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Dev Diary: Clockwork, 11/03/2021
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"image by: The Local Milkman"
Dev Diary: Clockwork #1
So there is a lot I could say about feelings and how great it is to be here working on this mod, but I am pretty sure that I have gotten plenty of those posted in the discord dev-update channel. As far as me, my progress is going well for an individual working on a mod as large as this. A realization occurs when you find out that you have to make a whole new race... for vanilla this might not be as bad, but with UA there is a lot more units to add. I guess I can break my Dev Diary in a few categories depending on what I am working on:
Performance is always on the back of my mind when making content for this mod, as it is large. Which means anything I add I have been making sure to balance quality of looks and quality for the computer not to keel over. This engine is a 32-bit engine which means that even though our computers are wonderful now... they will be bottlenecked in every department regardless. Blessed be that we have the LAA patch available to increase the ram usage from 2GB to 4GB if I recall is what it does...
I have been delving into the technical of how to further improve performance so to make sure that the game does not die every time. One technical limitation is the CPU and the amount of cores that it uses, which is currently only one. However I have found a couple guides to allow Soulstorm to use two cores instead of one. Not that it will give any performance boost but hopefully it will help alleviate crashes due to CPU. This does not mean that this will be a reality but I am investigating its practicality.
In other performance news, I want to reduce the overall textures of units. The biggest misconception is that reducing the amount of pixels reduces quality. This is not entirely true. This is only true if I do nothing to the textures after the fact. There are quite a few textures that are wasting pixels because instead of unwrapping properly they probably just unwrapped automatically instead of doing it by hand. Which leads to a ton of unused or misused pixels. I will not reduce textures without editing them by hand, however this takes time so do not expect these to be pumping out all the time as I have a ton of work to do that I have. I feel like a Santa Claus but I still have to make the toys so I keep moving Christmas Day.
Most of my time is dedicated to my family and my education, whilst going to work. So my time allotted to working on this mod is divided up between when I want to play games and when I want to work on the mod. Let alone I want to host a DnD campaign in the near future. Essentially this has an affect here. The good news is I have about roughly 2-3 "cogs" which are people helping me in the art department which is essential for adding anything new to the mod. I have great appreciation for those that have stuck around. Each person that helps me in little ways lets me focus on the harder operations.
RELEARNING OLD TECHNOLOGY:
"But Clockwork you have been in the team for many months, why is your content not in game yet?"
I haven't gotten this question yet but I keep thinking to myself that people are thinking about it. Why haven't I gotten a whole race in-game yet? Well the answer is when I joined the dev team right after the schism I was notified by what was left of the team at the time that no one knew how to get content in game... And the tutorials that were left after RelicNews was deleted were vague to me as someone who just came from modding Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance. I do have to say that most of the months was me trying to figure out how to get content in-game...
This is my initial workflow trying to connect all the different applications ^ and make sense of how they relate to each other.
The good news now is I can confidently say I have gotten units in-game that are currently being coded and fixed up by other team members. So no more complaints here.
Yes I do use blender to mod dow1, however I cannot directly port the content into the engine unfortunately, but I can port an .obj model into 3dsmax and fix it up there. I like the modeling and textures tools in blender much better than what is available in an old version of 3dsmax, or current versions of 3dsmax. Sorry, not sorry!
HELPING NEW DEVS:
Why do I divide my time more and more? Maybe because I cannot say 'no' to someone who wants to make a mod for dow1. I am also developing a .chm file which I'm naming the "Clockwork Codex" that has a ton of tech help in modding dow1 in my general department. I try to be in the #tech-help especially if there is a question that only I can answer. By all means if you need general help with getting tools to work and whatnot just stop by in the discord. It is the best way to reach me.
WHY DOW2 MODELS:
A few ask why I have been cheaping out on using dow2 models for some of the assets. The answer is because they may look better than what I will create by myself and the amount of time that I have is limited so I made choices to use the DOW2 models for the krieg for instance, and the Tyranids to alleviate the time to make the units in game. Making double digits amount of units not including sfx, sounds, coding objects, armatures, rigging, animations is a lot of things to do for one individual. This does not mean I am not making units from scratch or modifying existing units, which is good.
I wish porting units from DOW2 to DOW1 was as easy as copy-paste but that isn't possible I am afraid. Otherwise I am sure we would see a lot more DOW2 units. Other news is that not all DOW2 units that are ported are the same at all either. Mine for example, I am trying to include as many of the original content as well:
for the tyranids did you know that each unit has multiple skins for glowing, carnage and whatnot?
for the krieg I had two options:
1. reskin the krieg model on an armature of an existing dow1 unit
2. use the krieg armature and animations and recode the object handling to tell the engine how to play each animation where...
In conclusion I chose option 2 because I wanted to.
I hope that most of you like the new installer, by all means I never knew how to make one before I joined here but by golly it was fun to make. I am sure some may remember that I put elevator music on the first edition of the installer :D the complaints filled me with joy. Making the installer was a priority early on because #tech-help was being inundated with questions, I didn't see adding more moderators fixing the problem. So I made the installer that we use now. I do have to thank the Tyranid Mod Team for helping me understand a few technical caveats to include the function for the installer to find your soulstorm directory automatically. This feature only works with the steam version of Soulstorm as the Steam version makes a registry of where games are installed.
"Why is there no zip or torrent or etc..."
The ultimate reason is my laziness, but also the fact that we currently do not own everything that is currently in the mod (i.e. the tyranids). So for this reason to make it easier to install I developed this installer that also runs the tyranid installer separately for legal issues. Maybe when I get the tyranids in-house I will look at those possibilities but hopefully this answers your question better.
I have been coordinating with NecroMatt on how to improve the looks of the game all the way to something that would be more pleasing to the eye. The first batch of loading backgrounds were as cancerous as the elevator music in the installer. I enjoyed every complaint :D. The reason behind the loading screens is because we were testing different effects and eventually going to make a decision on them. However somehow they got leaked into the latest update, I cannot say how or why but I'll probably take responsibility for it so complain to me. The good news for those who like 'good' loading screens is that we are currently working on more professional designs with accreditation for the individuals who made them on the bottom. Me personally I want to add the 40k fan-art that was submitted but we might get to that later.
The other part of the loading screen debacle is the coding aspect of it. What I am doing is making players mirrored on the left and right side. I have gotten it to half work... It will work all the time except when you have uneven teams, then it makes the background tags flip so I am currently working on hopefully seeing if it is possible to fix this.
I am now helping with the moddb, to make sure links are correct, fix anomalies, answer questions that I can answer.
... that's it, not that exciting to be honest.
Well you came to the right place, I'll start talking about what I have in store for you that I 'can' talk about. Just a disclosure before I begin is that anything that was promised by the dev team before I joined is possibly not going into the mod as all progress of certain models was pulled when the old dev team left. Which means! that I have a new roster of units to promise you :D. This does not mean I wont revisit those units that were promised it just means I have different priorities right now.
Would you believe me if I said that the original nurgling was just a different model with the Unclean one's textures wrapped on it. Didn't make sense to me, so I remade this guy into a closer image of the GW ones, that I found on google.
So hopefully everyone knows what the krieg dow2 models look like so I think why should I post it in my Dev Diary... Instead why not most something people have not seen, (WARNING: THIS MODEL NOT DONE). This is the prototype of the krieg hq, i'm still working out the process but there was not a lot of information on the type of structures that krieg make on their own. So why not a bunker made of concrete.
Hopefully you know what these guys look like, if not I would be worried. So the reason why I am reworking the tyranids originated: when we have to outsource models from the Tyranid Mod Team. This makes installing the mod a nightmare because we cannot just include them into our own installer. So to help #tech-help in the long run I hope in the future to make installing easier for those that really need that help by making these models in house removing the need of an extra installer. On the plus side expect new things for the race as a whole as well.
If anyone has seen the imperator in-game currently I am sure the reaction would hopefully be of disappointment... I was. So I am currently re-doing the imperator in-game to a schematic I found on the internet. Maybe in the far future I'll add more imperator variations so that it won't always be the same exact imperator. Otherwise the progress on this specific model is taking its sweet time as the texturing aspect is taking a long time. I'm experimenting if I can get to texture this whole model with just 512x512 texture and get away with it. So I'm going face by face making sure that each one is textured properly.
There are a ton more things I cannot talk about but hopefully there is enough eye-candy for you to chew on. I hope you liked this dev diary, I'm sure that my future dev diaries won't be as extensive as right now I am playing catch up. It is nice to meet you all whenever I join a voice chat or when I get random messages about the problematic elevator music in the installer. There is no set date on these dev diaries just yet but maybe I should make it a monthly thing. Bye!
BIG THANKS TO THE PEOPLE BELOW FOR 1.89.3! More to come on Cylarne's youtube channel!
Lord_Cylarne: Mod Lead & Lead Programmer
Clockwork: Art & Project Manager
Gooseman: Corsix work, Balance Manager
Necro Matt: Art
Joeneux: Lore Compliance Dev & Community Manager
Darkwalker: Map & Rescale Dev
Frosthammer: Audio Dev & Sound Remasters
woo nice, that's some big news!
All the best team ! You do have a huge task ahead but we all wait patiently !
This just makes me more excited for the future of this mod. Great work so far!
We all have to start somewhere, your work looks impressive mate, this is only the beginning. I am sure we can expect great things to come.
I honestly would not care how long this mod takes if you guys kept giving us these Dev updates, I think it is the radio silence at any given time that might be slowly killing faith in some users.
All you gotta do is just give us progress updates like the one above just to get us hyped or knowing that progress is being made and in whatever direction it is going forward. Its a good read plus the screenshots show us tangible proof of said progress. Keep going team, still doing amazing work :D
I'm glad to hear that, I check the moddb between monday and friday. Dev updates from me at least will occur for sure. I think at most they may happen monthly so that they will have content on them but they can happen sooner since they do not have a set schedule.
Cool for a moment I thought apoc might be over. Why are you not teaming up with the crucible though if you don't mind my asking. This does sound like a LOT of hard work to do by yourself? I love to help but I only started trying to learn how to make mods a few months ago and tutorials are HARD to find. It seems most beginner guides have been forgotten and deleted. I made my first map a week ago though and have started trying to add a new model into the game. ANY tutorials you could offer would be AMAZING for beginners like me. I would love to join the DoW1 modding community for the next 10 years and get to a place where I can join one of your big teams. I just need tutorials right now. You mentioned a "Clockwork Codex" that has a ton of tech help in modding dow1. PLEASE let me know when that is ready because I WILL read every last little bit of advice you can give. I will check back here once a week in hope you post the "Clockwork Codex". Right now the modding community seems to need a well made tutorial MORE than anything else. A lot of the older modders seem to have moved on and everyone from what I can tell seems to be having trouble finding new blood. I AM NEW BLOOD. PLEASE TEACH ME. If any of you create a new good tutorial new blood will be found.
As far as I understand not many other mods want to work with UA, (again: as far as I personally understand). This in turn means that most development in the pipeline is just me. I'll keep working on the Clockwork Codex as it also has small fixes that I figured out and small details, fixes for errors you may get, and other various information related to my overall department which has the least amount of documentation for when it really needs it. I'll keep you posted in the next Dev Dairy.
Thank you for your reply.