Research Building

Research Building

Kat again with another building share. This time the research building. 

 As usual the concepts are created either with silhouettes or sketches. For the research building I wanted it to have a unique look. After drawing some designs out and group reviews, we came up with an idea to have multiple buildings connected.  With the three connected it definitely looks like a lot of research and development is happening in your city. 

Like with the mining facility, I created the low poly models in Blender. Each building was modeled separately and then joined with corridors. Originally the buildings were planned to be connected in a circle pattern but that was changed to the triangle pattern you see now for better impact in war. 

Color and texture was added in 3d coat. To keep in common with the other buildings. copper tones are a dominant feature. Each building also has unique details not found on the other two.

 

Full story »

Beams, Bangs, Bombs and BWAAAAAAAAT!: Weapon Types

Hello! My name is Adam and I'm in charge of the technology web as part of the Rank: Warmaster development team, which includes creating the guns, buildings, systems, and equipment you'll see in the game.  Today I'll be talking about the different types of weapons you'll be using to make your foes regret their life decisions.

Under the hood, there are four different classifications of weapons; beams, pulses, missiles and cones. Beams act like standard sci-fi lasers, focused zero time-of-flight weapons that deal damage over time to a single point as they're held on a target. Pulses include all non-guided, ammo-based projectiles such as autocannons and railguns. Missiles are self-guided projectiles that seek out your selected target until they hit or run out of fuel. Cone weapons are similar to beams but affect a short range cone-shaped area instead of a tightly-focused beam.

Thematically, these categories can be used to represent the most classic sci-fi weapon archtypes.  Pulse-class weapons function as rapid-fire machinegun type weapons, or slow firing but hard hitting cannons. Cone-class weapons can model both broad-spectrum energy waves as well as kinetic flak blasts designed for point defense. Beam-class weapons make the expected laser beams and particle streams. Missile-class weapons work as, well, missiles and torpedoes and any other guided weapons.

By massaging the different attributes available to each weapon class, we can start also get some more interesting effects.  A missile-class weapon with a slower velocity but a much longer lifespan can be skinned as an assault drone or smart-mine that hunts down the enemy and explodes upon attaching to their hull. A pulse-class weapon that's very slow but deals devastating damage can be used to represent anti-capital ship torpedoes or plasma spheres that trade off guidance for the extreme damage capability needed to penetrate the toughest armor. A narrow but longer range cone-class weapon could easily represent the iconic main gun of a certain space battleship.

As development continues, additional attributes are slated to be added to the technology web, giving us more levers to pull and knobs to twist to customize the capabilities and behaviors of each weapon class. Please stay tuned!

Asset Screen #1: Where's the icon?

Asset Screen #1: Where's the icon?

 
I've recently started rebuilding the asset screen for Rank: Warmaster. This screen will allow you to control your personnel, your AIs, your installations, and your ships; your assets, in other words. It'll be a busy screen!

But everything starts somewhere, and here I decided to bring in some new icons while I thought about how to approach the rest of the task. Only, the icon didn't cooperate; it should have been colored bright white like the text, but instead it was gray and washed out, as you can might be able to see above. Here's a closeup:

Asset Screen #1: Where's the icon?

Still, very difficult to see!

All troubleshooting boils down to somehow removing possible options until we're left with a small enough pool of possible answers that we can reasonable test them. After talking to Arthur, it seemed there were two major ways something like this could happen: either something could be wrong with the icon, or something could be wrong with the lighting. (Remember that in 3d modeling, we get to define light sources and where those light sources are pointing.) The question that we boiled this problem down to was this: "Is this image still washed out and gray in other contexts?"

As it turns out, the image displayed correctly in our screen building software. It also displayed correctly when used as a backdrop instead of an icon. In addition, when we turned up the ambient light, the image got brighter and more distinct. This meant that the image was almost certainly NOT to blame. The leftover option was the light source.

The light source did indeed turn out to be the problem. When I added a bit of code to make the light shine directly forward, toward the screen, the icon showed up as brightly as we wanted in the first place. Lesson learned: if you can't see something in your game, but it's visible elsewhere, check your lighting. Just remember where you moved it from so the next person to use it doesn't have my problem!

Asset Screen #1: Where's the icon?

UI/UX Artist: We Have a Logo!

UI/UX Artist: We Have a Logo!

Hi all! This is Paul, your UI/UX designer. It is with great pride that I announce that we at Laser Beams & Particle Streams Inc officially have ourselves a logo for our indie game dev start up! We finally have a face to put to the name! All done by hand by yours truly (minus some font at the end.)

UI/UX Artist: We Have a Logo!

The start of any artistic endeavor consists of "scribble random stuff until you accidentally make something that looks good." I make my initial concept art sketches in pencil & paper. Not having an "undo" command available helps keep me moving forward. At first a "cat theme" was explored, owing to several dev team member's fondness for them, and the suggestion by one that the company might do with a mascot. Hence, a particle cat playing with a laser beam was among the first ideas treaded upon. This direction was ultimately not pursued in favor of a more energetic and literal visualizations.


UI/UX Artist: We Have a Logo!

Still in pencil & paper, more literal renditions of lasers and particles were experimented with, as well as an interplay with typography. Ultimately type from square #1 was chosen.

 

UI/UX Artist: We Have a Logo!

At this point vectorization took over. The hand-drawn lettering for "Laser Beams & Particle Streams" was redone digitally. It was decided that a laser beam would shoot between the two lines of typography, being transformed into a particle stream halfway through by the ampersand that would go at the very center.


UI/UX Artist: We Have a Logo!

The laser beam was either going to be red or yellow. It had to look either aggressive or energetic. Yellow was selected for its brightness. The beam was made out of progressively brighter vector lines encasing one another, transitioning from pure white to yellow from the center out.


UI/UX Artist: We Have a Logo!

The particle effect was accomplished by drawing dashed lines that were then blended and given a glow effect. A cool blue was chosen to contrast the "heat" of the laser. Having multiple lines in varying shades of blue help give the impression of depth and dimension to the particles.

UI/UX Artist: We Have a Logo!

The vectorized typography was given its full graphical enhancement: a bold outline, a metallic gradient, and a carefully drawn "&" symbol to both figuratively and literally tie it all together. The laser and particle elements were brought in behind. A lense flare was added for extra "pop." The font used to spell out "— Software Inc — " is Acherus Grotesque Regular, used under the The Fontspring Desktop Font EULA

And thus, we have the finished product!

Cross Posting

Many new changes are coming, that includes more frequent updates, and from differnt parts of the team.  Earlier, there was an update from Chris about some of the music in Rank: Warmaster.  Coming this week will be other updatese about the artwork and progress in the coding.  Stay tuned!  

Connective Threads in the Rank: Warmaster Soundtrack

My friend James Yuhas and I were talking about video games one day, and he mentioned that some video games use the same thematic material throughout the entire game, like Koji Kondo’s soundtrack to Super Mario World. I knew films and games use certain themes for certain characters, but I never thought about using the same material for an entire game! I realized that I should have some threads of connections between individual songs in the Rank: Warmaster soundtrack, so I decided to use a melodic figure in the Horns as one of the threads. Here is a clip of the first song you will hear in the game.   

https://soundcloud.com/christopher-a-kaminski/rwm-peace-clip/s-fCaZb

The Terrain is improved...

The Terrain is improved...

While I still have a LONG way to go, the Terrain is looking FAR better than it was.  With the new perlin noise to help at lower altitutes finally working correctly, and the newer shader pipeline to allow multiple texture overlays, it looks FAR better than before.  Lots of bugs in it to work out, as always.  However, this is good progress.  :)

Art coming your way

Art coming your way

Hello! I'm Kat, an artist working on the game and will be sharing with you the mining facility.

First up are some concepts. For the mining facility I wanted to create a structure that could  hold a lot of material and mine at the same time. After narrowing the choices down and combining liked features, the design you see now was decided.

Blender was used to create the low poly model and texturing done with 3dcoat.  Looks like this structure, with it's steel detail and plating, is going to give enemy ships a hard time taking it out. 

Full story »

Rank: Warmaster at Pax Dev and Pax West!

I will be attending PAX Dev and the first day of PAX West later this month in Seattle, Washington.  If you want to talk about Rank: Warmaster or anything else, I’d love to share.  :)  I’m not presenting or anything, but I will be chatting people up for wisdom.  :)

 

A small update about multi-threading, I updated it today and lowered the load time to 12 seconds from 16 seconds.  I made sure to figure out which CPU the main thread was on, and then put the worker threads on their own CPU (accounting for hyperthreading).  So now it will auto-expand based on how many cores it knows you have in your computer.   Technically, the game isn't fully loaded, but by the time you go through the animations and get into the game proper, it basically is.  (And what isn't will be in a few seconds, so you won't notice anyway, which is the point!)

New Shaders, Bloom and Multi-threading

New Shaders, Bloom and Multi-threading
New Shaders, Bloom and Multi-threading
New Shaders, Bloom and Multi-threading

Even though I might not post often, things are constantly moving and changing.  Since my last post, I have put in a new radar shader (which looks like the old radar except less ancient looking.  The lines are far smoother because it’s constructed in a shader so are thicker and more precise).  I have also added Bloom effects to the system.  Some things take to it well, other things, not so much, but it is setup to be able to be turned off on an object by object basis if need be.  So that will improve as time goes on.

The other really BIG thing I’m excited about is implementation of Multithreading.  So not only is the infrastructure there now for that, but I have used it to DRASTICALLY speed up the load time of the game.  It has gone from over 70 seconds to 16 seconds.  That is OVER a 4 times speed increase (4.375 to be exact!).   This is HUGE for development since the day to day trial and error just got massively sped up!  The intent is to move the terrain engine calculation to a separate thread as well, and eventually look into if anything in the main engine can be moved.  To me, this is a game changer for the game.

Other things are in the works, that will come up soon!

 

 

Full story »