Wednesday 31 January 2024

Space Year 2024 Is Go


DIY gambeson, with padded arming cap (not visible) to stop sallet wobbling on head - it's everything you need to keep warm on a cold winter's night ... or possible prepare for the GREAT HAPPENING when modernity crumbles and all is returned to the ashes ... 

Monsters Loot Swag has received it's 24th Early Access Update, available here.

Speaking of which, I ran some of the game engine's internal debugging tools - which I have previously been unfamiliar with - to see what was happening with networking. Alas these debugging options were not as helpful as I had hoped ... 

TORQUE_DEBUG_NET for NetConnection packet logging, DebugChecksum guards to detect mismatched pack/unpacks, and Detection of invalid destination ghosts. Link to PacketDataChecksum disagree code.

TORQUE_DEBUG_NET_MOVES for detailed console logging of net moves. Link to moveChecksum disagree code.

What I got was kind of annoying and much less useful than I had hoped ...


Spawning into a loaded level, with the randomized gameplay assets unbuilt (the Swag), I got 6 packetData and 17 moveChecksum disagrees, all from loading the level to the client and then spawning the player object.

Shooting 6 times gave me 3 packetData and 3 moveChecksum calls.

Moving around in a small circle had no effect.

Test 2:

Spawning into a loaded level which had then been populated with the randomized gameplay assets (the Swag), gave 4 packetData and 38 moveChecksum calls.

Shooting 6 times have the same 3 calls for each.

Moving around in a small circle for a few seconds gave 57 calls for both packetData and moveChecksum.

Conclusion; everything that gets loaded AFTER the level has been loaded is going to throw checksum disagree calls with every update of the client's position just because it wasn't in the original level file. Now add hordes of monsters, explosions, projectiles, etc and there is a huge amount of console spam with very little debugging value for networking ... :/

The good news would be no packet dropping showed up.

Anyhow, we perserve.

Sunday 31 December 2023

That Was The Year That Was: Space Year 2023


2023 comes to an end ... and if I am honest, it was kinda non-descript ...

So what actually happened? I have no idea, but it did include me porting Monsters Loot Swag to the latest version of the game engine - available here for FREE under MIT license - and all it's glorious new fangled stuff like asset systems and Physical Based Rendering (PBR).

Have you seen this PBR'd catgirl?

You have now!

So, anyhow, the latest engine version of Monsters Loot Swag got a BETA, whilst I fixed a few things up on that version to bring it more into line with the default v.3.x which I had initially uploaded to Steam - not that I got the feedback and testing which I was hoping for, but hey, that's just one of those things. The v.4.x Beat build did come with it's own script compiler which was invaluable to finding scripting issues which the the default version would not. I will probably retire the default Steam version and replace it with the Beta as standard moving forwards. 

Have you seen how to opt into the Beta?

You have now!

 I also beat Micro$oft at it's own game when it locked me out of the source code for Airship Dragoon, and managed to finally put out a new update with the latest version of Steam.

Have you seen this Airship Dragoonette?

 You have now!

Have you seen this Sparrowhawk?

Well he spotted me first ... I mean what did he want? It's not like I can just feed him juicy blackbirds, which judging from the carnage near the veg patch, is his sole diet.

In other news I managed to survive five (5) whole decades on God's blessed earth, I think wearing a sallet for the whole time helped.

In other news I have made good progress with my GAMBESON which I have designed specifically to survive Winter with when heating prices go through the roof, or someone Kalibrates the UK gas pipeline, and yes, season should have caps. I am currently messing around with the edging at the moment and need to sort the arms out and some strapping for the front which is double layered in a slightly eastern fashion. No prizes for the sewing aesthetic but it will hold together. 

It's surprising how sore my finger and thumb has got just from holding a needle.

Once I get chance, I will return to my medieval hack-and-slash-cum-RPG idea which I have already coded combat up for, but really now need some 3D artwork and animations, and I'm thinking of a lowpoly aesthetic with that. 

I also intend to port my old aeronauticals air combat game demo to the latest version of the game engine and release it for testing. To be honest if I go back to that I might make it low-poly too as that seems to be faster with production. It's a style which certainly did not do Valheim et al any harm.

Another 365 days are gone, so you for the next 365 ... unless it's a leap year some time ...

Happy New Year!

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.