Humble Computer Graphics Book Bundle

In what may be my favourite Humble Bundle by far, the folks over at Humble just launched the Humble Book Bundle: Computer Graphics by CRC Press.  This is a collection of e-books on a huge number of computer graphics topics, including shaders, OpenGL, GPUS, VR, Volumetrics and much much more.  Humble Bundles are broken into tiers, if you buy a certain tier, you get all tiers lower than that one in price.

The tiers of this bundle are:

1$

  • 3D Engine Design for Virtual Globes
  • The Uncanny Valley in Games and Animation
  • Production Volume Rendering
  • Real-Time Volume Graphics

8$

  • Essential Skills in Character Rigging
  • Ray Tracing from the Ground Up
  • OpenGL Insights
  • Real-Time Shadows
  • Multithreading for Visual Effects
  • Graphics Shaders
  • Fluid Simulation for Computer Graphics
  • Digital Representations of the Real World

15$

  • 3D Math Primer for Graphics and Game Development
  • GPGPU Programming for Games and Science
  • Mobile Crowd Sensing
  • Interaction Design for 3D User Interfaces
  • Digital Character Development
  • The Art of Fluid Animation
  • Ultra-Realistic Imaging

When you buy a Humble bundle, you get to decide how your money is allocated, between the publisher, humble, charity and if you choose (and thanks if you do!) GFS.  The Bundle is available here until June 5th.

GameDev News


The Future of CryEngine

This year, just before GDC, CryEngine released a stunning video Neon Noir showcasing real-time raytracing in CryEngine without the need for dedicated hardware.   Beyond that, they have been relatively quite about what developments are coming for the veteran game engine.  Thankfully that has changed with the release of their developmental roadmap.

Highlights from the CryEngine blog:

Tool Optimization

In the short term, our main focus is to increase the stability and usability of the engine. This focus is reflected on the roadmap with, for example, the new in-editor project management system coming to 5.6, along with numerous optimizations in all areas including rendering, compilation, and memory footprint. More details about the features included in 5.6 will be mentioned in the release notes.

Schematyc & New Features

These stabilizations and improvements pave the way for our mid to long-term ambitions which will bring exciting new features, tools, and support for additional platforms. These goals will include the rework of the Schematyc system, which will also bring a modern and modular visual scripting framework that will allow you to create your own game logic without the need to code.. The modular behavior of the visual scripting framework will enable other features to take advantage of this system, including, for example, our animation tools.

Ray Tracing

Of course, we will also be looking to integrate the new hardware-agnostic ray tracing technology into the engine, with the aim to make it available in CRYENGINE 5.7. If you want to know more about ray tracing in CRYENGINE, you can follow up on our latest interview with the developers creating Neon Noir, our GDC ray tracing demo. More news on the subject, just stay tuned and keep your eyes on our channels.

The full developmental roadmap is available here and is covered in depth in the video below.

GameDev News


Epic Games Online Services Delayed

Announced back in December of 2018, Online Services is a collection of free and cross platform game engine agnostic services for multiplayer games, as battle tested in Fortnite.  Services such as achievements, player inventory, matchmaking and voice communications will be made available completely free.  The roll-out is over time, with the ticketing and game analytics services currently being live, with the remaining coming at some point in the future. 

Unfortunately there has been a bit of a delay:

As a result of our current prioritizations, several roadmap items are being delayed. Most notably, we are rescheduling the release of the Player Reports and Player Data Storage services. To provide more detail, we are moving the roadmap to a Trello board, which you can bookmark and revisit at your convenience.

It’s not all bad news though, there is one major new change that should be happily received.

We’re also working to open up the identity and social services we built for Fortnite to support cross-play in partner games without requiring the use of Epic accounts or other Epic dependencies.

This should make the use of Epic’s Online Services a great deal more appealling to many developers… once they finally arrive.  If you are interested in signing for the SDK click here.  To learn more, watch the video embedded below.

GameDev News


Epic Purchase Twinmotion

Epic Games have acquired Twinmotion, a archviz solution built on top of Epic’s Unreal game engine technology.  Even better, Twinmotion is being made available for free Until November of 2019, with the license remaining valid past that date.

Details from the announcement blog:

We’re excited to announce that Epic Games and Twinmotion have joined forces! Powered by Unreal Engine, Twinmotion, a high-quality, easy-to-use real-time visualization solution, is now part of the Epic family. And the best news? Our new version of Twinmotion is absolutely free to download and use for all customers until November 2019.

Twinmotion makes compelling design visualization easy! Whether you’re in the architecture, construction, urban planning, or landscaping industry, its highly intuitive interface enables you to assign PBR materials, set up lighting, and even choose the season and the weather with just a few clicks. Populate your scene from a library of ready-to-use assets, including animated characters, and trees whose foliage blows in the wind. With as few as two clicks, you can create paths of walking people or moving cars, and then vary their appearance to suit your scene.

Twinmotion can be downloaded using the Epic Game Launcher, under the newly added Twinmotion tab.  Learn more about Twinmotion on the recently updated UnrealEngine site.  You can see Twinmotion in action in the video below.

GameDev News


Humble AI And Deep Learning Book Bundle

Another Humble Bundle of interest to game developers, this one is the Humble Book Bundle: Artificial Intelligence & Deep Learning by Packt bundle.  This is a collection of e-books (and 3 videos) in mobi, epub and PDF formats around the topics of AI and machine learning from the publisher Packt.  As always, the Humble Bundle is broken up into tiers, where you get all of the books at and below the current tier you purchased.

The tiers in this bundle are:

1$

  • Machine Learning For Mobile
  • Python Deep Learning
  • Unity Artificial Intelligence Programming
  • Python Machine Learning By Example
  • Mathematical Foundations for AI and Machine Learning

8$

  • Hands-On Reinforcement Learning with Python
  • Hands-On Artificial Intelligence for IoT
  • Artificial Intelligence by Example
  • Hands-On Machine Learning for Algorithmic Trading
  • Python Machine Learning Cookbook
  • Deep Learning with PyTorch
  • Advanced Artificial Intelligence Projects with Python
  • Hands-On Python Deep Learning

15$

  • Deep Learning for Computer Vision
  • Natural Language Processing with TensorFlow
  • Advanced Deep Learning with Keras
  • Mastering Machine Learning Algorithms
  • Deep Reinforcement Learning Hands-On
  • Deep Learning with TensorFLow
  • Hands-On Transfer Learning with Python
  • Hands-On Deep Learning for Games
  • Python Deep Learning Projects
  • Deep Learning Architecture for Building Artificial Neural Networks (Video)
  • AI For Finance (Video)
  • The Complete Machine Learning Course with Python (Video)

As with all Humble Bundles, you can decide how your money is allocated, between the publisher, charity, Humble and even help support GFS (thanks!)  The bundle is available here or learn more in the video below.

GameDev News


Unity 2019.2 Beta

Unity have just released their latest beta, Unity 2019.2, now available in the Beta Releases tab in the Unity Hub.  So shortly after GDC 2019, there aren’t many surprises in this release.

Highlights from the Unity 2019.2 release:

  • Optimized frame pacing on Android
  • Screen brightness control on iOS and Android
  • Improved screen cutout support (notches and chins)
  • Polybrush 1.0.0 package
  • Several features moved from editor to packages
  • LWRP improvements with experimental 2D renderer with pixel perfect and lighting
  • Intel Open Image Denoise support
  • GPU Lightmapper Improvements
  • NVIDIA OPTIX Denoiser improvements
  • New Cloud User Diagnostics
  • Unity Distribution Portal

Learn more about this release in the video below.

GameDev News


Phaser 3.17.0 Released

The Phaser HTML game framework just released version 3.17.0.  Phaser is an excellent open source MIT licensed 2D game framework.  If you are interested in getting started with Phaser, we have a tutorial video to get you started available right here.

The headline features of the 3.17.0 release include:

  • New Shader and BaseShader game objects make it even easier to use shaders with Phaser
  • DOM element game object to integrate DOM UI elements into your game
  • Camera Masks, for creating easy camera special effects

There are of course dozens of other improvements so be sure to read the full release notes here.  The complete change log is available here.  Phaser is available here, while the source code is available here.

GameDev News


Using C# With Unreal Engine

While Unreal Engine doesn’t provide C# support out of the box, it does provide an exceptional plugin system, so it was only a matter of time until C# plugins arrived.  Today we are looking at the open source USharp extension, which is based on the MonoUE plugin project.  Using this plugin, UE4 gains C# functionality with the following features:

  • Write C# using UObject exposed types (AActor, AGameMode, UActorComponent, etc). Define new UObject types and inherit existing ones. Exposed C# types can then be used in (or extended by) Blueprint.
  • Access to Unreal’s reflection system (UClass, UFunction, UProperty, etc).
  • Hot-reload
  • Dynamically switch between .NET Framework, .NET Core and Mono for an improved debugging / runtime experience without having to reopen the editor
  • Supports Windows, Mac and Linux

There are however some downsides:

  • This project depends on a lot of PInvoked functions which could potentially behave differently on different C++ compilers. This project may not work on some target platforms.
  • Like mono-ue this project depends on lots of generated code and IL weaving. It probably isn’t the best for performance and there is a huge amount of generated code everywhere.
  • The weaved IL currently seems to break edit-and-continue debugging (issue with cecil?)
  • There is currently too much marshaling on structs / collections (list, map, set). Marshaling needs to be redesigned to avoid copies of entire collections / structs on trivial calls between C# / native code. Additionally marshaling of delegates needs to be redesigned (various issues such as being referenced as a copy of the delegate).

If you are interested in checking out USharp, you can find the installation instructions here.  One potential problem to be aware of, the project creator doesn’t seem to have attached a license to the code repository!  While this code is not production ready, if you intend to use it in any capacity, I would make sure the license is suitable.  See the results of the plugin in action in the video below.

GameDev News


Substance Designer Spring Update

Substance Designer, the PBR material creation software from Allegorithmics (and now Adobe), just received it’s first major update of 2019.  The major new feature is the ability to process both values and textures, simplifying the material creation workflow.  The release also includes several new filters such as new flood fill variants, height extrusion and more.

Details from the press release:

Where before textures represented values, Substance Designer can now process these values directly during material creation, ensuring consistency across the pipeline. Using the new “Value Processor” node, users can manipulate values from within the composite graph itself, helping to drive parameters and optimize their workflow with even more creative flexibility. Rather than working with nodes that represented elements like color, users can add the color value directly, simplifying and strengthening the design process. 

Users can also pass values from one node to another, and create global variables at the graph level. Over time, nodes/filters will attain the ability to become smarter throughout the graph as they receive additional data. Substance Engine v7 will soon be compatible with all the Substance integrations, so materials can be directly imported into top tools without any extra tweaks.

“With the introduction of Substance Engine v7, Substance Designer takes another step toward becoming the ultimate material authoring tool,” said Nicolas Wirrmann, product manager for Substance Designer. “The whole ecosystem has become smarter, and the new engine allows artists to continue to innovate and experiment for years to come.”

Along with Substance Engine v7, today’s update brings with it several new filters, including:

  • New Flood Fill Variants – Two new Flood Fill companion nodes have been released including: “Flood Fill to Index,” which generates user numbers per shape, and “Flood Fill Mapper,” which lets them apply images to each shape.
  • Atlas Splitter – Users can now divide an Atlas in order to isolate and exploit the separate elements of a scan.
  • New Directional Warp Filters – The “Non-Uniform Direction Warp” allows the intensity and direction of the warp to be driven by an image input; the “Multi-Directional Warp” applies the directional warp multiple times in opposite directions while the displaced texture stays in place.
  • Height Extrude – Height maps can now be rendered as 3D depth; users can rotate the resulting shape as a 3D object.
  • Triplanar Update – More accurate blending formula, random offset, separated inputs for x, y and z projections are now available.
  • Improvements to Normal Vector Rotation – Rather than being set by a uniform value, the Normal Vector rotation angle can now be set using the grayscale value of an image input.

Along with the new features, today’s update also introduces several performance upgrades, including a massive boost to the bakers. The integration of Optix for the AO, Bent Normal and Thickness bakers will now produce speeds at least five times faster than CPU ray tracing. The .obj loader has also been optimized and multi-threaded, leading to a significant increase in loading times.

For technical users, the update brings expanded options to the Python Scripting plugin system. Users can now create GUIs for plugins within Substance Designer using the Python API. The plugin system has also been standardized, allowing for plugins to start when the application loads, aiding in the creation of persistent plugins. Additional plugins created by the Substance team are on the way as well, look for those soon.

You can learn more as well as download a 30 day trial here.

GameDev News


Write Like a Writer Humble Bundle

Humble Bundle are running another bundle of interest to game developers… this time, for the writers among us.  The Write like a Writer bundle is a collection of e-books about all facets of writing from the publisher Adams Media.  As always, the bundle is organized into tiers.  If you buy a tier you get all the books at that price point and all tiers below it.

The tiers of this bundle include:

1$ Tier

Script Tease

The Tao of Writing

Write.  10 Days to Overcome Writer’s Block

Grammar Sucks

Screen-Writing

A Cup of Comfort for Writers

The Everything Guide to Writing a Book Proposal

The Everything Guide to Writing Nonfiction

A Writer’s Space

8$ Tier

The Call of the Writer’s Craft

The Everything Creative Writing Book

The Everything Guide To Writing Children’s Books

Write that Book Already

The Everything Improve Your Writing Book

Screenwriting in the Land of OZ

15$ Tier 

Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction

Plot Whisperer

1-Minute Writer

The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need

The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts

Hire Me, Hollywood!

The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists

The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screen Writers

1001 Letters for All Occasions

The Everything Guide to Comedy Writing

The Everything Guide to Writing Your First Novel

Wow… that is a lot of books on books!  Buying this bundle also helps supporting charity, NCAC and First Book are the selected charities for this bundle.  In addition you can also direct some of the proceeds to support GFS, in which case, thank you!

GameDev News