Hey All, this is Flavien. Keith ran into trouble with his computer yesterday ( it's having difficulties booting up apparently ) so I'll be in charge of this weekly update.
Keith has been making good progress on the new Vulkan renderer and abstractions. He can almost render a.. triangle. No kidding. Interestingly, to be able to render just a single triangle in Vulkan requires pretty much all systems to be functional, so although it might not look like it, it's a huge step forward ! We still have to experiment with shaders though.
If you remember the thread about Vulkan versus DirectX12 on our forums a few months ago, we had expressed some doubts about the built-in Vulkan shader compiler, as it doesn't seem to perform any advanced shader code optmization. Now that the fundation is there, we will soon be able to figure that out and determine whether shader performance is acceptable or not. If it's not, we can still 1) wait for the compiler to mature ( which hopefully should happen by the time the game is released ) or 2) later on, switch to DirectX 12 while maintening a fall back on to DirectX 11 for Windows 7+.
Interceptor landed on planet ( render )
On my side, I'm working on our new entity-component system ( ECS ) and refactoring the client / server ( including networking improvements ). It's taking a while, but that was expected. ECS will allow us to utilize more agressive multithreading including for gameplay logic ( in the current build, gameplay logic is single threaded with a couple of independent systems such as sounds, networking or physics running in separate threads ).
The client / server refactoring is also a very important step because it allows us to introduce some major concepts for the future game, such as a form of database persistency ( if the server crashes, we don't want players to lose their progression and the state of the match / battles that were running ) or a replay feature ( still experimental, so I can't promise it for the final game, but that's definitely something we want to do ), and even the basics of modding ( through C/C++/C# custom DLLs ). So as you can imagine, this new version is a major milestone in the project, and will also introduce a bunch of new gameplay concepts ( such as team-based gameplay/spawning, credits, etc.. ).
There's currently no ETA for that new version, but I can safely say it won't happen until next year. Meanwhile, we're still going to release a bunch of content patchs for the current build with art assets improvements or experiments ( like for the interceptor cockpit's bar, which according to a poll on our forums, most people would like to see removed.. ).
Corvette final geometry pass ( render )
On the art side, I'm happy to report that the geometry phase for all 3 "small" ships ( interceptor, bomber and corvette ) is coming to an end. It's still not 100% finished but it's getting close to. Kristian is finishing up the bomber, but still has to rework the landing gears which we found a bit frail for such a bulky ship, and adding some minute details. Jan's detailed the corvette and added various details on the plating and thrusters. Since we haven't posted a real-time preview model yet, it's a good occasion to let you review the Sketchfab model here:
Dan has moved on to working on.. space station windows. They're very important because they're the #1 best way to give a sense of scale to things in space. So we're trying to make the windows as varied as possible to avoid patterns, and include some additional man-scale details here & there, like docking doors. We're planning on making the windows layout unique per station, so even if two stations are reusing the same modules, they'll still look slightly different with their windows on.
Also note that next week, Keith is relocating to a new place and might or might not have Internet access, so I might be in charge of the next weekly update too See you next week,