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14. January 2016

 

Want a little extra spice in your development life?  Does juggling live hand grenades, chainsaws and lit dynamite sound like a fun way to spend the afternoon?  Then have I got news for you!  Unreal Engine 4.11 Preview 2 has been made available.  Obviously it’s a “you get what you get” type preview release and the purpose is to find out what’s going to explode to make for a more stable release when the less adventurous types upgrade.

 

Preview 1 added:

  • Rendering Updates:
    • New physically based shading model for realistic hair based on the latest research from film. It models 2 specular lobes, transmission, and scattering.
    • New physically based shading model for eyes.
    • New physically based shading model for cloth. This combines the standard shading model with a layer of velvet fibers. This layer simulates fuzz and fabrics.
    • Capsule Shadows - We now have support for very soft indirect shadows cast by a capsule representation of the character
    • Lightmass Portals - Skylight quality indoors can be massively improved by setting up Portal actors over openings. Portals tell Lightmass where to look for incoming lighting, they don’t actually emit light themselves. Portals are best used covering small openings that are important to the final lighting. Placing large Portals all over the level will dramatically increase build times.
    • Per-vertex translucency lighting - There are two new translucency lighting modes available in the material editor which compute lighting per-vertex. PerVertex lighting modes use half as many shader instructions and texture lookups.
    • We now have support for 3 lighting channels. You can set which channels a PrimitiveComponent or a LightComponent is in.
    • We’ve integrated Intel's Embree ray tracing library into Lightmass and we got a huge lighting build speedup from it, as the majority of lighting build time goes toward tracing rays to figure out how light is bouncing.
    • We’ve integrated updates to the D3D12 RHI to allow better CPU utilization while generating rendering commands in parallel.
    • Improved quality and performance of the SubsurfaceScatteringProfile shading model.
    • Circle Depth of Field post process - New Material Functions to render small particles with out of focus.
    • Materials using separate translucency can now be rendered at a lower resolution, which can be useful to improve GPU performance for fillrate and overdraw heavy geometry (for example particle effects).
      The resolution is controlled via a console variable, r.SeparateTranslucencyScreenPercentage, which expresses separate translucency as a percentage of current screen resolution.
    • Static mesh LOD transitions now supporting dithering.
  • Core Updates:
    • CrashReporter Server available
    • Improvements
      • Garbage Collection up to 4x faster
      • Dependency preloading - brings us close to seek free loading (90% of the time seek free), faster package loading
      • UnrealHeaderTool makefiles - iterative UHT runs are 5x faster
  • Platform Updates:
    • Metal on Mac
    • AppleTV support
    • Fast Semantics on XboxOne
    • VS2015 on XboxOne
    • Code plugins for PS4
    • Deterministic cooking "bug-finder" commandlet
    • Background content precaching for most-recently-cooked-platform
  • Editor/Tools Updates:
    • Sequencer improvements
      • New tracks: Shot/director, play rate, slomo, fade, material, particle parameter tracks.
      • Improved movie rendering, exr support
      • Improved/consistent keyframing behaviors, copy/paste keyframes, copy keys from matinee, 3d keyframe path display
      • Master sequence workflow
      • Spawnables workflow
      • UI improvements: track coloring, keyframe shapes/coloring, track filtering
  • Framework Updates:
    • Anim Dynamics Skeletal Control for Animation Blueprints - allows dynamic motion to be procedurally added to skeletal meshes without having to use a full physics solution. This is accomplished using the new “Anim Dynamics” node in the Animation Graph of an Animation Blueprint.
  • Networking Updates:
    • Packet handler system
      • Easy interception of packets for things like encryption, compression, etc
      • Added CryptoPP, and packet handler components that support it out of the box
    • Oodle integration (SDK purchase required)
    • Client-side replays
  • Blueprint Updates:
    • The Blueprint search tool has been updated to support more advanced search functionality (to get more targeted results).
    • Native C++ functions marked BlueprintCallable can now also be optionally marked as DevelopmentOnly. This new metadata allows calls to those functions to be disabled (compiled out) of all Blueprint function graphs in cooked/packaged builds without breaking the execution flow.
  • Mobile Rendering Updates:
    • Support for hardware instancing on iOS and many Android devices, reducing draw calls for Foliage and InstancedStaticMeshComponents.
    • Improved reflections on mobile, optionally interpolating between up to 3 reflection captures and performing parallax correction
  • VR Updates:
    • Instanced Stereo Rendering
    • Head Mounted Display Camera Refactor
    • Stereo Layers
    • SDK Updates: Oculus SDK 1.0, SteamVR 1.0, PlayStationVR SDK3 Updates, and Gear VR LibOVRMobile 1.0 (not yet updated for Preview 1, but will be by final release)
  • Landscape/Foliage Updates:
    • Landscape layer whitelisting, allowing you to control which landscape components should accept which layers in the painting tool
    • Landscape layer usage view mode, to quickly see which landscape components are using which layers
    • Support for baking WorldPositionOffset changes into landscape collision

Preview 2 mostly addresses a number of fixes from Preview 1, including:

Fixed! UE-24563 Editor should launch launcher silently
Fixed! UE-25092 Error in NonUnityTestCompile_OnMac due to Shadow variable
Fixed! UE-25032 UnrealHeaderTool is checking for plugins required only by game.
Fixed! UE-24812 Editor crashes when adding a mesh reference to the event graph of a blueprint
Fixed! UE-24590 Crash resetting Bound Bone in Anim Dynamics node
Fixed! UE-25064 Crash upon removing Input Axis in Project Settings by using X
Fixed! UE-24958 Crash when getting the sequence player in level blueprint
Fixed! UE-24857 Re-implement plugin changes in 4.11
Fixed! UE-24854 Add release custom version
Fixed! UE-24729 Vehicle Blueprint template has hole in the floor
Fixed! UE-24710 Third Person Code has failed import load errors
Fixed! UE-24694 Match 3 crash when spamming gem moves
Fixed! UE-24773 Enabling Tessellation on Materials in 4.11 causes geometry to Disappear
Fixed! UE-24741 Flickering SpeedTree foliage when destorying an actor using the same mesh
Fixed! UE-24724 Dropdown menus are behind the Import window on Mac
Fixed! UE-24292 Using the Set console command to change a value at runtime causes a crash
Fixed! UE-24326 Vehicle Advanced projects have missing and blocking collision
Fixed! UE-24522 Find-in-Blueprints no longer works after switching languages.
Fixed! UE-24167 Physics Asset cannot be moved in the level
Fixed! UE-25140 VS2015 builds sometimes hang when using XGE
Fixed! UE-25027 Reading from ini sections not cached by new build system doesn't work in Android Plugin Language
Fixed! UE-25026 Puzzle Code lighting needs to be rebuilt
Fixed! UE-25013 Editing right-to-left text is very unstable
Fixed! UE-24967 Integrate D3D12 update from MS
Fixed! UE-25120 OBB downloader license check causes exception if TargetSDK set to 21 or higher
Fixed! UE-25090 Java libraries copied to JavaLibs by Android plugin are not included in project dependencies
Fixed! UE-25031 Mesh particles do not work on mobile
Fixed! UE-24989 Find-in-Blueprints does not find anything outside of current asset or Engine content
Fixed! UE-24975 Instanced stereo foliage culling incorrectly
Fixed! UE-24963 Zen Gardens opens with Load Errors/Map Checks/Warnings
Fixed! UE-24962 Crash exiting D3D12
Fixed! UE-24926 Include Render Pass name as variable in Filename Format field
Fixed! UE-24920 EXR renders won't go above 640x360 when rendering from an Editor Window
Fixed! UE-24900 Main and Alt input keys set in Touch Interface do not work
Fixed! UE-24873 Mac: Clicking on parent window when a child window is behind it activates the child window
Fixed! UE-22068 Changing inherited value in a blueprint child class also changes it in parent
Fixed! UE-21795 Switch on Gameplay Tag does not correctly register tag alterations in Standalone game
Fixed! UE-23269 Crash opening QA-Animation on Mac
Fixed! UE-22970 The white horizon for the sky is flipped upside down (at top of screen instead of bottom) for non-MobileHDR on mobile devices
Fixed! UE-24852 Creating a Blueprint out of existing Blueprints crashes the editor

You can read more about the release on the Unreal Engine forums.

GameDev News ,

13. January 2016

 

To be honest, I am shocked it took this long.  JetBrains have made an excellent Java IDE for ages.  Then they released IDEs for just about every single language out there, as well as the C# refactoring tool Resharper, but never a full blown C# IDE, until today that is.

Interestingly though, this isn’t running on a JVM like their others (IntelliJ, Webstorm, PHPStorm), instead:image

Project Rider is a standalone IDE built on the IntelliJ Platform, much like WebStorm, DataGrip and our other IDEs.

The difference however, is that instead of reimplementing ReSharper’s features on the IntellIJ Platform, which runs on the JVM, we’re using ReSharper in a headless mode, out of process, and communicating with it via a very fast custom binary protocol. As such, the backend continues to be ReSharper written in C# running on .NET or Mono, and the frontend is written in Kotlin, talking to the IntelliJ Platform’s APIs.

 

And you may ask, why create a C# IDE with Visual Studio and Xamarin filling the need?

Well you kept asking us, so we finally got around to doing it!

Jokes aside though, our main reason is to provide choice. We believe that we can provide a great user experience for developers that might be interested in using alternative environments.

So why now? Because we believe it is the right time due to several factors:

  • We’ve been working for several years in allowing ReSharper to work in different environments, independently of Visual Studio. An example of this is dotPeek.
  • It’s quite clear that there’s an ever increasing tendency of developers using non-Windows platforms, and we’d like to give them the same experience they’ve come to know and love with ReSharper.
  • Finally, Microsoft moving its platform and C# language towards Open Source, along with initiatives such as CoreCLR, have been an added incentive.

 

So, what timeframe are we looking at then?

We’re aiming to open a private EAP in the coming weeks, towards the end of February. We’ll announce the signup form here on the blog, as well as on Twitter.

Soon after the private EAP we’ll move to a public EAP. When this will happen very much depends on the feedback we get from the early testers. Our aim is to release sometime in Autumn 2016.

 

For more details on Project Rider, click herehttp://blog.jetbrains.com/dotnet/2016/01/13/project-rider-a-csharp-ide.

GameDev News

12. January 2016

 

Corona Labs, the makers of the popular Lua based mobile game engine, just release version 1.6 of Corona Editor.  Corona Editor is a light weight IDE built as a plugin for Sublime Text that enables debugging, code snippets, code completion and more.

Details of the 1.6 release from the blog announcement:

Corona Labs is happy to announce the availability of Corona Editor 1.6. This is an update for the add-on package for Sublime Text 2 and Sublime Text 3 that provides code completion, syntax highlighting, documentation, and debugging to Corona developers.

The release of 1.6 includes the following updates:

Debugger improvements
  • Fixed an issue with a hanging after pressing Shift+F10.
  • Fixed a bug with spaces in project pathnames.
  • Current status is now displayed in the “Console” pane.
  • The “Console” output is now cleaner.
  • Generally improved reliability.
Corona Editor Project improvements
  • On OS X, Corona EditorRun Project now uses the most recent daily build in the/Applications folder by default. It will fall back to the public build if there are no daily builds.
  • Removed project “build system.” The menu command Corona EditorRun Project or the Cmd+F10(Mac) Win+F10(Windows, maybe mapped to FN+F10) key sequence is much more reliable.
  • Added Clear Build Panel command to main menu and context menu.
Editing improvements
  • Fixed indentation of elseif blocks.
  • Latest code completions are up to date to daily build 2016.2803.

Learn more about Corona Editor.

GameDev News ,

11. January 2016

 

… however the ultimate question of price remains unanswered.  In an interview on the Guardian, HTC CEO Cher Wang announced the February 29th pre-order date, with wider commercials sales beginning in April.  Perhaps of more interest from the interview is just how much HTC is betting the company on Virtual Reality.  Suddenly HTCs involvement with VR seems a great deal more…  significant.

 

From the Telegraph article:

HTC will start taking pre-orders for Vive, its virtual reality headset, from February 29, its chief executive has confirmed.

Cher Wang told the Telegraph the company had chosen to refocus on virtual reality (VR) and away from smartphones, saying the company was now "more realistic".

Vive has been developed with game maker Valve, designed to fully immerse its wearer in their virtual environment while playing games. It will go on wider commercial sale in April, and will compete with Facebook-owned Oculus Rift and Sony's PlayStation VR as the technology finally enters the mainstream. Its price remains unknown.

 

From the linked interview:

When asked what went wrong, Wang doesn’t dodge the question. “Our flagship is in direct competition with several others, we have had some problems with it for two years,” she admits.

“I think the problem was competition – Apple, Xiaomi, these companies spend tons of money on communications and marketing, they pump a huge amount of investment into the market. There are a lot of Chinese competitors.”

--snip--

So will HTC finally fold up its smartphone business this year?

Wang doesn’t deny this as vehemently as expected. “Now we are more realistic. We feel that we should apply our best design to different type of sectors,” she says. “Yes, smartphones are important, but to create a natural extension to other connected devices like wearables and virtual reality is more important.”

 

I have been an HTC fan for several years, starting back with the HTC TYTN right up until the HTC One, which I recently gave up on and replaced with a Galaxy S6.  They are capable of making a high quality and innovation devices when they set their mind to it.  As I mentioned just a few days ago HTC has the opportunity to win the VR war before it begins.  Seeing now that they are basically betting the company on it, I can’t help but cheer for them.

GameDev News

11. January 2016

 

Today Paymentwall released an SDK for the popular game engine Unity that enables developers to accept payments directly within their application.  From the press release:

“We are very excited to release our Unity Integration to allow gamers to make in-game purchases in their local currency, and in their most preferred payment method,” said Jevin Tryon, Project Manager at Paymentwall. “As a result, game developers will be able to increase their revenue, and monetize their games all around the world, easily.

The ability to offer different payment methods and manage in-game purchases will allow developers to reach different markets worldwide and maximize their revenue. This is especially important as the global gaming market is expected to grow at a rate of 9.4% annually, and reach a revenue of 107 billion US dollars by 2017, according to the 2015 Global Games Market Report from Newzoo. Through the Paymentwall SDK, Unity will become the most wanted platform among game developers. In 2015, the number of developers using Unity reached a million, as compared to 60,000 developers in 2014, said Unity CEO John Riccitiello.

The Unity Editor comes with an array of tools for creating and enhancing graphics, animation, as well as 2D and 3D physics for games through effectors and colliders. Editor also supports C#, JavaScript, and Boo to help developers optimize user experience. To save time on game development and updates, Unity’s asset store offers ready-made plug-ins, models, extensions and services; which now includes Paymentwall SDK.

Developers will be able to level up the gaming experience through Paymentwall SDK. Their end-users can now pay for in-game purchases in a manner that is most convenient for them. The SDK also supports customization of the checkout page to reflect the look and feel of the game itself, contributing to a seamless user experience. Fraud protection and risk monitoring services are also part of it, to ensure safety for both end-users and developers in every transaction.

Unity checkout

Example of Paymentwall’s one-click checkout page for Unity

Unity developers will be able to increase their revenue with Paymentwall SDK, while providing their users a better experience within their games. The creation of Paymentwall SDK for Unity makes the game development platform an all-in-one solution for both new and existing developers that seek to earn money from their games.

This is actually different than the myriad of In App Purchase plugins out there, as ultimately IAP make use of the underlying store (Steam, Google Play Store or Apple Store) for processing the payment, while in this case PaymentWall is the processor.  I would actually be somewhat shocked if Apple would allow this past their terms and conditions given their previous attitude towards transactions done on the AppStore (AKA, they want a 30% cut of everything, from app sales to Netflix subscriptions or Amazon purchases).  In fact, I am almost positive that neither Google nor Apple would allow you to use this SDK with their app store, making this desktop only.  I suppose this system could be effective for people directly selling a game they want to monetize in app purchases on.

 

Paymentwall started life in 2010 as a way for developers to monetize Facebook applications, until Facebook effectively shut out outside providers a year later.   The name seems a bit odd to me, as I had always associated the expression “Pay Wall” as derogatory.

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