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Announcement: DarkXL - GPU Accelerated DarkForces Extended
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lucius
DarkXL Developer
DarkXL Developer

Joined: 17 Feb 2008

PostPosted: Mar 02, 2008 10:48    Post subject: Announcement: DarkXL - GPU Accelerated DarkForces Extended View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

I've been working on this project for a little while, writing a Hardware Accelerated version of Dark Forces from scratch. It's still in fairly early form, but in the near future I will be releasing an Alpha Demo, featuring the first level of the game, so I wanted to make this known before I get to that point.

The game requires the original Dark Forces data, it will allow you to play through the complete game and I'm planning on making sure it works with most (or all Smile of the released levels and mods.

The point of this project is to allow people to play Dark Forces in high resolution, on Windows in either "classic" mode (no new features) or "extended" mode. All modes will benefit from newer control methods like mouse look, and high resolutions and color depth. The extended version will get new features such as real-time lighting, slopes, dual adjoins, vertical adjoins, better model support (md2 and/or md3) and more.

Enough rambling, here are some early screenshots of the first level. It includes the following things already functioning properly: HUD (though I need to replace the fonts with Dark Forces fonts), controls (walking, running, jumping, strafing, mouse look, etc), objects (including collecting weapons and powerups), collision and "physics", inventory, ammo and weapons, lighting, headlamp/IR goggles, and more Smile

Screenshots are resized by Photobucket...






Burning Gundam
Kell Dragon

Joined: 28 Sep 2003

PostPosted: Mar 02, 2008 19:14    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

Oh... my... god....

If you ever make this work completely I will not hesitate to fly to where you live and give you a giant bear-hug...

Oh, and cookies as well.

It's kind of a bummer it'll be for windows, but I guess it's okay considering my mac will run both OS's.

But in short, keep up the good work, this looks very promising!!!!! Very Happy

_________________
I don't think outside the box... I customize it.

Lionel Fouillen
Gamorrean

Joined: 27 Sep 2003

PostPosted: Mar 02, 2008 19:50    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Reply with quote

Excellent! Congratulations and keep up with the project.

lucius
DarkXL Developer
DarkXL Developer

Joined: 17 Feb 2008

PostPosted: Mar 02, 2008 19:55    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

Given the topics that have been going on lately it's been kind of hard to keep this quiet, but I wanted to get it to a certain state before mentioning it. Anyway it's good to hear that some people are still interested Smile

lucius
DarkXL Developer
DarkXL Developer

Joined: 17 Feb 2008

PostPosted: Mar 02, 2008 21:06    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

Can I ask you guys a question: what kind of computer systems do you run? What kind of video cards? I'm planning on making this require atleast shader 1 cards (GeForce3, GeForce4 TI, GeForceFX or better; Radeon 8500 or better) and I'm wondering people who are interested will be able to play.

Of course getting all the bells and whistles out of the extended mode will require better hardware. But you'll be able to enable specific features so it runs well on your system.

Burning Gundam
Kell Dragon

Joined: 28 Sep 2003

PostPosted: Mar 03, 2008 02:17    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

I might be screwed in that regard...

I run a Mac Mini (also runs Windows XP, just to be clear) with an Intel GM950. Although if it will run Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy with no problems, I'm sure this won't be a problem either.

I can hardly wait for this, this is excellent news and you may very well have saved this community!!!

_________________
I don't think outside the box... I customize it.

lucius
DarkXL Developer
DarkXL Developer

Joined: 17 Feb 2008

PostPosted: Mar 03, 2008 02:26    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

From what information I've found, your card should support atleast shader model 2, so you should be good Smile

Darth Oosha
Trandoshan

Joined: 24 Sep 2003

PostPosted: Mar 03, 2008 04:51    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Reply with quote

I'm on a Dell Latitude D610, which My Computer Properties says has a "Mobile Intel(R) 915GM/GMS,910GML Express Chipset Family".

Also, I hope this announcement doesn't cause anyone out there to overlook the need we still have for an open-source DF clone.

lucius
DarkXL Developer
DarkXL Developer

Joined: 17 Feb 2008

PostPosted: Mar 03, 2008 05:35    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

It seems that the chip supports pixel shaders but not vertex shaders, which is ok because that work can be done on the CPU.

Tsophika
Gamorrean

Joined: 14 Jan 2008

PostPosted: Mar 03, 2008 09:17    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Reply with quote

This is very interesting, and your early shots look promising! By offering two different modes seems like a very smart move.

Fenwar
Admiral Ackbar
Admiral Ackbar

Joined: 15 Sep 2003

PostPosted: Mar 03, 2008 12:24    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Reply with quote

*wets self* old skool embarrasment

This is very exciting news.

I'm sure there will be plenty of people happy to provide assistance in whatever way we can here (from coding, debugging & testing to the aforementioned cookies). Personally I can also put some of DF-21's hosting resources your way if you need - we have plenty of disk and bandwidth to spare, just let me know.

As for system specs - Asus A8R-MVP Socket 939 (Crossfire), Athlon XP 3800, Connect3D Radeon X1900GT, 2x512MB generic RAM (dual channel). Pretty sure that'll do everything you're making this do Smile

Good luck!

lucius
DarkXL Developer
DarkXL Developer

Joined: 17 Feb 2008

PostPosted: Mar 03, 2008 15:50    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

Actually if you can host the alpha demo (which should be done soon) and of course any other demos and versions - that would be great.

And of course I'm counting on people around here to test, especially on Intel and AMD GPU's since I have neither of those (I use NVidia chipsets in all my computers). This is, in fact, one of the main reasons for releasing an alpha demo as soon as possible. I want to fix any major problems as early as possible, which will help keep the code clean and make this project easier in the long run.

As for your system, it should run great for you Smile

lucius
DarkXL Developer
DarkXL Developer

Joined: 17 Feb 2008

PostPosted: Mar 03, 2008 16:00    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

As for coding, as you can see above I'm planning on new features for the extended mode - including slopes, double adjoins, vertical adjoins. Is there anyone around here who can modify the existing editor(s), similar to the new Doom editors that support jDoom and the like? Being text files people could make these modifications manually, but it would be nice to do it in an editor Smile

klasodeth
Trandoshan

Joined: 03 Mar 2008

PostPosted: Mar 03, 2008 18:34    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Reply with quote

Darth Oosha wrote:
...Also, I hope this announcement doesn't cause anyone out there to overlook the need we still have for an open-source DF clone.



Why would this announcement cause anyone to overlook that? Up until this point there's been no code from anyone to open-source. If an open-source Dark Forces engine ever becomes a reality, it will most likely be because of this project.

Darth Oosha
Trandoshan

Joined: 24 Sep 2003

PostPosted: Mar 03, 2008 19:39    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Reply with quote

klasodeth wrote:
Why would this announcement cause anyone to overlook that?


Easy: people would say "Why would I start a DF clone project when there's already one being worked on, and when it's way spiffier than anything we could probably come up with?".

klasodeth wrote:
Up until this point there's been no code from anyone to open-source.


Right, which is why someone needs to write it (as people have been saying). Who knows, it might be me; but I hope it gets done sooner by someone faster, who perhaps already knows a programming language.

klasodeth wrote:
If an open-source Dark Forces engine ever becomes a reality, it will most likely be because of this project.


Disagreement. Making an open-source engine from scratch is something that's known to be possible, given enough time and effort; while you could potentially harass lucius for decades and still not convince him to give up the rights if he doesn't want to.

lucius
DarkXL Developer
DarkXL Developer

Joined: 17 Feb 2008

PostPosted: Mar 03, 2008 20:01    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

I just wanted to mention here that I will put up all the source code when one of two things happen: 1) The project gets to a complete and stable enough state or 2) I can no longer work on it for some reason. I've had some less then stellar experiences with open source, so I'd rather avoid the issues for now and complete the project. But in order for it to continue in the future beyond that, I do understand the need to open it at some point.

If you or someone else wants to start another DF-clone project now, that's fine but unnecessary Smile

Darth Oosha
Trandoshan

Joined: 24 Sep 2003

PostPosted: Mar 03, 2008 21:32    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Reply with quote

Interesting... I guess it's time for wish lists, then.

* A release date. Or at least a release date for the next update - the point is, some way for us to know at any given time whether you're still working on it.
* Option to turn off anti-aliasing or/and render in 256 colors, for that authentic "1995 game" experience. (I'm not sure what the comparative difficulty of those two things would be.)
* Option to disable cheat codes, possibly using a text configuration file in the game folder. Alternatively, no cheat codes, with the option to enable them.
* Option to use a Halo-style checkpoint system instead of lives.
* At least one new extra-hard difficulty setting. Or possibly two different difficulty axes; one for changes affecting the player and one for changes affecting enemies.

And questions:
* Will the alpha demo engine be theoretically able to run any level, even if bugs make most of them unplayable?
* Will the game block the player from looking straight up or down, since that wouldn't go well with having sprite enemies?
* Sprites seem distorted. Is that a bug that'll be fixed?

lucius
DarkXL Developer
DarkXL Developer

Joined: 17 Feb 2008

PostPosted: Mar 03, 2008 21:55    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

As for release dates... I can't give any solid dates but I anticipate the first alpha demo in about a week or two, maybe sooner depending on how much time I can spend on it.

The first alpha demo will just work properly with the first level, not all INF commands and Logics will be in place (but all those necessary for the first level will be). The rest of the levels will come shortly afterward but I want to get some testing in before that. Of course it could load other levels, but they probably would not be playable. The initial test will be to make sure that the first level is completely playable, as intended without any major problems (such as INF functions not working, collision errors, rendering errors or whatever else might be wrong on some systems). This includes all secrets working, sound effects, AI, goals, etc.

I can put in options to turn off anti-aliasing (MSAA) and triliner/anisotropic filtering. I already planned on having most of those options, but I can optionally turn off bilinear too if desired Smile No 8 bit mode is planned at this time, it could be a future feature if people really want it.

I can certainly disable cheat codes if desired. Right now most don't exist at all, but I will add them (optionally) after the first demo.

I was already planning a harder difficulty setting since mouse look will make the game easier for most people.

As for the lives vs. saving vs. checkpoints issue, I haven't made any definite plans in this area, but I can put in whichever optional system people would most like. This will happen later, however.

I'm not planning on limiting the look at, but I will be tweaking the sprite rendering so that you cannot see it completely flat if you look straight up or down at it.

I will certainly work on the sprite rendering to avoid the horizontal stretched look, so yes that will be addressed. Ideally the Interrogation droids should look round, right now they are too oblong.


Last edited by lucius on Mar 03, 2008 22:20; edited 2 times in total

lucius
DarkXL Developer
DarkXL Developer

Joined: 17 Feb 2008

PostPosted: Mar 03, 2008 21:59    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

I also wanted to mention that I will make periodic progress updates. For example I am partially done with 3DO support, when it's done I'll make an update showing 3D objects in the world (mouse droids, Death Star, etc). Expect that tonight or tomorrow. All objects are loaded and are created, so it's just a matter of rendering and logics.

Ryuichi91
Ree-Yees

Joined: 06 Aug 2007

PostPosted: Mar 04, 2008 00:00    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Reply with quote

Very Happy this makes me so happy those screen shots look amazing. One question will this support dark forces add on levels?

lucius
DarkXL Developer
DarkXL Developer

Joined: 17 Feb 2008

PostPosted: Mar 04, 2008 00:16    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

Yes, part of the reason for doing it this way is so that most (if not all) the really cool add-on levels people have worked on over the years will work. It mentions this and some of the planned features in the initial post in case you missed it Smile

Ryuichi91
Ree-Yees

Joined: 06 Aug 2007

PostPosted: Mar 04, 2008 00:43    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Reply with quote

awesome also is there any kind of plans for network gaming for DF?

lucius
DarkXL Developer
DarkXL Developer

Joined: 17 Feb 2008

PostPosted: Mar 04, 2008 00:51    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

I would like to have some MP eventually - but that wouldn't happen until the SP is complete including support for addon levels and various new engine features.

Ryuichi91
Ree-Yees

Joined: 06 Aug 2007

PostPosted: Mar 04, 2008 01:01    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Reply with quote

Ah so we have a really long while to wait. Well I'm patient enough to wait as long as possible.

Burning Gundam
Kell Dragon

Joined: 28 Sep 2003

PostPosted: Mar 04, 2008 02:35    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

And this is probably a really dumb question, but any hope of getting mac support on this? If not, perhaps getting in contact with Brad Oliver on that end (Who apparently worked for Aspyr for a while) who would probably be VERY interested.

I'm just asking because I'd hate to have to switch to XP all the time, although in the long run that might be better, seeing as all the cooler editors are PC based.

I am really excited about this and almost tempted to retrieve all my stuff from my old G3 and work on my old projects again, seeing as I've been incredibly bored lately.

PLEASE PLEASE OHHH PLEASE DO NOT LET THIS DIE!!!!

Edit: Actually, one of the questions I forgot to ask was this: Is this just the game being totally redone, or just a new engine that has the ability to run and read the old DF files? I know you mentioned that there needs to be the original data from the game itself so I think it's the latter, but I could be misreading or misunderstanding something here.

And another question is will the sound be better than trying to emulate it? I tried playing DF on XP and the sounds sounded choppy and cut out and the music sounded really corny. This is something I'm hoping for the most to be fixed.

_________________
I don't think outside the box... I customize it.

The MAZZTer
Death Star
Death Star

Joined: 25 Sep 2003

PostPosted: Mar 04, 2008 03:20    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

I shall remain skeptical until I have a copy running off my disk. Such is the curse of projects like this.

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lucius
DarkXL Developer
DarkXL Developer

Joined: 17 Feb 2008

PostPosted: Mar 04, 2008 08:31    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

As for Mac support, I'm afraid not for awhile. Once things become more complete and stable I'll see about having someone do a port. I know from experience that keeping a port up to date with a constantly changing product is not a trivial task and most often the port will fall behind or become buggy or incomplete.

The engine will load the current DF files, I will not be redoing any graphics, levels or sounds myself (I'm not an artist) - all of that will come from Dark Forces. This will, however, allow add-on levels to work, so people will be able to play the old greats built by this and other communities in the new engine.

However I will be doing some post-processing on textures and sprites in the extended mode, basically vectorizing edges - which should allow sprite/hud edges to be sharper, and other high quality upscaling techniques to help with texture/image resolution.

Also I will be enabling others to make new art, such as higher resolution textures, translucencies, md2 or md3 models, 3D enemies, 3D weapons and so on.

As for sound, the VOC file sound data will be read and used in a modern sound engine so limitations of the sound quality will be purely with the sound files themselves, there will be no emulation. In addition the engine will support standard WAV files if people want to replace sounds.

The midi should sound pretty much like it does it DosBox, technically clean and faithful but still just midi... However I will eventually add OGG streaming sound support (similar to MP3 but free), with INF extensions to play OGG music.

Does this answer your questions adequately?

Burning Gundam
Kell Dragon

Joined: 28 Sep 2003

PostPosted: Mar 04, 2008 08:56    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

Yes it does, thanks Smile

_________________
I don't think outside the box... I customize it.

lucius
DarkXL Developer
DarkXL Developer

Joined: 17 Feb 2008

PostPosted: Mar 04, 2008 09:56    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

It looks the next update will be coming tommorrow. 3DOs are loading, shaders are done for them - but they are not rendering yet. I should have them rendering tomorrow Smile

Burning Gundam
Kell Dragon

Joined: 28 Sep 2003

PostPosted: Mar 04, 2008 18:20    Post subject: View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Reply with quote

** Twiddles thumbs with anticipation **

_________________
I don't think outside the box... I customize it.

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