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The on-going space voxel project by the six sibling studio, ZanMgt! A labor of love, Blockade Runner is an ever-evolving development that's currently undergoing a major engine overhaul to provide a solid foundation for the game's bi-weekly builds. We've found the bi-weekly builds to be an enjoyable and healthy development cycle and are anxiously preparing the game for their return!

Post news Report RSS December 2013 In Review

Finishing the voxel mesh/texture atlas system, beginning the new dynamic slopes system, and loads and loads of work in preparation in release during the cold, cold month of December 2013!

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December in Review

Finishing the voxel mesh/texture atlas system, beginning the new dynamic slopes system, and loads and loads of work in preparation in release during the cold month of December 2013!

Tidbits from December Week 1

Blockade Runner News

In Brief: Nathan finishes his new dynamic shader system to allow us to externally pull shaders easy-peasy into BR. Zack adds some debug coloration effects to the server console window so we can spot specific messages in the log easier. Gabe repairs issues with the state manager for UI and animations, and for the first time in a long time Gabe's back on his rapid-fire TODO list (70 committings in a day!). By the end of the week Zack and Nathan get the new voxelmesh/textureatlas system functioning together, Zack refactors a bunch of outdated code, and after a looking at the schedule we re-plan for the first builds to be released in Q1 2014.

Tidbits from December Week 2

Blockade Runner News

In Brief: Zack transitions BR out of the Jitter physics library into the BEPU physics library, while also switching us out of TortoiseSVN into Atlassian's SourceTree to make committing to the same source more conducive. Gabe adds serialization to many of the old UI options (laughing at his old code), integrates our fancy shmancy scrollbar into options menu and builds the Input Editor. Nathan begins worked on the all new dynamic slopes system - a major upgrade to how angles will be handled - but first has to re-write the SharpDX .OBJ loader so it better understands how we're using the geometry (mostly to understand weapon hardpoints and other 'special' data).

We also re-order the way diffuse/specular/normal maps and glass will be modded in BR, Nathan begin a new DDS converter to convert bitmap images into DXT3's in-game, makes sure mirroring geometry will work, and by the end of the week prefabs are working in the game again!

Tidbits from December Week 3

Blockade Runner News

In Brief: Zack works on aligning specular and normals for the meshes (a change in .obj loading screwed up the tangents), as well as the different angles, Nathan and Aaron make more progress on slope system, Gabe combs through controls to make sure joystick, mouse, keyboard are working appropriately while also fixing resolution and mouse input issues. Silly mipmap problem mid-week turns out to be a matter of normal maps favoring directions at low mipmap levels.

Tidbits from December Week 4

Blockade Runner News

In Brief: Big winter storm in Michigan knocks out our office's power, Gabe begins textfield cleanup (old out of date code), Zack finishes up aligning the normals and tangents on prefabs, Nathan has the new slopes to technically functioning but not yet drawing in-game. After a brief (but welcome) Christmas vacation with friends and family, we're right back to work again!

Bullet Points for December

+ New voxel mesh / texture atlas system completed!
+ New dynamic slope system begins implementation
+ Transitioned physics from Jitter to BEPU
+ UI preparation for upcoming release
+ Added capability for mirrored prefabs/geometry

- Normals & Tangents for prefabs and slopes have to be re-aligned
- Dynamic slope system was planned for "Spring" moved to December


December was a busy month as we worked to meet our target deadline of "between end of December and end of January". Even with the massive voxelmesh/textureatlas upgrade (which will be coming in quite handy for modders in the future), we still managed to catch up on some of the critical issues for release.

However, our priority is always with trading potential "months of work" down the road for what would be only a month of work if we did it now, which meant rather than releasing with the same limitations as W28/W71 we decided to appropriate an overhaul for making slopes more dynamic done now instead of Spring, and before we did our first release. This ended up putting strain on our deadline, but is another one of those trades that are looking at the longrun rather than the short term.

It'll take many months before we all reap the fruits of these early labors, but we're confident it'll be worth it. ^^

What's Next?

Next month's workload is in repairing the 3D pipeline for voxels so the normals and tangents are aligned properly, as well as preparing the new engine for its first raw releases to folks outside of ZanMgt.

Stand by for January in Review!

Closing Comments

This Month in Review was written in March of 2014 so it's interesting to be able to look back at this month with some hindsight. A few extra (powerful) overhauls right up against a release deadline is a tad foolish, but hey, we're willing to look the fool if it means making a better game! Had we left these items on their Spring schedule we might have had a couple more sales, but BR and its engine would've had a lot less potential in its future. =D

And if you're wondering why we'd even bother posting such out of date info, it's because we like to keep records of our work. :P

To follow the daily development resource postings, head to the forum, sign up for the newsletter, follow the Twitter, or check out the Facebook page! We're also on the Dev Chat from 9:00am-5:00pm (EST) almost every day, so if you've got a question or comment fire away!

- Aaron

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