Currently developing GearBlocks. I guess you could say I'm an industry veteran (in other words, I'm old ;)). After having worked as a programmer in "AAA" games for around 15 years, I decided to try an experiment, could I develop and release my own game? Jury's still out on that, but things are going pretty well so far.

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks Demo 0.5.7273 Win32

Thanks! Hopefully it won't be too much longer before I'm ready to release the full version, I know it's frustrating to wait, believe me I'm desperate to get it out there! Soon I'll be planning out the last remaining tasks to do to get things ready for the first early access release, then I'll have a better idea of a release date. I also need to plan out what I'll be working on after the initial release, so that I can keep up a steady rate of new releases with feature updates, more parts, etc.

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks Demo 0.5.7273 Win32

I have thought of adding a simpler rendering mode for low spec PCs. The deferred renderer with HDR and the PBR lighting model does require a fairly recent graphics card to get good performance. The problem is, it'll be a lot of work to implement and support an additional rendering mode with no PBR, HDR, etc. (different render passes, shaders, textures, everything). I'm waiting until I upgrade to a later version of Unity that has the scriptable render pipeline which may help me with this.

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks Demo 0.5.7019 Win32

Hoping to post a blog update this weekend on what I've been up to for the past few weeks. Also, it shouldn't be too much longer before another demo update with any luck. Cheers!

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

If you turn down the "model detail" setting, that will reduce the draw distance of dynamic objects in the world. I didn't expose a draw distance setting for the entire scene (e.g. terrain), but I've experimented with this in the past and it doesn't really make much impact on frame rate.

The rendering performance tends to be mostly fill rate bound, so turning off all of the rendering effects (e.g. "reflections"), lowering the "texture filtering" & "shadow detail" settings, and lowering the screen resolution makes the biggest frame rate improvement.

Changing these settings still might not be sufficient to get a playable frame rate on very low end machines however. The game uses HDR, PBR, and deferred lighting, which all have an inherent rendering performance cost that can't easily be avoided without breaking the look of the game. Perhaps if there's sufficient demand for it, I could add a simplified rendering mode that does away with these features. It would completely change the look of all the materials and lighting in the game, and would require reworking a lot of the assets.

Sorry I couldn't give a more satisfying answer, but I hope this was somewhat helpful at least!

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

Thanks for your suggestion! The full version of the game already has CV joints, ball & socket joints, suspension uprights, suspension control arms, and many other parts. I really wanna reveal all this stuff, but I still have a lot more work to do on the game first.

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

Aha, well spotted! Yes, unfortunately the gears must all have the same mass, otherwise the physics constraints between them don't work very well (causing the gears to "slip" under high torque loads).

I'd love to find a way to make the gears work while giving them more appropriate masses. Setting them all to the same mass is basically a hack, which I'm not too happy with if I'm honest. Maybe I'll figure something out, but until then I'm kinda stuck with things the way they are!

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

Thanks! I haven't tried Rigid Chips before, but I'll check it out.

I won't be moving away from the current first-person building system, as it's integral to the game at this point. But maybe there are still some ideas I can take from the Rigid Chips Designer, I'll take a look.

Thanks again.

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

Yeah that would be cool!

Right now the tires in GearBlocks use a simple inelastic friction model. However most driving games out there model proper elastic tire friction (e.g. using Pacejka curves), and I would likely need to move over to something like this to allow for under / over inflation. It is on my to do list but is quite far down in priority relative to all the other stuff I need to get done.

I guess I could instead just expose a configurable friction coefficient for the current inelastic model, but I'd have to be quite restrictive on the range of allowable values, as the general vehicle driving behaviour is pretty sensitive to the tire friction (all too easy to make vehicles annoyingly flip over all the time for example).

Anyway, I'll make note of your suggestion, thanks!

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

Glad you like it! Sorry, I don't have a release date for the full version just yet, but I am working hard towards it!

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

No I'm not making the source code available, any particular reason you ask? Thx.

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

I've added hydraulic cylinders to the full game, if that's what you mean? Or if you mean components to build a piston engine, then yeah, that's on my list to look into at some point. Thx!

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

Yeah, I've added a bunch of different rack gear parts to the full game, including some 3 unit long ones. Cheers!

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

Thanks! Yeah I agree, in fact I've already added CV joints (same thing as universal joint) in the full version of the game that I'm working on.

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

Thanks for your feedback!

Yeah, the glitch when going over a bump is a known issue, but thanks for the reminder, I'll make sure to look at it soon! I think I have an idea for how to fix it.

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks Demo 0.4.6095 Win32

Thank you, glad you're enjoying the game, that's great to hear!

I'm currently working on the full version of the game, universal joints are done, and I've added a larger spring, more gear sizes, as well as loads of other parts.

I am planning on releasing a demo update soon, but I won't be adding any more parts to it though, sorry!

Yeah, the glitch that sometimes flings you across the map is very annoying, I gotta try and figure out what's going on there. But, if you do lose a construction somewhere on the map, you can at least always get it back by selecting it from within the world menu.

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

Thanks, glad you're enjoying it! I do plan on implementing pulleys and belts, yes. It probably won't be possible to make a CVT with them though.

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks Demo 0.4.6095 Win32

Yeah sometimes if you set the screen res too small, you can't see the UI to put it back, this'll be solved in the next demo build! In the meantime, the only way to fix it is this: You'll have to run regedit.exe (type into your windows search bar to find it), open up "HKEY_CURRENT_USER/SOFTWARE/Samuel Nunn/GearBlocks Demo", then find and delete the "Screenmanager Resolution" height and width entries. Then rerun the game and it should revert back to the default resolution.

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

Ah, another lego fan I see! Cheers for your kind words, glad you're enjoying the game, and thanks for the suggestions!

- Resizable wing sections are in my plan to do yes, and a rudder part is a good idea too!
- A 3rd person camera is also on the to do list.
- Stepper motors are done and in the full version of the game.
- Typing numbers in to resize blocks is an interesting thought, I'll have to think how this could work from a UI perspective.
- Rigidly attaching gears together is a cool idea, I could see how that might be useful for building gearboxes and such.
- Yeah, axles that attach to the surface of the other parts should be doable.
- Ball and socket joints are done (again, in the full version), including suspension arms and uprights similar to those in lego technic. I also have CV joints. Combining these pieces together you can have driven wheels with suspension and steering.

I have a working prototype implementation of networked multiplayer, although it is server authoratitive (i.e. all the physics is run only on the server). It is very bandwidth intensive, what with having to sync all the moving objects out to the clients. The idea you suggest of having each client sim their own physics, and then sync periodically between them, might be a way around this issue. However, it's not without its own problems, when there's no single authority on where an object is, some sort of conflict resolution needs to happen when things interact. Anyway, something to think about for the future!

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks Demo 0.4.6095 Win32

Good idea, I'll put something in the next demo build.

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

Yeah, I'm planning on adding wheels specifically for bikes that will be centered. I'll also be working on sloped blocks (beams and plates) soon. Aero parts will come a little later after I've done some more research into how I'm going to implement them.

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks Demo 0.4.6095 Win32

Yes, it works in both 32 and 64 bit windows.

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

Thanks! Sorry, I don't have any news just yet about the full version.

As for "non right angle" parts, yes, there are couple of ideas for this. Firstly, I plan on adding sloped beams and plates (so you don't need a whole bunch of blocks in a "stair stepping" pattern). Secondly, not 100% on this yet, but I aim to at least try allowing attachment of beams and axles at smaller than 90 deg intervals, and see how that works out.

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks Demo 0.4.6095 Win32

Thanks, glad you're enjoying it!

Yeah, that's a good idea. There could be an option to change the behaviour of the servo so that instead the keys nudge it back and forth around its axis of rotation, and then maybe map another separate key to return it back to centre. I'll add this to my todo list, thanks!

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks Demo 0.4.6095 Win32

Sorry about that, yeah, you need winzip or winrar to unpack the .rar file (they're free to download).

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

Thanks! Yeah, universal joints will be in the full version (actually CV joints - basically the same thing).

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks Demo 0.4.6095 Win32

Awesome, glad you like it, thanks!

Yeah, I could try having different friction levels depending on what surface the tire is currently on. Tire pressure might be a bit of a stretch though, my wheel physics solution isn't that sophisticated. :)

Modding support is definitely something I want to do eventually, I see it as a big part of building a community around this game.

Networked multiplayer is trickier. I do have a working prototype implementation of server authoritative multiplayer. However, there are many unresolved issues to deal with (such as the high network bandwidth required to sync so many moving physics objects), and it generally takes a huge amount of work to make a smooth reliable networked game, so I've put it on the back burner for now. Maybe something I'll revisit in the future!

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

A deformation system where individual parts get damaged is beyond the scope of what I'm doing really. However, I do have a sort of damage system whereby parts can break off constructions, this is currently in the prototype stage though - it still needs a lot of work to get right.

Sure, feel free to make some videos on GearBlocks on your channel, just keep in mind that it's only the pre-alpha demo!

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

Thanks!!

I'm still trying to decide what to do about combustion engines. I think it would be cool to be able to put actual component pieces (pistons, crankshaft and cylinders etc.) together to build a combustion engine, but that may be asking too much of the physics engine. I'm not sure yet, I'll have to experiment with it to see!

If that doesn't work out, then maybe "self contained" engines (somewhat similar to the existing electric motors) of the various types you suggest would be the way to go.

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks Demo 0.4.6095 Win32

Cool, thanks! Yeah, the plan is to add more details to this map eventually, but having a flat area to start on was the first priority!

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dangersam
dangersam @ GearBlocks

Thanks! Progress is slower than I'd like, but hopefully it'll keep gradually getting better, still lots left to do!

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