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  1. Do You Like Time Trial Modes?

    In third person you have a bigger field of view and you can better see where shots are coming from when you're getting shot at from behind. But really the advantage doesn't seem significant and aiming is easier in first person. I think you're right, doing leaderboards only by difficulty level seems to be the way to go.
  2. Do You Like Time Trial Modes?

    Interesting thought. While video recording would probably impose too much overhead on the framerate, it would be cheap to record positions, directions, and velocities of game objects and allow for a replay. Interpolating the recorded data and drawing with the game engine isn't much different than interpolating multiplayer data, it's doable but a fair amount of work to allow replay. Everyone's feedback seems to validate that it's worth adding this feature. For initial release I'll probably just enforce with refreshes, but maybe come back later and add replay support.
  3. Currently my game is single-player only. I've experimented with multiplayer, but my focus has been single-player and other modes are unpolished and probably won't make the release. I've been considering adding a time-trial leaderboard to add a competitive aspect to the single-player mode and increase replay value. However, I built both a first-person and third-person mode. Both are excellent and fun, but it seems unfair to have first-person players compete against third-person, so I'd be looking at two separate leaderboards (or 6 leaderboards if I go with 3 difficulty levels). Further, if I separate these modes from a leaderboard standpoint, then I can't allow a player to switch mid-game. I use a checkpoint system for save games and don't currently support multiple save slots, so the only way to play the other mode would be to start over. I'm also a little worried about cheating on the leaderboard, I don't really think that there's anything within reason I could do to prevent it, though I'd be lucky if my game was popular enough to have that problem. Do you think a time trial leaderboard is worth the trouble? Is it enough to just have a single-player game that's just fun to play without a competitive reason to replay? Here's some videos of both modes to add context:
  4. My game has reached a point where I need voice or text objectives to tell the player what to do next. The HUD provides visual pointers for the next objective, but a verbal or text representation is badly needed and it would give the ability to layer in a storyline and add some depth. I think my favored approach is speaking avatars in the HUD, like in StarCraft, but I'm not sure how to achieve this. I'm open to buying lip-synced 2D sprites if there is such a thing, but it may be difficult to match my visual style with sprites. Another idea that I've considered is trying to record video sequences of actual people (either wholesale or splicing frames/clips). Anybody try to do either of these? Advice? Is it as hard as it seems? Doing a voice-over without avatars has struck me as a more practical alternative, in conjunction with a text representation of objectives (overlay when objectives change or when the game is paused). I fear this approach would be less immersive, but is it good enough for a single-player indie game? Are there examples of this that you think worked well?   Here's a video of the gameplay to give you some context:
  5. Screenshots

    From the Star Fighter game project
  6. Sorry for the slow response, just got back from my honeymoon!     I switched to ESM and I was able to reduce some artifacts. Even still, the terrain artifact is still there to a lesser degree. Prebaking the terrain is probably a solution, although it introduces a lot of complexity to solve a relatively minor artifact.     Already cleared to max depth. The artifact I'm referring to is caused by blurring between max depth and occluders with much lower depth value. A blur with a very large depth difference produces shadows with sharp edges and reduces the ability of the blur kernel to eliminate discretization artifacts. This produces an artifact where shadows that project onto the far plane are sharp and discrete, but the blur antialiasing works well when the shadow is projected onto a non-terrain surface and the shadow edges there are soft.     Not sure I follow what you're describing, if you could cite a whitepaper perhaps?   Another possibility I was looking at was ESSM, looks like it selects the blur kernel sizes variably, perhaps a solution might lie in a soft-shadowing algorithm like that.
  7.   Not at the moment, although i've considered precalculating areas where the player gets close for other reasons.
  8. Looking for some advice on shadow mapping algorithms. Currently working on this game, shadowing is a very important visual effect for the planet-based levels. I recently implemented variance shadow mapping with cascaded shadow maps. To my dismay I'm struggling with some awful visual artifacts: I believe the primary cause of this is that I'm not rendering the terrain into the shadow map. While I've found some ways to mask these effects, I have not found a silver bullet and the shadows are often detracting from the visual fidelity of the planet.   The terrain is generated from a ridiculous fractal noise equation, thus actually drawing the terrain into the shadow maps is impractically expensive. I suspect due to these issues VSM is ill-suited for my game. Are there similar soft shadow mapping approaches that do not require drawing the terrain into the shadow map that might be better choices?
  9. Starfighter Alpha Video Preview

    Mouse, though probably would make for a better video using joystick or controller. Can run on tablet PC as well, though the framerate leaves something to be desired (about 20 FPS).
  10. Here's a video showing a preview of the alpha version of my game in development: Starfighter. There's some cool stuff at the end around :40 (boss and planetary warp effect), so if you get bored it's still worth jumping to that part.   Feedback is appreciated, as always!
  11. I've been doing game development as a hobbyist for decades and have never published a game, though I've loads of partially complete projects on old drives which have only been seen only in private circles. I suppose I helped with one released project, which sort-of counts.   But I'm not sad at all about it. A few years ago I produced a software tool with the intention of making money. Got a few clients and the project turned into hard work and quickly ceased to be fun at all. I eventually stopped supporting it to win my freedom back.   As a hobbyist I can afford to spend 6 months coming up with a unique procedural planet algorithm, but if I'm producing a product to sell to the masses it's all about producing content quickly and keeping costs down. I create my games as a hobby so it can be less like work and more like art.
  12. What is your poly budget?

    XNA 750,000 on my most detailed model, with lots of culling. Mid size ships are between 30,000 and 70,000, can have several dozen of these on screen during large battles   On low-end hardware (HD4000) my GPU-accelerated fractal algorithm for planets is set to draw just a little over a million triangles, whereas on high-end PCs it can be cranked to push over 4 million triangles.   Various other effects (particles effects, stars/parallax) render several thousand more tris.   For mobile devices (e.g. HD4000) in total I push somewhere between one or two million triangles (unfortunately this comes at the cost of pushing 1080p framerates under 20 fps, though 720p is still very smooth). On more powerful desktops with good graphics cards I can push 5+ million on 1080p with no framerate drops. I haven't yet tested this on any ultra-powerful desktop machines, my hardware is a little dated. I suspect some new machines could do millions more tris.   My game is highly GPU-bound in terms of performance, CPU makes little or no difference except for load times (NOTE: load times can be pretty awful for complex models on low-end machines).
  13. Bumpy grass on terrain

    I always assumed Outerra used some sort of fractal algorithm with just simple normal-mapping, but after reading this piece I think they must use textures with a good parallax technique, though it seems you already knew that.
  14. Thanks for confirming my suspicions. I was able to get some pretty decent surface detail out of the normal mapping by making it stronger, setting a -1 mipmap bias, adding more color variation, which has the nice effect of creating a good surface albedo as well, and otherwise tweaking what I had. Guess I'll just have to make the normal mapping work.    
  15. I'm fairly pleased with my terrain LOD and shading now overall, but I think the surface looks kind of flat; all I'm doing now is some simple normal mapping. I've been considering applying the relief mapping algorithm I use elsewhere, but it seems that would require huge numbers of texture fetches.   With the high-detail fractal surface I'm currently using, I'm already doing 33 texture fetches per pixel with the fractal algorithm alone (11 bands with a anti-repetition algorithm that requires 3 lookups per band), and I'm worried that multiplying this by a large number of search iterations (10 or so) for relief mapping it might choke the GPU.   At what point will I be texture-fetch limited? Do I have better options than simple normal mapping with a high-texture-fetch fractal noise-based surface?