Dev Blog

Dev-Blog 178: Happy Canada Day!

07/01/2015

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Welcome back followers of the fearsome! This week we are out of the office celebrating Canada Day! Hope your guys’ week has been awesome and we’ll be catching you guys up with us next week on all that’s been happening here at Slick!  In honor of our non-offensive country we have drawn it a viking moose and hockey-playing beaver braving the icy waters with a billowing and patriotic sail! Ford onward into victory O’ Canada!

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And just to let you guys know, we’ll be skipping this week’s Dev-Stream but be sure to drop by next week where we’ll have everyone down and catch them up on the cool new developments of Viking Squad. We’ve been having a great time opening our processes to the community and fellow developers and it’s going to keep on happening in the future so be sure to keep showing up! And If you are super desperate for some Slick-Style Dev-Stream-age, you can always drop by our Youtube and watch old episodes!

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So have an amazing holiday and be sure not to imbibe too much Fishbier during the celebrations or you’ll end up like our dozy friend down there! And until next time, keep those halberds honed and those helmets horned!

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Jesse_avatar64-Jesse

Twitter: Nick: @nickwaanders Jesse: @jouste Caley: @caleycharchuk SlickEntertainment: @SlickEntInc

Google+: Nick: +NickWaanders Jesse: +JesseTurner Caley: +CaleyCharchuk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlickEntertainmentInc

Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/slickentertainmentinc

 

 

 

Posted by: Under: Art Work,Slick Entertainment,Vikingsquad Comments: 0

Dev-Blog 177: Taking out the trash!

06/24/2015

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Welcome back, followers of the fearsome!

This week it’s time for a rather mundane task: taking out the trash. Every project I’ve worked on seems to collect a lot of assets that were used in a test or generally assets that are just no longer actually used in the game. In most of those cases, it was actually rather difficult to figure out what is being used, and what isn’t. Often I’d delete an asset, and then two weeks later suddenly somebody notices that it is missing in an obscure part of the game.

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I started thinking about how to fix this. Luckily the Slick file system uses a standard way to reference files: Every file is stored relative to a data root. For example, if a texture is located in C:\Games\VikingSquad\Data\Textures\MyTexture.png, the game code and data will always reference it as DATA:Textures\MyTexture.png. The conversion of a full path to an aliased path is done in the editor, and it guarantees that all data files are properly referencing other data files.

So, I figured, I should be able to create a quick C# tool that scans every data and source file for this DATA: tag, and stores the links. It should therefore be able to see whether a file is referenced or not, and as an added bonus it should be able to see which resource is referencing another resource.

The code simply recursively scans all directories and files (excluding specific files and directories, such as PSD files, or svn directories), and for each file it scans the binary file data for the string “DATA:”. When it finds the string, it tries to read the rest of the null-terminated string to determine which file it’s referencing, and stores this reference in memory. The tool scans the entire data directory, and it also scans the entire source code directory, so that any hard-coded references are found as well. Very handy!

Well, I coded it up, and it works really great! The scanning process takes about 10 to 15 seconds to complete, but it scans every single source and data file we have (about 7000 files). The final result isn’t very pretty to look at, but it does give lots of useful information. Click on the screenshot below to see what I mean:

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In this case, I’ve selected a background file called DEBUG_NICK. It has 1 parent (meaning, one other resource is using this file), and 6 children. At the bottom you can see which resource is the parent (in this case Debug_Nick.destination), and which are the resources used by this background (in this case a few png’s, a few puppets, and a lighting setup).

To find out which resources are no longer used, you can simply sort by the NrParents column, and go through all of the resources that have 0 parents. If you found a texture that looks like it’s a test texture, you can find it in easily by typing the name in the text-box at the very top, and the list will filter based on the typed name. Then you can see who is still referencing is, and fix the problem. When you’ve determined an asset can be removed, you can delete the asset right from this tool, which will call the proper SVN delete command.

In conclusion, it still takes a bit of manual labour to go through the assets and determine if they are used or not, but it’s a hell of a lot better than guessing whether it can be deleted. We can now delete with confidence.

Alright, that’s it for this week. Keep throwing out the trash!

Also, remember: As always we’ll be Dev-Streaming today at 4pm-6pm PST. We’ll be working on the game and talking to our followers and answering any questions that come up to the best of our ability! It’s been a lot of fun and really rewarding doing the dev-stream so come on down and say hey!

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Nick_avatar64-Nick

Twitter: Nick: @nickwaanders Jesse: @jouste Caley: @caleycharchuk SlickEntertainment: @SlickEntInc

Google+: Nick: +NickWaanders Jesse: +JesseTurner Caley: +CaleyCharchuk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlickEntertainmentInc

Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/slickentertainmentinc

Posted by: Under: Slick Entertainment,Tech,Vikingsquad Comments: 1

Dev-Blog 176: Blurry vision

06/17/2015

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Welcome back followers of the fearsome!

This week a bit more tech stuff. When we were play testing our game, we had a problem with the screen being too busy/attention grabbing at times. It was hard to see what to focus on, as your eyes would get drawn to parts of the screen that didn’t necessarily matter to the game play. A trick we used in Shellrazer was to use a blurred background to make the foreground elements stand out more. So I decided to add it to Viking Squad to see how it looks.

The process is fairly easy. We mark the elements in the world as ‘foreground’, ‘background’, or ‘normal’. Now that the elements are marked, we use a number of steps to get the blurred effect we want:

Step 1: Background pass. All background elements are rendered to a render target, and the render target is blurred. The render target is 2/3rd the size of the full frame. The reason it’s smaller is to save video memory, and once the image gets blurred you can’t really tell it’s at a lower resolution anymore.

Step 2: Foreground pass. All the foreground elements are rendered to a render target that is half the size of the full frame. Note that the render target is cleared with RGBA 0x00000000, so that the alpha information stays correct for later. The render target is then blurred.

Step 3: Normal pass. (This pass us using MSAA) In the normal pass, first the background pass texture is rendered as a full screen quad (zwrite off). Then the entire scene is rendered on top of this. After the entire scene is done rendering, the foreground pass texture is rendered over top as a full screen quad using alpha blending.

After these steps, the rest of the post processing steps are performed, like Color Grading, bloom, etc.

The result is subtle in a static image, but when moving around it’s a lot better than before! Mouse-over the images below to see the before and after (click to go fullscreen)

 

 

A small addition, but the combination of all these little bits will make the game more and more pretty. Hopefully. :)

Alright, that’s it for this week. Until next time! And don’t forget our dev-stream later today!

Nick_avatar64-Nick

Twitter: Nick: @nickwaanders Jesse: @jouste Caley: @caleycharchuk SlickEntertainment: @SlickEntInc

Google+: Nick: +NickWaanders Jesse: +JesseTurner Caley: +CaleyCharchuk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlickEntertainmentInc

Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/slickentertainmentinc

Posted by: Under: Slick Entertainment,Tech,Vikingsquad Comments: 0

Dev-Blog 175: Unlock that Gear!

06/10/2015

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Welcome back followers of the fearsome!

This week we’ll take a super quick look at some of the equipment we’ve been working on and getting into Viking Squad!

Unlocking gear in Viking Squad varies from piece to piece. Sometimes you’l have to take down a tough mini-boss or revisit an older zone and find some new areas where you haven’t been before! We really like the idea of hiding special equipment away in the game where players will have to experiment with treasure combinations or even armor combinations to unlock.

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Above we can see a couple of different combinations for armor and weapons on our shield viking. It’s a lot of fun to design new weapons and armor and come up with cool or goofy names. The first combination is for players that like to be a little tougher and have more health while the one on the right could be fore players that are confident they can avoid most of the trouble thrown at them.

Hopefully players can figure out what kind of players they are after a few trips through the zones and start making decisions on equipment based on their experiences. The enemies are tricky and can deal a lot of damage at once so it’s totally acceptable to stack up on armor and just laugh off those attacks.

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The blacksmith Clang (from Shellrazer) makes an appearance in Viking squad as your storage facility. Every time you unlock a new piece of equipment Clang can figure out how to make it for you! You’ll have to give him a bit of your treasure for resources but it will totally be worth it when you strap into that new boss weapon or helmet and get right back out there to do more raiding!

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And as always we’ll be Dev-Streaming today at 4pm-6pm PST! We’ll be working on the game and talking to our followers and answering any questions that come up to the best of our ability! It’s been a lot of fun and really rewarding doing the dev-stream so come on down and say hey!

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And that’s it for this week! We’re working really hard getting the game together so wish us luck and until next time; keep those equipment combinations favoring your playstyle!

Jesse_avatar64-Jesse

Twitter: Nick: @nickwaanders Jesse: @jouste Caley: @caleycharchuk SlickEntertainment: @SlickEntInc

Google+: Nick: +NickWaanders Jesse: +JesseTurner Caley: +CaleyCharchuk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlickEntertainmentInc

Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/slickentertainmentinc

 

 

Posted by: Under: Art Work,Slick Entertainment,Vikingsquad Comments: 0

Dev-Blog 174: A Foreground Approach!

06/03/2015

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Welcome back followers of the fearsome!

This week we’ll be taking a quick look at some of our background elements from zone 3! We use a combination of foreground elements that tile across the whole level to give the area a different feel so let’s check it out!

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Last week we Dev-Streamed the rough crypt graphics and here they are working together in game! These elements can be controlled through transformations to show more or less on screen. This is helpful if we want a particular mini-boss fight or obstacle area to feel more or less claustrophobic. It’s always good to remember what the player will be able to see at all times. Shown in the above image is also “Mix up” elements that help break up the tiling and keep it interesting looking. These can vary between the theme of the level because we have total control on what goes into the procedural.

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Here’s a sneak preview at one of our Draugr Tomb areas! The Green highlight shows how much is on screen and what will actually be blocking player view. It’s an interesting balance between looking cool and being visually functional as well. Either way, it’s a great excuse to draw gnarly branches and tombstones!

As usual when it comes to game development, the deeper you get into something the better you get at it. The lessons I’ve learned going into our 3rd zone interiors are going to be really helpful in making the first couple zones feel better as a whole and help add story elements to the background/foregrounds.

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And as always we will be live dev-streaming today at 4pm-6pm PST! come on down and hang out with the whole team and a pile of our audio guys! We’ve been having an awesome time meeting new people and catching up with old friends. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have so come on down!

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And that’s this week’s Dev-Blog! hope you’ve liked the quick look into our approach to foregrounds and until next time, keep those front elements away from important game-space!

Jesse_avatar64-Jesse

Twitter: Nick: @nickwaanders Jesse: @jouste Caley: @caleycharchuk SlickEntertainment: @SlickEntInc

Google+: Nick: +NickWaanders Jesse: +JesseTurner Caley: +CaleyCharchuk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlickEntertainmentInc

Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/slickentertainmentinc

 

 

 

Posted by: Under: Art Work,Slick Entertainment,Vikingsquad Comments: Comments Off on Dev-Blog 174: A Foreground Approach!

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Dev Blog

July 01 2015

Welcome back followers of the fearsome! This week we are out of the office celebrating Canada Day! Hope your guys’ week has been awesome and we’ll be catching you guys up with us next week on all that’s been happening here at Slick!  In honor of our non-offensive country we have drawn it a viking […]