Progress Update

Phew, I don’t post very often. I thought I’d update with a few items to just reassure development and other various topics are still going alone. Most of them however. To start off with the biggest thing that everyone who actually reads this blog is interested about is Infectum. Yes development is still going along, but we’re at the point where it’s not really possible to give anything to the public. I mean, I could mention how the communication audio system is enhanced to be similar to the way Splinter Cell handles detection and shadows. With saying that I’m being safe, but I can’t really say much else otherwise I’m revealing the design document.

Anyway, to be more precise on the development cycle we’re currently in pre-development. This phase is mostly quiet because everything is changing. It’s like writing a draft to a paper. It’s not final in any way, and you keep changing it. Pre-development is somewhat like that, but the bulk of the design document has been written by me. What’s been causing a delay you ask? Well the schedules are the main problem that has been breaking up the progress. It’s frustrating within itself to have a document that needs external review, but can’t be publicly displayed. I won’t bore you with details, but that’s the gist of it.

On another note the Unreal Engine has proven to be extremely powerful. After finishing a couple books on UnrealScript, Level Design, and UDK basics I feel so much more comfortable than before. I have also noticed that the editor itself is also much more short-cut oriented than I had previously thought. Cryengine also released an update recently to their engine which I downloaded just to see where it stacked up against UDK. It’s still ages behind where I would like it to be, but their update schedule seems to have halved, which is a bonus. However compared with the current state that it’s in and the unreliable amount documentation (imo) I still feel that it’s the lesser of two engines at the moment.

Cryengine has always prides itself on how it’s beautiful, and well, that’s true. Almost anything you make can be pretty. It takes effort to actually make something look ugly. I benefited from this type of development because it doesn’t require as much work compared to UDK. Now at the time I was completely unknown to how to use UDK so anything was better to me. My opinion has changed on this topic. The little work though is only the surface of Cryengine. I haven’t even begun to start with the scripting side, which I feel was a dark area that wasn’t well covered when I attempted. I learned the Lua language to prepare myself for development, but I learned that scripting/programming is mostly done through dll binding. Mostly requiring C++ instead of Lua. A disappointment to me since I learned it anyway. Regardless it’s still a bonus to have learned it as I can now better interpret the source code of the original Infected Wars game since it was written in Lua. This is why I still felt it easy to transfer at such an early stage in development. The design document did rely on some cryengine features but won’t take much effort to change them around to fit Unreal Engine.

The updates Crytek has pushed out for Cryengine Free SDK should have been available when they made it available. Unfortunately I believe why the engine takes a long time to get updates is because they have so many different versions of it. The DX11 that was featured in the newest update was available in Crysis 2 way before the Free SDK was available. I believe the Mod SDK even had it before the Free SDK. The documentation between the two are also different. I noticed as I was following a tutorial done in the Mod SDK that some of the flowgraph elements were either not there or were in different places. Making it more difficult for me to learn from them. I eventually decided to watch Free SDK tutorials exclusively since the Mod SDK ones normally had assets or other elements that weren’t available to me. This created more frustration as there are so little tutorials for the Free SDK.

Other than the lack of good tutorials and decent documentation there are still huge bugs that affect development. The terrain issue I pointed out in a previous blog post still exists as do many other problems. The main bonus of this new update is the DX11 water, which if edited can make it look extremely ugly. I tried applying the same techniques I learned from editing the DX9 water to DX11 water and it ended up looking far worse. I couldn’t exactly get the water to shimmer without making the entire ocean color change. The surface still also has a cellophane look to it. Cryengine has one-upped UDK with it’s real water but it still fails in the department of actual usability. They’ve also included Screen Space Reflections. I won’t even get into that since it’s not worth the time. On to the more annoying issue that has exited with the Free SDK ever since the start. No it’s not the terrain, although that is annoying. It’s the forces login. It still exists. I have no idea why they would keep this other than to collect demographic and usage details. If people wanted to sync with the site to keep projects they should have a button that allows people to do that, and when they press it, it opens the dialog. Forcing a login still disallows offline access to engine and launcher. It also still forces people to create accounts on Crydev just to try the game you made! To add more to it they still have not created any sort of final licensing details for the engine. I feel Cryengine wants to be like the Unreal Engine, but it keeps falling down when it tries. As Crytek updates their engine I’ll be posting on it and comparing it to UDK, so if anyone who is trying to make a decision between the two can make an educated one.

On to more more UDK stuff! As I mentioned previously in this post (if you read) I have read a couple books on the Unreal Engine and UnrealScript. Well I recently updated my UDK and lost all my UnrealScript work, but it wasn’t much in regards to actual gameplay. I personally felt it was clunky from the way it explained in the book. Although what I learned was how Unreal Script works and how to find out how to use the source code to write my own scripts. It’s much better than following a tutorial. Other than learning UScript I’ve moved into level design following a tutorial made by the same person who wrote the level design book I read. The level design book itself is extremely good on level design, but the tutorial was outdated. The version used was a 08-09 UDK which had more assets(?) than my version had so I had to opt out different meshes to fit the area. The same with textures and I feel this made my level overall more ugly since I clashed two color schemes in the wrong ways. The only reason why I know this is because of the book I read. I didn’t put much thought when I created the level and had to reverse what he was doing so my colors matched in the opposite way, unfortunately this created an opposite feeling. It wasn’t a warm welcoming scene like he created it was more of a cold stay-out feeling. View the video below to see my meaning. Also missing the meshes used to create the distance view of trees, ground, and rocks were also gone so I just left it as an empty void. I should put some more work into the level and remake the video just to expand on what I was taught and try to make it look better. I probably will.

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about the MachinimaCentral Podcast, and a user has requested that I talk about the newest podcast released where Phyrophobia fixed his mishaps on the previous podcast. This podcast doesn’t exactly have a nice soundcloud embed link for an unknown reason so I have to link it manually. You can listen to the MachinimaCentral Podcast I’m talking about here[REDACTED]. Unlike the last time however I’m going to put the correct time where they start talking. They start off with a small story and then quickly get on to fixing what they said last time at 2:12. Have fun listening!

To end this long post I will leave you with this short summary. Infectum development is still ongoing, hopefully next time I can post I can bring some good news and maybe some teasers on to some of the mechanics. I’ll bring more UDK practice videos within the coming weeks to show progress with the engine, and concepts being tested from Infectum. Thanks for reading and have a good week!

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