Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Engine Update: Shaders & Editor Additions

It has been a while since my last update. The image below shows some of the things I've worked on these past few days...

So what's new? First off, the shaders might have caught your attention, the lava is flowing and the arrows are flashing which you can't see in the still image unfortunately, I'll make sure to include them in the next video. They were really just experiments to get some practice with shaders and was hoping to use it for a material editor I was working on (had to put it on hold for now) Still, I think they look pretty cool (especially when you see them in motion)

The next thing you can see on the image is the ContextMenu (pop-up menu that appears when you right-click) Its part of the Editor and is rendered inside of the XNA Game window. XNA is still running as it is used to, winforms is added to the XNA window not the other way around.
As you can see there are several useful options inside this pop-up window. You can quickly add new Entities, add selected entities to your current script and continue playing or restart the level using the changes you made in edit-mode.

Hopefully I'm able create another video soon, showcasing some other additions that were added over the past couple of weeks. In the meanwhile I'm working on a game prototype, this directly aids in build the engine as well...

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Core Engine: Creating a simple level (Video)

I'm back with another video, this time I'll show you the creation of a (very) simple level. With The purpose of demonstrating some of the new additions, including the Animation Editor and the updated Visual Scripter. The video playback speed is set to x2 to reduce the overall length. Hopefully you'll enjoy watching and get a bit of insight in the engine's development capabilities.

The menu system shown in the video above is a WIP, originally all level objects were added at build-time. It's a big change in overall engine design to get these things working flawlessly with the new system. The core is aimed at rapid development and tweaking of the game/level while playing. It's been like that since day one and the new system should compliment that, increasing flexibility of the engine and speeding up the overall process of creating games.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Visual Scripting Editor (Video)

It's 6:45 in the morning and the scripting editor is finally ready for a short demonstration. Spend most of the time cleaning up the node-system and made it a LOT easier to add additional node types in the future. The scripts are now directly stored inside the level file and can be stored separately if desired (for re-use in other levels)

In the video you will see two simple scripts, one animating a box and the other toggling a point light on and off. You'll also see the new Level Manager window, more on that later.

(Watch in HD & Fullscreen!)

Monday, 5 July 2010

Scripting for Artists (and programmers)

My last entry was over a week ago, but I've been very busy with C# nonetheless. The most interesting (to me at least...) is a visual scripter I've worked on for the past 4 days. It's supposed to work very similar to UE3/UDK's "Kismet". If you don't know what Kismet is, don't worry it is explained a little further in this entry. Although the visual scripter or artist-scripter (as it would be most useful to non-programmers) is not the only thing I've worked on (Animation Editor is another thing that is currently WIP), but I'll only talk about scripting for now.

The past couple of days I used MEL (scripting in maya) Unity Scripting and Dragon Age scripting. They all are terrible to get into. They are probably great if you spend a lot of time learning them, but I usually spend only a very limited about of time on any of those scripting languages. Now for "us" programmers it's not that hard to learn a scripting language if you take the time, but for artists and level designers whom only occasionally need to write a script it's very helpful to have a tool like Kismet. See below...

Example script made in Kismet.

Kismet is not designed to replace the regular scripting language in's a tool to help create simple (and sometimes more complex) scripts for level specific behavior. The more complex and game wide scripting can only be done with the regular scripting language. Even though I'm a programmer and can probably live without this tool, I still decided to create something similar, as a challenge, a cool new feature and because it could prove to be very useful when working on our next game...

So far, the basic system is in place and working properly. I hadn't really worked with Winforms nor Event driven programming before, so this was a great way to get into that.

My own visual scripter implementation (visually still very unpolished)

Progress so far: A new script can be created at runtime, nodes can be dragged around, connections between nodes can be created and the whole script can be saved and reloaded to and from the hard drive. A few simple scripts have been created so far (ea. playing an elevator animation when the player enters a volume)

Similar to Kismet, you can load an animation file (previously created in the Animation Editor, more on that later) and play it when the assigned trigger is fired (Can be something like a level has completed loading or the player entered a trigger volume).

I should be able to demonstrate all this in a video shortly, first I'll continue working on essential usability features...
Be sure to keep an eye on my YouTube Channel if you'd like to get an early glimpse of the Scripter in action (I'll upload a video as soon as I feel it's ready to be recorded)