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15. February 2017

 

After a few preview releases, Unreal Engine 4.15 has now been released.  One of the game changer features of UE 4.15 is the ability to cook Blueprints to C++.  This means you can use the high level logic of Blueprint for developing or prototyping, but have the results compiled to C++ for better performance.  On the topic of performance, compile speeds have also been vastly improved, up to 50% Epic claim.UE415  Support for the upcoming Nintendo Switch was also added, in an experimental form.

 

Major new features include:

Compile times for programmers are drastically reduced - by as much as 50%! Reloading content while Unreal Editor is running, Reroute nodes in Materials, a new Blendspace Editor, new mathematics Blueprint nodes, and more contribute to an even more streamlined development process in this release.

For those looking to squeeze out every drop of performance, Cooking Blueprints to C++ native code is no longer an experimental feature, the Texture Streaming system has gotten an overhaul, and Alternate Frame Rendering with NVIDIA SLI gives a boost on high end systems.

The Cinematics and Animation pipelines continue to strengthen with Animation blending now possible in Sequencer, linking Animation Curves to bones for culling in LODs, and modifying curves in Animation Blueprints with the Modify Curve node. Level Sequences can now be embedded in Actor Blueprints, and early support for Level Sequence Components is available for early adopters.

Developing for Nintendo Switch is available as experimental as part of the platform improvements. GPS data is now accessible on iOS and Android using the new Location Services. Also on iOS, streaming audio and remote notifications are fully supported. Monoscopic Far Field Rendering is an option for mobile VR platforms, HDR display output is available in an experimental state, and the ability to use Playstation VR Aim Controllers is also added.

 

You can read the much more extensive release notes here.

GameDev News

14. February 2017

 

Version 1.2.97 of the Defold game engine was just released.  Defold is a Lua powered, mobile focused 2D game engine that is free for developers to use.  I have done a comprehensive tutorial series if you want to get up to speed.

 

This release has the usual collection of fixes and improvements, from the release notes:

Defold 1.2.97

  • DEF-1129 - Added: Android Immersive mode option
  • DEF-2382 - Added: App/package resource bundling
  • DEF-2069 - Added: Added engine version to dev apps
  • DEF-2376 - Fixed: Support for nested hash()
  • DEF-2374 - Fixed: Auto completion for label module in editor
  • DEF-2128 - Fixed: Music interrupted on computed gain 0
  • DEF-2383 - Fixed: Collection time step was not affecting spine and model components
  • DEF-2459 - Fixed: Editor 1 failed to load texc library on Windows
  • DEF-2408 - Fixed: Documentation bug on window.set_listener()
  • DEF-2464 - Fixed: Models not correctly destroying bone GOs

 

Perhaps the biggest new feature of Defold 1.2.97 is the inclusion of Live Update.  Essentially Live Updates enables you to flag game content to be retrieved later, enabling much smaller download size.  From the much more detailed post on Live Update:

LiveUpdate enables the developer to exclude all resources that belongs to a specific collectionproxy. When the resources within a collectionproxy is excluded they will not be bundled with the game, but instead exported as separate files for each resource. The actual collectionproxy will still be included, which allows a script to post messages such as "load" and "enable" to that collectionproxy. This will allow a developer to bundle only the first few episodes, levels, dungeons or monsters with the game that is published, and then download additional content as the player progress through the game, which will allow for a very small, and fixed, initial download size.

 

Very much a cool feature, but I wonder how well it plays with Apple AppStore regulations.

GameDev News

11. February 2017

 

Released back in 2012, Greenlight on Steam has been an ideal launch pad for indie developers.  Greenlight enabled Steam users to vote on what games they wanted to see appear on the Steam store and frankly… it’s become a bloated mess too, flooded with shovelware and rife with developer fraud.  As a result Valve have decided to replace Greenlight with Steam Direct.

 

Excerpt from Valve’s announcement:

A better path for digital distribution

The next step in these improvements is to establish a new direct sign-up system for developers to put their games on Steam. This new path, which we’re calling “Steam Direct,” is targeted for Spring 2017 and will replace Steam Greenlight. We will ask new developers to complete a set of digital paperwork, personal or company verification, and tax documents similar to the process of applying for a bank account. Once set up, developers will pay a recoupable application fee for each new title they wish to distribute, which is intended to decrease the noise in the submission pipeline.
While we have invested heavily in our content pipeline and personalized store, we’re still debating the publishing fee for Steam Direct. We talked to several developers and studios about an appropriate fee, and they gave us a range of responses from as low as $100 to as high as $5,000. There are pros and cons at either end of the spectrum, so we’d like to gather more feedback before settling on a number.

 

So basically Steam Direct is attempting to reduce the flood of titles by attaching a price tag to the submission process.  I think some indie developers may be suffering a bit of sticker shock at the $5,000 upper limit to their possible pricing.

 

Since the original announcement, they have released a follow up post answering some of the communities questions:

  • This new direct path “Steam Direct” described in our post linked above will entirely replace Greenlight. So a couple weeks before we activate this new path, we'll stop accepting new submissions in Greenlight.
  • In the meantime, if you are considering posting your game to Greenlight, please do so.
  • We’ve always evaluated and Greenlit titles that we feel we have enough data on, either in terms of customer votes or success on other platforms, awards, kickstarters, or other similar inputs. We plan to continue Greenlighting titles that have sufficient community interest until the release of Steam Direct. At that point, any games that we didn’t have sufficient data to Greenlight will be invited to use the new onboarding path and app fee if they are still interested in bringing their product to Steam.
  • If you paid the Greenlight Submission Fee and don’t have any Greenlit titles, you can get a refund of your Greenlight Submission Fee.
  • We have a couple more internal tools we need to complete and we want to allow some time to account for feedback or suggestions from the community. So there isn’t a specific timeline at this point, but we expect to be able to make this transition sometime in the next few months.

 

What do you think of the change?  As a gamer I avoided Greenlight like a plague, but as a developer, I am disappointed to see the changes.  I do however understand them completely.

GameDev News

11. February 2017

 

SFML, Simple and Fast Media Library, just released version 2.4.2.  SFML is a popular open source C++ based game framework that handles all the low level tasks required for 2D game development, including graphics, window management, audio, input and even networking.  If you want to learn more, we have a full SFML tutorial series available here.logo

 

Release 2.4.2 is composed almost entirely of bug fixes, including:

 

SFML 2.4.2

System
Bugfixes
  • [Windows] Removed thread affinity changes in sf::Clock (#1107)
Window
Bugfixes
  • Fixed bug where TransientContextLock would hang (#1165, #1172)
  • [Linux] Fixed GLX extensions being loaded too late (#1183)
  • [Linux] Fix wrong types passed to XChangeProperty (#1168 #1171)
  • [Windows] Make context disabling via wglMakeCurrent more tolerant of broken drivers (#1186)
Graphics
Bugfixes
  • Optimized sf::Image::create and made it more exception safe (#1166)

 

You can read the release notes here, while SFML is available for download here.

GameDev News

8. February 2017

 

There has been a new release of the MIT licensed open source 3D game engine Torque, bringing it to version 3.10.  Originally intended as a fairly minor update, this release ended up adding some rather significant new features, such as Mac OS support.   Other new features announced in this release:

    • Mac OSX support
    • Ipv6 support
    • OpenAL-Soft for audio
    • Hardware Skinning support
    • OpenVR(Vive) support
    • Updates to various libraries such as PhysX, Bullet, libVorbis, libOGG, libPNG, SDL, and recast.

 

The post also went on to discuss intentions for the upcoming 4.0 release.  The actual discussion of upcoming changes is far to large to be quoted below, so I recommend reading the full thread for more details on what’s planned for Torque 4.0.

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