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Showing posts from 2015

What Im doing now?

Not too much programming lately. I have spent some time finishing my third novel, fixing the text I received from my first printed book, and planning/starting my fourth novel. The second one has proven to be a boring and long task.

The problem is that according to my editor, the publisher doesnt deliver the corrected text, design, etc, to the author. After insisting, I got a weird formatted PDF with the text and the illustration markers. Converting the PDF to an editable format was almost impossible, and the final result was an ugly mess. Also, it took about 12 mb when saved as doc. The solution? Copy and paste as plain text, save again, and then reapply styles, fix lot of splitted words (in spanish, books are justified and cut words in the page edge). 

I decided to finish third novel, so I could spend start working on the fourth as soon as possible. An advice to novice writers: you learn to write by writing. Through the first three novels, I have learned a few things about creating …

122 years of the first flight

On december 17th of 1903, the Flyer, built Wright brothers, took of in Kitty Hawk. The process that resulted in the flight, took serious investigations, including the use of an aerodynamic tunnel, technique we still use to test planes. Also, the brothers had to design a method to control the plane: the three axis control, which is standard in all fixed wing planes. Learn to fly it doesnt lacks merit, as the aircraft has proven to be quite hard to fly, even for experienced pilots.

Yet, the honor of the first flight is not undisputed, as some consider that it really belongs to a brasilian engineer: Alberto Santos Dumont, who followed a pre-established circuit in october of 1906 totalling 60 metres, certified by the Aéro Club de France and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. Dumont repeated the flight a month later, this time setting a world record of 220 metres.  Also, the 14-bis took off by his own means, and the Flyer required a catapult. A curious detail: according to the w…

Fallout 4 (not a review)

A couple of days ago I read this curious statement at Gamespot forums, and even when I have no doubts that Fallout 4 is an RPG, I agree with most of the points. What Im not so sure is that Fallout 4 is Fallout at all. I have been playing the game for a week, but from the very first minutes I knew something: Im dissapointed.

It is not that Bethesda killed most of the original game spirit when the went the FPS path, thats old story. The problem is that they are killing the few Fallout elements left, so, dont be surprised if for Fallout 5 we dont have even the SPECIAL. The Fallout skills system have been with us since the first title, and it worked, but seems that somebody decided that I would be better to simplify it. Im usually a peaceful people that dislikes hurting living beings, but Im utterly sure that the author of such unfortunate idea should be hanged by the balls.

There is a trend of changing gameplay in each franchise iteration, even when it is proven and fun, just for the s…

Tilemaps

You would expect that a mature commercial engine had all the tools you need to develop whatever game you can imagine. After all, the have legions of engineers working all day producing code. But sometimes happens that what you need isnt there. For example, Unity3d added an UI layout editor relatively recent: in version 4.6. And will have a tilemap editing features in 5.5, scheduled for next year. That's right, no tilemap editor yet.

Tilemaps is what you use for 2d games like mazes, and happens that I need to develop a maze game. I seriously thought about using Godot, but then found that it doenst builds for iOS and that the tilemap tool documentation wasnt very helpful. So, the solution was to use Unity3d and find a workaround to the lack of native tilemap support.

Lucky me, there are Unity alpha builds available and seems that I will be able to use one of them to create my game.

Storing stuff in Unity3d

The last days, or weeks, maybe months, I have been fighting with the problem of storing several game element definitions, like NPCs, their inventorys, items, skills and abilities.

Lets say you want to have an NPC named Frolo the Habbat at point X. In Unity3d editor you can place the mesh, adjust it, etc, but, how do you specify that Frolo has a Big Stick of quality 3, his attributes are 4,5,4,6 (whatever that means), and has a Magic skill level 5? My first approach was to use XML. When you have a hammer, all problems will look like nails to you, and in this case, XML is the hammer I have been using in all my previous iterations of this project. It is flexible enough to let you put any number of different stuff inside. The drawback is that you cant edit it inside Unity3d editor.

The Unity3d solution is to use ScriptableObject and asset files. An asset file can store the definition of an ScriptableObject, and its properties can be edited in the editor inspector. The asset files are goo…

It is official, Im game designer

After a short, but intense course, Im now game designer. Perhaps, to say that I have some formal training is more accurate.

I spent the last week in Havana, where professor Salvador Gómez, from Spain, imparted an interesting course for people of many different specializations: from actual game developers to writers. The last day we took some time to show our projects, from both indie developers and government institutions, like ICAIC (the cinema organization). Unity3d seems the engine of choice, and the casual, simple games are the rule. Even a 3rd person game presented there took more from platformers than from complex RPGs.

With great pleasure, our team received several good opinions about the project. I really didnt expected that, considering the quality of the titles we saw. There were a couple of artists interested in the project, but still no programmer. Now, lets hope I can make good use of what I learned.

Some days (or weeks) with Underrail

I have been a fan of Underrail since its first beta. Or alpha. In the last years, I have been lucky to get my hands on a couple of versions, being the 0.1.13 the last one, which is quite complete and bug free. I consider this as one of the few games that trigger in me what I call the Fallout feeling.

I disagree, of course, with a few design decisions and features. For example, the psi regeneration hasnt been included until the last versions, making impossible to play as a pure psi character. Eventually, after the second or third replay, you will figure out how to keep your character well supplied of psi boosters, but for a newcomer, playing as psi is out of the question.

The most annoying features implemented after 0.9 is that the merchants buy only some items (nothing new, Arcanum did that a decade ago) but just a few of them: 2 firearms, 3 leather armors, etc. You end up carrying tons of stuff, just in case you are lucky to find a trader that wants to buy that rat leather. Your wor…

Testing Unreal

It took me a while... actually,a  very long while, but I managed to run Unreal Engine 4.6 at home. The problem is that most of the dependencies are blocked for my country or simply quite large to download. Just judge by yourself: Unreal website itself doesnt allows me to register an account, FBX SDK is unreachable (I had to use a clever trick to upload it directly to my Dropbox), Visual Studio 2013 is required to develop with C++, yet, it required internet connection to activate, until Community Edition came out and it was a 7Gb download. The first time it was corrupted and took several days, I decided to try again and this time it was quick (4 days) and successful.

So, here is it. Now I can properly run Unreal Editor and play with it. Of course, as I know nothing about Unreal, all I could do was to play with the editor, use the third person template project, which has a quite complete third person camera system with mouse free look, like Mass Effect or The Witcher 3.

But playing wit…

Yes, Im alive

But too busy working. I have to say that new Unity3d UI system has proven to be the most difficult to learn GUI I have used. Having a layout editor is not a big help, because of the way unity handles things that are meant to be reused. But things are slowly falling into place. In the last days I have coded a lot, learned a lot... which doesnt means Im closer to have something playable. The amount of missing details is simply hughe. Probably I will need 2 months to reach playable status.

Anyway, right now I have implemented a few things, like a working dialog system, with most features in place. The dialogs can assign or modify quests and give items, but I still have pending the dialog editor tool. I have been thinking if I should implement it as an editor extension, or if I should write an external Qt based tool. The dialog editor is a complex tool, because of the nature of the data it has to manipulate: displaying a tree, representing the relations among the leaves and their ancesto…

Behold! The AMD Radeon Nano is here!

Yesterday quickly read Anandtech review of R9 Nano, which is already available (you can find it at Newegg, ranging from $649 to $669). This card seems to offer only good things: the perfomance of its elder sibling Fury X (shares the same specs, with a bit slower clock speed), low power requirement (only 175W), the new HBM memory, and small size. Because size does matters.

The price competes with Nvidia's GTX 980 Ti, which can be found (again, on Newegg) for $679-$689, although in perfomance terms, the green card keeps the lead in almost all tests, by 10 or more FPS. More or less, depends on the game. IMHO, the extra $10 (not the extra $20, that Zotac is way too expensive) are compensated by the perfomance gains, plus other factors like Nvidia cards having a nice VDPAU support under Linux. But do not underestimate the Nano, its perfomance, specially in 4K resolutions, are more than enough to hace a decent playing experience. Im just saying that if you can get 10-15 extra frames fo…

Krai Mira on Steam Greenlight

Krai Mira, a single player adventure that takes place on boundless steppes, radioactive swamps, distinctive settlements and grim mountain forests of the Crimea island, is now on Steam Greenlight. It is a post-apocalyptic, Fallout inspired RPG, and I have a good feeling about this game. You can download the demo and see it by yourself.
The game has been in development since 2013 and could be released in 2016. I wish them the best of luck.

Unity3d for Linux!

Came to office today after an extra holiday day, and found that I missed this amazing announcement. Native Linux support is scarce among commercial engines, which usually are limited to generate builds for this platform, a relatively recent achievement probably implemented due to massive claims of Linux ports in some successfull Kickstarter campaigns. Unity3d was the first to break the barrier, even a few months after saying that a Linux port was unfeasible and not profitable. Was followed close by Crytek (dont know the state of their native Linux tools) and then Unreal Engine 4.
The bad side is that this new build, based on 5.1, is experimental, which means that they still could pull the plug at any time if they consider that maintaining it is not profitable. Judging from the lot of bugs posted in the specific forum section, there is still lot of work to do, but also seems to me that it proves that there is interest in this Linux port.

Playing with the Xbox

Perhaps it is hard to believe, but in my 40 years I havent played with an Xbox. My console experiences were restricted to old Nintendo 64, even Atari devices, but for brief playings sessions. Never touched a PS One, or anything more recent. Which is the rule here in Cuba, Im not an exception.
I wanted to try Wasteland 2 for Xbox, but the game is not available in my city (probably because it will be released in October, something I didnt knew), so I had to test Diablo 3 to get an idea about how to adapt a game designed for mosue and keyboard to console controller. The experience wasnt as bad as I expected, to my surprise, I got used to the controller in a minute and my Barbarian successfully crushed heads and evaded death during half an hour. It was good.
The test answered part of my questions, but others arise: how about a third person game, like Dragon Age (with several skills available) or The Witcher 3? So, I have another test pending, or maybe several of them, which means that Il…

New UI

Sorry for being away too long. Im really busy with the project, lots of things to learn, and time is not enough. I have spent most of the experimenting time in the last days in the new Uinty3D UI. Maybe you wont believe it, but Unity3D idnt had a decent UI system with a layout editor until version 4.6. Before that, all UI was handled via code. The new system is more flexible, but it is not  exactly something Im used to, and takes some effort to fully underestand it.

I started with the old UI system because I thought it was better suited for elements dynamically created, yet, I was wrong about that. The new method also allows to create widgets at runtime, something that I havent mastered yet. but it will come.

Probalby i will use my vacations to work on that, expect some screenshots soon.

Playing with wifi

Since July 1st we have 35 wifi areas in Cuba. My city has three of them, and two of those are relatively near to my house, which means that I walk through them every day on my way to office and back. Price is still quite high: about $2 USD per hour, like a 5% of my salary, even more for people with lower salaries.

Connection speed and service quality is erratic. It is based on a captive portal solution: to enable access you have to open the browser and load a page, then you are redirected to a login page to authenticate. Once the auth process concludes, the browser shows a page displaying logout button, consumed and remaining time, and all internet traffic in the device is enabled. I have experienced all sort of weird issues, like account locking, or the accounting page dissapearing when I open a second browser window, which prevents me from doing a proper logout.

It is the first time I can browse internet (for a minute) from my own device. Im using it mostly to check my mail, and af…

Back from vacations

After long vacations, Im back to office. Not to work, because I did some little work at home. Yesterday I received the second version of the first game scene and started integrating the changes I coded last week, specifically, the character customization. It will take me a day, because Im doing it the wrong way: copying and pasting scripts and scene files in the new project.

Yes, it is crazy. The artist doesnt has Internet at home and every month I send a flash drive to Havana, and then Alejandro sends it back with his work. The process takes a week. After that, updating the github repo takes a hour or two, because the precalculated light info for the scene is about 80 mb. Also there are a lot of new models that needs to be commited.

Anyway, there are some interesting changes in the project lately. We are still learning about lights, heading to a new character style and division scheme, and more people is interested in joining: 2 programmers! We need coders. Alejandro also worked in …

It's alive!

Well, yes, we knew it is alive. Unigine, I mean. They have released another version, this time an RC. The most significant change is that now PBR is the default material.

The definitive Unigine 2.0 version will be presentad at Siggraph, in august. Considering the boost experienced by Unreal and Unity3d after becoming free (or at least, no upfront payments) and that Unigine lacks documentation and its closed community, Im dont foresee an increase of adoption in short term. Or any term at all.

Internet is coming

This could be the motto of our ruling House, lately. Today, we awoke (actually, it was published around midday) with good news: in another step towards Advanced Broadband (2 megabits, which is what all of you, my friends, had in your house 10 years ago), we will have internet via wifi, at 35 spots in all the country, starting on july. The promissed speed is one megabit per client, with the spots supporting from 50 to 100 concurrent clients. My city is blessed with 3 places, one of them, the Cespedes Park, at 10 minutes from my home. Walking, of course.

The prices are still out of my reach: ~$2 USD per hour. But cubans are used to live with few, or at least, most cubans are. A few minutes every month is what I need to check my mail in my little Android phone, and even receive or send attachments without spending a salary in phone bills. Previously, the mail traffic was charge on volume basis, $1 USD per megabyte, including the protocols traffic or any attempt to connect to internet by…

Scene is here

At last, I got the first official scene. Had to readapt a few things to make it work at home last night, then repeated the process here.. just to find out that this PC cant handle the load. The scene is not big, but Unity3D cant even move it. Perhaps it is the lights.

Now I have a problem. My home PC can easily work with the scene, but doesnt have Internet, and wont have it until next year, if I can pay for the minimum package (256kbs, according to a filtered document). Here, I have Internet, but dont have video card or even RAM to work. The "good side" is that I wont be working here for too long: Ill be unemployed in two, three months max.

And yes, the scene looks great.

Dialogs are back

Sometimes you have to kick yourself in the ass (quite hard to do) and start working. I did it today, and got results: dialogs are back. This is a work I couldnt do at home for sure, I had to use Google for almost everything. Arrays in C#? Google it. Lists? Google again. How to connect a button to code? Google.

Underestanding how to parse the new format took its time too. In this year, I have learned how to parse XML in 3 different languages, using different APIs each. Also, I found a weird problem: System.Xml parser return comments as nodes. WTF?! Yes, that almost made me crazy. But Im more relaxed now. The code is  still a big mess trying to get in a decent shape and probably will be for a while. The new dialog format is a bit more complex than the previous one, each answer can have several choices, depending on validation checks, same as NPC lines, plus actions. An action is, well, an action: receive a reward, a quest, remove an item...

Not bad for half day of work, including sever…

Yes, there will be Fallout 4

We knew there would be, but now we have a confirmation. Watch the trailer!


Me vs Qt and Windows

I always say that when you are a programmer, you should be ready to throw your work and start again whenever necessary. And I always expect that others apply that, not me. Yesterday I started porting the dialog editor tool to Windows. In the end, the dialog writers (in this project, or the next) probably will be using Windows, not Linux. Keeping a parallel Linux port is trivial.

I should have started in Windows. Probably I have to throw the previous UI I have been working on, or spend some time to figure out why does it produces a compilation error. Well, I will try to see the good side: now I have a chance to rethink the UI. The dialog editor is a complex tool, I must try to make it easy to underestand to people that never used anything more exotic than Office 2007.

The process of downloading Qt havent been easy, I even had to pay some internet time, which was lost money. Also, I found that I could have downloaded an older version instead of the 5.x, after all, cant use the VS plugi…

I tried to run The Witcher 3

And failed. I built my home PC with a very short budget, aiming to cover  Wasteland 2 requirements (mostly, the 4Gb of RAM). It is an old Core 2 6850, in  a basic G41 motherboard, rather limited. I managed to place 2 DDR2 memories running at 800Mhz, 1TB SATA drive, an AMD R7 250 video card, and a 500W PSU, which died a couple of months ago. I was quite happy with that (well, actually I wasnt, but I couldn't afford anything else), but then, some games I wanted to play asked for more RAM and more hard drive space than I had. Ok, I can miss Call of Duty Whatever Warfare, but Dragon Age... thats painful.

Obviously, The Witcher 3 doesnt runs. I managed to see the main menu, even the intro cinematic (a bit bumpy), but in-game framerate is not enough even to move the character. Perhaps I have to recover my AMD card, as I have now a GT 520 which is not the choice to run demanding games, but I dont expect a big perfomance gain.

Anyway, at least I can do game development!

First scene: screenshots

Re-learning C++

Back to C++. It is weird to compile or to type -> again after several months programming in AngelScript and C#. Also, Im learning to use PugiXML and recovering my little Qt knowledge.

I have restarted work on dialog editor. This time Im going to bring the development process to Windows, since a long time ago I wanted to know how is Qt development under platforms other than Linux. I think it is going to be a good training for me. I will create a public github repo as soon as I have the code working on Visual Studio, together with the file format documentation.

The tool is far from simple, because it needs to manage and display a quite complex tree of lines an answers, currently Im just writing basic foundation code. My head spins of just looking at interface and thinking how much work still needs to be done.

Tutorial: building a modular character

Building character models with body parts have been an obsession for me in the last weeks. I have googled, asked, googled, and asked again, played with Unity3d editor, tested code, and so on. You can see the result of my work in the previous post. First of all, I have to say that what I achieved is mostly derived from this thread and the sample posted there. My code is a copy&paste of that sample. Also, you can find a more extense solution in this Gamedev.net forum thread.

First, lets start with the model, which obviously, is divided in the required sections. Lets say we have head, torso and legs. Each part must be exported to a separate fbx file, but it must include the skeleton. Then, export the skeleton without geometry to another fbx.

Im going to assume that you want to instantiate all components, and even player, at runtime, from a  C# script (no Unity editor involved, except for creating prefab an position marker), so, we will place the sections, the skeleton and everything…

Almost there!

Got results today in the implementation of modular character meshes!


Ill be posting a detailed tutorial, including the script code as soon as I organize it and underestand how does it works a little better. What you see in the above picture is the character before (right) equip items, and after (left), when all  the meshes but the head have been replaced by the armor components.

Unity3d isometric camera tutorial

I had pending this since a month ago, so Im forcing myself to post it today. The goal is to provide a fully functional isometric like system that you can use with few or none modifications in your own game. So, lets get started.

Start Unity3d and in your scene, add an empty GameObject, we will call it target. Create a camera object and drag it to target to make it child. The result looks like this:


Now select Camera and set the values to this:


For a true isometric like feeling, ortho projection is essential. You could use perspective, but it is not the same. Play with Size to suit your needs (we will be using this later, when implementing zoom).

Now, lets create an script named CameraController, or whatever, and drag it to target GameObject. Lets implement scrolling, the easier part: go to Update() and add the following code:

if (Input.GetKeyDown(KeyCode.W)) {
            dir = UP;
        } else if (Input.GetKeyDown(KeyCode.S)) {
            dir = DOWN;
        } else if (Input.GetKeyD…

Scene assets

Alejandro sent me yesterday some screenshots of the assets used in the first project scene. As usual, I had an image in my mind, mostly influenced by the previous art I used (which was totally out of my control). The new models and textures suit much better the essence of Calesoni Castle.


Calesoni is a place in the middle of nowhere, but their inhabitants think it is a beacon of civilization in a neighborhood of farmer villages, just because they have stone houses. Actually, they dont have even a decent brothel.
Yet, it is a medium sized location, designed to introduce the player to the game mechanics, specially combat. You will be fighting a few minutes (unless you take your time to explore the place) after arriving, but later will have access to many different quests, involving a wide range of skills. Obviously, you wont be able to complete all of them.

Unigine 2.0 Beta 2

Unigine Engine had some glory moment a few years ago, when was often in Phoronix news, because of being the only one game engine supporting Linux (natively!). But their elitist and closed approach made them lost the big opportunity, IMHO, when the community demanded Linux port of Wasteland 2.
The problem with Unigine is mostly its lack of documentation. Instead of making the engine widely accessible, they refuse to provide what they call "evaluation kit" if you are not an established game company, 90% of which are not going to need an evaluation kit, because they already have an engine. The license costs are around $30k per project, the forums are closed, and they havent worked too hard to fill Youtube with videotutorials showing how easy is to work with it (it is not too easy, I used it once in 2011).
They didnt changed their licensing when Unreal released UDK, and guess what, didnt changed it when full Unreal Engine became free, as did Unity3D.
With the great opportunity…

Animation test

This is just a test model! Final art is going to be different.


Concept art

A concept artist and musician has officially joined the project. We still have lot of work to do before using his second skill, but Im sure that will come some day too.

Have been quite busy lately, mostly doing research, or working out. Dont expect too many updates, time is not enough to post more than a few lines. But probably we will have screenshots of the actual game next week, so, stay tuned. We really could use another developer, with Unity experience, but I dont expect to get one so easy.

The long journey to choosing an engine

Today I have uploaded the project to github. We are going to use Unity3D 5, which is kinda weird choice for an open source game. Why do we took this decision? And I say we because the team also took part in the process.

When I started (or restarted the project), I wanted to use a complete game engine. After 4 years of developing with Ogre, I was totally sure that I had broke with rendering engines. The obvious choices, in the end of 2014, were Urho3D and Godot, I already had discarded Torque3D.

Urho3D seemed good after a few weeks of testing. It had an editor, not integrated into the game, but quite good. Development was active, renderer, even when based on Dx 9/OpenGL 2.1, was good. It lacked important stuff, like terrain editor, but I was sure that it would come at some point. But a couple of months later, well into the development process, I noticed that Urho lacked some sort of integration. A few things didnt work so tight as I expected.

It was time to look at Godot. But the mis…

New renders!

After a long wait, I received a quite large pack of usable art from Alejandro. Now the project has a considerable amount of weapons and armors, the houses for the first scene, a few props and two basic characters with all the animations you can imagine (exactly, 30 animations).

Here are a couple of screenshots of the houses inside Unity3D.  The quality is not the best, because building the map has stressed my patience to its limits. Problems with the mouse, insufficient RAM, no video card. Name a limitation, and I have it. But the good news are that the project first sponsor confirmed that he will donate a video card soon, lets hope the postal system works and it can arrive in one piece.


The following renders are created from Blender, and show some of the weapons:


Im going to upload all the models to OpenGameArt as soon as I convert all of them to Blender format and set the texture paths to relative. All of them have the diffuse texture+normal map and are created specifically for g…

Little friend

Remember the dog I mentioned days ago? I wanted to call him Bolt, but is not a he, is a she. Against all odds, the poor animal is still alive, and Im doing my best to feed her every day. The cleaning team that works in the parking space already knows me, and know that every morning I look for her and sit for a few minutes to give her some company. Dogs enjoy company, and she is not exception. The problem is that it is as painful to me when I have to leave her as it is for her to stay alone in the park until I come back with the food.


Unity3D: equip items

Not having PC at home is getting annoying. Very annoying, actually. Im forced to work in the office, without video card and only 2Gb of RAM, while people is interrupting me every 10 minutes. Well, at least I have internet access! Or something like that.

Today Im studying the item equipment problem. The method is common  to all engines: attach the item mesh to some bone. Specifically in Unity3D, there are some details. I started by putting an empty GameObject in the bone (I don't know if this can be avoided, for optimization), then creating a prefab for the item. Then, I found two ways to attach the prefab: one involves creating a public member in the equip script, and assigning the prefab to it. Then, you can use Instantiate... well, to instantiate the prefab.

That has a problem: you have to assign the prefab. What if you want to dynamically instantiate any prefab at runtime? Well, still haven't figured out a better solution than this: set up a Resources folder inside Assets,…

More Unity3D screenshots

Done in a morning. Lack of access to official forums is a problem, plus UnitySpain forums being down most of the time, and Gamedev.net forum taking hours to reply.




Playing with Unity3D, again

Time is scarce, and I also have to play with Godot, but i managed to build this quick test in Unity3D:



I would like to see how fast I can implement the same prototype in Unreal engine 4, but here in the office the PC can barely move it, and at home I will be out of order for some time.

Engines, engines...

Andreas Essau has published the 11th episode (episode sounds good) of his Godot videotutorials serie, which I have been saving since I found it, but just started to serioulsy watch it yesterday. It makes me think twice about my choice of engine for the project. Also, my 3D artist wondering why arent we using Unity3D doesnt helps.

I have to admit that I didnt studied Godot enough before choosing Urho3D. There were some developer choices in Godot that I didnt liked (will mention only one: the mesh importer supports only obj files), but right now seems to be the only open source engine that aims for efficiency. To say it clear: it is like an open source Unity3D. Im not saying that Urho3D is a bad choice, it is simply that the engine architecture is different, the whole goal is different.

It has been a great experience to use Urho in the project, but seems that Ill have to squeeze my time at office to the max (no PC at home for some time), and start to seriously study Godot. And Unity3D t…

Damage report

Well, seems that the earthquake didnt caused any significant damage in my home, or at least it is not visible. Yet, I had some bad luck strike scheduled for this weekend. I noticed something weird when I turned on my home PC in the night: no sound in Windows, and mouse didnt worked most of the time. Under Linux, I had sound and mouse. At some point, the mouse stopped working in both systems, sometimes disabling the keyboard too. Tested the mouse in another PC, and then tried to disconnect the PC from the power outlet. Never woke up again.

If I switch on the PSU, the motherboard led doesnt lights and (weird) the CPU starts moving! Even if I havent tried to turn on the PC. So, my PSU is fried, or maybe it is the motherboard, or worse, they are both dead. So, couldnt work this weekend. 

But, I have decided not to worry about it. This morning I was thinking how fucked I was, while I came to the office. Had to walk a lot, as usual, no transport from home to the intermediate bus stop, the …

Earthshake

About an hour ago, we had a perceptible earthshake. official websites have no information yet, probably we will have to wait for TV news to know how strong it was and where was located. The building were I work was shaked pretty hard, yet, this time, it wasnt preceded by the usual sound (like a roar). We simply felt the trembling, that lasted a second or so.

Im worried about my house, that it is in poor conditions and shares a wall with another that wasnt built with the best materials (the masons stole part of the cement). It is curious that I have been thinking lately that we havent had any quake. Lucky us, this is not the big earthquake the scientist says will happen at some point.

My experiment with a blog for Cuba

A few months ago (november, 2014, if I my memory serves well) I started an experiment: a blog for Cuba, in a cuban platform. You could say that why do I invest time in that, if I already have this and another blog, that I cant barely keep updated weekly. Well, the answer is simple: I always wanted to have a blog in a cuban site, it is my country and I feel that it is the right place to have my content.

But also there are practical reasons. The cuban public lacks internet, a few lucky ones have full access, but a large group (which compared to the amount of disconnected people, is also insignificant) has a limited access to .cu domains. Whatever news I post here, you can read them earlier in the specialized websites. Reviews? I buy new hardware every 2-3 years. Im forced to write about my personal projects, and perhaps my opinions about important events.

The cuban reader is different. Cut from the outer world, it has no access to news or reviews. They need a bridge, somebody who bring…

An interesting week

Was thinking to talk about the events in the previous days, but then I thought that you could get more details on the news websites, earlier, so, I decided to wait until the end of the week to give my opinions about GDC 2015.

This year the event shaked the foundations of game industry. The first two days were loaded with the best, seems that nobody saved anything for the weekend. We knew that Unreal Engine 4 would be free until you start selling, which was great. The 5% fee is still there, but not having to pay in advance really helps indie developers that are under severe budget restrictions, like me.

Then Unity3d announced a similar model: we can use its Personal license, which now includes all the engine features that were previously capped. The Pro license now costs $75 per month, which is cheaper than previous $2000 team license. And dont forget that they launched Unity3D 5.

Many reasons to be happy, yet, I havent managed to benefit from them. Unreal site is now blocked to Cuba…

Unreal, Unity3d and my work

What a week! Yesterday we had news of Unreal Engine 4 becoming free (at least, until you sell more than $3000), today, we have Unity3D 5. Im wonder what other groundbreaking announcements lies ahead in this GDC 2015. While big companies display their good looking engines, Im still working in my room, under a leaking roof, with a free, inmature engine and obsolete hardware. And I even have progress sometimes!

Me and my main 3d artist are discussing about the right method to equip stuff on the character. I vote for attaching the mesh to a base body, instanciated as an AnimatedModel, he insists in splitting the body in parts and switching textures, as it is supposed to be done in latest Elder Scrolls titles.While we decide what to do, I have been working to support animation states, something I had to delay, as I didnt had enough animations. The initial support was finished today.

And here you have a render of our 3D work:


It is about 4400 polys, and looks great, dont you think?

Unreal Engine is almost free!

Rejoice, my fellow developers, because the Almighty Unreal Engine now comes to you and only asks for a mere 5% of your gross revenue, after the first $3000, each quarter. Isnt that enough reason to become a believer, I mean, a developer?

The bad news (at least for me) is that they have closed access to cuban IPs. WTF!? Ill have to call Obama again.

We have news about Torque, but they mostly say nothing

I have to confess that I no longer check garage Games site daily, as I did a year ago. They tend to post every 4-5 months, and engine releases are becoming more and more scarce. So, I was surprised today when I found they posted something two days ago.

But the update says very little: they are fighting the spam, the Torque2D steering committee is being reformed, and old Torque3D demo, Pacific, will be available for the T3D steering committee. Guess that means that will be released to public too.

Quite uninteresting news.

Im back

After 10 busy days, Im back to work. Well, sort of.

My pockets are empty, but I had some good times that worth the expenses. The books presentation was a bit dissapointing, but we have to consider that the launch was in a very distant place, and such large event as an international Fair tends to dilute the attention. Im pleased to say that even the most demanding readers (the fantasy writers) liked my book, but they all agree in consider the illustration work as bad. Couldnt meet many readers in the Fair, but I have been receiving good critics from them too, yesterday I even got news from the daughter of a former coworker, who saw the book in the library.

I was interviewed for a couple of indie documentaries, one of them about game development in Cuba. That is an issue that generated some interest: me as game developer, besides writer. I had the chance to meet my first 3D artist and discuss about the project. Soon you will see his work. I also met another game developer, who is work…

C u in 2 weeks!

Im leaving for Havana tomorrow. The pause will come un a good time: Im not making too much progress, new 3d models are on the way and Urho3D needs some time to improve. Two weeks wont make much difference, but I hope I will find something new when I pull again. Perhaps, even a new version.

It is time to stabilize my development platform, so Ill be stopping this pull every day habit as soon as Urho releases next version. That will allow to keep the whole team using the same code, and even myself to keep same engine here and at home.

Ill be back feb. 23. In the meantime, I will post a few images and short updates, if budget allows (public internet time is quite expensive).

Habemus team!

Sort of. Two modellers and one developer are interested in helping. The developer already suggested a few improvements to the dialog file format, which proves that you dont have to actually write code to contribute, good ideas are also valuable. The 3D artists are quite good at low poly modelling, using Blender, I knew there was talented people in my country, but finding them is difficult.

It is also difficult to coordinate a team that lacks internet, and have only restricted access to mail and a sort of national intranet, with few services. Right now I need to host some files and cant find a way to do it. So, I had to spent hours trying to figure out how to upload files to my local blog, instead of working. It was stressing.

During next week I will be in Havana, and will meet one of the artists, when I return, will travel to Guantanamo, the city where I was born, to meet the developer. The third guy will have to wait, because he lives far away, in the north shore.

So, only yesterday…

My book, already in the bookstores

Forgot to mention that my book is already available in the stores, but only in Havana. According to Yoss, some members of the literary workshop already bought it and the opinions are good, which I consider an achievement because they are a very demanding public, used to read good fantasy and sci-fi. Also is worth mentioning that they are published and awarded writers and they are not shy if the text deserves critics.

I hope to talk more with them in the book fair, next month, and perhaps discuss with the publishers my next novel. And the payment, which seems to be delayed because the publisher has no money.  In the meantime, Im enjoying my new condition of published author.

OpenShot is failing

Some months ago I created a video using OpenShot and it was easy. Well, the task wasnt too complex: just cut and assemble pieces of a few captures. Im now working on the game trailer and seems that OpenShot is not well suited for the job.

First I found that the titles were quite limited: I could not place the text in arbitrary screen positions, only at some predefined locations. There is not much I can do with title format, unless I use Inkscape. Cant create 3d titles unless I use Blender.

Well, I dont need too fancy titles, I just wish I could have them. Not essential. Then I started to test timing with the soundtrack and found that at some point the video is getting garbled, removed the part, and the new first seconds became garbled again. At some point, OpenShot no longer plays the video preview, just the audio, I have to close and open again. Also the program freezes. Doesnt seems to be lack of memory, I have 4Gb and conky reports that only 1.3Gb are being used.

Im thinking to s…

Havana Book Fair!

Thanks to a friend, seems that I will be in Havana Book Fair, next february. Actually, Im going to be in the capital for more time than I expected  (and wanted), I hope I can productively use that time to meet some people with similar interests. Specifically, game developers.

Little progress, short post

Been quite busy lately... thinking and waiting. Project was halted, pending the solution of a weird behaviour in AngelScript inheritance: the ancestor methods were being called instead of derived class ones. My mistake, of course, I had to declare the ancestor as interface, not class. The derived classes must implement the methods declared in the interface class, like classes derived from abstract classes in C++.

So, game state system is almost there. I already managed to go back from game play to main menu.

Screenshots

Seems thatI forgot to post screenshots of latest progress. Currently Im stucked with a few issues, like the game states and attached script instances, that halted development.



Writing, again

Im quite pleased to tell myself that my third novel probably is going to be finished this year. To my surprise, I managed to write a 90% of the core events. And, Im glad to say that I achieved this without stealing too much time from the game project, which also requires writing.

What is left is filling the blanks and polishing the plot, then leave the book rest for a month or two and then go back to polishing and adding details, and then another rest period followed by more details. The goal is to have at least 2 more novels; in case the second is accepted, I can have others in the queue to ensure publishing one per year, or two, if the publishers let me.

Im also planning to find some foreign agent, but Im not sure what novel is the best for this, the first or the second. The first is already printed, and the overall opinion is that it is a good book, although a bit simple and even short for the standard (3-5 tomes of 400-500 pages). The second is much better (not much longer than t…

Where is Torque3D?

I have been checking Torque3D site often, waiting for an update. Well, not so often. But first it was daily. then, every 2-3 days. Then weekly. Lately, I look it sometimes. No news. Not even regular irrelevant news, but quite irrelevant news posted every 2 months or so.

Havent looked at the forums. Probably nothing interesting there neither. When I left, there were a few interesting projects, like refactoring the renderer to use proper deferred rendering (not deferred lighting) and add DirectX 11. I isouns good, but the core problem of the engine (hard to underestand, lack of proper documentation), wasnt being addressed.

Torque3D has a nice community of people that managed to underestand the engine and it suits their needs. For the rest, the clash with a new complex tool is not so good and many abandon, like I did, when after a month of work you still think that you dont know nothing about the engine.

In retrospective, I did well not spending more time with Torque3D. Yes, I spent som…