November 16, 2012

The November Update

While I've generally been keeping up on my philosophy I know I've cut back on this side. Simply put there hasn't been much to openly discuss till today. I've been testing some of the changes I made and really changed up a few things. For starters I've stripped out the larger skyscraper mechs for various reasons and will be saving them for a different game not yet even thought of which may not ever happen. I managed to get nearly 160 players playing simultaneously without lag, and I'm confident it can handle more though I didn't have enough people to find out at the time. Something which for the record unreal engine absolutely is not built for at all, and it was a nightmare to rebuild everything ground up but the good news is that it's finally starting to pay off. Speaking of Unreal I must say I'm somewhat impressed by their UE4 tech demo's they put out. I'm also not oblivious to the changes at epic games, but I'm also not worried about them at all either.

I managed to also get an improved version of persistent world play up and get that tested. I also broke down and implemented a console controller and joypad support including free form editing and enable/disable with disable the default. This way if you like to use an emulator that's still an option, and if you want the in game support it's there and proper not some infuriating garbage, and if you happen to not like the setup you're also free to change it with access to all the same area's it's programmed for. To elaborate for example the difference between a button press and a button hold, and sequence actions like double tap or combos. Though over this coming weekend I'll be working on it some more as there were complaints about conflicts with certain button combinations and settings. I finished adding another 5 guns in as well and made sure they work with existing assets. Add to that several hundred other minor tweaks and fixes and updates I've been working on, dare I suggest it might already be award worthy on the multiplayer aspect.

As for my progress in developing single player I scrapped the side missions for now and focused in on single player thinking about how I could increase play time without stupid gimmicks or grinding where everything seems to continue smoothly and progresses the story at a decent pace. Which first off started with me shortening the game quite a bit then devising a plan I'm working on now to expand the story itself.

The changes in the story are minor with this new idea and add a few hours to play time over what was cut out. So that's about all I can think of to catch everybody up for now, hope you enjoyed it.

November 01, 2012

Future Gaming Tech - Audio

Unlike some of the future gaming tech out there audio is one of the sorely neglected yet essential pieces in gaming. Some future items are already out there like various mind control based games with strange devices measuring your alpha and beta brain waves to play a game. What I have in mind though is something a bit more radical. The application of procedural or algorithmic generation to audio and not just graphics. Some basic examples of the idea exist in music using either existing audio that gets slightly adjusted based on variables and conditions or advanced compilations of existing audio based on character actions usually. So far it's been impractical to try and synthesize audio outside the 16 bit range in a game because of size and or practical limitations.

Though now there are some worthy and worth while programs to mention that can generate speech based on text with some less robotic voices. This however is only the beginning. I see a future perhaps one brought by Bethesda and The Elder Scrolls series in which all the audio will be completely generated through code without any actual production audio. Unique music for every dungeon, and dialogue and voices for every NPC. Audio which will be dynamically altered in real time based on various variables. Muffled audio from water or distance in rain, or that ringing and buzz after being too close to an explosion or standing in front of a rock concert speaker for too long. Creating the actual sound of a building collapsing based on what's actually happening in the game. Proper dissipation over distance instead of a flat cutoff at a given distance, and complex audio echo's and bouncing. These details can completely change how we see a world, without them the visuals will be all we really have to rely on and if we're focusing on them more and more it becomes much harder to be immersed when we start noticing out of place polygons or unrealistic movements.

Though of course with some of the strange things I'm seeing in the future of gaming I must say it'll be very interesting to see how they all blend together. With things like the above mentioned controller there's a game designed to estimate if you're on edge or not and then insert random noises, shadows, or enemies to get you back on edge and keep you there. I can only imagine what that will do to the human psyche  if someone plays it too long. Forcing you into always being afraid and on edge for hours at a time non stop, imagine meeting that person just after he stops playing. That's one of those lines that while I can appreciate it being crossed I really wouldn't want to do it myself and would have a hard time getting into a game that's profiling me constantly to try and push me into a given emotional state regardless of the final value of it.