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27. January 2017

 

Currently in closed beta, but available to existing purchasers, GameMaker Studio 2.0.4.64 was just released.  Along side this release several new supported platforms were added, Mobile, Web and UWP (Universal Windows Platform).  In addition to the new supported platforms, 2.0.4.64 brings the following new features (from the release notes):

  • Lots and lots of bug fixes throughout the product, including:
  • Choosing "Sensei" in Font Editor and then saving project caused the IDE to fail to finish the save, had to force close image
  • IDE hanged when using Convert To Frames on large sprite
  • IDE could crash when selecting the rectangle or line tools while on a tile layer
  • Double-clicking collision mask could lock it and changing mask values in this state gave "IDE Unstable"
  • Undoing collision mask changes or toggling auto/manual on an empty sprite resulted in "IDE unstable"
  • Some users have been unable to download some assets in My Library, got a blank error dialog
  • A sprite mask which used an alpha tolerance of 255 was not previewed correctly
  • TAB names are now saved as part of the layout
  • You could not copy/paste frames between sprites before - you can now
  • Copy/pasting events between objects sometimes required you to paste twice before the event appeared
  • Code Editor forced you to use UK or US English function names as per your Preference - you can now type whichever
  • Object/room physics fields and the colour picker didn't like commas as decimal seperators - can now use comma values with these
  • Image editor didn't save grid settings as part of the sprite
  • Configs weren't being applied properly during builds, so only Default config's values were applied
  • F2 should now rename everything
  • Lots of source control fixes
  • Branding info and version number has been removed from taskbar buttons and the titlebar
  • Following feedback, we have changed the manual to open in-IDE by default (new installs), rather than in your browser
  • And we fixed the manual sidebar so it can now be resized
  • You can read more about the release on their blog available here.

    GameDev News

    25. January 2017

     

    Tiled, the popular open source map editor, just released version 0.18.1.  This release is entirely composed of fixes and improvements, with no new functionality added.  If you are interested in learning more about Tiled, we have a complete tutorial series available here.

     

    From the changelog:

    Changelog
    • Fixed terrain brush for isometric staggered maps (#427, by Clyde)
    • Fixed crash when resizing map causes objects to get removed
    • Fixed crash when duplicating an object layer
    • Fixed position of image layer after Resize or Offset Map (#1418)
    • Fixed the quality of the minimap on HiDpi displays
    • Fixed Alt-drag behavior to not override resize handles (#14251)
    • When adding a new layer, insert it above the current one
    • GmxPlugin: Fixed positioning for non-tile objects and support scaling (#1426)
    • GmxPlugin: Export tile objects without a type as tiles
    • GmxPlugin: Support horizontal and vertical flipping
    • Windows: Fixed encoding problems with command-line output (#1381)
    • Windows: Fixed the architecture of shipped MSVC DLLs (#1338)
    • Updated Chinese translation (#1432, by Clyde)

    GameDev News

    25. January 2017

     

    Unreal Engine 4.15 Preview 1 was released a few days back (sorry, machine failure took me offline for a few days) with a taste of what’s to come in the upcoming 4.15 release.  A restructuring of the C++ code layout has resulted in a measured 50% improvement in compilation speeds, a new reroute system for material blueprints should certainly help with readability and perhaps the biggest announcement is the recently introduced Blueprint to C++ system is now out of beta and considered production ready.

     

    Details from the announcement blog:

    We've changed the build process to an 'include what you use' model, where every header includes other headers it needs, rather than every source file. With this change we've measured the engine compiling up to 50% faster than before.

    blogAssets%2F2017%2FJANUARY+2017%2F415p1%2FMaterialEditor_RerouteNodes-770x401-c8fb98b42bbfe3a79a573a9cfb05d90c03a9e8c4

    With reroute nodes now available for use in the Material Editor, say bye-bye to spaghetti wires!

    The Blueprint to C++ cooking feature is no longer experimental and is now production-ready. 

    We've also added some new experimental features such as Content Hot Reloading and Monoscopic Far Feld Rendering for mobile VR. We are excited to share the features with you and hear your feedback!

    To download Preview 1 of 4.15, head over to the Library section of the launcher, select “Add Versions” and select “4.15 Preview 1” from the dropdown list. We welcome early adopters to download this Preview build to get an early look at what's to come and give us feedback as we prepare for the upcoming final release!

     

    Unreal Engine 4.15 preview 1 is available for download using the Epic Game Launcher.

    GameDev News

    25. January 2017

     

    Unity have just released another patch, 5.4.4p2, composed entirely of fixes.  Actually it’s by far the shortest patch release notes I’ve ever seen from Unity, comprised of:

     

    Fixes
    • (852307) - Android/IL2CPP: Prevent a crash which could occur with the use of OnAudioFilterRead callbacks on krait CPUs.
    • (836697) - Android: Identified unaccounted spikes in profiler.
    • (857203) - Deployment Management: Corrected a behaviour on Windows where using -logfile on batch mode with an emptry string would cause the output to go to stdout, consistent with all other platforms.
    • (780168) - Editor: Fixed Gizmos only being displayed for the first camera in the Game View.
    • (828288) - IOS: Fixed an issue where the ReplayKit API might be reported as available on unsupported devices.
    • (829753) - Kernel: JSON serialisation now supports correct parsing of NaN and +/-Inf.
    • (none) - Purchasing: Fixed a bug where a duplicate transaction could fail without calling the failure callback.
    • (861828) - UnityWebRequest: Fixed the proxy support so that debugging tools like Fiddler work.

     

    As always, the patch is available for Windows and Mac for download here.

    GameDev News

    24. January 2017

     

    Are you perhaps… artistically challenged?  This tutorial will give you passable 8-bit or 16-bit style pixel art results with a minimum of artistic ability.  Of course it assumes you know a bit about Blender, but dont worry if you don’t.  We have a pair of ground up tutorial series that will0001-0060 teach you everything you need to know to follow along, this Blender text tutorial series and this Blender video tutorial series.  Alright, let’s jump right in.  We are going to use a combination of vertex painting, cycles renderer and freestyle in Blender to create an image like the one to the right.  Not the most impressive thing you’ve ever seen I’m sure… but it was exceptionally easy.

     

     

    Without further ado, let’s jump in.  For this example I am not going to model the sprite, if you are interested in seeing that process, watch the full video.  Instead we start with a simple model like the following:

    image

     

    Now let’s look at first colouring it, then cartoon rendering it and finally how to render it in pixel art style.

     

    Vertex Painting The Object

    First we start off by painting our surface.  The nice thing about Vertex Painting is it draws the colour information directly on the model, so you dont need to worry about UV maps or textures at all.  We just published a video on Vertex Painting in Blender if you want more details.  In the end we are going to use the Cycles renderer, but for now it’s easier to get started painting using the built in default Blender renderer.  This will enable us to easily see the painted vertices in the Blender viewport.  In the default material make sure that Vertex Color Paint is enabled:

    image

     

    Now it’s time to start filling out our different colors.  In Edit mode, simply select the faces you want to be a specific colour, like I have done here for the cockpit area:

    image

     

    Now switch over to Vertex Paint Mode:

    image

     

    Now select “Face Selection Masking For Painting”

    image

     

    This limits your painting to the faces currently selected in edit mode.  In the Tools menu ( T ), select the color you want to paint with.

    image

     

    Now hit SHIFT + K to fill the selection with the current colour, like so:

    image

     

    Now repeat this process for the rest of the ship.

     

    Toon Shading In Cycles

    Now that you’ve got your ship coloured, it’s time to switch over to the cycles renderer.  If using a default layout, simply select Cycles Render in the dropdown:

    image

     

    With the change to Cycles Render, we should now have a new option in the Materials dialog

    image

     

    Click Use Nodes.  Then select Toon BSDF.

    image

     

    Out of the box Vertex Colors aren't going to work in Cycles, we need to make a simple shader graph to get things to work.  Don’t worry… it’s super easy.  When you do a vertex paint, the data is stored in the mesh data, like so:

    image

     

    That “Col” data is about to become very useful.  Switch to Node Editor

    image

     

    Now what we want to do is add an Attribute input and wire it into the Color field of our Toon shader, like so:

    image

     

    Notice the name “Col”.  This is the link back to our vertex color data.  This causes the Toon shader to use the painted vertex colors as it’s color source.  If you do a render now, it should look something like…

    image

     

    Better, but still quite fugly…

     

    Using Freestyle

    Now to get a bit of a more hand-drawn effect, we want to enable freestyle in the Blender renderer:

    image

     

    Notice I increased the Line Thickness a fair bit from the default… this is a personal choice.  It’s possible you don’t like the default lines it chose to highlight, but don't worry, you can control that if you prefer.  Simply go to Edit Mode, select the edge you want Freestyle to render, select Ctrl+E then Mark Freestyle Edge:

    image

     

    Now in the Render Layers property panel, locate the Free Style Line Set, then enable Edge Mark.

    image

     

    Now when we render, it should look like:

    image

     

    Ok, that looks a bit better!  Now how about that Pixel art look?

     

    Compositor Time

    The compositor is a process that runs AFTER the image is rendered and can be used to create all kinds of special effects.  In this case we are going to pixelate the result.  In the Renderer dialog, make sure under Post Processing, that Compositing is enabled.

    image

     

    Now, back in Node Editor, switch to Compositor mode:

    image

     

    Now we want to edit our graph like so:

    image

     

    Essentially we take our input Render Layers, scale down the resulting image to 1/5th its size, apply the Pixelate filter, then scale it back to it’s regular size and finally send it to the Composite output.  Now let’s render and see what we’ve got:

    image

     

    TADA!  Pixel art in just 20 easy steps.  Granted, at that size it doesn’t look great, but at actual game scale:

    image

     

    It looks pretty solid… for a purple, yellow and emerald model that is!  You can download the Blend used in this example here.

     

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