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Porting…

So I haven’t posted any updates for a while as things have been rather chaotic here over the past few weeks since we finally got access to the latest Source Engine Code and started the process of porting everything over. Originally I thought it would be a fairly straightforward task since DE’s code was minimal and the content being pretty much done. However, after some initial issues just getting the P2 Engine code to compile, it quickly became obvious once we had a build up and running that things were going to be far from straightforward…

Ouch!

Missing and broken shaders, broken sprites, colour correction, overlays, NPCs and a whole bunch of other stuff which had been changed or phased out during the Source Engine’s evolution from 2007’s Orange Box Engine; quite frankly DE was a broken mess! Originally the plan was to port the code from the mod and spend a few weeks improving it and adding some nice new features, but the situation being as it is, development has quickly shifted from porting the original code (which was done in just few days) to sifting through a mountain of bugs to just get DE up to the same standard as it was in mod-form.

It’s been a hell of a lot of work but we’re almost there, at about 2/3 of the way through the bug list at the moment, and hopefully it’s just a couple more weeks of work before we can start adding features instead of fixing things. The knock on effect of this unfortunately means that the plan to release this summer is no longer a realistic goal and right now it’s looking more like it’ll be sometime in autumn.

It’s not all bad however! There have also been some major improvements to the Source Engine in both performance and visuals. The new water shader for example is now much more sophisticated and has optimisations which Jack and I had planned to add but were already implemented – saving us a lot of work. There’s also a neat vertex wind shader that will allow me to add realistic sway to static prop foliage along with the detail sprites, proper multicore support, fast model rendering and a queued material system and much more which results in super-speedy render times that in some cases improved performance by 50-60fps! (And we haven’t even added in our detail sprite optimisations yet!) This is exciting as it means DE should be able to run smoothly at full detail on even the most moderate of PC’s, and hopefully at some point, Macs! – Also made possible with the new Engine.

I’m hoping to be able to post more frequent updates from now on and especially as DE gets closer to release, and I’m especially looking forward to being able to show off DE in the new engine!

9 comments to Porting…

  • Keeping tabs as usual.

    I’m not sure the retro Tron look is befitting for the Dear Esther project :)

    Naturally the port breaks me heart thinking of all the completed work that needs to be massaged back into place. (having a faint idea of what it’s like to move code from one project to another or swap languages)

    I’m using DE as a benchmark of valve actually updating HL2 to Portal2 (if not later code base….say a future HL3/ep3 version of the engine)

    Seeing how basic mapping can fall to pieces from just the orange box to portal2, maybe I should stop that wish-full thinking right now :)

    Curious about the mac port. When you are saying it’s a matter of funding, is a that a licence stipulation, or maintaining a roof over your head and food in your belly whilst you do the port before you are forced to go back to level design for the commercial gaming sector again.

    You do know I would hug you guys if I could for DE, but all I can do is open my wallet instead :)

    p.s. Too late to mention this now, but I just found (or rather I had a presentation by the sites creator) http://www.kickstarter.com/ where people can donate to project…sadly their lawyers are in deadlock about how it would all work outside of the US of A, as something like this could benefit us Europeans.

    • Indeed, I think ‘massaged’ is exactly the analogy I would have used looking back at the work I’ve had to do to get things back up to scratch!

      Regarding the Mac Port, it is really just a case of me only having just enough money to pay the rent and eat eco-noodles until we have something to release. All of the funding from IF has gone towards Source Engine license fees, paying our coder and remastering the audio. We’d need to buy a whole bunch of Macs to be able compile and test on, and as you know they don’t come cheap! (Especially to an indie bum such as myself!) So hopefully if me make enough sales to cover the equipment costs etc. we’ll be all set for a Mac Release! :)

  • Plazmataz

    These developments are exciting news! You mention a Mac port, and this is something that tantalizes my ears. A Steam-Play stamp on the DE release would be a wonderful addition, I think, but what exactly are your plans for Mac porting? If you were to support the title on Macs, would that be available from the initial release, or something that would come along some months after the PC version is out?

    • At the moment we simply don’t have the resources or equipment necessary to do a simultaneous Mac/PC release. My hope is that we can make enough sales off the PC version to be able to fund a Mac release shortly after the PC release. I really think this would be a great game for the Mac so I hope we get that opportunity in the future!

  • RoMeJo

    Autumn eh ? Not too bad. With the recent lack of updates I was worried the game was gunna be delayed severely.

    Hats off to you guys. I envy you. I’d love to be able to create an amazing world to explore. Good luck sorting out all the bugs.

    Can’t wait for this game. I know I won’t be disappointed.

  • Spark

    Disappointed about the release date but it seems like it’ll be worth it in the long run.

  • Edawan

    Ouch indeed !

    Still very much looking forward to the improved Dear Esther !

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