Archive for the ‘Development’ Category

iPhone, Urchin & Something New

Posted on July 16th, 2010 in Development, TidalWare | No Comments »

It’s hard to believe, but TidalWare has been around for 2 years on August 30th. Not much has happened on the public front, but a lot has been going on behind the scenes. Besides writing code for 730 days, I’ve been feeling my way around the realm of indie game development. The purpose of TidalWare has been swings and roundabouts – I made some good progress with Project Utopia, but obviously it’s not sane for a startup to rely solely on such a huge project.

Last year I turned to the iPhone platform. It seemed an excellent starting point for an aspiring developer: make almost anything and distribute it worldwide for just 100$. Ogre 3D also had a very promising port in development, which was great since I had already spent a couple of years working with it. So I began to create a very basic prototype back in November.

8 months into development, and what started out as something simple has become an ambitious project. I never planned anything, so it has pretty much evolved over time. To be honest, I never thought it was even possible on the iPhone.

I took a break early June, and set myself the task of releasing something -anything- into the app store as fast as possible, provided it does what it says on the tin, with no bugs or crashes. 2 weeks later I had done just that. On the 14th day I submitted it to Apple, and by the 20th day it was in the app store. It was a great learning exercise about the process of creating an app from start to finish, using purely the iPhone SDK and Objective-C. Most importantly I got a taster of what the submission process is like.

Urchin for iPhone and iPod Touch

It’s called Urchin – the app store link is here. It might keep the kids quiet for a little while ;)

Since then I’ve returned to developing my ambitious 3D app. I’m working on it full time around the clock, making exciting progress. Be sure to follow me on my personal Twitter if you’re interested in the development side. Any announcements will be on TidalWare’s twitter.

I will be revealing some details about the project in my next post. Stay tuned!

Dev Diary 4: Shadows

Posted on December 29th, 2009 in Development | 2 Comments »

Sinbad recently added shadow support to the new Ogre terrain.

What a difference!

Project Utopia Shadows

Development Diary 3

Posted on December 10th, 2009 in Development | No Comments »

Three months since our last post, where does the time go?!

Okay, new dev diary for you. If you’ve been following us on Twitter, you’ll know that we’ve still been very busy with stuff, including, yep, Project Utopia.

By the way, we setup a Flickr page for Project Utopia if you didn’t already know.

Those screenshots look neat, huh? However, we hit a bit of a dilemma. The terrain system featured in those screenshots looks impressive, but there’s various underlying problems. Not only that, but Ogre, the 3D engine we use, has a brand new terrain system in the works. Here’s a lowdown of the advantages/disadvantages:

Current terrain:
Advantages:
- Beautiful, powerful atmospheric system.
- Feature rich including paging, splatting, normal and parallax mapping etc.
Disadvantages
- The sky with atmospheric scattering is intensive and requires a decent graphics card.
- No dynamic weather.
- Uses the old Ogre terrain system.
- Shaders are commercial.
- Support is not great.
- Slow development.
- There are still many unsolved bugs.

Ogre’s terrain:
Advantages:
- Very efficient.
- It’s just a world object, not a “scene manager”, so that allows for a huge amount of flexibility, even with the possibility of seamless indoor/outdoor support.
- Great support and rapid development.
- Alternative sky has dynamic weather.
Disadvantages:
- No atmospheric scattering, though it will support it eventually.
- Other disadvantages are down to the fact that it’s still WIP.

So what do we do? Well, basically, it “makes sense” to go with the Ogre terrain, because it’s going to be the best choice in the long term. But that means we have a lot of work to do to catch up with the graphical quality of the old environment.

Here’s where we’re at so far:

Dev Dairy 3 - New terrain

Visual Leak Detector

Posted on September 17th, 2009 in Development | No Comments »

Spent today fixing a number of memory leaks in the client.

Ran the Visual Leak Detector, and these were the results:

Visual Leak Detector

There aren’t literally that many memory leaks, it’s misleading – simply failing to call delete can cause dozens of reported leaks.

Development Diary 2

Posted on September 3rd, 2009 in Development | 1 Comment »

These past few weeks have consisted of re-writing the client to make it more stable and efficient. Upgrading to Ogre 1.7 has been a long haul, but it was absolutely worth the effort. It meant we could add some important features to the background loading system.

Background loading is where resources are loaded seamlessly as you play. The client connects to a HTTP server where the resources are located and downloads them to an offline cache. When you exit, the next time you play the client will use the resources from the cache unless they have changed on the server. Most MMOs use patching to update game resources – this means long waiting times before the game even loads. We will still need some form of patching for binary files and major updates, but it will take considerably less time.

We have put our game engine and distributed server architecture aside for now and have decided instead to create a standard Client-Server system. This consists of a Login Server and a World Server. Each World Server will hold an instance of the game and support a maximum of 2000 players. This is a far more realistic approach for the short term, and will give us more time to focus on gameplay and art.

Thanks to Ogre 3D and a new landscape system the graphics are looking better than ever. All it needs now is some good 3D art, made easy with our editor which I will discuss in another post.

For your viewing pleasure:

screenshot_0 screenshot_1 screenshot_2 screenshot_3 screenshot_4 screenshot_5 screenshot_6 screenshot_7 screenshot_8 screenshot_9

Development Diary – Screenshot Fever

Posted on April 21st, 2009 in Development | No Comments »

I think it’s time we started filling this blog with interesting stuff like development updates, screenshots, ideas, and anything related to the projects we have under the hood. Namely TidalEngine and Project Utopia for the moment.

What better way to start than to post some screenshots? :) It’s screenshot-fever over here at TidalWare. We can’t stop taking them. Still, not much has changed on the graphics front since we implemented 3D ocean technology. But it’s always nice to tweak things and show the engine from a different perspective.

projectutopia_blog_s2 projectutopia_blog_s1

The avatar you see here is Mr. Roboto. He’s our crash test dummy for now. Since we have no real artists working on the project, it has to make do! It’s not easy for us programmers to make things look visually attractive, we are simply displaying the sheer power of our engine! Just imagine how things will look with real 3D art!

You may be wondering “what happened to night time?” – well, for a start it’s not easy to see a screenshot at night time. It’s also a cheat so we don’t reveal that the terrain doesn’t actually have dynamic lighting yet. We’ve put it off for now, since a new system is in the works by the Ogre Team. So right now, despite it being very advanced and capable of supporting an unlimited landscape, in the meantime the ground looks visually poor.

“Show us some video!”, I hear you screaming. We’re working on it! Us ourselves are desperate to pull together a video, but unfortunately there’s a few things we need to sort out first – bugs and the like. Dynamic light-mapping on the terrain is one thing, there’s also a couple of issues with the foliage and 3D ocean that you don’t see in the screenshots. Plus we really want to get our dynamic weather system spic and span. Trust me, it will be worth the wait. There’s 3D environmental sounds, the clouds move across the sky, the foliage waves in the wind, the 3D ocean has dynamic waves and caustics, all of which you don’t see in the screenshots.

There’s also a lot going on in the backend that you don’t see. The sky, the foliage, the water, the terrain, the objects, the avatar – it’s all being streamed live from one of our server applications. It’s just the sad reality that people tend to be more impressed with fancy graphics, so that’s what we tend to showcase. More details on the server architecture in a future post.

That’s it for this development post, hopefully it has cleared a few things up on the graphics front. We’ll try our best to roll out one of these posts on a regular basis, but don’t expect reems of new stuff to talk about. Some of the things we do are kept quiet for obvious reasons; and don’t forget the boring stuff nobody cares about. :)