It may seem we've been keeping things under the lid in the past few weeks. The reason is that we are working on long-term feats that have little tangible results to show until considerable time has been given to them, and the time needed measures in weeks if not months. The other big project is the announcement video. The first minute of it is ready, and I can't wait to show it to you, Nomads, but we'll have to wait for the whole piece. It needs to have a beginning and an end for the right impact. But you have my word, here and now: It's going to be great.
The Game Engine Progress
Work on the game engine is constant. We are now procedurally generating hills and mountains together with more objects appearing in the world - rocks and trees and grass, as you'll see below. We're getting stable and high FPS on a low-end gaming computer, meaning there's plenty of room for more game objects and their interactions (yes, such as your war machine shredding local fauna and flora), camera effects, physics, particle effects and other goodies that make for a crispy video gaming experience. We did run into some limitations, which is why we are considering to use OpenCL.
OpenCL Framework Considerations
Creating a huge procedurally generated planet takes a lot of computing power. Even today's multi-core CPUs are not enough to handle that fast enough. On the other hand, graphic cards with their hundreds (even thousands) of processors are perfectly designed to handle that with ease. The OpenCL framework allows us to utilize the power of the GPU for operations that are normally handled by the CPU. There's just one major setback - OpenCL does not work on consoles yet, and therefore if we decide to use it, Planet Nomads will not run on consoles.
The trade-offs are big though. In practice, using OpenCL means fully destructible, massively detailed worlds. For example that awkward moment when you mine a 100 meters tall tree until it disappears? With OpenCL even the trees can be voxel-based and therefore you can cut off just a few branches of it. Or cut it down and it will fall just like a real world tree would, following the laws of physics and all.
Which brings us nicely to the final part we are working on.
Pavel has been selected as the man for the job. It's a back to high-school time traveling experience as he's relearning the Newton laws. He also needs to figure out how tension affects driving multiwheeled vehicles. We'll bring you a detailed report next week. Drifting will be included.
Below are the latest pictures straight from the game engine, showing an Earth-like biome.