Hey everybody! We’re all gonna get laid …off :(

Towards the start of November you may recall reading something about THQ cutting back on their “core gamer” games and cancelling some of their higher risk unannounced titles. One of said titles was the one I was working on, and as a result I was made redundant :(

This came as a massive blow to me and it took ages for it to really settle in that I wouldn’t be working at Juice again, with a team I really enjoyed working with and on a project I had put a lot of hard work into. Since then though I have been sending out CVs, doing interviews and trying to get another job in the games industry.

During this time I have been to some really fantastic studios and seen some awesome projects (that needless to say I can’t tell you anything about) and I have managed to land a great job at a Liverpool based studio that I won’t name directly …for now ;)

I am really excited about starting at a new place and thankfully even a few guys from the team at Juice have also got places there.

Lastly, one of the very few good things about getting laid off is that it means I have a bit of spare time on my hands before starting at a new studio in which I plan to get as much coding done as I possibly can. Hopefully I will be able to catch up on some of the cool new(ish) things that I see hobbiests working on and get green with envy …so might even have some screenshots or vids to post if things go well 8)

Regards,
Richard

Pori nirumpa yamuta

One of the most disheartening things I found about working in the games industry is that when I came back from work each day, my desire to fire up Visual Studio and just sit working on stuff through the night, like I used to, had gone. I was assured from speaking to others that the flame of graphics programming would return but I was sceptical. Work was satisfying my programming needs (and still is …it is great 8) ) so any coding at home was very infrequent and lacked direction … BUT LOCK UP YOUR POLYGONS, I HAVE RETURNED!! :D

Aaaaaaaaages ago now I was working on a nice little .smd loader (decompiled HL2 models) and it went pretty well. However recently I returned to the project and looked in my steam folder …there were LOADS of models for me to play around with, but there was no way I was going to decompile all those (and the MDLDecompiler is temperamental). I also had a new goal…

Just before starting in the games industry, I’d been meaning to play with inverse kinematics (don’t get your hopes up though, I am not about to show some IK related stuff …at least not yet ;) ). So this was my new goal and to accomplish this I needed some data. Since I’d already been looking at HL2 models (and I really quite like Valve’s artwork) the choice was straightforward. I’d load the binary stuff, the .mdl!

C# and SlimDX being my usual weapons of choice, I got stuck right in. It proved challenging but very rewarding (my favourite kind of coding) and when I got my first combine guy rendering correctly I was very happy. Then I tried loading Alyx …and things messed up :(

I was greeted with a rather nasty mess of triangles, giving very little relation to how she should look. But annoyingly the lower levels of detail rendered perfectly. I spent ages trying to work out what was going wrong before coming across the ‘Fixups’ chunk in the .vvd file. With the fixups applied, Alyx was complete! …and since then any .mdl I fire at my loader (even stuff from the orange box) has been fine. The next problem though was materials.

For the same reason that I didn’t want to convert all the .mdl files to .smd, I really didn’t want to have to go through all the .vtf and make them .dds. So I recently started into a vtf loader too. It is still quite hacky, only supporting the key formats, but it is usable and will only get better as I put more effort into the material system, but the key thing is, it is just about ready for screenshot time!! :D

PoliceAlyx
Marcus FenixNomad

Don’t be fooled by the appearance of Nomad and Marcus Fenix in the screenies 8) They are still HL2 models which I found on the Garry’s Mod site. I also need to finish off loading the animation stuff, but the good thing is that the .mdl contains all the batches in nice ‘vertex shader skinning’ sizes, so it will be a breeze :)

Also, observant readers may notice all models are flipped horizontally (Marcus Fenix has a scar on his right cheek, not his left) …I need to fix this ;)

Regards,
Richard

Captain T-Pose and his Flying Dare Devils!

Captain T-Pose

Crysis was great :D

I am Sinistar! I hunger, coward!

I decided to splash out and get myself a brand new PC 8)

My digital camera has decided it no longer likes switching on, so I’ll have to make do with stock photos :(

SP35P2

It is a Shuttle SP35P2 Pro with an Intel Q6600, 4GB RAM, 8800GT 512MB running Vista Ultimate 64-Bit :D

I’m aware this isn’t quite cutting edge, but for the size of the machine and the amount of noise it produces, I don’t think I could have done much better as it is incredibly quiet, even under strain. I also completely blew any sense of budget I had buying this, so will probably have to survive on bread and water for a couple of months, but it is worth it ;)

The build process was reasonably painless. Only issue was caused by the RAM, but changing the voltage up to 2.1 seems to have fixed that. Before I had changed the voltage however, it was causing Vista to crash a lot during install, and especially around the account creation part. I’d create an account, it would crash, then upon restart it would ask me to create an account again even though the last one was there. This resulted in me creating 7 user accounts, each one with progressively unfriendly usernames :D

To give an idea of how noticeable the difference in speed is compared to my last machine, I was running an AMD Sempron 2800+ with 1GB RAM, which was just about capable of playing HL2. So I have a huge backlog of PC games I need to play now and first stop is Crysis :D

…and maybe a few stops later I’ll install Visual Studio or something and have a play around with D3D10 …I’m in no rush though ;)

All the best,
Richard

AWOL

I haven’t updated this in ages but it has been for a very good reason. At the end of August I started my first job in the games industry. This is of course a dream come true for me and I am finding it a lot of fun so far. Not entirely sure I will say where I am working just yet, but I did have to pack my bags and move to England to do so (which is proving interesting) ;)

The apartment I am in doesn’t have a telephone line so I am without internet. This has given me the opportunity to catch up on some good old fashioned gaming in my free time though. I have just finished Twilight Princess and am I currently playing BioShock on the 360 and God of War 2 :)

As for personal coding projects, I have gotten a fair few messages through YouTube and GDNet about people wanting to know when ViLiMaK (Managed Physics Library) will be coming out …the short answer is, I am not sure. I haven’t worked on it for a few weeks now but I do definitely want to finish the port and start adding cool new things to it. Whether I will be allowed to do this I am unsure, and worst case scenario is I pass the library off to a friend of mine who will hopefully be able to make it into what I had hoped it would be (which is “freakin amazing”) :D

I did do a little bit of code over the weekend though and wrote the basics of an SMD loader (decompiled HL2 models). I still need to get the animation working etc. but the format is pretty straightforward so I should have it going soon enough.

Combine Soldier SMD

Regards,
Richard

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