Website Update, August 7th


Frog Blast the Vent Core!
Here's this week's update...the final stretch

All blue on the progress chart

Three days to go. On monday night, it will at last be all over.

The project is indeed coming to an end - everywhere I look, things are getting into position. Yesterday, Michael delivered the absolute last pieces of music for us. Look at the progress chart - we may still have various bugs to fix, but the chart is now all blue. All the non-bug-related tasks are now complete. Incidentally, I never kept track of how much music we have in the game, but Michael informs me that the total count is 223 (bearing in mind that each mission set has multiple pieces, as do most cutscenes). Wow. When and how did that happen?

Today is a big day for another reason, too - at long, long last, we are finally ready to show off some screenshots from how the game looks now. And... well, it's a long way from where we started. These latest changes (all of them functional only in OpenGL) include an enhanced lighting system allowing for specular maps (yes, that's right, specular maps - we've joined the 21st century :-P ), and... HDR. High dynamic range lighting: bloom, bright, shiny explosions, and really, really great looking engine flames. That's not all, there are various other improvements all over the place. Head on over to the screenshots page, see for yourself... and compare these latest four shots with the really old stuff from page 1 :).

All these enhancements required a huge amount of work for most of us. I reworked just about all of the ship meshes in the game, correcting various smoothing errors and so on, created new specular maps for every single object in the game (not just our ships, but any original WCP mesh still in use in Standoff), new engine flames... and more than a few other things I'm forgetting :-P. Alex and Pierre, of course, put in tons of programming work - Alex on the OpenGL library, while Pierre has been working on various related issues (rescaling the room graphics, etc.). And of course, everyone had to keep on testing new versions of the DLLs.

It was a tough job, because it's one big hack. Normally, to do this kind of thing, you'd edit the original source code and build the improvements directly into the engine. Had that been the case, Alex would have been able to give the engine pretty much all the graphical capabilities seen in modern titles. But... no source code to edit, so all this is really one big, hugely complicated hack :-P.

Anyway the big question - are we now ready for monday? Not yet. We still have... issues. And just to make things more interesting, half the team is unable to work during the weekend for one unavoidable reason or another. It's going to be a really, really interesting monday :-P.


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Heh. Yeah, the final stretch - "stretch" being the operative word :p. I don't think I've gone to sleep before midnight at all this week.
Neither one of you should be're supposed to be working!

And shame on me I should be testing! :p
...Great... we get to fly a Talon... >,<

Rather fly a Scimitar, personally..!

(well maybe, I havent been in a game where you can fly both with relevant / equalized statistics...)
You already can fly a Talon. It's playable in the Ep1-4 package.

Ah I apparently hadn't gotten that far. I have been delaying playing the WHOLE thing till ep 5 came out (the improvements will go all the way back to the prologue right?)
Yes, they'll be new cutscenes.

Now that I can actually talk about the graphical improvements...I hope everyone has a top notch video card. With all the settings cranked the game looks absolutely incredible as the screenshots above show.
That's amazing. I started replaying from the beginning a few months ago, but I think I'll have to wait for this and start all over again!
What, you usually go to bed earlier than that ? Wait until you have a kid, that'll become your regular schedule for a while :p
Well, usually I go to sleep around midnight... this week, the earliest I went to sleep was something like 01:30. There was a time, about five years ago, when this would have been normal for me - but I'm just not used to it any more.
What is that particle stream to the left of the light cruiser (its starboard) in the last screen shot? I assume it's gunfire of some sort but I don't recognize it. I know you were unhappy with the flak effect...

Great work on the graphics by the way, I'm really impressed.
I believe you are seeing the particle cannon rounds from the Rapier shooting at some target that's off screen. The ship in the upper left is a Hakaga super carrier.

Those are only a small sample of the improvements. The game really looks absolutely incredible if your video card can handle it. Even with some of the settings turned down it's still amazingly amazing :p
Wow, you guys are totally going the extra mile on this...and the engine looks incredible. Excellent work! I have only one minor criticism - I can't help but think that the stars need to be tiled more than they are...perhaps twice as much? The pixelation is quite apparent. Also, buy way of suggestion, you could possibly give space that slight Wing Commander Blue Tint?
I've attached an image to show what I mean. :D
Anyhow, really awesome work as-is. You guys have come a long way!
I believe you are seeing the particle cannon rounds from the Rapier shooting at some target that's off screen. The ship in the upper left is a Hakaga super carrier.

I meant below the Hakaga. The orange dots. Particle cannon is purple, lasers are red bolts, mass drivers are silver, neutrons are blue, but these are orange, so flak is the only thing I can think of. Actually, now that I look at old screenshots, it almost certainly is the old flak effect, but I'm not used to seeing it so far way.