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Archive for February, 2008

Graphics and Artwork

Friday, February 29th, 2008

 Courtesy of Pyramid: 

Those who have been playing Vega Strike (the game) version 0.4.3 surely remember those blurry planets seen all over the universe. While a lot of work has been and is being invested into the game engine, we will also see many visual improvements in the upcoming release. I would like to give you here a heads up and share of taste on the changes you will find in the next release, some of which were only introduced after the last beta.

For one, many planet types have new textures with better resolution and visual aspect. They will be more realistic and less blurry than the previous ones, trying to represent more or less realistically how extra terrestrial planets might look like.. Almost all of the previously missing textures, resulting in untextured white planets, will be included now. All in all, against the 8 out of 120 planet textures with release quality present in the previous version of VS, now all planets will have textures with 60 percent of them being of acceptable quality. Besides the planets themselves, each of the 27 planet types has now its own HUD image as well as the planet type being shown.

Another one of the changes that will be immediately visible, is the armor and shields status indicators for your own vessel on your cockpit. Four gradually semi-transparent arcs have replaced the simple curves used before as simplified status representations. Though some of the cockpits have been currently disabled due to their quality and believability being very limited, they still have their individual armor and shield gauge styles in the data set.

Many new cargo images that were missing were added to the game. Besides the fact that there are now 34 new images, they are also of relatively high quality as compared to those previously available.

Besides the very visible changes, there are other changes which are less obvious at the first glance. One of them is the default number of concurrent comm message lines on the HUD which has been increased from 2 to 5. In addition, the default time before scrolling the messages has been increased from 5 to 30 seconds, while the user or modder can still adjust both in the config file. Another, less apparent, feature is the ability to disable, via the config file, the cursor and the target arrow for two specific cameras, the external view and the target view making the cameras bare of any HUD elements and very well suited to take screen shots. In addition to that, the pan and yaw speeds of the cameras have been lowered and are now configurable, too.

The HUD has been given some additional status indicators. You can now see new stati for flight computer, autopilot activity, SPEC drive, governor control, total vessel mass, docking readiness, turret control, cloaking device, and electronic countermeasures.

Further, three new splash screen images have been added. The first one is an advertisement for the SMC, the Shmrn Medical Consortium. The other one is a call by the Botete Merchant Fleet for supplies shipment to a planet during Aeran blockade. And the last one is a Luddite virus hack screen.

Though not directly graphics or art related, I thought I should mention one more point here. In order to speed up game execution and optimize memory usage, all images and textures have been converted to dds format. Unfortunately, during this process incompatibility with some nVidia drivers on some card families has become more apparent, which, adding fortune to infortune, can be solved by using the latest nVidia driver release (169.12). We greatly appreciate any failure or success reports on our bug triage forum.

You might be on the right track if you are expecting more changes to be coming along. Some of the ideas for further (non-engine related) graphics and artwork development include but are not limited to:
* substitution of the remaining 40 percent of low quality planet textures
* complementing missing cargo, upgrades, and weapons UI images
* extending the variety of space backgrounds
* improving planetary rings
* making own vessel shields and armor be made up of 8 faces each
* providing visually improved shield status for targets
* throwing in a little surprise for enjoyment by VS gamers

To the hangar and off we spec!

ps. 

if you notice weird stipled white bars across any graphics, please post your gl_version and gl_renderer lines from glxinfo or related app in the bug triage forum  http://vegastrike.sourceforge.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=10588

new collider info

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

As many of you know, our rapid collider is not 100% GPL compatible.  Thus, the mission of replacing it became a top priority for 0.5, and is one of the major reasons why it’s not released yet.

Well, after a lot of learning how our basic collider works (and still needing to learn more) I’ve got the basic opcode collider functioning somewhat in vegastrike.    That is to say, there is no raycollider yet.   Things are going to be slower than the rapid collider until we work out the general bugs, then we can start turning on optimizations and getting things streamlined.  At that point, we will probably remove the old collider from SVN.   And then after that get things using the raycollider.

In the coming couple of weeks, we’re gonna need people to test the svn head with –enable-opcode turned on in the ./configure script.  Backtraces of any segfaults are good, so are descriptions of performance (both speed and accuracy).    Compilation issues as well.   my hacks to opcode may mean that it doesn’t work on non-64 bit cpu’s or non-intel compatible ones…i dont know.  it’s gotta get tested on those archs.

The first person to leave such a report should do so in the bug triage forum under a topic to the effect of “opcode collider errata” or something.

When using vegastrike with –enable-opcode, dont be surprised if it segfaults or you can fly through things you shouldn’t.   We’re not really using opcode the way it should be right now (so we can mimic rapid collider’s api) so I may have done one or two stupid things in the process.   Hopefully now that it’s in a testable form, other devs can help me fix it up.

Thanks for testing.