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About this blog

Learn about game development technology

Entries in this blog

Project Launch Settings and Mod Support

The new editor is being designed to be flexible enough to work with any game, so it can be used for modding as well as game development with our new 3D engine. Each project has configurable settings that can be used to handle what the editor actually does when you run the game. In the case of a game like Quake, this will involve running a few executables to first compile the map you are working on into a BSP structure, then perform lightmaps and pre-calculate visibility. You can also

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Package Plugins

Many games store 3D models, textures, and other game files in some type of compressed package format. These can be anything from a simple ZIP file to a custom multi-file archive system. This has the benefit of making the install size of the game smaller, and can prevent users from accessing the raw files. Often times undocumented proprietary file formats are used to optimize loading time, although with DDS and glTF this is not such a problem anymore. Leadwerks uses built-in support for encr

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Plugins and File Formats

At last I have been able to work the plugin system into the new editor and realize my dreams. The editor automatically detects supported file formats and generates thumbnails for them. (Thumbnails are currently compatible with the Leadwerks system, so Leadwerks can read these thumbnail files and vice-versa.) If no support for a file format is found, the program just defaults to the whatever icon or thumbnail Windows shows. The options dialog includes a tab where you can examine each pl

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A First Look at the New Editor

I've been wracking my brain trying to decide what I want to show at the upcoming conference, and decided I should get the new editor in a semi-workable state. I started laying out the interface two days ago. To my surprise, the whole process went very fast and I discovered some cool design features along the way. With the freedom and control I have with the new user interface system, I was able to make the side panel extend all the way to the top and bottom of the window client area. This g

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Ultra App Kit 1.2 Released

Ultra App Kit 1.2 is now available on our site and on Steam. This is a bug fix update that resolves numerous small issues reported in the bug reports forum. To download the latest version, see My Purchases.

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Animated Textures

One of my goals in Ultra Engine is to avoid "black box" file formats and leave all game assets in common file formats that can be easily read in a variety of programs. For this reason, I put a lot of effort into the Pixmap class and the DDS load and save capabilities. In Ultra Engine animated textures can be stored in a volume texture. To play the animation, the W component of the UVW texcoord is scrolled. The fragment shader will sample the volume texture between the nearest two slices on

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Vulkan on Mac with MoltenVK

When it comes to complex projects I like to focus on whatever area of technology causes me the most uncertainty or worry. Start with the big problems, solve those, and as you continue development the work gets easier and easier. I decided at this stage I really wanted to see how well Vulkan graphics work on Mac computers. Vulkan doesn't run natively on Mac, but gets run through a translation library called MoltenVK. How well does MoltenVK actually work? There was only one way to find out...

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Vulkan on AMD Graphics Cards

I have procrastinated testing of our new 3D engine on AMD hardware for a while. I knew it was not working as-is, but I was not too concerned. One of the promises of Vulkan is better support across-the-board and fewer driver bugs, due to the more explicit nature of the API. So when I finally tried out the engine on an R9 200 series card, what would actually happen? Would the promise of Vulkan be realized, or would developers continue to be plagued by problems on different graphics cards? Read on

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The Year of the Linux Desktop is Here

One month ago I began work to investigate what it would take to bring Ultra App Kit, the foundation for our new generation of game development tools, to Linux. Today I am happy to share my progress with you and discuss some of the things I have learned. Developed by MIT in the year 1984, X11 is an interesting beast that is easy to start with, but can become quite difficult once you get into the details. (Wayland support is of course an obvious step in the not-too-distant future but I have t

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Linux, You Changed Man

I recently fired up an install of Ubuntu 20.04 to see what the state of development on Linux is now, and it looks like things have improved dramatically since I first started working with Linux in 2013. Visual Studio Code looks and works great on Linux, and I was able to load the Ultra Engine source code and start compiling, although there is still much work to do. The debugger is fantastic, especially after using the Code::Blocks debugger on Linux, which was absolutely sadistic. (They're both u

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Focus

You know how I keep saying that focusing everything on one specific niche is much better than trying to be all things to all people, and that VR was going to be our primary technology focus going forward? This is a battleground we can win in.

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Website Changes

I want to streamline some of this website. We went through a lot of changes since the release on Steam in 2014 and learned what works and what does not. The "Marketplace" is just called the default "Downloads" name now, and that literally is what it is for. It's a place to keep a permanent copy of your files. Paid files are still supported, and any purchased items are still available to download, but I do not have any aspirations of building this up unless it just happens spontaneously. Ins

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Welcome to ultraengine.com

You probably have noticed that our entire community has been migrated from the leadwerks.com domain to our new ultraengine.com domain. In this article I am going to describe recent changes to our website, the process by which these decisions were made, and the expected outcomes. These are not just superficial changes, but rather it is a fundamental restructuring of the way our business works. This is the execution of a plan I have had for several years. When we first starting selling on Ste

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Final Thoughts on Ultra App Kit

Breaking the new engine up into sub-components and releasing them in several stages is something new. The reason for trying this was twofold: Steam now incentives competition for digital shelf space, unlike when Leadwerks was first released on Steam in 2014, when I was trying to build up my quality of presence and promote one app ID on Steam. I would like to get some new software out early before the full engine is finished. The beautiful thing is that Ultra App Kit all con

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Ultra App Kit beta updated

A new update is available on Steam for Ultra App Kit. A TEXTFIELD_PASSWORD style flag has been added and is used for the password entry form: A WINDOW_CHILD style flag has been added. I found this was necessary while implementing a Vulkan 3D viewport in a GUI application. You can read more about that here. Pressing the Tab key will now switch the focus between widgets. The "Learn" tab in the project manager has been moved in front of the "Community" tab. The Visual

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Vulkan Viewport in a GUI Application

Before finalizing Ultra App Kit I want to make sure our 3D engine works correctly with the GUI system. This is going to be the basis of all our 3D tools in the future, so I want to get it right before releasing the GUI toolkit. This can prevent breaking changes from being made in the future after the software is released. Below you can see our new 3D engine being rendered in a viewport created on a GUI application. The GUI is being rendered using Windows GDI+, the same system that draws the

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Cryptocurrency Now Accepted in Store and Marketplace

We now accept popular cryptocurrencies in our store and Marketplace through Coinbase Commerce. That's right, you can now buy software like Ultra App Kit using Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dai, or Bitcoin Cash (if you can figure it out!). Right now it's a novelty, but it's worth trying. Maybe by 2022 it will be your only option? Sadly, Dogecoin is not one of the currently supported coins. Soon?

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Three technology products you should be using in 2021

Note: This article contains some referral links for affiliate systems that I added after writing it. My purpose for including them is so that I can learn how these systems work by participating in them, because I am interested in possibly implementing one of our own in the future. The article was written because these are all things I am using and recommend and I am very bored with the same old things. Except for VR, the last decade of technology has been pretty yawn-inducing. I think Silic

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Last Call for API Modifications

I'm finalizing the Ultra App Kit API, which is going to be the basis of the new engine's API. Naming commands themselves is always a bit of an art unto itself. Some things are named a certain way because it is common convention, like Stream::Seek() instead of Stream::SetPosition() and ACos() instead of ArcCosine(). Other times we have holdovers from old APIs or BASIC syntax like Stream::EOF() or String::Mid(). Should a class that has no SetSize() method use GetSize() or Size() for a me

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Ultra Engine Player Input Features

There are three new features in the upcoming Ultra Engine (Leadwerks 5) that will make game input better than ever before. High Precision Mouse Input Raw mouse input measures the actual movement of the mouse device, and has nothing to do with a cursor on the screen. Windows provides an interface to capture the raw mouse input so your game can use mouse movement with greater precision than the screen pixels. The code to implement this is rather complicated, but in the end it just boils

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Ultra App Kit beta updated with DPI scaling support

An update for Ultra App Kit beta on Steam is now available. This finishes the user interface scaling to support HD, 4K, 8K, and other resolutions. My original plan was to force an application restart if the scale setting was changed, but I found a way to dynamically resize the interface in a manner that gives natural results, so it now supports dynamic rescaling. That is, if the user changes the Windows DPI setting, or if a window is dragged to a monitor with a different DPI setting, the applica

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Ultra App Kit Beta Updated

An update is available for the Ultra App Kit beta on Steam. Menu open / close behavior is finished and is now working bug-free. Fixed problem where list boxes were only showing the first item. A submenu item is demonstrated in the example program. A progress bar widget is added in the example program. A label widget is added in the example program. A second radio button is added in the example program. Still to do: Work out some scaling i

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2020 Year in Code

2020 was the most intellectually challenging year in my career. Many major advancements were invented, and 2021 will see those items refined, polished, and turned into a usable software product. Here is a partial list of things I created: Streaming hierarchal planet-scale terrain system with user-defined deformation and texture projection. Vulkan post-processing stack and transparency with refraction. Vulkan render-to-texture. Major progress on voxel ray tracing.

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Scenes, prefabs, and the Lua state serialization that loves them

The beta testers and I are are discussing game programming in the new engine. I want to see C++, Lua, and C# all take a near-identical approach that steals the best aspects of modern game programming and ditches the worst, to create something new and unique. To that end, we are developing the same simple game several times, with several different methodologies, to determine what really works best. One thing I realized quickly was we really need a way to load prefabs from files. I started im

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Voxel Ray Tracing and Physically-Based Rendering

Light is made up of individual particles called photons. A photon is a discrete quantum of electromagnetic energy. Photons are special because they have properties of both a particle and a wave. Photons have mass and can interact with physical matter. The phenomenon of "solar pressure" is caused by photons bombarding a surface and exerting force. (This force actually has to be accounted for in orbital mechanics.) However, light also has a wavelength and frequency, similar to sound or other wave

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