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26. January 2016

 

This one comes care of /r/gamedev and I have to say on first glance I am rather impressed.  This is a C++ based open sourced game engine with a WYSIWYG editor and C# scripting support.  A look at this screenshot from the Github page should get you somewhat excited:

Banshee Editor

 

The engine description direct from the author:

A modern open-source game development toolkit. It aims to provide simple yet powerful environment for creating games and other graphical applications. A wide range of features are available, ranging from a math and utility library, to DirectX 11 and OpenGL render systems all the way to asset processing, fully featured editor and C# scripting.

For game developers Banshee aims to provide a complete set of tools and APIs needed to make a game from start to finish. It provides a highly intuitive and customizable editor that is easy to use by artists, designers and programmers alike, supporting development stages from asset management, scene building, scripting to game publishing. C# scripting makes your development easier by giving you access to the entire .NET library, along with fast iterations times while being safe and easy to write. Editor is fully extensible with the help of specially developed scripting API so you may customize it for exact needs of your project.

For engine developers it aims to provide a high quality foundation to build and improve upon. Banshee runs on a powerful multi-threaded C++14 core created to take advantage of all resources modern hardware can offer. Built from ground up using modern design principles, everything is modular, layered and decoupled as much as possible, making it easier to modify, replace or add functionality. Platform specific functionality is kept at a minimum making porting as easy as possible. Additionally every non-trivial method, class and field is documented. All this combined makes Banshee a great platform to build upon, for developing higher level systems like editor tools, core enhancements like new rendering techniques and platform ports, all the way to creating fully specialized toolsets that fit your team's needs exactly.

 

Engine code looks nice and clean from the examples shown:

    RENDER_WINDOW_DESC renderWindowDesc;
    renderWindowDesc.videoMode = VideoMode(1280, 720);
    renderWindowDesc.title = "My App";
    renderWindowDesc.fullscreen = false;

    Application::startUp(renderWindowDesc, RenderSystemPlugin::DX11);
    Application::instance().runMainLoop();
    Application::shutDown();

 

The engine is currently Windows only and requires Visual Studio 2013 or 2015. I have to say by first impressions, this is certainly an interesting looking engine and one I will have to check into a bit closer if I get the chance.  Obviously it’s a 0.2 release, so expect the usual menagerie of bugs and performance issues.

If you are interested in learning more, be sure to check out the introduction video:

GameDev News , ,

25. January 2016

 

Allegro, a C++ based game programming library just released version 5.1.13 WIP, so I would assume the WIP tag means you can expect a few more hiccups than normal.  Allegro holds an interesting place in my heart, as it was one of the first DOS based game programming libraries I ever used.  Yes, I said DOS.  Allegro has been around for a little while...  fun fact, the guy that started Allegro eventually ended up at Microsoft where he was one of the main developers of the now defunct XNA project.

 

Enough trivia and reminiscing... back to the release:

Changes from 5.1.12 to 5.1.13 (January 2016)

The main developers this time were: Julian Smythe, Elias Pschernig and Peter Hull.

Graphics:

  • Add al_get_opengl_program_object (SiegeLord).

Input:

  • Fix spurious triggering of the mouse grab key when it wasn't otherwise set (SiegeLord).

Android port:

  • Avoid multiple HALT/RESUME events on Android (Max Savenkov).

  • Implement al_get_monitor_info for Android (Reuben Bell).

  • Fix Android crash on file access.

  • Implement ALLEGRO_FULLSCREEN_WINDOW on Android.

  • Fix crash if display is destroyed while the app is switched out.

  • Add support for x86_64 Android.

  • Add al_android_set_apk_fs_interface.

Linux port:

  • Allow using OpenGL ES in X11.

  • Fix the initial display size not being correct sometimes (SiegeLord).

  • Fix a race condition in the XInput joystick driver (Trent Gamblin).

OSX port:

  • Fix various memory leaks.

  • Fix al_set_window_title.

  • Fix a lot of decrepid and deprecated code.

  • Fix single buffer flip display (SiegeLord).

Windows port:

  • Fix Windows UNC path handling.

  • Fix clipboard nul-termination issues (Trent Gamblin).

  • Set the window title immediately upon window creation (SiegeLord).

Build system:

  • Define CMAKE_FIND_ROOT_PATH for i686-w64-mingw32 cross compiler (Martijn van Iersel).

  • Allow building with older CMakes again (SiegeLord).

  • Do not catche compile tests' failure (Bruce Pascoe).

  • Add a way to statically link the runtime with MinGW (SiegeLord).

  • Don't link the MSVC C runtime at all when requesting a static runtime and building a static library (SiegeLord).

Documentation:

  • Add links to the source code of the definitions of the most API entries.

  • Fix sidebar generation with modern Pandoc (Boris Carvajal).

Python:

  • Fix ordering issue for HAPTIC* structs.

  • Fix missing ALLEGRO_PRIM_ATTR_NUM.

Other:

  • Add a 'none' debug level to turn off logging entirely in debug builds (SiegeLord).

  • Reconfigure logging after the configuration files are loaded (SiegeLord).

  • Fix al_set_new_window_title() off-by-1 (Bruce Pascoe).

  • Don't call al_get_time() before system is installed (SiegeLord).

Audio addon:

  • Add al_get_default_voice and al_set_default_voice.

  • Flush the pulse audio stream rather than draining it, fixing some audio breaks (SiegeLord).

  • Fill audio stream fragments with silence in the audio addon rather than in the acodec addon, fixing some garbage output (SiegeLord).

  • Fix possible deadlock when destroying audio streams (SiegeLord).

Acodec addon:

  • Don't read past the audio chunk's end when streaming wav files (SiegeLord).

  • Turn off allegro_acodec dynamic loading by default, fixing a common footgun (Bruce Pascoe).

Image addon:

  • An enormous amount of work supporting reading of esoteric (and not) BMP format variants (palletted, GIMP-style, etc). New tests were added using the manual bmp suites.

Native dialog addon:

  • Update code to work with modern OSX versions.

  • Clean up menu handling on OSX.

GameDev News

22. January 2016

 

Cocos2D-X, the popular cross platform C++ 2D game library, just released version 3.10.  If you are interested in learning more, I have a full Cocos2D-x tutorial series available here.Cocos2d-x Logo

 

From the release notes:

[HIGHLIGHT] UI: Rewrite Scale9Sprite and improve the scale9sprite performance and reduce memory consumption.

[HIGHLIGHT] UI: Change PageView to derive from ListView.

[NEW] Core: Added Application::getVersion() to get the app version.

[NEW] UI: Add PageView indicator.

[NEW] UI: Label add three Overflow type to new label, see release note for more information.

[NEW] UI: UIText::clone supports clone the text effect.

[NEW] Label: Add methods to query label effect state.

[NEW] UI: UIRichText support the new line element.

[REFINE] 3rd party: WebP loading improvements WebP loaded as premultiplied alpha if it has.

[REFINE] UI: Slider `setCapInsetProgressBarRebderer` change to `setCapInsetProgressBarRenderer`.

[REFINE] UI: RichText support new line element.

[REFINE] UI: Set focus to Widget when touched.

[REFINE] 3D: Change char* to string in Terrain.

[REFINE] Studio: Merge Studio ActionTimeLine change back into engine.

[REFINE] Studio: Merge Studio changes for compatible withe 32bit Mac System.

[REFINE] Studio: Merge Studio changes for lua-binding, js-binding and simulator.

[REFINE] Mac: Make engine compatible for 32bit Mac.

[REFINE] 3rd party: WebP loading improvements WebP loaded as premultiplied alpha if it has.

[REFINE] Audio: AudioEngine on Linux replace the original SimpleAudioEngine with a new version of FMOD, now AudioEngine support all platforms!

[REFINE] IOS: Add virtual keyword for some render related function.

[REFINE] UI: Fixes boring deprecated warning in HttpRequest.

[REFINE] Network: Fix Downloader bug on iOS & Android platform.

[REFINE] Studio: Fix deprecation warning in SkeletonRenderer.

[REFINE] JS: Add js test case for fix, improve template.

[REFINE] Network: Permit http access to cocos2d-x.org in test projects on iOS.

[REFINE] Network: Crash when removing a remotely downloaded image from texture cache in js-binding.

[REFINE] Win10: WinRT project update version to v3.10.

[REFINE] Console: Add quiet option for Cocos Toolkit.

[REFINE] JS: New GC model for js-binding.

[REFINE] Doc: Fix typos in documentation and comments.

[REFINE] UI: update controlButton size calculate with new Scale9Sprite logic.

[REFINE] Win10: Added missing _USRJSSTATIC preprocessor define for ARM builds.

[REFINE] JS: Added ccvector_to / ccmap_to converted to new js-binding API.

[REFINE] UI: Slider misprint fix.

[FIX] Network: fix possible websocket crash in its destructor.

[FIX] Core: Fix premultiplyAlpha for mipmaps and compressed textures.

[FIX] UI: Fix Scale9sprite rendering error when content size smaller than the sum of leftInset and rightInset.

[FIX] Win32: Fix EditBox crash when removing an EditBox in a scheduler.

[FIX] Android: Fix cannot add view to mFrameLayout when extends Cocos2dxActivity.

[FIX] 2D: Fixed actionNode set at wrong position bug.

[FIX] 3D: Fix the movement of PUParticle lags one frame.

[FIX] UI: Fix the wront argument of setPlaceholderFontName in EditBox.

[FIX] UI: Fix EditBox editBoxEditingDidEnd may use the original text after change the text of EditBox in user script.

[FIX] Audio: Fix `FinishCallback` never be called in Windows.

[FIX] UI: Fix Layout stencil clipping nested with Clipping Node rendering issue.

[FIX] UI: Keyboard doesn't hide when click the screen outside of EditBox on iOS platform.

[FIX] UI: Fix a fatal bug in EditBox implement on Windows platform.

[FIX] UI: Fix edit box setPlaceholderFontName and scale font size issue.

[FIX] Core: Fix memory leak when initWithImage() failed.

[FIX] Network: CCDownloader on iOS is broken in v3.9 js-binding.

[FIX] JS: Bindings fixes for Menu, Sprite and Label.

[FIX] Studio: Remove weak reference in ActionNode.

[FIX] UI: shouldStartLoading method should return value to js in js-binding.

[FIX] UI: Fix scrollview render error.

[FIX] JS: Fix win32 js project crash issue.

[FIX] UI: Button touch doesn't work with scale9 enabled.

[FIX] JS: Fix evalString doesn't return result issue.

[FIX] JS: Fix ComponentJS proxy management issue in JSB.

[FIX] Android: Fix include in cocos network module.

[FIX] Network: Fix web socket crash.

[FIX] UI: Fix TextField missing default password style text setting.

[TEST] S9SpriteTest: Scale9Sprite fade actions with cascade opacity.

[TEST] Web: Remove default focus block from UIFocusTestVertical.

[TEST] Lua: Fix pageViewTest Horizontal scroll won't work in Lua-test.

 

Cocos2d-x can be downloaded here.

GameDev News ,

18. January 2016

 

I just published this up to Youtube, but figured I would share it here as well.  I have long held that C++ isn’t a great choice as a first programming language.  This video is an attempt to illustrate why, including the same simple task in three different languages, C++, C# and Lua/Love.

Again, I don't think learning C++ is a bad idea, it's a very good idea. It's just starting with C++ that I believe is a mistake. If you are completely new to programming and want to know why I personally recommend against starting with C++, I recommend you watch this. Of course, you can start with C++... it's not going to harm you and it very much can work. I just think you would be more effecient using another language first.

Programming

1. January 2016

 

When I set up the news monitoring on GameFromScratch.com I noticed that Ogre3D hadn’t had an update since June and was somewhat concerned that the project was dying off.  Thankfully today there were signs of life over at ogre3d.org.  If you have never heard of it, Ogre3D is a C++ based renderer and scene graph and has been used to create several shipped titles.  The major challenge to Ogre3D is that it is currently Windows and Linux only.

 

From the update:

So… what’s new?

1. Added TagPoints to the new Skeleton system! This has been a sort of unfinished business for me. I’m glad it’s finally done!

2.1’s TagPoints are superior to their 1.x counterparts. The TagPoints from v1.x had many issues: they didn’t follow RenderQueue, visibility rules, nor LOD rules correctly (they were subordinated to the settings from the main entity/skeleton they were attached to). The v1 TagPoints also belonged to an Entity. If the Entity was destroyed, it took down its TagPoints with it. Meaning if you wanted to still keep the attachments, you had to iterate through them, detach them from their TagPoints, and add them to a new SceneNode. Ugh!!! Personally, I gave up trying to use those in my projects a long time ago.

In Ogre 2.1; TagPoints are much better: they are exactly like regular SceneNodes, except they occupy a little more RAM (a few more bytes per node), and can be attached to Bones. Other than RAM consumption, there is no performance penalty for replacing SceneNodes with TagPoints (*).

You can make a TagPoint child of a SceneNode, a SceneNode child of a TagPoint, and a TagPoint child of another TagPoint. The only thing you can’t do is make a SceneNode child of a Bone. You must use a TagPoint for that.

If you want, you can use TagPoints throughout your entire codebase and forget about having to deal with whether an Item/Entity was attached to a TagPoint or a SceneNode and get downcasts correctly.

(*)When a SceneNode or TagPoint is attached to a TagPoint that is child of a Bone, the performance is slower because these nodes need to support non-uniform scaling. But if the TagPoint is child of the Root SceneNode (instead of a bone) like all regular SceneNodes, then there’s no performance penalty.


2. Added PSOs (Pipeline State Objects). This brings us one step closer to Vulkan, DX12 and Metal support. We’ve also noticed some minor performance improvements since there are less hoops now when tying shaders with input layouts in the D3D11 RenderSystem. Overall it simplified our workflow. It also fixed a rare culling winding bug in GL3+ as a nice side-effect.

This work is in the branch 2.1-pso. It’s ready. It hasn’t been merged yet back to main 2.1 branch because I am waiting to test it on a big engine (since it was a big change) in case there are edge cases to fix.


3. Added alpha tested shadows and transparency to PBS! These have requested by many. Alpha tested shadows are useful for grids, leaves and other alpha tested objects.

We offer two transparency modes: Transparent and Fade. The former is physically based and still emits some specular light even at alpha = 0; the latter is good old alpha blending; and becomes invisible when alpha = 0.

 


4. Added Metallic and Specular workflow options. We’ve been working hard and closely with other teams and artists, tuning the BRDF settings. We now have 3 workflows: specular_ogre, specular_as_fresnel (what most popular engines do when they say “specular” workflow) and metallic.

For the tech-curious, specular_ogre maps the specular texture to the coefficient “kS”, whereas specular_as_fresnel maps the specular texture to the fresnel, colouring it. And metallic uses the slot reserved for the specular texture to control the metallness.

John Hable has an interesting discussion about the topic. Long story short specular_ogre allows more variety in the amount of materials that can be represented; but the specular_as_fresnel is more intuitive and is what most artists are used to.


5. Optimized vertex buffers for shadow mapping! If you’ve got VRAM to spare, you may want to enable this option to generate vertex buffers optimized specifically for shadow mapping.

Normally, GPUs require us to split a vertex when two triangles can’t share it (i.e. it has a different normal, it has got an UV seam, etc). But shadow mapping only requires position, and these cloned vertices (alongside fatter vertices) reduce performance unnecessarily. This new feature creates a vertex buffer with position data exclusively, thus reducing bandwidth requirements, fitting the cache better; and reducing the vertex count by avoiding duplicates.

Performance improvements vary wildly depending on scene and model complexity.

To enable it, set the global variables:

Mesh::msOptimizeForShadowMapping = true;
v1::Mesh::msOptimizeForShadowMapping = true;

Note that this will increase loading times. For large meshes (i.e. 300k vertices), it is better to do it offline and save it to disk using the OgreMeshTool. If you do this, then there is no need to set msOptimizeForShadowMapping to true.

Also bare in mind this optimization will not be used for meshes using materials with alpha testing, as we require UV data for alpha testing; and not just position data.

For more information, visit the forum thread.


6. Updated and merged OgreMeshUpgrader and OgreXMLConverter into one tool: OgreMeshTool. This new tool supports many similar options and most of the same functionality the other two provided; with the addition of new v2.1 features like exporting to v2 formats, optimizing vertex formats to use half floating point and QTangents, generate optimized vertex buffers for shadow mapping.


7. Compositor improvements. Finished UAV (texture) support, finished resource transition/barriers project (needed by OpenGL, Vulkan and D3D12) see what are barriers and why they are needed, Compositor now allows for rendering to 3D and texture 2D arrays, also declaring cubemaps.

Automatic generation of mipmaps was added for RTTs (useful for cubemap probes). See section 4.1.3.2 generate_mipmaps from the porting manual for more information.

With proper UAV support, compute shaders are around the corner!


8. Added JSON materials. The previous script syntax was not scaling well. JSON rocks! Drop on the forum thread for more details. It was our latest addition so there may still be things to polish. The old hlms material script system will continue to work while we iron out the issues and finish DERGO as a material editor.

GameDev News , ,

 

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