Tag Archives: experimental

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.

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EXPERIMENTAL BUILD 0.04.E3

We’ve just released the latest experimental build, 0.04.E3.

Two large bugs have been hanging around on the stable build, one being the unusually long loading times for OSX Yosemite users, and the second being the more recent NVIDIA driver upgrade causing consistent crashes.

The upgrade to Unity 5 on our experimental build has fixed these problems and improved performance in general. So in between working on the terrain and coop, we decided to push forward with this update and will be testing it’s stability in the next week or so as a candidate for a stable release. Bug reports are handy, so if you find any post them here on the steam forum here —

http://steamcommunity.com/app/313120/discussions/7/

Everything else is progressing nicely. Unfortunately, a lot of it is pretty boring to read about. We’ve been running a lot of test projects for coop gameplay, testing the best ways to sync everything between players, ai, etc and the larger island tests are also looking promising.

We’ll keep you posted 🙂
 

Stay Alive!
:: Beam Team

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First Experimental Build

So we’ve moved over to Unity 5 and onto our first experimental build 🙂

For instructions on how to opt into the experimental builds, see here:
http://steamcommunity.com/app/313120/discussions/6/613958868350181331/

The builds are only for 64-bit Windows and OSX operating systems. We’d love to get feedback on whether the move to U5 and some changes has alleviated loading problems (10-15 mins) for Yosemite users.

There’s also now a dedicated experimental sub-forum here:
http://steamcommunity.com/app/313120/discussions/6/

I mentioned in the last update, that we were doing a lot of custom stuff in Stranded Deep. Well the upgrade broke a lot of it! 😛 We had a few problems that delayed last week’s release. There’s a problem with the way we manually batch our materials through code with Unity 5. The bug has been reported but for now there’s no item highlighting. We also had a collider related problem with the new physics system that borked the yellow raft, so enjoy your free wooden one 😛

One of the things we wanted to address with the upgrade to Unity 5 was the UI. In particular, the UI performance. The system we were using previously was great, but a bit of a performance hog. Unity now have a nice native UI system now. So last week was spent getting up to speed and switching over to the new UI system. It’s much better for performance, as it should be being built into the engine, but the feature set isn’t as comprehensive as our old UI system. So a fair amount of time had to be invested creating controls and widgets for the new UI that we used previously. A lot of time was also spent making sure it was setup in a manner that’s nice and scalable for the future. If anything needs to change or be added, it’s a simple matter of dragging a new control or group in and it will automatically layout everything correctly. So as of 0.04.E1, the main menu is running on the new UI. All of the in-game UI is yet to be converted.

You’ll see there’s a few pre-emptive settings in the audio menu. These will be implemented when we take another pass at the audio system. Unity 5’s got a few new audio tools we need to check out.

We’ve just started to integrate Speedtree for better trees and foliage. One of the things that’s not immediately apparent about the Speedtree integration in Unity is that there’s no official physically based shader set for them. So you have a great scene full of shiny PBR materials and trees that stand out like you know what. All the trees and foliage look horrible right now. We’re on it and trying to get it sorted out asap.

All in all, we’re seeing a nice performance boost with the upgrade. We’ve moved to a fully deferred renderer now. Garbage savings from new UI system and the new multi-core physics system is helping smooth things out too. Freeing up all these precious milliseconds mean we can spend them on more important things like effects, more complex AI, etc.

We’re also finalising plans for the new terrain system and world. We’re really excited with where it’s all heading. It’s also going to be perfect for community mods. We’ll be filling you in in a future post once we’ve got it all figured out.

So that’s it this week, till next time!
Stay Alive!
:: Beam Team

 

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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

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