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Introducing: Rare Spawns

Today brings a minor but semi-major addition.  Rare Spawns.   defendTHIS! now has exactly 100 rare spawn mobs in the database.  These can occur only during live wave release, meaning there's only a chance for a rare spawn while a wave is actively being processed.   The random algorithm is quite intensive so I won't touch on that right now.   What are Rare Spawns good for you may be asking, here's a rundown: Collections Achievements Exotic items which may be needed for some ta

Tightening up the graphics and tripling down on glTF

As I have stated before, my goal is not to build a marketplace of 3D models, but instead to just make sure our model loading code reliably loads all 3D models that are compliant with the glTF specification. I started testing more 3D models from Sketchfab, and found that many of them are using specular/gloss materials. At first I thought I could just fudge the result, but I wasn't getting very good results, and the Windows 10 3D Object Viewer was showing them perfectly. This made me very upset be

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Cyclone is now available in Early Access on Steam!

After sixteen months of week-by-week development, I'm happy to announce that the anticipated spiritual successor of the Portal mod, Blue Portals is now available for sale as an Early Access title on Steam!   I want to take a moment to thank [b]everyone[/b] who has played the demo and gave feedback. There's still work to be done! Being an Early Access title allows Cyclone to continue keep players involved in the development process to help it evolve into the best it can be!  I hope

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Building a single-file 4K HDR skybox with BC6 compression

HDR skyboxes are important in PBR rendering because sky reflections get dampened by surface color. It's not really for the sky itself, but rather we don't want bright reflections to get clamped and washed out, so we need colors that go beyond the visible range of 0-1. Polyhaven has a large collection of free photo-based HDR environments, but they are all stored in EXR format as sphere maps. What we want are cubemaps stored in a single DDS file, preferably using texture compression. We'

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Finalizing Terrain

I'm wrapping up the terrain features now for the initial release. Here's a summary of terrain in Ultra Engine. Terrains are an entity, just like anything else, and can be positioned, rotated, or scaled. Non-square terrains are supported, so you can create something with a 1024x512 or whatever resolution. (Power-of-two sizes are required.) Editing Terrain Ultra Engine includes an API that lets you modify terrain in real-time. I took something very complicated and distilled it down

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Smart Tessellation

I've actually been doing a lot of work to finalize the terrain system, but I got into tessellation, and another rabbit hole opened up. I've been thinking about detailed models in VR. Tessellation is a nice way to easily increase model detail. It does two things: Curved surfaces get smoother (using point-normal triangles or quads) A displacement map can be used to make small geometric detail to a surface. These are really nice features because they don't require a lot of mem

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The Cyclone Demo is now live!

From its initial concept in 2017 through the last sixteen months of development, I am ecstatic to announce that the free demo of Cyclone is now available in preparation for the June Steam Next Fest!  This demo includes three maps from the main game showcasing the functionalities of Cyclone and various puzzle elements.   The demo is available right on the Steam Store page! Cyclone on Steam (steampowered.com) While this is both an exciting and a scary time. I can't stress enough tha

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Better Intellisense in Ultra Engine

Ultra Engine makes much better use of class encapsulation with strict public / private / protected members. This makes it so you can only access parts of the API you are meant to use, and prevents confusion about what is and isn't supported. I've also moved all internal engine commands into separate namespaces so you don't have to worry about what a RenderMesh or PhysicsNode does. These classes won't appear in the intellisense suggestions unless you were to add "using namespace UltraRender" to y

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Cyclone Participating in Steam Next Fest 2022

I'm excited to announce that Cyclone will be participating in Steam Next Fest 2022! While I'll not be live streaming, a playable demo will be available during the festival. The demo will act like an even softer release than the Early Access release, which should roll into the planned release date of June 23rd, 2022!   Add it to your wish list on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1803590/Cyclone/ Check out the itch.io Page: https://reepblue.itch.io/cyclone Join my publ

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Shadow Filtering

Happy Friday! I am taking a break from global illumination to take care of some various remaining odds and ends in Ultra Engine. Variance shadow maps are a type of shadowmap filter technique that use a statistical sample of the depth at each pixel to do some funky math stuff. GPU Gems 3 has a nice chapter on the technique. The end result is softer shadows that run faster. I was wondering where my variance shadow map code went, until I realized this is something I only prototyped in OpenGL a

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Finalizing Shaders and Real-time Global Illumination Progress

I'm finalizing the shaders, and I was able to pack a lot of extra data into a single entity 4x4 matrix: Orthogonal 4x4 matrix RGBA color Per-entity texture mapping offset (U/V), scale (U/V), and rotation Bitwise entity flags for various settings Linear and rotational velocity (for motion blur) Skeleton ID All of that info can be fit into just 64 bytes. The shaders now use a lot of snazzy new function like this: void ExtractEntityInfo(in uint

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Multiple Light Bounces

I have more than one light bounce working now, and it looks a lot nicer than single-bounce GI. The ambient light here is pure black. All light is coming off from the direct light, and bouncing off surfaces. It will take some time to get the details worked out, and more bounces will require more memory. I'm actually kind of shocked how good looking it is. This is just a single 128x128x128 volume texture at 0.25 meters per voxel. Light leaks seem to be not a problem, even at that low re

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Real-time Global Illumination: Background Updating

Previously I wrote about introducing latency to the voxel cone step tracing realtime global illumination system. The idea here is to improve performance and quality, at the cost of a small delay when the GI calculation gets updated. The diffuse GI lighting gets cached so the final scene render is very fast. Here's what a gradual GI update does. Of course, this will be running unseen in the background for the final version, but this shows what is actually happening: My new video pro

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Real-time Global Illumination: Introducing Latency

Since previously determining that voxels alone weren't really capable of displaying artifact-free motion, I have been restructuring the GI system to favor speed with some tolerance for latency. The idea is that global illumination will get updated incrementally in the background over the course of a number of frames, so the impact of the calculation per frame is small. The new GI result is then smoothly interpolated from the old one, over a period of perhaps half a second. Here's a shot of the r

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Windows, UAK and GLEW.

So, I was lurking around the forums looking for some action, you know ... some real crazy action. That kind of action you get from watching a Michael Bay movie, and I got it alright. I got it real good. Some homies chatting right here, wanting to know how they can get GLEW playing nice with UAK: Well guess what guys, strap your eyeballs in ... cos I'm about to take them for the ride of their lives! Lets kick things off by starting up a fresh, raw, uncensored ... raw? Visual Studi

Finalizing Direct Lighting

I have not used the engine outside the editor in a while, but I needed to for performance testing, so now I am back to real-time rendering. During the development of the GI system I broke most of the light types, so I had to spend a couple of days getting those to work again. While doing this, I decided to resolve some longstanding issues I have put off. First, the PBR lighting will use a default gradient in place of the skybox, if no reflection map is set for the world. This is based off t

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Entry 1 - enemy awareness.

After deciding to extend upon simple tower-defense monster interactions,  I decided that I wanted to take the mechanics a step further. Actually have my mobs respond to an ever changing enviroment. As with some tower defense games, the player is able to construct obstacles within the playfield to alter pathing and in general make it 'harder' on the mobs to reach their destination.   Enter the Wizard, our main player controlled character. By selecting a wizard I've been able to open doors to

Voxel Cone Step Tracing Refinement

Before proceeding with multiple GI volumes, I decided to focus on just getting the lighting to look as close to perfect as possible, with a single stage. Injecting the ambient light into the voxel data made flat-lit areas appear much more "3D", with color bleeding and subtle contours everywhere. Lighting only: Lighting + albedo Some adjustments to the way the sky color is sampled gave a more lifelike appearance to outdoor lighting. Before: After. N

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Upgraded car physics (demo)

> This is defintely the best result I obtained with Leadwerks physics to build a car; I think this car is good enough so that it could be used in a game. > The car reacts depending on terrain, feeling different if climbing or driving down. The car allows speed driving until 140-160 kmh > The dampers became an upgrade that give me the possibility to construct car over 200 kg. That means simply that the cars drive now with much more stability and give for the player heavier feel

Voxel Cone Step Tracing - Follow the Camera

Until now, all my experiments with voxel cone step tracing placed the center of the GI data at the world origin (0,0,0). In reality, we want the GI volume to follow the camera around so we can see the effect everywhere, with more detail up close. I feel my productivity has not been very good lately, but I am not being too hard on myself because this is very difficult stuff. The double-blind nature of it (rendering the voxel data and then using that data to render an effect) makes development ver

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Extras 2

Here's some more extra shaders. I had a lot of fun with these. Some playing with normals. Some post-effects. Some experimental stuff. Just a mixed batch of noob adventures.   This first shader is pretty simple and is a nice noob move to add more detail to any scene. You start with the base shader and simply mix it with another normal texture. You can easily see the effect it produces and this is useful if you want to add small details to a material - like for instance making skin or ro

Voxel Cone Step Tracing - Emission and Motion

Adding emission into the cascaded voxel cone step tracing global illumination and dynamic reflections system (SEO ftw) was simple enough: There's some slight trailing but it looks okay to me. There is a bit of a "glitch" in that when the emissive surface gets near the wall, the ambient occlusion kicks in, even though the sphere is self-illuminating. This happens because the emission color is mixed with the light voxel during the rasterization step. I could fix this by storing emis

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Voxel Cone Step Tracing - Cascaded Volumes

I had to spend several weeks just eliminating light leaks and other artifacts, and getting the results I wanted in a variety of scenes. The results are looking good. Everyone who tries implementing this technique has problems with light leaks but I have fortunately been able to avoid this with careful planning: Now that I have nice results with a single volume texture centered at the origin, it's time to add additional stages. The idea is to have a cascading series of volume textures

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