Tag Archives: building

19TH SEPTEMBER BLOG – NEW TERRAIN, NEW OCEAN, NEW BUILDING

So we recently updated the experimental branch with a new build and it might look a little different than the last —

pIvKZxD - Imgur

It’s Stranded Deep… just bigger and better!

There’s been some pretty big changes with a lot of the features we’ve been talking about starting to be introduced like the new ocean, terrain and building system. It is on the experimental branch so keep in mind that a lot of the features aren’t fully incorporated or optimised!

 

Ocean

The new ocean is probably the first thing that is noticeably different when you start a new game. It’s already looking great, but we still have a bit to do to integrate it better (removing some artefacts, optimising for different systems, etc) but when it’s finished it should easily look and perform better than the previous system. We’ve started integrating the ocean with the player movement and rafts as well which definitely adds to the experience of being stuck in open ocean in a little life raft. We appreciate that some people might get a bit motion sick so we’ve added an options slider for the effect. Eventually we’ll incorporate more gameplay elements like drowning that will make it hard to traverse open water, necessitating ‘vehicles’ like rubber and wooden rafts, life preservers, boats, etc. On that note – the raft mechanics are currently being revamped so there might be a few glitches before we push the new mechanics.

 

Terrain

The terrain system has had a complete rework for the recent update. We’ve been torn between procedural generation and hand-crafted world design so we came up with a solution to combine the two. The new terrain system is split up into ‘zones’ where each zone has a biome with parameters that can be procedurally generated at run time or hand-crafted and loaded from disk… or a mixture of both. For now you start on a hand-crafted starting island which is mainly just a tester for all our new game elements. Eventually this starting zone, and many others will be detailed out by a level designer. The idea is to have the community involved with this process as well by allowing you to make your own custom map zones to share. You’ll be able to download any community created zones and add them to your custom world like a jigsaw puzzle. In-between these hand-crafted zones are ‘resource’ islands which are completely procedural like you’ve seen previously but are now up to 4x the size. Yay! All these changes meant reworking almost all the game mechanics.

 

Building.

The crafting and building system is also getting a huge rework. The new building part of the system has been introduced with the latest build. It’s in a very early stage, but it’s already incorporating new features like structural integrity and destruction. These features will be integrated more fully as the system progresses. The building pieces are just simple block-outs for now while we finalise the designs and how it will all work together with different material tiers. The building side of the crafting system is also running on the newer system while the crafting side is stuck on the old system. The ‘floating camp-fire’ bug is a casualty of the new crafting system being midway. We’re also working on a new crafting interface as part of the new system. The current menu system does not fit the new system well with placing panels and building parts so we’re sorting something out asap. There’s a bit to add and clean up with the new building system, but once it’s sorted the move to customisable rafts also shouldn’t be much of a problem.

 

Character

The character model is coming along nicely and is nearly finished. Tito’s done some great work. and we’ve added a close up shot so you get an idea of the attention to detail that he’s putting into it. It should be finished in the next few days and then it’s animating time!

Character Model 2 eyes

 

Others

We’ve also got lots of little bits and pieces going on the side. One little piece is new snakes —

SnakeProgress1 SnakeProgress2
These are all animated and are looking great. We’ve also got new rocks in the works, new building parts for different tiers, shipping containers, tarps, etc.
 
 
Right now we’re working on integrating the new map editor and getting the new crafting side of the crafting system incorporated.
So that’s it for this week 🙂 If we hadn’t mentioned it enough, there’s been a lot of big changes most of which meant we’ve had to pull the game to pieces and rework every system or create new ones and we’re still in the middle of it all.
But overall, the latest update and this build is a huge leap in the right direction for us and Stranded Deep.

 

Stay Alive!
:: Beam Team

 

We’ve included the change log in this blog post as it was too big for the Steam announcement page!

0.05.E1 CHANGE LOG

Bug Fixes
Culling – Fixed a small error with too many layers being excluded from lights culling masks that may have contributed to graphical errors on AMD/ATI cards.
UI – Added tooltip functionality for settings selection.
UI – Fixed scrollbar in graphics options menu displaying incorrectly.
UI – The position for the World seed dialogues input caret and highlighting was incorrect. This has been fixed internally with the upgrade to Unity 5.2.
Ocean – Fixed ambient occlusion writing over ocean surface underwater.
Crafting Triggers – Fixed errors with objects not leaving collections. This was also causing crafted items to not ‘appear’ where they should have.
Crafting Triggers – Optimised triggering algorithm and trigger collider types.

Changes
UI – Removed settings dialogue on start. All game settings, including resolution, are now made through the in-game options menu
Terrain – Improved terrain loading times. Zones are generated on startup to reduce runtime generation and biome transition hiccups.
Terrain – Improved grass and small plant models for the follow spawn system.
Building – Changed building mode color to blue.. again!
Saving – Saving system has been reworked to incorporate the new terrain and building system.
Trees – Improved large tree mesh normal. Overall better looking trees.
Player – Improved moving platform detection for objects like rafts, should see less jitteriness and less likelihood of falling off rafts during biome transitions.
Removed – Palm tree cutting. You now collect wood from small trees and drift wood. Other cutting trees will be added in a future update.
Removed – World re-centering. Transitions between biomes should now be much smoother.

New Content
New Systems
Terrain – New terrain system! The new terrain system has large Islands, handcrafted zones, procedural content, and more! The terrain system has been rewritten to support biome zones with much more detail. Zones now allow for large island either hand crafted or procedurally generated. The world is currently limited to a size of 5×3 biomes but will expand as the system progresses.
Ceto – New ocean system! This will be in the “work in progress” stage for a while as it continues being worked on by the developer and incorporated by us.
Caustics – Improved caustics. The switch to Ceto allowed us to rework the caustic system and incorporate our original caustics again which are more fluid and dynamic.
Tides – A simple semi-diurnal tide system has been implemented. This will have more impact when buoyancy and currents have been fully implemented.
Building – New building system! This system is in very early days. Only the lowest building material tier is available to build with for now. All building pieces are placeholders.
Building pieces also have a basic structural support mechanic implemented:
– Roofs and floors need a foundation with two walls to support the next level.
– Foundations, floors and roofs can support one ‘tile’ out from themselves.
Be careful not to place something where it won’t be supported as you will lose all of your materials! The building combos are all basically a stick.. and if it needs another piece (eg: to build steps you need a foundation and a stick). Hopefully this will help everyone test things quickly.
Building – New destruction gibs! A basic system for gibs has been implemented. This will evolve as the building system progresses.
DirectX 11 – Added DirectX 11 support. This will allow users with capable video cards to run the game under DirectX 11. This will also open the way for DX11 specific optimizations like running the ocean simulation solely on the GPU.
DirectX 9 – Users with DirectX 9 can select the “DirectX 9.0” option on start-up or add “-force-d3d9” to the game’s launch options for a more permanent solution.
Reflection Probes – Users running the game under DirectX 11 will have the new reflection probes. Currently there’s an internal bug stopping probes from rendering correctly under DirectX 9 and OpenGL. The reflection probes only contain the sky at the moment.
Unity – Upgraded to latest version of Unity 5.2. According to the release notes there’s been “CPU side rendering performance optimizations across the board. We’ve seen between 5% and 30% lower CPU cost for rendering, depending on the setup.”

New Content
Foliage – New foliage! The new foliage makes better use of our new shaders with translucency, etc.
Foliage – New ceriman plant
Foliage – New banana frond plant
Foliage – New ficus trees, can be harvested for sticks
Foliage – New palm trees
Foliage – New heart-leaf philodendron plant
Rocks – New temporary rocks, cliff models
Drift Wood – Drift wood, harvest driftwood logs from driftwood piles scattered around island shores.
Effects – New HDR tone mapper and eye adaptation. The new tone mapper is much better quality than the previous built-in tone mapping we were using.
Effects – New ‘Motion Blur’ effect. This is only recommended for higher end systems.
Effects – New ‘Depth of Field’ effect. This is only recommended for higher end systems.

Known Issues
OSX – There is a bug at the moment where wave overlays aren’t applying properly under OpenGL. This affects foam, shore fading, etc.
Ambient Occlusion – We’ve started seeing some weird haloing related to the terrain. We’re looking in to the cause.
Shadows – There are a few visual artefacts related to shadow cascades. We’re looking in to the cause.
Rafts – The rafts are in the middle of a rework. There may be some visual glitches when paddling. Try to stay in the centre of the raft.

Dev Notes
Intro– The intro scene has been removed temporarily.
Atmosphere – Weather has been disabled temporarily.
Crafting Triggers – This system is in the middle of an overhaul. There is a bug where picking up an item in a crafting pile won’t remove itself from the ‘collection’. Drag them away from the pile first before picking it up.
Crafting – Crafted position. The crafting system is also in the middle of an overhaul. Be careful where you choose to craft an item. Craft items in an open space, don’t craft panels on top of stories, etc or they could go flying or get stuck.
Building – There is no collision checking for the building ghosts at the moment. Be careful of placing foundations too close to other foundations (unless they’re snapping together) as it will cause bugs with snapping connectors interfering.
Sea Creatures – None of the sea creatures have been fully integrated with the ocean yet. You may see a few popping through the waves.

 

0.05.E2 CHANGE LOG

Bug Fixes

– Fixed not starting with your lighter and water bottle.
– Fixed time of day not advancing.
– Fixed large rock collisions on main island.
– Fixed missing mesh for world barriers.
– Fixed sea creatures spawning under new terrain.
– Fixed crashing when dying or quitting to main menu.
– Fixed shipwreck marker bubbles not displaying properly.
– Fixed menu tooltips not resetting when in-game.
– Fixed cloud shadow direction.
– Fixed not being able to damaged steps building piece.
– Fixed detail object spawner not reloading properly.
– Fixed a potential overlapping scenario with saving.
– Fixed ocean artefacts when using binoculars.
– Fixed ocean artefacts when changing field of view in game.
– Fixed terrain generation causing sharp cliff edges.
– Fixed an error when collecting coconuts from trees.
– Fixed some trees not spawning coconuts.
– Fixed shark swimming above ocean.
– Fixed fall damage from waves while on rafts.

Changes

– Added fish system back.
– Added fish trap crafting combo back.
– Added optional ocean rotation for moving platforms.
– Added menu slider for new rotation feature under “Gameplay” section.

New Content

– Added new rocks.

Dev Notes

– SMAA is not working.

Tagged , , , , ,

1ST SEPTEMBER BLOG

It’s just a quick check in this week.
We’re super busy with all the things mentioned in the last update —

The new building system is beginning to take shape. I’ve been working on a crude tier system and basic structural support as well as gibs for destruction.

Our new ocean system, Ceto, is in place. Ceto is going to be a fantastic Unity asset and by far the best ocean system available for the Unity engine. However, it’s still not a drop in solution for Stranded Deep. Ceto’s current stage of development is missing a few features like shore effects that have taken a bit of work to re-introduce and integrate with our rendering pipeline.
It will be in the “work in progress” stage for a while as it continues being worked on by the developer and incorporated by us. But overall it’s been worth it and even in its current stage we’ve created a beautiful Frankenstein.

The new terrain is also progressing. At this point, there will be one island that’s been placed by hand which will primarily be a tester for placing all our new elements and trying different configurations. The rest of the zones are filled in with procedural content, or what we’ve called “resource islands”, which are similar to the islands that exist now.

There’s still a lot to do this week, but sometime towards the end of the week we’ll be cleaning up most of the loose ends and hopefully getting it out on the experimental branch 🙂

Stay Alive!
:: Beam Team

Tagged , ,

16TH AUGUST BLOG

We had planned on having a new experimental build out last week, but we were hung up with some niggles transitioning from our old systems to the new systems. There’s big changes which have involved tearing a lot down, so we have decided to bite the bullet and just release the new build when it’s back together. It might be worth mentioning that this has nothing to do with the transition to Unity 5 (which has been and gone) as some people seem to think that’s what we’re still working on for some reason whenever we change something big… 😕

Here’s some of what we’re working on in the new build —
 

Crafting

Work on revamping and expanding the crafting system has begun and is well underway. In short, the main reason for revamping the crafting system is to allow a lot more variety and uniqueness in crafted tools and structures. We want to give you different types of building materials which you can piece together how you like so your creations will be more unique to you and not the same stick hut from someone else’s screenshots.

Pictures speak a thousand words —

1x1_tier_logs

1x1_tier_steel

constructionideas_2b

 

We want your crafted items and structures to be something you can be proud of, something you can say you survived long enough to scavenge and build…

tumblr_nlhpu2BulN1ql34x4o1_500
 
At the moment, we’re really nailing down the functionality. In the last week or two, we implemented a lot of ideas we had and realized some were going to be too ambitious for performance and maintainability… But the system we’re moving forward with now stays true to Stranded Deep’s current game play and allows a lot more variety. Win. Eventually, the structures you build will serve a purpose in keeping you warm or cool and protected from the elements too.

Once we’ve got a few more specifications finalized like building components and scale, we can really start pumping out a lot more content for the crafting system that fits within those specs.

Some people have expressed concern about Stranded Deep turning into a building-oriented game, with not enough focus on the survival aspects or an end goal. We get a lot of questions like “What’s the point?” “What’s the end game?” “Why do I need to build anything?” …

Well, the point is to survive! More specifically, the goal is to survive and to survive well. Different players will define their ‘success’ in different ways – some might see it as who has the best and biggest structure, some by their killed shark count, fish stockpiles, days survived and so on. The main thing is you can play it your way and be proud of your progress and success.

Building is just one of the ways you can choose to use your time.
 

Terrain

The new terrain system is also progressing. One of the biggest things we’ve noticed is that height has really added an extra visual pop. Large rocks and cliffs together with the large waves out on open water really makes a huge difference.

With the new terrain system a lot of the larger islands won’t be procedurally generated but will be created by hand. With that in mind, we’re planning on releasing a small external tool to let players create their own ‘zones’ with their own maps and islands which they can share with the community. So while there might not be as much procedural content in the new system, there’s potentially endless possibilities for community content.

In addition to the crafting and terrain, a lot of code is also being rewritten and re-factored. Systems originally grew and evolved as we needed them, which was fine, but we have a much clearer picture of what we need now so we can rework a few things better.
 

Character

Tito is also making great progress on the new character model —

Character Model

The design is pretty much final and just needs to be textured and rigged. Then our animator can get to work!
 
So there’s lots happening in lots of different areas!
We’ll keep you posted 🙂
 
 
Stay Alive!
:: Beam Team

Tagged , , ,

Experiments

As mentioned in our last update post, we’re going to be running a new ‘experimental’ build alongside the stable version of Stranded Deep very soon. We’ll keep you posted when the first experimental build goes live (hopefully next week sometime) and we’ll post some instructions on how to opt in. But for now, we thought we’d update you with some details of the immediate plans.

The first thing on the experimental agenda is moving over to Unity 5.

One of the biggest sales pitches of Unity 5 is the new fully deferred renderer and physically based shading. The switch to a proper deferred renderer will be great, but unfortunately not as easy as pressing the “upgrade” button. There’s a lot of custom stuff going on in Stranded Deep which was necessary to get the most out of the engine we’ve been working with. If you’ve been following our blog posts for a while, you’ll know that we are already doing physically based shading along with various other effects like faking skybox global illumination and a lot of different depth techniques for our effects. So in visual terms, the engine upgrade won’t really do that much for now. But hopefully later on we can integrate even more graphical features like dynamic global illumination, screen space reflections and such.

There’s a few new features that should improve performance though. The physics engine has been upgraded both in speed and the quantity of objects it can handle. Stranded Deep uses a lot of physics so this should be a great improvement. There’s also the new UI system that we’ll be transitioning over to. We haven’t had much of a chance to look at it, but hopefully there’s some performance to be gained. The current system we’re using has some annoying workarounds and a fairly significant performance overhead. Every bit counts 🙂

After we’ve ported over, we’ll get back into the guts of the game. The construction system was in the middle of a rework before the last hotfix so that’ll be high on the list. We’ve got a lot of great ideas for new systems and they all centre around the theme of scavenging. We really want to incorporate more scavenging for more unique structures and tools. We’ll fill you in with more details when we get to these, but here’s a few teasers of some concepts —

construction_ideas_2a

construction_ideas_2

There’s a heap of other systems that will be getting re-worked as well and we’ll keep you informed as it happens. Starting from this post, we’re going back to fortnightly blog updates as mentioned in the last update. If you’re not keen on trying out the experimental build first hand, this will be a good way to keep up with the progress of the game and see what we’re working on.

That’s it from us for now. We’ll have a hotfix coming out soon for the stable build and then stay posted for further info on the new experimental builds.

Stay Alive!
:: Beam Team

Tagged , , , ,

Check In

Just a quick update this time around.

We’ve been doing a lot of the same things we mentioned last week – getting everything tied up, chasing bugs, squishing them, etc..

I spent more time than I should have trying to figure out why the highlighting system was broken.. In the game there’s an item highlighting system that helps you visualise what items you have selected or grouped together for crafting and building, etc. I eventually figured out that it was the LOD system we integrated last week – some items we’re flipping over to their next LOD level which uses simpler shaders… so yeahhh, there’s always fun things like that 😛

I had to knock up a new burning system. The existing system is pretty great, but at the moment it’s a bit of a bulky monster. It’s likely to make a return, but there’s a few practicality/performance issues that need some more thought. So for now, a simpler burning and cooking system has been implemented and it’s working great 🙂

There’s a lot of boring loose-ends to tie up at the moment that doesn’t make for very exciting reading, but it’s all progress 🙂

Back to it 😉

 

BuildingBurning

 

Stay Alive!

:: Sam

 

 

Tagged , , ,

kn064j.jpg

So.. we realise we missed our 11th update. Things have been pretty hectic. We’d also like to break out of that routine, so we’re changing things up.. Instead of having to wait for one MEGA update every month, we’re going to commit to smaller, fortnightly updates and see how we go from there. Yay! Awesome, right? Well to put it simply, there will be weeks where we will have really interesting and exciting content to share with you.. and there will be weeks that have been wasted researching, implementing and testing something that turned out rubbish. But either way, we’ll be keeping you in the loop letting you know how we’re moving forward.

So.. onto this weeks update!

 

Gooey Stuff

We have always been designing Stranded Deep with a minimalistic GUI in mind, but not to the extent where it would compromise gameplay. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s hard to find a good balance between not breaking immersion and having good variety and room to grow. We had been working with a temporary rotary style menu for the inventory, but found that it was too limiting. So for now, we have a traditional slot inventory and some minimalistic context menus for crafting and building…

Inventory

Crafting

The components of the UI are still temporary placeholders and will more than likely change and improve as the game evolves, but it’s working well and gives us a lot more freedom to add more combinations and complexity in the future. As the UI is very minimalistic and there is no crafting or building menu as such, we’ve integrated some helper functionality into the crosshair. The crosshair is normally a semi-transparent dot to help center your vision when you need it without being distracting, but it will also display different symbol hints for things like being able to open context menus.

 

Whats Under The Hood

A beta of the next version of our game engine, Unity 5, has been released. This doesn’t mean much for us at the moment, but it does promise some performance improvements. One of those improvements is an upgraded physics engine, which is great because we use a lot of physics!

We’ve also run into an annoying hitch with the current version we’re using. There’s a fantastic problem where the game runs great in the editor, but the standalone version’s performance is cut in half. So we’re in the process of testing a standalone build with a more recent version to see if the problem has been fixed. Fun, fun 🙂

 

Well that’s it for now. We appreciate all your support and how vocal you were when we missed an update 😛 So we hope you like hearing from on us on a more regular basis from now on.

See you soon 🙂

 

Stay Alive!

:: Sam

Tagged , , , , ,

Shady Characters

Well there’s lots to talk about this month 🙂

 

A few updates ago, I mentioned that we had incorporated Marmoset Skyshop into our rendering pipeline. Well we have now moved away from Skyshop and to our own lighting model.

I have to say that Skyshop is a great product, but it’s better suited for static environments. Because everything in our world is so dynamic, a lot of the great features of Skyshop were redundant in our game. So after having to customise and re-write most of Skyshop to suit our needs, the decision to just write our own lighting model wasn’t difficult.

We now use a custom physically-based lighting model. Physically-based shading is a bit of a buzz word in games development right now, and for a pretty good reason. Light affects how you perceive everything in a game – without it everything would be black! So it’s pretty important to consider how the game environment reacts to it. A shading model is what defines how a surface reacts to light in a game. A physically-based shading model takes that a bit further, introducing concepts like energy conservation, the fresnel effect, micro-facets and more. There’s a variety of different lighting models out there and different lighting models suit different materials. Some lighting models are better at representing things like plastics and rubber, whereas some are better at representing metals, and others are better for rough surfaces like cloth and skin.

The screenshot below is a good visual representation of the differences between two of the lighting models used in Stranded Deep. The surfaces’ roughness increases from a value of 0 to 1, from left to right.

SpecComparison2 copy

The bottom spheres use an improved version of a traditional lighting model that is used in a lot of games called Blinn-Phong, great for things like hard plastics and rubber. The top spheres use a custom lighting model that is better suited to things like metals and rough surfaces like rock, sand, skin and cloth. I’ll be going into more details about the rendering techniques used in Stranded Deep after release, but for now at least that gives some context to what I’ve been working on lately and why.

Rendering Preview2

 

What else?

Ben’s been working on character animations, which has helped add another level of immersion. Building and crafting has been fully functional for a while now and is working great 🙂 We’re finalising everything that you can craft and build. All the physics for the raft building and propulsion has been completed as well. It is really unnerving motoring around an island on your raft at night, or going out into deep water!

There’s been a lot of work finalising all our creatures. A while ago we purchased an ocean pack full of fish. It would have been a great way to get a lot of variety quickly.. However, there was a lot of work getting them game-ready. Ben has had to re-topologize every one as they had a silly amount of triangles, and then create the various levels of detail for each fish. Thankfully animating them wasn’t as painful. Using Unity’s Mecanim animation retargeting, a base fish model could be rigged and animated and then applied to all the smaller fish. Larger animals like sharks, rays and turtles have their own individual animations.

Fish

Underwater

 

Ben’s also been hard at work creating the intro sequence for the game ..and it’s looking and playing fantastic! We had discussed the possibility of not needing it for early access, but after experiencing the intro scene, the game isn’t the same without it! It’s intense and creates a lot of impact. We’re not revealing much about it as we think it will be more enjoyable as a fresh experience.

There’s lots of other little things as well, those boring but important things ..things like confirming menu designs and making sure saving works. We’ve decided on an end-game scenario that players will have to work out 😉 We also noticed that we have a lot of german, russian and french followers so we’re looking into translation 🙂 As a whole, the game is really starting to come together and feels great. It’s getting closer guys! 😀

 

Stay Alive!

:: Sam

Tagged , , , , ,