. I had never actually made a game.

I started the game as a 2D Topdown Sprite Engine RPG using the GDI and Visual Basic. I got it to a state where I could walk around a town and talk before I decided I wanted to use directdraw and also make the game Isometric. So I switched over to C++ and kept the same Visual Basic way of programming. Not good. Nonetheless I was able to get a basic Map drawn with NPCs walking about. I then decided to switch to Direct3D so I could take advantage of stuff and by then I was a much better (This is over years mind you, and I often took many coding breaks of many months in length.) . I was actually able to develop the engine to a state comparable with the two mentioned above but lost motivation due to the annoyance generated by the hacks required to make the Graphics Engine anywhere near modern standards.

These include the ability to change armour, dynamic shadows, heightmapping and recognizing what side of the slope you are on, proper cliffs, walls, Flexible Collision Detection,occlusion of light and sight, limits in comprehensive animations and others I am unable to recall at the moment. The hacks required to get those up were depressing. I also wished to add reflections but was unsure as to how to approach that. I also wanted a method that would blend tiles without extra graphics. No dice. Support for male/female and any race was also unattainable. There was however, a much greater hurdle for my motivation to cross.

The engine had reached a sprawling state reminiscent of palaces that have existed for generations and have had additions that have been placed with little thought for structure or continuity and look quite ugly and near collapse. For me I simply stuck the Diret3D based renderer next to the directdraw based graphics engine. Bascially the directdraw was left there to rot. That fact and the fact that many concepts were there which were based on an concepts dating all the way to my qbasic day was another. The code was ugly. I was working on an editor which I can honestly say approached the aurora toolset in thoroughness. With it, if it finished you could make an entire game. It never finished and the game stagnated. The features listed below including the hacks above are what I was able to implement.

  • Perlin Noise Based Heightmapping

  • Random 2D Sinusoids and minute Heightmaps for Water

  • Dynamic Lights and Shadows

  • Support for Fairly Comprehensive n frame Animations

  • Comprehensive Particle Engine Could do any effect (from lightning to
    tornadoes to wormholes and scintillating globes)

  • Basic Random Town and Outdoor Generation (never got to indoors)

  • NPCs who could walk and Talk

  • Editor in which you could design levels (move, delete, insert) and add
    NPCs and give them text with responses that could launch events and scripts,
    place lights, set collision rects, triggers and more.

  • Particle effects editor

  • Scripting Language based on Small (similar to C) with a mini IDE.

  • A* based Pathfinding

  • Unique Method for Collision Setting

  • Mouse Hovering and selecting. Fast

  • MultiTexturing and bumpmapping

  • No Mousemaps [smile]

  • object stacking

I have some screens below, which unfortunately are not up to date (months out of date), relatively speaking (haven't worked on it since August of 2004). The game and editor were in a broken state when I left them. I still do not fill up to fixing them. Maybe someday...

Directdraw - Ill point out that all my Directdraw engine could do was draw
stuff, no shadows, lights,blending or any of that fancy stuff


Image Hosted by ImageShack.usImage Hosted by ImageShack.usImage Hosted by ImageShack.us

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
I nonetheless plan on describing how I did what I did, though I doubt interest will exist in anything that is not 3D. And have already extracted a fair amount of the graphics engine into an easy to use library...

Perhaps I am overstepping my bounds in this but if you could describe and espouse your reasons for terminating your project VertexNormal, when , if, you ever find the time of course, twould be nice. And that is even if you ever happen upon this thread.

[Edited by - Daerax on March 3, 2005 11:03:31 AM]

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Damn. Makes me want to pick Golem back up again... [grin] Seriously, though, I really might resurrect it using some of the new backend developed as part of the Accidental project. We'll have to see...

FWIW, the Golem site went down briefly due to my mistakenly uploading debug rather than release versions of my Accidental Engine binaries and going over size limits. It's back up now, and soon to possibly have a facelift.

EDIT: BTW, as for reasons for shelving it in the first place, the number one reason was poor design in the scripting backend. Up to a point, the functionality I implemented was sufficient for generation of simple levels, but more complex levels and intricate rules and interactions scripting for quests was tricky and confusing. I was also discouraged by the relatively intensive memory requirements of 32-bit sprite animations.

With the Accidental project, I created a level generation backend that is much cleaner to use. I have also developed a hybrid 2D/3D rendering engine that renders levels exactly the same as the original Golem engine appearance-wise, but which uses 3D and the z-buffer to handle some of the trickier aspects of proper sprite sorting that occasionally cropped up in the initial engine. The hybrid system also adds support for the fully 3D animated models from the Golem3D engine framework, thus helping to lessen the memory requirements.

In short, with some redesign and with a lot of the lessons I have learned since I first started the initial project, I think I could build a far more solid engine, and am seriously considering resurrecting the project.

[Edited by - VertexNormal on March 3, 2005 9:13:55 AM]

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Oh good [smile].

For me all that is left is a hope that someday I will magically finish. But at this time I have too much on my plate to return to the project. Hmm... People do say that I eat too much.

EDIT: I like how I am able to travel to the past and edit my posts before I post them. [grin]. I will probably end up giving the the code away.

From the Collision Rects Modelling Tool.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Crazy. Allowed you to Make rects as small as a pixel or as large as whatever for all the .bmps and thus was shared by all sprites in load time.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

[Edited by - Daerax on March 3, 2005 2:48:41 AM]

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Hehe, I don't know what to say :-D

Except that I am just so flattered!

Lately things have just been going from good to better.

It should be noted, that while I started things and have played a big part in the development of Morning's Wrath, equal shares of credit belong to my wonderful team.

Zac Todd - Writer,Designer,Scripter
Adam Frechette - Composer
Morgan Chaput - Sketch Artist
Aaron Brown - Sound Effects Artist
Jenna Hoffstein - 3D Character Artist

And Past Members:
Billy Zimmerman - Programmer

I would also like to recognize people who have directly given help to the project on a voluentary basis:
Casey (caffineaddict) Wireman - Website Manager
Corbin (Tarviathun) Hart - Writer
Justin Smith - PR Manager
Corey (visage) - Designer

And to everyone who stands out in my mind as supporters:

And Many More...

Again, thank you =) this will be a great morale boost for our team.

P.S. The Beta is coming _very_ _very_ soon =D

[Edited by - EDI on March 3, 2005 8:15:36 AM]

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Jenna Hoffstein - 3D Character Artist

I whole heartedly agree! In the small amount of time I worked on the game, Raymond proved to be a capable leader with passion and talent, much deserving of praise. Not only that, but he has established a dedicated team who are willing to put in their all for a unified vision. That alone is a miracle.

This game has made great progress, and promises to be fantastic. Also, its an adventure game! That alone is awesome!

Edit: Some spelling clean up ;)

[Edited by - visage on March 3, 2005 6:33:26 PM]

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Wow, I made the supporters list, and I was beginning to think that my constant comments might be getting annoying to the team..

I personally decided that to track the progress of EDI's Team because it makes me feel that the game I dream of are actually possible, and I want to help them and give them encouragement to complete their project.

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@EDI :

I understand the difficulties involved in creating and sustaining an indie game, especially when one has a job. Just wanted you to know that others notice and care. I have followed your progress for years and as you said the growth of recent times is greatly accelerated, deserving praise. So also do all those who catered for this sudden growth. I must admit that your new 3D artist has allowed your game to achieve a new level of visual quality. She also deserves praise. Artists often go un recognized.

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I whole heartedly agree with the award. I think that EDI and his team have done a great job. To be honest, I haven't done too terribly much, so I wouldn't include myself in that list. Good work, Raymond. We'lre all looking forward to this game.

Great job, guys!

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