The 2011 release is now referred to as a beta release- read the mod's "news" to see why. Download the beta in the mod's "downloads" section:

There is no fixed release date for the final version. I am alone when it comes to mapping and that takes time. I am working very hard at this so, God willing, it will be done. I do not want to compromise the quality and quantity of the maps.

The basic premise will still be the same in the final version:
The air is foul and corporate fascism reigns in the not too distant future. Somewhere in the North American Union you are Myo Hyori, an 18 year-old girl of Korean descent who has had enough. Oh and you can start fires with your mind. This makes your corporate owners very nervous...

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Hello everybody!

As you might have seen in our recent teaser, the upcoming, overhauled version of G String will feature some proper spaceship action! The player will go into battle with allies to take on enemy vessels of various sizes and perform other tasks. If you didn't see the recent teaser yet, check it out:

We have been working on this for a while already and are now confident enough to present it as a definitive part of the game. Now, let's have a closer look at what's in store:

Gameplay

When designing the gameplay for the space battles, we prioritized making it quick and easy to grasp, because there is neither time nor place for any kind of tutorial or lengthy in-game instructions.

ricepod float 300

The first challenge we faced was designing the spaceship controls. We decided it would be most optimal to only use the key bindings that the player already knows. That includes moving the ship via W A S D in a similar manner as in firstperson mode and using the sprint button to boost the ship's speed. Concluding this, the longitudinal (roll) axis will be locked, which also makes sense storywise: you will be seeing the Earth right beneath you the whole time and the ship's stabilizers will align you to it. Aside from this, the primary weapons can be fired with the left mouse button and an autoaim system will additionally assist you while shooting enemies.

Since the Source engine isn't capable of any kind of open worlds by default, the whole world is scaled down by a factor of one-sixteenth to allow building a larger environment. But ultimately, the player still needs to stay within a predefined playable area. We solved this issue by simply tying its requirement into the story. Should the player still leave the area, they will either die or turn back automatically - something that we still need to finalize.

Visuals

Overall a sturdy and outworn look is prevalent during the space scenes to match the rest of the mod. This includes the interior model of the spaceship and the ship's UI, which flickers a little and has a noise effect.

To make the battle scenes more appropriate for gameplay, we color coded a few crucial elements. The target UI highlights targets in red, yellow and green which represent enemies, neutrals and friendlies respectively. The laser colors from turrets and spaceships match the general color schemes of their models: enemies fire blue lasers while friendlies fire orange ones.

space combat

UI

The ship's UI is made of holograms, which are based on a custom system we have programmed on top of VGUI. Source already offers a facility to render UI in world space (DrawPanelIn3DSpace in IMatSystemSurface for those of you who know their way around the SDK), but frankly it's not too appealing to look at or to use. Our solution renders everything based on dynamic meshes or models. VGUI is still used internally to draw text to a texture atlas which can then be drawn with a dynamic mesh as well.

space hud

Cascaded Shadow Mapping

We implemented a custom solution for cascaded shadow mapping just for the space environment. While most of the mod fares better with blurred, soft shadows due to the polluted air that scatters the light, the space scenes work well with sharper shadows. CSM makes it possible to have a higher quality shadow within the interior model of the spaceship while also allowing for shadows farther away.

shadow interior

Our CSM renders all cascades to a depth texture atlas, using the built-in flashlight depth texture rendering code to profit from all internal engine optimizations. The common world shaders, like LightmappedGeneric and VertexLitGeneric, will then sample one of those cascades to apply the shadow. Selecting a cascade is based on modifying the UVs prior to performing the sampling like in the following example:

// Check whether the projected UVs are outside of bounds of the first cascade.
// 0.0 will sample the far shadow map, 1.0 the close shadow map.
float blendCascades = step(shadowMapUVs.x, 0.49) * step(0.01, shadowMapUVs.x) *
  step(shadowMapUVs.y, 0.99) * step(0.01, shadowMapUVs.y);

// Select the cascade UVs.
shadowMapUVs.xy = lerp(shadowMapUVs.xy * cascadedStepData.x + cascadedStepData.yz, shadowMapUVs.xy,
  blendCascades);

This makes things a lot simpler and more optimized. You only need to worry about a single texture for all shadow maps and you don't need to use branching in the shader, which could potentially lead to way more lookup instructions in the compiled shader code.

While lightmaps won't be used in space, we still implemented support for them. While applying a lightmap, you cannot tell anymore which lights have been aggregated to a specific texture color, like you can easily do when rendering vertex or pixel lights. However, this is very much necessary to render a shadow that belongs to a specific light, like the directional sun light, because you only want to mask that specific light source. A more optimal solution would be producing a mask in VRAD, which could optimally be stored in the alpha channel of the lightmap, but this is simply not possible to implement in the 2013 SDK without access to the engine code.

shadow exterior

Instead, we are approximating the mask by calculating the light deviation from the expected ambient and light colors that were set in Hammer. If there is no deviation, the light will be fully masked, but the more the texture colors deviate, the less shadow will be applied. In the example above, you can see how the orange spotlight is still clearly visible in the shadowed area with this trick.

VR

Since we are planning to support VR in G String, we also made the space environment compatible using an Oculus Rift. While the 2013 SDK already offers a certain support for VR by default, there were still a few special things to consider in our case.

The crosshair hologram, for example, moves with your head in VR and is aligned to the object you are currently aiming at to prevent a cross-eyed appearance. We also project the crosshair back onto the hologram aim panel sphere and align it accordingly, which feels a lot more natural than aligning it to a quad.

There are also a few neat extras to discover in VR when looking around the ship. You can see the jet engines brighten up when you accelerate the ship or the thruster effects at the sides of the ship when you turn or strafe.

If you are interested in checking out our code, you can take a look at our GitHub repository: www.github.com/Biohazard90/g-string_2013.

We are excited about finishing this mod and hope you will enjoy it when it comes out!

G String BETA Released

G String BETA Released

News 21 comments

This was the G String BETA release on DEC 19, 2011. Back then this release was called simply G String- later as development of a newer version became...

MOTY Editors Choice 2012

MOTY Editors Choice 2012

Feature 59 comments

Welcome to the Editors Choice award for Mod of the Year 2012.

G-String Addon - No Black Bars With Crosshair

G-String Addon - No Black Bars With Crosshair

Prefabs 1 comment

This removes that pesky design aspect, and allows use to actually aim. See description for more customisation options.

G String beta

G String beta

Demo 37 comments

The air is foul and corporate fascism reigns in the not too distant future. Somewhere in the North American Union you are Myo Hyori, an 18 year-old girl...

Comments  (0 - 10 of 1,070)
Eyaura Creator
Eyaura Reply Good karma+2 votes
Eyaura Creator
Eyaura

Youtube.com
Youtube.com
New walk-through- the whole mod with original music, watch it before the copyright sharks mute it or delete it.

Reply Good karma+2 votes
Telefragg
Telefragg

I stopped playing this mod as soon as v2 was announced. Patience is a small price to pay for even better experience than before being unspoiled.

Reply Good karma Bad karma+2 votes
guru8bit
guru8bit

Unfortunately my mod broke on end_3 when there's the mist and the cubes, right after the image slideshow, which is too bad.

Managed to watch the ending on youtube though.

Again, great job, absolutely loved it. I can't believe how much this feels like Blade Runner.

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Eyaura Creator
Eyaura

Youtube.com
should have seen number 1 coming...

Reply Good karma+1 vote
wargreymonrocks
wargreymonrocks

oh i get it Los Angeles is related to Tokyo Twice.

Reply Good karma Bad karma+1 vote
Eyaura Creator
Eyaura

i dont like that name lol... i uncanon it

the city is unnamed its somewhere in the central nau in the future its a huge city that has seen better days and is ravaged by the effects ot global warming and the rising ocean levels. im guessing los angeles is underwater mostly in the mod's world. as most of the coastal cities

Businessinsider.com

Reply Good karma+1 vote
wargreymonrocks
wargreymonrocks

could you make a training level for v2?

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guru8bit
guru8bit

Some guy suggested me to play this, and holy **** this is great. The world building is fantastic, there's so much love put into this mod that I can barely process it.

Keep going with this guys, this is better than so much else I've played this year.

(I'd love a subtitles options though :3)

Good luck

Reply Good karma Bad karma+3 votes
NIVEL
NIVEL

JCarpenter said today it is a extremely well controlled (con-trolled) environment and he could not have done his movies nowadays. Only the public can change this by demanding better. What is to learn from this is there is no great culture or industry producing great art. People were under the impression things are great"look at what our world produces, all this fine art, it will keep on going".In fact, in history the visionary,uncompromising and endurant artists who make masterpieces are few, they are very dedicated in fulfilling their vision and fighting the system with sweat and blood. You can fit them all in one bigger room actually, this is how few they are. And if they are retreating from active involvement then the whole thing collapses. They should not be taken for granted. Their are not a statistic,a percentage that gets refiled no matter what. And this is what is happening now. Most of them have left. They've had enough. Art is entering a dark age. To get better art you need to demand, to demand it you have to feel it.An you can start by feeling the world.It's all art really.It still is.Art in motion.

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Highest Rated (13 agree) 10/10

A huge amount of work.Very impressive.

Jan 18 2012 by red-bear

Lowest Rated (27 agree) 5/10

Excellent art direction and aesthetics, but plays very badly; the level design has absolutely no hints for the player, which becomes frustrating extremely quickly.

I don't care if it's meant to be "realistic"; realism doesn't mean fun.

Dec 22 2011 by MaxOfS2D

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