Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Dev Diary #4: Creator Engine 4.0

Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Dev Diary #4: Creator Engine 4.0

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ArnoW

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Hi there, here is some news from the tech department. We’ve been working very hard to improve the Creator engine for Planetfall and I’ve been asked to write this week’s Dev Diary about some of the big changes we’ve made.

The first thing we decided to do after the release of AoW3 was to move over to 64bit. At the time, we were really struggling getting all the DLC content running within the ~3GB memory limit and the modders among you will also know that this really limits what you can do when you want to add cool new units and structures.

The second project we started was focused on improving the visuals. We spent quite some time figuring out what kind of lighting technique would be best for Planetfall. How realistic should it be? What fits best with the art style? Physical Based Rendering (PBR) gave some great results but it had as drawback that it can make things look too washed out, reducing the colorfulness, and we really wanted to create colorful planets! In the end we made some modifications to the PBR algorithms until they gave the results we wanted.

Below is a screen shot that demonstrates how the surrounding environment, in this case just the terrain, influences the lighting of the object.

PBR_ExampleSmall.png

Here are some screenshots that show the difference between Planetfall and AoW3.

AoW3vsPlanetfallHoriz.jpg

Characters.png
Of course, this is not all that we’ve been working on. We’ve also added to the renderer:

· Full anti-aliasing support

· Soft shadow support

· Optimized for high res-displays (4K) – Interface scaling

· DirectX 11 (AoW3 uses DirectX9)

· Improved multi core support


Another system that we improved is what we call the snapshot renderer. In AoW3 all of the unit icons needed to be handmade and this was quite time consuming. In Planetfall units can be upgraded through the unit-modding system and we really wanted to see this reflected in the icons as well. The new Snapshot renderer allows us to generate unit icons on the fly in-game, based on the unit-mods that are enabled. it even takes the player colors into account!

The screenshot below shows how the Kir’Ko Frenzied is posed in one of our Tools, along with an actual shot of it taken in-game.

SnapshotRendererSmall.png

And the icon in use in the game:

UnitPanel.png

Many more improvements were made to our tools / networking / procedural generation but we need to keep something for the upcoming Dev Diaries. Next week Tom will talk more about the combat system!
 

Quark02

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The Dvar does not look like he would be speaking English. He looks like a proper alien. Do the species speak a common language or does each player have to research translator bots to communicate with each other?
 

Leyrann

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Aw. I was hoping for information on ease of map making.

Maybe we can get a Dev Diary about that too sometime?
 

Oorlog

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Interface scaling, YES!

Will tools become available to modders?
 

mr_stibbons

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All the languages are probably derived from the common language of the star union-translation should be a solvable problem without translator mcguffins.
 

Leon Feargus

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Yeah! The environment lighting looks sweet. Previously, certain structures could seem out of place in certain terrain. That may be a thing of the past now.
Love the Dvar leader!
And that icon creator will be very useful I think.
 

Rhaeg

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A new screenshot makes for a nice dev blog, 2 new screenshots means a great dev blog, any more than that and it's an absolutely fantastic blog.

Absolutely fantastic blog, Arno! :p
 

Dr_K

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We intent to have modding support at launch!
Awesome!

The first thing we decided to do after the release of AoW3 was to move over to 64bit. At the time, we were really struggling getting all the DLC content running within the ~3GB memory limit and the modders among you will also know that this really limits what you can do when you want to add cool new units and structures.
So that means support for XXXL maps now right? :D
 

Buladelu

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Don't quite understand the part about icons. You already had generated icons for leaders. Did you make it fast enough for it to be used for everyone?

Also I pray for TXAA support. That antialiasing method is a joy for a low price. Or at least SMAA.
 

SodapopKevin

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The Dvar does not look like he would be speaking English. He looks like a proper alien. Do the species speak a common language or does each player have to research translator bots to communicate with each other?
Remember the factions in the game will be connected to the fallen Star Union (the Vanguard being the members tasked with colonization, the Kirko being an insect race enslaved in the past). These aren't groups meeting for the first time, a shared history would suggest an established method of communication.
 

sikbok

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Don't quite understand the part about icons. You already had generated icons for leaders. Did you make it fast enough for it to be used for everyone?
We do it for all the units now.

Makes both our work and that of modders easier.
Also, you now get to see your colours in the icon and the mods the unit has - i.e. jetpacks.
 

Gloweye

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nice Dvar in power armor.

Question: It looks like there's tool-integrated locking of resources. Any chance this will also be available to modders ? We've faced a few issues with the Shadow Realm about this. I'd totally love to be able to just develop my mods with git or svn...
 

Gloweye

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Better balance ? Compared to us, 4-leggers also got a lot more space between the legs.
 

Rhaeg

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Them dev journals need a sticky for gatherin' me thinks...