Droidcon London

We’ve just finished our two days at the brilliant Droidcon London, where we were showcasing the current Alpha version of Master of the Seven Teas!

Those who stopped by had the chance to win a Project Anarchy T-Shirt – we had 5 to give away – all to whomever scored the highest in solo Armada.

The highest scoring winner on solo Armada at Droidcon London, 2014

We also received a tremendous amount of feedback, thoughts, ideas, suggestions and we’re taking all of this back with us so we can prepare for the Beta version – which will also see the first public release of 7Teas!

Switching to Project Anarchy

When we first began developing Master of the Seven Teas, we were programming using the C# language and the Microsoft tool set called XNA.  This allowed us to build the initial version for the Xbox 360.  But with the announcement that XNA had not only received its final update, but would be completely “phased out” by April 2014, we need an alternate solution.

Fortunately for us, we had the art assets, the fluid algorithm, and we had built this game before – so we jumped onto familiar ground, using Adobe AIR.  If we needed anything with a little more oomph then we could utilise ANEs (Adobe Native Extensions), like with our fluid system.  A few months into development and things seemed to be going well.  We had targeted a robust 3D engine that made use of GPU accelerated visuals, we had an ANE based physics engine and our fluid system (also an ANE) was implemented.
But it was at this point that we began to notice some frame rate drops.  We hadn’t even begun to add AI, UI or really any significant features of the game – but once we had both the fluid solver (that forms all the fancy ripples) and the shaders that make it look like water (reflection, refraction, specular etc), the frame rate became unplayable.  We were simply trying to push too much through the OUYAs little GPU.

After some substantial investigation, we found that part of the issue could be solved through shared memory.  You see, the fluid is calculated on the (or rather, one of the) CPU, and the change in the surface is then uploaded to the GPU.  The process of uploading the vertices every frame is incredibly costly – hence the desire to use shared memory.  This way, our CPU would lock the memory, move the ripples and unlock it, so that the GPU could lock it, draw it and unlock it.
This whole process is not possible in AIR.

This meant we needed another solution.

We looked around at the latest offerings, investigating CryTek’s “Cryengine” – as there was soon to be an Android supporting exporter, but it isn’t available yet, so we needed something else.  Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 entered a new pricing model and while the tools, code, tutorials and community are currently the best, the engines next-gen capabilities rendered the poor OUYA somewhat lame, and was also not a viable option.

Towards the end of the week long investigation, we dabbled with Havok’s Project Anarchy.  After an initial learning curve, the whole team decided to adopt this fantastic product – which includes many industry standard tools such as Havok Physics, AI and Character Animation, along with their fully cross platform renderer, the Vision engine.  Throw in other tools like the Fmod audio engine and Autodesk’s Scaleform – and the fantastic performance on the OUYA, with all of these systems running at once, we had a winner!

There are a number of changes we’ll have to make to all our code, porting over to C++.  And something similar will need to be done with all our artwork, using the Project Anarchy pipelines.  But this move will allow us to better focus on the game and bring an experience to all the platforms we wanted… and hopefully, a few more!

Happy Birthday to Us!

Happy Birthday to Us!
That’s right, we’re 3 today!
Thank you all for your continued support, you’re all brill!
Now, go have some cake… you’ve earned it :-D

Kickstarter!

WebsiteImagesKickstarter

Everyone here at Gaslight Games is super-excited to announce our Kickstarter for our game Master of the Seven Teas!

This campaign is just the start of everything that we are trying to achieve with Seven Teas. We’ve been hard at work rebuilding our technology and updating Seven Teas, with a few key elements we’re focusing on.

A big focus is supporting as many platforms as we can, so Seven Teas will be available on PC, Mac, OUYA, iOS, Android and Blackberry (OS 10). We’re working with OUYAs Free the Games fund, so the first release will be on the OUYA console and exclusive there for some time. Shortly after we’ll be hitting PC and Mac and after the exclusivity period, you’ll be able to enjoy pirate ships in a teacup on iOS, Android and Blackberry!

With all of these supported platforms, one thing we’ve developed is our networking solution, which will allow for any platform to play against any of the others!

Of course, we are also bringing our real-time fluid system to every platform, writing the proper shaders (for reflection and specular mapping), updating the AI and much, much more! More weapons, more power-ups, more game modes… MORE!

Please help us reach our goal and to spread the word – Master of the Seven Teas on Kickstarter!

University of Bradford: Periodic Review 2

WebsiteImageBradford

After being invited to the first stage of the periodic review at the University of Bradford, we were invited back – this time to the second phase, more a consultation with direct/exact feedback, than the more open discussion at the first session.

This time around we provided some more detailed ideas and suggestions on specific targets and actions the course tutors could undertake in order to bring the taught modules more in-line with how the industry is progressing, what we look for in graduate employees and the skills that would more likely benefit them.

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