The fifth and final episode of Standoff is now just days away, and the team is busy patching any remaining bugs. New screenshots released today demonstrate how Episode 5's graphical upgrades will also revitalize the earlier chapters. The game's OpenGL renderer, introduced with Episode 4, has been upgraded for better lighting effects. Eder has the details.
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.