Thursday 30 November 2023

Novemeber Cometh November Goeth


November has come and gone in what felt like record timing. The Steam Autumn/Fall sale is underway and I threw in Airship Dragoon for the Steam Awards category "Labor of Love", due to updating it after nine years on Valve's platform. More on that available on Steam.

November was a blur of getting the dreaded lurgy - which seemed to take forever and half a million hot toddies to clear, and testing, testing, testing ...

Testing many, many things ... 

Such as trying to lower the polycount on Monsters Loot Swag models. Previously I had used an automated plugin to reduce polycount for Level Of Detail, however this made a horrible mess of UV mapping. So I decided to try Blender's own decimation tools such as "UnSubDivide" - which would surely reduce edgeloops by simply unsubdividing the mesh ... yeah, well, actually it didn't ...

Unsubdivide edgeloops ... unsubdivides right?

Almost like it does one half of the body fine, then gets bored and just compresses the edgeloops and swaps to the other half of the body.

I am not a fan of retopology because I do not understand why it cannot be automated perfectly - especially on a model with perfectly equal edgeloops. This is the exact sort of soul destroying donkey work which should be easily automated and technically is automated if you want it to be a shyte ...

I did try a number of other programs - which I believe cool kids call "apps" these days on the grounds any word over four letters is too difficult or energy consuming to utter. One of these was MeshLab which seemed to do a fairly decent job at reducing 25K to 7K, though I still felt should have saved the UV map better. Or I could just manually retopo, but as I have avoided doing that for years I don't really want to start now ... especially as getting mesh deformation to not be shyte seems to be even more of a pain in the arse ... see below.

In addition to polycounts there has also been a whole host of messing around with the newer aspects of the engine which has been the focus of the Monsters Loot Swag BETA test build. This has been a lot of testing, fixing, streamlining and bug reporting, all of which are slowly but surely going into improving the engine and game build, though at the moment there is nothing too concrete to show as a game update.

But back to low poly.

Low poly Lara with some good low poly deformation techniques

I started making a low poly character, in a somewhat stylized plane based style. Nigh on 30 years ago I actually sculpted this type of head in concrete with a metal frame made of metal coat hangers... which proved to be a mistake when attempting to move it anywhere as I had not made it hollow, and so it weighed a ton.

Low poly mesh deformation is somewhat more of a pain in the butt than normal. Got a bad deform when bend bones? No problems, slap more edgeloops in and jiggle them about a bit. Except this cannot be done when you are modeling a plane based low poly humanoid.

Back of the elbow needs to come out somewhat

The simpler meshes get, the more horrendous deformation becomes, and the more difficult retaining versus collapsing polys are.

This is all being done for two purposes, one is for a potential low poly with hard edges/planes style future project, and the second is for more practise in reducing topology whilst keeping good movement deformation for current work.

In other news, it's cold and damp. The Pentalon Javelins - that's a type of winter spud that is harvestable at Christmas, and not a 1950s RAF experimental supersonic jet fighter; though it really sounds like it should have been -  appear to have died a death, going the way of this year's strawberry crop under the chronic wetness. I've been eyeing up designs of a padded gambeson to try and survive winter and also padded armour may help survive the GREAT HAPPENING when the lights go out and society crumbles.

December approaches ... and don't even get me started on Space Year 2024.

Tuesday 31 October 2023

Monsters Loot Swag Beta Available

 I have been stuck on this rock for 5 centuries - sorry 5 decades, feels like 5 centuries ... and more on medieval times later ...

Monsters Loot Swag has a new BETA version available on Steam. A BETA in Early Access? Well, yes.

The BETA branch is a whole new game engine ... well, actually it's kinda the same game engine with a whole new system. This system includes a fully function asset system, Physical Based Rendering (that's cool reflections of roughness and metal to normal folks), and HDR!

Want to try out the BETA branch? Go to your game library in Steam and click on Monster Loot Swag, click settings (circled in red) and bring up the drop-down menu, choose preferences and when the new window appears, go to Beta in the sidebar and select the new BETA version. You can opt-out of the BETA in the same way, by choosing default.

Don't want to play the BETA for the new game engine? No problems, the original version is still available.

Q: So why is it a BETA and not just the standard game branch?
A: Well because it's taken a fair bit of effort for updating and I need extra testing for various internal linkages that I may have missed, before I can set it to the master/default branch of the game.

Q: Is the default branch still getting updated?
A: YES! The default branch is still getting updated whilst I work on bringing the new game engine BETA version up to speed.

There have also been ~25 fixes and changes, including finalizing the models and effects for the remaining swag attacks and the special use items.

 Monsters Loot Swag now requires just 3 characters, 3 levels, 3 bosses and some extra stuff before Early Access is complete and it can be shipped. I am hoping for completion around April-May.

I've also been giving some thought about my next project to start sometime in 2024 and was thinking of making a third person medieval melee combat game, but not a Soulslike, more fighting against multiple opponents, but not a Musou-like either. Just a solid hack'n'slash.

I would like to make a massive single-player RPG but am actually thinking of something more manageable and bitesized. Something that might actually not require 5-8 years of work to finish ...

There has been quite a lot of this in the last 5 millenium ...

Behold, my new thinking cap!

Sallet. Why a sallet? Obvious really ...


Saturday 30 September 2023

Airship Dragoon Gets An Update


Airship Dragoon Update Sept 2023

 Airship Dragoon received a rare update this month. This was entirely due to me finally finding a way around using Visual Studio 2013, who's license Microsoft had locked me out of when they retired it a couple of years ago. The solution - the OFFICIAL MICROSOFT solution was  ... to hack the registry to forceably gain access to their own product ...

For more on that escapade, see the Airship Dragoon update on Steam.

Work on Monsters Loot Swag and bringing it up to the new and shiny version of the game engine continues unabated. One thing that the new engine has is a full script checker for compiling which actually looks through the scripts and reports errors - and boy did it find some. Whilst most errors were little more than referencing a wrongly named local variable and thus completely harmless, some were not, especially when trying to call function from the server for objects that did not exist at all.

And so began Monsters Loot Swag; Steam Early Access update 18; "The Big Bug Hunt".

This was quickly followed by the Monsters Loot Swag; Steam Early Access update 19; "The Big Bug Hunt Part 2" which continued to fix numerous minor issues and also got glyphs which are a fancy term for text and symbols, working for Playstation controllers and Steam Deck.

I rolled all the fixes from the new engine version into the previous version uploaded to Steam.

So back to upgrading the game to shiny PBR newness and new fangled asset system. Most of this is now done, with the actual loading/unloading having required some careful following of how the new system works to update, change and port my custom code. Single player campaign is now in and full functional with much fancy shininess to explosions due to the new HDR system. Online multiplayer is really the only thing left to finish off before I upload a full build of the new engine as a Beta Depot on Steam.

October is coming

 Next month is October and I hope to finally have a working beta of the new engine build up and running.