Fractalus 0.9.0 alpha released!

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Luke
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Fractalus 0.9.0 alpha released!

Post by Luke » 2019-Mar-02 14:46

Fractalus 0.9.0 alpha build is now available for download from the Fractalus project page.

See blog post at https://www.lsdwa.com/blog/2019/03/02/f ... -released/ for more information.

Let me know any thoughts, comments or feedback.

Enjoy!
Luke's Software and Design
http://www.lsdwa.com

Loafmeister
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Re: Fractalus 0.9.0 alpha released!

Post by Loafmeister » 2019-Mar-20 13:27

Hi Luke,

I think my message was too long for the blog post, didn't seem to appear (unless you need to approve first?). Anyway reiterating it here for discussion though the original message is gone hope I don't forget anything LOL

VR: Glad to hear it, I also own both a Rift and a vive so if you ever need any beta testers, I'm available for such a worth cause ;). Something to consider if you every feel it worth pursuing is adding motion control support. Games like Ultrawings really show off that motion controller support can work. Nothing will ever beat gamepad/joystick but there's something to be said for the immersive factor of motion controls mixed in with VR flight sim gameplay. For an example of this, see the following youtube video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ti5bPUQlt4&t=40s

Really I'd be ecstatic with just a VR cockpit mode, just throwing this idea out there, might be a good fit. VR and this type of game is something I imagined myself the moment I played the Lucasfilm original 35 years or so ago. and now here we are years later and you stating it might be a possibility is something I find rather exhilarating. :)

So enough of VR what do I think of this new version? Here goes:

- Might have been in the previous version but first time I play it on my ancient PC... which has 3 27" monitors and lo and behold your game supports the 3 screens. This, along with the excellent cockpit really raises the immersive factor
IMG_1015.jpg
Inside station
IMG_1015.jpg (223.03 KiB) Viewed 1048 times
IMG_1017.jpg
Entering the atmosphere
IMG_1017.jpg (215.24 KiB) Viewed 1048 times
IMG_1018.jpg
Flying through the Canyons
IMG_1018.jpg (230.98 KiB) Viewed 1048 times
- the pilot model is really well done, adds a lot to the gameplay to see an actual pilot.

- the fractal landscape is very well done, no complaints and in fact, pretty much the next level.

It's 1:15am so gotta get up in a few hours but needed to share both my opinion and excitement at what you've achieved here. There are some touch ups needed to the gameplay. example: the pilot only leaves his ship when you open the airlock, he should leave when you turn off the shields then he walks over, knocks THEN you open the airlock or... put the shields back on eheh)

Anyway as an alpha it seems pretty stable, thanks again for sharing your work; I'll comment further once I've played it some more on the weekend.

Loaf/Robert C.

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Luke
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Re: Fractalus 0.9.0 alpha released!

Post by Luke » 2019-Mar-20 20:33

Hey Loaf,

Yep the blog requires approval for comments. I set it to require approval for comments a few years back just to counteract the amount of automated spam that got posted - though since Google switched over to the "I'm not a robot" captcha (and since I updated my blog to use it), I haven't actually seen any spam comments come in at all. Maybe I could safely turn off the approval requirement now :)

In the VR testing I did, I found that enabling VR for a camera in Unity is as easy as checking a checkbox, and it just works. Due to the way I'm handling the cameras in Fractalus I'll need to do a bit more to make it work correctly, but I think it should be possible.

As I was testing out VR I had the same idea to implement the cockpit controls as actual in-world objects you can move with motion controls, which would be really cool and as you mention it would really enhance the immersion. That video of Ultrawings is similar to what I was thinking. Adding support for motion controllers in Unity appears to be a bit more involved if I want to support different types (e.g. Oculus and Vive), and as I've only got the Oculus I can only test that mode, so I may take you up on the offer to test with the Vive once I've got something to try out :)

I didn't actually know it ran across 3 screens - I'm also running a multimonitor configuration but I only ever ran it on one screen. I can see there are some UI scaling issues at that aspect ratio - the score number on the right display is huge! I'll add that to my list to fix - and also to check out running across multiple screens myself.

Thanks for the feedback on the pilot and terrain - they were the bulk of the work in 0.9 and I'm glad to hear they've worked out well :)

I had a look at the pilot approach sequence and on mine the pilot does approach after only turning off the systems, though there is a short delay - about 1-2 seconds - before the pilot will leave their ship. There could also be that an error is occurring preventing the pilot from leaving their ship which may be revealed in the debug log, which you can find at C:\Users\%username%\AppData\LocalLow\LSD\Fractalus\output_log.txt. I'll review the pilot approach logic as well to see if it can get into a state where the pilot won't leave the ship.

Thanks again for all your feedback!

Cheers,
Luke
Luke's Software and Design
http://www.lsdwa.com

Loafmeister
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Re: Fractalus 0.9.0 alpha released!

Post by Loafmeister » 2019-Mar-20 22:32

Indeed I'll pay close attention to the pilots habits next time I play, really last night was a quick load, a freak out when I saw the resolution supporting 57xx width in the selector (it defaulted to that), a test, another freak out, a pause to reminisce from 35 years ago, a bit more playing then my forum post LOL

Spam can be a HUGE problem so keep the approval on posts. It's a blog, not a discussion forum so I think it's prudent the way you have it set up.

" enabling VR for a camera in Unity is as easy as checking a checkbox, and it just works"

Right, so now I want to try and bribe you with free beer to select that checkbox, recompile in unity and post the new version LOL. Actually I'd heard that for both Unity and Unreal engines setting up an initial camera is that easy, but setting up the UI can be tougher (depending on how the dev set it up). The solution I hear is to incorporate the UI as part of the cockpit or virtual world items (like a watch on your wrist for motion control games), then boom problem MOSTLY solved. scores or anything floating around is usually bad in VR as you probably know from using VR so I know all that stuff is in great hands, I'm very thankful you are even considering it!

Glad to help if you need any VR testing at all, my pleasure! I have a passion for VR very similar to some of the passion for the classic games (anything Amiga in there too).

Tell us what you think after trying out the 3 screen set up. You will probably be looking at it from the dev position but man from just a user POV, it's already a decent win! The scoring you issue is not big deal, I think no man's sky has the exact same issue when playing it on the 3 screen so likely they're using the same engine! eheh

more feedback is coming, we owe you as much. I've posted your 0.9 blog on Atari age and C64mini facebook groups since they allow something outside their immediate content, quite a few thumbs up thus far!

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Re: Fractalus 0.9.0 alpha released!

Post by Luke » 2019-Mar-22 00:37

If I get a chance this weekend I'll look into toggling on VR in Fractalus (I've only tested VR in a separate test project so far) and see if it works as easily there. As I mentioned there will be a bit more work to be done for the camera system, and as you've mentioned there may be issues with the UI - which may require some major changes. If it's simple enough to work around those issues in VR, I can probably put together a quick "experimental" build that would still just use normal keyboard or controller input. Or even just a build that starts in-world, bypassing the title screen and menus. If I get a chance to look into it I'll let you know what I find :)

I tried out the 3 screen set up, had to enable nVidia Surround to get the option to appear (my multimonitor configuration is somewhat asymmetrical and the surround mode doesn't really work that well with it, so I keep it disabled) and it's certainly a lot more immersive! Of course from the dev perspective I noticed a lot of issues; UI scaling, heavy distortion at the far edges due to the high FOV, the altitude fadeout cutting off halfway across the side screens, the distant textures on the terrain at the sides while descending turning plain white (no idea why this happens!), so some things to add to my list to fix :)

Thanks again for your feedback, and glad to hear it's getting positive responses from others as well!

Cheers,
Luke
Luke's Software and Design
http://www.lsdwa.com

Loafmeister
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Re: Fractalus 0.9.0 alpha released!

Post by Loafmeister » 2019-Mar-22 10:51

Outstanding, appreciate your efforts! I'll keep a lookout for possible future posts but as it is, there is LOT'S to enjoy here as is. I'm glad you tried it on multimonitor, it's amazingly immersive. Although nothing trumps VR for immersion, multimonitor still has a place for many, especially since resolution is still an issue for VR headsets.

Loafmeister
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Re: Fractalus 0.9.0 alpha released!

Post by Loafmeister » 2019-Mar-24 04:20

bug report:

- first off, the pilot / shield issue: I was wrong. I guess I was so far from the pilot that it took a long time for him to get to me, so I thought he wasn't coming and... when I pressed the hatch he was finally nearby?

- in saying that, once you turn your shields off and the pilot is on his way to you, if you turn the shields back on even if the pilot is far away it will state the pilot is killed. I would think the pilot would need to be near your ship for this to kill him. I don't recall how it worked back in the original game but something to keep in mind from a logic perspective, maybe it should only kill him/her once he's within a few seconds from your ship.

- I finished level 16, got back to the mother ship. Level select moves to level 17, cool considering only 1-16 are selectable. However I was wondering if it opened up a bunch more levels however moved the stick the wrong way to level 15. Oh well, no problem I'll just scroll the other way. NOPE: can't get passed level 16 again, I gather I have to replay it (not today!). So some logic needs to be put in indicating level 16 is complete so we can scroll past 16

- on 3 screen mode, when leaving the planet and heading back to the mothership, there is almost like a hit or rendering box that becomes visible for a second, seen about half way on both the left and right monitor. No biggy, just an FYI

not a bug but...:
- the saucers: is the intend for them to just disappear once they go near you? No dogfighting permitted to chase them down? (could be cool if the saucers have some AI that draws you near where there are a bunch of turrets!)

Some other good thoughts:
- I just love the real time shadows on both the landscape and the cockpit. It's very cool for the day and night cycle.
- I had played with a digital stick the other day (was playing with Vice C64 emulator) so tried with a wireless x360 controller and man it's made for this. Very nice control of the ship, really felt like I was navigating canyons, etc and all the buttons are used well.
- Those turrets laser blasts can really make one jump a bit, in a good way

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Re: Fractalus 0.9.0 alpha released!

Post by Luke » 2019-Mar-24 05:36

Thanks for the bug reports! I'll answer them after this:

I've got some good news - I got VR working! Sort of. You can get the VR test build from http://downloads.gcloud.lsdwa.com/proje ... -win64.zip. Extract it to a different folder to the normal Fractalus build as this build is VR only. Ensure you've got a controller connected (or your VR controls might work as well), click "Play!" on the Unity launch dialog, and it'll start with a calibration screen to ensure your position is centered in the cockpit in-world, then everything from there should work as normal including the UI. Up to you to figure out which controls do what, as I'm not sure how the controls are mapped on different systems, and you may still need to use some keyboard controls. This build supports both Oculus and OpenVR, and I suspect the Vive uses (or is compatible with) OpenVR but I'm not sure. Let me know if it works :)

The cameras were fun to get working right, as nothing in the game world is actually to scale (the terrain is 30 units high, the cockpit is 5 units high, and the sky is 1 unit across, and for VR purposes Unity considers 1 unit as 1 metre). Initially the scale made it seem like the cockpit was an enormous room, and the terrain was a miniature model of the world, and the stars were closer to my eyes than anything else! I had to look into how to force the scale on each camera, which I eventually found. Then I did the UI by setting up another camera to render the UI elements to a texture, which then gets rendered to a quad floating in front of the main view camera.

On to the bug reports;

If you land far away from the pilot they will take a long time to reach you. I'm not sure how best to deal with this. I could make them run faster, but at short distances (and when they get close) it'll look a bit silly. Or I could change the distance scale so that what's considered 2km is closer so that they never have far to run, but then the pilot's relative scale would seem really odd.

On the shields killing the pilot at any distance, I'll be reviewing this in the next build. The original manual states that the atmosphere will "dissolve your flight suit within minutes", so the pilots can't survive outside their ships for very long. If the pilot is not close enough to be killed by your shields, they should probably either run back to their ship for protection, or stand on the terrain trying to wave you down until they die from the atmosphere.

The level select screen currently limits you to selecting between 1 and 16, even though if you complete level 16 it'll take you to 17, then to 18, etc. so long as you don't try to select a level again. I'm currently working on this for 1.0 and will be adding the original starting level/ranking level screen, so the level selection in the mothership will follow your progress and allow you to select levels you've already reached.

The rendering box you can see in 3 screen mode is the "altitude fadeout cutting off halfway across the side screens" I mentioned in my last post. You can see it if you fly up high enough as well, and in the VR build above you can see it if you fly up high and look out of the side windows. That's on my list to fix :)

The saucers in the original game disappeared after passing your ship as well, so mine are implemented the same way to mimic the original.

Good to hear about the realtime shadows. One thing I spent a bit of time on for 0.9 was adding a random "latitude" to the worldgen so that the sun and stars would be tilted for each level to ensure that there would almost always be some shadows somewhere, avoiding the "Lahaina Noon" effect that would occur in earlier versions where the sun just goes straight overhead.

Thanks again for your feedback and bug reports! Let me know how you go with the VR test build! :)

Cheers,
Luke
Luke's Software and Design
http://www.lsdwa.com

Loafmeister
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Re: Fractalus 0.9.0 alpha released!

Post by Loafmeister » 2019-Mar-25 04:39

Hi Luke,

I’m running around today a lot so just a short initial comment, i will share my thoughts further late this evening or tomorrow

Note: the VR build was tested on oculus rift, I’ll try it in the vive tomorrow and provide further thoughts then

Comments:
- I can’t believe how well this turned out. The feeling of immersion is off the chart

- the best visual feeling of the VR build is navigating the canyons at dusk or nighttime, spying a down ship with its green glow illuminating the nearby fractal landscapes. That felt just... incredible

- although not a perfect experience the only real flaw so far is the atmosphere dust effect which is obviously 2D and tied to your vision (it moves along with where we gaze) but still looks great!

- I felt a little too close in the cockpit so I had to recalibrate by cheating forward a bit so that when I sit back i’m further back from the control panel .

- A nice surprise: for some reason i’d never noticed the compass above lol but it’s more apparent when exploring the cockpit and useful too

- the world scale seems pretty good. When flying at the bottom of a ravine it feels like a mountain is next to me. When a downed pilot runs up to my ship, his size seems appropriate

- I don’t have a controller plugged into the pincab pc which I have the oculus rift installed presently but the game uses the rift touch controllers (as a gaming controller ) very well. The only button missed was the mapping for esc to access the menu so that I can restart easily. At the moment there doesn’t seem to be one but if you have a way to remap I’d recommend the right analog stick since it’s not used

I played it for maybe 90 min in the rift last night. No real issues, control seemed good, had a good freaking time. This is some experimental alpha build!

Is it ok to spread the word on this? I know you posted the link in a public forum but still thought I’d check before spreading the word?

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Re: Fractalus 0.9.0 alpha released!

Post by Luke » 2019-Mar-25 12:00

I was surprised as well by how well it turned out, while testing it out I found myself flying through valleys and looking out of the side windows to check down side passages for pilots or turrets. Also did some sideways flight around mountain peaks and made myself dizzy :)

I did notice that the dust and other particle effects follow the rotation of the headset. Not sure how to go about fixing that yet but I'm sure there's a solution for it.

The cockpit positioning being too close is definitely unrealistic, and may have been due to me being a bit too keen to set it up so I could peer over the panels at the terrain below :)

I'm not sure about the scale of the terrain myself. The pilot appears to be about the right size, but the terrain itself seems a little too small - though this is of course due to the fact that nothing in what I've done is actually to scale anyway :)

Yep there's no button for going to the menu in the Oculus, still requiring use of the keyboard. Not sure how it is for Vive but I don't imagine that would be much different.

Great to hear it ran well for you otherwise! Yep feel free to spread the word, I've actually just put together a VR download/instructions page at https://www.lsdwa.com/projects/fractalus/vr/ and linked it on the main project page, so that may be a better place to link to as it has some information on how to use the build.

Thanks again for your feedback, and looking forward to hearing how it runs on the Vive (if at all)!

Cheers,
Luke
Luke's Software and Design
http://www.lsdwa.com

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