Sunday, July 24, 2011

Miner Wars - development progress - 24th July 2011

I've decided to start writing a progress report on Miner Wars development. You will be able to see what we did last week, what we're up to right now, and expectations of the forthcoming weeks.
I will cover everything and all Miner Wars development staff.

Richard Waldron (Head Writer)
Richard is currently working on the introductory Miner Wars novelette - a short story which is supposed to introduce our fans to the Miner Wars universe. Other than that he's redesigned texts on the Miner Wars website and prepared some press releases.

Dan Wentz (Audio Director)
Dan just finished recordings of all generic, non-story wingmen and enemy fighters - Union, Patriots, Russians, etc. It's about messages like "Please don't kill me!" or "F*** that, I am outa here--". Here are some of the photos from a recent shoot at the sound studio.


Slobodan Stevic (Art Director)
Slobodan has recently finished the final list of all prefab modules (3D models that are going to be used in to build levels, space stations, space ships); also a few rooms/chamber models. Next week he's going to work on tunnels and other prefab types.

Rastko Stanojevic (3D Artist)
Rastko is working on the first intro video for Miner Wars (there are going to be three cinematic sequences in total). This first one is about massive-scale destruction, desperation, and introduces players to the Miner Wars universe in 2081.

Filip Novy (3D Artist)
Filip just finished three chamber/room models -- they are very large -- about 500 meters in length each!

Ilja Hubalek (2D Artist)
Ilja has finished the first stage of our new GUI. This one look more futuristic, has cold colors, and looks glowy and holographics. Right now he works on new Keen Software House logo, and we're trying something that's a combination of old style (Gothic fonts) and sci-fi armors. In next days he is going to finish the ammo selection system and HUD.

Petr Minarik (Programmer)
Petr works on our second generation renderer which is based on deferred rendering - but more importantly, our popping-free LOD (level of detail) transition. Our trick is that we render close scenes into the LOD0 render targets, then distant scenes into LOD1 render targets (these are low-poly models), and then blend LOD0 and LOD1 into final render targets which are later used for lighting, SSAO, and everything else. The best feature is that the transition between LOD0 and LOD1 models is seamless, practically invisible - even if they have different silhouettes. We needed this for the voxel LOD because that's generated on the fly and artists can't 'handcraft' it.

Ondrej Storek (Programmer)
Ondrej continues to work on network serialization, framework that will help us with multiplayer development. On Friday I saw the first working prototype - him and Michal were flying their ships in the same sector. It was very jerky, but it was the first multiplayer in Miner Wars!

Jozef Kral (Programmer)
Jozef works on prefab container merging - an optimization for prefab modules rendering. We bake hundreds of prefab modules into a few large lists (by material/shader), so the rendering is faster, fewer draw calls, fewer GPU switches. Previously, Jozef's task was upgrading our auto-updater - new version is going to work over P2P too, speeding up the download and saving bandwidth on our servers.
We plan to release this feature-rich version of the auto-updater as a separate product.

Michal Stefan (Programmer)
Michal did many tweaks to GUI and right now he's continuing to implement the first 5 missions of the campaign. In practice he works on the first mission, building the sector, placing bots, implementing basic game-play. The reason for this is that we want to test gameplay and game mechanics before we start actual development of all remaining missions. There are open questions such as: how funny is it to fly 10 minutes in open and boring space area... how to design interior levels in space stations, etc. This is actually a very interesting topic.

Lukas Zdenek (Programmer)
Lukas is working on top secret project, and if I tell you what it is, I would have to...
So I won't say much, only that all progress he makes looks very interesting and you all will be happy.

Martin Barton (Programmer)
Our new addition. Works on large ship weapons - so they can spot and start shooting at an enemy.

Nick Miller (Marketing Director)
Practically at stand-by mode. Right now we're focusing primarily on game development and are leaving business developments on the side. Although, of course, we keep in contact with existing and new partners - agents, publishers, HW manufacturers, etc.

Ansel Leos (Community Manager)
Right now at stand-by mode as there's isn't much movement in our community - everybody is waiting for our next release.

Marek Rosa (me)
Well, where should I start...
  • I have been writing rendering architecture
  • Analyzing one annoying feature of XNA 4.0 - requirement of DX10 hardware, even if our game doesn't need it - I will talk about this more in the future
  • Coordinating the whole development - constant discussions with everybody in the office
  • Hiring new developers - especially programmers
  • Business development meetings and calls
In next week I really have to finish these:
  • Re-validate current project plan
  • Go over our current Editor and check if it's as user-friendly and as bug-free as we always wanted
  • Finish design of the new Miner Wars and Keen Software House websites
  • Finish rendering architecture document - if I won't finish it today
  • Rewrite our business, marketing and sales plans
  • Finish design of rewards for our developers
  • Visit GDC Vault and finally watch some of it
  • And finally - PLAY some games - I made scores of purchases on Steam in previous week (when they had those big discounts), but haven't had time to really play them. And as ancient Aztecs always used to say: every game developer needs to play games!
Lucky I don't have to do any boring administration at this moment (lawyer stuff, etc.) :-)