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29. September 2016

 

Earlier this year Autodesk acquired Solid Angle, the creators of the Arnold renderer.  Today they released v0.6 of MaxToA, a 3ds Max to Arnold renderer plugin for 3ds Max 2017.  This new plugin more tightly integrates 3ds with Arnold.  From the announcement:

Deformation Motion Blur

MAXtoA now supports both Transform and Deformation motion blur options:

Ensure that Motion Blur is enabled in the Physical Camera, and adjust the settings in the Arnold settings in the Render Setup dialog box (shown above). The Motion Blur settings in the camera are not used.

AOVs in ActiveShade

You can now use ActiveShade to interactively view AOVs. There is a new drop-down menu item which shows the AOV names previously defined in the Arnold settings:

New "Preview (AA)" Setting

In the Sampling and Ray Depth settings is a new "Preview (AA)" setting and adjacent enable checkbox:

This setting, when enabled, creates a fast low-quality prepass rendering prior to the final-quality rendering specified in the "Camera (AA)" setting. For normal rendering use, a prepass settings of -3 gives a fast idea of scene lighting, and you can cancel the rendering if adjustments are needed. Prepass should be used for ActiveShade.

Disable this setting whenever you are creating final renderings to save on render time, particularly to network or cloud machines. 

Additional Arnold Shaders

We now have two categories of Arnold shaders shipping with MAXtoA: "built-in" and "MAXtoA_Shaders".

The new MAXtoA_Shaders category contains numerous shaders needed for creating complex and interesting materials in Arnold. Both categories of shaders are documented here: https://support.solidangle.com/display/AF3DSUG/Shaders

The 3ds Max Blend Material

The legacy 3ds Max Blend material is now supported in MAXtoA. 

Additional Environment and Background Options

The Physical environment mode now includes an Enable checkbox, along with a Samples setting. We are also providing a button to quickly open the Environments & Effects dialog box so you can define the environment map:

The Enable option enables the automatic Skydome that is (now optionally) added to your scene at translation time. This option allows you to easily produce high-quality image-based lighting to your scene with just an environment map.

It is not recommended to use a Skydome for interior scenes; Distant and Quad lights will produce faster and higher-quality images with reasonable AA settings. Skydomes are noisy for scenes lit through a portal. See the Solid Angle site for more information on ideal workflows.

The Samples setting allows you to optimize your rendering by adjusting just the sampling of the automatic Skydome. Adjusting the specific source of rendering noise, rather than adjusting the overall Camera (AA) settings, will typically produce faster results.

In the Advanced mode you now have more control over the automatic Skydome:

The Samples setting shown in the Physical mode is duplicated in the Advance settings.

Depending on your Environment map, you may need to increase the default "Custom Resolution" that Arnold uses to sample the environment. Higher values improve the accuracy of the lighting but will increase render time. The default of 1000 works for many scenes, however a too-low setting may result in inconsistencies in rendering, particularly animations. You may need a larger number if your environment has small bright light sources like those found in the Physical Sky or an HDR sky image.

 

The plugin is available for download here.

GameDev News

29. September 2016

 

Epic have released a new hotfix for Unreal Engine, this one 4.13.1.  As the name suggests, 4.13.1 is entirely composed of bug fixes.  These fixes include:

 

Fixed! UE-35735 Crash Occurs While Running EQS Using Add Generated Vector Node
Fixed! UE-35852 AI Move To Location zeros velocity each call, causing the AI Pawn to freeze if told to move again before reaching destination
Fixed! UE-35585 Migration from 4.12.5 to 4.13 can result in Blueprint functions losing input/ouput variables
Fixed! UE-35609 Delay nodes used in a macro cause subsequent macro calls during the delay to never complete
Fixed! UE-35728 Some files in the Git repo have inconsistent line endings on Linux
Fixed! UE-36107 Cannot create installed build on Linux
Fixed! UE-35236 Launcher installed build is missing the Documentation/Extras folder
Fixed! UE-36214 Crash in TMap struct deserializer
Fixed! UE-35884 Crash when pressing enter after a shape has closed when using the Geometry editor
Fixed! UE-35822 CRASH: Occurring in UTEditor when attempting to re-order BSP brushes
Fixed! UE-35048 [CrashReport] UE4Editor_PropertyEditor!FDetailCategoryImpl::GetParentLayoutImpl() [detailcategorybuilderimpl.h:168]
Fixed! UE-35482 Selecting a brush surface that is flush with other brush surfaces selects all of them after Building Geometry
Fixed! UE-35627 Lightmap Coordinate Index is not automatically set to 1 on import any longer with lightmap UV
Fixed! UE-35608 FBX & OBJ Files no longer Import with their UVs Depending on Software Used
Fixed! UE-36383 Crash moving a spline point after making it the root component of a blueprint
Fixed! UE-35658 Editor crash when a spline component is added to a blueprint and compiled
Fixed! UE-36096 Inifinite loop in tick task manager with tick when paused and interval
Fixed! UE-35254 Editor crashes when importing alembic asset
Fixed! UE-36121 Crash when importing new mesh and regenerating skeleton for additive animation
Fixed! UE-35546 Pose flickering when changing lods and using Layered Blend per Bone
Fixed! UE-35353 Crash when spawning destructible objects in 2 player PIE
Fixed! UE-35639 HLOD generated proxy doesn't create or assign target lightmap coordinate index any longer
Fixed! UE-35494 Invisible landscape components when using tessellation
Fixed! UE-35873 LODBias causes landscape component to stop rendering if set >0 and Forced LOD set to -1
Fixed! UE-35301 Crash saving hidden landscape streaming level with offset
Fixed! UE-35850 Crash in landscape editor with early Z pass
Fixed! UE-35709 [CrashReport] UE4Editor_Landscape!FLandscapeEditDataInterface::SetAlphaData() [landscapeeditinterface.cpp:2617]
Fixed! UE-36321 Editor Crashes After Deleting Actor with Media Texture
Fixed! UE-36289 WmfMedia: Memory leak while playing videos
Fixed! UE-35477 File Media Source assets created via drag & drop have absolute instead of relative path
Fixed! UE-35504 PS4 Media player has potentially dangerous memory management
Fixed! UE-35696 PS4Media: CPU/GPU may crash due to race condition in destructor
Fixed! UE-35598 Devices reporting OpenGL ES 3.2 such as Galaxy Note 7 detect as ES2-only
Fixed! UE-35179 Need to fall back to GLES if Vulkan API version is too old
Fixed! UE-34782 GPU particles no longer work on iOS or TVOS Metal devices
Fixed! UE-33379 Cannot select Android RHI and feature level from device profile
Fixed! UE-35258 ES2 Fallback Fails on Nougat Devices that do not support Vulkan
Fixed! UE-35261 Android sessions do not appear in Session Frontend
Fixed! UE-32340 HTML5 packaging fails with Github couldn't verify LLVM version
Fixed! UE-32086 Bloom blur produces multi-colored artifacts at the bottom of the screen on Xbox.
Fixed! UE-35492 PS4 deployment does not deploy all the required files.
Fixed! UE-35743 Packaging for Android while using Online Framework and Online Subsystem Steam Plugins cause failure
Fixed! UE-35185 Opening a widget blueprint on Linux causes editor to crash
Fixed! UE-35738 IPv6 implementation is not working on IOS
Fixed! UE-30959 Remove all HITCHHUNTER warnings in next release (4.13)
Fixed! UE-36342 Texture issues with movie player active on Android
Fixed! UE-35363 Huge game window when launching onto Safari 9.1.2
Fixed! UE-35558 Writing to a file on Android doesn't update the tracked file length
Fixed! UE-35907 Slate Remote Enable Remove Server option in Project Settings -> Plugins causes editor to freeze and a memory leak
Fixed! UE-36099 Dots on screen on PS4
Fixed! UE-35794 PS4 can hang on GPU when using lit translucent surface materials
Fixed! UE-26375 Crash when editing draw size for a widget component
Fixed! UE-17227 [CrashReport] UE4Editor_Engine!DoReadTaskResults() [shadercompiler.cpp:147]
Fixed! UE-35240 Protostar crashes on launch on Mac
Fixed! UE-28708 GitHub 2188 : Fixed a crash exiting VR Preview on Windows GL4.
Fixed! UE-35320 Stop>Set Sequence>Play causes spawnables to be duplicated
Fixed! UE-35508 Master sequence dialog button is hidden
Fixed! UE-35588 Incorrect translation from matinee move sub tracks to sequencer
Fixed! UE-35285 Sequencer stop node does not return camera to player
Fixed! UE-35571 Sequence recording in standalone crashes
Fixed! UE-35107 Matinee to Level Sequence converter doesn't bind properties
Fixed! UE-22581 Black artifacts/semi-circles on sides of morpheus when moving left to right
Fixed! UE-36076 PS4Tracker's motion sensor data needs to use a valid sizeOfThis
Fixed! UE-35520 sceKernelWaitEqueue timeout in MorpheusHMD.cpp fix for 4.13.1
Fixed! UE-34986 Need to merge Oculus Online Subsystem Plugin update to expose Android support
Fixed! UE-34786 Editor primitives render incorrectly in stereoscopic with instanced stereo
Fixed! UE-35881 PSVR hmdSetupDialog cancel asserts on app startup
Fixed! UE-36307 PSVR Motion Sensors Need 120hz Update
Fixed! UE-33763 GearVR applications show black screen on Adreno devices
Fixed! UE-36078 Integrate fixes for GoogleVR SDK 1.0
Fixed! UE-35528 PSVR UE4 stuttering issue
Fixed! UE-35344 Crash when playing a HapticFeedbackEffect_Soundwave
Fixed! UE-35964 Crash playing a HapticFeedbackEffect_Soundwave with no sound assigned

 

As always the hotfix is available using the Epic Game Launcher.

GameDev News

29. September 2016

 

Vulkan is the next generation version of the OpenGL graphics API by the Khronos Group designed to work better with current generation GPU architectures.  Part of aligning better with the underlying hardware actually made Vulkan a great deal more work than OpenGL.  Thankfully however, in this day and age, that’s a problem for game engine developers to deal with.  On that topic, the developers at Unityvulkan_og have done exactly that.  Now available from Unity, based on Unity 5.5 beta 4, is a preview of the new Vulkan renderer.  Why should you care?  Well here are the benefits of Vulkan described on the Unity blog:

 

The main benefit of Vulkan over older mobile rendering APIs such as OpenGL ES 3.x is speed. Vulkan is designed to take advantage of multiple CPU cores by allowing the application to build command lists in multiple threads in parallel. This allows the application to take advantage of all of the CPU cores on the device, improving performance. The Vulkan preview release supports this via the “Enable Graphics Jobs” checkbox in the player settings. However, we’re seeing large performance gains even when running the renderer in a single thread. In one of our internal benchmarks we’re seeing up to 35% improvement in frame times on Android, compared to OpenGL ES 3.1 renderer, even though they’re both running in a single rendering thread!

 

For now however, Vulkan is limited to a subset of devices right now.  Again from the Unity blog:

This preview build has Vulkan support enabled for the following targets:

  • Windows standalone (no Vulkan support in the editor yet)
  • Android
  • Linux standalone

On Windows, we’ve been mainly testing on Nvidia and AMD GPUs. Remember to update your GPU drivers!Vulkan is a new technology and the drivers keep improving constantly, so before reporting a crash, check first if an updated driver fixes the problem.

On Android, we’ve tested on the following devices:

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 (European version, with ARM Mali GPU). Make sure you have the latest firmware, with build date August 2016 or later. Previous firmwares have older drivers that are known not to work.
  • Nvidia Shield Tablet (both versions), Shield Console.
  • Google Nexus 6P, 5X (although you might see more issues on these handsets compared to the others).

The following devices are known not to work with the currently available firmware:

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 (US version, with Qualcomm GPU). We expect that an upcoming firmware with an updated driver should fix this.

On Linux, only the Nvidia GPUs have been tested. You’ll need to have libvulkan1 installed (either from your distro or via the LunarG Vulkan SDK) and recent enough drivers (367.x or newer). However, we’ve seen random hangs when transitioning from the splash screen into the game itself. So when testing this experimental release, you might consider disabling the Unity splash screen, if you have that option.

 

You can download the preview release here and read more about getting started with Vulkan here.

GameDev News

28. September 2016

 

Unity have released a new patch, 5.4.1p3.  This one is entirely composed of bug fixes, including:

Improvements
  • IL2CPP: Added an option to link.xml files to ignore missing assemblies.
Fixes
  • (830443) - AI: Fix for regression where a pushed passive NavMeshAgent would sometimes move to its origin after navmesh carving.
  • (755398) - AssetBundles: Fixed high CPU usage while downloading asset bundles.
  • (779052) - Editor: Fixed a crash when registering undo for null object.
  • (821728) - Editor: Fixed an extra erroneous characters in path passed to PostProcessBuild callbacks.
  • (818346) - Editor: Fixed path error when building into the same folder again.
  • (764857) - Editor: JavascriptPackageManager now supports UNC path on Windows.
  • (732717) - Editor: Fixed an issue with [FormerlySerializedAs] not working with scripts assigned to prefabs.
  • (826406) - Graphics: Fix for incorrect calculation of projection matrix on some platforms.
  • (none) - Graphics: Fixed an Assert in AssignProjectorQueuesJob about calling GetRenderJobThreadCount() when not on the main thread. Triggers when running gfx jobs in scenes with projectors.
  • (none) - Graphics: Fixed large delta values in the the motion vector matrix when a camera is enabled after being disabled.
  • (832155) - GUI: Fixed the regressions introduced in 5.4.1f1 and 5.4.1p1 where GUI.DrawTexture & GUI.DrawTextureWithTexCoords appeared lighter in Linear color space.
  • (827851) - Input: Mouse position is now updated but not clamped when outside of game window.
  • (811959, 815928) - iOS: Fixed a crash when killing the app while a WWW Request was in flight.
  • (820863) - iOS: Fixed the appearance of apps freezing when locking/unlocking the device.
  • (773660) - SpritePacker: Fixed an issue where TightRotateEnabledSpritePackerPolicy flipped sprites in playmode.
  • (none) - Tizen: Resolved an error that didn't call OnApplicationQuit() when TaskManager killed the app.
  • (814084) - tvOS: Fixed the issues when menu button was clicked while playing videos.
  • (747529) - tvOS: Fixed the UI to correctly activate tvOS keyboard.
  • (825406) - tvOS: Fixed the issue of UnityEngine.Apple.TV.Remote API not working in editor.
  • (642194) - VCS: Marked some VCS settings as private.
  • (826132) - VR: Removed audio output warning when Unity Audio is Disabled.
  • (818044) - WebGL: Fixed compressed build files (.*gz) creation if they already exist.
  • (814388) - WebRequest: More correctly follow the HTTP Specification for sending POST data during a Redirect.
  • (827748) - Windows Store: UnityEvent.Remove listener will work correctly when .Net Native is enabled.
  • (833091) - Windows: Fixed Unity crashing when initializing UnityEngine.Windows.Speech.KeywordRecognizer with an array that contains null string as one of its items
  • (791722) - WWW/UnityWebRequest: Fixed the issue of handling multiple headers with the same name in server responses.
Known Issue
  • 2D: Error "Thread::EqualsCurrentThreadIDForAssert(Thread::mainThreadId)" is spammed to console if 'Sprite Renderer' is enabled. This issue will be fixed in the next release.

As always the patch is available for download here.

GameDev News

28. September 2016

 

The Banshee Engine is an open source LGPL licensed 2D/3D game engine written in C++.  It just saw the release of version 0.4.  I took a look at a previous version of the Banshee engine available here or embedded below if you want more information of this under development game engine.  The 0.4 release brings a number of new features, summarized nicely on /r/gamedev:

Hi guys, Banshee is an open source game engine that I’m building. Some of its major features are C# scripting, fully featured editor, modern C++14 core and focus on performance, modern technologies and quality design.

I have just released a new update for it, which adds some very important new systems:

Audio system supporting multi-channel audio, 3D spatialization, streaming, .OGG/.MP3/.FLAC/.WAV format support, with both OpenAL and FMOD backends

Animation system with support for GPU accelerated skinned skeletal animation, blend (morph) shape animation, animation events, additive animations, 1D/2D blending and root bone animation

Animation editor with support for creating custom animation curves, animation events, animating scene objects and animating arbitrary script variables

Read the full release notes.

The engine is still in pre-alpha state since there are a few important features missing, but it is nearing its first stable release, hopefully in mid-2017. In the coming months I will be adding Vulkan support, physically based renderer, followed by Mac/Linux ports.

I’m also happy to announce that the project has attracted some community members that have started working on new features and other improvements. As the community grows you can expect even more content in future updates.

 

To learn more about this interesting engine, check out the video below.

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