Q&A

The source for all things IskatuMesk and then some. From projects, to articles, and even Let's Plays- it's all here for the taking.

Moderator: IskatuMesk

User avatar

Topic author
IskatuMesk
Xel'naga World Shaper
Xel'naga World Shaper
Posts: 8781
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 1:40 pm
Location: M͈̙̞͍͞ͅE̹H̨͇̰͈͕͇̫Ì̩̳CO̼̩̤͖͘
Contact:
Status: Offline

Q&A

Postby IskatuMesk » Wed May 18, 2011 10:18 pm

I am opening question offers for the next Coffee Hour. If you have anything you'd like to ask in regards to myself or what I do, such as modding and casting, feel free to ask and if it's meaningful/interesting I will work it into the next video production.

I won't answer questions related to the plot of my novel, though (I have readers in the audience and don't want to spoil them).
Image~[Gameproc]~Image
Warning: dialogue contains politically incorrect content. Viewer rearsore may occur.


Raruto
Terran Academy Student (50k mineral debt)
Terran Academy Student (50k mineral debt)
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue May 17, 2011 1:35 pm
Status: Offline

Re: Q&A

Postby Raruto » Wed May 18, 2011 10:30 pm

mmm hi
i'm the one who wrote you that mail from calabria o.o
(still don't know if you read it)

well it was a pretty rude mail, but you know what the meaning was...
"don't ever think to give up on writings X'D"

AH YES the questions?

how goes with the modding of sins of a solar empire?
if there are hardcode or other glitch and error with that engine give star ruler a shot :P

User avatar

Topic author
IskatuMesk
Xel'naga World Shaper
Xel'naga World Shaper
Posts: 8781
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 1:40 pm
Location: M͈̙̞͍͞ͅE̹H̨͇̰͈͕͇̫Ì̩̳CO̼̩̤͖͘
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Q&A

Postby IskatuMesk » Wed May 18, 2011 11:01 pm

I can answer the star ruler part since it's quite simple -

Limited and pain in the ass to get into.

I'll address Black Sun (and sins) in the video.

(I also did read that mail though it was quite confusing)
Image~[Gameproc]~Image
Warning: dialogue contains politically incorrect content. Viewer rearsore may occur.


Raruto
Terran Academy Student (50k mineral debt)
Terran Academy Student (50k mineral debt)
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue May 17, 2011 1:35 pm
Status: Offline

Re: Q&A

Postby Raruto » Wed May 18, 2011 11:06 pm

my english is pretty bad expecially in certain hours of the night XD
and when you talk with a "bro" you take permission from yourself to be "heart open"

WELL the sumptus was
anyone got bored from his own work (i talk about the book writing...)
depression and artistic talent come often together
you have just to wait for more prosperous moments
LIFE is a shit... not us o.o


Firgof
Terran Settler (Unemployed)
Terran Settler (Unemployed)
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu May 19, 2011 8:49 am
Status: Offline

Re: Q&A

Postby Firgof » Thu May 19, 2011 8:54 am

Howdy! I'm Firgof, one of the Blind Mind Studios devs. I noticed that you had some criticism about Star Ruler up and I wanted to see what we could learn from your experience. :)

May I ask for an elaboration in what you found limited and what was a pain in the ass? We're trying our best to address as many complaints as possible before our retail launch so your feedback would be a great help to us.

User avatar

Topic author
IskatuMesk
Xel'naga World Shaper
Xel'naga World Shaper
Posts: 8781
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 1:40 pm
Location: M͈̙̞͍͞ͅE̹H̨͇̰͈͕͇̫Ì̩̳CO̼̩̤͖͘
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Q&A

Postby IskatuMesk » Thu May 19, 2011 12:56 pm

The retail launch came out a long time ago...? On steam it was released September 20 2010.

If you wanted an idea of what not to do, take a look at Sins of a Solar Empire. The only thing that game did right was the particle editor. The limited weapons, non-moving turrets, hardcoded AI, and all other elements tremendously detract from the customizability of the game. My experience with Star Ruler is limited to what I have read and watched and my discussions with modders/developers who have played it.

I don't care much for games based on procedural generation, and if I was to make a space RTS, having moving turrets and support for extremely large numbers of weapons per ship would be mandatory. On Star Ruler as-is I don't see any turrets at all much less very large numbers of weapons per ship, plus the effects seem rather primitive (I imagine for performance concerns - is the game multithreaded?)

Image

Every single spike you see there is a gun.

Image
Image

These ships amongst many others maxed out sins' limits for several sides. Sins only supports 3 weapon types per ship, which was extremely limiting in my design (The Bloodstone Battlecruiser is 2,000km in length, it needs many guns).

As for pain in the ass to get into - I'm not a programmer. From what I understand of the game, that automatically exempts me from over half the capabilities of the engine. I'm having trouble just finding information about your 3d formats on your forum...

/edit - Okay, you can import 3ds and obj and x. That's a step above Sins already, since you had to go through Softimage XSI to get models into the game. Horrible program. Despicable. Awful. Wretched.

/edit

Oh, your effects aren't linked to damage, either. Yeah. That's pretty fatal to any plans I would have had.
Image~[Gameproc]~Image
Warning: dialogue contains politically incorrect content. Viewer rearsore may occur.


Firgof
Terran Settler (Unemployed)
Terran Settler (Unemployed)
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu May 19, 2011 8:49 am
Status: Offline

Re: Q&A

Postby Firgof » Thu May 19, 2011 1:33 pm

On 3d formats: We support .3DS, .OBJ, and .X. Our textures are ARGB, with the A reserved as a specular channel; there are also two seperate textures which do glow and marking (empire-color paint) effects. All of this is optional and configured through the materials and shaders files. The model configurator available in the -developer switchmode handles all the firing/impact point/engine creation and the data files for shipsets governs which model is picked when a ship is built. Sadly, all of that is TXT only at this time -- I'm working on trying to get my boss to get the configurator to be a one-stop-solution for importing models.

On Retail: That was our digital launch on Steam, yes. (We were actually available on August 21st on GamersGate with Preorders available for that launchdate for about two or three months back from that if I recall correctly) We are preparing for a retail launch (physical, boxed, copies) which is due to occur this September.

On turrets and weapon effects: The graphical quality of those effects are self-limited, yes. This is due to the game potentially having firefights involving 32-turret 0.25-second-reload-per-weapon ships numbering in the thousands on either side (with firing and impact effects for each shot). Star Ruler has no unit cap by default (players can enforce Scale minimums/maximums and how many ships each Empire is allowed to build) and its particle effects are not hard-limited either. The game is very performance minded and is extremely multithreaded; we make it a point to fully utilize the power in your processor. Adding turrets and physical object projectiles would unfortunately be too much for the engine to handle (at least, in vanilla; a mod which does more small-scale battles could do it). There are no real limitations to the number of weapons that can be put on ships engine-side; we just limit them for balance considerations.

All that mentioned: The game -can- handle significantly more poly and effect have craft. We simply can't do that in the base-game where we assume that players can build ships of any scale and can build any number of ships in any size of a galaxy. I believe the limit of polys the engine can render is 1.5m tri per model.

On weapon types: Any number of weapons running any number of different effects can all be stuffed into a ship. There are few limitations in what ships or weapons can do. Even planets are ships in disguise (and can be given planetary thrusters, shields, weapons, etc.). We have weapons that apply physics effects (push/pull/interdict), weapons that apply "collision" AoE (Shield Bomb), weapons that drain power, weapons that take over ships, and so on and so forth. You could make weapons that drain an opponent ship's ammo and give you metals in your galactic bank if you so chose. I will admit adding new kinds of effects is not straight-forward to people who are not programmers. We may try to add tools in at a later date to smooth that sort of easy modability, but the ability to mod it is there.

Whew! Sorry for the wall of text. :(

edit:
Oh, your effects aren't linked to damage, either. Yeah. That's pretty fatal to any plans I would have had.

What would you have liked to do? I bet you we can find a way to do it.
Last edited by Firgof on Thu May 19, 2011 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar

Topic author
IskatuMesk
Xel'naga World Shaper
Xel'naga World Shaper
Posts: 8781
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 1:40 pm
Location: M͈̙̞͍͞ͅE̹H̨͇̰͈͕͇̫Ì̩̳CO̼̩̤͖͘
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Q&A

Postby IskatuMesk » Thu May 19, 2011 1:42 pm

By effects I meant particle effects. I would be aiming for something that looked as good or better than what I was able to do in < a month for Episode 0. I would expect that something based on physics would have a lot of mechanical capacity, but again as I am not a programmer, I can't do anything with that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0ZmMkdB5eM

Sins has a poly limit of 50k triangles and is single-threaded. And on top of that, the engine seems unable to handle any more than 2 edges connecting to a vertex, so my models always ended up with 3x the number of vertexes that they had in max :D

I don't mind wall of texts at all. If I wasn't currently multitasking and dealing with a cat that has eye infection I would give you a much thorough rundown of what I am/was looking for.

/edit

In response to your edit - I was looking for something more standard to most RTS'. That is, each projectile carries its own damage. I realize that the reason these games (Sins and Star Ruler) don't link damage to effects is because of their large unit numbers. In my design I wouldn't be using limitless numbers. There would be a lot of units, but, yeah, I found it really irritating to try to design around sins where every single unit would focus on a tiny ship, fire every single weapon, and that ship would die 5-10 seconds later.
Image~[Gameproc]~Image
Warning: dialogue contains politically incorrect content. Viewer rearsore may occur.


Firgof
Terran Settler (Unemployed)
Terran Settler (Unemployed)
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu May 19, 2011 8:49 am
Status: Offline

Re: Q&A

Postby Firgof » Thu May 19, 2011 1:57 pm

There are some things in there that definitely and unfortunately won't be possible in SR. For instance, tying specific weapon firing/impact points to particular subsystems. In particular: Those giant cannons might fire from the side of the ship even if your intent was for them to fire from the big gunport in front. That's a technical limitation created by how we made some of the base components of the game unfortunately. That is a legitimate criticism you could draw against SR.

That said: Very little else I saw in that video would be a problem to create. The most interesting effect to create would be the explosions from the large rail-cannons (I presume) firing. We support animated spritesheets so I would figure that would be the way to go there with the plume. You could mix that with the engine effector's way of blending between side and front to make sure it doesn't get "warped" but I'd have to ask ThyReaper how you could hack that in.

Our Particle System is not as advanced as, say, Source's or UDK's; we don't presently have that much control over our particle effects. That said, we enjoy working with modders and if you need something in particular we'd be more than willing to help try and get that for you. A lot of our tools are lacking in the interface and usability front simply because of how understaffed our studio is (we are 3 people at this time)

In response to your edit: Indeed our weapons do carry effects with them; that is in fact how they deal damage in the first place. If you're wondering more about turning weapons into physical objects (e.g. a torpedo is a very small ship that looks like a torpedo and, on impact with another ship, explodes and deals its effect to that ship and potentially all ships around it): that is possible. Though due note should be given that even when weapons miss at this time, they're shown to impact on the ship. We're working on something for that but are unsure when it will be deployed.

User avatar

Topic author
IskatuMesk
Xel'naga World Shaper
Xel'naga World Shaper
Posts: 8781
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 1:40 pm
Location: M͈̙̞͍͞ͅE̹H̨͇̰͈͕͇̫Ì̩̳CO̼̩̤͖͘
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Q&A

Postby IskatuMesk » Thu May 19, 2011 2:15 pm

I'm assuming it really isn't viable to alter these base components, is it? Yeah. I never designed these ships around subsystems or whatnot, they follow as closely as possible my writing and the technical components behind the writing. Most of what I wanted to do was simply not possible in sins at all (The Undead ships are made of elemental energy and don't follow normal physics in terms of movement, but of course Sins isn't even 3d to begin with...), so, yeah.

The particle system in sins is extremely limited, I was just able to do very clever things with it. I'm not much of a graphics artist, most of what I created was by pulling textures out of where ever I can and then using my sharper eye to make the particles very pretty. Sins doesn't have HDR or fractal distortion or anything remotely modern like that, so when it comes to making particles look good you often fall short. Not to mention, the game has a very low particle limit of around 4,000 or so IIRC so those muzzle flashes and fireballs, despite being optimized as far as I possibly could go, still devour that limit.

Sins "supports" animated sprite sheets (The death fireball of the frigates in the beginning use a sprite sheet) but the support is very flimsy and the editor itself often flips out when you try to preview them.

The major attraction that sins had for me was that it was relatively fast and easy to jump in and make something shiny. I don't believe that complexity always equates to difficulty. I believe that properly designed editors and engines can be laid out in a way where vast amounts of power can be made available in a relatively intuitive and user-friendly format. I've only seen very few editors do this, however. At this point in time I am hoping I can start familiarizing myself with the UDK and at least somehow attempt a project in there. This would entail having to learn programming to get started as well.

I am not really familiar with the 4x genre or its many interpretations, but I understand that the design goals of 4x don't really entail much detail put into individual units. My mod designs are RTS-styled, in which every unit has significance no matter how large or how small. I am also a firm believer of cinematic-level graphics quality and easily identifiable mechanisms. That is, to say, when something happens graphically it should be reflected in the game world mechanically as well, but the only game I have seen post Homeworld 2 to share this kind of philosophy would be X3: Terran Conflict, and, well, that's a whole 'nother lard bucket. Thus, to this date, I have yet to find a space game that can support my concepts, as homeworld 2 (like other Relic games) is just as limited or more limited than Sins.

Sins would work, if it wasn't for the developer's love of hardcode. I greatly appreciate that you guys understand that modern games should stray away from hardcoding every single aspect of the game (lolblizzard).

/edit - Out of curiosity, do you lurk these forums or something? It isn't every year I suddenly get a developer posting in one of my threads on an all but dead forum a day after I make a random statement... :P
Image~[Gameproc]~Image
Warning: dialogue contains politically incorrect content. Viewer rearsore may occur.


Firgof
Terran Settler (Unemployed)
Terran Settler (Unemployed)
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu May 19, 2011 8:49 am
Status: Offline

Re: Q&A

Postby Firgof » Thu May 19, 2011 3:23 pm

Hahaha! Well, I guess I'm good at my job, but I dropped by because I saw someone saying the game was a pain in the ass (though I didn't know it was a pain in the ass for modders as your meaning at the time).

Normally people follow that up with why the game sucks and I'm very interested in delivering user grievances to the other team members so we can try to get stuff fixed. So I dropped by and read what you wrote. (Sorry if that's creepy D: )

Our particle limit is currently "undiscovered". :p

I'll be the first to admit that our editors are not user-friendly. The model configurator requires you to quit the game every time you want to refresh the model list, it can't import ships itself, it can't make the model configuration file itself, the lights we have on the model aren't configurable (the rotating white and orange light in the model configurator, not the "running lights") and neither is the ambient for the model adjustable right there. Lots of one-foot-in/one-foot-out. But the tools are stable and are usable.

You can definitely make Star Ruler more RTS-focused. Very little is hardcoded; you can mod in and out entire new windows. You could even scrap the interface, all the current game mechanics (except newtonian mechanics) and start from scratch with new shaders, menus, models, sound effects, particles, sounds, music, interfaces, and so on. Making maps is a little math-y at the moment but we'll hopefully be adding scenarios and campaigns into the game before too long, so making more narratively-focused strategy mods should be less of a problem.

We're modders ourselves (I ran the SpaceBuild Enhancement Project and was one of it's co-founders and an obsessed level designer before that) so we built the game like it was a Mod, which we hoped modders would appreciate.

User avatar

Topic author
IskatuMesk
Xel'naga World Shaper
Xel'naga World Shaper
Posts: 8781
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 1:40 pm
Location: M͈̙̞͍͞ͅE̹H̨͇̰͈͕͇̫Ì̩̳CO̼̩̤͖͘
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Q&A

Postby IskatuMesk » Thu May 19, 2011 4:55 pm

Quitting the game to edit stuff isn't anything new to me (I modded Brood War for 11 years and this was very basic stuff, you couldn't do anything to the archives or data inside of them while it was running).

If I might make a suggestion regarding configuring ships - I am not sure about the formats you currently use, but when possible I try to use FBX to communicate between programs (I use 3ds max and I have to use XSI to get stuff into sins, other formats sometimes can get distortions or issues, FBX usually works fine and I was told that XNA supports FBX, not that I intend to use XNA...) FBX supports helpers (XSI calls them Nulls, just to be different), and Helpers are used to determine hardpoints in most games.

Being able to place these hardpoints directly in the 3d application (with the engine/converter used to place them into the game reading/converting them to a hardpoint the game can refer to for weapons or such) tends to be much more user-friendly and comfortable than using specific applications for the same task. At least, it lets you set the orientation and locations of weapons very easily. Most games will use a specific naming process to help the game or converter determine how to organize these. Sins meshes are plain text until compressed (the game can load both), so you can freely edit the names of these hardpoints, and the game reads them as such. Hardpoints with the name Weapon-0 are assumed to be for the first weapon type in Sins. Thus, for the Anahn Longbow (the ship with the single massive forward railcannon), it only has one Weapon-0 hardpoint, and thus this is the only reference the game uses for this weapon.

Without being familiar in how SR currently handles these hardpoints or how difficult such a system would be to integrate, I think such an option to import null objects/helpers and their orientations to use as weapon references would be a great first step in making ship configuration more user friendly, and the naming association process could be used to determine specific hardpoints to be used by specific weapons.

To elaborate on the subject some more, Homeworld 2 used a third-party editor to determine hardpoints and did not support helpers from the 3d package. This editor was a colossal bitch to deal with, because the marker for the hardpoint location wasn't two-sided - it was invisible at certain angles :D and you had to use keys to move it around. A decent concept at first... but imagine rigging the barrels and turrets of a huge ship that has over 100 weapons on it, one by one, with inaccurate and slow movement across huge distances. Yes.

More importantly, these hardpoints could be used for Subsystems. When I think of subsystems I think of Homeworld 2's destructible subsystems. Notably, turrets. Now, I'm not really looking for destructible turrets. Those were one of the worst overhead issues in all of Homeworld 2 (next to the nvidia-biased rendering engine), but the concept remains. A hardpoint on the ship's body was then used by the ship's data file to spawn a moving turret. The turret was its own mesh, its own weapons, arcs, turning speed, restrictions ect.

I'm not a programmer and I've never dealt with low-level stuff like that before, but if you really wanted to make big strides in improving SR (even if it's just to make it look more modder-friendly), turret support and specific weapon locations really would go a long way. The things I am ranting about are probably only one of 69 different ways you could do stuff like that, I don't really know. But that's just what I personally have experience in dealing with.

Food for thought while I pick myself up out of the gutter.
Image~[Gameproc]~Image
Warning: dialogue contains politically incorrect content. Viewer rearsore may occur.


Raruto
Terran Academy Student (50k mineral debt)
Terran Academy Student (50k mineral debt)
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue May 17, 2011 1:35 pm
Status: Offline

Re: Q&A

Postby Raruto » Thu May 19, 2011 8:07 pm

now i feel soooo tiny :shock:

User avatar

Topic author
IskatuMesk
Xel'naga World Shaper
Xel'naga World Shaper
Posts: 8781
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 1:40 pm
Location: M͈̙̞͍͞ͅE̹H̨͇̰͈͕͇̫Ì̩̳CO̼̩̤͖͘
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Q&A

Postby IskatuMesk » Thu May 19, 2011 8:13 pm

Try taking a look at the programming aspect and it will really make your head spin. I've been working for over a decade on this stuff and have barely touched any of it. :(
Image~[Gameproc]~Image
Warning: dialogue contains politically incorrect content. Viewer rearsore may occur.


Raruto
Terran Academy Student (50k mineral debt)
Terran Academy Student (50k mineral debt)
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue May 17, 2011 1:35 pm
Status: Offline

Re: Q&A

Postby Raruto » Thu May 19, 2011 8:23 pm

i've done some minor modding on some games... BUT REALLY it's not really my CREATIVITY zone X'D

also firgof creeped me out a lot... X'D, WE were talking about star ruler and he stumped in like some "italian comare"

he is right, he does his job very well, o.o dunno if he used google...


Return to “The Doackendium”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests