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 April 23rd, 2015

Good afternoon everyone! @Cambo here to give you a quick brief on what’s happening in the studio.

The last patch focused primarily on adding content and on-going tech progress. We added magic spells, critter taming and breeding, and a nifty shield for blocking. However, we had to switch gears these past few weeks to focus on the big tech stuff so don’t expect much content for the next patch. Our artists are still slamming away creating assets but they won’t be in until we have the systems ready.

Oh yea, we had a group of students from RL Turner High School AMAT program visit us this week for a field trip. A few of our team gave them a presentation on the realities of working in a game studio. I wish we had this type of field trip back in my day. Instead, all I got was a trip to the rock museum *no offense to geologist*.

So whats in the haps? The dedicated server is progressing. We are also revamping our creative mode user interface to make it more user friendly with item filters and utilizing CEGUI. We started our modular tool system which will allow you to mix and match resources for crafting tools. There’s been a lot of progress on the terrain tech and hopefully we can bring back the older biomes in the next few iterations.

Today, I have an early look of our revamped SkyBox that @NKDenthorn is working on. It’s something some gamers might not appreciate. Just imagine playing Skyrim with static clouds that never move or change forms. You may as well just run around looking at your feet.

Our current SkyBox is rendering a static cloud image, placed on a moving plane above you. This gives you the illusion that the clouds are moving but the clouds are flat. The moving plane helps with the immersion but will look warped when you look at a distance.  This perspective issue is more noticeable when you are looking into the horizon.

 

 

 

 

Our revamped SkyBox now has generated clouds, a moon, and a sun that revolves around the player on a hemisphere. Possibly even planets too, yea? This will help with your perspective when you are looking into the distance. The best part is that our artists are able to customize pretty much anything in the sky.This will allow them to have creative freedom for the environment and fine tune things on the fly.

Disclaimer: @NKDenthorn wants to let you know he is no artist so forgive him for these poor examples.

@NKDenthorn will write a future tech blog once we get closer to releasing the new SkyBox.

The past few weeks have been extremely busy for me, so I did not have a chance to bring out some new “In The Works” footage for everyone.

Cheers!

Cambo Out~

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Posted by on March 12th, 2015

Hello!

Cambo here and it’s time for a little fun after the past few busy weeks. We are super happy to finally get an update to you guys yesterday and hope you had the chance to try it. Don’t forget to let us know what you think through our forum and social media.

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Now onto the fun stuff, I want to introduce everyone to Johny. He is a long time modder and caught our attention when he started creating mods for TUG. We were blown away with the work he was doing so we asked him to join us.

 


 

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What games have you modded in the past?

I have modded few games before, first one was Open Tibia Server it was really popular back then, ran on almost any PC and used Lua for scripting, making it easy to learn. The only problem was that there was no way to modify the client and playing using the official client wasn’t exactly legal.

Later on I was tweaking Diablo 2 mods, adding custom recipes and increasing the level cap.

Then I was modding Minecraft for a good while, the modding options are limitless, making almost everything possible. I have made my own dimension, tool, machine and something really cool. Link Blocks that extended any block they were attached to, providing access to inventory and liquids in that block.

I have also tried to make my own game, few times to be honest, but I couldn’t make good looking models and textures. Working on my own made it really hard to work on and test things at the same time. It was a very good experience regardless.

How long have you been in the modding scene and why do you do it?

I have started back in 2007, school was boring and games were limited. I wanted to make my own game, obviously back then I couldn’t program but I could learn how to mod. Once I have started to mod games, I kept coming back to it. I like making things work the way I want them to.

What mods have you done for TUG so far?

I have started with Conveyor Belts, but it quickly turned into Steam Power mod, with help from Sigil, we were able to get stuff to work and look good. It includes things like Item Elevator and custom crafting systems. For instance, casting and in-game constructions using Frame.

Since I like to keep compatibility with other mods I’m also working on the CommonLib which provides all of the systems and hooks (core changes).

How’s the overall experience been so far in modding TUG?

Really good, the thing about TUG is that the whole core of the game could be replaced, which is extremely important for modding, and it also means that all of the content you can see in the game is just a mod.

What are some of the things you are looking forward to mod in TUG?

I’m looking forward to mod a lot of things, I will definitely want to mod the world gen, inventory interactions and NPCs.

What is your experience working with the team since joining Nerd Kingdom? (We already know we’re cool, thank you very much!)

Working? huh? I’m just officially modding the game 🙂 and I really enjoy it.

A fight between a steampunk Bruce Lee and cyborg Chuck Norris, who will win? What kind of special attacks would be used? Please make a mod for this, haha!

Hmm… steampunk Bruce Lee and cyborg Chuck Norris, they would fight indefinitely and all of the attacks would be special attacks.

 


 

I guess we can assume Bruce Lee with a monocle using nunchucks infused with steam is a safe bet. Let’s not forget Chuck Norris dangerous round house kicks launching missiles from his toes. Yup, an endless battle indeed!

You can check out Johny & Sigil’s Steam power mod thread here http://forum.nerdkingdom.com/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=1626

Got questions about modding or general ideas? Hit up @JohnyCilohokla

 

Until next time, @Cambo Out!

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Posted by on February 19th, 2015

Hey guys, Cambo here!

This week we continued working on slings, storage, planning (tons of it), and future tech stuff. I can’t say much about planning and tech, since that’s still in the works, but we released a video for the slings and storage yesterday which you can check out below. You can now be David and take down Goliath (a goat) with a sling!

 

 

 

No inside scoops today and I know you’re sad but I’ll make it up next time. Our programming dudes are hard at work coding away, while our artists are creating beautiful art assets for future content. The last thing I wanted to do was cause havoc by poking around and distracting them. Alright, you caught me, as that’s the first thing I would do and enjoy it!

I was organizing some of my files today (super fun) and came across some real old screenshots during our pre-alpha stages. It still amazes me how far we have come and can’t wait until we reach the stars. Our tech and art style changed a lot since then but we have a lot planned for those. We will write more regarding the terrain tech and art style once we get closer.

In the meantime, enjoy some of these old screenshots:

 

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Super duper early stuff here, so early you probably think it’s minecraft!

 

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Before our cave system was implemented in the prior terrain generation tech

 

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Trenches and Cave systems implemented in biomes

 

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Seeds started with a glove back then, but we have plans for something similar down the road

 

 

Check out Azzy’s Development history trailer up to our Steam release (P.S you should update this man!)

 

Leave us a comment or tweet us on what inside scoop blog you are interested in reading about!

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Posted by on June 19th, 2014

Imagine the world frozen in a great crystalline winter. Every animal stilled midmovement, every leaf perfectly preserved, even the wind has been captured by this eerie stillness.

This is the world presented to a visual effects (VFX or simply, FX) artist with the vague mandate “fix it”. But where do you start?

FX should usually be one of two things:

  • obviously out of place

  • subtly blended with the world

Obvious FX are things like fire, spells, scifi beams, explosions; effects that are big, flashy, and “cool”. They are extremely fun to make and very easy to get feedback on because they either work or they don’t. End of story.

Subtle FX are ones that fit within the environment around the player & are most noticeable by their absence. For me, environmental FX are the most satisfying- even if they usually go unremarked. There’s a moment when the scene clicks and suddenly you know it’s time to move on to the next biome.

Since TUG is procedurally generated, the FX I make have to work anywhere. In past games, I might be able to set up an FX for specific angles, or distances. A far off waterfall could be done cheaply PC performance-wise in a game that limits the player’s movable area. In TUG that same effect needs to look as good up close as it does from far away while, but also be able to allow for a randomly generated number of them to appear in the same scene. Usually this works. Sometimes you get synchronized leaf drifting.

Oops.

For the most part, FX in TUG are tied to objects – they come from a fixed source. Glowing spore softly drift from little mushrooms, will’o’wisps dance around the the deadly trap lures, leaves drop from their respective trees. But what about the more extreme biomes that can’t support lush plantlife?

We rely upon the wind. By creating small dummy objects with a transparent texture to attach the FX to, we can populate a biome with a cohesive effect that appears to come from everywhere and nowhere as once – just like a gusting wind blowing sand across the desert, snow eddies striking up suddenly in the mountains, or hazy fog drifting in the swamplands.

Nerd Kingdom is building our own engine and this brings with it some unique challenges. Every effect made so far is temporary. As our tech improves or is changed then so are the FX. I’ve already lost count of the number of times I’ve redone the wisp or fires as updates have come down the pipeline. Our engine is still very young compared to other games out there, which means there’s a lot of room for us to grow- especially in the FX department.

It’s exciting to think about what we can add next to improve how our game looks and feels. As more content gets added and new player mechanics come online, the variety & need for more effects ramps up too- turning TUG into an increasingly vibrant and living world for you to explore.

Jessica Nida (aka geekthumb) is the Senior Artist & FX Lead for Nerd Kingdom. She likes art, games, and making things explode in a ridiculous manner. When she’s not practicing aeromancy in TUG, she’s designing boardgames in her spare time or cooking enough food to feed a small army. She’s recently started kayaking in the hope of spotting the Lake Dallas Leviathan, which she did not totally just make up.

 

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