2014 Retrospective

published 13 Jan 2015

TL;DR

2014 was a pretty cool year.

What Did I Do In 2014?

In my last retrospective I had just completed removing the Lua API and had high hopes for being on greenlight within the year, obviously this was hopelessly optimistic (let’s face it, you’re not qualified to be a programmer if you can estimate timetables). Despite this failing to happen 2014 wasn’t a disappointing year - quite the opposite! Epimetheus has reached the stage where I feel like it’s a solid engine and I can spend most of my time doing game development instead of engine development, in theory I should be able to very quickly make new and simple gamemodes now.

Japan

The big event of 2014 was, of course, my three and a half week trip to Japan! I took something like 2000 pictures and put together an album here.

Changelogs

The biggest change to how I do development in 2014 was my changelog videos - a quick video update released every week on Sunday telling people about “what’s new and what’s changed in the game”. I’ve skipped over a few of these on weeks when my work wasn’t particularly easy to demo, and I’ve managed to do 24 in total (roughly one every two weeks). What I haven’t done with the changelogs yet is advertise them to try and get a decent number of viewers, this is something I should really start doing once I restart the videos (this week or next week).

Open Source

I continue to be a massive fan of open source and release a lot of my code publicly (MIT License FTW). This year I have made some pretty cool contributions to open source, all of which are available on github.

New Open Source Projects

WebDesktop
  • A project to render a webpage over your desktop - desktop widgets using a web stack!
  • Not currently actively developed, but it pretty much works and I’d like to do more work on it sometime.
SupersonicSound
  • A very lightweight C# wrapper for FMOD
  • Largely complete, actively developed.
Bastet
  • A CoAP/HTTP Proxy server for smart home devices
  • Not currently actively developed, we’re working on other smart home stuff at the moment but Bastet is very core to the whole thing.
LCARS
  • A CSS framework for Start Trek style LCARS interfaces
  • Not actively developed, works for a few basic demo interfaces.
  • This project was just for fun and was a good way to learn various web things (Typescript, LESS, node, HTML5 custom elements).
Sorcery
  • A library for evaluating Combinator Algebras in C#.
  • This one was just for fun, I might pick it back up or I might not.
KeybaseFSharp
  • An F# wrapper around the Keybase API.
  • Also a WPF desktop client for Keybase.
  • This project was a way to learn about F#, and then became a way to learn about WPF. Not being developed right now, but I continue to think Keybase is totally awesome and I’ll probably pick this back up at some point.
Cassowary.net
  • An incremental constraint solver.
  • This is a fork of Cassowary.net which was a port from Java, which was itself a port from Smalltalk and to be honest… you could tell - the code was not C# style at all!
  • Improved code quality, implemented unit testing, implemented a new way to express constraints (using C# expression trees), created a nuget package.
  • This project is largely complete and so does not have any recent commits but it is in use by my city generation so it’s alive and well maintained.
SharpSteer2
  • This is a fork of SharpSteer2, which was a fork of SharpSteer, which was a port of OpenSteer from C++ to C# for a much older version of C#. As with Cassowary.net the code was functional but wasn’t properly up to the standards of modern C#.
  • Unit testing, naming conventions, removed dead and useless code, improved usability with extension methods on interfaces which make implementing the interface much easier, bugfixes and new features!
  • As with Cassowary.net my work on this project is more or less done but the project is in active use by my AI and is well maintained.
PlaceholderHomepage
  • I made a homepage for my game. It’s a bit out of date now, I guess I should fix that!
Epimetheus-Public
  • This is a repository for all the public facing parts of Epimetheus (my game engine) - bug reports and documentation for plugin development.
NockFSharp
  • A basic implementation of Nock in F#.
  • This was just a learning exercise for F#, as well as an attempt to get my head around Nock (which is part of Urbit, which is bizarre and awesome).

Game Development

My job is game development, so what did I do with that this year? My primary focus is the Epimetheus Engine, my custom game engine. This is supported by Placeholder.*, a (closed source) set of libraries for various game related things (advanced entity management, networking, game audio, AI etc). Finally the whole thing is based on my open source game library Myre. I quickly skimmed the commit notes for the entire of last for for these three core projects and this is the mile high view of what I did (I’m not really mentioning bugfixes in this list, so just mentally drop a couple of hundred bugfixes for each project into this list).

Epimetheus

240 commits
5,840 files changed
12,385 lines written
41,130 lines changed

  • Implemented animation system for plugins (enables playing animation clips on models)
  • Typednames change
  • gbuffer shader in plugin
  • Steamworks.net
  • Plugin networking (arbitrary types in messages)
  • Plugin entry point
  • Plugin persistent settings
  • Improved respawning
  • Improved tool wielding
  • physics detector volumes
  • RequireJS UI (massive UI moddability improvement)
  • Plugin loading events ( etc)
  • Lots of wrestling with appdomain plugin system
  • Myre Events across boundaries
  • Network Pipe messages across boundaries
  • GC collecting too early
  • GC never collecting (memory leak!)
  • Many UI rendering improvements
  • Improved parallelism of world generator
  • Improved how the generator chooses which nodes to procedurally generate next
  • Massively improved world parallelism service with buffering of geometry operations (50x speedup)
  • Sped up procedural mesh generation (x2 speedup)
  • Implemented a system for 2D procedural geometry (using CSG)
  • Improved lighting
  • Improved physics body scripting
  • Added new physics shapes
  • In world user interfaces (using awesomium)
  • Improved input system (stackable contexts)
  • Implemented way to “use” items in the world (pressing E)
  • Mouse input to in world UIs
  • Exposed broadphase queries to plugins (hugely improves detector volumes)
  • Implemented collision groups
  • Physics constraints/joints/motors/limits
  • Split out UI rendering in rendering pipeline (future UI post processing)
  • Implemented a way to query the renderer about lighting conditions in a certain position
  • Scriptable rendering pipeline
  • Per camera pipeline (means per camera FX, enables e.g. night vision goggles)
  • Implemented crouching (seriously)
  • Implemented queries on the state of the character (e.g. HasSupport/HasTraction queries)
  • Totally rewritten chunking service
  • Implemented a streaming service to go alongisde the new chunking service
  • Implemented positional errors in world generator
  • Implemented navmesh generation
  • Goal oriented action planning exposed in plugins
  • Implemented a basic NPC entirely in plugins
  • Implemented infrastructure for pathfinding
  • Sped up ReST API
  • Implemented immediate mode debugging service
  • String pulling to generate smooth paths
  • Improved 2D geometry generation
  • Implemented train level using improved floorplan/2D geometry generation
  • Removed subtracting from the world is procedural scripts (:O)
  • Implemented weapon quick switching
  • Implemented player inventories
  • Implemented ragdolls (not entirely successfully)
  • Future proofed all event types
  • Implemented hitpoints
  • Implemented 3D audio playback for entities
  • Implemented a way to play sourceless sounds at arbitrary points in 3D space
  • Implemented a new system for defining entities (mixins)
  • Rewritten GOAP AiActions to be easier to use
  • Added more capabilities to debug drawing service
  • Implemented a system for NPCs to use tools (e.g. guns)
  • Removed sandboxing (OMG)
  • Vastly improved plugin API
  • Removed a load of hacky types to work around how sandboxing worked
  • Vast performance improvements
  • No more memory leaks
  • No more game crashing when GC collected a vital object on the wrong side of the sandbox
  • Implemented an aimbot NPC
  • Improved pathfinding so that queries are cancellable
  • Implemented a score tracking service
  • Enabled steam overlay in game

Myre

103 commits
780 files changed
Line count statistics unavailable (they’re thrown off by moving lots of files around)

  • Implemented animation in the renderer
  • Implemented animation clip loading in the content pipeline
  • Implemented parallel evaluation of animation channels
  • Rewritten data collections to be more strongly typed (TypedName)
  • Changed EVERYTHING to use TypedName
  • Rebuilt nuget packages for Myre
  • Animation bugfixes
  • Made property initialisation more implicit
  • Made property initialisation less implicit
  • Improved renderer pipeline infrastructure
  • Made point and sun lights (de)activatable
  • Fixed depth test in particle system
  • Fixed material content loading
  • Improved spotlights (angular falloff)
  • Improved shadow mapping in directional light
  • Implemented Vector3 swizzling methods
  • Dropped support for xbox360
  • Improved animation system to allocate less memory
  • Implemented infrastructure for procedural animation clip generation (needed for e.g. ragdolls)
  • Implemented parallel evaluation of animation instances
  • Improved linear keyframe reduction in content pipeline
  • Dropped support for windows phone 7
  • Implemented collection initializers for named box collection
  • Implemented Writer for console

Placeholder

125 commits
3,103 files changes
9,029 lines added
46,218 lines changed

  • Implemented system for improved thread safety for steam
  • Switched to Steamworks.net from my own steamworks wrapper (HotAndSteamy)
  • Implemented logical assertions for GOAP (AND OR NOT XOR)
  • Implemented network translators for a load of types
  • Improved CSG system (error handling)
  • Made BSP transforms more robust
  • Implemented 8 way BSP splitting
  • Implemented navmesh generation (Recast based)
  • Implemented funnel narrowing path generation
  • Modified navmesh generation to check ceiling heights
  • Expression based GOAP condition/goal system
  • Improved agent plan selection
  • Improved behaviour tree
  • Implemented navmesh raycasting
  • Implemented new nodes for behaviour tree (Condition, Setup)
  • Implemented rich presence providers
  • Made CSG operations entirely deterministic
  • Implemented ADSR amplitude envelopes for audio renderer
  • Implemented variable length floating point encoding
  • Implemented a jukebox system to play music (based on XNA MediaPlayer)
  • Removed Jukebox (XNA MediaPlayer is terrible)
  • Implemented system for playing sounds at a position (with no associated emitter entity)
  • Improved expression based GOAP system
  • Implemented cancelling pathfinding tasks
  • Begun works on Audio2, a new audio renderer based on FMOD

Plugins

I haven’t got detailed changelogs for these (there are too many) but I have done a lot of development of plugins too. A lot of functionality is tied up in these plugins and they’re a significant part of development. Remember, every plugin I develop is open source, and you can find them all on Bitbucket.

Deathmatch Gamemode

Testing moving, shooting, NPCs etc.

Base-ArtificialIntelligence

Library for building NPCs for Epimetheus.

Electronic-Infrastructure

Library for building circuitry in game (e.g. wiring up logic for controlling automatic doors).

Construct Gamemode

A sandbox test mode.

City1

A set of scripts for the procedural city generator.

Character-Controllers

Library for building player controlled characters for Epimetheus.

Base-Equipment

Library for building wieldable tools for Epimetheus (e.g. guns).

Base-GameUI

A HTML template along with a load of Javascript plugins for constructing UIs (mainly HUDs).

Base-Sneaky

Library for implementing sneaky things (stealth, detection, disguises etc).

Default-Shaders

A set of shaders for the engine (including fundamental things like the GBuffer shader - you can completely change how the renderer works by replacing these).

Base-TrainGeneration

A set of scripts for generating trains. Trains are compact and have lots of little rooms and narrow corridors so this was a great test for the procedural city generator.

Base-CityGeneration

A library for implementing procedural generation scripts.

Base-Achievement

Library for tracking hierarchies of goals.

Things I enjoyed

It turns out that I have spare time to do things that aren’t game development (I know, was surprised too). These are some of the things I enjoyed this year:

That Was Longer Than I Expected

Turns out 2014 was a busy year! let’s hope just as much exciting stuff happens in 2015 (Heist released on greenlight? Could it be!?).

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