|Oct 29, 2003|
The new engine progresses really, really well! While it renders only
painstakingly hand-entered maps, it does bumpmapping and proper (hard)
shadows, and is considerably faster than the old one!
The downside is that to work at all it needs the ARB_texture_env_dot3
GL extension, which disqualifies the older 3D cards out there. Fear not,
there will eventually be a mode of operation that will work without
(though it will, unavoidably, be much left Nifty).
Oh, and about which cards are "new" enough to support this, I think
nVidias >= GeForce 2 and all ATIs Radeons qualify. Not sure, though, since
I don't have the cards to check. You get proper lighting with any
card that does ARB_texture_env_dot3 and bumpmapping if you have at least
3 texture units. Check your card's specs.
Next is conversion of the world data (many of the requisite tools are
already working), and integration back into the main LoW engine.
Oh, and for the curious, here is
a screenshot of the new engine in my toy world with two lights
. The lights are moving about (which is obviously not visible
in a screenshot). This can be built from the /new_engine repository
in CVS for the curious.
|Sep 30, 2003|
Happy, happy, joy, joy!
Well, I now find myself without a job. This is bad. But I now
find myself with Copious Free Time. This is good.
I've been spending most of the last year trying to think of better
ways do to some of the things I am currently very displeased with
in LoW, and I'm now ready to start some serious coding. I'm going
to rewrite the graphic engine entirely. Currently, it's a simplistic
polygon rendering of the original 2D tile-based map. It was useful
to get at the "interresting" stuff, but in groans under the strain and
isn't very flexible.
What I'm going to do is a portal-based engine which should do a very
good job of the cramped, twisting spaces of UW2. It does mean I won't
be able to keep using the original map data, but it'll allow updating
the look of the environment greatly.
I'll also use the opportunity to improve the textures. Possibly with
bumpmapping if I can manage to do it right (I'm familiar with the
concepts and the math, but I've never actually did it).
At any rate, expect a new branch of tech demos starting very soon; once
it will work right I'll rip out the ugly hacks that currently serve
as a graphic engine in LoW and replace it with the new one.
Incidentally, I still need modelers! :-)
|Mar 17, 2003|
Alive and well...
LoW isn't dead. :-) My ability to work on it, however, has been
reduced for almost nil during this term. Between my job, my thesis
and my courseload, there is little free time left. And what
little of it I have left is consumed by my
robotics group since we are
just about to leave for the international competition in
México and thus need to get our robot ready.
But fear not! Summer term brings promise of a lighter course
load, and no robot to spend countless hours on! :-)
|Dec 31, 2002|
Happy new year!
0.4 is out! For those of you who had downloaded it yesterday
night (Dec 30), the executable archive was missing a default
configuration file as well as the READMEs. This has been fixed
0.4 contains more new features than you can shake a stick at!
A brief summary: wearable items, improved UI looks, better
performance when there are lots of NPCs visible, better (more complete)
conversation support (including being given items by NPCs), working
keys and locks, and more.
You can find a more complete list of changes packaged with the
new executable (really, this time!)
|Dec 26, 2002|
The data file archives are back, and have been split up in a new way
to separate files which are likely to change more often in the coming
months from those that are unlikely to do so.
Remember that you want to download the latest version of all the
archives whenever you update the program (wether from a release or
if you build from CVS). There is, obviously, no need to download
one of the archives anew if the update date shown on the downloads
page has not changed.
If you download LoW for the first time, you can get by without
the music or sound archives (though those respective features of
the game will, of course, not be available).
|Dec 8, 2002|
Don't you just love finals?
Predictably, I haven't had much time to work on LoW in the past two weeks, but I
expect many of you have had precious little time to keep an eye on it anyways. :)
There is, nonetheless, quite a bit of progress. Conversations now almost all work
perfectly (not counting the effect they would have in the world), doors lock again
and many simple switches and traps are back. They (the switches) all still look
like levers, but that's the extent of my skill at modeling.
I don't expect I'll make an "official" release before early January, but one can
compile from the CVS tree to get at the new features. If anyone volunteers to maintain
'snapshot' builds from the CVS tree I'll gladly point to their work to allow
testing by people who don't have an environment set up for building LoW themselves.
Incidentally, the Jan release will probably be called alpha rather than tech demo
since I expect I will have enough of the npc/world interaction in place that it will
become possible to follow most the storyline along, making the game 'playable' in a way.
|Nov 25, 2002|
Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!
'tis 0.3 day!
Version 0.3 sports conversations with NPCs, the oft requested mouselook
mode for movement, and a nifty configuration file that simplifies use greatly.
At this point, the game has become recongizable as such. :)
The corresponding source release now uses autoconf, making building possible
without having to struggle with an intricate Makefile and simplifying
portability a great deal.
Please join me in thanking Michael and Willem from the
Underworld Adventures project who keep
providing invaluable encouragement and freely echange information
to help both our projects.
Put that in your pipe, you elitist scumbag cliquemonger. (You know who you are!)
|Nov 10, 2002|
Release 0.2 is out!
This version allows the player to navigate the entire game universe, as well as manipulate objects and containers along with his character's inventory.
The physics system is also in place, allowing such antics as bouncing objects off monsters to push them off cliffs. :-)
|Nov 6, 2002|
Oooo. Not only is this release MUCH more stable, but it has lots and lots
of nice feature additions.
And the vanishing texture bug is gone!
The bad new: a new 3d archive update. :-(
|Nov 1, 2002|
Today's release is an experiment to see if the crashes have been (at least in part)
caused by the OpenAL audio library I had been using.
Instead, this uses the SDL_mixer library which is a bit less flexible and powerful
but considerably simpler (and thus less likely to hide bugs).
I would appreciate feedback on how this change has improved (or not) the
stability of LoW under Windows.
|Oct 28, 2002 (a bit later)|
Two boo-boos in one release. Seems I have been a bit overzealous in my aggresive
code optimization switches and that broke compatibility with K6 family CPUs. Erp.
I've just posted (as of 18:15 EST) a binary that should work on those slightly
older CPUs. If anyone with a P4 or a recent Athlon notices a performance loss, I'll
consider making binaries available optimized for both families.
|Oct 28, 2002 (a bit later)|
Ooops. :-) Apparently, the Windows NVidia OpenGL implementation really doesn't like
one confusing GL_CLAMP and GL_CLAMP_TO_EDGE. The net result: framerates below 1fps
when there were objects on screen. I hadn't noticed simply because nVidia's linux
OpenGL implementation simply went ahead and did what I meant without telling me.
Quick fix; the binaries have been updated.
|Oct 28, 2002|
I've managed to squish the most horrible heisenbugs and I had time
to finish coding the basic object interaction: opening and snooping inside
It's a neat release, with lots of small goodies... and only the program
files change this time, not media, not 3d! Quick download if you were already
up to date!
I'm still hard at work despite the infrequent updates, BTW, it's just that
Real Life(tm) keeps competing for my attention, and silly things like earning
enough money to pay the rent and buy food often must take priority. :-)
|Oct 25, 2002|
*groan* I've had all of two or three evenings during which I could
work on LoW in the past two weeks. Doesn't make for fast progress.
On the bright side, the next update will feature greatly improved stability
(there was an insidious heisenbug in the last version posted that made it
rapidly become unstable with time).
Stability is boring, you say? You want features? Oh, allright. There is
now a kickass particle system in place for things like splashes and magical
glimmers and such (and, eventually, blood). It looks cool.
I'm also almost done with the basic framework for basic object manipulation
and this will be enabled as well on the next update. Probably nothing much
more fancy but it's the first gamelike interaction (unless you count switches
that open doors which are cool but get old really quick). :-)
|Oct 8, 2002|
Yow! That took a long time!
Well, I've decided to rewrite a large part of the handling for objects
and mobiles (uniformly called entities in my code). The code is now much
cleaner, much faster, and smells much, much nicer. :-)
There are a lot of new fun things in this release: visual standins for
objects we don't have models for, working buttons, locking doors, better
However, this is also the first release that cannot (and will refuse to)
work unless you have the files of the Original UW2 around. Look
in the readme file for the details.
This means, basically, that there is no point downloading unless you have
UW2 installed somewhere on your box. Well, actually, that's not quite
true: you can extract all the files you need off your installation CD
or disquettes without actually installing, but that will get progressively
more troublesome (though never impossible) as LoW begins to use more and
more of the original's files.
|Sep 25, 2002|
Oooo! I dub this release the "Infinite Goodies" release! There is so
much great stuff that went in I couldn't possibly go on and on here. Read
the readme and rejoice. :-)
On the plus side, the media files didn't change again. Phew!
It's beginning to look dangerously like a game, now!
|Sep 20, 2002|
I wish I could spend more time on this project. *sigh*
Big update today; because of the sound and music fixes, the _media archives
have been updated too... but I think it's well worth the download.
Those big archives shouldn't change much for a while. I hope.
|Sep 16, 2002|
Since most people don't bother to read this news page, I'm leaving the actual
what's new in the release and such for the readme file that is now in the main
archive and I'm going to use this soapbox to discuss development process
The lastest update, by the way, now allows you to see the totality of the LoW
multiverse. Yeay. :-) But that means a new low_3d archive download because of
all the new textures. Boo. :-(
For a while in the past couple of days I had been considering switching to the
Quake 2 engine for rendering. So I've experimented and redid Castle British
in Q2 and played around in it. My conclusion is: I'll pass. While lighting
looks marginally better, and the precalculations that are computed on Q2 maps
allows for very nice performance indeed, the game just doesn't /look/ as good.
The requirement that Q2 places that everything use the same palette (even if
I made an optimal palette for my test) and the way some of the texture mapping
is savagely approximated just didn't look right.
So I'm keeping my rendering engine, with flaws and all. Besides, I expect that
when I'll make it public there's going to be a lot of people fiddling around
in it, and some of them might even make it fast. :-)
|Sep 10, 2002|
Well, the entire castle level has now been populated with all the mobiles that
live there. Their animations have returned to normal, idle poses until they
get AI to start wandering around and stuff. The main reasons why they are all
there is to test their looks (most are very satisfying, actually, and readily
recognizable) and the efficiency of displaying them.
At first, the throne room would slow the engine down quite a bit since there
are 11 fully clothed NPCs in it, but I have implemented a kick-ass animation
caching and shortcut system that allows the game to maintain its framerate.
The game now skips frames rather than slow down when it can't keep up; you
will probably notice this as you enter the throne room for the first time since
none of the animated models for the people in there have been cached. This
should be infrequent in practice when playing the game since it is uncommon to
have a (relatively) small room that contains so many different mobiles.
Your mileage may vary though; you might not notice a pause at all if you have
a kickass computer, or looking at the whole throne room may force you to
skip frames all the time. I'd appreciate feedback on how your system performs
(and what your system specs are, especially vis. the video card, memory and cpu).
|Sep 9, 2002|
Yup! LoW is now capable of animating the mobiles in game. There are still
a few issues: lighting is not yet properly recalculated for animating models,
and some of the models animate a bit less well than the others. The former will
be fixed eventually, the latter is a limitation of what the models were designed
to do (which was not to be seen in a first-person game) and is unlikely to change
until we get our own.
Go take a look in Castle British. The residents are just as happy as I am to have
had life breathed into them.
I think I'm going to start letting them move around soon and we'll soon be able
to interact with them.
|Sep 7, 2002|
Well, doors are back in, along with collision detection with mobiles. You can
now push ol' LB around or bounce cubes off him. :-)
On a related note, I've managed to update my Linux build tools so that I can
now build the win32 version without having to reboot. The net effect is that
you people will see more frequent updates since I can trivially push a new
version on the website whenever I have something neat to showoff, not just when
it is "worth" the trouble of rebooting to build the win32 version. Yeay!
|Sep 6, 2002|
Yipee! We now have a physics system that works, mobiles (that do not move yet),
and cool dynamic level lighting that improves the look of the game by LOTS. Take
a look at the fireplace in the Avatar's room and how it lights up the place.
You can walk around Castle British and toss little bouncy cubes around to check
out the new physics system (By pressing F12- You can't manipulate the cubes once
they are launched yet, that will come with the inventory system).
If you wander around, you may find all three of the NPCs that are standing around
the castle. You get to guess which three I've put in for now. :-)
Since rooms are now lit by themselves now (and not just by the Avatar as he moves
in) I've tuned the game so that you can see, by default, quite a bit farther. While
the new culling code in place /should/ mean more performance even then, you can hit [F11] to
play around with how far the game tries to let you see. The values cycle between
12 (the default), 10, 8 (what UW2 used to allow), 6, 4, and 14. If you find your framerate
dropping you may try to reduce your range of vision some.
The doors are gone, for now, since I needed to rewrite part of the base code that used
to handle them and I haven't adapted the doors to match. But rest assured they will come
Have fun! Oh, and by the way, the Windows version now starts in full screen since
switching is not working right yet and most people seem to prefer it that way.
|Sep 3, 2002|
It's worth the wait. Trust me.
By, *ahem*, "recycling" the UO:3D models to good purpose, I'm in the
process of populating Castle British with mobiles. It's not done yet and won't be
for several days (this is a LOT of infrastructure, and Granny 3D's files are hard
to comprehend without doc), but in the meantime you can wet your apetite with a candid
snapshot of Nystul, Lord British and Miranda posing in the throne room. (You can
click on the thumbnail to look at a bigger picture.)
|Aug 29, 2002|
The latest version has two improvements: it copes significantly better with
missing sound samples, and will no longer try so hard at catching up if it cannot
attain the right framerate. This means the game will still be too slow if your
system can't give the right performance, but at least it won't get progressively
more and more laggy as it tries to catch up.
|Aug 28, 2002|
This just in: Actually, there is no win32 bug with clicks and pops in the
sound-- my samples are genuinely broken. It's just that under Linux, the sound
driver manages to make it sound a bit less horrible. Sigh.
The problem is, I have no source of usable sounds to make new ones either. We'll
just have to live with those until I find an alternative source of samples.
Not having a budget is not fun.
|Aug 28, 2002|
Well, it was hell but we now have sound working! And I would have tought
making portable 3d graphics would have been the hard part.
There is now positional sound (open doors and walk around to hear it), ambient
sounds (go to the fountain in the courtyard) and music.
There is an issue in the win32 version that makes some of the sounds go "pop" for
no reason I can yet discern. Urg. The code is the same, the sample that is being
played is the same, but there are these annoying audible clicks only on the win32
As an aside, the downloads have been split in parts now so that you don't need to
download large chunks of things that do not change from version to version (like
sounds, music and libraries).
|Aug 19, 2002|
We now have dynamic objects in the game, which for the moment only means working
doors. Fun, though. You can operate them by "dragging" them with the left mouse
This also means I have a lot of architecture for supporting all sorts of neat things
which I will add soon. :-)
|Aug 16, 2002|
The game engine has been modified to use SDL rather than GLUT, which makes sound
and joystick portable as well as the graphics. This is fairly cool, but means you
need a new (one time)
download of the SDL.
The movement is now MUCH smoother, and less likely to cause headaches. The game
heartbeat has been reduced to 40ms, which means the game now refreshes at 25fps
which is also nicer.
You can click around, now, to look (although there isn't much to look at). And there
is a nifty new console (you get at it by hitting '~' (tilde)). There are no valid
console commands yet, but you get to see some internal info that might be fun or
The [TAB] key can now be used to hide (and get back) all the UI panels, giving you a
full view. You can also use ALT-ENTER to switch back and forth between windowed and
fullscreen modes. Last minute note: This doesn't seem to work right under Windows
right now, but you can start the program with the -f command line switch to start