It has been a while since any news on the development of the next version has been posted.
Most important reason for this was that the rendering part of the engine was not yet ready.
Luckily that part of the engine is now ready (finally
First some screenshots of the new engine. After that I will elaborate more on were we stand now and a slight indication of planning.Rendering
As you can see the rendering is quite different from version 3.5.
A lot of the rendering techniques used in Unity and/or Unreal have been integrated into the new engine. These are e.g.:
- Deferred lighting (with MSAA)
- Physics based materials
- Image based lighting and reflection
- Screen space Ambient Occlusion
- Screen space reflection
- Cascaded shadowing
- Volumetric lighting
- Blooming, DOF
No lightmaps are being used, to make the interactivity of the lighting easier.Gameplay
The setting of the game will be a university with a campus attached to it.
In the end on this terrain there will be a school building, sport arena, swimming pool, dormitory and a library.
We are currently developing a character creator, that will allow for a lot of characters to be available in this setting.
Each (female) character will have its own mini story that in most cases will make it possible to win her over.
The stories will be less linear, and the characters will exchange information about the progress with each other.
This e.g. will mean that if you mess up with a girl, her friends will also know about this and that can influence your progress with them.Modding
Modding has a lot of focus in the development of the new engine. It will be possible to add new characters to the setting (as described above).
You can program their own story and by adding a pack this character will automatically be added to the game.
This will be possible without any third party software (except for a text editor).
Also new settings can be created. This will require third party software (like Maya), if the objects are not already present in the game.Development
All in all there will be more focus on adding features to the game engine, instead of making a completely new version for every story.
The open world approach will allow to integrate new characters and stories more easily.Planning
Building the new render part of the engine felt a bit like building a railroad through the rockies. At every turn new issues arose.
Mainly because deferred rendering on paper looks elegant, but making it look good (and practical in its use) was not easy.
Halfway through, we discussed if it would not be better to fall back on a forward renderer again.
But after fixing all the issues it's approach does pay off. And having good normal, depth and materials buffers, allow for a lot of extra effects at very low cost.
We initially thought developing the deferred rendered (with all effects), would take no more than 4 months. It was 8 months.
So making a planning is not easy if you do not know exactly what lies ahead. This is the reason an release date will not be given.
I will however update on the state of the development more frequently.