September 22nd

#1
That's today's date. Not a particularly auspicious date, as far as I know, but it does hold the distinction of being the 265th day of the year. And that is rather significant, for us at least, as it means that we now have exactly 100 days to reach our stated goal of releasing Act 1 in 2011.

Truth be told, I can't honestly say I'm totally, 100% sure we'll make it. VA and I both have sizable RL time-hogs to get around (my 9 day work swings, his major engineering project). But I can be sure that we'll do our absolute best to try and get there.

I'm going to keep this thread updated, once a fortnight from now until the end of the year. Partly, this is to keep everyone informed about progress, partly to keep me focussed on what still needs to be done. Hopefully, VA will be able to do something similar.

Now, as it works out, I'm actually up at work right now, so I can't produce any screenies or renders to update current progress. I can say, though, that the Orestes diffuse map is now probably about 95% finished - it's really down to detailing and dirt now. Once that's done, I'm going to take a crack at the shine and normal maps (glow gets done along the way as part of the diffuse, just on a separate layer), which'll effectively be the end of my texture work for act 1, allowing me to focus on the last couple of missions, before heading into the sizable task of mission polish and bugfixing.

Next update will have pretty pictures, promise. :p
TI - Coming in 2011 - Promise!
:flag9:
"Everyone has to wear clothes, and if you don't, you get arrested!" - Mr. T

Re: September 22nd

#2
OK, well, I'll grant that this... isn't a good start. Next update has no pretty pictures. But only because I'm a mong who forgot to bring my memory stick with me to work. The upside is, though, that the Orestes diffuse map is, to my satisfaction at least - finished, with the exception of rendering and overlaying an AO map. VA may have some suggestions and improvements, and there's one small section to be added to the model (absolutely nothing major, just closing some gaps and putting a mesh texture across them so you can see the tecchy bits inside - the same basic concept that I tested on the Sleipnir a few days ago) but the bulk of it is done.

This is good for me, as it means that I can now focus exclusively on FRED - primarily on bugfixing, polishing and tweaking for consistency, although the big climactic final battle mission still requires some fairly heavy duty work.

I've also posted a poll regarding atmospheric missions - we'd like as many responses as possible over the next 2 weeks, as it'll have a big impact on where we go between now and December.
TI - Coming in 2011 - Promise!
:flag9:
"Everyone has to wear clothes, and if you don't, you get arrested!" - Mr. T

October 18th

#3
OK, well, here we are at the third fornight, and I finally have some pictures. These are those rare and barely seen beasts known as "Screenshots", AKA "Proof that there actually are missions in existence". But before we get to them, here's the current rundown.

I spent most of this break either in FRED or futzing about - I played through the Warzone re-release which might not seem productive, but it definitely reinvigorated my zeal for FREDding and playing fun missions (threw a very quick review onto the Freespace Wiki page if anyone's interested/hasn't already played it - 7/10). I also played through a bit of "Secrets of the Ancients" and, well... OK, I probably can't spin that one. But I can confirm that some serious FREDding did indeed get done over the last 5 days, mostly polishing, bugfixing and balancing. TI, especially act 1, is going to be a challenging camapign, and getting the balance absolutely right is going to be critical. Make a mission too hard, and people get frustrated - make it too easy, and people get bored.

In other news, the poll has been almost entirely one way, so it looks like we most likely won't be getting true atmospheric missions into Act 1. However, given the Act 1 -> 2 delay will be short (Act 2 is essentially FREDded), you shouldn't have to wait too long before blasting some baddies down in the dirt.

VA has been hard at work as well - with my part of the Orestes done, he's taken over in order to get the Poffing done up to his own high standards - I'm hoping to get a video of the new, improved Orestes docking function as soon as the HTL version is ingame, which should be fairly soon. I've also asked VA to stop by and show off some renders of the finished product, again, hopefully in the not too distant.

And now, the screenies:

597596595593594

And I know it looks like most of these are from the same mission - I can assure you they're not (only 2 are, in fact). But Act 1 takes place exclusively in EP, so that green background gets reused quite a bit.
TI - Coming in 2011 - Promise!
:flag9:
"Everyone has to wear clothes, and if you don't, you get arrested!" - Mr. T

Re: September 22nd

#5
OK, so, anothger fortnight over, and what do I have to show for it? Well, both quite a lot, and not a lot, depending on the precise definition of the word "show".

In terms of visual stuff, the traditional interpretation of the word, I suppose, not a lot. I have this thing:

696

Which is a replacement for an old, fairly crappy atmospheric cargo platform. It slots into the refinery mission, and I'm quite proud of the fact that it came together in less than a day - an important consideration when you only have 5 days a fortnight to do anything FS related. There'll probably be a normal map added to that brown ring, for added detail. Sadly, I can't claim credit for the skybox - that's Herra Tohtori's work, and wont be appearing in Act 1 TI, since we're taking place entirely within EP which, as you've seen, is green.

As for stuff I can't display more visually, well, that's FRED. And FRED has been getting a workout these last few days. I have a rather sizable document outlining all the changes and fixes that need to be made, and I'm working my way through them - I'm now... fairly confident that FREDding can be completed by the end of the year. Whether everything can be completed - most worryingly beta testing and one critical asset which is still a little while away yet - is an open question. But, as always, we're still plugging away at it.
TI - Coming in 2011 - Promise!
:flag9:
"Everyone has to wear clothes, and if you don't, you get arrested!" - Mr. T

Re: September 22nd

#7
OK, first up, apologies for the delay. My phone died, and while that doesn’t sound relevant, it’s much more of a problem when you consider that I get my internet through it. So I’m up at work at the moment, which means no screenies or pics – I’ll have to add some new ones when I do next fortnight’s update.

So, new stuff. Well, there has been some news, big and small. The small is mission related – one mission has been scrapped and is being rebuilt into something more plot relevant (the old one was... not up to par, so it’s no great loss), and I’m considering inserting another near finished mission that lost its spot during one of the Act 1 reshuffles – it’s an interesting, hide and seek type mission. “But Black Wolf”, I hear you say precognitively, “Making major changes to the mission structure at this late stage is potentially a major risk! How will this affect your 2011 release date?” Well, unfortunately, that’s the big news.

I’ve discussed it with VA, and the Dec. 31 goal is, unfortunately, not looking realistic. However, this is for a very specific and, thankfully, not gameplay-critical reason. Let me explain:

When the 2011 date was set (some time around August, if memory serves) we still had a few assets yet to be finalized. Since then, several have been finished and made it ingame. However, there’re three key assets still missing (HTL Orestes, Blackwood Station and the MMI Harmony (No, I’m not going to tell you what that is :p)), all of which are painfully close to being finished – you’ve probably seen the shots of the textured Orestes, and possibly VA’s pics of Blackwood (Here for the forgetful)). Unfortunately enough, all rely on skills that I just don’t have to get them finished, thus they fall into VA’s domain, and he’s currently buried in finishing his thesis before the end of the month. Any two of these projects might have been manageable by Dec 31, but all three are, unfortunately, probably untenable, and will have to wait until early 2012. Which, as I said, puts the December release outside the realms of realistic likelihood.

However, I did make a promise, and I do still think that the Dec 31 deadline is valuable one. And so, this is what I’m thinking. Public release is not practical. However, we have working, in-game models for all three assets. There’ll be nothing stopping anyone playing through the entire act, it’ll just look distinctly sub-par. So Dec. 31 will now be the deadline for a Beta release, possibly open, but more likely closed – realistically, even with the modified mission layout, completion of FREDding should be reached well in advance of that deadline. Thus, we’ll be able to get a few testers to help us bugfix the campaign while we wait for the remaining few assets. These testers will have to put up with a plain grey Harmony and Orestes, but everything should work and be balanced just fine.

I know that this is definitely far from ideal, and that it seems like we’re catching the BWO disease here, but I assure you, we’re not. If we had working low poly assets for all three models, we might just release with them, but the Harmony never existed as a low poly mesh, and both the low poly Blackwood and the high poly, non-baked Blackwood have too many textures to work with FSO (Yes, the low-poly asset is that old :p). So our options here are pretty limited. And the additional time (since I was originally hoping to have the Beta finalized early to mid December, I’ve gained 2-3 weeks of FREDding) comes when I’ll have time off work for the wet season, so I should be massively more productive, allowing the changes to the missions to get done inside of the allotted time

By the way, please don’t use this thread to put your name forward as a Beta tester. As yet, there’s nothing for you to beta test, and besides, I expect to be tweaking and changing right up to the last minute :). We’ll put out the call closer to the date.
TI - Coming in 2011 - Promise!
:flag9:
"Everyone has to wear clothes, and if you don't, you get arrested!" - Mr. T

Re: September 22nd

#9
Damn on the setbacks, but good luck bringing Twisted Infinities closer to some form of release. Anything is better than nothing, and having it working properly is really better than having it visually perfect first go. After so long following TI, can't wait to see what is in-store! :D

Re: September 22nd

#10
Well, we'll try not to disappoint. :) And just a reminder, this is just the first Act, not the entire campaign. That said, Act 2 will be out relatively quickly afterwards (certainly by comparison to act 1 :p - In fact, it may even go out as part of a sort of "Directors Cut" release, if there are things that need changing from Act 1), and then hopefully 3 and 4 should be achieveable at a much more sensible pace as well - I'm hoping the release of Acts 1 and 2 will gain us some extra helpers.
TI - Coming in 2011 - Promise!
:flag9:
"Everyone has to wear clothes, and if you don't, you get arrested!" - Mr. T

Re: September 22nd

#11
The people at the phone shop continue to screw me around, hence the delayed update again. Not much to report this week, which is good, because the browser on this POS temporary phone I have is rubbish. I'm at work currently, my last swing for the year, so free time for me is about to increase massively between thursday and the new year. This should mean one final great big burst of work to get the beta ready by the 31st. I'm pretty confident that the FREDing will be done well inside the deadline. Also, although I'm yet to speak to him to confirm, VA should be at or near the end me his thesis as well, hopefully he'll also be able to step up a bit over the next few weeks as we push towards the beta, and act 1s release soon after.

As mentioned, not a lot this time, but keep a look out between now and Christmas - the pace is about to pick up markedly. :)
TI - Coming in 2011 - Promise!
:flag9:
"Everyone has to wear clothes, and if you don't, you get arrested!" - Mr. T

Re: September 22nd

#12
Not a proper update this, just a little mini post because I'm pretty stoked with how my mission changes are going at the moment. Basically, while going through the existing Act 1 missions on a consistency drive (i.e. making sure all the missions follow the same conventions for wingman head-anis, backgrounds etc. etc.) I noticed that one of them violated a rule I'd established regarding the ability of ships to make quick jumps. Basically, in TI, most ships (and all fighters) have one primary and one secondary capacitor. Each capacitor allows you to make one subspace jump, and then they take time to recharge. So 2 jumps in quick succession is fine, discharging both capacitors, but three is not. Needless to say, the mission, as it was, relied on three jumps in quick succession. Something needed to change.

So now, after some moderately invasive surgery, and with the assistance of Axem, you now see the third part of the mission through the eyes of a friendly pilot from another wing - more specifically, through his guncam. This involves some (fairly cool) HUD jiggery-pokery, and I'm planning on getting some screenies up ASAP.

Nothing big, but just a little update about how things are going as we push towards Dec 31. Full update with pics on Wednesday.
TI - Coming in 2011 - Promise!
:flag9:
"Everyone has to wear clothes, and if you don't, you get arrested!" - Mr. T

Re: September 22nd

#13
And now that the thesis is all done and dusted, progress ensues! :D
Image
Here I'm basically just adding smaller details that will work with BW's texture. The problem previously has been that smaller details such as the pipes between the large tanks were too fine and tiny compared with areas of much larger, almost featureless flat areas. (Since the model was made pretty much at the dawn of the HTL era, it was a bit confused as to which side of that era it was on :p )

So, we're trying to bring a little bit of a Millennium Falcon feel to it, whilst keeping the details balanced enough to look realistic but not too busy that the shape and essence of the design is lost. :)
Twisted Infinities
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