Hey everybody time for another weekly update. This week I'm going to start with the art update because I'm going to spend a lot of time discussing some of the engineering stuff we're doing. The art team is beginning to wrap up the final geometry pass for the interceptor, bomber, corvette, and large station pieces. This week's screen shots show off the latest progress for the bomber and corvette respectively.
Final geometry for the bomber exterior is almost finished
Unfortunately we haven't been able to release our new pledge upgrade system yet because the legal review of the new Terms of Service isn't done. This week is a major holiday here in the U.S. which is likely slowing things down for our attorney but the review will hopefully be completed soon. We'll make an announcement once the pledge upgrade system is available.
Some sexy bomber butt
For those of you who've been with us for a while you may recall that Flavien originally started building our technology around 2004/2005. That's a long time ago and it was just before dual core CPU's became a thing. What this means is that our game engine was originally designed around being single-threaded. Over the intervening years between then and now we've optimized specific portions of the engine for modern multi-core CPU's however this was done with the knowledge that at some point we'd have to bite the bullet and upgrade the rest of it. With our goal of supporting 200 players in massive space battles that bill has now come due.
The final geometry for the corvette exterior is also nearly complete
To that end we actually began this process over the summer when we upgraded our physics engine to be multi-threaded. Unfortunately that still leaves entity/actor/scene updates and rendering. Coincidentally both of these are being upgraded at the same time, right now, because of dependencies in the networking code that Flavien is writing and the new UI system that I've started writing.
Top shot of the corvette
Flavien is nearly finished with his new entity/actor/scene code and will soon be getting back to the remainder of the networking improvements. This includes client-side prediction (hides latency) and a challenging problem with server-side collision detection against planet terrain that recently popped up. I'm writing our new UI system using an experimental implementation of the new Vulkan graphics API which is designed around multi-threading. Once the UI system gets far enough along that I'm confident in its new rendering abstractions I'll replace Vulkan with D3D11 to finish it.
The corvette underside
This means for the Alpha the game will have 2 rendering systems. The bad old single-threaded renderer which will draw most of the game and the brand new multi-threaded renderer that will draw the UI. Only D3D11 will be supported at launch so the experimental Vulkan implementation will just hang out until we have time to finish it once the game ships to retail. After the Alpha gets released we'll begin iteratively moving the rest of the game over to the new rendering system so we can make maximum use of all of your CPU cores. We expect that by the time that all of this is done we'll have about 1 - 1.5 months left to implement the majority of the gameplay for the Alpha. Needless to say the release of the Alpha is going to come in hard and fast, it probably won't be pretty, but if you've been following these updates with any regularity that shouldn't come as a surprise.
That's it for this week and for those of you in the U.S. enjoy your Thanksgiving!