Some progress towards next release

As I wrote earlier, we’re working hard on eliminating fatal bugs (that is, bugs crashing the game, not bugs killing the player).

Access violation

We’re still not quite there, but the game is getting more and more playable (even though the current release is far more stable than the one in development).

The problem isn’t really solving the problems. The problem is finding a solution, which doesn’t includes hacks and a solution which is long lived and will prevent similar problems from arising. Still, some of the crash bugs are now pointing to cleanup of objects. That is, objects being deleted from the scene and when loading a game while playing a game.

We’ve also found some time in-between the crash bugs to get rid of some of the smaller bugs and implementing some features, like pushing F for opening storehouses and other inventory screens. This is work in progress, and it’s likely to change (and crash) in the future.

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Crash, crash & more crashes

I was supposed to be working on multiplayer and possibly a Mac release this month. However, we’ve gotten feedbacks the current release (0.12) is rather error prone and wants to crash all the time.

It passed our initial tests, that’s why we put it up as a release. But further development and testing unmasks a whole set of errors. We’ve identified some issues we believe is behind most of the crashes, and all of those are related to multithreading.

crash

While being a complex topic, we’ve been trying to keep it simple by enveloping parts of the game to different threads. Graphics and physics have each their own thread, terrain generation have their own thread and so on.

The problem lies between thread boundaries, namely when sending messages between threads.

Here we haven’t been diligent enough to offload the work when receiving a message to the “local thread”. The result have been that multiple threads have been trying to update the same sections of data simultaneously. Most of the time it’s fine, but sometimes, and specially on users computers, it seems to be an issue. Since we discovered those issues, fixing any crash-to-desktop problems have been my top priority.

It’s time consuming, and little or no features are added by me as I hunt down all crash bugs. But what’s a game full of features and content if it’s not playable…

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Game Demo Video release 0.12

Burnt Islands release 0.12 as a game demo video. You can probably see some bugs in the game from the video. I see them too! It is in development :)

Enjoy!

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Burnt Islands release 0.12

Download Burnt Islands build 0.12 (Windows and Linux)

This time we worked mostly on improving graphics. Graphics programming is time-consuming and sometimes gives nothing as a result. We were planning on changing our terrain generation algorithm from Marching cubes to Transvoxel, but it just took too much time. We have realized that we need to have a release plan and stick to it in order to be able to release the game.

New features:

1. New “Look and feel” of the menus (GUI/CeGUI)
new cegui

2. More burnt stuff on the islands – you can destroy them with an axe and gather some resources.
burnt items

3. Sugar plants give sugar and sugar gives energy
sugar plants

4. New terrains on islands 3 and 4
island3

Improvements:
- Better textures for terrain
- Improved models and textures for various ingame items.
- More visible terrain with decreased level of detail far from the player.
- More Mine monsters!

All feedback is welcome!

If you don’t want to use the in game feedback form, email us at burnt@studiofreya.com

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Why you need to release frequently

For the past months we’ve been trying to release Burnt Islands as frequent as we can, ideally every week. A “one week” goal is easy to set, but not so easy to maintain.

What good things frequent releases bring:
- You test your code much more often and thorough
- You can easily see how you’re progressing after each release, this to correct your future path
- You update your blog and any other sources for communication with your players more often. Then people don’t forget about you.
- You see bottlenecks in your game earlier.

Holes in terrain while digging

Holes in terrain while digging

But you need to be in control all the time. Our last release 0.12 is already taking a whole month. It is a release where we decided to improve graphics in the game. Graphics programming takes a lot of time here as none of us are experts with it. We learn every day. We try and fail every day. We were going to release 0.12 on Wednesday, but a whole bunch of came up in release test.

Triangles without texture in strange places

Triangles without texture in strange places

So, you know, you stand up on Wednesday morning and is planning to take it easy after a quick release, but is instead sitting and fixing bugs til Friday. On Friday we found out that our game is too slow. This bug was there for a while, but we never saw it really as a problem before.

But we are in release 12 and it is time to think that people might actually buy the game as it is available for pre-order already. And then not everybody have super fast computers as well.

That being said, we are going to make our best effort to make a release as soon as possible.

Our current bottleneck is graphics and too many triangles in the scene. It’s a really complex matter where we need to study some research papers in order to find a solution.

Keep in touch!

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Working with better graphics

As you maybe know we are working iterative on our game these days. It means that we develop things in iterations. Each iteration is one week long in ideal, but mostly take more time. After releasing build 10, we decided that it is time to improve graphics in the game. The most important part in a game is of course gameplay, but without good graphics people often don’t want to even try it.

Working with graphics takes a whole lot of time. You try different techniques here and there and see how it looks. You can never be sure that you are finished with the task. In 2012, when we worked with a basics for texturing a dynamic 3d terrain it took us several months of work to get the terrain look somewhat good. It is difficult as you learn something all the time and dig and search and explore. After that we were so exhausted that now we take one little step at a time.

In build 12 we are working among other things with better textures.

Here is what we have achieved so far with plants and a start scene:

Burnt Islands start scene textures

Better stone and grass textures on islands

Better and more variable textures around plants

Better and more variable textures around plants

If you do have some input on better graphics for us – please, contact us or just leave your feedback in a game!

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Burnt Islands release 0.11

Download Burnt Islands build 0.11 (Windows and Linux)

New features:
1. Controller support!

Controller support for Burnt Islands

2. Changes in the start scene. All start resources are available in the storehouse.

Store house in a start scene

3. Monster pets. Insert a green board card in order to make a friendly monster.

Board cards make friendly and enemy monsters

4. Bad banana is an inventory item and can be used to make oil barrels.

Bad banana in inventory

Improvements:
- Energy fills up automatically if you have oil barrels in inventory.
- Help texts are moved down in the screen.

Support change:
- We are now sending data from the log file each time you press Exit-button. You can disable that in an “Options” menu.

All feedback is welcome!

If you don’t want to use the in game feedback form, email us at burnt@studiofreya.com.

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Monster pets preview

A preview video of monsters that can be made your pets. Just switch a board card from red to green and you have a friendly monster instead of an enemy. When they are friendly they make dirt bombs for you and gather them in their “bomb gathers”. You can then pick the bombs up.

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Monster pets are coming

Next release, 0.11, is a couple of days delayed. We where trying to get it out last Friday, but it slipped. There were a couple of things happening, and we were implementing new features and fixing bugs, which will significantly improve reliability. Those things could not be left half done.

As a result, what will come in next release is 1) drastically reduced chance of crashes related to graphics and 2) controller support and 3) improved monsters (and you can have monster pets!).

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Game Demo Video – Build 0.10

New game demo video capture for build 0.10.

Remember the feedback!

Enjoy!

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