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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Updates coming in GG 1.33, big stuff

So personally I believe this should be a major version update.  However...

Lee recently did a twitch broadcast going over the changes coming in '1.33'.  There's a lot of things being added.

Here's a summary of relevant things:
  • Individual object specularity :O  .. now you can set it on a per-item basis which is a huge boost for maintaining a good looking level while providing 'metallic' entities.
  • 5 sounds per dynamic object.  This is pretty huge of a boost from 2.
  • A shader for skies!  Wow.. I think this is going to take some work to figure out but that'll really boost sky visuals.
  • Lots of LUA commands, including weapon commands- which opens up upgrade-able weapons and variations in stock weaponry without making a whole new weapon.
  • Improved pathfinding for AI (this is a big deal).
  • Legacy terrain generator.  There was a great RNG terrain maker which was removed.. the new one was trash.  The old one has been re added and is brilliant.  He even lowered the height (a major issue previously) so the water level is right there.  That helps a lot.

Looks good.  I'm interested in seeing this finally show up.
You can find the twitch broadcast here:

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Old dog, old tricks

I find myself in a weird spot with my 'development' of games.  I'm in that familiar place where I don't learn anything new, don't do anything new, and generally let my projects languish.

I'm in a rut.

It's happened before, many times over.  Part of indy gamedev is that it's really daunting.  Usually you're flying solo on a project.  You have to be orchestra, band, stadium, and instrument-maker.  Or in this case:
  • Coder - LUA script is easy but I'm rusty AF.
  • Modeller - my 3d modelling skills are .. minimal at best.
  • Artist - I'm a terrible artist
  • Designer - My designs are so-so.
So I have a LOT of hurtles to overcome.   My biggest ability on this list has always been scripting/coding but I find myself unable to dedicate the time to make the code I want to make.  The CPU cycles required for coding are a lot higher than say 'dreaming of art pieces'.  At least for me, your miles will inevitably vary.

Tools help a lot.  I use a number of free or cheap programs:
  • notepad++ for coding/scripting/note taking
  • blender for modelling (admittedly I hate blender, it's a ****ing nightmare of hotkeys)
  • drawing/art  I use
  • and for design I use Game Guru or s2engine.

As such though I find myself wanting in a lot of respects and decide to try to learn things that other people take for granted.  I've happily learned how to do alpha masking, transparencies, and now I can even weather a texture.

It's a pet peeve of mine that so many models I buy/own/obtain look pristine.  To me, in any game, it's going to be incredibly rare to see a perfectly painted model.   The more gritty and grimy - the more realistic it gets.

It's a simple enough technique to do.  First you need the alpha mask plugin for

After you have that plugin you open your texture file.
For this example I'm using a free steel seamless texture.
Here's the original:
Not bad, but let's make it look really old.
The above texture is to some extent pre-weathered but I want to really add a layer of decay to it.

First you open the file in  Then you want to CTRL-A (Select all) then CTRL-C (copy).

Go to the edit menu and choose 'paste as new layer'.

At this point we're just using the paste as a guideline for size and position.  This is more useful if you are using like a rectangular copy tool or something but *Shrug*... this is an example after all.  Then simply render clouds over it, use the alpha mask tool, and merge the layer down.  There's a bit more than that - you can find tons of examples everywhere if you google for 'weathering a texture in'.  But the end result looks like this:

Not great, but not bad either.
I use this technique for touching up some of the models I work on so they look more .. real.

You can also add color by simply modifying the levels slider on the cloud layer before alpha masking/merging layers and getting something like this:

Now with a nice rust color!
The negative of using this particular method is you run into errors with the seamless wrapping so usually I'll do a cutout of an area instead and just work over that.  The basic principle is the same.  Use the lasso to copy an area.  Paste it into a new layer.  Use clouds to generate fractal-style art on it.  Transparency it, then merge it down.
I'm not going to win any art awards, am I?

While it looks ... cruddy ... like this once you add normal maps and what not it tends to really improve the quality of it's 3d appearance.  Example:

Or even the 'rusty' texture can look good when UV mapped over a non-repeating surface:

Little things like this are how I keep myself entertained and skills from diminishing.  I'm an old dog, learning other people's old tricks.  At least though they're new to me and that keeps me satisfied.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Some examples on Reshade

Per my forum post here:

Some convincing for other members of the community was needed.  So I enabled ReShade's optional 'split screen mode' on one of my sitting in stasis levels and you can see the difference.  On the left is the ReShade enhanced version (only setting changed from default is HDR to 16 from 8).  On the right is GG default.

It's like someone smudged one lens of a pair of glasses, right?

 So I really like the wall textures coming through better.  Some of the freebie stuff I used was fairly low quality to begin with and it's pretty impressive how much better it looks when getting sharpened up by ReShade.

One of my favorite rooms really did a fantastic job of being improved by RS.

Here's an example of a low quality model's bump map improving drastically:
Now if only I could get rid of the lighting artifacts.
And an even more dramatic comparison of a stock asset GG barrel:

Right side is "eh, not bad."  Left side is "Wow, that's pretty decent."

And lastly I bring the final example - 'The EAI potato chip bag'.  So EAI is a fantastic artist; he's made some of the best stuff available in GG and I use it as often as I can find a place for it.

What you'll see is the full picture, then a blowup comparison.  I think you'll get the idea and I can at that point rest my case.
Here's the potato chips as show unfiltered with a raw GG setting:

And here's the chips after:

Let me show you up close what this difference is:
A minor difference, to be sure, but worth it to me.
I'm what you'd call a 'min/maxxer'.  I believe the little things matter.  And these are little things to be sure.  In my eyes though when using an engine as dated as the GG engine that's so underwhelmingly powerful - this is one way to help level the odds.  Your miles may vary.