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28. February 2016

 

Released in candidate form a couple weeks back, the Spring RTS engine just released version 101.  Spring is a real-time strategy game for Windows, Mac and Linux that is focused open source game engine.

 

Release 101 brings:

Lua Feature & Map shaders
It is now possible to set custom shaders for features and map drawing from lua.
Line of Sight refactor
Line of sight calculation performance was greatly improved allowing it to be smoothly updated every simulation frame.
Transports refactor
The hard-coded transport behaviour was tweaked to allow the attachment of any unit to any other unit from lua.
Internal pr-downloader support
An essential step towards in-game lobby, it already allows rapid tags to be used in game dependencies and in start scripts.

Or you can view the new features in action in this video:

 

More information about Spring is available here.  The C++ source code is available on Sourceforge.

GameDev News


26. February 2016

 

Marmalade SDK, a popular C++ and Lua based mobile focused game engine, just released version 8.2.1.  Apple platforms certainly were the focus of this release with 3D touch and Watchkit support being the major new features.  For details on the new 3D Touch support, check out this recently released tutorial.

 

From the release notes:

Highlights

  • Support for 3D Touch on iOS. See 'Detecting touch pressure' here
  • Support for WatchKit extensions on iOS.
  • Fixed App Store codesigning on PC.
  • Added the ability to control the inclusion of extensions that contain IDFA. This is required by apps that were rejected from the App Store for inadvertently using IDFA. For more details see 'Preparing for binary upload' in the iOS Platform Guide

Changed since 8.2

Marmalade Hub
  • MSDK-2294 Fixed a bug where after cancelling the 'Create Deployment' dialog, a blank deployment page was shown.
  • HUB-236 The Builds list and 'Last Build' were not updated correctly.
  • MSDK-2311 Added ability to view/edit MKB from Hub.
  • HUB-309 Fixed a bug where the log was not visible if something went wrong when opening a project.
  • HUB-314 Could not create a deployment.mkf file with empty mkb.
  • HUB-310 Provide a way to reset deployment settings of a project.
  • HUB-125 Add ability to create multiple builds in the 'Builds' page.
  • HUB-285 Fixed the Hub UI becoming unresponsive when building on Mac OS.
  • HUB-302 Fixed the Configurations tab hanging after cancelling a save operation.
  • MSDK-2317 Company name and publisher entries were not being set.
  • MSDK-2361 Changes to the project's readme file weren't saved.
Marmalade Quick
  • MSDK-2254 Fix issue where removeNode() could not be called multiple times for a given object.
  • MSDK-2265 If createSprite is called using a table, allow xScale and yScale to be defined if relativeScaleX/relativeScaleY are not given.
  • MSDK-2276 Fix OSDateCallParam lunary test on OS X.
  • MSDK-2280 Fix issue where QNode:setParent() was not setting the object in question as a child of the target.
  • MSDK-2265 Fix Lunary test code to pass on PC.
Platform Abstraction
  • s3ePointer (MSDK-2208) Implemented support for reporting touch pressure using s3ePointer events. Currently supported on selected iOS devices with 3D Touch technology (iPhone 6S/6S Plus) and iPad Pro with Apple Pencil. See Detecting inputs for more information on detecting touch pressure.
Middleware
  • IwAnalytics (MSDK-2302) Deprecate IW_ANALYTICS_EXCLUDE_IDFA_SUPPORT - use new DISABLE macro S3E_EXT_IOSIDENTIFIERS_DISABLE_ON_IPHONE instead. (Remove need to recompile the iwanalytics module to switch behaviour).
iOS
  • HUB-311 Implemented support for 3D Touch App Shortcut actions (currently supported on iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus) through news3eIOSAppShortcut extension.
  • MSDK-2309 Re-implementation of fix for issue in iOS Native Debug with space in the project name.
  • MSDK-2264 Fix for "invalid signature" error during App Store submissions when building on PC.
  • MSDK-2330 Updated WKWebView interface in s3eWebView to reflect standard ARC changes in UIWebView.

Android
  • MSDK-2338 Fixed a regression with stack sizing issues which caused crashes on secondary threads due to stack overflow. The crux is that the default for the deployment option SysStackSizePlatform had changed from 0 to 128k. It has been changed back to 0 to get the system default stack size. One manifestation was that s3eAudioPlayFromBuffer crashed on different thread on Android.

  • MSDK-2355 Removed spurious warning: "The target name is different across different builds of the project" when building a middleware module or extension with Visual Studio 2015 in Android Native mode.
  • MSDK-2286 Minor fix to prevent potential crash in s3eAndroidGooglePlayBilling extension on some devices.
Windows Desktop
  • MSDK-2176 Fixed issue with Alt-F4 being ignored as a quit request when in fullscreen mode.
  • MSDK-2334 Fixed regression in snprintf (and friends) in vc11 and vc12 builds where passing 0 for size would cause stack corruption or a crash
Extensions
  • s3eIOSWatch (MSDK-1255) Introduced s3eIOSWatch extension for data exchange between Marmalade apps and WatchKit 1.0 style app extensions (Apple Watch apps). See iOS specific functionality and tips for more information.
  • s3eFacebook (MSDK-2210) iOS extension can now provide app activation analytics data to Facebook if EnableAppEvents ICF option is enabled.
  • s3eGameCenter (MSDK-2209) Introduced a function to list multiple GameCenter achievements at the same time. Enabled control of achievement completion banner from updated s3eGameCenter example.
Tools
  • MKB System (MSDK-2289) Fixed a bug where an empty file group [] or [""] in a 'files' block in an mkb file would cause an invalid Xcode project to be emitted.
  • EDK (MSDK-2307) Support DISABLE macros on a subset of extensions in the SDK - those used by prebuilt Quick engine and those that use IDFA on iOS.

GameDev News


25. February 2016

 

Another week, another Unity patch.  This one is actually pretty meaty in the fix category, about twice as many fixes as usual, which I have to assume is a good sign.

From the release notes:

Features
  • Metal: Add -force-metal switch to force Metal rendering on OSX/iOS.
Improvements
  • Editor: Added warning dialog if there is any version difference between editor started and last project save.
Changes
  • Unity Ads: Updated to 1.5.6.
Fixes
  • (756851) - Animation: Fixed an error where the enabled property could not be animated on lights using the Animation component.
  • (765367) - AssetBundles: Removed sync load from AssetBundleRequest. Improves load times when doing multiple consecutive async loads from asset bundles.
  • (759869) - Code Stripping: Problems with use of UnityWebRequest when "Strip Engine Code" player setting is disabled has been fixed.
  • (none) - Editor: Changed the "Module Manager" button to "Open Download Page", in Build Settings, for missing playback engines.
  • (753114) - Editor: Fixed "TLS Allocator ALLOC_TEMP_THREAD ..." messages in console when saving a scene.
  • (755096) - Editor: Fixed being unable to drag and drop components we are not expandable (such as the 'audio listener').
  • (759058) - Editor: Fixed missing foldout arrows in Lighting Window.
  • (763306) - Editor: Now show detail alert information to user when their account get locked out.
  • (743678) - ETC1: Fixed ETC1/Alpha split not working with the default sprites shader.
  • (768086) - iOS/Video: Fixed an issue with videoplayer crashing on iOS 7 when exiting playback.
  • (759894) - iOS: Added a functionality to filter out emoji characters from the virtual keyboard.
  • (760747) - iOS: Fixed a crash triggered by deactivating an input while app is going into background.
  • (759480) - iOS: Fix for WWWConnection deadlock.
  • (765578) - iOS: Move callback methods to another thread as to not block main thread when streaming assets.
  • (761361) - iOS: Notify Transport that we finished receiving data so we can mark the buffer as complete when we get an error.
  • (759529) - JsonUtility: Fixed a crash when serializing very large arrays/lists.
  • (769065) - Mono: Fixed an issue with a game hanging when calling Socket.Accept() (Windows).
  • (767741) - Mono: Fixed a socket communication issue with IPv6 networks.
  • (none) - OpenGL: Fixed a crash on compute shader linking failure.
  • (712948) - OSX: Fixed an issue where text was pasted twice in input fields in the Standalone Player.
  • (716264) - Physics: Fixed HingeJoint setup issue when changing isKinematic property on attached Rigidbody.
  • (753846) - Physics: Prevent Collider recreation when setting isKinematic; therefore, OnTriggerExit/Enter are not triggered unnecessarily.
  • (770926) - Scripting: Fixed issues with Scriptable objects added as sub assets with AssetDatabase.AddObjectToAsset.
  • (none) - Scripting: Fixed registration of Shuriken icalls under Mono AOT.
  • (766349) - Serialization: Fixed crash in JsonUtility when deserializing arrays of classes or structs on .NET scripting backend.
  • (none) - Shaders: Fixed a potential editor crash if shader compiler failed to disassemble a shader.
  • (752250) - Shaders: Fixed an editor crash on shutdown if the shader compiler had previously crashed.
  • (770272) - tvOS/Video: Clicking menu button while on video playback could cause view to exit but Unity player to remain paused.
  • (733936) - UI: All struct value types now use iEquatable to prevent memory allocations.
  • (734023) - UI: Fixed an issue where setting canvas scaler to zero would cause a out of memory exception.
  • (739405) - UI: Fixed an issue where text glyphs would be truncated if any texture filtering occurred.
  • (740297) - UI: Fixed an issue where UnityEvent wouldn't allow the removal of events after reload.
  • (733760), (727436) - UI: Fixed an issue with Masking when enabling and disabling graphics.
  • (736717) - UI: If the mask is disabled we should use the baseMaterial instead of the masking material.
  • (none) - UI: If the UI shader is not found the default "pink" shader will be used.
  • (704782) - UI: Make sure FontUpdateTracker get called for tracking fonts changed in the inspector.
  • (711719) - UI: Make sure InputEvents are sent when IME composition strings are updated in Windows Standalone.
  • (745015) - UI: Removed special case ascent calculation for non-dynamic fonts.
  • (727512) - UI: The UI batching grid size is not deterministic based on canvas/ element size.
  • (none) - UI: Use GetRayIntersectionAll in Physics2DRaycaster to get more accurate results.
  • (738986) - UI: When updating rectTransform data make sure comparisons are against old value not the set value.
  • (none) - VR: Fixed Camera tracking poses being different for each camera in the scene during the same frame.
  • (none) - VR: Fixed eye buffer masking even when the Camera's targetEye is none. (Oculus SDK 1.0+).
  • (734549) - VR: Fixed stereoMirrorMode Judder in the right eye.
  • (none) - Windows Store: Fixed graphics driver crashing on Adreno 225, 305 and 330 GPUs when shadows are enabled with Universal 10 SDK. Shadows are now forcefully disabled by unity when running on devices with these GPUs as it has been the case with previous Windows Store SDKs already.
  • (none) - Windows Store: Fixed plugins that are marked are only UWP compatible to be only included in UWP builds
  • (none) - Windows Store: fixed texture sampling on Adreno 225 GPU when texture height is 1 pixel.

GameDev News


24. February 2016

 

I love C#, probably my favourite general purpose programming language at the end of the day.  In the early days however, C# was heavily tied to Microsoft’s ecosystem.  Then a little company named Ximian created a Mono, an open source implementation of C#.  At first the relationship between Microsoft and Ximian (and Microsoft and Open source in general… ) was not… great.

 

Since then, a ton has happened…  Microsoft became more open source friendly.  Ximian was acquired by Novell, then eventually spun off as an independent known as Xamarin and Mono has gone on to become the technology powering basically every single C# powered non-Microsoft title, including being the runtime behind the popular Unity game engine.  For years I’ve assumed Microsoft would buy Xamarin, especially as their relationships became cosier and cosier.  Heck I last mentioned an MSFT buyout when Xamarin bought RoboVM.  It just made so much sense to happen…

 

And it finally did!  From Scott Gu’s blog announcement:

As the role of mobile devices in people's lives expands even further, mobile app developers have become a driving force for software innovation. At Microsoft, we are working to enable even greater developer innovation by providing the best experiences to all developers, on any device, with powerful tools, an open platform and a global cloud.

As part of this commitment I am pleased to announce today that Microsoft has signed an agreement to acquire Xamarin, a leading platform provider for mobile app development.

In conjunction with Visual Studio, Xamarin provides a rich mobile development offering that enables developers to build mobile apps using C# and deliver fully native mobile app experiences to all major devices – including iOS, Android, and Windows. Xamarin’s approach enables developers to take advantage of the productivity and power of .NET to build mobile apps, and to use C# to write to the full set of native APIs and mobile capabilities provided by each device platform. This enables developers to easily share common app code across their iOS, Android and Windows apps while still delivering fully native experiences for each of the platforms. Xamarin’s unique solution has fueled amazing growth for more than four years.

Xamarin has more than 15,000 customers in 120 countries, including more than one hundred Fortune 500 companies - and more than 1.3 million unique developers have taken advantage of their offering. Top enterprises such as Alaska Airlines, Coca-Cola Bottling, Thermo Fisher, Honeywell and JetBlue use Xamarin, as do gaming companies like SuperGiant Games and Gummy Drop. Through Xamarin Test Cloud, all types of mobile developers—C#, Objective-C, Java and hybrid app builders —can also test and improve the quality of apps using thousands of cloud-hosted phones and devices. Xamarin was recently named one of the top startups that help run the Internet.

Microsoft has had a longstanding partnership with Xamarin, and have jointly built Xamarin integration into Visual Studio, Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and our Enterprise Mobility Suite to provide developers with an end-to-end workflow for native, secure apps across platforms. We have also worked closely together to offer the training, tools, services and workflows developers need to succeed.

With today’s acquisition announcement we will be taking this work much further to make our world class developer tools and services even better with deeper integration and enable seamless mobile app dev experiences. The combination of Xamarin, Visual Studio, Visual Studio Team Services, and Azure delivers a complete mobile app dev solution that provides everything a developer needs to develop, test, deliver and instrument mobile apps for every device. We are really excited to see what you build with it.

We are looking forward to providing more information about our plans in the near future – starting at the Microsoft //Build conference coming up in a few weeks, followed by Xamarin Evolve in late April. Be sure to watch my Build keynote and get a front row seat at Evolve to learn more!

 

This announcement is huge.  Expect Xamarin technology to quickly become free and fully integrated in Visual Studio.  Expect Unity to eventually get a version of C# that isn’t from the stone age.  Put simply, expect the usage to C#, especially in the mobile space, to absolutely explode!

 

I’ve been waiting a decade for this news!  I look forward to seeing exactly how all of this plays out.

GameDev News Programming


23. February 2016

 

We mentioned a few weeks back that Godot 2.0 Beta was released.  Today we can remove the beta moniker from the release, the full blown release of Godot 2 is now here.  Major new features from the release include:

NEW CORE FEATURES

While for 2.0 core changes were not a priority, there are some nice improvements on this release!

Improved scene instancing

Instancing is one of Godot's best features. For this version it has been further improved. Previously, only the root node of a scene was editable. Changes to sub-nodes would result in data loss.

It is now possible to edit any children node of the instanced scene and have the changes persist. Even sub-instances of instances can be edited with persistent modifications.

Scene inheritance

Begining Godot 2.0 scenes can not only be instanced but also inherited. This allows many interesting use cases such as:

  • Having a base scene (ie, enemy, collectable, obstacle, etc.) with a node hierarchy common to all (like explosions, shines, indicators, etc), and then extend it for each class.
  • Making non-destructive changes to a scene that was imported (ie a 3D scene, etc.)
  • Making non-destructive changes to a scene created by another team member.

New text-based scene format

Godot supports the XML format for saving scenes and resources, but we had problems with it:

  • Scenes are saved packed in xml, so the content is uncomprehensible.
  • The format is not efficient to parse.
  • It is not friendly to VCS (Git, SVN).
  • XML is not easy to write manually, and it's easy to make mistakes.

Having this in consideration, Godot 2.0 adds a new text file format inspired by TOML. This new format is descriptive (human friendly) when saving scenes, and Git/SVN friendly:

For 3.0, this format will be the only text based format supported, and XML will be deprecated.

onready & singletons

Initializing class member variables can be quite of a hassle, code such as this is common in GDScript:

The 'onready' keyword allows initialization of class member variables at the same time when _ready is called, saving some code:

But doing this for autoloaded scenes can still be a hassle, as it has to be done every time a script is created. To ease on this, it's possible to make an autoloaded scene or script a singleton variable (accessible at global scope) in the project settings:

All this, of course, working together perfectly with code completion.

Other new core features

Smaller new core features were also added:

  • Support for ZIP packs on export instead of PCK
  • Support for OPUS Audio Format
  • Changed to a more compatible JPG decoder.
  • Very improved gamepad support

NEW EDITOR FEATURES

The Editor part of Godot 2.0 is where most of the work was focused. The priority was to improve tools and make the workflow more efficient.

NEW LAYOUT AND THEME

Godot 2.0 sports a new theme courtesy of Andreas Esau. It looks more professional and less confusing than the previous one. Many unneccesary icons, margins, arrows, etc. were removed to further clean up the visuals.

As a plus, dock panels (which were previously fixed on the right) can now be moved and rearranged.

New file dialog

One of the common hurdles with Godot was the overly simple file dialog:

For 2.0 we have created a new one, which supports:

  • Navigation History
  • Favorites
  • Recent Folders
  • Thumbnail Previews (and list view compatibility mode)

New filesystem dock

Godot used to have a primitive tree dock panel view with all the project resources. This was replaced by a more modern filesystem dock:

This new panel can show resources in both thumbnail and icon view (similar to File Dialog), but it also includes several tools.

By popular request, Godot's new filesystem dock has tools to allow the user to:

  • Rename and move files and fix all resource/scene dependencies automatically.
  • Warn when files being deleted are referenced by other resources.
  • Use a heuristic to search for broken dependencies within the project.
  • Visually explore and reassign dependencies for a given resource.
  • Explore the owners for a given file.
  • Explore which resources might be orphan, for easier clean up.
Multiple scene editing

Godot's divide and conquer approach to making games relies on subdividing scenes in several sub-scenes, each with an identity or function.

Godot 2.0 improves upon this with multiple scene editing support, allowing several scenes to be open at the same time. Switching between them is painless and Godot also automatically reloads scenes when a dependency (instance or inheritance) has changed.

New tool layout

In Godot, tools appear contextually when a given node or resource is selected. This makes the UI flow fast and removes large part of the need to maually organize panel layouts.

This aspect of Godot was also improved in 2.0 with the introduction of a new bottom panel. On it, contextual editors can make a tidy appareance. Some of the editors are also always shown with persistent buttons:

  • Output console
  • Debugger
  • Animation editor

New code editor

Godot has the code editor integrated to the rest of the editors. Until Godot 1.1, scripts were opened contextually to the scene being edited but, as multiple scenes can now be edited, this is no longer possible.

To compensate, the new code editor now works more similar to an IDE, where scripts are just opened all the time. Switching to a scene will also automatically switch to it's dominant script (script in the root node, where it's most commonly placed), making the programming experience smoother.

The code editor also has many new features:

  • List of opened scripts, as using tabs would mean running out of space quickly.
  • Temperature indicator for each script, with most commonly used scripts being shown closer to red.
  • Script history: It is now possible to go back and forward in history of edited scripts easily.
  • Documentation pages show as documents. This allows having multiple pages open together with scripts.
  • Quick access to tutorials, class list and help search.
  • Improved code completion

Improved debugger

The debugger has seen many improvements too. A new addition is the reporting of run-time errors with proper notifications.

Godot is designed from the ground to attempt handling common crash situations by recovering and reporting an error. This is helpful in production games, as unexpected bugs that might commonly cause a crash will not make it fail. These errors, however, were silently being reported to stdout, so it was not easy to spot them. Added to that, given the debugger does not stop for them, having some context to understand their origin was difficult.

A new section "Errors" was now added which turns red when run time errors occur. Selecting or hovering the error will display a backtrace of script files that led to this situation.

Video memory debugger

Another new, useful feature is a new Video Memory debugger. This allows to see how much video memory is in use, as well as to discern which resources take up the most amount of video RAM.

Debug on hardware devices

It is also now now possible to debug a game running on an actual devices. Make sure to enable "Deploy Remote Debug" option in the remote options menu. If you have a device with Android 5.0+, Godot can take advantage and debug over the USB cable directly.

Collision and navigation debugging

We added support for debugging collision shapes and navigation polygons, both in 2D and 3D, in run-time. Just select the "Visible Collision Shapes" and/or "Visible Navigation" options in the above menu to enable this.

Live scene editing

In the vein of larger game engines, Godot has now live editing support. The way it implements this feature is different though. Godot uses IPC to synchronize the editor state with the running game. This means that any change made to the scene being edited is reflected automatically on the running game.

While this approach to live editing does not allow easy inspecting into the game from different editor cameras (something it might be implemented eventually anyway), it has the huge advantage of allowing the possibility of editing a level while it's being played (and avoid the edited state from being lost when the game stops). Just add enemies, move them around, change their properties, add colliders, platforms, tiles, etc. and everything is reflected instantly on the running game.

To enable live editing, just toggle it at any time from the remote options menu.

Video of live editing in action:

It is also possible to do live editing on an actual device! Just select "Deploy Remote Debug" together with "Live Editing" in the remote options menu:

New color picker

There is a new color picker courtesy of Mariano Suligoy, supporting visual HSV, raw mode, screen picking, favorite colors, and more!

Smaller new additions

Godot 2.0 brings several smaller new additions to aid in usability:

  • Visible history for property editor
  • Selection for overlapping objects in 2D and 3D
  • Categorized project and editor settings
  • Inline documentation as property tooltips
  • Array / Dictionary property editing
  • Multiple node editing
  • New Animation Editor Layout
  • Improved anchoring tool
  • SpinBoxes (both controls and in property list) can be dragged to change value.
  • Many more small additions.

FUTURE

We know the weakest part of Godot is still the 3D engine and we plan to fully work on modernizing it. However, we feel there are several more urgent issues that need to be improved usability wise. Godot 2.1 will continue in the same vein as 2.0 and keep adding usability improvements. (Feel free to check the Roadmap ).

The full text of the release notes are available here.  There is an even more complete change log available here.  The Godot team have also launched a Stack Overflow style question and answer site available here.  Of course, if you are interested in learning Godot Engine we have a comprehensive tutorial series available here on GameFromScratch.

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