Public Relations!

Permalink 11:34:49 am, Categories: General  

I'm pretty happy to announce CS^2 (or CrystalSquared). Basically Marten and me will now give commercial support for people who are interested in that kind of thing. Basically if you have a bigger problem with CS that you really can't solve (and we can't solve without more extensive work), you want to get some help starting up a new project (i.e. setting up the basic project and stuff), you want help on some very big bug, you want to pay for an important new feature in Crystal Space, or you want some private tutorial or lessons then visit http://www.crystalsquared.com and we will try to help you as good as we can. Maybe we can also offer commercial support for other things we didn't think about. Just tell us and we will see what we can do. A few weeks ago I had the idea to start this but we were a bit worried about how to do this exactly. It is important to emphasize that we absolutely do NOT want to decrease the quality of the already existing free support in any way. Preferably we even want to improve on that even. This commercial support option is only there for the kind of support that we wouldn't do for free since it is too much work. So hopefully this all works out to the best. We're not the first Open Source project to offer this kind of support. Ogre3D does it for example.

On public relations and publicity I also updated the pages at ohloh. Ohloh is a rather interesting site where you can submit a project and ohloh will calculate various statistics about popularity, code base, contributors and so on. We have the following projects there right now:

If you visit these project links then you can 'stack' a project indicating that you use that project. You can also give 'kudo's to the project developers which gives an indication level of your appreciation of that person. If you are a developer of one of those projects then you can link your username with the contributions done on that project and if you additionally placed yourselves on the map then it will show on the little earth map with every project that you stacked and/or are a contributor of.

In the mean time I'd also like to note that we're very busy working on the 1.2 release now. Hopefully we can release 1.2rc1 in a matter of weeks now.

And yes, the 'secret project' is still in planning stages :-)


Stuff ...

Permalink 04:07:44 pm, Categories: General  

Why is the title of my blog so often 'Stuff...'? That's because I just can't find a good title for the jumble of things I'm talking about :-)

Anyway, I finally started work on Crystal Core again. Our main artist (Xotic or Anders Wisur) has catched a major case of 'Real Life' and he told me that he will only be cured of that around August. So until then the art side of Crystal Core is pretty much stalling. But I decided to work on the game logic again. So now I'm working on a new shiny weapon system. You will be able to pick up weapons and ammo and switch between weapons. Most of this is already working to some extent. But I need more models for weapons, ammo, and also visual effects.

Soon we are going to branch CS and CEL 1.2. Then we can finally start working on fixing the last bugs for 1.2 and release. It is hard to keep on schedule here. We really could use some more developers focused on fixing bugs and doing more 'mundane' things like completing features and such.

I also picked up a VERY old hobby of mine: electronics. When I was a kid I used to play with digital electronics a lot (making small logic circuits and such). But then I got my first computer and for more then twenty years I completely forgot about it. But now my children are starting to get in the age that they are also interested in stuff like this so I picked it up again. This time however I'm concentrating on analog electronics. More specifically I'm trying to build analog synthesizers. Nothing fancy. Just playing around a bit with transistors and 'opamps' :-)

To pay for my new hobby (among other things) I thought that it would be nice if I could finally make some money out of Crystal Space. So we (me and a few others) are considering starting some kind of consultancy site on Crystal Space and CEL. So we can give commercial support for projects that are interested in that kind of thing. OGRE also has something similar. We'll see how this works out. Once we are ready with this I'll post an announcement.

Edit: forgot to mention that planning for the 'secret project' is still in progress :-)

That's it for today. See you in my next blog post!


Warning! Exciting future ahead!

Permalink 01:27:24 pm, Categories: General  

This is the first time I'm using the new blog system.

Here is some good news! Besides the upcoming conference which is always exciting, there is the possibility of a VERY nice upcoming project which has the potential of giving CS a huge boost. This boost would be in the form of upgrading the public image of Crystal Space (i.e. A PR boost) and also a technical boost. We're currently still in the negotiation phase and since a big project like this requires considerable money we're probably going to have to organize a big donation campaign. But we'll see. At this moment I can't tell you much more about this project.

On the Crystal Space 1.2 side things are a bit slower then they could be. There is still a lot to do and too little time...

Then there is also Google Summer of Code. Hopefully we can get a lot of good things from it this year.


1.0, and Crystal Core

Permalink 10:48:10, Categories: General  

We're now working hard on the first 1.0 release. I really hope that we can release 1.0RC1 (first release candidate) in a matter of weeks but it is hard to really say that that will be possible. At least people can already try out the 1.0 branch in SVN if they want to help test this.

Secondly we're resuming work on Crystal Core now. Crystal Core is broken with the massive particle system changes in CS so the first thing we need to do is to fix the particle systems. After that we need a few animated creature models in the new gmeshanim2 format (since gmeshanim is now gone). And then we need a good level (probably one of Xotic's current levels) and we can release a tech demo. For the real Crystal Core we are now working hard on a good story. We feel that for a single player game it is important to have a really deep and plausable story and also make gameplay flow nicely around that story. We will also change the style of the alien structures a bit. We are aiming for a more organic look. You'll see what we mean soon I hope :)

That's all for now.



Exciting Times!

Permalink 11:30:44, Categories: General  

These are really exciting times in the Crystal Space world.

First we migrated from CVS to SVN. SVN is a much more flexible and powerful revision control manager. This move will facilitate making branches (which we will need for 1.0 and Google Summer of Code) and it is easier to keep track of changes using SVN too. There are also a few downsides (like having a much bigger client-side checkout of CS and some operations are somewhat slower) but in general it is a big improvement. To improve on the client-side overhead we will most likely remove the generated documentation from SVN (i.e. the entire docs/html directory). The docs itself will stay though.

Secondly the Google Summer of Code deadline has passed. So we now know that we get seven applications and we almost know which students are accepted (still have to resolve collisions between other organizations). I'm really looking forward to working with the students on seven exciting projects in Crystal Space. I hope it will be a valuable experience for the students and obviously I hope that Crystal Space will also benefit from this. The SoC students will work in seperate SVN branches so that their work doesn't interphere with the normal development.

Thirdly we're looking forward to the conference now. We have some really good talks planned and I'm really looking forward to meeting you all there. I'm sure a lot of good things can come out of this conference.

Fourthly we will soon make the 1.0 branch in svn. This is really a great time and the first real concrete step towards the 1.0 release. Of course the real 1.0 will still be some time in the future as we really have to resolve a lot of bugs and problems first. But it is a good step in the right direction.

And finally things are looking nice on the CS demo side. Erroroman, Xotic, and caedes are really doing a nice job on some impressive demos. You'll soon hear more from this.

Greetings from Belgium!



Crystal Core and Tidbits

Permalink 13:00:44, Categories: General  

It has been some time since I made another blog post so here I am again.

Lately we are making a lot of good progress on Crystal Core. On the art side Xotic is working on some amazing levels which make good use of advanced CS features (like shaders). Also I'm very happy to tell that caedes (author of blender2crystal) has joined Crystal Core. He will be a great help with the entity system in CC and also making sure blender2crystal does everything that we want it to do. As I'm working on Crystal Core it is interesting to see how I'm being very succesful in avoiding a lot of C++ code in CC. I even managed to remove a bit and I have further plans for more code removal. Of course all that logic has to go somewhere. Most of the advanced logic is now implemented in CEL. CC is starting to make heavy use of the CEL quest manager and the XML scripting language and it all works out very well. Entity logic like explosions and (soon) weapon control is all coded in XML now using a combination of the quest manager and XML scripts. CC now also has a semi functional starting menu (with sound even) and the health HUD item is also working properly now.

On the CrystalBlend site I still need to find to bite an annoying bullet: fixing CB so it runs on 64-bit. When that is done I can start adding features and fixes again.

I have very good feelings about the conference. Many people are interested to come and several people also expressed interest in having a talk or workshop. Seems like we will have plenty of good content to talk about. Also it will be nice to just meet everyone in person for once.

That's all folks!



Too long...

Permalink 12:00:30, Categories: General  

It is high time I put an entry in this blog again :-)

I have been doing a lot of stuff lately. Let me go over all my projects one by one and see what the status on it is:

  • Crystal Space: it is funny to see how little I actually work on Crystal Space while I move away to work on projects that use Crystal Space. But still I do some occasional stuff on Crystal Space and I do have some plans for the future too. The last few weeks I have been busy cleaning up and also making some preparations for improving performance with more modern lighting/shadow systems (i.e. the light/sector influence system). Also we are now preparing for a new pseudo-stable release which should come out in a few days from now hopefully.
  • CEL: Lately I have been doing a lot of physics work (i.e. mechanics property class) for a game that I'm making (more on that later). Physics is nice and with the mechanics property class it is easy to use in CEL and in the XML behaviour layer.
  • Crystal Core: there is a lot of artist activity in Crystal Core but little coding activity. I plan to rectify that soon. My first task is to work on the HUD for Crystal Core. However, I'm still waiting for the artwork to do that. I also hope that Eric Vaught can help with the AI system.
  • CrystalBlend Lite: for CrystalBlend I'm busy fixing it so it works on my 64-bit linux system. This is a bit hairy as the old code that is being used to parse the blend files depends on the very wrong assumption that sizeof(pointer) == sizeof(int).
  • CrystalBlend Full: I still have a few changes I need to make to the design document of CrystalBlend Full (like make abstraction of the event system) but other then that this project is on hold until the Blender coders are a bit more free to help me (i.e. as soon as Blender 2.4 is released I would hope).
  • Secret Project: I got a nice freelance job in the fashion(!) industry which I can do in Crystal Space. Can't tell you more about it as there is an NDA.
  • Small Crystals (preliminary code name): I'm working on a set of commercial 'small' games using Crystal Space. Mostly puzzle games and similar that make heavy use of CEL and CS. Things like pinball, boulderdash, ... (here is what I'm using the physics property classes for). I plan to make this a commercial CD-ROM with a lot (as many as I can manage to make) of small games on it. All artwork I'll make myself (using Blender and GIMP). When you buy the CD-ROM you will get full source and blend files of all the games. The source will even be GPL or LGPL depending on the circumstances. So in addition to getting (hopefully) nice games to play you also get tutorials and sources for your own games.

So I can keep myself busy for a while :-)



Crystal Core, Linux Laptop, CrystalBlend, ...

Permalink 14:26:02, Categories: General  

Seems that Crystal Core? has sprung into action again. Xotic is making amazing maps and RaydenSFX is making amazing sound effects. I'm now working on a 3D sound system in CEL (based on the new sound system that has been put in CS the last week) which will enable us to have 3D sounds attached to objects (like machinery, doors that open/close, ...). Crystal Core will also have footsteps, wind, and other ambient sounds. Nice to hear :-) In the mean time Hak'M and Xotic are also working hard on the story. Seems like Crystal Core will grow into a real game after all!

On the negative side I'm a bit hampered in development with the lack of a good linux machine. I would really like to have a new/second hand laptop that can be used for linux. The specs of that laptop really don't have to be amazing but a adequate 3D card is of course needed.

For people who worry about lack of progress on CrystalBlend. Don't worry. I can't do all at once but I will certainly return to CrystalBlend development soon.





Permalink 12:48:08, Categories: General  

It has been a while since I posted someting in my blog. So let's try to remedy that situation now.

Lately I have been working a lot on CrystalBlend. Things are now looking very good and I have a good feeling that this is going to work very well in the future. I also seem to get a lot of support from the Blender community so I hope it will turn out to be useful indeed.

On the Crystal Space and CEL side things are a bit quiet now. There are several smaller things slumbering in the background (like a CEL camera redesign done by aarobber and some other stuff) and thebolt is still working on the lighting redesign.

I'm also feeling like starting another visibility culler soon :-) With the failure of the static PVS I think we still need something that is simpler then Dynavis but can still manage to cull more then Frustvis. The idea that I'm having now (inspired by biki on the #CrystalSpace channel) is to have a static KDtree (as opposed to Dynavis which uses a dynamic KDtree) that is built from all static objects in a level (so it would require objects to be marked as static). This KDtree would actually split the objects to the nodes. The advantage of this approach would be that we can traverse the KDTree in perfect front-to-back order which means that we can use a coverage based culling system that doesn't need the depth buffer. So this would be more efficient because the coverage buffer writes would be a lot faster and also the KDTree doesn't need modifications. The disadvantage is that you must mark all static objects so this method is not really usable for highly dynamic levels. In practice though most levels are about 98% static.

Xotic recently showed me his latest work for Crystal Core. Things are going to look SOO nice :-) When Xotic finishes his levels it is time for me to prepare the Crystal Core tech demo. I think this will really be something very nice indeed!

On the 'looking nice' front there is also a lot of very interesting work done by the team that did the Fuel game. They are now working on something that resembles Doom3 a bit in visual appearance and atmosphere. From what I can see so far it looks absolutely amazing!





Permalink 10:05:24, Categories: General  

Now that I brought the CS and CEL documentation in a better state (not finished yet but at least it is now a lot better) it is time to concentrate on CrystalBlend. I managed to get the keyboard sensor working pretty well so far. The movement actuator works partially. Sufficient to get a very small demo going.

I now started on physics as well. Currently I'm using the mechanics plugin with ODE underneath. In the mean time Erwin Coumans will be working on integrating his Bullet physics library (Bullet Forums) with Crystal Space by letting it implement the dynamics interfaces. If that is ready we can try out Bullet too and see how it compares to ODE.

So far things are going pretty well.



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