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22. May 2016

 

SideFX have released Houdini 15.5.  Houdini is a 3D application with a focus on procedural generation.  This release brings several new features, including:

 

Modeling

  • New PolyBevel SOP

  • New PolySplit SOP

  • New Dissolve SOP

  • TopoBuild tool (phase II)

  • Variable width offsets in PolyExpand2D

  • Double-click for edge loop selection

  • Double-click for point and primitive island selection

Crowds

  • Advanced locomotion controls

  • Direct FBX Imports for agents

  • Vertex normal support for deforming crowd agents

  • New Agent CHOP

  • New Terrain Adaptation SOP

  • Improved crowd steering behaviour

  • Accurate foot planting

  • Mocap Biped 3 with library of motion clips

UVs

  • Triplanar UV projection VOP

  • Curvature support for UV Bake

  • Tighter UV island packing in layout

Lighting and Rendering

  • Third Party Rendering Support in Houdini Indie - Today: RenderMan, Arnold, and Octane - Coming: Redshift, V-Ray and Maxwell

  • New VR Camera built using new VR lens shader

  • DOF and Motion Blur in OpenGL ROP

  • Overscan rendering support and crop window fixes

  • OpenGL displacement mapping in viewport

  • "Render to Disk in Background" button on SOHO ROPs

  • Photon tracing control in Mantra

User Experience

  • Better Euler tumbling in viewport

  • 3D handle enhancements

  • File chooser enhancements

  • Improved geometry snapping

  • Multi row/column pasting in Parameter Spreadsheet

  • Help system enhancements

Character

  • "Delta Mush" deformation support

  • Multi overlapping selection in Dopesheet

  • Hair and fur grooming enhancements

Performance

  • Faster VEX function loading and more efficient memory use

  • Faster saving of large geometry

  • HQueue performance optimizations

Volumes

  • OpenVDB 3.1

Interoperability

  • Many Alembic enhancements

 

You can see a summary of the new features in the video below.

GameDev News

19. May 2016

 

Let me warn you up front, this game engine is nowhere near production ready.  It’s very much a work in progress, with missing documentation, missing features and crashes are far too common.  This is certainly not a game engine to choose today for game development, that’s why this is just a preview instead of a Closer Look.  It is however a shocking capable game engine that you should keep your eye on!image

 

There is also a video available here.

 

What is the Banshee Engine?

So, what is the Banshee Engine?  Currently at release 0.3, Banshee Engine is an open source, C++ powered 2D/3D game engine with a complete game editor.  On top of that there is a managed scripting layer, enabling you to develop game logic using C#.  It is available under a dual license, LGPL and a Commercial “pay what you want” license... and yes, what you want to pay could be $0 if you so chose.

Banshee is available on Github, there are binaries available for download, although for now the engine is limited to Windows only.  The engine also only targets Windows at the moment, but is being written with portability in mind.

 

The Editor

Here is the Banshee Editor in action:

 

image

 

The layout is pretty traditional.  On the top left you have the various resources that make up your game.  Below that you have the Hierarchy view which is essentially your current scene’s contents.  At the bottom we have the logs.  On the right hand side is the inspector, which is a context aware editing form.  Of course centered to the view is the Scene view, which also has a Unity like Game preview window.  The interface is extremely customizable, with all tabs being closable, undockable or even free floated.  It works well on high DPI monitors and on multiple displays.  It does occasionally have issues with mouse hover or cursor and sadly tab doesn’t work between text input fields, but for the most part the UI works as expected. 

image

 

The 3D view you can Orbit the camera using RMB, pan with MMB and zoom in with the scroll wheel.  Of course LBM is used for selection.  There are the traditional per axis editing widgets for Transforms, Rotations and Scales.  You have a widget in the top right corner for moving between various views as well as shifting between Perspective and Orthographic project.  Oddly there doesn’t appear to be an option for multiple concurrent views, nor puzzlingly enough, are there axis markers ( color coded lines to show the location of X,Y,Z axis ).  The editor idles nicely, using only 4% or so CPU at idle, meaning the engine is fairly friendly to laptop battery life.

 

There are several built in Scene objects, including geometric primitives.

image

 

The engine also takes an Entity/Component approach, with several components built in that can be attached to a Scene Object:

image

 

Importing assets into the engine is as simple as dragging and dropping to the Library window:

image

With a  resource selected, you can control how it is imported in the Inspector:

image

 

The importer can handle FBX, DAE and OBJ format 3D files as well as PNG, PSD, BMP and JPG images.  You can also import fonts as well as shaders, both GLSL and HLSL formats.

 

Coding

Coding in Banshee is done in one of two ways.  You can extend the editor and engine using C++ code.  The code itself is written in modern C++ 14, although documentation on native coding is essentially non existent at this point in time.

For games, the primary going interface is using C#.  It current supports C# 6 language features.  To script a component, create a new Script in Resources panel:

image

 

Next, select a scene object, then drag and drop the script onto the bottom any the form in the inspector.  Double clicking the script will bring it up in Visual Studio if installed.  The script will have full IntelliSense in Visual Studio:

image

 

Scripting a component is a matter of handling various callbacks, such as OnUpdate() which is called each frame.  You can access the attached entity (er... Scene Object) via the .SceneObject member.  Here is a very simple script that moves the selected object by 0.1 pixels each update:

namespace BansheeEngine
{
	public class NewComponent : Component
	{
		private void OnInitialize()
		{
		}
		
		private void OnUpdate()
		{
			this.SceneObject.MoveLocal(new Vector3(0.1f, 0.0f, 0.0f));
		}
		
		private void OnDestroy()
		{
		}
	}
}

 

Documentation

This is very much a work in progress.  Right now there is a solid reference for the Managed API, the Native API (C++), but the tools user manual is essentially a stub.  There is an architecture cheat sheet which gives a pretty broad overview of the engine and how the pieces fit together.  There is also a guide to compiling the engine from source.  For those that are interested in giving things a go from C++ only, there is a C++ game example available here.  Unfortunately there are no downloadable projects or managed examples, a glaring flaw at this point that make it a lot harder to learn.

As of right now, the lack of editor documentation or samples to get started with, really do make it hard to learn, especially if you are trying to figure out if something isn’t working because you are doing it wrong, the feature isn’t implemented or there is simply a bug.

That said, these are all things that should improve in time.

 

Conclusion

This is a game engine for early adopters only.  It’s not even close to ready for primetime.  On the other hand, the kernel or core is there and remarkably robust.   While not the most stable by any stretch of the word, and with lacking documentation, I think you will be surprised with just how capable this engine actually is.  The potential for a great game engine is here under the surface, just waiting for a community to make it happen.

 

The Video

GameDev News , ,

19. May 2016

 

At Google.io, along with the announcement of VR Mode in Android N, Google announces a preview release of Android Studio 2.2.  Android Studio is a free IDE for Android development based off the popular IntelliJ Java IDE.

 

Details of the new release:

Android Studio is the quickest way to get up and running with Android N and all our new platform features. Today at Google I/O, we previewed Android Studio 2.2 - another big update to the IDE designed to help you code faster with smart new tooling features built in. One of the headline features is our rewritten layout designer with the new constraint layout. In addition to helping you get out of XML to do your layouts visually, the new tools help you easily design for Android’s many great devices. Once you’re happy with a layout, we do all the hard work to automatically calculate constraints for you, so your UIs will resize automatically on different screen sizes . Here’s an overview of more of what’s new in 2.2 Preview (we’ll be diving into more detail this update at 10AM PT tomorrow in “What’s new in Android Development Tools”, livestreamed from Google I/O):

  • Speed: New layout designer and constraint layout, Espresso test recording and even faster builds
  • Smarts: APK analyzer, Layout inspector, expanded Android code analysis and IntelliJ 2016.1
  • Platform Support: Enhanced Jack compiler / Java 8 support, Expanded C++ support with CMake and NDK-Build, Firebase support and enhanced accessibility

GameDev News

19. May 2016

 

Google.io is currently going on, Google’s annual developer conference.  In a world currently dominated with VR announcements, did you really expect no VR announced from Google?  Yeah, me neither.

 

The following is from the Android developer blog:

Android was built for today’s multi-screen world; in fact, Android powers your phone, your tablet, the watch on your wrist, it even works in your car and in your living room, all the while helping you move seamlessly between each device. As we look to what’s next, we believe your phone can be a really powerful new way to see the world and experience new content virtually, in a more immersive way; but, until this point, high quality mobile VR wasn’t possible across the Android ecosystem. That’s why we’ve worked at all levels of the Android stack in N–from how the operating system reads sensor data to how it sends pixels to the display–to make it especially built to provide high quality mobile VR experiences, with VR Mode in Android. There are a number of performance enhancements designed for developers, including single buffer rendering and access to an exclusive CPU core for VR apps. Within your apps, you can take advantage of smooth head-tracking and stereo notifications that work for VR. Most importantly, Android N provides for very low latency graphics; in fact, motion-to-photon latency on Nexus 6P running Developer Preview 3 is <20 ms, the speed necessary to establish immersion for the user to feel like they are actually in another place. We’ll be covering all of the new VR updates tomorrow at 9AM PT in the VR at Google session, livestreamed from Google I/O.

 

So basically they are baking much of the functionality required to support VR directly into Android N.  On top, they also released a reference device for developers and manufacturers to build their own Android N powered VR device, including this controller:

image

It has built-in sensors for helping to determine position along with a a trackpad for fine tuned control.

 

It appears that Google intends to leave device development up to others.   In an already saturated market, it will be interesting to see if this approach works.  Frankly the only real selling point I see for Android powered VR is the price point ( since the phone provides the CPU, GPU, Screen, etc ), but the GearVR is already in place and is the best selling VR Headset available.

GameDev News

18. May 2016

 

Another week another Unreal Engine release, this time 4.12 Preview 4.  Once again this is a preview release, so don’t expect to use it in production work and expect bugs.  The biggest feature of this release is a preview of VR Mode announced back during GDC.  This enables you to place and move actors in the editor while using a VR headset, currently Vive and Oculus Rift are supported.

Of course there are a host of fixes in this release as well:

Fixed in Preview 4 - CL 2978217
Fixed! UE-30690 Behavior tree serialization is creating duplicates of task services on every save
Fixed! UE-30693 Server logging regressed
Fixed! UE-30763 Make details panel favorites experimental
Fixed! UE-30417 SetWorldOrigin in console command crashes editor
Fixed! UE-30515 Debris particles constantly firing in ending sequence of Infiltrator Demo
Fixed! UE-30606 Crash adding Begin Play to Character blueprint after breaking links
Fixed! UE-30663 Crash transforming cloth bone unweighted at current LOD in persona
Fixed! UE-30157 If variables are connected to pins of Layered blend per bone, the all variables' value are recognized as the last pin's value.
Fixed! UE-30588 Curves loaded from DDC do not always work on additive animations
Fixed! UE-30563 Memory leak in active sound on world teardown due to async traces
Fixed! UE-30539 Preferred audio device settings not overriding default audio device settings
Fixed! UE-30142 Landscape3 in ContentExamples Landscape crashes when using erosion tool
Fixed! UE-30429 Odd collision in VehicleGame track results in Buggy driving above the landscape
Fixed! UE-30462 Landscape grass placement changed
Fixed! UE-30372 Unusual Rendering on SunTemple with iPhone6+ Metal
Fixed! UE-30739 [CrashReport] UE4Editor-OpenGLDrv.dylib!FPlatformOpenGLContext::VerifyCurrentContext()
Fixed! UE-30775 Fix checkin error for InputDevice version checking
Fixed! UE-30767 Add protection against calling unsupported InputDevice methods on devices with Android version before KitKat
Fixed! UE-30579 StrategyGame fails to launch on Firefox
Fixed! UE-30553 Multiple Launches required to get Project running on Firefox
Fixed! UE-30699 Correct SupportsVulkan check for Vulkan shader format
Fixed! UE-30034 Xbox One: Level assets are not rendering for several samples
Fixed! UE-29328 Linux SCW crash Assertion `!"Illegal formal parameter mode"' failed.
Fixed! UE-30069 On one Retina MacBook Pro using re-opening UE4Editor after previously quitting it will cause a GPU hang on Nvidia requiring a force-reboot of the Mac
Fixed! UE-28411 Linux crash report folders are not placed in the Saved directory
Fixed! UE-30509 Crash running project examples in Standalone game on Mac
Fixed! UE-30498 Bad shadow flickering in Flying template
Fixed! UE-30469 tvOS Code fails to package if a space exists in directory name
Fixed! UE-30536 Large values of "Reflection Capture Resolution" cause extreme Graphical artifacting and degredation with no Warning to the User
Fixed! UE-30620 ContentExamples: Material_Properties level: Example 1.10 not enabled
Fixed! UE-30732 Crash opening QA-Sequencer - UE4Editor_Engine!FStaticMeshVertexBuffer::Init()
Fixed! UE-29556 Normal maps do not render on BSPs
Fixed! UE-30389 GPU Driver crash when setting reflection capture resolution to unreasonably high values
Fixed! UE-30341 [CrashReport] UE4Editor_Engine!FReflectionTextureCubeResource::InitRHI() [reflectioncapturecomponent.cpp:703]
Fixed! UE-30286 Player loses all input when unplugging the controller while in ShooterGame
Fixed! UE-30671 Opening Level Blueprint Produces Error (Third Person Blueprint Project)
Fixed! UE-30567 Misspelling in Parallax Occlusion Mapping level of Content Examples
Fixed! UE-30446 Paper2D map is missing from Windows Content Examples in 4.12 Binary
Fixed! UE-30287 Launch on iOS from windows fails for Match3 project obtained through launcher
Fixed! UE-30740 [CrashReport] UE4Editor_Sequencer!FSequencerTrackNode::GetDisplayName() [sequencertracknode.cpp:264]
Fixed! UE-30688 Crash adding a second animation to UMG on Mac
Fixed! UE-30656 Camera is not set to the characters camera when sequence is over
Fixed! UE-30680 Master tracks (camera cuts, fade, play rate, etc) should appear before folder nodes
Fixed! UE-30654 Packaged sequence does not autoplay
Fixed! UE-30666 Crash undoing UMG widget added to an animation
Fixed! UE-30529 Scroll bar does not have fixed width in Sequencer
Fixed! UE-30577 Multiple Transform track on Camera created from Add Master Sequence
Fixed! UE-30676 Crash using assign actor in sequencer on Mac
Fixed! UE-30490 [CrashReport] UE4Editor_SteamVR!FSteamVRHMD::D3D11Bridge::UpdateViewport()

 

To get the newest preview, simply download it using the Epic Game Launcher.

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Creating game authoring tools in HTML5 table of contents created
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19. February 2013

I have been working on a long running, but slow in development, series of posts on authoring a level creation tool using HTML5.  It covers how to actually create an application using the popular MVC design pattern, implemented using the YUI3 libraries, as well as the EaselJS graphic library.

 

If you are interested in HTML5 application development, or in a ( simple for now ) level editor, hopefully this series is of interest to you.  

 

 

Table of contents link.

 

 

Current Contents:

 

Expect this to be updated over time as I continue.

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