Posts Tagged mvbarracuda

Tear you apart

Heya and welcome to yet another PARPG news update! This one will be rather short and not so picture-heavy as the last ones. Most of us have been pretty busy lately, so the number of topics to write about is rather small.

Project management department

The first and the prolly most important news is that it turned out that releasing our first techdemo of PARPG won’t happen in 2009. We’re still working hard to ship it in early 2010 (hopefully between late January and early March), but there is simply too much planned content missing at this point to ship it this year. We’re sorry that it will take longer than originally planned but you still got the option to check out what we already have in place by testing the SVN version of PARPG.

One aspect of game development which gave us a lot of headaches are licensing issues. For the code it’s rather simple: we’ll publish all Python scripts under GPL 3.0. However for the non-code assets, things are more tricky. I don’t have the time to go into too many details but one of the main problems is that it’s often hard to find good textures licensed under terms that permit commercial distribution as well. To address this problem Q_x created a list of asset websites that have published their material under terms which are compatible with our chosen CC 3.0 BY-SA license.

In reality it’s actually way more complicated because a lot of asset websites actually do not permit that their textures are sold or redistributed at other texture websites. But as soon as you actually apply the texture to a model and render it, the resulting render is not affected by these NC and restrictive redistribution clauses according to their license. My gut feeling tells me that the resulting renders are actually derivative works as they’re based on the textures and should therefore be infected by the NC and restricted redistribution clauses but I guess it’s okay to sell and redistribute the renders nevertheless as their license seems to permit that.

Hopefully we can ship the entire techdemo 1 content under CC 3.0 BY-SA terms. That just means the actual content that is used in the game. We might need to ship the source versions (e.g. models and textures) of the techdemo content under different licenses, especially whenever NC textures were used. It should hopefully not affect distribution of the PARPG game, just the distribution of our media assets sources library. The only conclusion I have right now is that licenses are simply a huge can of worms. Having to worry about all these aspects takes away a lot of the fun that game development is. It’s necessary nevertheless and we’ll come up with a solid solution for techdemo 1.

Audio department

Finally some news from the audio front again. Open source enthusiast Sindwiller posted a work in progress version of a track he’s currently working on at the forums. Feel free to check it out and provide feedback. We can hopefully feature the final version of it in our first techdemo release.

Programming department

We finally started to restructure the objects directory to get rid of the rather ugly and confusing objects/objects directory. Objects/objects has been split up into objects/items (smaller objects that characters can actually pick up) and objects/scenery. If you’re interested in the details, head over to our forums.

Win32 developer Kaydeth looked into creating a first test version of the upcoming Win32 PARPG techdemo installer. We’re using NSIS for this purpose and so far things look good. There are still some tweaks to be made, e.g. offering users the choice to install ActivePython 2.6 as well as PyYaml; furthermore we’re still having some problems with Vista / Win7 UAC but we’re positive that we can fix them before we ship a release. If you want to test Kaydeth’s test installer, check out this thread at the forums.

We’ve been experimenting with map sizes for the techdemo lately and ran into a performance bottleneck that shows up if you have a map with many (> 20000) map instances. It turned out that FIFE’s view code is not that well optimized in this regard. PARPG developer amo-ej1 profiled the issue and reported back about his findings at the forums. Furthermore he also documented the necessary steps to profile PARPG at our wiki. The FIFE devs plan to have a look into the problem in their 0.3.2 release. This release is planned for mid 2010. So for now, we’ll simply go for maps that feature less than 20k instances and we should be pretty much on the save side performance-wise.

Writing department

A little news flash from our writing department: Zenbitz did recently flesh out the inn area of the techdemo including the denizens of this location. He has been rather hardworking on the dialogues of several techdemo characters as well and commited their scripts into SVN over the course of the last weeks. You can talk to several characters now, so feel free to check it out yourself by giving the SVN version of PARPG a shot.

Graphics department

This news update is not as image-heavy as some of the ones before. Our graphics artists have been quite busy as Christmas is nearing. Nevertheless 3d artist Sirren found the time to create several pieces of furniture, including beds.

He furthermore also created a gate that’s part of the outer boundary of the techdemo area. Python programmer Or1andov implemented alpha blending for the gate (and other objects that reside on a layer above the characters) so your view is not blocked while walking around under specific map instances. I actually had to split up the pillars of the gate into several 70px wide pieces to work around z-ordering issues. Fortunately Zenbitz ported amo-ej1’s image slicing script to PIL (the Python Imaging Library). The original version of the image slicing script was utilizing PythonMagick. And as PythonMagick has to be built from source and the build process is quite complicated, there was no easy way to get the script working on non-*NIX systems. Fortunately that’s not the case anymore with the PIL version.

In case you’re interested in all the details of the process of getting the gate into the game, check out this thread at the forums. All the other are surely happy to see a screenshot at least:
Gate screenshot

One last note: I recently had the time to bring some assets, that had been lying around in Trac but hadn’t been commited into the repository yet, into SVN. In case you want to check them out, head over to the media part of the SVN trunk.

Now one last personal remark from my side. Unfortunately a lot of university-related tasks have been piling up over the course of the last weeks. I’m simply not good at multitasking so for now I have to take a break until the Christmas holidays to finally finish two still outstanding papers. Don’t worry, I’ll be be back to bring you the next (short) news update some time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Stay tuned!

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Taylor-made (sic!) strategies

Heya and welcome to yet another PARPG news update. Two weeks have passed since the last regular one and I have to say that they were rather eventful for the development team. Let’s jump into the news update right away.

Project management department

We’ve published our first official press release at the blog recently and sent it out to two websites, hoping that they would pick up the story in their news sections. Fortunately the old school Fallout fansite covered it and we’re quite grateful for their support to help spreading the word about PARPG. Feedback has been generally positive, if you’re interested in the details check out the news discussion thread at their forums. We thank NMA admin Brother None for his continued support of the project!

Programming department

There are a bunch of potential topics to cover in the programming department but I want to focus on the prolly most important one first: PARPG developer or1andov ported the FIFE map editor for PARPG so it’s now possible to create and edit PARPG-specific maps via the editor instead of doing it by hand. The editor has been working since quite some time on Linux but it took us a few days to figure out some specific win32 problems that held us back from using it on this platform. Fortunately Kaydeth found the culprit in the end and fixed the issue.

The FIFE map editor is a great tool but it’s not the most user friendly one; there is definately room for improvement in this field. We’re currently working on a map editor tutorial but there are still a lot of aspects of the tutorial that we will have to flesh out in the course of the next weeks. I’m rather short of time right now but hopefully I can continue to work on it, especially on the weekends.

The last two weeks have been quite productive for the entire programming department. New Python programmer amo-ej1 created a tool to automatize XML animation file generation for agents (=(non-)player character(s)). You can grab a copy of it at our Subversion repository. In the meanwhile Kaydeth continued to clean up the code base to ensure that it’s compatible with the PEP 8 Python coding standard proposal.

I can’t cover all of the recent developments in the department in detail. So if you would like to know more, please check the full project timeline of the last two weeks at Trac.

Writing department

The work on the techdemo is coming along quite nicely in the writing department. Game mechanics designer zenbitz and community member shevegen decided to step up by starting to flesh out the techdemo quests article at the wiki. Feel free to lend them a hand by contributing. Both of them can be often found at the IRC channel of the project so you’ve got a good chance to get a hold of them there.

Graphics department

Despite the small workforce in the graphics department at this point, there is quite some progress to report in this field. Fallout modding veteran Continuum created a junkhouse residing on a fundament of barrels:
Junkhouse render by Continuum

3d artist Sirren created the first building for the upcoming techdemo – a guard tower:
Guard tower render by Sirren

You surely remember Sirren’s agent animations that have been covered in some of the recent news updates? Russian Flash developer Dragon created a little web application to show the animations in action. In case you haven’t checked them out yet as you didn’t want to build FIFE from SVN sources, feel free to give his app a test:

Last but in no way least, concept artist JustinOperable created a first character portrait for the upcoming techdemo. Check out his awesome drawing of the female guard character that will be used as portrait for the dialog interface:
Female guard portrait by JustinOperable

That’s all for today. Next news update scheduled for Monday, 2nd of November. See you then 🙂

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All I ever want …

… is just to overthrow the government. Heya and welcome to yet another weekly PARPG news update! This weeks update is heavily packed with the results of IRC developer meetings that took last Friday.

Programming department

The original plan was to report the results of the programming department IRC meeting that was meant to take place today. Unfortunately not all programmers did make it in time, so the meeting is postponed for now. We can hopefully find a new date for it soon as there are a lot of code design-related questions to be discussed. As soon as we’ve agreed upon a replacement date, I’ll post a short notice at the blog!

Graphics department

But now our visual magicians! At first we would like to welcome a new concept artist on the team: Seothen. He recently found us via our advert at the forums and decided to create a first character portrait for us. Enjoy Dr. Felix Weir:
Dr. Felix Weir

Seothen is currently looking for suggestions what kind of outfit Dr. Felix Weir should wear for a full body shot. In case you would like to provide suggestions, head over to our forums and let us know!

3d artist Continuum decided to donate a bunch of his models that he had originally created for Fallout mods to PARPG. Some of them feature textures from so we’ll need to retexture them to avoid license trouble. The assets are released under a license that is incompatible with our chosen favourite CC 3.0 BY-SA. Anyway, here’s a shot of one of his models, more can be found at a thread at the forums:

Concept artist Gaspard created three new character drawings over the course of the last week. Here’s an Ex-Soviet soldier, now working as a hunter; more at the forums as well:
Ex soldier, now hunter

Blender modeler Lamoot got inspired by Zeli’s improvised weapons and started to work on an ice axe melee weapon. Still untextured, but there you go (and of course, there is a thread about it at the forums):
Untextured ice axe

And here’s yet another visual teaser for you: 3d artist Sirren created a Nagant revolver for you and he’s open to all kinds of feedback:
Nagant revolver

The vast majority of the new 3d models can be already found in our Subversion repository. However not all assets are properly documented with LICENSE files at this point. You can get an idea which models are problematic due usage of assets by taking a look at the trac changelog though.

As we had so many new 3d models and pieces of concept art that were created by our graphics department over the course of the last week, we couldn’t show you everything in this news update. If you don’t want to miss anything, check out the updated gallery at the wiki.

Game mechanics department

The IRC meeting that took place last Friday was originally meant to be a pure writing department one. However as writing and game mechanics can be closely linked together, we discussed a couple of game mechanics-related questions as well.

We’ve argued about the potential appearance of children in the game and if the player character and NPCs should be able to kill them. As the most of us are fans of RPGs that feature choices and consequences, we agreed upon an approach similar to Fallout: there are children, you can kill them but there will be (sometimes rather severe) social consequences of such kind of behaviour. Furthermore also usage of drugs as game mechanic was discussed. PARPG will not feature any superpower drugs; drugs will rather give you a small egde in a specific situation at cost of rather drastic disadvantages. We think we can balance things pretty well and avoid overpowered drugs e.g. by giving them a high addiction rate. There will be rather few chemical prewar drugs; home-distilled pre- and postwar alcohol (moonshine) will be a lot more common.

For the ones of you who played a pen and paper session of Call of Cthulhu: we’re currently exploring how well stress as gameplay mechanic would work. At the moment this is still in the brainstorming stages so don’t get too excited but in case we decide to actually implement it in the game, it could work similar to the sanity points system of CoC. You could combine this with choice and consequence in dialog as well: a totally stressed character might lose temper and freak out, dramatically changing his options in dialog with other characters.

Besides the brainstorming at the meeting, Zenbitz started to work on a proposal of the state of the game world as well as what kind of characters stats should be featured in PARPG. Fell free to join the discussion at the forums.

Taking a shot at contributing to a new field of work, artist Gaspard started a thread how barter economy should work in PARPG.

Writing department

As already mentioned above: the first game mechanics and writing department meeting took place recently. As we’ve discussed quite a lot of aspects and I can’t cover all of them to full extend, please check out the results as well as the full meeting log if you’re interested in any details.

Most important newsworthy piece of information concerning the writing department: we currently have two promising storyline proposals in the works. One of the main differences between them is the nature of climate change and how the postwar societies (fail to) cope with it. One storyline proposes that the climate is getting colder and colder, while the other one focuses on thawing and how it affects the game world.

As we have to decide for one or another storyline in the end, the plan is to have a public discussion at the forums about both proposals. Each side should have the chance to present their proposal with pros and cons and furthermore elaborate on the gameplay that they would like to implement following this proposal. Furthermore I’ll try to get in contact with a climatologist to get some feedback which storyline might be more realistic; it might turn out we can’t find a climatologist or that neither scenario is scientifically realistic, but it’s worth a try. In the end the opinion of the to be found climatologist will be one argument amongst several others; while we care about realism to a certain extend, the storyline should be interesting and challenging for the player so realistic gameplay is not meant to be a principle for its own sake.

The proposed roadmap concerning the storyline is: give each side two weeks to flesh out their their proposals and present them to the community at the forums. After that we’ll give everyone one week to explore pros and cons of each one and to make up there mind and will try to agree upon one storyline after that. The next step will be trying to incorporate compatible aspects of the storyline that was not chosen if possible.

Last but not least: mvBarracuda (read: I) found out that you can actually do something worthwhile with a degree in modern history. As we’re currently exploring how World War III broke out, he volunteered to use his super history skills to come up with a historically somewhat realistic storyline for the branching of history in PARPG and how WWIII emerged. Stay tuned 🙂

That’s all for today. See you next Monday (or maybe Tuesday, in case the programming department meeting is rescheduled for next Monday) 🙂

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