Well, New Zealand’s in lockdown again – level 4 (the most restrictive) here in Auckland, and level 2.5 in the rest of the country.
It’s only been about a month now, but it somehow feels different from the first lockdown, less exciting and novel I guess. And this time around, the lockdown is a bit more serious as considerably more people have contracted the virus due to the more infectious nature of the ‘delta’ variant.
There’s also the scary fact that all of this was caused by just *one* (the current theory goes anyway) contact with an infected person from overseas while they were in quarantine, and this somehow makes the whole thing feel a bit hopeless. New Zealand wont be able to keep our borders closed forever (the business community will be storming parliament with pitchforks if this goes on for too much longer) so there WILL be plenty of future contacts with infected travellers. At which point, I guess it’ll all come down to how effective the vaccines are, and New Zealand doesn’t seem to have been especially urgent about getting everyone vaccinated for some reason. I’ve only had my first shot, my second is due in about a weeks time.
So is it all worth it? IMO, definitely yes, as new cases ARE slowly reducing so there’s still a chance at elimination (again) so we might as well take it. And it’s also worth remembering that we’ve had pretty much a *year*’s worth of complete freedom due to following the same gameplan last time, so if we can do it again and get everyone vaccinated before the borders are opened we’ll have avoided a lot of unneccesary death and misery, so here’s hoping…
In employment news, I have quit my job and decided to have another go at pretending to be a game developer for a while. To this end, I’ve been hacking away at a ‘test’ game based very loosely on the C64/Amiga classic Encounter:
I don’t intend to turn this into a fully fledged game (each time I play it I really just want to *fly* around!) but it’s been a great toy project to develop a game framework for, as it has many of the ‘core’ elements of a game (static scenery, dynamic models, bullets, overlay etc) while being small enough so it’s not a huge hassle to rearrange everything if I decide to do something in a different way, or just want to experiment. So although it hasn’t changed much visually since I start work on it about a month ago, the internals have evolved considerably.
The original game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaJMMYu9SY0
Encounter was one of my favourite games on the C64 back in 1984. I remember being incredibly impressed by the rendering engine at the time – in fact, I think it inspired my first ever (unsuccessful) attempt at a triangle renderer – and I still don’t really know how it was done, which brings me to…
A few days after I’d handed in my notice at work, a demo of Unreal Engine 5 was released to the general public, and fuck almighty it’s impressive!
I remember seeing a demo of this about a year ago and was pretty skeptical about it at the time as it was a ‘console demo’ for the PS5 and those are usually just elaborate marketing exercises. But nope, this appears to be the real deal, and it seriously has to be the most impressive ‘how do they do that?!?’ game tech I’ve seen since the original Quake.
And best of all, you can actually find out how it’s done as the author Brian Karis has put together this amazing presentation on how it all works:
It’s not an easy read by any means (for my anyway), and it seems like he’s basically thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the problem to get such incredible performance, but the key idea seems to be an auto-pre-generated hierarchical LOD system. I’ve always thought this would be a cool approach for rendering ever since using a KD-tree to accelerate collision detection in Blitz3D, but I always assumed all the problems you’d have with cracks between polygons at different LODs would made it impractical…but not so, it just makes it very hard!
Note that I don’t plan on attempting to reproduce any of this stuff, but I do find it to be incredibly inspirational.
Sorry to hear about the COVID situation in NZ. Good luck with your new professional endeavour! Are you moving onto game development itself, or should we expect new Blitz/Monkey related stuff in the future? Having Monkey2’s 3D engine on C++ would rock 🙂
I’m trying to get back fully into gamedeving. I’m aiming for a simple ‘indie’ style game to start with, although yes this also involves writing a c++ 3d engine (which is actually turning out to be quite mojo3d like). I might open source this eventually, but there’s already a metric s**t ton of 3d engines out there so meh.
NZ seems to ‘sort of’ have the Covid under control (about 20 new cases a day) and they’re vaccinating people as furiously as possible. I had my second shot yesterday, just a couple of million people to go!
Happy to hear you’re back to some game related things! I myself am just about to quit my job for some more indie fun. sometimes it’s so hard to justify giving up those checks for something that may pay nothing though!
I’ve been playing with Godot for the last year and really enjoy. It’s totally open source and doing pretty well on the usage front. it’s seems very much in line with the old blitz stuff. You should check it out if you haven’t godotengine.org. the stable branch is very solid and the 4 branch will will be release next year running vulkin… multiplatform has good support from tons of contributors. Huge community and it’s totally hackable and easy to compile… tight, small yet fast and good… just like the stuff you did! written in c++ itself you can either use c++, c# or GDscript. then with GDnative you can use any other language. Rust, python all available to write in. of course the first 3 have full support but the Rust group is pretty active.
Man, aside from just using it for a game… they could sure use someone with your expertise! wow shit… that would be amazing.. move a blitz language to godot or while gdscript is ok fast it’s still not compiled.
Anyway, good luck with the game… I couldn’t get it to run, it hung both firefox and chrome for me. any again… godot is totally open source so why start from scratch
the gdscript comment was that they are looking for someone to write a compiler for it 🙂
Great to hear from you again, it’s been a while! Yeah, kind of scary deciding to go it alone, but I think it’s the right choice for me at least, esp. while the world appears to be busy going to hell in a hand-basket!
I’ve been following Godot’s progress for a while now and it does look very cool. It’s apparently very good at 2D and V4 should greatly improve the 3D. Are you planning to do 3D? Alas, I’ve always kind of sucked at UI-centric tools like Unity and Godot etc (just the wrong generation perhaps?) and am much more comfortable with a plain old c++/opengl setup. I’ll probably have to get into other graphic APIs too eventually, but I’m sort of looking forward to that anyway as a chance to learn some Vulkan/Metal/WebGPU without getting too involved as I’ve kept the graphics abstraction super simple to make this as easy as possible.
Besides, I find actually writing the low level stuff is half the fun anyway for me. I’ve just finished up a pretty cool terrain renderer that I really started a few years ago in Monkey2, and am now tinkering around with some auto-generated LOD stuff. I have no idea where this is all going yet (although I’m leaning towards ‘Guardian 2’) but I’m happy to be back hacking away at my own little subprojects for now, and in my own weird way!
I’m still into WebAssembly big time, and am pretty sure I know why the itch.io demo I posted earlier failed. It was basically ignoring stuff like GL_MAX_UNIFORM_BUFFER_SIZE which is very high on my graphics card, but not so high on most others. I fixed this and tested on a raspberry pi and it worked but I never got around to uploading the latest. I’ll try and get around to it later, although it’s FAR from impressive.
Anyway, good luck with whatever you end up doing, please keep me up to date if possible.
still living? :O)
I gave your game on itch a quick try and I liked it (sound, colors, feeling, lots of columns, huh?!). I had some fun with an Encounter like 3D game (wobbly curved one) on my own – for sanity reasons.
When I gave Godot 3 a try, it wasn’t just there yet, maybe V4. I’m curious about Blows engine. I really enjoy VR, the best thing since 3D.
Hey Bud! How’s it going. Haven’t seen from you in years. Mark – Gridwars guy 🙂 Message me if you ever see this.
Yeah 2D for my first 2 projects… I prototyped both of them in Godot 3 already but have now started converting one to 4 and so far so good. I’ve played around a little with 3D in 3 and sure, it’s not unreal or unity but it’s pretty full featured aside from poor culling but 4 fixes all that and brings a lot more to the table.
I know what you mean about UI-centric, it’s a different mindset that’s taken me awhile to get used to but it has its advantages. In Godot though, I can basically do it all in code or use the UI. The scene graph node system is a really good in between and is very intuitive for me. Unreal, crap… I couldn’t get into that at all! As for Unity… I have actually used it a bunch over the years but never really enjoyed working in it but I have worked on a number of 3D projects with some friends. I only mentioned Godot because of the low level access it allows. I figured someone who liked writing a single pass assembler might enjoy getting into its guts! I totally know what you mean though, wanting to do your own thing and wish you the best of luck with that. You always write awesome stuff.
taumel mentioned Blows engine which is built on his language Jai. I followed that progress for a while as the language had some good ideas and was super cache efficient but it’s not available yet and I’ve not heard about any real progress on it the last couple years
I was always hoping you would return to game dev, I always enjoyed Blitz3D and Monkey. I know there are truck loads of engines and game dev products out there but many of us I believe, especially me, yearn for the good-ole days.
Will we ever see a BlitzMax2 I know monkey was the last one but we always was looking for BlitzMax2 😉
Not from me, although I’m curious what it is you liked about it as it sure as hell wasn’t the 3d engine! The cross platform-ness? The UI stuff?
I hope all is going well for you! Thanks for blitz3d and monkey!
I see the old AMOS Devs are back with a new basic that runs in the browser (translates basic to js). Perhaps you should give them a shout and work together… Finally unite AMOS and Blitz Basic 🙂
Hi, John Paul Jones…hmmm, the name rings a bell but I suspect it’s not who I’m thinking of!
I hope the ‘AMOS Devs’ includes Francois…sounded like he was having a bad time of it I last I heard (he split FB in disgust shortly before I did), I would love to work with him on something with him anyway although I suspect I’m pretty much unemployable these days – too many bad coding habits! Besides, basic->js has been done to death hasn’t it? It was what monkey was all about, and haxe and I’m sure there have been others.
I’ll probably do a blog update on my latest creations and my failed ‘gamedev’ attempts soon, it’s been a loooong time!
Sorry I’m not the zeplin guy! 🙂
Francois is part of the team at AoZ Studio. You should join their discord server and see what they’re up to. They even have some Amiga compatibility with the new language.
Also writing a new blog post sounds great. Sometimes writing it up can spark a new idea.