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Onyx Downloads Available Again
Posted 2007.05.08 07:05pm by Aaron
This news item is 2724 days old.

The Onyx downloads have been down for a few days because of server instabilities. As of right now the direct downloads are back up and running.

Now just to make the game not suck.

(0 Comments)

Jimmy's World, God, libN2L-4, n2l5, Life2130, orange, Orange (Again) and Onyx.
Posted 2007.03.29 01:17am by Aaron
This news item is 2765 days old.

Is that all? This post is amazingly overdue so I'm going to try to cover everything as quickly as I possibly can. One thing at a time, so here we go:

Jimmy's World


Jimmy's World isn't actually dead. It looks dead, and it acts dead... and if one was to measure usefulness, or recentness, or value it would seem dead. It isn't. Trust me. Jimmy's World suffers from misfire problems. I've started at least 30 articles and written several pages only to realize I have neither the time nor the inclination to do the research necessary to cover the ground I wish to cover with the credibility that I feel I need to have. That is, I run the site like kindergartner but demand the accuracy of a university thesis. This results, somewhat predictably, in nothing ever being finished and published.

I have no solution for this. I state it only for the limited value of acknowledging it. Solutions are in the works, but, well, don't hold your breath.

Religion dot jimmysworld.org

I have no idea where to find the time to work on this project, but it has the potential to piss off too many people for me to just let it go. See Jimmy's World above for where this site sits. Not dead, just in carbon freeze.

The Unfortunately Esoteric Tale of libN2L-4, n2l5

LibN2L-4 is the backbone of Onyx and is a beautiful mess of poorly thought out dependencies, inappropriately categorized functionality, needlessly verbose code and really, really cool stuff. LibN2L-4 gave birth to DynVars, the ResourceManager and countless other really awesome chunks of code that I am going to labour very hard to finally give legs to. Enter n2l5.

The revised name, n2l5, is a symbol of where libN2L is going in the near future. It will be an improved, but smaller and more streamlined version of everything LibN2L-4 meant to do. The prefix 'Lib' is extraneous, the final 'L' of the acronym stands for library. A standing sentinel of duplication which had no business being there to begin with. The dash was syntactical complexity for no perceivable reason, a sign of ideology over reason. The four represents a fourth generation, when we all know that a fifth generation is bound to be better. You see how n2l5 fixes all these horrible mistakes.

In seriousness n2l5 will seek to cut the fat of LibN2L-4 and simplify the syntax while focusing on the functionality that should be in an underlying library. Where does that culled functionality go, you ask?

orange, and Orange

Orange was a codename assigned to a new game meant to occupy the Life2130 universe circa 2060-2100 shortly after the First Solar War as a sort of SimCity in space. The game lives on in a semi-mature design phase, renamed to ... something and Orange moves forward as the engine that will drive the games to come. Orange is the glue that LibN2L-4 inappropriately sought to be.

Designed and developed to simultaneously support Onyx, Onyx: Free Trader, Life2130 and orange (the first iteration): Orange will be the environment which will connect the power of n2l with the assets of already designed games. It will combine function with design.

Life2130

Life2130 is evolving yet again. Yeah, I'm not talking about Life2130 yet.

Onyx

The current codebase was declared dead as of 1:17am March 29 2007. the new codebase was born 1:17am March 29 2007. Onyx is dead, long live Onyx.

While long have I whined about the technical inadequacies of Onyx, particularly the physical and graphical inadequacies, on paper and in implementation Onyx had always been intended to pad my resume with game development goodness. It has totally and completely failed to do so. Now I realize I don't even want a game development job, and irregardless Onyx never fit the bill since as much as I may be proud of everything it was and everything it could do it simply doesn't look formidable enough to be worth anything.

Onyx was a failure and a success. I'm proud of what I accomplished on some levels, but what I accomplished has no externally visible value to speak of. Finally recognizing and fully digesting that fact leaves me with the inescapable conclusion that I need to close the book on Onyx the implementation and decide how I want to tell Onyx the story, if I want to tell its story.

Onyx the story is a story of the years 2108 to 2148 in the Life2130 universe and not 115,762 lines of C++, 71,541 lines of definition files and 850 meg of data. Realizing and accepting that lets me tell the story and divorce myself from the learning experience.

From this moment on Onyx will be restarted in concert with other projects and it will be back better, stronger and more descriptive of the universe it occupies.

And so...

And so JwGames moves forward. To define this turning point one needs to really define Onyx as an experience. How does one define Onyx? Onyx was a painful, bloody and crushing experience. Onyx was a vessel into which was poured the ill-conceived and outdated objectives of an extinct set of childish goals. Onyx became bitterness and cynicism crystallized. Onyx was a horrific, life-adjusting mistake. Onyx was and is a war that occupied 1370+ days, nearly 15% of my life and resulted in failure.

Onyx is an opportunity, and it sure as fuck isn't over yet.

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Onyx -- Not Dead Yet
Posted 2006.11.14 08:16pm by Aaron
This news item is 2899 days old.

Wow. Onyx. It's been a really, really long time since I've posted anything. Long time and long overdue.

I wasn't going to, but I've decided to get back to work on Onyx 'full time' as much as a side project can be full time. I'm in the middle of some unrelated work at the moment, but once that's under control I'll get back to doing some more bug fixes and making some new maps. The biggest thing I'd like to actually get working is the first campaign. It was disappointing to do the earlier releases without any plot at all.

I'll try to get something up before the end of the month, but to be honest that doesn't seem likely. Most likely I'll look at getting a fairly full new release out before Christmas. I'll send an email out to the old beta testers when something is ready to go, and of course I'll post here as well.

Also, thanks to those who have been supportive and patient through this news black hole.

(0 Comments)

Onyx Normalized
Posted 2006.08.02 11:51pm by Aaron
This news item is 3003 days old.

I've cleaned up the Onyx site to put the proper links on the download page and I've merged the beta pages into the documentation.

For now, that's it.

(3 Comments)

Onyx General Update
Posted 2006.07.24 03:55am by Aaron
This news item is 3013 days old.

Well, it's been a short time, but a lot of things have sort of happened. Among them is a pseudo-decision that I'll add more to Onyx, but not in any serious way. Given that fact I've decided to open the "beta" up to anyone who wants to try things. The beta page is open to anyone who cares. Go nuts. By the way, the beta page has download links on it.

With things opened up feel free to email anyone you think may be interested and send them a copy. The licensing is still a little flaky, but nothing too atrocious I don't think. I'll correct the credits to reflect testers and resource ownership in the near future, but I'm not going to sit on this thing until then.

I'd like to thank the preliminary testers. They did very good work. I do intend to fix most of the bugs mentioned in the semi-near future. I'd also encourage anyone else who pokes at the stupid thing to file more bugs.

Enjoy as much as is possible. This isn't the end, just a beginning of something new. Hopefully the something new won't suck :)

(1 Comments)

General Onyx Comments
Posted 2006.07.24 03:44am by Aaron
This news item is 3013 days old.

This is about as half-assed as I do things, but here we go. There have been a few people asking for a forum to post general comments, so here it is. Add your random comments to this thread. It will be the official, non-official thread for berating Onyx.

Go nuts people. I want insults! I've started Project Orange, and those who offer the best insults will get first dibs on the Project Orange beta when it comes about... hopefully sooner than 3 years from now.

(0 Comments)

Onyx Limited Beta #2 Released
Posted 2006.07.05 01:32am by Aaron
This news item is 3032 days old.

No huge announcement here, just that I've fixed a bunch of the smaller bugs in the first beta and another release is ready to go. Here is a list of the bugs fixed and the download links are now up on the beta page in the same place they were before. Make sure to uninstall the existing version before you install the new release

The next release is likely to take longer since there are some more serious things to fix scheduled.

It's also not clear why, but almost half of the people who signed up to join the beta haven't grabbed it yet. If you've changed your mind you can drop me a line and I'll remove you from the list, otherwise you're going to keep getting update email.

(0 Comments)

Onyx Beta Updates #3
Posted 2006.07.01 07:09am by Aaron
This news item is 3035 days old.

Well, the beta is out to around 30-40% of users and I'm already getting lots of great feedback. Big thanks to everyone submitting bugs. The people involved have so far been pretty much perfect. Technology, however, not so much.

Important Updates

  • I've added a Workarounds page and moved the existing information there. There's also stuff for disabling joystick axis and video information.
  • I'm going to be out of town today in Ottawa celebrating Canada Day (Happy Canada day!) Don't expect super fast turnaround from me until the middle of Sunday afternoon. I'll try to answer urgent questions from time to time.
  • I've fixed the bug tracker to not send out huge unbroken lines of text which cause all sorts of mangling in email clients. Also, anyone not interested in followup information about the bugs they file can use the "Stop Watch" link in the bug, or on the bug list page to unsubscribe from updates.
  • Testers who created accounts but didn't tell me should let me know if they want to be added to the project. I've added some people myself, but I don't recognize everyone. It doesn't matter all that much, but if you want to be listed on the project page and a couple other little things, you have to let me know.
  • Testers can also feel free to send random comments, critiques, etc. directly to me if the tracker doesn't provide an interface that makes sense for what you want to say. Also, my profile page: Aaron has my MSN and ICQ information, feel free to contact me that way.

Other Problems

I made a big deal out of not requiring people to sign up on the site to contribute, and I stand by that, but it has caused an unforeseen problem. Some people have filed bugs with questions and I've answered them, but since they're anonymous they won't get the answer. You still don't have to sign up, but you'll have to go digging through the bugs (also check fixed bugs in the limited release) to find what you'd submitted and look for my response in the notes.

Alternately, after filing a bug testers can click on the "Watch this item" link in the bug header and enter an email address on a case by case basis.

I'd manually send people an email with an answer, but anonymous really means anonymous on Jimmy's World. I have no way to find out who you are. I"ll let each tester decide what they want to do with this situation.

Again, thanks to all the testers. You're doing great work.

(0 Comments)

Quick Onyx Beta Updates #2
Posted 2006.06.30 01:41pm by Aaron
This news item is 3036 days old.
(0 Comments)

Quick Onyx Beta Updates
Posted 2006.06.30 12:04pm by Aaron
This news item is 3036 days old.
  • The bug submission page (http://onyx.jwgames.org/bug.html) apparently didn't work properly in IE, it seems to be fixed now.
  • People with outgoing BitTorrent ports blocked may find their connections strangled, and therefore stuck at some arbitrary percentage. I'm working on fixing it.
  • I've started an IRC channel, on irc.freenode.net called #OnyxBeta for anyone who wants to join.
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"Limited" "Beta" Away!
Posted 2006.06.30 07:38am by Aaron
This news item is 3036 days old.

Only 1099 days after the Onyx site went live, and approximately 917 days after it was supposed to be done, the first horribly castrated and known to not work properly Onyx "beta" is ready to go.

As soon as I get a chump to sanity check the downloads and quicky-test the releases I'll be sending the email out to the testers. Huzza!

Let's see this well-oiled system of an untested tracker distributing untested binaries which people can report bugs about on an untested reporting system protected by an untested security system works. Let the GOOD TIMES ROLL!

I'm so ready to resolve bug 590.

(0 Comments)

Onyx the Short, Short, Short Edition
Posted 2006.06.28 08:12pm by Aaron
This news item is 3038 days old.

So the beta is like a week behind already. I know. I've got some ground to cover, so let's just do it.

  1. I hate Onyx.
  2. I'm stripping out ALL of the story based missions.
  3. I'm stripping out most of the ships.
  4. I'm stripping out all multi-navpoint missions.
  5. There'll be very few Obstacle Courses.
  6. I'm stripping out "Tag".
  7. There are visual artifacts all over the place.
  8. The Race AIs won't shoot at you. Tough.
  9. I hate Onyx.
  10. The limited, limited, short, short, beta will be ready tomorrow. MAYBE the day after.
  11. Downloads will be available on special request, otherwise you'll need bittorrent.
  12. The living bug list for this release is here

Finally, I appreciate all the applications for the beta. Now stop sending them. :) I've got far more people than I'd originally intended, and managing beta members has eaten up WAY more time than I'd expected. By way more I mean way, way more.

(PS: Oh, and to the people who sent me (requests?) in German.... um... no, I think. Either no to the beta, or no, I've no no interest in seeing your sister and your mother doing, things.)

(3 Comments)

Onyx Limited Beta 1
Posted 2006.06.11 05:07pm by Aaron
This news item is 3055 days old.

All right, folks, the countdown is on. In the next 7 to 10 days a limited Onyx beta is going out the door.

There are things that will not work and only some skirmishes, races, obstacle courses and a bit of the first chapter will be included. Many features are not going to be complete and the balancing is going to be terrible. But it'll be playable.

I need Windows and Linux beta testers. Ideally 15 to 30 of each with some overlap.

Required:

  • Patience. There may be some hoops to jump though for some systems. That's the point of the beta so if you're not willing to put minimal energy into helping me isolate bugs then this beta isn't for you.
  • A relatively fast machine. How fast? I have no idea, that's what we're going to find out.
  • At least 512 meg memory. Onyx isn't what one would call 'efficient' at the moment.
  • A fairly fast video card with OpenGL drivers installed. How fast? No idea. It used to work on a GeForce 4MX and probably still does. Both the ATI and Nvidia drivers in Linux work.
  • The willingness to provide feedback in excess of: "Looks good" or "Good work". These are easy to say, easy to hear and have absolutely no value at all to anyone.
  • The ability to not pass the beta along to 'just one friend'. This beta will contain improperly credited if not infringing resources. Nothing particularly egregious, but it won't be acceptable for distribution.

Let's Do This Thing

If you're interested you can leave a comment or, preferably, email me. Including your basic system specifications would be helpful.

It's been years and we're getting close. I hope to hear from lots of people.

(12 Comments)

Onyx Dead Yet? You F-ing Wish.
Posted 2006.02.15 12:26am by Aaron
This news item is 3172 days old.

To those who ask if Onyx is dead I ask you: Am I dead? No. Not yet. So no such luck. Onyx is still alive and twitching.

That's right. We're in the last 10% that takes 90% of the time. Boy, does it ever. The good news is that the game is actually playable, if impossible at the moment. The AI is actually working and puts up a "good" fight in that you won't live for more than a few seconds in some of the skirmish missions.

I just finished writing the spacial orientation systems so that the universe is consistent, and countless loose ends have been tied bringing the game to the brink of a first techdemo release. I've had to prune the storyline to nothing but some skirmish missions for the first release for the sake of getting something out before I die, but there will be a release to a few beta testers soon.

God help me, this game will be given away for free and cost me a mint in bandwidth, or so help me, I'll kill everyone on the planet ... a couple of times.

On that cheery note, here are three new screenshots showing off the racing minigames and a rather pointless view of orbit around one of the staging areas visited early in the game.

We're not done yet. Don't you worry; and to those poor souls that helped get it this far, I will be begging you for more game assets soon. Be afraid.

(0 Comments)

Quicky Onyx Development Update
Posted 2005.04.08 07:10pm by Aaron
This news item is 3484 days old.

Just a quick update on how things are proceeding given the new master plan.

In the Onyx bug tracker I've added two new release targets, v0.25-limited-techdemo "Drunken Desperado" and v0.5-techdemo "Do or Die" and am in the process of sorting bugs from the first chapter release to these targets. For those curious the bug list shows everything with the current target assignment. The easiest way to see the release requirements is to change the 'Release' filter at the bottom of the page.

Basically whats going to happen is most the bugs that I previously outlined plus a bunch of carry-overs that were originally placed in the v0.5 release are moving to v0.25 for a very limited release to a beta group, and then v0.5 to come out shortly after will be released to the public barring any reformatted hard drives courtesy of v0.25. The two releases will be almost identical except that (for lack of a nicer way to say it) v0.25 will be illegal. It will contain placeholder sound effects stolen from other games, possibly license incompatible fonts and the build might not comply with the GPL since the legality of the current cross-build system is a bit (a lot) unknown. Basically I need to sort out what the cross-build requirements are and figure out if I need to do final releases with a Visual Studio build.

The v0.5 and v0.25 releases will be simultaneous for Linux and Win32, but unfortunately there's no sign of the OSX port on the horizon. I simply don't have ready access to a system to build and test on anymore. The Win32 build should work pretty much out of the box but the Linux version will require installing 3rd party packages (for at least v0.25). I'll look into distribution and linking issues briefly for v0.5, but if it becomes too time intensive it won't be happy pappy for that release either.

As for actual progress, there has been quite a bit. I've reworked several of the models required for v0.25 and v0.5 and they're looking good. The code has come a LONG way, even though the actual list of fixed bugs is pretty short. Some of them like 394 and 445 required a gallon of work, and so they represent really big steps forward.

The models have also required a huge amount of prodding to get them into a good state. A couple of the rougher ones have taken a whole night to reduce, clean up and generate hulls for. I don't want to sound picky since all this stuff is free to me but quite a few of the publicly available models are nice to look at, but geometrically speaking are absolute garbage. You know its scary when a model looks IDENTICAL after 40-50% of its faces have been optimized out. I'm still very grateful that they're out there to be used, but good gawd. Sometimes I just want to tear my hair out.

On a really outside topic there are quite a few things left to fix in JWV6 and I most of the time just can't bring myself to work on it. Really, it, jwgames.org, and onyx.jwgames.org NEED to be up and running before I can release even to beta. If they aren't then I'm going to have a nightmare of bug handling on my hands since notifications don't work in JWV5. It's just a huge mountain to climb for something that feels very trivial. I may even skip it for v0.25, but definitely before v0.5 touches the public everything needs to be running and well tested.

On that note I'm going to have to seriously start looking into 3rd party sites to mirror any release. Onyx is getting big enough that even with extended quotas and a VERY poor response to the release I'm going to have serious problems providing the bandwidth required. I'm sure there are a million and one options out there, I just hate to waste time investigating them.

Anyway, this 'quicky' update has turned into a massive complaint-fest so I think I'll wrap it up and say that things are moving ahead nicely again.

(0 Comments)

Onyx Moving Forward
Posted 2005.03.14 08:07pm by Aaron
This news item is 3509 days old.

It has become apparent to me that without some kind of major shift in the development path of Onyx that no reasonable state of completion will ever be reached. Along with this realization I've come to accept that I no longer have much, if any, interest in continuing work on the project. At the same time I absolutely refuse to abandon it until it has been completed. This all implies that there needs to be a major shift in the development path, or I need to get out of the game development business right now, before I waste any more of my or my contributors time.

Abandoning the project isn't acceptable. As a result I'm going to list everything that needs to happen by section to release a tech-demo (maybe generally, perhaps just to beta teams) that will fall short of chapter 1 but will allow asset acquisition to continue.

To make that clear. Once the following list is done, perhaps slightly before, a tech demo WILL be released, horrible assets, incomplete effects and and all.

Here's what's going to happen, by section (careful, it's long):

Story / Game Universe Development:

  1. Race expansion will be frozen, but not curtailed. No new races will be introduced, even if game assets have to be sacrificed. New races may be introduced after chapter 1 has been released.
  2. Ship, weapon, universe and map development will proceed as required without change.

Visuals and Effects:

  1. Ambient debris must be added to allow for player spacial orientation cues.
  2. Explosion tweaking will continue.
  3. Light sources must be definable as point or area sources to improve rendering speed for large numbers of objects.
  4. Better LOD selection for connected objects such as missiles. Basically this requires the ability to disable missile and PD turret rendering entirely for very low LODs.
  5. Localized damage debris from impacts or ambient emissions is required. This is hand-in-hand with generic connectables for locating emission points.
  6. Generic effects may eventually be implemented, but for now a specific effect need be added for ships entering or exiting spacial compression, including action temporaries for disabling controls, disabling collisions and modifying the camera as appropriate.
  7. Jump engines will not be visible anywhere in the initial release.

AI Development:

  1. Basic follow/collide AI required for missile weapons.
  2. Basic formation, attack, strafe, evade and destination seek AI's required for ships.
  3. Basic target selection and tracking AI's required for PD turret weapons.

Triggers:

  1. Arbitrary and relative based location triggering required for mission termination and game events.
  2. Ship type destruction counts, wing destruction counts and faction destruction counts required.
  3. AI Application actions required.
  4. Damage % Triggers required.
  5. Set ship status actions required.
  6. Mission objective alteration actions required.

Game Physics & Mechanics:

  1. Conversion to spacial hashing.
  2. Generic connectables to replace location seeking.
  3. Full collision hull replacements will be created to replace generation from visualization hulls.
  4. Afterburners will be detached from energy consumption and replaced heat based limiting.
  5. NAV point travel needs to be stabilized and brought out of beta, as well as a method for selecting destinations. See: Other.
  6. Capital ship turrets need be added without the ability to be manipulated. First releases will purposefully avoid any scenario where capital ship turrets need be manipulated or fired.
  7. Locational damage application with substructure DU.
  8. Dynamic kinetic energy conversion required for explosive damage to work properly.

Game Assets:

  1. No audio game asset acquisition will take place in this area until the AI is completed. This may not make sense to look at, but there's good reason.
  2. Any untextured models will be immediately mapped with detail textures only. This is the single largest area of compromise. The number of model assets already created, plus the scheduled additional ships AND the addition of more scenery objects is completely imbalanced with the near zero textures being generated. This decision is one that I desperately wanted to avoid, but it has become obvious that no magical solution is forthcoming and an untold number of paths are blocked by the generation of textures. It is very likely that this compromise will render the final project (at least for chapter 1) completely uncompetitive in the market, but.... well, life sucks.
  3. Music asset acquisition will also be frozen pending the completion of basic AI.
  4. Pilot portraits will be disabled (how this will effect pilot creation is unclear without causing incompatibilities between versions) pending basic AI development.
  5. Turret/weapon separation as well as object connection point definitions need to be completed. The union of objects need only be done once for the physical hull and therefore the different objects may be rendered as a part of the same game entity. This is important to limit the scope of change to the turret game object class.

HUD Development:

  1. Generic VDU rendering class needs to exist with the HUD built in such a way that VDU's may be stacked at different appearance locations. HUD elements need to be reconfigurable for different ships, but that isn't required for now. It should be considered. (Colours and fonts and many HUD elements are already configurable)
  2. Status and target status need to be replaced with 2D visualizations.
  3. Missile selection VDU is required.
  4. System damage VDU
  5. Gun grouping MAY be supported if a trivial way to do so is apparent. If not secondary fire will be disabled and all weapons will always be grouped in the primary.
  6. Radar needs to be reconfigured to be much clearer as low gamma screens are virtually impossible to use. This may apply to all HUD elements.
  7. Mission objective VDU required.
  8. HUD sound effects (generic bleeps is fine) need to be added.

Other Development:

  1. Briefing room creation with scripted (may use trigger infrastructure) simplistic animations similar to Tie-Fighter. Single map display and single dialog for now. Story based 'conversations' or story development will happen in-engine with triggers.
  2. Configuration room creation to allow weapon load-out and ship selection.
  3. Debriefing screen creation to allow for missions to conclude.
  4. Pilot viewer needs to be completed in the archives.
  5. Audio configuration is broken and need be fixed if easy to do, or completely disabled in the menus.
  6. Weapons display needs completion in the archives.
  7. The archives need limiters for pilot experience, which won't ever be updated in the tech release. (This lets me cheat a lot for now)

Critical Paths:

  • Basic AI Completion.

    Assets are waiting on this, not to mention the game cannot be completed without.

  • Detail texture mapping for all models.

    Debris creation, game balancing and campaign development are all waiting on textures for models.

  • Basic camera/ ship AI configuration and dialog cut scene scripting

    Doing ANY story elements require at least basic controls over ships and the camera. Any first release needs to have at least minimal support here.


Eye on the Future (aka Next stage Critical Path)

  • Campaign development will be crucial to spark any required development in the fleet, barracks, pilot, character and faction classes. Major stability issues WILL arise once campaign data is stored from mission to mission.
  • Capital ship turret manipulation needs to be completed as soon as the basic release is completed.

(0 Comments)

Onyx Development Update
Posted 2005.01.05 06:03pm by Aaron
This news item is 3577 days old, and has been amended since publish.

Had a weird day hours-wise today, getting up at 11am after going to bed at 8am, then being absolutely bushed by 5pm, sleeping from 8pm till 11pm; after which I worked from 12 till now. I live like some weird and exotic animal, it's a bit disturbing.

Anyway, updates.

I spent the whole night working synchronously between my day job and Onyx and made some good progress in both. The day job was interesting, as optimization always is, but the real fireworks happened in Onyx. Since I'm not sure how much I'm actually allowed/ should discuss about the day job so this becomes an Onyx update post only.

I've spent much of the past few weeks replacing debugging "for now" code with real and proper stuff and it's beginning to show in the flexibility of the engine. So much of the HUD is configurable now that I can successfully remap the display for foreign factions craft and the internal workings are much, much cleaner. I've added a definition class for missile targeting computers and filled out the in-game accesses to it enough that missiles now properly adhere to the restrictions they carry. More and more code is getting placed where it should be, which allows all sorts of new things to work. Most notably missions now have a correct notion of hostile and allied factions and the targeting subsystems of ship weapons computers have a new selection mask to show for it. This (practically) means that now it's possible to target craft based on their relationship to you, as well as adding a minimum Angle of Attack selector and range based selectors. That allows targeting bindings like "ClosestHostile" and "FrontShip" or "FrontAnyTarget" to work properly. That's all very exciting, at least to me, because up until now I've had to select targets by hitting 'T' repeatedly through dozens or even hundreds of targets (all the while praying I didn't click ONE too many times).

The additions also mean that missiles properly lock onto their targets, and in the next hour or so the gui will reflect this properly. Missiles now have characteristics like "aquireRear" and "requiresEngines" to allow targeting computers like thermal recognition to work as described, and the entire system supports firing with locking solutions less than 100%, which means that it's possible to fire guided missiles before fully locked with reduced accuracy.

At the same time, the fixes to the weapons computer class has enabled grouping of weapons into primary and secondary firing lists which means that heavier fighters don't have to fire all weapons all the time.

The game universe has also further expanded and I've done more to fill out the newer races. Story elements move forward as well, and many new ships and weapons have finally received some balancing attention. I've done quite a lot to improve the quality of the models and add attachments like turrets where necessary. Weapons and turrets are now also further refined so it's possible for turrets and even ships to visually show the guns attached to them, just like was possible before for missiles. Quite a lot of work needs to be done on dynamic levels of detail for guns and missiles, though, because the frame rate has taken a massive hit lately.

More information is available on the HUD as well, now, assuming the configuration options are turned on. The targeting overlay will provide you with shield and armour status for the targets as you hit them to give the pilot a better idea of target status.

I've also spent quite a bit of time re-sampling the audio effects and trying to find replacements for illegal files. The additional attention has gone a long way towards improving the audio effects, and I'm much more content with the way things sound now.

On the more frilly side of things, I've spent a few days planning out the cut-scene engine and planning the movies required for the first chapter. It won't be Blizzard quality to say the very least, but what I have planned should be sufficient to tell the story between missions and I'm excited about getting to the coding. Unfortunately, AI is still lagging WAY behind, and now that the missile firing and locking subsystems are written properly I can finally focus on writing the guidance AI's that are needed. Those AI's should provide a new and better platform for basic ship movements. Expanded a bit to reflect pilot skills and perks it should provide a solid foundation for the rest of the AI to be built on top of.

On the management side of things, I've finally built a decent list of game assets and their respective license information. I'm also able to build definition files straight from the master spreadsheets which makes game balancing much much easier.

Anyway, enough ranting. Things are moving forward, much more quickly then is visually apparent. With luck a feature-complete testing release should be on the way in the next few months. Only a year overdue! (NOT duke Nukem forever, damnit!)

(1 Comments)

TCF-DD-DYS "Vigilant", Major General Maxis, Personal Log
Posted 2004.11.17 03:55am by Aaron
This news item is 3627 days old, and has been amended since publish.

April 18th, 2146
This will be my last journal entry. As I speak these words a task force from the Troubadour are closing in on our position, and I have not the will nor the inclination to order any resistance to their assault. Shortly this ship will be destroyed or recovered by marines loyal to General Travis. When that happens, I will take my life.

I record this journal in the hopes that my wife and son will understand why I've done the things I've done.

Shelly, I've betrayed the trust of my commander and the tenants of the Confederation only because I believed it would bring me home to you. Our son won't understand, and I selfishly leave you the responsibility of telling him that his father is a traitor.

Three days ago Steven came aboard and told me that he and more than a dozen other ships were going to be leaving the fleet. It has been common knowledge that I don't agree with General Travis's perpetual moral dilemmas keeping us trapped in this horrible region. Keeping me away from my friends and my family. Keeping me away from my fucking life. I didn't care anymore if we had to step on some toes to get us home. Steven would make the hard choices, he'd lead us.

I wasn't sure of what I'd do when the shooting started, but we found out. We were separated from the Nightingale when the Prometheus went up. I have no idea what happened to it, but almost 1000 friends gone, just like that. Potter with the Corona and I formed up with the Flawless and the Devastator and we made for a near by gas giant to try to hide. I don't know what happened to the Flawless, but it fell behind. I don't even know who was in command of her. When we reached the planet Potter had to keep the Corona in a higher orbit because his engines were damaged.

They found him. They found us.

I didn't think Travis would do it, but they destroyed the Devastator and crippled the Corona. Last I saw she was burning in space. I have no idea what happened to Mathew but I doubt he would have surrendered. Now we're alone and running. Transports should be boarding us any minute.

I'm sorry Shelly. I can't spend the rest of my life in a brig, trapped in this ungodly place. I won't be captured. Tell Helen I'm sorry about Mathew. Tell our son that I never meant for this to happen. I just wanted to see you again.

Good-bye.

-------------------------------------

Audio log recovered by Major P. Tate during operation Redemption in the personal quarters of Major General Maxis. Maxis appears to have died from a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Suggest remission to the historical database for indefinite storage.

May the memories and hopes of Major General Maxis be recorded and respected for he is truly a son of the Confederation and his sacrifice and convictions are a service to us all.
-- Log permanently sealed by order of General Samual Travis, April 29th, 2146

(0 Comments)

Yet Another Long Overdue Onyx Update
Posted 2004.10.29 08:16pm by Aaron
This news item is 3645 days old.

Wow. An update. It's been ages again. There's a lot of ground to cover, so I'll split this into two sections; first I'll go over general stuff and then into specifics.

In general, yes Onyx is still under development. I haven't stopped, suspended, de-prioritized or in any other way shelved the game.

Story line has been given a big boost as well as having star charts drawn up, more balancing done, more weapons, missiles ships and technologies added. While filling out the universe I felt compelled to add 4 new races, only one of which will actually appear in the game directly, but all of which required bio's and full dossiers written up. A lot of work has gone into stabilizing the universe and restoring consistency where it was lost during the additions.

In terms of code, there has been quite a lot of refactoring going on, which means that there are unfortunately few externally visible features. I had wanted to avoid going back and rewriting code that worked, but there were places that were just too hairy to leave.

More gui code has been written, more AI types, the scripting engine has been further filled out and the physics have been further refined. Multiple map locations has been cleaned up quite a bit and there are the first signs of the cut-scene engine appearing. Along with all this quite a few bugs have been tracked down and resolved.

Physics



  • Ships now respect their max yaw/pitch/roll restrictions properly, even when recovering from a collision.
  • In-flight controls are smoother and more consistent for analog devices
  • Ship classes now support a 'response' rating which modifies the responsiveness for ships independently of mass for more uniform and simplistic control of ship quality.
  • Fixed entity joints are now supported, and used for missiles. Actually, they are supported as ball-joints with angular motors applied set to 0 degrees of freedom. ODE fixed joints go absolutely crazy and explode the simulation.
  • Damage application follows the damage characteristics more closely
  • Damage characteristics now support the following flags:

    • Leech - Some factor of the applied damage is converted to armour for the attacker. This is a melee damage property (yes melee, in a space combat sim - the Jeaxe are great) and is only available to the Jeaxe.
    • Envelop - Damage is applied to all facings at 1/4 intensity.
    • Skip Armour - Er... skips armour.
    • Skip Shields - Guess.
    • No Core - Weapon can't apply damage to a ship core, that is it is incapable of destroying the ship, only disabling it.
    • Explosive - Damage is scaled by the mass of the target, doing much less damage to smaller targets. Missiles AREN'T one hit kills in Onyx. Remaining damage is applied as force however, so strap in you're going for quite a ride in a fighter.


Controls



  • Mouse buttons can now be bound through the standard command binder.
  • Lots of new commands added for controlling HUD elements in-game
  • HUD elements are fully controllable from the ship class definition, meaning that different ships may have different HUD artwork, colours and layouts.
  • The command binder now understands modifier keys, so it's possible to bind a key, a key+shift, a key+control, etc.

General



  • The Archives are filled out with missile, turret and EWeapon descriptions.
  • Missiles! The game now has properly-ish working missiles.
  • Full separation of audio representations now allows ships to have engine whine ambient sounds playing, including doppler effect as appropriate.
  • Lots more stuff, but I've been writing this post for 5 days so I'm just going to get it over with.
(0 Comments)

Long Overdue Onyx Update
Posted 2004.08.17 06:24am by Aaron
This news item is 3718 days old, and has been amended since publish.

I've been a bad project leader lately and made absolutely no official updates on the status of Onyx in 98 days. Ninety eight. Wow.

Even after that long I'm afraid I don't have anything tremendously exciting to announce. The most exciting changes have taken place in the code base as refactoring, not additions. Just as an example, visualizations have been completely split away from the game entities, physical hull representations are now shared among ship instances, joint, turret, weapon and running lights all share the same system for positioning, damage characteristics are now definable and actually affect damage application, players may now log in and have their pilots tracked and a whole whack of other incredibly boring, non-screenshot producing things. The Onyx/ Life 2130 universe has also been fleshed out a lot more and jelled into what could be called a semi-firm time line, and the new site(s) are almost ready to go up.

Is that enough to account for 98 days? No. No it isn't. Development slowed down quite a lot in the past three months, but is picking up again. I still won't speculate on a release date since the plot seems to continue to thicken. I've been keeping a closer eye on Onyx's "competition" and as a result I needed to regroup some elements of the game and rewrite them to be a little more complex. I quoted "competition" there because quite simply Onyx isn't/ wasn't really competitive. Hopefully that gap has closed a little. Given the VAST amounts of game data currently unbalanced and half entered I have my doubts that the first chapter will be the first release. There are just too many things to do and balance before the first Chapter can come out. Instead I think I'll make a limited release with a few skirmish missions instead. Not going to promise that, though. Onyx relies pretty heavily on the storyline, and I'd hate to dilute that by putting out a game with effectively none.

So, in summary, still nothing to see - move along. But soon, seriously. I promise. For what that's worth.

(0 Comments)

The State of Onyx
Posted 2004.05.11 05:59am by Aaron
This news item is 3816 days old.

Well, right off I would imagine that anyone following the development of Onyx has figured out that my chapter 1 release date was a total and complete lie. Release date lies suck. I want to assure everyone though, that heavy development is still taking place. Enough is left to do that I don't want to further lie by placing a date on completion, but we're creeping up on it for sure.

Enough of what I haven't done, on to what I have. Lots of new features have gone into the game like turrets for capital ships, improved audio, improved loading times, an improved GUI, and lots of new bug fixes. There's also new lighting code to up the pretty factor a bit, and pierre has really come through with textures giving us really nice final models for a couple of ships. Taharez has contributed more models which I'm working on integrating, and he's even offered to do some textures if he has time. Last but not even close to least, Christian has delivered the first track of the Onyx Soundtrack which I happen to think is fantastic.

New textures, new models, new code, lots more script and dialog and new music is a lot of new stuff, but I can happily say that the bug count has dropped too, which I'm quite thankful for. To prove that I'm not lying about all this stuff too I've added some goodies strewn throughout the Onyx site, like Christian's audio track and a new desktop on the media page, and three new screen shots. I'll be putting up a ship/event/character database soon as well since I've been nibbling at it for quite some time, but it's not ready just yet.

Anyhow, that's how things stand at the moment. With all that said, I'm finally going to go to bed.

(2 Comments)

Onyx Redesign Announced
Posted 2004.04.01 06:00pm by Aaron
This news item is 3856 days old.

After extensive contemplation, I've decided to convert the Onyx to lessen its focus on space combat, and instead will be applying more energy into improving it's simulated dating facilities.

I can't escape the fact that what people really want is a prohibitively expensive, OpenGL rendered front-end to dynamically generated romantic material. I've already begun converting ship models to more appropriate meshes such as hearts, chocolates, flowers and the dreaded “Cupid's Arrow”.

Truly, exciting things are to come. My best estimates expect that I'll be able to do a half release of “Onyx: How are you Feeling Today?” in the next few weeks, and the full release: “Onyx: Why Don't You Ever Just Hold Me?” several weeks after that.

(4 Comments)

Onyx Chapter 1 Testing Release Pushed 2 Weeks
Posted 2004.02.29 10:10pm by Aaron
This news item is 3888 days old.

My attention has been somewhat fractured for the last few weeks and as a result I'm pushing the release to April 2nd. Hopefully more slides won't take place.

(0 Comments)

Three Guesses: More Onyx Screen Shots.
Posted 2004.02.13 07:00am by Aaron
This news item is 3904 days old.

That's right. 7:00am. But I do indeed have more Onyx screen shots to show off.

Onyx is coming along rather well, actually. Scenery has been implemented, as can be seen in the many asteroids floating around in this new group of shots. On top of scenery, a new spacial system is in place which is much faster and maps are all loaded from defininition files. I've started game balancing and added several weapons. Xaintes has fixed several of my terrible textures and I've been working hard on increasing game speed in general.

Maps now have multiple locations, and mission triggers are almost done. This all means that the game is almost playable. It's going to be tight, but I really feel that I'm going to meet my March 19th release date for the first chapter, testing.

Just to do a general update; things have come along rather well. ODE has impressed and depressed me in about a 2:1 ratio, so I'm still happy with my choice to go with it. Multiple LOD models are coming along rather well and the renderer speed is 'adequate'. I've had several successful trials on Win32 machines, but I've yet to do a Mac OSX build, so I'm not sure I'll hit that target just yet. Basically things are moving at a pace approaching what it should - and things are pretty good.

Tell your friends. Onyx will be available in some playable form on March 19th. I would hope that the extra bandwidth I pay for will go to some use.

(2 Comments)

You Guessed It! More Onyx Screenshots!
Posted 2004.01.04 07:56am by Aaron
This news item is 3944 days old, and has been amended since publish.

The new Skybox and SkyMobile code is pretty much done, so I figured some new screenshots were in order.

Things are coming along pretty darn well.

(0 Comments)

Even MORE new Onyx Screenshots
Posted 2004.01.02 02:28am by Aaron
This news item is 3947 days old.

Some new in-game shots are up on the screenshots page.

(0 Comments)

More Onyx Screenshots
Posted 2003.10.12 03:17pm by Aaron
This news item is 4028 days old, and has been amended since publish.

Work is still happening... I promise. :)

In an attempt to prove that stuff is still getting done I've put up two more screenshots. Soon I should be able to put up a couple of actual 'in game' action shots.. not that buttons and text aren't exciting.

(1 Comments)

First Onyx Screenshot
Posted 2003.08.25 02:31pm by Aaron
This news item is 4076 days old.

Thats right; as of late last night our first Onyx screenshot is up. Things are progressing fairly well with lots of new libN2L code getting written, lots of bugs being fixed and new functionality appearing.

Things should be heating up a lot from this point on.

(0 Comments)

Updates & Onyx
Posted 2003.06.29 07:20am by Aaron
This news item is 4133 days old, and has been amended since publish.

Last night (tonight, beh...) I finally built and linked a full libN2L application as a Win32 executable. So, assuming it works ie. I find someone to actually RUN the thing, I can do Linux and Windows releases at the same time. Best of all, I can do it without actually running a windows machine.

The Onyx site was looking pretty pathetic, so I've filled out the pages with as much as I can right now. Even put up an Onyx desktop for download.

And now. I sleep.

(6 Comments)

Onyx Site Online
Posted 2003.06.27 05:34am by Aaron
This news item is 4135 days old.

To get ready to release the work I/we've been doing on Onyx I've set some new stuff up on the page that's worth mention. Look quick because pierre's probably going to make me replace all of my 'art' with something attractive. :)

So, we've got a new news category for Onyx, a new project in the bug tracker to keep track of releases and such and most importantly I've added a whole new Onyx Site to the page complete with art I stole from pierre and art I stole from The Texture Studio. I DID however have to resize some stuff, so I feel my future as a graphic designer is secure.

There's no real CONTENT in there yet, but I'll get to that soon enough.

(0 Comments)

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