Many of you know that Valve is a mod friendly company as shown by the release of Source SDK updates in a fairly consistent manner. However, for quite some time now each SDK update has broken most of our assets and delayed our development. We've spent a lot of time fixing it and in case of the 2007 branch not being salvageable, we (had) a fail-safe build on the Alien Swarm engine branch. For the time being, we're focusing on our Source 2007 branch. Suffice to say (to better get the bad news out of the way) City 17 is going to heavily rely on the eventual release of the 2009 engine branch for mods to give players the best experience.
However, now that Valve has moved the large majority of their titles to the Orange Box Engine we will no longer require players to own "Half Life 2: Episode Two" like we previously had. To play City 17 Episode One, all you'll need is "Half Life 2: Episode One"! Lucky you!
A New Media
We aren't filling our "Programming is more important than gameplay" quota nearly as well as our programmers would like. In the seemingly endless debt we've yet to fill comes quite a few new shaders we've been hard at work on in the passing months. Our Bean counters dictate this is quite enough to last us until City 17: Episode Three. (Projected Release date: 2048- 2018)
Put your shades on, kiddies. This isn't gonna be light on your corneas. That's right, City 17 now features realtime light shafts cast from the Sun and other large sources of light. These are absolutely realtime and will cast rays around any object put in their way.
Vignetting was a definate need early in development. We knew the lack of HEV hud elements would make the screen fairly bland. Vignetting allows us to dim the edges of the screen realtime, and change the intensity of that dim over many instances. City 17 will use Vignetting for scenes, firefights, iron sighting, and atmosphere enhancement. In fact, every single shot in this entire media release has Vignetting applied to it! Just look for it!
City 17: Episode One features an enhanced version of Valve's bloom shader, which produces much smoother and more realistic results! All screenshots posted in this update feature this change!
Unsharp Mask is a high quality sharpening algorithm. In City 17, Unsharp Mask brings out texture detail that is normally hidden or lost.
No Post Processing.
Unsharp Mask up close.
Chromatic Aberration is the splitting of light through a medium. In film (Where this is often reffered to as Chromatic Dispersion), this medium is the camera'a lens and it's effects are usually undesirable. In the real world, Chromatic Aberration occurs anytime light has to pass through a medium. This includes pockets of warm and cool air (Fire), water, solids (Glass), and more. In City 17, we use Chromatic Aberration to further increase the player's immersion and create a more believeable world. From improved fire and water shaders, to fullscreen pain effects, Chromatic Aberration powers it all!
Brushes in City 17 now support phong lighting and texture blending. This means we're able to create much better lighting for our brush work, and we're able to do two texture blends without using displacements, giving us back precious frames!
Screenshots don't do enough justice here, so we've made something special that we're saving for Day 3. You'll just have to wait! We've got a few more screenshots to hold you over, though!
Apparently our Bean counters were wrong. Contrary to the beliefs of our heads of public affairs here at the Gear Development Studio, people actually like seeing gameplay and not just pretty screenshots. This was absolutely shocking news to us at the time. We actually ceased development for over 5 mont- a short while to discuss it!
Hot off the heels of this major development comes a redesign of an area thats been in the works for some time. As we've been drawing closer and closer to release we've been going over content, evaluating what we currently have and so forth. An area we developed quite some time ago and called "done" wasn't as up to par as we had thought. A lot at that time had changed due to a increase of new content coming online and fixing a large majority of the mod's pacing. We feel it's a pretty good update on a fairly old area, though we'll let you all be the judge via these comparison screenshots of "before and after".
The old Garage Map.
Lastly all of the shader features in todays update can be turned off at any time via our custom options menu in case awesome gives you seizures. We've built in different rendering modes for the shaders as well for varying performance in systems. These include the standard: Low, Medium, High settings.
That's it for part one! Drop us your thoughts in the comments below, or feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! This only marks part one of our Three-Part New Years update, come back later in the week for more!