BOMB MkII is OUT!

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With this major patch I think it’s time to do a recap on the game and its development.

But without further ado, here’s the changelog:

  • 5 (and a half) additional missions
  • 1 big additional map (Sidi Bandar)
  • 2 new aircrafts, the VB-42 Calamari and the KAC-B , the later one having a cockpit
  • Simultaneous multiple controllers support
  • The Track-IR is now available in external view
  • Landing gears operational on two models: the KAC-B et the VB-37 Astore, others will be added with the next patches
  • Many bug fixes
  • Various graphical improvements

If you’ve already finished the first act, you will have to play the last mission again to access the second act. But you can also modify the saved game’s file.

To do so, open the save.cfg file in C:\Users\*userName*\Documents\BOMB\save\ and change the line:

level=MajitaIM6

by

level=DesertIntro

This will make you start at the beginning of the second act.

Lateness

Mark II release was late, about a month, which is kinda short, because a month in the video game industry is a short delay, but at the same time a lot because we spent twice the predicted time to make this patch.

I will not go into details for all the causes, but here’s the main two:

  1. More work than planned: indeed, creation of the second act took longer than we thought. Mainly asset creation and scripting, but also plenty of improvement on various parts of the game: AI, turrets behavior, mission building tools have been a time hole, but in the end, the quality is greatly improved.
  2. To be honest, we’ve had a fallow period, motivation wise. We’re working on BOMB for almost 3 years and it’s been a long time, an awful long time.  It’s not like we don’t want to work on it anymore, but we just want to think about something else. So we’ve had to take it easy for a while in order to resource ourselves and to continue development serenely: we don’t want BOMB to finish in pain, because a game finished in pain is often a bad game.

Anyway, we’ve learned from this experience to better meet the deadlines.

Visibility

To make matters worse BOMB has very little visibility on the net and on the gaming websites, mainly by our fault.

None of us is a commercial/PR person, and when we contact sites, rather than having a speech like “look at my game, it’s SUPER, the best of the world, it’s beautiful, it’s fun, it’s AWESOME”, our speech is more like the shy guy trying to seduce a girl in a bar, like “good morning mister journalist, excuse me for bothering you but we’ve made a little game of our own, if you have a minute  and could look at it it would be great, here’s an activation key. Sorry for the inconvenience!”.

Idem for the images, we are not publishing new ones on a regular bases simply because we’re afraid of making duplicates, that one image is not unique or spectacular enough. But we must understand that we don’t have 300 guys to edit our screenshots to get them perfect, and yes, it’s better to exist with duplicates than having a pretty unique picture once every 6 months.

So here’s a bunch of recent picture from the game because, still, isn’t our baby a beauty:

Developer update 8

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Top 100 !

Hurrey ! BOMB is finally in Greenlight’s Top 100 ! Ok, it’s mostly due to other games having been validated, but it could lead to a Steam access within a month or two!

greenlight_top_100

Mark II progress

Mark II is almost done, missions are all scripted but the last tweaks are remaining, fixes on dialogs and we must test, test and test it again, not only the second act but also the first one, insuring that we haven’t broken anything while implementing new features.

Three out of five missions have required specific code and resources to achieve greater diversity in player’s objectives. This had been a great deal of work (so as time), but this is worth it, diversity is here!

One of the missions is really long, so we are thinking about leaving it as it is or splitting it in two parts.

A few images

As I said, missions from the second act are long, and in order to test more rapidly their scripting, I’ve hacked a SAM missile into an air to air one and load it up on my aircraft during debug so I can destroy enemies.
Yes it is cheating, but I’m allowed to do so, I’m the developer.Please note that even if the game is centered around gunfight, real air to air missiles, in a very limited quantity, will be present in the third act, to clean up the sky from time to time when the situation becomes critical for our dear friend Marcel Gaston.

Two shots featuring SAM being used as AAM.

 

 

Developer update 7

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AI improvements

This week we have mainly produced content for the upcoming Mark II and this post will focus on artificial intelligence.

In one of the missions from the second act, AI controlled aircrafts must execute a dive bombing on ships. This has been a great challenge to program the AI to go to their target position, begin their dive and aim while keeping a great rate of success.

Dive bombing illustrated

In order to help them, when they dive I continuously compute the bomb’s impact point (see CCIP). Once the impact point is below the quarter of the bomb’s damage area radius, the pilot releases it.

Collision point calculation doesn’t care of the bomb’s drag, only its mass and initial speed, so it adds up a “realistic” margin of error: we don’t want the AI to be stronger than humans!

Finally it works quite well, 12 aircrafts attacking 6 ships sink 2 or 3 of them every time.

You should know that all the aircrafts from a same flight attack the same ship, so in this mission, 3 flights of 4 aircrafts attack 3 ships.

This lead us to close to 100% success rate when a flight attacks a ship, and according to their size (less than 20 meters long), this is very satisfying.

Of course one could improve this but it is not the priority:)

Below some images from this mission.

Developer update 6

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Mk II is late

One week still remains until the end of the March, but I think we can officially declare that the Mk II will not make it before the 31th as initially planned, but rather early April.

The main reason for the delay is that we truly want to provide a great game experience for the second act, for which we are ending up producing more content than planned, and above all, to make a lot of QA to ensure missions are well balanced.

We are conscious that it surely will disappoint the people waiting with impatience for the continuation of the adventures of Marcel Gaston and we are truly sorry.

Aircraft rendering improvements

I’ve spent a little time to improve aircraft rendering, adding more dynamism to their lightning. I’ve added a mild back light with an environment map, it’s not breathtaking, but I think it adds something.

Here’s a bunch of screenshots to see how it looks in various situations.

 

 

One could observe that reflections are not uniform along the aircraft: as I’m using the specular mask texture to vary its intensity.

Tweaking difficulty

Missions from the second act are, as I said in the previous post, at least as long and harder than the first act ones. Tests have showed up that they are way too hard.Briefly, it would be Dark Souls, “aircraft edition”: one wrong step, one mistake and it’s game over.We are currently tweaking settings like the player strength, enemies maneuverability (not the number, there will be way more flying aircrafts than before), loaded weapons , etc…It takes time but we don’t want players to rage quit because an AI appearing from nowhere and shooting him before any reaction.

Challenge seeker players, please be at ease: t won’t be a fitness trail nonetheless! Our goal is just to make the death less random, so less frustrating.

TrackIR patch

Lastly, TrackIR support was improved with translation related fixes.

These fixes were supposed to be shipped with the Mk II but as it is delayed, a patch (with version number Mk Id) was submitted to desura today.

 

Developer update 6 (fr)

Read this post in English.

Retard de la Mk II

Il reste une semaine avant la fin du mois de Mars, mais je pense que l’on peut officiellement annoncer que la Mk II ne sortira pas comme prévu avant le 31, mais plutôt début Avril.

La principale raison est que nous voulons vraiment offrir une bonne expérience de jeu pour l’Acte II, ce qui nous impose de produire un plus de contenu que prévu, et surtout de faire beaucoup de tests qualité pour que les missions soient réglées comme il faut.

Nous sommes conscients que cela peut décevoir les gens qui attendaient la suite des aventures de Marcel Gaston avec impatience et nous sommes vraiment désolés.

Amélioration du rendu des avions

J’ai passé un peu de temps pour améliorer un peu le rendu des avions, pour que leur éclairage soit un peu plus dynamique. J’ai donc rajouté un léger contre éclairage avec une texture d’environnement (env map), c’est pas sensationnel, mais je trouve que ça rajoute un petit plus.

Voila un petit paquet de captures d’écran pour voir comment ça se comporte dans différentes situations.

On notera que ces réflexions ne s’appliquent pas de manière identique sur tout l’avion: j’utilise la texture de masque de spéculaire pour varier son intensité.

Réglage de la difficulté

Les missions de  l’acte II sont, comme je le disais dans le précédent billet, au moins aussi longues et surtout plus dures que  les dernières de l’acte I. Mais les tests ont montré qu’elles étaient vraiment trop dures.

Pour faire bref, c’était un peu Dark Souls version jeux d’avions: au moindre faux pas et à la moindre petite erreur c’est le game over.

Nous sommes donc en train de régler diverses choses comme la résistance de l’avion du joueur, la maniabilité des ennemis ( mais pas le nombre, car il y aura bien plus d’avions en vol simultanément dans l’Acte II), les types d’armes emportées, etc…

Cela prend un peu de temps, mais nous ne voulons pas qu’un joueur “ragequit” à cause d’une IA débarquant de nulle part qui réussirait à le descendre sans avoir eu le temps de réagir.

Mais que les joueurs voulant un peu de challenge se rassurent, ça ne sera pas une promenade de santé pour autant. Le but est simplement de rendre la mort moins aléatoire donc moins frustrante.

Patch pour le TrackIR

Enfin, le support du TrackIR a été amélioré avec la correction de problèmes liés à la translation. Je voulais initialement  livrer ces améliorations en même temps que la Mk II mais comme il va y avoir du retard, un patch (qui porte le jeu en version Mk Id) a été soumis aujourd’hui sur Desura.

Developer update 5

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As most of the problems encountered by the first players have been solved, we’ve focused at 95% on the Mk II.

General progress

We are a little late compared to what we hoped for initially, but we’re doing everything we can to ship the first big update before the end of March. We question ourselves about the new multi player mode: races. This mode is implemented for quite a while but we would like to make it more “spectacular”, and this requires more 3D models and more visual effects.Presently, 3 out of 5 missions from the second act are done, requiring only to polish and test them as most of the heavy work is done. The couple of last missions are far more complex in term of scenario (and far more long to play!), so we care especially for them. For information, all the missions from the second act (except for the introduction one) are as long as “Storm” from the first act, and harder as well.

The second cockpit is almost finished, small texture elements are still missing, as well as the animations for the stick, throttle and rudder, in order to be compatible with the new system.

We are (with help from our KGP3D friends) also adding several 3D objects to add life and diversity during the missions.

Eye-Candy

We have also spent time to make the game look greater, especially by tweaking desert colors.

Some of the missions are set by dawn or sunset and the past colors weren’t a barrel of laughs. Let the new settings speak by themselves.

I must confess that this picture randomly found on internet has helped me a lot:

desert sunset

Greenlight

Lastly, here’s an update on our Greenlight status.  Since the last validated batch (early March) we have climbed to 90%, then 89% of our way to the top 100. With several batches validated, we should be validated as well, by lack of projects ahead of us.

Although, it’s been two days our curve is above the Top 100 one, but without being in the Top 100. We still don’t understand nothing about how it works.

greenlight_03_14

Update: 88%

Developer update 5 (fr)

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La plupart des problèmes bloquants rencontrés par nos premiers joueurs ayant été résolus, cette semaine nous nous sommes focalisés à 95% sur la Mk II.

Avancée générale

Nous sommes un peu en retard par rapport à ce que nous espérions initialement, mais nous faisons tout pour pouvoir livrer cette première grosse mise à jour avant la fin Mars, avec une interrogation concernant le nouveau mode multi-joueurs: les courses. Ce mode est implémenté depuis un certain temps mais nous voudrions bien le rendre un peu plus “spectaculaire”, et ceci passe par plus de modèles 3D et plus d’effets en tous genres.

Actuellement, 3 des 5 missions de l’acte 2 sont faites, il reste à les fignoler et à les tester, mais le gros du travail est là. Les 2 dernières missions sont scénaristiquement bien plus complexes (et bien plus longues à jouer !), donc nous y apportons un soin tout particulier. A titre indicatif, les missions de l’acte 2 sont toutes (sauf celle d’introduction) au moins aussi longues que la mission “Storm” de l’acte 1, et elles sont toutes plus difficiles.

Le second cockpit est quasiment fini, il reste quelques petits éléments de textures à faire, et à coder les animations du manche, de la manette des gaz et du palonnier, pour que tout ça soit compatible avec le nouveau système.

Nous sommes (avec l’aide de nos amis de KGP3D) également en train de rajouter quelques modèles 3D d’objets afin de rajouter un peu de vie et de variété dans les missions.

Eye-Candy

Nous avons également passé un peu de temps à rendre le jeu plus beau, surtout en réglant mieux les couleurs du Désert.

Certaines missions se passent à l’aube ou au coucher du soleil, et les couleurs que nous avions avant pour ces deux périodes n’étaient pas folichonnes. On a donc refait quelques réglages.

Je laisse les images parler d’elles même.

J’avoue que cette image trouvée au hasard sur le net m’a beaucoup aidé:

desert sunset

 

Greenlight

Enfin je vais terminer par un petit point sur notre Greenlight. Depuis le dernier batch de jeux début Mars, nous sommes passés à 90% puis 89% du top 100. Encore quelques batchs et on devrait être validés par manque de projets devant nous.

Cela fait d’ailleurs deux jours que notre courbe est au dessus de la courbe du Top 100, mais sans être dans le Top 100.  Nous n’y comprennons toujours rien.

greenlight_03_14

Developer update 4

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This week has been partly dedicated to bug fixes and minor improvements.  I will not detail everything here but only major issues.

The Xbox pad affair

At Microsoft, they’re very funny and they love to make jokes to developers. At least, I think because we’ve encountered an issue meant to be funny if Microsoft wasn’t the biggest software company in the world (well, maybe it is not anymore, now that a thing like WhatsApp is worth 19 billion, I’m lost).

Anyway, the game is primarily designed for the joystick but everybody doesn’t have one, so we have decided to support game pads, especially the XBOX 360 one, which is very popular, and we have created a table to translate an arbitrary button number, like “Button 10” into “Button X”.

input

In order to identify that the pad is a XBOX one, we use the name of the device plugged into the computer. We had a pad at our disposal, we’ve plugged it, its name was “XBOX 360 For Windows (Controller)“, the same displayed in the windows control panel:

xbox

Everything is beautiful until now, but when a player started to play, his pad wasn’t recognized like the famous XBOX one. We ask him its control panel name then, just to be sure it’s recognized by Windows.

Ta-da:

360_controller_id

Great job, Microsoft! I congratulate you to design a pad, who wants to be a standard, and modify its name along with your hardware versions. Please note that it is not even a name like ““XBOX 360 For Windows (Controller) rev2″, no, it’s just the completely inverted name. Go fuck yourself!

So, the bug was fixed simply by searching if the controller name contains the word “xbox”.

Mark II

Mark II keep up going,  mostly with landing gear physics improvements this week. Until now, it was more like a prototype, but during these last days, the on-ground behavior greatly improved. Don’t expect hyper-realistic stuff though, there are still few take off and landing phases in the game, but the on-ground maneuvers will feel good.

BOMB 2014-03-07 16-02-47-00

Developer update 4 (fr)

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Cette semaine a été consacrée en partie à diverses correction de crashs, de bugs et de petites améliorations. Je ne vais pas tout détailler ici et je vais plutôt m’attarder sur les points “marquants”.

L’affaire du pad Xbox.

Chez Microsoft on aime bien faire des blagues pour amuser les développeurs. Enfin, je pense, parce qu’on a eu un problème qui aurait été très drôle si Microsoft n’était pas la plus grosse boite d’informatique du monde(enfin, elle ne l’est peut être plus, maintenant que des trucs comme whatsapp valent 19Milliards, je suis perdu).

Bref, le jeu est avant tout conçu pour le joystick mais tout le monde n’en a pas, alors nous avons décidé de supporter les manettes, et tout particulièrement le pad XBOX 360 qui est très répandu, et avons créé une table permettant de traduire un n° de bouton abscons genre “Bouton 10” en “Bouton X”.

input

Pour identifier qu’un pad est bien un pad XBOX nous utilisons le nom du gamepad branché à l’ordinateur. On avait un pad sous la main, on  l’a branché, on a vu que son nom était “XBOX 360 For Windows (Controller)“, soit celui marqué dans le panneau de configuration de windows:

xbox

Bref, c’est bien beau tout ça, mais quand un des joueurs a  commencé à tester le jeu chez lui, son pad n’était pas perçu par le jeu comme un pad XBOX.  On lui demande alors quel nom il a, juste pour être sur que le pad est bien reconnu dans windows.

Et là, magie:

360_controller_id

Bravo Microsoft, bravo! Je vous félicite d’avoir conçu un pad qui se veut un standard, et de faire changer son nom au fil des versions de votre matériel. Notez que c’est même pas un truc du genre  “XBOX 360 For Windows (Controller) rev2“, non, on inverse complètement le nom, pour plus de rigolade. Allez vous faire foutre !

Bref, le bug a été résolu en faisant tout simplement une recherche dans le nom du contrôleur pour vérifier si il contient le mot “xbox“.

La Mark II

Ça continue à avancer sur la Mark II, avec cette semaine surtout des améliorations sur la physique des trains d’atterrissage. Jusqu’à maintenant tout ça était encore très prototypique, mais ces derniers jours ont permis de bien améliorer le comportement au sol. Ne vous attendez tout de même pas à un truc hyper réaliste, ça reste un jeu d’avions dans lequel les phases de décollage et d’atterrissage sont peu présentes, mais cela permettra tout de même d’avoir une bonne impression lors des manœuvres au sol.

BOMB 2014-03-07 16-02-47-00

Developer update 3

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Desura

At the time of writing, we have sold 100 copies of the games on Desura, which is pretty good given the fact that the platform is relatively small and the game is still in alpha stage.

Greenlight

We have now more than 6666(!) votes “Yes” on Greenlight, thanks you to everyone for your support. In one week, we’ve got more votes than during the previous month thanks, among other things, to the articles on us from several websites (one of which being our second appearance on RPS!).

We still don’t understand shit to the computing process, especially one of the indicator: the curves of our performance compared to other submitted projects. Indeed, they continually change, several times a day. For example, look at yesterday’s variation:

Variation of statistics from 02/27/2014
Varying statistics from 02/27/2014

We ca see on the first couple of captures that we a above the Top 100 curve, nonetheless the percentage indicator still give us : 83% of the way to get into the Top 100.

If anyone has a clue on this, please tell us.

First patch

Quickly following the public release, several problems has been encountered by the early players. We have done our best to fix them as quickly as possible and a patch is already pending Desura staff validation.

This patch will fix the following problems:

Crashes fix

In some of the missions, a succession of special events could lead to a crash. This was due to a major change in the scripting system (linked to the cockpit work), all should be fixed by this patch. I know, the conditional tense may not be very reassuring, but I know by experience that even with intensive testing of a game, we cannot be sure all the bugs are gone.

Sound improvements

There was (and I hope there isn’t anymore) a quite annoying sound related bug that would randomly make the engine sounds muffled. This seems to be an OpenAL issue (even I am not 100% sure) and a workaround hack had been done.

In addition, sound mixing inside the cockpit view has been improved.

By the way, OpenAL has been the worst technical choice I have made on this project, mainly since Creative doesn’t seem to support it anymore. As an alternative, we had to switch over to OpenAL Soft, a fork of OpenAL (currently in development), without a lot of harm luckily.

Anti-aliasing

There was no much interesting things last week, technically wise, besides the improvement of anti-aliasing. Due to a file handling error,  the anti-aliasing labeled as FXAA (Fast approXimate Anti Aliasing) wasn’t bound to the right shader. So I have fixed this problem and the used method was renamed SSAA (Screen Space Anti Aliasing). FXAA method requires more computing power than SSAA, but offers a far better visual quality. Let’s see:

Left: No AA, center: SSAA, right: FXAA.
Left: No AA, center: SSAA, right: FXAA.
Left: No AA, center: SSAA, right: FXAA.
Left: No AA, center: SSAA, right: FXAA.

Furthermore, until now anti-aliasing effect wasn’t used in the cockpit. It’s fixed!