FriendlyFire joined our team quite a while ago and has contributed much to the development team with his visual effect making expertise. He has singled handedly made the game so much more beautiful than many of us could have imagined possible. As such, he has been working on our missile/torpedo effects to get them as close to canon as possible as well as providing his own artistic flare. I have to say that I'm utterly thrilled with the results. Here's the development process and information written by FriendlyFire about each class of amunition that will be in the game:
One of the last aspects of system development for us at FW:ToW has been planet textures. As developers, we felt an important way to capture the "feeling" of Star Wars was to make the planets look like the ones we all know from the movies and games. While we had been unsuccessful in the past year finding a planet texturist, we have been very fortunate to have obtained three new ones in the last two months: ScribbleHEAD, Whiskey.Actual and Shadowfire. Each of the previously mentioned developers have started to hand craft their designs after researching each planet. Below is the latest work by our newest developer, Whiskey.Actual:
Planet Dak (Mon Calamari)
Dac, as it was called in Mon Calamarian, Quarrenese, and Basic, also known as Mon Calamari and sometimes simply called Calamari, was a planet in the Calamari system of the Calamari Sector, located in the Outer Rim. It was home to a wealth of sentient species: the Mon Calamari, the Quarren, the Moappa, the Amphi-Hydrus, and the Whaladons. Mon Calamari was the name given to the planet by Human explorers from the Galactic Republic who first discovered and revealed the world to the rest of the galaxy. The native species referred to the planet as Dac. The planet was a shining bluish-white orb from space, due to its ocean-covered surface. It was home to 27.5 billion Mon Calamarians and Quarren, as well as surrounded by the impressive Mon Calamari Shipyards.
Lately I've created a new mission which features Corellian ships and Hutt ships fighting around a Hutt mining base. The mission takes place in a large, dynamic asteroid field. The Hutt encounter mission is not likely to make it in the final version as it's not very interesting. Actually, it has been created to show Hutt and Corellian ships in action as many players wanted to see them. Additionaly, it served to set up our new dynamic asteroid field which, i hope, will be used i several other new missions (for instance, i was thinking about an Imperial mission where you have to chase the Millenium Falcon in a dangerous asteroid field...).
It’s been far too long since I’ve posted anything noteworthy. The real world sucked me up into her ugly claws meaning a lot of my time to work has evaporated. That doesn’t mean I’m idling though.
With my systems all but complete (a few issues that need to be sorted there that I can’t fix due to my issues with Freelancer right now), my next long standing project – and probably my last proper one, is developing the story of Freeworlds.
This has been briefed before in my old blog and in numerous statements. The idea of developing the story is to let players know where they stand in the Star Wars universe. We have picked a point in the timeline and from there, we write our own.
There are several levels of canon in the Star Wars universe. G-Canon is regarded as George Lucas canon, which takes in the movies. C-Canon covers the majority of works regarding the Expanded Universe. Our story begins twelve years after the Battle of Yavin. Up to this point, history is as it was, following the works of Lucas and authors.
When we start Tides of War, this is the point where we branch off into our own little timeline, something I’m coining Freeworlds-Canon (F-Canon). From then, we write our own history of the Star Wars universe. Now, that doesn’t mean that things that happened down the line won’t happen. In fact, some of them do offer interesting ideas down the line to explore. But the main point is that we are no longer tied for events to happen as they would. This will give the players the freedom to shape the galaxy as they see fit.
I’m sure some of you are asking ‘Why pick 12ABY? Surely there are other times to pick?”
Good question. To keep it short, 12 ABY is an important cross road year in the Star Wars universe. It was the year that the fractured bands of the Empire banded together on Pellaeon. The New Republic is just recovering from the battles against the likes of Isard, Thrawn and most recently, the Reborn Emperor.
Even for the Hutts and the Corellians, there are interesting notes at this point in the timeline. Durga the Hutt developed the Darksaber project while during this year; the Corellians joined the New Republic.
There is a hotbed of activity to work with here, hence the decision to use it as the starting year. We will twist events to shape into the starting point of Tides of War and from there, we show our creativity and enhance our universe. Each faction will have their back story done by us to ensure a high standard and allow everything to mesh together for a cohesive backstory to the galaxy we play in.
Over the last few months, I've been working a lot on the graphics engine of Freelancer. Inspired by Timeslip's work. I wrote a Direct3D8 to Direct3D9 wrapper for Freelancer to be able to directly access the graphics pipeline.The ultimate goal is to somewhat modernize Freelancer's graphics engine. I'm not sure about the features I will be able to add further on, but let me show you the first enhancements that I already implemented.
Before getting to the eye candy, let me quickly talk about mouse lag. I guess almost everybody is familiar with the mouse lag problem that occurs in some games. In almost every case, the laggy/delayed input is to blame on VSync. If you turn VSync off, it solves a lot of the mouse lag problems for many games, including Freelancer. I did some research on the topic and found this article on a private blog by "Vorlath". Basically, to fix mouse lag in the DirectX pipeline, you have to make sure that after any present call, the screen has really received the frame you just rendered. This is easily done in Direct3D9 as stated in the article and it was one of the first things I implemented. Thank god, no more VSync-related mouse lag in Freelancer!
Lets get to the eye candy. One of the top wanted post-processing effects in older games is bloom. As of now, I added a relatively cheap and subtle bloom effect, but in the future I want to do a proper HDR lighting implementation. Another post-process effect is Color Correction, which to me seems to be very underrated. You can completely change the feel of the game by including a nice color correction effect. The implementation I chose was very simple, yet powerful, based on this article.
The vast benefit of this method is the what-you-see-is-what-you-get effect. We simply take an ingame screenshot, load that screenshot in Photoshop and do some color correction with the Curves or Levels tool. We then apply the same color correction to a special texture that will be used by the game. Very easy to do, yet very powerful.
The color correction effect is implemented per-system. Its a very good tool to give systems their very own feeling, making the ingame experience as varied as possible. For example, we could give rebel and imperial systems their very unique color correction, so you quickly know in which territory you are.Finally a little video to show the effects in motion: