Happy New Year!
I’m sure a lot of you are thinking “another new year, another one past without OverDose”. To those of you thinking such a thing, I have one thing to say… Potato. This years been packed with a lot of behind the scene features and additions, stuff I haven’t had chance to talk about, because I’ve been working on another new project, something even better… I’m getting to be a Dad :) Yeah, coming this year, I’ve got my own little mini me gamer to think about :) So apologies if I haven’t been as constant as I usually work be! Now, let’s get down to brass tacks with some exciting new years information. First of all, I’ll sum up everything I’m about to cover in this new years update, then I’ll get down to the meat of things.
“OverDose Level Editor – ODRad”
“Game Code Updates”
“OverDose Sound System”
“OverDose Particle And FX System”
So, let’s get to it, shall we chaps?
OverDose Level Editor ODRad
Those of you following us for a while now will probably know we have been working on our own Level Editor for some time now, which is no easy task. The problem arises from the fact our engine is its own beast now. Sure, it’s the Quake 2 engine at its heart, but it’s advanced far, far beyond what most people may actually realise. The whole BSP format has been ripped apart and a new, custom one in its place has appeared. We found that working with the old formats was never going to work due to missing features, such as advanced vis optimization, lack of proper patch support, lack of structural and detail features… Look, it just was never going to work. So a while back we made the decision that even the later formats of id Tech were just never going to work, and we switched to our own, fully custom, none confined map format. Woo! What’s the bad news? The bad news was that we were never going to really be able to use the older editors for this map format. Let’s be honest, that was never going to work was it… But… Is that REALY bad news? I mean, who enjoyed hacking together an old editor, to hardly work with and older map formats, with hacked together materials and models just so they show up in various places… Ugh, the head ache…
So, a while back, we started doing some looking into for what it would take, what we would need to do, for our own custom level editor. Now, bear in mind, this is again pretty much all re-written code, using an old base of Radiant to work from. We needed to do our own thing and didn’t want to be held to the confines of anything too advanced, when we were going to add a lot of custom code ourselves. Plus, we hated the GTK formula… It just wasn’t very nice to work with.
So off we went, and we came up with a plan… A plan that resulted in ODRad being born. Built from the ground up, its fast, it’s easy to use, its clean, and most importantly it works with all OverDose features with no hassle. We managed to not only speed everything up (Rendering for example is light years ahead, and loading of maps and materials is just comical compared to the older ones), but we also managed to add new features, clean up older ideas, and fix a lot of bugs… A LOT OF BUGS… Let me just say one last time… A. LOT. OF. BUGS. This shits dope, I believe the idiots of the world say. It’s pretty fly for a white editor. Its shit is bananas. It’s pretty good, I mean.
Those of you who have access to the SVN (You don’t? Oh… Contact me) will see an earlier version up already which isn’t feature complete, but is working much better. Keep in mind that version has a lot of things missing, hell, its toolbar isn’t even in the correct order :) But that’s because it’s still a very much WIP version.
So what features can we expect to see from our editor? Well, we have the usual basic geometry editing features, verts, splines, the usual things, patches and what have you. We also have advanced UV Editors, foliage and model planters, layer support, as well as every area of the UI cleaned up and remade.
So, as you can see we’ve been making big strides to try and get the editor up to speed as quick as possible. And what’s more, all this is available to you, the community, as soon as it’s usable. Hell it’s usable to some degree now, so feel free to jump on, grab it, mess about and let us know.
Game Code Updates
We have also started to add a lot more game code to the world, allows us to fire, shoot, reload and pretty much battle it out. Of course, work is hard, progress can be slow, but it’s starting to all fall in place. The weapons all have presence and directly link to the UI elements, so ammo will be correctly accounted for, damage will be dealt, death will be given. It’s all a lot of hard work, because as with everything we do, nothing is hard coded… Everything is totally changeable, and mod makers can grab the game and edit anything to their hearts content. If you want to replace the shotgun model with a rubber duck, and have it shoot out tin cans that explode into teddy bears giving each person it hits 100 health… It’s actually stupidly easy. Everything is scriptable, from the FX, to the weapon, to the sounds… And it’s all extremely easy to use.
Another area we have been hammering recently is adding in more UI work. As you saw above, we have started to link UI elements to the game code, so we have a working HUD now that correctly displays grenades, ammo, ammo pool etc. Our health as you all know, works in segments, five total. These segments will deplete as you take damage, and will only recharge to cover their segment while in cover. To regain full health, you need to seek the help of a team medic. I tried to design all HUD elements and UI elements to have a worn but functional design, simple to read, unobtrusive, but containing all UI elements that we actually need. Remember that all UI elements can be toggled on/off independently of each other, and all UI elements fade in/out when not in use. We really hate obtrusive UIs that take up half you view! Heres a sample of the current HUD, showing the health/ammo area:
As for launching into a game, we have an early version of our limbo menu working. Shown below, our limbo menu will allow the player to select a team, a class, their weapon and attachments, and later on their forward spawn too. Players get to pick their primary weapon as well as a secondary and throwable, and will get to see each items individual stats. As you can see, this example shows some BF4 art I believe for the map, because we haven’t got a completed map functional yet for an overhead. Oh, and don’t mind the copy past map info either :)
You know that stuff that comes from your speakers? That’s called sound. The problem is that most game developers sort of forget that sound exists. The real reason is pretty obvious… You can’t show off sound in a (Faked) screenshot. Sound doesn’t sell. Pretty graphics and, occasionally, boobies… Those sell. So most game devs forget all about giving any sort of attention to sound. This means you get in the game and get smacked in the face with per pixel wibbles and million polygon wobbles, but the sound is the same as Half-Life, which dropped in 1998. Wow, 1998… Time flies when you’re stuck in an air duct with just a crow bar. It’s the reason that you play a game as amazing as Wolfenstein: New Order (Haven’t played it? Fix that.) and hear some impressive sounds, but notice that the actual sound design, the tech behind it, is flawed. Gun shots as loud as voices is a common problem. It’s all a bit STALE. So, what are we doing with our single coder? It’s simple… Everything we can. The first thing we do, is allow our mappers to split levels up into “areas”. These “areas” are fantastic for a multitude of reasons, they allow the designers to set up different graphical effects, weather effects, wind amounts, post processing… All sorts. But they also allow us to set up different sound settings per location. This is how we can make an air vent give that lovely metallic echo, or a toilet sound, well, like a toilet. It’s classy. It’s sexy. It’s powerful. It’s also very, very easy to use. Take a look:
As well as, of course, allowing the designers to totally tweak each speaker entity to their hearts content to get it just how they want.
I know, you’re likely thinking if you read that right? Well, we’ve been busy. What most games do these days is hard code a bunch of stuff, flop it out, and let you just get on with it. But we don’t like chains, no sir no way. So we took a leaf out of the legends that are id Software here as well. Everything in OverDose remember is to be fully scriptable and can be changed by even a twerp with notepad. The same goes for all our FX and particle files. Don’t think the effect a bullet makes as it rips into sand? CHANGE IT. Just open the text file, edit it, and save. Boom, done. Who knows, maybe you can even lick our own work and make some pretty sexy effects that we could adopt? It really is as simple as this:
So of course, you get some nice effects where the only real limit is on what you feel you want to do. I can’t wait to see what people come up with for this :)
As I mentioned previously, the website just wasn’t getting enough traffic compared to our ModDB page here, and so we decided to let our contract end and not renew. Both Nicolas and I have our own lives, with our own expenditures, and we do OverDose in our free time. So spending money on a website we couldn’t afford that wasn’t being used seemed like a bit of a silly idea. Granted, when OverDose is ready, the site will be back up and boom… Its on like Donkey Kong. But for now, we will remain using our ModDB site.
Donating To The OverDose Project
As always, the guys here at Team Blur Games are making OverDose with an exceptionally high hourly wage, plus several holidays per month and a monthly bonus. Also, look at that pig flying outside my window? Nah, we don’t get anything for this work, and all work is done in our own time after we manage to sort out our own lives, which, let’s be honest, with me becoming a father soon and hlding down a full time job, can be a lot! Donating to the project allows more work to be done, more talent to be hired, the website to go live, and also allows us to look into new and better ways of supporting the game. So if you’re a true OverDose supporter, any donation, no matter how small, goes a long way to helping us. Any funds we raise will go towards hiring out more talent and funding people for help, which we see as only fair. Its amazing we have gotten so far with so little funding at all, because pushing these visuals, creating this media with some really awesome people, all for free… Its fantastic. But I sure as hell wish we could repay these guys before the game ships, just to keep motivation up more than anything. Any donations, no matter how small, will go a long way. Thank you.