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About this blog

Learn about game development technology

Entries in this blog

Animation speed in Vulkan vs. OpenGL

I created a test of 1000 animated crawler models to see how the performance of Vulkan stacks up against our older OpenGL renderer. Here it is in OpenGL running at 37 FPS, which is pretty respectable considering how many animations are playing (and about 4 million polygons). With Vulkan the same test yields a framerate of 66 FPS, 78% faster than the OpenGL version. Here is a video of the characters animating. Each skeleton is its own unique animation system, there are no sha

Josh

Josh

Skinned Animation in Vulkan

It's been nearly a year since I made the decision to port our OpenGL renderer over to Vulkan, and it has been very difficult work, but we are getting back up to speed. I was able to get skinned animation working for the first time in Vulkan yesterday, using a slightly modified version of our original animation shader code. The system works exactly the same as in Leadwerks 4, with a few differences: Animation features are confined to the Model class only, and are no longer

Josh

Josh

Game Analytics API Plugin

Analytics is a feature I have long thought was a good candidate to be moved into a plugin. It is an optional features that only some users care about. It imports some pretty big third-party libraries into the engine. It requires an extra DLL be distributed with your game. It's a totally self-contained features that is easy to separate out from the rest of the engine. I have uploaded my code for Analytics in Leadwerks here as a new empty Visual Studio project:

Josh

Josh

Organizing the New Engine

The addition of our plugin system makes the engine feel different. There is a stronger distinction between core and non-essential functionality. I removed a lot of third-party libraries from the project and am just focusing on graphics, physics, pathfinding, and other features that are core to the functioning of your game. Things like file importers terrain generation, etc. can be stored away in self-contained optional plugins, or can be part of the editor project, and do not need to reside in t

Josh

Josh

Package Plugins and Mods

Leadwerks 4 supports compressed and encrypted game files in ZIP format, but there are many different custom package formats different games use. The plugin system in Leadwerks 5 allows us to create importers for these different package formats so we can access content directly from commercial games you have installed on your computer. The example below shows how to load a VTF texture from the game Half-Life 2 directly from the game's install files. First we need to load some plugins to deal

Josh

Josh

Leadwerks Plugin SDK

I've restructured the plugin SDK for our new engine and created a new repository on Github here: https://github.com/Leadwerks/PluginSDK The GMF2 format will only be used as an internal data transfer protocol for model loader plugins. Our main supported file format will be GLTF. As of now, the plugin system can be used to write texture loaders for different file formats, model loaders, or to modify behavior of particles in the new particle system. The FreeImage texture loader has been

Josh

Josh

Particle Plugins and More

The Leadwerks 5 beta will soon be updated with particle emitters and an example particle system plugin. Previously, I showed some impressive results with physically interactive particles that collide with and exert forces on the environment. I decided to use the plugin system for controlling particle behavior, as this offers the best performance and can be run on the physics thread.  A particle system plugin uses some predefined structures and functions to modify the behavior of particles w

Josh

Josh

Particle Physics

I made some changes to the design of the particle system. I am less concerned with the exact behavior of particles as they move around and move interested right now in building a system with good performance and deep physics interactions. Although I want particle behavior to be customizable, I don't think scripts are the right tool for the job. C++ plugins are better suited for this for two reasons. C++ is much faster, and particles are a system that will make heavy use of that. L

Josh

Josh

Beginning with Particles

I wanted to work on something a bit different, and this sure is different. I've got a framework of a new particle system worked out. What's really special about this system is the amount of interactivity the particles will allow. Particle-world collisions. Particle-particle collisions (repulsion) Particle-particle cohesion (fluids with surface tension) Instead of just being a visual effect, I want our new particles to be fully interactive with physics so that particl

Josh

Josh

3D GUI

Putting all the pieces together, I was able to create a GUI with a sprite layer, attach it to a camera with a texture buffer render target, and render the GUI onto a texture applied to a 3D surface. Then I used the picked UV coords to convert to mouse coordinates and send user events to the GUI. Here is the result: This can be used for GUIs rendered onto surfaces in your game, or for a user interface that can be interacted with in VR. This example will be included in the next beta upd

Josh

Josh

2D Drawing to Texture

I have been working on 2D rendering off and on since October. Why am I putting so much effort into something that was fairly simple in Leadwerks 4? I have been designing a system in anticipation of some features I want to see in the GUI, namely VR support and in-game 3D user interfaces. These are both accomplished with 2D drawing performed on a texture. Our system of sprite layers, cameras, and sprites was necessary in order to provide enough control to accomplish this. I now have 2D drawin

Josh

Josh

Render-To-Texture with Vulkan in Leadwerks 5

In Leadwerks 4, render-to-texture was accomplished with the SetRenderTarget command, which allowed a camera to draw directly to a specified texture, while hiding the underlying framebuffer object (FBO). In the new engine we have a bit more explicit handling of this behavior. This is largely in part due to the use of Vulkan's bindless design, which greatly improves the context-binding design of OpenGL. The Leadwerks "Buffer" class was never documented or officially supported because the underlyin

Josh

Josh

Leadwerks 5 Beta Updated

The GUIBlock structure now has an iVec4 "clipregion" member. This allows you to set a clipping region around a block to prevent it from drawing outside the region. The region will automatically be shrunk to show only the visible area of the widget, within the visible area of its parent. The purpose of this is to prevent text from overflowing outside of the widget. I found this necessary because the multi-line text area widget involves the dynamic creation of different persistent 2D elements, and

Josh

Josh

Leadwerks 5 beta update

An update is available for Leadwerks Game Engine 5 beta. The GUI system is now working with support for the following items: Panel Button Tabber Label Hyperlink Text field (editable, single line) Text area (multiline, read-only, allows text selection) The GUI scripts use a system of "blocks". You can add a solid rectangle, a wire rectangle, (both support rounded corners) or a text block. The drawing hierarchy is not yet respected, so

Josh

Josh

Leadwerks at I/ITSEC 2019

I'm back from I/ITSEC. This conference is basically like the military's version of GDC. VR applications built with Leadwerks took up about half of Northrop Grumman's booth. There were many interesting discussions about new technology and I received a very warm reception. I feel very positive about our new technology going forward. I am currently reworking the text field widget script to work with our persistent 2D objects. This is long and boring but needs to be done. Not much else to

Josh

Josh

GUI Resolution Independence 2

Here are some screenshots showing more complex interface items scaled at different resolutions. First, here is the interface at 100% scaling: And here is the same interface at the same screen resolution, with the DPI scaling turned up to 150%: The code to control this is sort of complex, and I don't care. GUI resolution independence is a complicated thing, so the goal should be to create a system that does what it is supposed to do reliably, not to make complicated things s

Josh

Josh

Leadwerks 5 beta Update

A new beta is available with the following changes: Script prefixes are now changed to lowercase entity:Update(), entity:Start(), etc., as well as widget:Draw(), etc. This is because Entity() and Widget() are going to be functions to cast an object to that type. Sprites are now created on a sprite layer object. A sprite layer is created in a world and added to a camera. This allows control over what camera sees what set of sprites. See the examples for details. GUI system i

Josh

Josh

Upsampling Textures with AI

I did a little experiment with FPS Creator Pack #75 by upsampling the images with Gigapixel, which uses deep learning to upsample images and infer details that don't appear in the original pixels. The AI neural network does a pretty impressive job, generating results that are look better than a simple sharpen filter: I doubled the size of the textures to 1024x1024. Then I generated normal maps from the high-res images using AMD's TGA to DOT3 tool, and saved the normal maps with BC5 DDS compressi

Josh

Josh

GUI Resolution Independence

DPI scaling and the 2D drawing and GUI system were an issue I was a bit concerned about, but I think I have it worked out. This all goes back to the multi-monitor support that I designed back in September. Part of that system allows you to retrieve the DPI scale for each display. This gives you another piece of information in addition to the raw screen resolution. The display scale gives you a percentage value the user expects to see vector graphics at, with 100% being what you would expect with

Josh

Josh

Sprite Layers and the GUI

For finer control over what 2D elements appear on what camera, I have implemented a system of "Sprite Layers". Here's how it works: A sprite layer is created in a world. Sprites are created in a layer. Layers are attached to a camera (in the same world). The reason the sprite layer is linked to the world is because the render tweening operates on a per-world basis, and it works with the sprite system just like the entity system. In fact, the rendering thread uses the

Josh

Josh

Leadwerks 5 beta Update

What's new EAX audio effects for supported hardware. Source class renamed to "Speaker". Plane joint for 2D physics, so now you can make Angry Birds with Vulkan graphics. Fixed DPI issues with fullscreen mode. Added impact noise to barrels, fixed Lua collision function not being called. Script functions now start with "Entity:" instead of "Script:", i.e. Entity:Update() instead of Script:Update(). Additionally, four examples can be run showing var

Josh

Josh

EAX Effects in Leadwerks 5 beta

I've been doing some work on the sound system in Leadwerks 5 beta, and I added EAX effects in. If you have a dedicated sound card this can be used to add some nice reverb effects that make your sound environment sound a lot more real: Here's the simplest usage: auto fx = LoadSoundEffect("Sound/FX/sewerpipe.json"); auto listener = CreateListener(world); listener->SetEffect(fx); This will apply the effect to all mono sources. Stereo sources are assumed to be music or GUI n

Josh

Josh

Leadwerks 5 beta Update

An update for Leadwerks 5 is now available. The Vulkan data transfer system has been revised and is now simpler but uses more memory. Data is likely to be quadruple-buffered, but it's a fairly small amount of data and this isn't a big concern.  I fixed a bad bug where multiple threads were accessing a global variable in the Mat4::GetQuaternion function. This fixes the object flashing glitch that was visible in previous builds. The engine is updated to the latest version of Newton

Josh

Josh

Leadwerks 5 beta first-person shooter template

The best way to test the new engine is to use it to make something. I am messing around with the beginnings of a new first-person shooter template. I'm telling everyone involved "We are remaking Doom, but a little differently" and it actually works really well. Everyone understand what it should look like, and there is no need to establish a new visual style. We can tell when we have it right, and when we have it wrong. And the original game gives us a sort of benchmark for quality and performan

Josh

Josh

Leadwerks 5 Beta Update

An update is available for the Leadwerks 5 beta. Shadow updating is fixed so the lights no longer turn black during the update whenever a shadow changes. We're now using multiview to draw all six faces of a cube shadow map in one single pass! Point light shadow updates are something that used to be a considerable bottleneck in Leadwerks 4, and their performance impact is now very insignificant. Thanks to Sascha Williams for his excellent Vulkan examples. Joints are finished, a new

Josh

Josh

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