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Monthly Dev Report

2014-10-01 Artistic, Development

Prototype


The construction prototype has been released 1 month ago and we’d like to thank you all for your constructions, critics and bug reports.

This month we have decided to put forward 6 of your constructions:

Backers Constructions
constructions de Mandrek, Dastan71, Wowman77 et Epsilon32


Dev


We focused our efforts on 2 of the most important parts of Planets³ : Multiplayer and rendering optimizations.

Multiplayer


Mick’s arrival enabled us to make progress regarding the multiplayer implementation of the game. We are also putting in substantial amount of efforts on the design and structure of our code.

Rendering


After spending several days of development, thinking, and investigation, we now know what we have to do in order to improve the rendering performance of the game. We even discussed our issues with experts on massive data rendering in french research laboratories (INRIA /CNRS) these last few weeks and they confirmed what we suspected : we have to satisfy some technical specifications.
Sadly Ogre, which is the rendering engine we are currently using, doesn’t allow us to satisfy those specifications efficiently. That’s why we have to replace it.

This was not foreseen and will have a substantial impact on the whole development roadmap.

Some answers to questions you might have:

  • Will this engine replacement have an impact on the release date of the Alpha?
    Yes, undeniably, this will postpone the release of the Alpha by several weeks.
    The Alpha will not be released in 2014.
  • Does this mean that there will be no new content in 2014?
    Perhaps there will be, we will try to release a “pre-alpha” version for Christmas. We hope to be able to include some “simple” multiplayer gameplay and perhaps a new gameplay feature. All of this using the new engine. This will depend on the time needed by the development team in order to integrate the new engine.
  • Have you already chosen the new engine?
    We are still evaluating some of them, and will keep you updated next month.


Our objective is to choose an engine which not only satisfies the rendering specifications we need but also will enable us to increase our productivity in the future (physics, AI, networking, and so on…). So it’s a bad news right now but it will be a great improvement for the project development in its globality.

Artistic note


The following schema represents the different zones of the first planet. The 5 zones on the surface are split up into 17 biomes, with each its topography, its wildlife, its dungeons, its constructions. In this picture we only disclose the topography of the biomes.

biomes

The red deer, the peacock and the squirrel are part of a long list of living beings which will inhabit each biome.

Animals

Web


Aside from the game development, you have certainly noticed that we keep updating our web tool:

  • you can now publish pictures of your constructions on the forum.
  • you can now rate posts and sort them by popularity
  • a new version of the “my account” page has been released, which is clearer, more practical and which will soon be improved with new functionalities (private messaging, web site/forum settings)
  • people who have supported us on Kickstarter and the 2 months after Kickstarter have now access to a new space where they can manage their rewards.

Monthly Dev report and More...

2014-09-01 Artistic, Development

Development


A fair share of our work is invisible for now, since it consist of engine improvement (world generation, rendering, differential saving, installation …). Even if it is still under development, we have reached a stable version.

The universe is currently composed of several static planets which are quite far from one another, so we decided to increase movement speed in space in order to make it easier to travel between them.

Planets³ - view from space

We added a little arrow above the pickup ghost in order to indicate in which direction the blocks are going to be removed, this is very useful to understand what is going to happen.

Pickup arrow

We implemented a new “block placement ghost”. It displays more clearly that the blocks can be rotated and which shortcut to use to change their orientation.

Block Placement Ghost

Since the press prototype release, we also put effort into the user interface, it now shows what the final user interface of the game will be.

Planets³ User Interface

Artistic note


The “Sculpting³” is really enjoyable each time you contemplate the result. Indeed a beautiful construction requires patience and a good deal of observation to judge the result every step of the way.

The new “block placement ghost” is of a great assistance to help carefully choose the right shape and orientation of each block (we have a thing about the tetrahedric block, don’t you?). Iterate over and over again is the key to realize the sculpture you dreamed of.



You have at your disposal a complete block palette of colored materials. The material choice is relatively arbitrary and doesn’t have much importance in the current creative mode.

Planets³ Inventory

The world generation is basic. The planets’ sculpture (vegetation, landscapes), the design of living beings, of constructions and so on… has been put aside for now.

The light dynamic is also basic (the planets being static). It will require some work to be adapted to the upcoming moving planets.

The world is made of materials which have each their own colored texture. On each block of a given material, this color varies randomly a little bit.In the future, a second layer of alternative textures will be added to paint the materials regarding their nature : woods, rocks, metals, fabrics, crafted materials, and so on...

Planets³ Biomes

The construction prototype


It’s the september’s “surprise”, we are proud to deliver a first version of the project : Planets³’s construction prototype.

This first release is not the Alpha version of the game. It’s the prototype version we gave to the press during the Kickstarter campaign with some improvements. We thought it would be nice for all of you, who have supported us, to finally be able to put your hands on something concrete, even if this prototype doesn’t reflect yet what the game will be.

Information on the game
It’s important for you to understand that your saved universes will very likely not be compatible with the future version of the game. Indeed, given the list of changes that will be made to the game in the coming months, the list of materials itself will not be valid anymore. But don’t let it stop you from sharing your most beautiful constructions !

The shortcut you have to know: F1. It displays main available shortcuts.

We also opened a “Prototype” forum section in order to discuss specifically this release (to report bugs or to discuss improvements you would like to have in the game).

Beware that this prototype is currently only available on Windows 64 bits.

Now it’s your turn!


All of you who have pre-ordered the game with an alpha access can go to their Planets³ web account and download the prototype.
Those of you who didn’t pre-order the alpha access on Kickstarter or on our website during the 2 months after Kickstarter can now upgrade their license to purchase the alpha access.

Everything happens here in your Planets³ web account:
https://www.planets-cube.com/my-account.html

First Monthly Dev report

2014-08-06 Development
Yes, it’s one week late, but we wanted to release the first monthly dev report with the new website.

Pickup Ghost


Today I would like to present you Planets³’s pickup ghost. As you may know in Planets³ the blocks are 25cm square, so we implemented tools that allow you to pick up multiple blocks at the same time. The following video will give you a preview of our work.



The pickup ghost shows you how many block you will remove at the surface, highlighting the corresponding block faces. But it also shows how many blocks you will remove below the surface.

Textures


This part was a hard one. On the concept presented on Kickstarter, we see all different kinds of textures. The sand and vegetation textures only use single colors, with some color variations. The textures of the trees have a pattern, lines to represent “wood material”. And the leaves are made of another pattern, a sort of green blur.

Today, after dozen of hours of reflection, multiples design in photoshop (pixel art, patterns with numbers, high-def textures …) and lot’s of in game tests we finally chose our way to draw materials in Planets³.
We will stay with single color textures, using color variations for each material (for example the sand could have 6 different yellows). But as we have a lot of different materials in Planets³, single color textures alone was not sufficient, so we decided to add some patterns and effects (with shaders) depending on the material “category”.
For example metals will shine but wood materials could have patterns.

We do have to finalize this work, so we won’t show you screenshots of these new textures today.

Engine improvements


During the last month we also improved the engine:

  • we did work on the multithreaded universe loading
  • we started to change the way we enlighten the planets
  • we changed the topology of the planets, to be more flat, and have less mountains but more abrupt. However the current result is still not definitive since we will have to modify the way planets are generated in order to stick to the concept arts of the planet you saw.

Miscs


  • we added shortcuts management
  • we modified the UI to reflect new design work
  • we added the possibility to change video options from within the game
  • we improved shadows to reduce flickering
  • we improved the support of OpenGL and Direct3D 11. Direct3D 11 support is still in progress but Direct3D 9 and OpenGL are fully operational.
  • we corrected other different bugs
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