This month has been spent tying up a lot of our components loose odds and ends, making sure that they’re all integrated 100% with each other. In other words, integrating and fixing all the things I’ve been telling myself “Yep, I’ll fix that later” 😛
One of the new changes is the new clouds system. Our previous system was a placeholder that I had never been happy with. It really looked like a 2D texture mapped onto a sphere… yuck. So the goal was to create a procedural, dynamically-lit cloud system that would strike a good balance between realism and performance.
The biggest challenge when dealing with something as full and fluffy as clouds is lighting the suckers. Rendering realistic, properly lit volumetric clouds in real-time is very performance-heavy. For this reason, I thought best to focus on higher altitude clouds like Alto-cumulus, Cirrus, etc. Higher altitude clouds naturally have less volume and therefore don’t require performance-heavy techniques like ray-marching to get believable results. The screenshots don’t help to sell the effect, but it looks much more natural in-game. I will be revisiting the cloud system later down the development road. I have some more ideas for lower altitude, more volumetric clouds done cheaply.
The storm system is also properly integrated now. It really adds a great sense of atmosphere. When it starts to rain it makes you want to seek cover, everything looks miserable and you soon get sick of being in the rain 😛
There’s been plenty of progress with lots of other things too. After re-working the ocean system, underwater is now also fully integrated again. There’s more items, more easter-eggs, and Ben’s come up with a great buoyancy and propulsion system for our raft system. I’m also personally excited about one of our items that provides vital feedback to the player. It was one of those great moments where we thought of an intuitive way to express all the information you’ll need in the fastest, most concise way, while staying true to the feel of the game. More info on that one later 😉
That’s about it for now.. Ben and I were talking the other day saying that for the first time in a long time, it actually feels like we’re getting close to early release! But we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. There’s still a few systems to complete, more items, more fish… more fun 🙂
I’ll leave you with some screenshots so you can get a better feel for the environment of Stranded Deep. Let us know what you think 🙂