News Archive

09:43 02 Sep 2011
SOTA August 2011

In the month of August we really pushed for assembling as many resources as we could.  While we still want as many hands as we can find, we're going to proceed assuming the current team is all we get.

Demo Location #1: Dante's Inferno
The demo will cover three areas in the Seattle sprawl, giving a fleeting glimpse of the shadows.  In the forthcoming newsletters, we'll discuss the locations to give you a taste.  This month: Dante's Inferno.  It's a nightclub in downtown Seattle, built in layers of glass and themed to resemble the nine levels of hell.  The runners will assemble there, seeking an audience with Mr. Johnson, starting one dangerous night's work.

Dante's Inferno is currently being constructed by Dooley and Don (AKA IsDon).  They're working to capture the nine levels, spiral staircases, and demonic atmosphere.  While they should be able to produce a rough outline soon, they are in need of additional art to fill in the environment.  In particular, they need texture artists willing to lend a hellish finish to every surface.

You can track progress on Dante's Inferno in Dooley's dev log.

Demo Story
Demo's story underwent rapid development in August.  Curtis, with assistance from Park and the rest of the team, produced a comprehensive script for the action and dialog that will appear in demo.  While the team is still working on refining and augmenting the Shadowrun flavor of the piece, we're very excited about how the qualities of 2070 are materializing on the page, without the aid of sound effects or 3D graphics.

Unreal Python
In order to implement objectives, conversations, and several other dynamic features in SRA, we need dynamic scripting.  Noah has been hard at work creating a scripting system, on top of static UnrealScript, called Unreal Python (or UnPy).  UnPy will enable mission designers to implement complex logic and react in a way that would be unwieldy using the built-in UDK capabilities.  In the long-term, this will allow a database-driven approach to story content, enabling the technical team to easily deploy changes to the world and the creative team to change the experience across shared areas of the game.

For the latest on UnPy, check out Noah's Dev Log

A Comment From the Leadership Team: Keeping Things "Open"
Shadowrun: Awakened is being built in the spirit of open source, but sometimes, one can be hesitant to embrace what that means: "If you want something to happen, make it happen".  The leadership team is here to coordinate and facilitate, but never to lend permission to do what you think is best when trying to build the world or tools.  If you can do something, then do it.  If you know who can do it, then ask them.  If you don't know who can do it, then come to the leadership team.  Don't come just for permission to start, because you already have a good gauge for the consensus of the group and waiting another day to start your work is one day lost between now and December.


21:03 28 Jul 2011
State of the Art, July 2011

We have a new look for our homepage and a new goal for the project.  Here's the rundown...

Countdown to the Awakening
The project has committed itself to releasing something public & playable by December 24th, 2011.  It will be a single-player story that introduces the player to the basic game mechanics of Shadowrun: Awakened.  We hope to excite players with this demo, showing them what's possible.  At the same time, this is a great way to show technical progress with what we have on hand.  Further details on how to acquire the demo will be forthcoming.  Visit the Countdown to the Awakening forum thread for more details.

If you want to be the first to know about it, then Like Us on Facebook or Follow Us on Twitter.  It's the easiest way to stay up-to-date with the project.  Tell your friends about the project to help build momentum!  The bigger our social network, the more likely we can find the right people who can write code or build models.

We Need Your Help!
If you're an artist or programmer who has gone dormant on the project and has the time to come back, please go to the Development Log forum and either post on your thread or start a new one to let us know you can help.  We will marshal you welcome you back with open arms and marshal you toward the December goals.  In the next 5 months, we'll especially need modelers, riggers, animator, and texture artists.  Please spread the word to anyone you know who can also help.

YouTube Channel
The project has created a Shadowrun: Awakened YouTube Channel to help share videos of progress on the project.  We've received a very positive response from the community and it visualizing progress opens the eyes of fans in a new way.  Watch the SOTA July 2011 video for a full rundown of features implemented in the UDK.  We'll continue with monthly video previews.

Thanks, Chummer
The new December goal has set the community ablaze lately and we'd like to thank everyone's energy.  If you just want to hear what's happening, talk to us on Facebook.  If you're here to help, then hit the forums.  Looking forward to driving hard the next 5 months to put a demo on your hard drive and a smile on your face.


18:56 27 Jul 2011
Getting Started & Prototype Gameplay Videos

Our YouTube channel has been updated with videos on how to get started with the UDK, plus a gameplay walkthrough for the current July prototype:


Each were created by yours truly using CamStudio, so the generic desktop stuff is pretty good, but the 3D is a little questionable.  Hopefully, this will enlighten eager developers and artists, enabling them to join the team and quickly build momentum.


10:33 08 Jul 2011
New Look

We've updated our website to hopefully improve out look & feel for visitors.  It holds all the current content, plus convenient links to our YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/SRAdevelopment) and various social networking sites.  It currently need further support for mobile and better width-scaling; however, it represents the renewed focus on presenting a "sexier" exterior as we get closer to launching something playable and public in 2011.


23:08 02 May 2011
SRA Turns 5

Way back in April 2006, some guy e-mailed me about a project he was starting on SourceForge.  He said he wanted to make an MMO based on Shadowrun, because it would be a great game.  I thought to myself, "interesting idea, sounds like a ton a work".  And after 5 years...I think we're both still right  ;)


23:46 02 Jun 2010
Record Recruitment

In the month of May, 77 people signed up for the forums.  This is a new record, by a rather wide margin.  Hopefully, this means the wold is starting to see progress.  Otherwise, perhaps we're on the eve of a new record for spam posts.


00:52 13 May 2010
600

This weekend we passed 600 members on the boards!  Welcome aboard all new SINners out there.  March and April were both huge months for board membership (132 member!), so we blew past 500 without barely noticing.  Makes me wonder if we should be preparing some sort of death metal-themed contest for our 666th member...


03:25 01 Jan 2010
Happy New Year!

We are welcoming 2010 with our usual bright-eyed optimism and good cheer.  Did you know that SRA officially 'spans' two decades now?  Reflecting on the last 12 months, we do see a disheartening standstill in some areas of the project.  Facing hard facts, I personally must admit that my flagging time in the project has cost our production dearly; however, I would rather such facts hit the reader as a rallying cry to re-double efforts rather than a lament of better days. 

I assure you that the best days are ahead.  We will continue to make more fun, more game, and more more replies to posts reassuring us of what a good idea this is (truly, if we have mastered making one commodity, it is agreement with like-minded Shadowrunners).  In the next 12 months, we should hope to materialize a game, not just a tool, not just code, but a GAME.  It doesn't have to be a four letter word. 


14:27 26 Nov 2009
SRA Now on Facebook!

The Shadowrun: Awakened Project is now on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/#/pages/Shadowrun-Awakened-MMORPG/196784319928?ref=nf

Come be our fan and get instant updates and announcements.  Connect with other Shadowrunners and see the project take shape in an open forum. 


02:46 20 Nov 2009
400

In the month of November, we crossed the 400 threshold for registered forum members.  Our rate of accumulating forum members has largely flat in 2009, with a notable spikes every time we have a big PR push.  At this rate, we might break 500 in the first half of 2010.  Of course, progress on the project is the only factor likely to enhance our rate of accumulating members.


13:18 09 Aug 2009
Progress Report, July 2009

State of the Art

Model Viewer Enhancements
Several features were successfully added to the Model Viewer in the month of July, including support for previewing materials and improved support for dynamic materials.  Development continues on the material wizard which will enable artists to create OGRE material scripts using a simple interface.

Python Integration
Embedding Python into the server and client application will enable storytelling, NPC behavior, sound, and animation to be customized.  The initial features incorporating Boost's implementation of Python integration with a C++ application was added in July, creating an example of the Awakened Engine interacting with Python scripting.

Where to from here?

Finish the Material Wizard
As it is critical to building a complete assets pipeline for the project, the material wizard must be completed.  Work on it will continue through August, hopefully fulfilling the needs of the assets department as intended.


19:54 10 Jul 2009
Progress Report, June 2009

State of the Art

Modeling Demo Video
Banditkills produced a short 30 second video cobbling together our current building assets and offering a taste of downtown Seattle.  The video is available on the introduction page.  Bandit has continued to produce high quality models that will eventually be added to an ever growing catalog of assets.

The Return
After another significant hiatus, eralston returned to the codebase (relocated and ready).  The character control system experienced significant improvement.  Before adding too many features to the logic layer, Banditkills and eralston worked out a short roadmap for immediate model viewer improvements.  It lays out the groundwork to do the following:

The timeline for these changes is likely by the end of July.  In August, work will resume on prototyping game mechanics.

Where to from here?

New Models
Already in July new models have been produced by Bandit.  The modeling team should see a good productivity increase with the availability of an enhanced Model Viewer application.  This will drive further results--the goal for everyone.


19:58 31 May 2009
Preview video

In the end, I draw a line about quality and length of preview video. Taking a massive 5 hours to render a 29 second video, makes you want to purchase a second computer just for rending time.  :o

I hope you enjoy it and it inspires, you can view it here:

http://awakenedmmo.org/overview.php


13:23 28 May 2009
Progress Report: April & May 2009

With our major driving force currently out of the picture. Things on the project front have slowed some what. We miss your lead programmer and wish for his speedy return.

During April, I have been working on an animation process, for a flash video. A preview will be available upon request.

What to help make this video better? Contact me and offer your help.


13:06 24 Apr 2009
300!

Quote
I'm here, just taking a stroll, stretching my legs. These, uh, 300 men are my personal bodyguard.

This week the project broke 300 board members.  This last 100 required only 6 months to attract, compared to almost 1 year exactly to go from 100 to 200.  That is a very positive sign of growth and ripe opportunity for further quotation from the manliest movie ever made...

Quote
A thousand nations of the Persian empire descend upon you. Our arrows will blot out the sun!
Then we will fight in the shade.



12:15 09 Apr 2009
Progress Report: March 2009

State of the Art

Seattle Footprint
Our assets manager, Banditkills, has finished the high-level map of Seattle, the locale in which Shadowrun: Awakened will initially take place.  It serves as a footprint for visualizing the locations of missions and key landmarks and will be expanded to allow it to represent the topography of the area as a heightmap.  Eventually it will be filled in with 3D models of buildings and will be merged with the contents of a custom Google map eralston has been working on for integration into the game as an interactive map and the website as an imagemap linking to description pages for the different areas shown on it.

Press Tour
Curtis888 has turned over a few stones in the internet and Dolphinlover has resumed advertising on the Sourceforge site.  These are both general efforts to add visibility and create impressions, along with an attempt to attract more higher-level leadership to the project.  Continuing to advertise the project to prospective members is critical to our success and such efforts should be infinitely praised as continuing to pump the blood of the project (the blood of hapless volunteers in case that turn of phrase wasn't clear enough for ya).

ThreadStart
The struggle with threads has finally ended for the near-term.  Test applications running many threads for manipulations like adding, removing, and moving Physics objects and 3D models are running crash-free.  The fundamentals were finally worked such that swapping technologies should be relatively pain free in the future if we do shift over to Thread Building Blocks or another technology.

ThreadSleep
Our lead developer, eralston, spent most of March acquiring a new job, preparing for a baby, and finding & buying a house.  It seems his hiatus from the project has already begun, indicated by his laziness producing progress reports, and it's all downhill from here.  Hopefully, he will be able to return by the time summer is in full force.  Until then, please contact him only for light administrative tasks or if you need a cantankerous comment regarding new ideas.

Where to from here?

Recruitment
The project is always undergoing renewal and it's no more true than in the coming months.  Colleges start letting out in May and we need to be there to fill in the time.  It's our best opportunity to attract skilled, semi-skilled, or at least very enthusiastic idle hands.  We need to ensure the recruitment material for the project is in order and we need to again take the internet.  Given the number of people on the forums, a direct newsletter recruitment campaign may be in order.  If you have a friend with upcoming free time, just e-mail them a link to the project and suggest how much fun they could have.

Keeping the Faith
There is already an 8.7 million line monument to our accomplishments in subversion; however, that isn't what we all came to play.  In the absence of eralston, the project will have to keep focused and step up.  Active developers may still submit patches to eralston or request direct access to SVN from other project admins, such as Dolphinlover.


22:33 05 Mar 2009
Progress Report: February 2009

State of the Art

New Logo
Dooley, while attempting to do a good deed for the Content Editor, accidentally created a new logo for the project.  Visible at the top of this very page, you can see it features the 4th edition Shadowrun "S" embellished to include the full project title and the URL.  There were also some small website layout changes following its inclusion made by Dolphinlover.

Writing on the Wall
February saw a push to fill out the mechanics area of the wiki and work on a summary document for the project.  Work continues, but this is a good opportunity for writers to re-familiarize themselves with the details and wrap up a document that could one day be used to "sell" the idea to a wider audience.

Better Know a Project
This month, the management team performed a retrospective of the project's accomplishments, attempting to collect objective metrics.  The project has been connected to the site Ohloh, which analyzed our subversion repository and has produced statistics for us over our history of 20 months of coding.

One of the metrics offered by Ohloh is a dollar approximation of the project's worth, using the project's lines of code as an input.  Because of our heavy use of the third-party libraries, Ohloh see over 580,000 lines of code in the project, which it calculates at a worth of 8.7 Million dollars.  while we've often said our experience in the project is priceless, we felt slightly overrated by the calculator.  We enlisted the help of the CLOC line counting utility and measured our "real" line count in the project, including the old C# engine, to be more than 71,000 lines.  Entering that into a stand-alone cost calculator, we find the cost for just our lines of code would be $1,176,766.  That number should still be taken with an asteroid of salt.

In other areas of the project, we saw:


We may tally these statistics from time-to-time to objectively track growth in the project, so see what you can do to make them bigger!

Getting a Boost
This month, in order to expand the features available in the core engine, the Boost C++ Library was added to the project's set of third-party libraries.  Initially added for threading, this library will also likely supply Finite-State Machines for AI, Graphs for pathfinding, and accumulators for gathering diagnostic statistics while applications implemented by the engine are running.  The 1.37 version is currently used by the project since Windows binaries were easiest to acquire for that version; however, we will soon upgrade to 1.38. 

One of the first applications of this was the creation of a performance timing class for tracking min, max, and average time spent in certain functions.  This offers developers tools for testing performance optimization.  Also, a multi-threaded timer class was created for management of timed events.  This will be the backbone of periodic callbacks in the server, performing duties such as sending out physics snapshots.

Someone to really dive into Boost and become an expert, seeing exactly where the library can be leveraged to greatest advantage, would be very welcome.

Better than Boost?
While initially researching multi-threading, the Intel Threading Building Blocks library was found by the project.  This public license library is produced by Intel and offers a variety of parallel programming tools.  These include support for parallel loops (parallel_for, parallel_do, etc), mutexes, high precision timing, and a task-based threading pattern.  It also include "concurrent containers" which are some of the STL containers, such as a list or hash, that can have their memory allocated in a thread-safe manner, meaning you don't need to lock the container as it is being used for most operations.  Boost has also recently added a basic wrapper for multi-platform threads.  While initial work was to include Boost threading, it may quickly be supplanted by TBB.

The effort to use TBB in place of Boost needs an owner.  Plus, the task-based model of TBB opens a new window for server-side work.  Finding a guru to take over this area would be ideal.

Where to from here?

Better Sound
Our sound expert, rozz, is redesigning the sound functionality for superior maintainability and to make sound occlusion easier.  Sound occlusion will cause realistic dampening and echo effects based on the environment.  This will integrate with our existing physics simulation features.

Snakes on a Program
Camilingus is attempting to decipher embedding Python.  Many programmers have attempted to summit this mountain and none are here today.  It was nice knowing him...

Rolling Digital Dice
The ongoing logic library is able to simulate some basics of characters and is ready to execute all the thinking required by the mechanics of combat.  The foray into Boost threading was actually spawned from needing a periodic timer.  The timer will be used to flesh out this functionality and realize our first working model of action in Shadowrun.


21:40 03 Feb 2009
Progress Report: January 2009

State of the Art
The Awakened project is 25 members stronger in January, with yet another productive month.

Physics Foundation
While basic collision and visual integration has been functional for months, some of the physics features need for game logic were not implemented yet.  This included collision filtering, being able to cause some objects to not collide with others.  Raycasting through a scene to check shapes along a single line-of-sight.  Querying all shapes in a sphere.  All of these features existed in PhysX and needed only be harnessed by our simulation layer, then made available to the logic layer.

Physics Events and Sound
One of our new developers, rozz1334, was able to add collision detection in the logic layer and integrate it with the sound system.  This feature can be harness to play sounds when objects strike other objects, such as a box hitting the ground.  It allows for full 3D sound.

Physics Integration with Logic
In order to provide abstraction between the PhysX scene and the logic layer's concept of terrain, the IEnvironment abstract base class was created.  This provides a series of methods, called with other abstract classes in the logic layer, that pull information from the scene using Shadowrun concepts.  Most importantly, this includes querying for cover and invisibility what in combat and sneaking.  An implementation of the IEnvironment base class, and supporting classes, was built upon the physics foundation described above.  While not yet complete, the progress is enough to portray the very basics of sneaking in a demo application.

Where to from here?
At best, we are still in the middle of the current feature area, meaning we're still slogging through.

Logic Continues
In short, logic is not done.  It represents many interconnected classes, so it remains the primary objective of the development team.  Our immediate goal is to produce a demo application that shows off the basics of sneaking and combat.  This will most likely become a video, not a released product.  The resulting code will form the seed for the client application of Shadowrun: Arena Brawl (http://awakenedmmo.org/wiki/Shadowrun_Arena_Brawl).

Modeling Items
Dooley has started modeling items appearing on the Asset checklist (http://awakenedmmo.org/wiki/Asset_Checklist).  His work is piling up on the forums.  Come by and comment.


18:30 04 Jan 2009
Progress Report: 2008

State of the Art

We have ended our second year a little less managed and a little wiser.  Here is our year in review:

March - Realignment

In developing the game, we were looking to the long-term, where we would end up with a complete system using the best of the third party software available.  After working for some time with the C# programming language and the XNA development platform, we decided to return to our roots in March and use C++ instead.  Doing so allowed us to integrate features without being restricted to those present in the XNA platform and opened up further possibilities for third party solutions to our needs.

In searching for a replacement graphics engine, we heeded advice previously given to the project and looked at OGRE.  After some physics testing using NVIDIA's PhysX directly (instead of indirectly under C#) we saw that there was easily a 10-fold physics performance increase!  That and the many features in OGRE we could capitalize on gave us great confidence in our decision to put in the time necessary to create a game worthy of the Shadowrun name.

A game should look good and sound good, so we picked up the sound system that has been used to great success in popular commercial games such as World of Warcraft and BioShock, FMOD.

With the implementation of graphics, physics, and sound, we were ready to break new ground in the months following June.

July - One Save to Rule Them All

A common problem in software is saving information into a file, often referred to as "serialization".  It was a necessity for Shadowrun: Awakened to create its own save format for PhysX physics and OGRE graphics in a single file.  This would be the cornerstone for loading levels in the game, saving snapshots on the server to send out to players, and many other situations where it would lead to an improved user experience.  This custom serialization layer was polished through the end of July.

August - The Content Editor

Armed with a way to save levels, we needed a way to create them.  In August, work began on a level editor, a form-based application that would allow users to import game assets and manipulate them in the game engine.  This was the first bit of software people not writing code could work with, as all previous work laid the groundwork for this milestone.  The time it took to show something for our efforts was time well invested since the editor began to take shape very quickly.

The open source edition of the QT widgets library was used to create the application's graphical user interface.  This, integrated with PhysX physics simulation and OGRE graphics visualization allowed us to present a full 3D scene and physics properties for objects within one unified program.  All 3D models and lights can be manipulated in a fully-shadowed scene and all physics can be previewed instantly with the editor's live simulation mode.  There's even undo/redo functionality!  See all of this in action here under the heading "Tutorial Videos".  The first internal release was made available at the end of October and work continues on perfecting the installation as well as adding further features.  With a powerful content editor, the world of Shadowrun: Awakened will be limited only by the imagination.

November - The Game Client

After the initial deployment of the editor, we turned our attention to the next logical step of creating a client application that will load and run levels created by the editor.  Since all of the simulation and graphics technology already existed, the focus was on putting in place logic that will govern the world's activities and adhere to the rules of the Shadowrun universe.  The Shadowrun Arena Brawl milestone is the current target, so the present logic is sufficient to describe the rules implemented by the prototype.  For instance, rules concerning socializing and character/world persistence are absent while combat and stealth are in.

Development of this aspect of the game was still in progress at the end of 2008.  Ultimately, these generalized logic rules will combine with a scripting language, most likely Python, allowing designers to use the content editor described above to fashion unique situations and missions for players to partake in.  As of 2008, rules were in place describing everything from Shadowrun Edition 4 weaponry to attack and damage resolution.

Where to from here?

Getting Our Game On

The priority for the foreseeable future is to complete the logic layer.  At that point it ought to contain everything necessary for Shadowrun: Arena Brawl with the exception of networking.  Once completed, it should be sufficient to create a basic single-player tutorial of game mechanics, revitalizing the community as interested players see their patience and dedication rewarded with a proof of concept.

A New Era

The project owes much gratitude to the current lead software developer eralston (Erik) for his efforts so far in making the prospect of a Shadowrun MMORPG a reality.  Unfortunately, a growing family will preclude him from serving as the primary developer for the project around the end of April.  He will finalize and document ongoing development in March and hand over the reins at that time.  After May, eralston may be able to continue contributing, but only at a fraction of current productivity.

This means it is important for us to find a new lead developer with the same passion eralston has for Shadowrun or risk suffering an extended period of stagnation.  A potential replacement will need to be willing to collaborate with eralston and invest the time needed to gain a handle on the large but sturdy foundation laid down up to this point.  We need someone to lead Shadowrun: Awakened into the future.

Dedicated leaders, committed developers, and creative designers will all ensure that the year 2009 will be a period of revitalization and achievement for the project.  The fans of Shadowrun are counting on us to make their dreams a reality.


01:13 02 Nov 2008
Progress Report: October 2008

State of the Art
The project has achieved an important intermediate milestone: its first installable, testable software product.

First Internal Release
Having achieved a minimum feature set for the level editor, an installer was created using Nullsoft Scriptable Install System.  This packaged the Model Viewer and SraEditor application, along with some sample OGRE assets.  This single file executable is available for interested testers.  At the moment, this release is considered "internal".  While it would be great to get as many hands on the product as possible, it is nowhere near the final product and presenting it to the public would be a recipe for misunderstanding.

As members of the forums or an interested party to the project, anyone reading this notification is invited to participate in the project by becoming a tester.  If you have not already, you should follow the tutorial concerning how to get started in the project.  After introducing yourself on the boards, you will be supplied information on how to download the test installer and dive into finding the problems.

Tutorial Videos
Videos explaining how to use the Model Viewer and Level Editor have been placed on the main site's download page.  They were created as a direct and informal means of documenting the current software product.  They are intended for anyone wishing to perform testing or just get acquainted with the software. 

Where to from here?

Iterate, Iterate, Iterate
As with all early software, the flaws with the software are likely to not just be implementation mistakes, but truly design issues.  The software was created as quickly as possible to enable evaluation of its ideas.  Things are liable to change going into the future as we refine the design, adding and subtracting to increase usability.

Scripting
A new member, Eggmunkee, is experimenting with scripting languages.  Currently, Lua and Python are being investigated.  A basic test scenario has been run in Lua, yielding performance results.  Python is next.

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