Developer update 13

tl;dr; BOMB will come out from early access on January 2015. Apple sucks.

We have missed our December release window (i.e. before Steam’s Christmas sales) because the mac version is not ready for prime time. So close to the end, it’s very important for us to release the game in a suitable state.

Also, we are experiencing trouble making the dedicated server work on Steam, but it’s getting solved. Expect it in a few days.

To sum up all that has already been improved since the last blog post for the MkIII release last august:

  • Huge performance improvement: lower memory consumption and much faster loading times
  • New content:  a new environment, a new race map, new sounds and musics
  • Clearer UI
  • Smarter AI
  • Linux support
  • BOMB is close to excellence, says RPS
  • A player thinks we have the best mouse control on the market (I totally agree)
  • We finally get rid of the infamous “shoot to thrill” message to “press shoot to start”

If you’re interested in efficiently customizing your paint scheme, here’s how-to.

The FAQ has also been updated on the forum.

Custom skin creation tutorial

(version française ici)

It’s pretty easy for anyone to add  their own skins for BOMB and here’s a tutorial detailing how to do it.

Notice: This tutorial is not made from an artistic point of view, but  solely a technical how-to.

The list below links all the planes from the game to its a template containing a full texture set. The second name, the one with the link is the internal (in engine) name of the plane.

VB-42 Calamari : AI_PLANE_10

MM.3803 Bilby: AI_PLANE_11

CK50 Kani: AI_PLANE_12

KGP XVII Puffin: AI_PLANE_FB

VB-37 Astore: AI_PLANE_HF

S.N.A.F Rorqual: P_PLANE_B

King KAC-B: P_PLANE_F

S&E P.10 Libelle: AI_PLANE_1

Their respective folders are found in game_installation_directory/BOMB/Media/objets/aircrafts

Use your favorite image editor software (we are using GIMP here because it’s freely available for everyone, but basically any editor with layer and TGA support can get the job done).

Let’s start with a skin for the King KAC-B, which is the main plane in the game.

Download and extract the P_PLANE_F.7z archive anywhere you choose. It contains several TGA files, always organized as:

  • mask.tga : a general mask showing the plane’s parts (for editing help purpose only, it’s not used in game)
  • lines.tga : structure lines (the separations between parts)
  • rivets.tga : plane’s rivets (you know… lots of them)
  • structlines.tga: Not used directly for skin creation. We’ll speak more about that file later.
  • internals.tga (optional): radiators, glass and landing gear parts.

Open the  mask.tga  file and save it as a GIMP workspace file (.xcf extension).

0

In this workspace, open lines.tga et rivets.tga as new layers (file > open as layer). For better display, set them in multiply mode:

1

Duplicate the mask layer, put the new one on top of the stack and set it in multiply mode.

2

Just above the first layer, create a new one labeled as “camo”.

As I said, this tutorial is not for artistic purpose, so assume that I choose a few colors and paint my skin with them, leading to:

3

We can achieve quickly an used look.

  • duplicate the rivets layer
  • on the original one, apply a 2 pixels gaussian blur: filters > blur > gaussian blur

4

  • set the duplicate one in divide mode with a 75% opacity:

5

  • duplicate the structure lines layer
  • apply a 10 pixels gaussian blur on
  • set the original one with a 20% opacity:

6

Open internals.tga as a new layer if it exists and move it on top of the stack:

7

Voilà ! Our first skin is done.

Now we need to export the image as a TGA file named P_PLANE_F_MySkin.tga, in 32 bit mode. It’s very important that the skin has an alpha layer because it contains a specular mask (i.e. light reflection mask). By default, setting this alpha layer to white or gray is sufficient, but to provide the best example, here’s what a worked out specular mask looks like:

specmask

Convert the TGA file in DDS file format with DXT5 compression using one of the many existing tools (e.g. a GIMP export plugin).

Even an online converter exists. In this one, choose DXT5 mode and click on generate mip maps.

Copy the dds file in BOMB/Media/objects/aircrafts/[MODEL]/skins, in our example it is: BOMB/Media/objects/aircrafts/P_PLANE_F/skins

skinfolder2

Finally, launch viewer.exe, which is a minimal BOMB build to quickly start a skirmish. This program is located next to the BOMB main executable, in BOMB/bin/release.

You can switch between available skins by pressing the up and down keyboard keys.

skin0

To better understand how it works, you can find below the purpose of every color channel in every texture.

[MODEL]_Structline.dds :

  • The R channel contains structure lines.
  • The G channel contains the baked ambiant occlusion, also used for lighting.
  • The B channel contains the canon’s lightmaps, used to light them in a convincing way while shooting.
  • The A channel contains reflective zones i.e. metallic or glass looking parts. A 255 value means no reflection at all and a 0 value means a total one.

[MODEL]_Normal.dds

The normal map

[MODEL]_Damages.dds

Used when the plane is damaged.

  • The R channel contains the minor damages.
  • The G channel contains minor + major damages.
  • The B and A channels are currently unused.

NOTE: The [MODEL]_StructLines.dds is unique for all the skins of one plane. However it’s possible to surcharge it for a particular skin by creating a new one named as the skin with the _StructLines suffix.

For example, Bilby’s skin:

AI_PLANE_11_racer_metal.dds

has its own StructLines map:

AI_PLANE_11_racer_metal_StructLines.dds

This feature is also available for the normal map but is not currently for the damage map.

Developer update 12

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Mk III !

This is it, the Mk III development has been completed. The release on Steam has been scheduled for august the first at 5pm PDT, ie 2am in western Europe.

The changelog

Added
  • The “fjord” environment.
  • The Act III and it’s six missions
  • A new playable aircraft, the KGP XVII Puffin, an heavy fighter/bomber, fast, well armed, but with a low maneuverability.
  • The Race multi-player mode, still in beta(there is a lot of game design to do on this one)
  • The server browser using SteamWorks. Therefore, if you only own the game on Desura, you won’t be able to use it.
  • The internal guns now light the aircraft when fired. This may come in the future for external guns too.(there is a gif demonstrating the effect later on this page)
  • There is now collisions with the trees.
Enhancement
  • The behavior of aircrafts when grounded is much better than in the Mk II.
  • The AI has been improved and now reacts more smoothly and is less given to splash in water.
  • Turrets have been improved.
  • The shield effect has been improved.
  • You can now configure the dead zones for your gamepad/joystick analog axis.
  • The aircraft’s labels are now clearer when aircrafts are out of the screen.
  • The general sound mixing has been improved.
Bug Fixes
  • A lot of crashes and bugs have been resolved.
  • The netcode is more stable.

The new effect of the guns:

bomb-anim

A bunch of screen shots from a mission of the third Act.

A few pics from one of the last multiplayer test with some friends:

Finally, some pics of a nice bug due to an error in the texture conversion script to the .dds format.

 

Developer update 11

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It’s been a while so here’s some news.

Steam release

We are planning to release the Mk III during July, most likely around the 14th. Still in early access until the multi player is more advanced and balanced and until mac and linux versions are done.

Server Browser

It’s done.  The server browser component is finished. Development was done in two steps:

  • Steam game management integration. This was not so complicated, but not so simple as well. The documentation from Valve isn’t so clear, but as soon as the logic is understood the implementation is really easy.
  • Graphical menu crafting itself. I think that majority of people ignore it, but creating a video game menu is always a pain in the ass. Generally this task is assigned to the interns. But we don’t have any intern so it is Victor who did it for the programming part, and myself for the graphical part. Here’s what it looks like, and yes, there is currently no BOMB multiplayer game server :(

2014-06-27_00007

Act III

 

Five out of the six missions from the third (and last) act has been done. Balancing is remaining to do for 2 of them and the last one is in progress. As it’s the last, we especially take care for it.

Here’s some images from a particularly hard mission (they all are in this final chapter).

Developer update 10

Why isn’t the game already on Steam ?

As we’ve explained in the previous post, we’ve been hesitating about the content and the Steam release date.

We finally decided to release the game around the first of July with the Mk III content – including the last solo act and basic Steamworks features.

The game will remain in early access because we want as much as multi player feedback before saying : “Ok, we can consider the game done.”

Important notice: After the early access period is over, we will continue to support the game, adding  new multi player game modes and of course, releasing modding tools, Linux and Mac versions.

Steamworks

Steamworks online multiplayer features integration is going well. For now, we can easily join a friend’s game via Steam, and we’re building the server browser interface.

joing

Mark III

Mark III production is on its way. It think we’re about to be used to it and the development is quicker than Mark II.

We don’t want to brag about it but some of the 6 missions of this third and last act are very cool, ambiance and gameplay wise.

Improvements

We have finally improved some things for a better game experience.

  • Before, the aircrafts icons from the HUD was the same for out of screen enemies. Now they become oriented arrows pointing into their direction. Much better!
  • Added a Deadzone parameter on the gamepad and joystick axis, so that players don’t need to configure them in driver software or in Windows gaming device manager.deadzone
  • Artificial intelligence has been improvement again, especially for bombing and other aircrafts avoidance.
  • Many more minor things.

Developer update 9

Greenlit

Hurrah ! BOMB has been Greenlit, meaning that we are able to release the game on Steam. Here’s our stats, it could be an interest to our fellow developers still waiting for their validation.

greenlight

We’re currently rethinking our roadmap in order to distribute asap after having integrated Steamworks (Valve tools) to organize, among other things, multiplayer games.

So we have a few options:

  1. Release the Mk II as it is, as soon as possible in early access then integrate Steamworks right after.
  2. Release the Mk II with Steamworks integration in a while, still in early access.
  3. Release the Mk III  with Steamworks , but as a completed game, Mk IV being only about Mac and Linux versions and Mk V about modding tools.

Which option is the most suitable to us? The third seems to be the best, but we still need to think about it.

Mark III

We’re currently producing the Mark III, which contains a new environment, 6 missions, a new playable aircraft and mostly, as we’ve briefly shown, the airship hooking system.

This feature was present in the original game concept, then it has been canceled the same time airships were. Then someday in Greenlight’s comments somebody asked if the game will feature airships. We’ve decided to put them back! So a week ago, as we needed an aircraft-carrier airship, I’ve looked at some photos of USS Akron, the real US Navy aircraft-carrier airship:

mrNlqThen I’ve reproduced the general setting (simpler, however!) of that system in the game, and in a few hours, everything was functional.

 

BnRXn0ICMAAEsrD

Which goes to show that coolest features aren’t especially the most complicated to do.

 

This system is quite generic, every plane should be equipped with the hook.

The only limitation being that it must be placed ahead of the wings push point, or else their lift results in a pretty fatal couple. But the hook’s shape and position can be set for each aircraft, so it’s alright.

Pix&Tech event

The Pix&Tech event that will take place in Nîmes (south of France) on the 24th and 25th of May will have an indie developers dedicated stand. La Moustache will attend to it, this will be a great opportunity to show and discuss the game with the visitors.

BOMB MkII is OUT! (fr)

Read the english version of this post.

Avec la sortie de ce patch majeur, il est je pense temps de faire un petit topo sur le jeu et son développement.

Mais tout d’abord, le changelog:

  • 5( et demi ) missions en plus.
  • 1 grande map en plus (Sidi Bandar)
  • Deux nouveaux avions, le VB-42 Calamari et le KAC-B , ce dernier ayant un cockpit
  • Support de plusieurs contrôleurs simultanément.
  • Améliorations du support du Track-Ir, il est désormais utilisable en vue externe.
  • Trains d’atterrissage présents sur deux avions: le KAC-B et le VB-37 Astore, les autres seront rajoutés avec les prochains patchs.
  • Plein de correction de bugs.
  • Diverses améliorations graphiques.

Si jamais vous avez déjà fini l’acte I, il faudra refaire la dernière mission pour enchaîner sur l’acte II. Mais vous pouvez aussi modifier le fichier de sauvegarde.

Pour ce faire, ouvrir le fichier save.cfg dans C:\Users\*userName*\Documents\BOMB\save\ et modifier la ligne:

level=MajitaIM6

par

level=DesertIntro

Cela vous fera démarrer au début de l’Acte II.

Le retard

Nous avons eu du retard sur la sortie de la Mark II, environ un mois, ce qui est à la fois peu puisqu’un mois de retard dans l’industrie du jeu vidéo c’est une broutille, mais également beaucoup parce qu’on a mis deux fois plus de temps que prévu pour faire ce patch.

Je ne vais pas m’étendre sur toutes les raisons mais voici les deux principales:

  1. Plus de travail que prévu: En effet, le création des assets et de la scénarisation du second acte a été plus longue que prévu. Un certain nombre d’améliorations ont été également faits sur plein d’éléments du jeu, allant de l’IA au comportement des tourelles, en passant par les outils pour créer les missions, ce qui a été un gros gouffre de temps, mais au final la qualité du jeu a été grandement améliorée.
  2. Ne le cachons pas, nous avons eu une petite période à vide au niveau motivation. Nous travaillons sur BOMB depuis presque 3 ans, et cela commence à faire long, très long. Non pas que nous ne voulons plus travailler dessus, mais de temps en temps, on a envie de penser à autre chose. On a donc levé un peu le pied pour se “ressourcer” et continuer le développement plus sereinement: on ne veut pas que BOMB se finisse dans la douleur, parce qu’un jeu fini dans la douleur est souvent un mauvais jeu.

Bref, à nous d’en tirer une expérience afin de mieux tenir les délais que nous nous sommes fixés.

La visibilité

Pour ne pas améliorer notre moral, BOMB a une très faible visibilité sur le net et les différents sites de jeux, en grande partie par notre faute.

Aucun de nous 2 n’est un commercial, et lorsque nous contactons des sites, plutôt que d’avoir un discours du genre “regardez mon jeu, il est SUPER, c’est le meilleur du monde, il est beau, il est fun, il est AWESOME”, notre discours tient plutôt du mec timide qui essaye de draguer une nana dans un bar, quelque chose comme “bonjour monsieur le journaliste, pardonnez moi de vous importuner mais on fait un petit jeu dans notre coin, si jamais vous avez une minute pour y jeter un coup d’œil, ça serait super, voici une clef d’activation. Désolé pour le dérangement !”.

Idem pour les images, nous n’en publions pas de nouvelles régulièrement tout simplement par peur de faire doublon, que chaque image ne soit pas assez unique ou spectaculaire. Mais il faut qu’on se rentre dans le crâne qu’on n’a pas 300 mecs pour retoucher nos screenshots pour qu’ils soient parfaits, et que oui, de toute façon, il vaut mieux être présent avec des doublons plutôt que d’avoir une belle image unique tous les 6 mois.

Donc voila un paquet d’images récentes du jeu, parce que, quand même, on le trouve beau notre bébé:

Developer update 8

Lire cet article en français.

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

Lire cet article en français.

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.