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31. March 2016

 

After weeks of preview release, the final release of Unreal Engine 4.11 is here.  This release brings a large number of new features and improvements including:image_6

  • performance and multithreading improvements
  • realistic hair shading
  • realistic eye shading
  • improve skin shading
  • realistic cloth shading (shown right) 
  • capsule (soft) shadows
  • particle depth of field
  • dithered opacity mask
  • dithered LOD crossfades
  • improved hierarchical LOD
  • VR instanced stereo rendering
  • fast physics simulation for characters (Anim Dynamics)
  • live animation recording from gameplay
  • higher quality depth of field
  • platform/sdk updates (Oculus Rift, Steam, nVidia, PlayStation, etc)
  • improved DirectX12 support and DX12 for Xbox One support
  • Metal rendering on MacOS
  • Fast lighting builds
  • Lightmass portals
  • animation pose copying
  • LOD bone reduction tool
  • particle cutouts
  • stereo spatialization
  • sound focus (sound positioning angles)
  • sound occlusion
  • sound concurrency options
  • marker based animation syncing
  • curve blending for animation montages
  • hierarchical LOD outline
  • complex text rendering (experimental)
  • advanced blueprint searching
  • VR head mounted display camera improvements
  • VR Stereo Layers
  • improvements on animation sequencer
  • much, much more.

 

You can read the full release notes here.  As always, the newest version can be downloaded using the Epic Game Launcher.

GameDev News ,

31. March 2016

 

Microsoft recently acquired Xamarin, the company that makes it possible to port .NET applications to Android and iOS devices.  Ever since that announcement I have been waiting for Microsoft to announce that Xamarin was going to be made free.  That just happened:Ce41KLVW4AATnDB

 

“We are pleased to announce that we will be making Xamarin available free of charge for Visual Studio developers”

 

This includes all tiers, including the free tier.  Xamarin Studio for the Mac will also be available as part of MSDN, as well as a free Mac based Xamarin Studio.

 

On top of this announcement, the Xamarin platform is going open source.  This now makes the entire .NET framework open source and completely cross platform.   More details as I find them.

 

A quick trip to the Xamarin Store ( spotted by keen eyed Twitter user @sol_proj ), shows a quick update:

image

 

As you can see from the pricing above, some features in Professional and Enterprise will still have a price tag attached.  They are mostly enterprise focused features and should not affect game developers.

 

Microsoft announced that the Xamarin open source release would be part of the .NET Foundation along side such projects as Roslyn and Xamarin.Auth.  Given that both projects are currently released under the Apache V2 license, it’s a good bet that the entire Xamarin package will be as well.

 

EDIT – It appears my guess about the license may be wrong.  According to this post ( thanks Mario ), Xamarin have relicensed Mono to use the MIT license:

At Microsoft Build today, we announced that we are re-releasing Mono under the MIT license and have contributed it to the .NET Foundation. These are major news for Mono developers and contributors, and I am incredibly excited about the opportunities that this will create for the Mono project, and for other projects that will be able to benefit from this.

Mono Runtime Released under MIT License

While Mono’s class libraries have always been available under the MIT license, the Mono runtime was dual-licensed. Most developers could run their apps on Windows, Linux or Mac OS X on the LGPL version of the runtime, but we also offered Mono’s runtime under commercial terms for scenarios where the LGPL was not suitable.

Moving the Mono runtime to the MIT license removes barriers to the adoption of C# and .NET in a large number of scenarios, embedded applications, including embedding Mono as a scripting engine in game engines or other applications.

 

Mono is the underlying cross platform implementation of the .NET runtime that Xamarin is built over top of.  Of course this doesn’t mean that the Xamarin suite itself is going to be MIT as well.  Regardless, both the MIT license and Apache license are incredibly permissive, so it shouldn’t be a big deal either way.

 

For those that prefer their news in video form, here it is:

GameDev News

30. March 2016

 

I just recently took an in-depth look at Cocos Creator, an open source JavaScript powered 2D game engine with full editor.  They just hit the milestone release of Cocos Creator 1.0.

 

So, what’s in this release?

  1. A better coding environment
  2. A reliable native development and publishing workflow
  3. New UI elements: EditBox and Grid Layout
  4. Spine skeleton animation and Tiled Map support

 

More details of the release are available here.  Or you can see an earlier version of Cocos Creator in action in the video below.

 

GameDev News

30. March 2016

 

Visual Studio Update 2 has now been released, bringing a number of new features to the popular developer tool, including:

  • New Universal Windows App tools
  • Improved C++ 11/14/17 support
  • Implemented ever C++ Standard Library vote into 11/14/17 standards
  • iOS XCode project import wizard
  • C# IDE usability improvements
  • Extensions auto update support
  • Many Version Control improvements
  • NuGet improvements
  • TypeScript 1.8
  • New Analytics tools
  • Updated Python and SQL tools
  • much more

Oh, and the single most important thing Visual Studio needed... performance improvements!  VS 2013 was started to get a bit slow, and VS 2015 was a downright dog at times, so hopefully these changes help!

Performance & Responsiveness

We've made the following Visual Studio performance improvements:

  • Increased the speed of opening Team Explorer and browsing work item queries in Visual Studio.
  • Significantly reduced log file generation into the %temp% directory to save disk space and prevent application failures.
  • Improved the reliability of downloading and installing VS Update and additional features.
  • Reduced the time for Visual Studio to start when extensions are installed.
  • Stopped Setup failures when downloading certain packages and selecting certain features.
  • Added support for SQLite in our browsing database engine for C++, thereby significantly speeding up the original parsing of the user code and of all IntelliSense operations that require lookup.
  • Stopped the "yield" sign from appearing next to your sign in name in the upper-right corner of the IDE. Now, your settings and profile roam for 90 days after authenticating within the IDE. (Credentials no longer expire after 7 days of no connection to visualstudio.com.)
  • Updated the ASP.NET MVC5 templates. This fix addresses the vulnerability described in Microsoft Security Advisory 3137909.
  • Enabled a new database engine; now, C++ Project load should be faster and experience fewer UI delays. 
  • Increased the speed of extracting floating-point numbers with iostreams (in other words, "stream >> dbl"). It's now up to 19x faster, and all bits of the extracted value are now correct.
  • Increased the speed of std::vector reallocation and std::copy(); they are up to 9x faster as they call memmove() for trivially copyable types (including user-defined types).
  • Increased the speed of std::vector, which is up to 11x faster.
  • Increased the speed of std::string::replace(), which is enormously faster when replacing same-size substrings.
  • Increased the speed of std::string::push_back(), which is up to 3x faster.
  • Increased the speed of std::sub_match comparisons, as they now avoid constructing temporary std::strings.
  • Increased the speed of std::function's copy constructor; it is slightly faster with a reduced codegen size.
  • Improved the performance in NuGet in the Update, Installed, and Consolidate tabs; the restore and update actions; and the query speed to repositories such as NuGet.org that support gzip compression.
  • Improved the initial completion list invocation in a session, which now responds much faster as the enumeration of snippets has been changed to be an asynchronous operation.
  • Enhanced T4 text templates so that they now support C# 6.0.
  • Made reliability improvements in Code Map (as related to the Windows docking scenarios).

The full release notes are available here.  You can download the update here.

This is only a

GameDev News

30. March 2016

 

Twin announcements today from the MS Build conference that will have a direct affect on indie developers.  The first is that UWP (Universal Windows Platform) applications can now be run on Xbox One.  The second, anyone can turn their Xbox One into a devkit (warning... big big big disclaimer attached!).

 

Partial announcement from the Windows Blog:

Gaming gets better with the Windows 10 Anniversary update, including background music and Cortana coming to Xbox One. Cortana can become your personal gaming assistant and help you find great new games, new challenges or tips and tricks. On Xbox One, we’re continuing to deliver on top fan-requested features like support for multiple GPUs and the ability to turn off v-sync. Game developers have access to a fully open ecosystem with the Universal Windows Platform, making it easy to bring the games people love to both Xbox One and other Windows 10 devices. With the Anniversary Update, any Xbox One can be a developer kit with Xbox Dev Mode, enabling anyone to develop for the living room. And, the Windows Store will offer a unified store experience for all developers, creating new opportunities to reach millions of new customers.

 

Polygon however have a great deal more details, including the gotcha I mentioned above.

While the preview of Dev Mode is available to anyone now, Charla stressed that most people should wait until its full release later this summer.

"You might run into issues now," he said.

The preview only offers access to 448 MB of the Xbox One's 8 GB of RAM. When Dev Mode comes out of preview, Charla said, developers will have access to the full 1 GB of RAM supported for UWP Xbox games.

"It's also a preview," he added. "And we want to be able to test things still in the preview."

[Snip]

First, a user has to download the Dev Mode activation app from the Xbox Games Store. Launching the app kicks off a welcome screen and a link to documentation that details what to expect when you switch over from retail to a dev kit, as well as the requirements.

The requirements include that you:

  • Join the Windows Insider Program
  • Are running Windows 10 on your PC
  • Have a wired connection to your PC from your Xbox One
  • Install the latest Visual Studio 2015 and Windows builds
  • Have at least 30 GB of storage free on your console

The introduction also warns that once you've converted your console over, you may occasionally run into issues running retail games. In addition, the introduction says, leaving Dev Mode will require resetting your console to its factory settings and uninstalling all of your games, apps and content.

Upon agreeing, you're given a code that can be entered on your computer once you sign into your Dev Center account. The activation can take awhile and usually requires updating your console. Once it's complete, the console restarts and returns you to your standard startup screen.

"It doesn't take a lot of time to switch to Dev Mode," Charla said as he took me through the process on Microsoft's remote console.

After setting up Dev Mode, a user simply pairs their Xbox One with Visual Studio, which sees the console as a Windows 10 machine to which it can deploy content directly through a wired connection.

"When a UWP app is running, it doesn't know it's running on an Xbox," Charla said. "It just knows it's a Windows 10 device."

 

So tread carefully!  Be sure to head on over to Polygon to read the full article.  While this has been in the works for 3 years, it’s nice to see that development has finally come to the Xbox One.  Considering Microsoft absolutely owned this segment when they release XNA, I am somewhat staggered it took this long.  Did you try it out?  If so, how much of an impact did it have on your retail games?

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