Posted by on September 17th, 2015

Everybody!

Maylyon here with a new blog!  If you just rushed to your “Nerd Kingdom Trading Cards” deck and didn’t find me there, don’t fret; I joined the Kingdom in March and have been quietly working behind the scenes as the Lead Infrastructure Developer.  (On a side note, if those cards don’t exist, we should change that … .)

One of the things that has impressed me the most since joining the company is the perseverance of the modding community.  You guys have such amazing ideas for ways to enhance or improve the gameplay of TUG, but the journey from “concept” to “deployment” seems fraught with needless perils:

  1. How can we have multiple collaborators working on the same mod?
  2. How can we manage changes to the mod over time?
  3. How can users report issues with the mod in a coherent and cohesive fashion?
  4. How can we deploy mods to the end users?
  5. How can we trust those end users to know:
    1. How to install the mod for use?
    2. How to update the mod when it changes?
    3. How to not blame the author when Nerd Kingdom changes the Eternus API?

The last may be a lost cause, but the answer to most of the other questions right now seems to be “the forums”.  The forums are a great tool for fostering discussion in the community, but they seem like a less-than-ideal fit for the challenges that face a modder.  Towards that end, we are actively working on Devotus!

Devotus will be a mod content distribution pipeline that facilitates the creation and deployment of mod content by the mod authors for the end users.  With Devotus, we hope to allow the modders to focus the majority of their efforts on creating amazing content that pushes the boundaries of what Eternus can handle and stop worrying about the nuts and bolts of deploying a mod.  The rest of this blog will focus on answering, “What does Devotus provide?”  The next tech blog will focus on answering, “How can I use Devotus to be awesome?”

The first step towards admitting that you have a modding problem is registering your mod with Devotus.  When a mod is registered, a blank git repository is created on GitHub; this will be the main home for the mod content that you create.  Utilizing a third party git repository site allows us to leverage a proven implementation without the development time and risks of building our own in-house solution.  Git repositories on GitHub should help mitigate frustrations 1 – 3 above:

  • Multiple authors can be added to the git repository to allow concurrent development efforts (more on the “how” in the next blog) – or not.  You could be sole author on a mod and choose what forked changes you want to propagate upstream into your repository.
  • Git provides revision history so you can track changes over time (often read as: “know who to blame when things break”).
  • GitHub provides mechanisms for users to report issues with a repository, allowing mod authors to receive feedback and bug reports from the community.

I am definitely not providing a comprehensive feature set list of GitHub; if you want more information, hit up their website or contact me at [email protected] and I’ll do my best to address your questions/concerns/loathing.  A few items to note here are:

  • Mod names must be unique within a target game domain in order to combat the chaotic nature of the universe.
  • Mod authors will need a GitHub account and a Nerd Kingdom account to register and manage mods.

Another feature of registering your mod with Devotus is the creation of a GitHub IO page.  This page is yours to brag about … er, explain … your mod to the community at large.  I’ll let the next blog cover the features that are being worked to enable you to create page content highlighting your epicness; I just wanted to provide a teaser to hopefully pique your interest and incentivize you to read the next blog … .

The second step towards admitting that you have a modding problem is publishing mod content for end user consumption.  When you tag your git repository with a release tag in the format “v<Major>.<Minor>.<Revision>-release” (e.g. “v1.1.2-release”), a GitHub webhook will push an update command to the Devotus server that will revise the mod information within Devotus and build a ZIP file of the mod repository contents.  The intent here is that you will perform a trivial action (tagging your repository) and Devotus will take care of the legwork necessary for that content to be available for download by the end users.

One hurdle of publishing mod content that Devotus attempts to mitigate is mod dependency resolution.  Mod authors can indicate that their mod depends on another mod, and Devotus will provide a single download package that contains all the files necessary to use the mod.  This feature could be used to develop content that depends on a utility mod (such as Johny’s “CommonLib”) or to develop a mod collection with a single-click installation ( “DaBoom” that contains all of UFIOES’s mods, including “Thermobarics”).  A limitation here is that the mod that satisfies the dependency must also be registered with Devotus.

The final step in admitting that you have a modding problem is sharing that problem with others!  Tech is planned to incorporate a Devotus browser into the Nerd Kingdom Launcher to mitigate frustrations 4 – 5b above:

  • Mods can be browsed, downloaded, installed, and managed by end users for use in-game.
  • Out of date mods can be identified before loading into a world and experiencing massive amounts of Lua errors!

This tech is the biggest piece of the ultimate goal:  getting a mod into the hands of users.

So that’s it for me rambling about Devotus and scratching the surface of what we are working towards.  @TheCamboRambo suggested that blog readers enjoy pictures.  The backend isn’t visually interesting, but I want to make the audience happy, so I’ll end with this:

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In the meantime, check out the latest NK Cribs video from Josiah!

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Posted by on June 4th, 2015

Greetings again! Nekochu here to tell you about something very important that is coming up in the next release. This is so important and will change your life so much, that if everything works as intended you won’t even notice it.

 

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What am I talking about?  Modular tools of course!

For this first stage of modular tools, we have revamped all the bronze age tools and weapons to work with modular crafting. You may notice that the bronze items look slightly different, but they are crafted and work exactly the same as the old tools you are used to.

You may ask, “How does this affect me?”  Well, at first this shouldn’t affect you at all. All of the work in this release is behind the scenes and visually you won’t see the potential of modular tools.

Let’s talk about the future though; that is where this new system will really start to shine. Items that can act as the “head” of a tool can be swapped out to generate new tools and the stats of the produced item will be adjusted based on the components used.

Now you’re starting to see the bigger potential!  Imagine a sword that incorporates the swiftness bonus from its handle and the extra damage stat from its blade!  Or perhaps you want to use a unique head of a pick that you crafted on all your future pick crafts.

We’ve only scratched the surface of where we can go with this new system but for now it lies in wait under the surface of the bronze tools.  The future will decide where it grows from there!

We are fixing a lot of bugs this week and hope to push a new update soon. In the meantime, check out the latest “In The Works” video for the artisan workbench and loom here.

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Posted by on May 21st, 2015

Hey guys. This is Grim from NK here to tell you a little about how the voxel shapes in TUG are represented. This will get a little technical, so bear with me!

Many people try to think about voxels in terms of blocks. Blocks are easy to think about! Blocks can be either solid or air which are stored as 1’s or 0’s in data.

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In TUG we have smooth voxel contouring that can represent a variety of shapes. Smooth shapes are hard to represent as blocks. Because there is no good way to tell if a block should be smoothed-over or not. We solve this issue by storing our voxel data as a signed distance field. A signed distance field is a grid of numbers that tells us the distance away from the nearest geometrical surface. A positive value means we are outside of the surface, and a negative value means we are inside the surface. Here’s an example in 2D for a circle:

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Red values are negative (inside) and green values are positive (outside).

Each voxel is assigned a field value based on the distance to the center of the circle.

A signed distance field shape representation is convenient when it comes to adding and subtracting geometry from the world. To add another shape, we just have to take the smallest distance-field value from both shapes.

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Notice how the field values outside the first circle have been replaced with the smaller field values of the second circle.

Removing geometry is also easy! All we have to do is negate the field values of the circle being removed so the inside (negative) field values become outside (positive) field values, and then take the largest field value. Adding and subtracting any shape is possible as long as a field function for the shape can be defined.

Now you might be wondering how a signed distance field is actually turned into triangles that can be rendered in-game. Remember that a surface sits where the field values change from positive to negative. We start by identifying the edges along voxels where there are sign changes.

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After we have identified a surface edge, we have to find where the surface actually sits along the edge. Depending on the field values at the two edge end-points, we can place a point along the edge.

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After these edges and points are identified, we use the surface-edge intersections to come up with a single vertex position for each voxel. We calculate a voxel vertex position by averaging together all of the intersection points.

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There are more expensive techniques to place interior-voxel points more accurately (like Dual Contouring with QEFs), but we have opted for speed over accuracy.

Now that we have voxel points, we have to figure out how to connect them together into faces. This is done by connecting together points across edges that have sign changes.

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You can see that the average points connected together do not perfectly represent the circle, but it is pretty close.

 

 

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This process extends directly to 3D except that the squares are cubes, and that a cube edge has four voxel neighbors instead of two. Across these edges we connect all 4 voxel neighbor positions together to form two triangles.

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I hope you have an idea about how geometry in TUG is represented underneath the hood. I hope you’ve enjoyed my overview!

If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message on twitter @NKGrim. 

Don’t forget to check out the latest “In The Works” video on Creative mode rework.

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Posted by on May 14th, 2015

Hey guys, it’s John (@x_nekochu_x) and I have some game design news!

Today we’re going to take a look at some of the new tables and items that can be crafted.  As the game progresses, the seed will need new workstations to advance his crafts and make better stuff.  With this in mind we have created two new workstations for the seed to build, the artisan workbench and the loom.

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The artisan workbench is a multi-purpose station that allows the seed to work with leather, jewelry and advanced methods of assembly.  It is one of our first table upgrades. This means that by adding an upgrade to an existing table, you can add more crafting options to that table.  By upgrading the crude workbench, the seed will still be able to craft all of the previous recipes, and it will also open up new recipes specific to the upgraded workbench.

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The second new workstation is the loom.  The loom is the seed’s first foray into making clothes that are more than just bamboo shafts and leaves!  With the loom, the seed can begin to weave textiles from other materials to create patches that can be used in making clothes and other linen products. We are almost done with the concept and you should see the design next week!

These two new workstations also work together as several of the new crafts are created at one and then assembled at the other.  For example, linen textiles can be created at the loom and then used in assembling an outfit at the artisan workbench with some leather accents.  Likewise leather patches may be refined at the artisan workbench and then weaved into a pattern with other fabrics at the loom.

So let’s take a look at some of the new resources and crafted items we can expect to see with these new tables.

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Leather patches and linen textiles.  These crucial components are for a lot of new crafts and will be used in clothes, armor pieces and in the future, crafting a saddle for mounts.

Bronze buckles and plates.  These items are crafted using the casting method that we have had at the stone furnace but with the new artisan workbench, they can be assembled with other resources to create new elements.

We are also working on a new set of clothes for the teen seed, complete with a new shirt, breeches, tunic and shoulder pads. @TheCamboRambo will share the 3D models soon as we have them done.

There are so many new recipes to discover and new gameplay systems coming soon! Our mount system is planned but will not be ready for our next update.  We’ll talk more about mounts and how to use your new tack items in a future blog post.  Until then, happy crafting!

Check out our latest “In The Works” video on body morphing.

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Posted by on May 7th, 2015

Hey, Kingdom!

My name is Artie (@input_output_7) and I am writing this week’s blog. I’ll be providing an inside look behind the game design of transforming your seed’s body! It is currently in the works and is at its basic stage. So, grab yourself a sandwich, some fruit, or whatever pleases your hunger because you might get a little hungry while reading this, or it might influence some physical activity.

This is an early prototype of the system.  We don’t have all the features in for it that will show off body changes in muscle and definition but I think you’ll get the idea of where we’re headed!

In TUG, we want to provide our players visual representations for what type of actions and skills they’ve performed over time. One of these visual cues is your seed’s body type, which is dependent on your eating habits!  We’ll be tracking other items such as physical activities and skill based actions in the future but for this prototype, we’re only worried about your food consumption.

Stat wise, a particular seed’s body type projects its strength, agility, constitution, energy, and movement speed. By allowing the player the ability to adjust their body type via their eating habits, the character can increase/decrease its base health, stamina, energy, and movement speed over the course of gameplay. Be aware there are trade-offs (We’ll talk about those in a future blog).

The way we’re currently calculating the player’s potential of increasing or decreasing its body size is relative to the amount of time there is in a day and if you’ve exceeded the required amount of energy (that is, your energy bar) needed to stay replenished for THAT day. An example would be: if you’ve overeaten, around 3 times more than your max energy in a single day, expect to gain the max amount of points towards your body size. You can see the results in your arms and stomach after waking up from a deep sleep on your comfy crude bed.

It’s worth mentioning that edibles are the only consumables that are taken into account towards affecting your body size. So having a fuel potion each day is like drinking slim fast. You may be gaining your daily energy but you’re definitely not going to gain any weight, just lose it.

Here’s a collection of day-by-day pics I’ve taken of my body transformation:

Day 1
Started off fresh. I’m feeling 100 with a body type in between thin and large.

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Day 2
Ohh man, am I hungry. I didn’t have any time to eat yesterday because I was busy gathering resources for clothing, tools, and weapons! My hips and arms are slightly thinner in size. Forget about that! Do you like my hide vest?

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Day 4
Whoa, did those tools and weapons help! I was able to gather so much fruit and meat that I rewarded myself with large meals. I ate so much I gained the max weight for each day. I couldn’t help it. I was too hungry! What do you think about my hair?

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Day 7
So, for the past 5 days I’ve been bulking up to prepare myself to survive in the freezing polar biome. I’ve also changed my hairdo! I look good, right? It’s pretty darn cold up here in the polar region. I think I’ll head back to the bamboo forest for some sunshine.

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Day 9
Alright, I’ve reached the max size! My arms are thicker and my stomach is wider. I gotta tone it down a bit.

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Day 18
I needed a new look, and yeap, it’s true what they say about the liquid diet – it works. 10 straight days of not eating a single thing … well I lied, I ate SOME fruit each day, but I was mainly on that fuel potion.

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If you have questions, drop a comment below or tweet me @input_output_7 and @x_nekochu_x.

– Artie

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Posted by on April 30th, 2015

Last week’s blog focused on our new skydome, which allows our artists to really push stylization with shape and color exploration. @NKDenthorn did a stellar job programming in the skydome feature because I, @TheCamboRambo, was able to pull off some slick color combinations for the environment and I am no artist. Really… check out my sweet “Seed” concept art if you think I am kidding.

Now that we have this feature, what’s next? More biomes of course! If you have been playing TUG since the old terrain generation tech, you’ll notice that there are a few biomes missing in our current build. The good news is that [email protected]_output_7 and @x_nekochu_x is working hard to get them all back in. They were temporarily removed because it required some rework for the new terrain generation tech.

Warning! The updated biomes will break game your games saves once we have it in. We tried our best to avoid this but the biome generation code has changed significantly.

With this new update we have reworked our generation system.  While a lot of these biomes will look familiar and others are being brought back from some of our older generations, the big change you will see is biomes of proper size! Gone are the tiny deserts or the smattering of trees from one biome in the middle of the other.  You will see vast plains, large arid sands and polar regions tucked away in the mountains.

This update also gives us much better control over the restrictions of biome regions.  What this means is that we are able to control which biome occurs next to another.  So no more snowy mounds in the middle of a desert!  Unless that’s your thing…

Finally one more little addition that will come out of this update is a one to one for material gathering.  We’re opening up the floodgates and now when you dig a particular rock pattern, you can expect to get resources of that rock to place back into the world.  There will still be cobblestone and other unique patterns but now you’ll be able to build with the cliff rocks and granite that has previously been unavailable in survival mode.

Now feast your eyes on some biomes!

Check out our latest ‘In The Works’ video of the new skydome tech and art revamp tease. The art update is still very early but we are moving towards that direction!

 

Cambo checking out

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