Friday Devblog 12

Bolt Multiplayer, Mecanim and Santa Monica Pier.
 

Bolt

This is the biggest news, as we are very excited to announce that we’re switch from Photon to a new networking engine called Bolt. Its current status is still beta, but so far it has been proved to be a very solid and to be the best choice for a networking engine. Bolt took the inspiration from Source’s network for its server logic, almost every built in features was crafted with this in mind, movement, events, state, spawning, lag compensation, hitbox recording and more.
Bolt

 
We had quite some issues with Photon which lead us to further issues. One of them not being able to use Mecanim as intended. Because of the nature of Photon’s cloud networking, Mecanim had some overhead that caused the animations to desynchronize. Being based on cloud had its perks and flaws, granting us the option to create rooms and host any online game, but with the cost of lag and Mecanim overhead.
 
Now to create a multiplayer game you’d either need a dedicated server running that you can join or create a listen server. Since Bolt is made for authoritative server logic, we’ll be add the necessary options for creating or joining games online.
 
Here are a few key features why we’ve switched:

  • It performs automatic replication of transform, Mecanim animations and you can even define your own variables that also replicate automatically.
  • Built in support for client side prediction and authoritative movement.
  • Built in support for lag compensated hitboxes/raycasting.
  • It comes with full source code, no strings attached.
  • Built in support for user-definable area of interest code and user-definable entity prioritization.
  • Support for both dedicated and listen server out of the box, including LAN support.

 
In the end, it’s the ultimate network solution, both robust and powerful, it’s the perfect solution for Vaulderie.
 

Mecanim

With that said, we’ve also migrated all the models and animations to Mecanim. This allows us to have more control over animations, the way the get blended out, which also grants us a proper solution for the 8-way blending movement similar to Source’s. One major advantage is that we can blend animations as layers, which is what we’re be using for the different weapon animation types in both first and third person. We wanted to switch to Mecanim at an earlier stage but because of the Photon issues mentioned above, we couldn’t. Now that Mecanim doesn’t have overhead issues with Bolt, we don’t have to worry about that.
 

Santa Monica Pier

This week’s focus was on the Santa Monica Pier map. So far it’s coming along nicely. We have plans to extend the pier map, to reflect the real life counterpart of the Pier in several areas, giving a more sense of realism.
Santa Monica Pier - Concept
Santa Monica Pier
After you progress throughout the game, the pier would eventually open up, leading other pedestrians to wonder around and sit on the bench.
Getting the looks and feel based off an old concept would be humble, as it stays true to the original concept:
 
Casey has also been busy with recreating the Carousel Building for the Pier, so far it’s still a draft but we cannot wait to see it to its completion soon.
Carousel Pier Building
Once the Santa Monica pier is fully done, we’ll be merging it with the Santa Monica map, leaving us with a seamless experience traveling between the two location.
 

Prop Replacer

I added an editor script this week that should speed things up for us. Previously if we’d imported a map we’d have to manually import the props into the scene. VMFLoader does an excellent job in importing the brushes and prop placeholders, now with the help of the script the props can be populated easily from the imported models with the help of the prop placeholders. I’m really happy with it, it’s already changed the way I work constantly. Then it’s a matter of placing the building meshes to their places.

Santa Monica Pier - Props
 

Extending the Game

We have ideas we’d like to implement in the game and we’d like to hear your feedback, as these drift away from the original game.
 

Outfit

Since we’d like to have player customization in single player as much as in multiplayer, the most ideal way to provide them without breaking the game’s concept is to provide smaller malls or a small cloth shop throughout the main hub maps. They would serve the player various outfits depending on the city you’re buying them from, so you wouldn’t buy the same cloths in all places.
 

Haven

Another idea we’d like to see coming true, which would add even more flavor to the game and to the player’s experience is to provide Havens for each clans. Like a Toreador one in Tawni’s flat or similar locations. Another huge contribution to it would be to grant the option to customize havens, as in a similar manner to what Saints Row 2 had. We might even grant the option to customize most parts individually, but we don’t want to become a Sims game now. But we do want to make the game as customizable as possible, especially for the role-player types.
 

Summary

Having to use a proper networking was the greatest thing that happened to the project for a very long time, and we’re very excited to finish up the process, but as Bolt still gets updated frequently, it might take a while. Bolt is getting a master/lobby server within a few weeks, which is great for what we’ll need in the future.
 
Progress on the maps are continuing along with finishing up the main parts for the whole Santa Monica map. Mecanim made our lives so much easier, so expect more player animation work in the future.
 
The focus for the next week will be on getting every component converted to use Bolt, else it’s going to be a huge pain to implement multiplayer at a later point.