Tennis Elbow 4 mini Dev Blog

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Tennis Elbow 4 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 08 Jul 2019, 18:03

Welcome to the TE4 mini Dev Blog ! :jap:

Image

This is the sequel of the TEM2 mini Dev Blog, whose last entry lies here : viewtopic.php?p=262850#p262850 .

So the purpose of this mini Blog is to let you know about the development of TE4 (and TEM2 on the side), and all the horrible things that happen to me and make me unable to ever deliver anything as planned... ':D

I usually write 1 post every 10 days or 2 weeks, or less often if I'm really swamped under a lot of things.

General presentation of TE4 : topic15-30551.php .

Tennis Elbow Manager 2 v1.0 !

So to continue from the last TEM2 entry, I released the v1.0 on last Wednesday, after more than 2 years of hard labor.

This is not the end of the development, and I'll add more small features in the incoming months, and bigger features over the years, and of course I'll keep on fixing reported bugs..! :yes:

A lot of the new features will be both for TEM2 & TE4 (eg: improving the animation system), and some will be only for TEM2 (eg: improving the real-time coaching).

Heading to TE4, finally !

So since last December, about 90% of what I did for TEM2, I did it also for TE4 ; mostly it was porting the TE legacy engine to the Unity engine, which improved a bit the visuals, and will allow in the long term to bring much better visuals to TE4 and to port it to consoles (amongst other things).

And last Thursday I have been able to start to work on stuff needed exclusively by TE4 : finding an artist to create the new 3D players. So far, I still didn't find any. I got a couple of interesting applications, but overall, the artists who contacted me don't have much interesting portfolio so it's hard to get a good feeling about them ; moreover, some are way too expensive, or worst, a good bunch of them just didn't give me the quotes I asked them for in the classified... Not really showing any good comprehension skills, which is kinda mandatory to be able to communicate and get the stuff done like I want to... :sweat:

Hopefully, I'll find a decent artist within 1 week. If yes, then we should get the new 3D players by the end of August, which I direly hope.

Unity 2019, here I come

So after finding an artist, the 1st thing to do to work on TE4 is to port from Unity 5.6 (from the year 2015) to Unity 2019.1 (from this year ;) ). Fortunately, it didn't have too many changes ; I started on Saturday and today (Monday) it's almost done, even if I couldn't work much on it these last couple of days.

Then the next step will be to convert the project to the new Unity HDRP (High Definition Rendering Path), which should provide some nice improvements both in the visual quality and in the rendering speed. The catch is it's currently in development and its features and the way to use them may change in the future, so it might be a bit risky to use it right away. But if I start to set up the new 3D stadiums, I'd rather use the new HDRP set up right now, else I might end up tuning twice the lighting setup & the material, which will lose me time I don't have... :fear:

After that, I'll start to apply the TE4 skin to the TEM2 menus (ie: changing the color theme and a few icons) to give their visual identity to the TE4 menus, and then set up the 1st new stadium and we'll have a prototype, hopefully at end of this month..! :yes:

So cu soon to see how all this will go ! :blackeye:

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Re: TE4 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 20 Jul 2019, 17:54

Decompressing times

Pfff, lately I'm kinda tired. I work a bit less than before, I sleep almost 1 hour more per night than last summer, and still, I'm tired.

I guess I got too much on my plate since last September, with barely any time for myself and I'm paying the price now.

Plus, for the 1st time in my life, I got torticollis so bad that I couldn't sleep well for a couple of nights ... :sweat:

Also, there are still bugs to fix in TEM2, so it takes some of my time away.

Anyway, I'm working on TE4, even if it's a bit slower than wanted. I might take some noticeable holidays in September though... :blackeye:

So I found an artist to do the 3D players. He seems very capable and I'm impatient to see how everything will turn out.

The test asset to hire him was a new 3D cup for the UK Slam :
2019-07 - TEM2 - UK Slam Cup.jpg

If there's no bad surprise, we'll get some screenshots of the new male player in a couple of weeks, and he should be in-game around the end of August, likely without any customization.

I also just finished to do the basic skin for the TE4 menus :
2019-07 - TE4 - Menu Skin Preview.jpg

If you're familiar with TEM2, you might have noticed it's almost the same menus, but with different colors. It should be enough to give a unique identity to the game, without taking months to recreate something completely different... :blackeye:

I lost a bunch of time because the old Unity GUI system is plagued with bugs in Unity 2019.1, and it's a big fight to push through the bug reports (I basically work for them for free, but they don't really seem to care for it :sweat: ).

Anyway, more needs to be done for the various screens with many colorful buttons ; I think the 1st pass on the menus should be done within 1 week, and then I'll need about 1 week to put the first 3D stadium (and its props) within the game and set up the HDRP stuff, and then we'll finally have a prototype..! :)

Cu next time for more updates ! :jap:


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Re: TE4 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 28 Jul 2019, 08:26

Slowly getting there

I finished the menu skin needed for the TE4's Alpha :
2019-07 - TE4 - Character Sheet Menu.jpg

It will still require new menu screens to be done for the online mode, and the new stadium selection, but it's a problem for later... :fear:

Actually, it took me about 2 days to do that. The rest of the time was spent on preparing the packaging for release (eg: I added a warning when entering the World Tour so the user will be aware it's currently the one from TEM2 and the final one will be different).

I also did a boxshot & loading screen for the game :
Image

It has been the occasion to learn the new Unity HDRP and setting up the scene & its lighting for a stadium.

I still need to learn more about how all this work, as many stuff is quite confusing.

Hopefully, it'll go well and by the end of next week I'll have stadium ready and the prototype as well.

So hopefully cu soon for some good news..! :yes:
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Re: TE4 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 05 Aug 2019, 09:43

2 naps a day

I got a bit delayed... :fear:

The 1st reason is that since 2 weeks, almost every day, I'm hitting a wall around 10.00am (I get up a bit after 5.00am), and I really can't do anything except go to sleep for 1 big hour to get some energy back. Moreover, I still need to take a fast nap in the afternoon : usually I only sleep 45 minutes in the afternoon, but now it's more like 20-30 minutes of relaxation/half-sleep in addition of the morning nap.

So overall, I'm sleeping 8.5 hours per day instead of a tad more than 7 hours per day I had 1 year ago.

It's really a strange effect and it has never happened to me before. I guess it's my body telling me that 1 week of holidays per year is not enough, especially when I don't have any real rest day in the week... :sweat:

And that really shortens my days, plus it totally breaks my workflow as usually I do my best work in the morning.

The 2nd reason is that I hit another wall : the HDRP setup. Although shader-wise it's relatively simple, at 1st the scene & lighting setup is really complicated and unintuitive as it's not designed in the classic Unity spirit. So it took me some time to get familiar with all that. Now that is done, I see it's not too hard to deal with it, but there's really a lot of confusion on start.

Anyway, now my HDRP test is over and it looks like this :
2019-08 - TE4 - HDRP Test.jpg


Like this, visually, it's very close to a well-configured classic Unity scene, but it's a bit simpler to set up as we can use realistic light values (eg: 100'000 Lux for the sun), and then we get built-in decal & 2-sided shaders, SSS for skin, many optimizations, etc.

From my tests, I learned something really important though : I have to convert all the assets to HDRP at once, else a lot of things break when adding new assets using the old render pipeline.

So now, I'm going to import all stadiums & props to my TE4 project, and convert everything at once to HDRP ; the extra-work should be minimal (a couple of hours). And then I'll set up 1 stadium with the props and we should be almost good to go for the prototype. Hopefully at the end of this week if there's no more bad surprise, or even earlier if everything goes well... :yes:

So cu soon for another dev update ! :wave:
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Re: TE4 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 20 Aug 2019, 11:38

Prototype !

So it took about 1 week more than expected in the last post, but I finally released the Prototype last Friday for Windows, and yesterday for MacOS.

I just sent all the License Key emails with the download links to the people who had pre-ordered the game before the release of the MacOS version of the Prototype.

So let's see a bit the reason for that last delay :

1) I had contacted the Unity support about a bug in the GUI : it could have holes between 2 aligned rectangles. And just 2 weeks ago, they answered me "it's not a bug, but a feature", so I decided to do the required code to handle that "new feature", so now the GUI engine part is over.

2) I had to update the 3D Background shaders to work with the new rendering engine (it's called HDRP).

3) The HDRP doesn't support stacked multi-cam, and it was the trick I had used to mix the 3D player and the GUI in the Character sheet. So I had to adapt my trick... :sweat:

4) Then I worked on the stadium and I noticed the court was way too long : 58m instead of 42m..! It feels very strange to have the back wall so far, so I spent some time to try to figure out what to do. In the end, there's no choice, the artist will have to cut a part of the stadium. Hopefully, he'll do it within a couple of weeks. There were also several other smaller issues : misconfigured seats, non-optimized material & object layout, etc.

5) Then overall, it looked kinda ugly. At 1st, I thought it was because of mixing the new stadium with the old players, NPCs & props, so I did a few tests. Afterward, I finally understood what was wrong : I had forgotten to turn on the postprocessing ! :P
Or more exactly, the SSAO : basically, it darkens the corners, and for my eyes it's indispensable to create visuals balanced correctly.

6) I very likely forgot a couple of other little issues... :fear:

And then it was done..!

But now we're left with 1 big issue : the HDRP is significantly slower than the old Unity rendering engine, almost twice slower ! :shock:
I tried to ask for help in the Unity forum, but so far, I only got idiotic answers (eg: "you should just give up and accept it's slow"... :roll: ), so I hope some Unity dev will actually shine some light on this soon enough, because this new rendering is supposed to be the future of Unity, to counter the Unreal Engine hegemony on the rendering quality, and they won't achieve that with subpar performances... :sad3:

2019-08 - Prototype #2.jpg


Whanex ? (as Cam says)

So the planning now is :
- a couple of days to work on TEM2 v1.0a : it will be mostly about improving the Coaching sliders of the 3D match
- release TEM2 on the Apple Store
- then back to TE4 for putting all the new stadiums in the game, the new 3D male players, and customizing the World Tour so it'll be like TE2013's one

That last line should take a while, especially as I might take a big break next month ; when it's done, TE4 could be labeled as "Early Version", so the Alpha shall come sometimes in-between... :blackeye:

Sleepy Daddy

And for the ones who have might wondering : my early nap might have been because I took some magnesium with my breakfast. It's quite good to fight stress, relax & get better sleep at night. I used to take some in the spring and my mum got me some more this summer, but the dose was doubled, which was probably too much..! :P
Now, I take it in the afternoon, and I'm kinda alright in the morning ; I'm still tired though, I really need some significant break... :sweat:

My son will start to go to school in September, which should give me more time for everything, at least for a little while... ( :blackeye: )

Cu soon enough for more news.

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Re: TE4 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 02 Sep 2019, 19:14

Rocky path

Game Dev is really a rocky path and we're never sure what's going to be after the next turn.

So I had high hope in the new Unity HDRP render pipeline, but it turned out it had 3 majors issues :
- it's significantly slower than the legacy Built-in pipeline, almost twice slower, which is a serious hit and was already enough to make me wonder if this cost was worth it or not
- then when I released the prototype, I discovered that the HDRP wasn't working on Mac Intel Iris IGP, which represents a significant portion of the Mac user base ; it may be fixed in the future, but it's far from certain. And of course, Unity didn't communicate on this, didn't put any warning. This point was really annoying, but I still could live with it if everything else was awesome.
- then in the latest version of the HDRP, accessible with Unity 2019.2 released last month, they changed the SSAO post-processing ; do you remember it from the last mini-blog post ? It's the single effect that I need to appreciate any rendering now, else everything feels too flat. So they destroyed it, it doesn't work correctly, and of course, Unity doesn't communicate about it, nor answer the bug report thread in their forum

And it's that 3rd point that made me fall over the fence, to decide to try to go back to the Built-in engine. Because it remembered me what Unity does the most : half cook features and need years to make them usable outside of their test case, bring ultra annoying bugs that require months or even years to get fixed. The whole freaking package... :sweat:

So I didn't want to live that with their HDRP development. I guess I'll have to wait 5 years they stabilize it enough to be actually production-ready for a solo Indie dev like me. On big teams, they can afford to assign 1 dev full time to fix & build on the existing HDRP. But me, I just can't, as I'm already struggling with time as it is.

So I just started to build the newer version of the clay stadium (which isn't too long anymore :blackeye: ) into the built-in pipeline, instead of the HDRP one. It's kinda painful because I lost all the new goodies from the HDRP : better lighting system which is easy to set up, better-looking shadows without any setup, better-looking materials, better SSAO (at least before the latest HDRP release), better probe reflection system, double-sided shaders, decals, planar UV, etc.

But I have a consolation : I asked all of you to vote for your favorite rendering, and the HDRP one was your least favorite one, as you can check here topic15-31761.php . It had the disadvantage of missing the FSAA, but for my eyes, it was still way superior, but it showed me what I was after was not most players were after, so it softened the blow into my little dev heart... :blackeye:

So now I hope the new stadium with the built-in engine will actually be noticeably faster, like my different tests lead me to believe. We should likely know in a couple of days, and if it's the case, I'll update the Prototype.

2019-08 - Built-in vs HDRP - BI 2019.1 + PPS2.jpg


TEM2 Realtime Coaching Improved

While I was dealing with the HDRP issue, I also worked on TEM2 v1.0a, which mostly consists of improved real-time coaching. Wait wait, don't go away right now if you're not interested in TEM2 ! Because this will also be interesting for TE4 : eventually, I'll add the possibility to configure each player in the tour base with these coaching values, which should help to depict much more closely any kind of real player behavior, as it's basically a plug-in system into the IA and the built-in player styles.

I also completely revamped the way the IA deals with spin on his serve (when he has the corresponding talents or coaching values), including when he has a very powerful serve, which will also help bring variety on this aspect as well.

And lastly, I submitted TEM2 to the Mac Appstore. I hope it'll be ok, especially as it made me sweat for 1 whole day with all the hoops I had to jump through. TE2013 in its time had a little success on the Mac Appstore, but it was a very long time ago, and now I'm a bit afraid there's not much more money to be made there. TE2013 still sells a bit, but it's really low. I direly hope TEM2 will prove me wrong, as I wouldn't mind a bit of extra catch for the end the year... :P


So that's all for today, cu soon for more dev update ! :hello2:

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Re: TE4 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 28 Sep 2019, 09:45

www.mylife is back with a vengeance !

So I didn't give any news in this mini-blog for nearly 1 month.

The reason is simple : my 2nd son is born about 10 days ago..!

The before, during & after all have been stressing for different reasons, so I was very short on time to write anything here till now.

So I'm going to take a full 1-month break from development to take care of my wife, my newborn, but mostly of my 1st son which is afraid to be left out (so he's even more annoying than usual, even if it's hard to believe it was possible ':D ).

Ok, it might not be a real full break, as I still have to handle the new player production : the artist got some issues to make it game ready with the specifics needs of TE ; but we're getting there and it should be ready soon.

Also, I finished the 1st version of the new indoor stadium, which should be very close to the final version. (it's already in the last Prototype version)

2019-09 - Indoor Player_B.jpg


After, I may also work a bit on the new grass stadium ; it's done at ~50%, so it shouldn't take a too long time to finish it. So it'll depend if I have too many little things to take care of or not (eg: writing messages to tell people I can't teach them how to Mod the game :blackeye: ) , when I have free time from my family duties... :)

As working on the stadium is relatively easy, I'll do more when the time presents itself. After the 1st month, I hope to work a bit more, although it'll still be a slow pace, for 2 months. After that, I hope to come back to something just a bit under the normal. Of course, it'll highly depend on my new baby sleep schedules & routines. :fear:

Overall, right now, it doesn't change much the planning for TE4, as I had anticipated that event, except for the short term, as I didn't finish the Alpha version like hoped before my newborn arrived.

Cu next time for some business story if there's none or very little development done in the next couple of weeks... :blackeye:

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Re: TE4 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 24 Oct 2019, 12:38

A daddy with his son

If you have followed the TEM2 Blog, you might think this title could have been a good title for this blog... ;-)

And here another layer to it.

So since the birth of my 2nd son, my 1st one is really killing me, as he never ever lets me rest for 1 minute.

As the main example : 1 night we managed to convince him to go his granny, so I got the evening free and went to bed early as usual. Normally, I'm falling asleep in 5 minutes, 10 at worst. There, that time I needed 1 hour to fall asleep because I wasn't f*cking exhausted from taking care of my son ! ':D

He never ever stops to ask me to play with him, do that, do this, ask 10 questions per minute, wants this, wants that, all day long. I have 2 hours and a half of break in the morning, 4 days per week, when he goes to school but that's all. And he didn't want to go to his granny anymore, as leaving me more than 2 minutes became out of question. He even stopped to go to school in the afternoon because "at school, daddy isn't there". :sweat: (plus he's a bit sick, so he needs to take big naps in the afternoon anyway)

It's getting a bit better now, as he understood his little brother isn't going to replace him, but it's still pretty intense.

And on the other hand, the new one is killing his mother by waking up all the time, screaming like hell (apparently he's hurting his tummy ; which is normal for newborns but didn't happen for the 1st one, and should be without bad consequences except the current pain).

So I had to take the 1st shift at night so my wife can at least get 1 good cycle of sleep, but then it's me who miss it and my 1st one is waking me up in the morning... Tough times... :fear:

Anyway, you might have come here to get news about TE4 and not necessarily about my family, but as there won't have much news about the game, I wanted to let you know why... :blackeye:


This is (small) progress

So I updated the Prototype with the grass stadium. (only the Windows version, not the macOS version, by lack of time ; you can blame Apple to make that process more complicated than it could be)

It looks pretty nice :
2019-10 - UK Slam Stadium.jpg

I also put new line judges, looking much better than the legacy ones, but they are placeholders, waiting to be replaced by custom ones (they are a bit too high polys for their use).


TEM2 follow-up

As promised in the previous post, let's talk a bit about business with a look at TEM2 results.

So the number of players has greatly decreased since the beginning of July, where TEM2 was almost on par with TE2013 (as shown in this previous TEM2 blog post : viewtopic.php?p=262850#p262850 ) :
2019-10 - TEM2 vs TE2013 on Steam - 3 months.jpg

It's not dramatic either, as it's much better than TEM1 results (although TEM1 was released on Steam at the end of 2016, so it was a bit late for the party :P ).

Sale-wise, it's not great either, but I have good hope that after a couple of years it'll cover the development costs.


What next ?

Right now, I'm trying to integrate the new 3D player into the game. It won't look great at 1st because of clipping issues ; I'll have to find a solution to completely hide the body parts that should never be visible from under the clothes.

But before that, I have to do some changes in the animation system, as I switched from the Unity generic rig to humanoid rig ; it was required because the bone structure of the TE2013 player wasn't good (the biggest issue was his too narrow shoulders) and we used a better one for the new player so it'll look more natural ; but all animations have been created for the legacy bones, so we need to use the humanoid rig so it'll be possible to retarget them without too much additional work. However I might still have to do something special to handle the 2nd hand for 2nd-hander animations as it's not exactly on the racket grip anymore.

Plus it requires to set up a new system to swap the animations to the left-handed players ; it'll be better, as it'll use animation symmetry instead of model symmetry, so if the Modders put logo they'll still look correct for left-handed players, but it's much harder to handle in the code, as it requires several tricks to work, and I still didn't finish to check everything about how to do them... :sweat:

Hopefully it'll be done within 1 week, as I'm very impatient to see the new players in actions, as you might be as well..! ':D


Ok, that's all for today, cu soon for some more enthusiastic news, or at least I hope so !
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Re: TE4 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 27 Nov 2019, 19:19

A daddy with his son(s) (bis repetita)

Pffff... Life is tough and it freaking never stops... :sweat:

Spoiler alert : if you're here for dev news, skip to the next paragraph... ;)

So 1st I absolutely didn't realize there were autumn holidays at the end of last month, and thus for 2 weeks (it used to be 1 or at best 10 days when I was a kid), and so my son stayed with me all the time, except for the few days my mum could take care of him, shrinking even more my work schedule. :roll:

After that, we got snow like I hadn't seen in decades, and this in the middle of November ! :shock:
Electricity was cut in thousands of homes for days ; fortunately, in ours the power outage lasted only 5 hours. It still forced me to shove the snow away instead of working, and even more as my son couldn't go to school for 2 days.

And to top that, a few weeks ago, my son heard a "lion" in the middle of the night (likely 2 cats fighting) and since then had refused to sleep alone, bringing even more havoc on our nights, as if handling our newborn wasn't enough. :banghead:

Little step by little step, I try to bring things back to normal, but it's a long, painful and tiring process.

On a slightly brighter note, my son plays more & more all by himself, except he often calls me every couple of minutes to ask for this or that, which is a total workflow killer... :blackeye:

And since a couple of weeks, my newborn sleeps more, so most of the time I don't have to take care of him at night, so it doesn't destroy my sleep anymore.


Slowly back on tracks

So I managed to get a half-decent work schedule in the past 2 weeks, but it's still far from perfect.

Before that, more than half of the little time I had was spent handling the new 3D player production. The 3D artist almost never tests the new versions is sending to me, so almost every time there are new issues that I need to track down, document, and then wait for the new version a couple of days later, losing an awful lot of time in the process. And it's still not over, although we reached a state where the new 3D player could be integrated into the Prototype.

So all in all, it brought a lot of the delay but it's now possible to play with him. Deeper customization will come in a few months, as before that the artist will create the new female player.

I also updated the animation system, so now it works well despite the change in the player bone structure. I still didn't do anything for the 2nd handed strikes, but the 2nd hand isn't too badly misplaced, so it'll stay like this for a while.


4 down, 15 to go !

And then last week I integrated the new AO Slam stadium :
2019-11 - TE4 - Backhand on AO Slam Court.jpg

Now there are 4 stadiums in the game, and 15 left to do. It seems a lot if you look the past speed, but it shouldn't be that bad, as I got the process almost streamlined now, so it takes only 1 big day of work to do it (which translates to 2 stadiums per week at my current work rate, including time spent on the production management), as long as there's no 3D work involved.

In this last stadium, the environment artist did a 4-meter high wall around the court, which was way too much. So I manually lowered it to 2.8 meters, which took me several hours to create the new needed floors behind it.

As far as I recall, the other stadiums should have fewer issues, as they were created after the clay, grass & NewLine courts, or at least I hope so. The indoor stadium already in the game, created last, was kinda ok overall.

So now the medium-term objective is to get 9 stadiums in the game (1 per surface), update the World Tour menus, and put the new female player, to reach the Early Version state. It could be done sometime in January if I can get to work a bit more.

And the short-term objective is to do 2 stadiums in 1 week. If nothing annoying happens, it should be doable... :unsure:

Cu hopefully soon enough to see how it goes. :fear:
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Re: TE4 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 19 Dec 2019, 11:53

Alpha !

So let's start with the good news : if you have missed it, the Alpha has been released 2 days ago, here => topic15-31984.php .

The change to Alpha state is mainly because now all the different surfaces from the game are linked to a different stadium, giving a little feeling of the final version content-wise, even though it'll actually have 10 more stadiums, and the surface will be freely selectable for any stadium.

This means that I did the last 5 new stadiums on the expected timeline (ok, I was 1 day late :P), which is the 1st time I could keep my rhythm and didn't have (too many) bad surprises (see below) along the way since a long time.

So now we can look a bit more forward and see what are the biggest things to do to go in the Early version stage :
- remove the management part from the World Tour so we'll get the classic TE2013 Tour gameplay
- integrate the female player (she's currently in production and hopefully be fully ready by end of January)
- add the online mode

Only the 1st point is mandatory, so the version label may change relatively fast, as it should be only 1 week or 10 days of work.

However...

However...

I'll quote myself from the previous post :
Life is tough and it freaking never stops...

And it does indeed never stops... :sweat:

For the last hassles, I'll just make a quick list, else I'm going to fill pages & pages :
- bad toothaches
- when I came to notify my elderly but still massive neighbor that his son's dog was roaming freely and just ran to me & my son, barking the hell out at us, and thus scaring us, he threatened me to knock me down because I called the cops on the barking dog 1 year ago (we hadn't talked since that time), coz apparently, preventing a young-kid sick father to sleep & rest is ok because "dogs just bark" ; I couldn't believe he'd act like that, especially with my son around ; fortunately, he was behind my gate and didn't understand what's was going on, as I kept my calm and talked normally
- my son got sick again, coughing too much, and up to 40°c fever ; this time we met the kid doctor and she said it was just a bad cold : as my son still can't blow his nose nor sniff in the glanders, it just gets stuck in his airways, making him cough a lot
- my mum got scammed on Internet
- I'm sick ; I likely caught my son's cold and got my airways blocked as well, so I'm spitting green at the moment :puke: :reindeer:
- and some other small & bigger things that I don't have the mood to expose or think about :blackeye:

And on a better side :
- my newborn is fine, except he almost doesn't sleep in the day, coz he sleeps too much at night ; but it's not a too bad deal, even if my wife doesn't stop to complain about it... ':D

So all in all, I need a little holiday break, but I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to take it, as my son is going to be on x-mas holidays from tomorrow evening, asking me 50 questions per minute for 2 weeks... :fear:

2019-12 - TE4 - Distant Forehand on Future-Challenger Stadium.jpg

Integrating the Stadiums

To end this post, let's talk a bit about putting the stadiums into the game.

The process in itself is now really streamlined and requires at worst a half-day of work per stadium.

The issue is that most stadiums had some annoying glitches in their construction :
- all have little holes here & there, creating visual glitches when the camera moves ; some had really a lot of holes. So I had to move the vertices around, or even rebuilt the polygons to fixes all these holes, which can take quite a long time
- the Cincinnati Stadium court walls were too high, so I had to shorten them
- the artist put some high poly details far around the stadium (eg: metal structures around the giant TV screens) ; it was using way too many polys for something barely seen, potentially creating FPS hiccup when these parts would enter the field of vision (or would be near it) ; again, it takes time to fix that

So all in all, I guess I still won't be much faster than 2 stadiums per week for the 10 stadiums remaining, even if I wish I could make 3 or 4 per weeks.

I won't work on them again before a little while, though, as I'll prioritize playability & gameplay (ie: the main goal now is that TE4 has all that TE2013 has, so I can sell TE4 instead of TE2013 in the next few months).


That's all for today folks, cu next time for more news ! :wave:


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Re: TE4 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 20 Jan 2020, 17:53

Sick Leave

Pffffff, my family and I have been sick for the most part of the past month. Personally, I got 13 diseases & infections..! :shock:

Image

And the last one was the flu, which my wife got 1st, and my baby 2nd. As you can imagine, it was hard to manage, especially as my son got a pneumopathy start at the same time, and my mum got a bad cough as well... :sweat:

The weather in my city had been quite cold while still being very humid, thus creating a great soup of viruses. :fear:

The positive from that is that I really needed a break, and I spent the xmas holidays with my family. But 1 month was just freaking too long. :banghead:

Fortunately, this new flu is less bad than the last year's one. I'm still a bit sick now, but since last Thursday, I feel better so I was able to start to work again, although I only did little things so far and still didn't get to work on updating the World Tour gameplay. I also spent 1 day on the 1st draw of the new female player ; she looks nice, but there are many issues, so it might take a little while before to get her in the game.


Anim Modding

A couple of weeks ago, I also checked how to allow animation modding.

Unfortunately, I have some bad news on this side : Unity always does its best to prevent Modding, and thus there are 2 severe constraints to the only way to allow anim Modding. So it'll require the Modders to create a Unity package that will be loaded by the game ; here the 2 catches :
- the packages have to be created with the same Unity version that I use ; it means that every time I'll update to a new Unity version (which can happen frequently), it'll invalidate the current anim packages and thus the Modder will have to download the new Unity version and re-create all their anim packages
- it should have 1 package per platform (eg: Windows + MacOs + XBox + PS4, and maybe Linux), and only me can create packages for the console ones ; so it means like this, it won't be possible to create Anim Mod for the console versions

So I thought about 1 solution : once the Modders are happy with their anims (they'll be able to test them within TE4 by creating a Unity package once I'll have created the Anim SDK), they'll send them to me and I'll bundle them in the game.
There, it'll have 2 paths :
- the anims will become officially part of the game, if the Modders wish so and if the quality is ok (or if I have the time & will to fix them)
- the anims will be bundled in the game, but not visible by default ; to become available in the menus, they'll require a small text file to be added as a Mod ; like this, the Modders keep the control of their creation, and still can release their anims on consoles :yes:


Bigger Bandwidth

Lastly, I rented a new server for managames.com ; the old one had really weak hardware as I started to rent it in 2013, and despite that its price never went down ; so now, I have a server 4 times more powerful. But the main reason was to get more bandwidth as the TE4 installer will likely reach 2GB (which is 50 times bigger than TE2013 one ! :shock: ) and thus it'll create some issue when releasing a new version once the game will be available to everyone... :blackeye:

There, I got an upgrade to 250Mbps from 100Mbps. It's probably not enough, so I'll have to find some additional solution. Likely, I'll do a much smaller patch version, like with TE2013, so people who already downloaded once the game won't have to redownload it all afterward for each new version.

I'll need a few days of work to set up everything. As I don't want to lose development time, I'll likely do it in the afternoon & evening, when I can grab 10 or 20 minutes away from my son, when he's playing by himself... :)

That's all for today.

I really hope next time I'll have better news. This sick period really took a hit on my mood, and now I could really use some lucky period where I can work efficiently without being interrupted by sh*t hitting the fan every couple of days... :fear:

Anyway, cu soon enough to see all this goes..! :wave:


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Re: TE4 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 16 Feb 2020, 11:55

A little aside about stats

This topic raised some concerns about the normal & acceleration strike speeds, as well as strike depth.

So I decided to check a bit where TE4 was currently standing from real-life. It's not easy to do such a comparison, as many parameters come into play, and there's no a lot of detailed stats available ; eg: knowing the overall average backhand speed isn't that much useful if it mixes topspin & sliced backhands.

Anyway, I think I found an interesting stat here : http://on-the-t.com/2016/11/26/aoleader ... and-speed/ .

It gives the average forehand speed which landed at less than 3 meters from the baseline for many players for their matches at the AO Open from 2014 to 2016.

So it's still not a perfect stats (it mixes poor defense strikes stats and acceleration strikes), but it's still pretty narrow. Even maybe too narrow to be compared to TE4 engine, as it means the game must be very realistic in many aspects to get some meaningful results, especially as I currently have some interrogations on depth range changes I made from TE2013 : now the average strike depth is noticeably shorter.

But let give it a try anyway..! :)

2020-02 - TE4 - AO Open - 2H-Backhand.jpg

The average deep forehand speed range is from 114km/h to 134kh/m (71-83mph).

I picked Nadal & Djokovic, both averaging at 127.5km/h.

1st a little note : Djokovic hit 10.2 deep FH per set (665 in 65 sets), while Nadal did 7.4 per set (317 in 43 sets).

That's not a lot, which might show that lowering the average strike depth has been indeed a realistic change for TE4.

And after, I ran 3 sets of Nadal vs Djokovic in TE4 on the AO Slam surface. Djokovic won all 3 sets (of course ! :P) 6/4 7/6 7/5 for an average rally length of 5 strikes.

I did stats of both the FH & the BH : I counted separately the normal & acceleration strikes, and then added them in a 3rd row.
I counted 3 different depths : all depths, only from the baseline till 3.5 meters before it, and only from the baseline till 3 meters before it. Like this, I can get some idea if I need to raise a bit the average depth of the strikes.

Here are the results :
Code: Select all
=== Strike Stats for Rafael Nadal ===
   ==> e_Forehand
      ==> e_All
         ==> e_Normal
            Avr Speed = 112.5km/h
            Nb Strike = 106
         ==> e_Accel
            Avr Speed = 133.9km/h
            Nb Strike = 60
         ==> e_Both
            Avr Speed = 120.2km/h
            Nb Strike = 166
      ==> e_3meterPlus
         ==> e_Normal
            Avr Speed = 108.7km/h
            Nb Strike = 22
         ==> e_Accel
            Avr Speed = 135.4km/h
            Nb Strike = 20
         ==> e_Both
            Avr Speed = 121.4km/h
            Nb Strike = 42
      ==> e_3meter
         ==> e_Normal
            Avr Speed = 108.1km/h
            Nb Strike = 20
         ==> e_Accel
            Avr Speed = 133.2km/h
            Nb Strike = 13
         ==> e_Both
            Avr Speed = 118km/h
            Nb Strike = 33
   ==> e_Backhand
      ==> e_All
         ==> e_Normal
            Avr Speed = 108.9km/h
            Nb Strike = 125
         ==> e_Accel
            Avr Speed = 128.1km/h
            Nb Strike = 28
         ==> e_Both
            Avr Speed = 112.4km/h
            Nb Strike = 153
      ==> e_3meterPlus
         ==> e_Normal
            Avr Speed = 107.2km/h
            Nb Strike = 40
         ==> e_Accel
            Avr Speed = 125.3km/h
            Nb Strike = 9
         ==> e_Both
            Avr Speed = 110.5km/h
            Nb Strike = 49
      ==> e_3meter
         ==> e_Normal
            Avr Speed = 106.8km/h
            Nb Strike = 20
         ==> e_Accel
            Avr Speed = 124.7km/h
            Nb Strike = 6
         ==> e_Both
            Avr Speed = 110.9km/h
            Nb Strike = 26
=== Strike Stats for Novak Djokovic ===
   ==> e_Forehand
      ==> e_All
         ==> e_Normal
            Avr Speed = 113.8km/h
            Nb Strike = 119
         ==> e_Accel
            Avr Speed = 136.7km/h
            Nb Strike = 63
         ==> e_Both
            Avr Speed = 121.7km/h
            Nb Strike = 182
      ==> e_3meterPlus
         ==> e_Normal
            Avr Speed = 112.6km/h
            Nb Strike = 24
         ==> e_Accel
            Avr Speed = 142.5km/h
            Nb Strike = 20
         ==> e_Both
            Avr Speed = 126.2km/h
            Nb Strike = 44
      ==> e_3meter
         ==> e_Normal
            Avr Speed = 110.8km/h
            Nb Strike = 14
         ==> e_Accel
            Avr Speed = 141.5km/h
            Nb Strike = 15
         ==> e_Both
            Avr Speed = 126.6km/h
            Nb Strike = 29
   ==> e_Backhand
      ==> e_All
         ==> e_Normal
            Avr Speed = 113km/h
            Nb Strike = 99
         ==> e_Accel
            Avr Speed = 133.7km/h
            Nb Strike = 41
         ==> e_Both
            Avr Speed = 119km/h
            Nb Strike = 140
      ==> e_3meterPlus
         ==> e_Normal
            Avr Speed = 114.2km/h
            Nb Strike = 17
         ==> e_Accel
            Avr Speed = 132km/h
            Nb Strike = 9
         ==> e_Both
            Avr Speed = 120.3km/h
            Nb Strike = 26
      ==> e_3meter
         ==> e_Normal
            Avr Speed = 112.4km/h
            Nb Strike = 9
         ==> e_Accel
            Avr Speed = 134.4km/h
            Nb Strike = 5
         ==> e_Both
            Avr Speed = 120.2km/h
            Nb Strike = 14


So let's check Djokovic's FH ==> e_3meter ==> e_Both (ie: all FH landed within 3 meters of the baseline, like the stats on the linked page at the start of this post) : 126.6km/h with 9.7 per set ; woh, this is pretty close of the real stuff ! :P (although it's hard to compare exactly, as Djokovic didn't do all his matches against Nadal ; we're just here to get some approximative idea of where TE4 stands).
The "FH ==> e_3meterPlus ==> e_Both" speed is nearly identical, but it gives about 15 FH per set.

For Nadal, it's a bit less good : "FH ==> e_3meter ==> e_Both" speed is 118km/h, so it's noticeably lower than his real-life stat (although against Djokovic, some may argue it has to be lower ;) ), with 11 FH per set, significantly above his real-life stat, but still within a decent margin.
The "FH ==> e_3meterPlus ==> e_Both" speed is a bit better. This may show that high topspin may require a bit of tuning in TE4. It also shows that the speed handicap of high topspin is still very noticeable in TE4, despite it has been significantly lowered since TE2013.

That's all for now, cu soon for more general news ! :wave:
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Re: TE4 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 16 Feb 2020, 18:28

World Tour in 1 month

Pffff (again!), this has been a difficult past month.

This time, I was not sick, but changing the TEM2 World Tour gameplay back to the TE2013 one felt like a drag, and it was much more complicated than expected.

The idea was to remove the Coach, the detailed training, and everything that made TEM2 a manager and put back everything that was in TE2013 instead, so mainly : the training session before entering a tournament, the small changes when starting a new career (eg: no Coach creation anymore, seasons vs career mode, etc.), and handling the new specificities of having a Junior player (ie: getting less XP from tournaments but getting a bit of XP every week).

So at 1st it felt relatively quick and straightforward to do, but actually there are many cases to handle (seasons mode vs career mode, created player vs selected player for the career mode, starting as a junior or pro, etc.), and all that in a system that I wrote years ago and couldn't remember well at all (even if I upgraded it for TEM2 just 2 years ago :sweat: ).

About that, it made me check how many lines of menu scripts I have. For TEM + TE engine, I already have about 120'000 lines of C# code, which is way more than I can remember perfectly, my max being around 40'000 lines. And for the menus, it's already 60'000 lines, which came at a big surprise ! :shock: If I had guessed, I'd have probably said something like 15'000~30'000 big maximum. And even though most of them are relatively simple (eg: define a button), a good bunch of them define game logic, and it's especially true on the new game creation menus.

2020-02 - TE4 - Starting a New Career.jpg


Anyway, I also got taken by many little things, including producing the female player (which should be done now if there's no glitch with her anymore), migrating managames.com to a new server (which induced many little glitches here & there, even though the main stuff was done within 1 big day of work), and family stuff, like usually.

So after a while, it felt pretty discouraging, which made advancing on all that even more slowly, and thus even more discouraging... :unsure:

One last big thing was to decide which skills to remove for our player and update the Character Sheet accordingly. It was relatively easy to remove the skills : I took all the mental ones out, except the Focus which is important for the gameplay, as they had effects that were either not important enough or had not their place in a non-management game. The redesign of the Character Sheet has been more problematic as it left a big hole in it and I had no idea what to put in there. Now I guess I'm going to put some stats for our player (distance run, number of forehands hit, aces, etc.), but I'm waiting to see if anyone has some better idea 1st... :blackeye:

So I'm glad it's done and that I can look again a bit in the future.

Looking again a bit in the future

So in the next few days, the female player should be in-game (if there's no bad surprise) ; then I'll make the system to load a different court surface independently of the selected stadium, so we'll start to get the feeling of playing in a small or big tournament in the World Tour.

After that, it'll be the online mode, which I'm now dreading a bit as it might also be a nest of headaches. I'm planning to reuse the TE2013 system, but I want to clean it to make it more easy to maintain & extend (if the need arises). Before I was hoping to do it in 1 month, but now I hope to do it in 1 month and a half.

And then after that, I'll likely work on making the Junior Tour a bit easier at 1st, and then I'll finally be able to work on TE4 gameplay for a while, before switching back again to content and possibly animation improvements.

So cu next time to see how all of this will go horribly badly... :blackeye:

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Re: TE4 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 22 Mar 2020, 10:11

Slow Motion

[spoiler alert : jump to the last section for some light dev news]

Pfff (as always :sweat:), I'm working really very slowly in these times.

So I actually did the system to separate the ground selection from the stadium selection. It works nicely and all, but it took me much more time than expected, mostly because I'm tired and have a lot of my time eaten away from having to take care of my son. He's more autonomous now, but still far from enough, so I still spend around 6 hours per day for him, except when my mum takes care of him, 2 days per week.

I bring him to school & back, and thus I almost never have a free chunk of time longer than 2 hours and a half, which makes it very hard to get into big hard tasks.

Plus, I often have to help my wife taking care of our now 6-month old baby.

And overall, I came to a halt with the "I never have fun anymore", especially since last December I can't watch series while I eat anymore, as I have nothing watchable by a 3-year old kid. So I take a couple of hours per week to play video games or just do more or less nothing, coz I freaking need to rest and enjoy myself a bit (which I barely did for 1 year and a half before that :suicide: ).

Coronavirus

And on top of that, here came the coronavirus. So they closed the school 1 week ago, for an undetermined period, which means I have to even take care more of my son. And since Tuesday, there's a global lockdown in France.

So it's a kinda stressful situation, although not that terrible for me. Practically, it almost changes nothing for me : it's more or less like during school holidays. This means that when my mum doesn't take my son, I'm struggling to find peace to work.

This shitstorm might last weeks if not months, so it will obviously delay me even more.

At this point, I kinda accepted my fate, and still have mood for work, whatever little bit I can do in my present day.

Hopefully, at some point, we'll reach a good state for the game before tennis is a totally forgotten sport. :blackeye:

Note : if you're annoyed with TE4 delays, I can tell you I'm likely 1000 times more annoyed about that than you (my main work-life goal and my income are at stake here :fear: ), but there's no other solution than accept the situation and be patient. :yes:

Although I'm just out of a 2-week long bad angina, I don't think I got the coronavirus. This angina started in the throat and then went for my sinuses, not for my lung, and I didn't get any fever, cough nor breathing issue. It tired me a lot, though, making me sleep more than usually.

Hopefully, I won't catch the Covid-19, nor my family, but there's no garantee about that. :fear:


Face Customization

So all in all, progressing is very slow, although there's still some progress, and if the winds were in my favor, my motivation is still there, although a bit jaded by the tons of shit which keep coming & coming.

My last task has been to implement the face customization done by the 3D artist.

I think it works nicely and looks good enough, but it probably could use a few more options, so if you have pre-ordered TE4, please try it now and give me some feedback => topic15-32218.php .

2020-03 - Female Player - Facial Customization.jpg


Next, I'm going to integrate all the female customization done by artists (ie: T-shirts, skirts & stuff like this). At the current work rhythm, it might take me 1 week.

After that, I'm not sure. I think I'll aim to do little things, like revamping the in-game score & match boards, as starting any big task now is really complicated. :fear:

Cu in a while to see how it'll get even worse with the time... ':D

PS: take care of yourself and your loved ones, be cautious. :yes:

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Re: TE4 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 17 Apr 2020, 16:35

Not Any Faster

So things still progress, but it's still slow like before.

Lockdown is somewhat manageable for my family, but I just wonder why no one proposed me the option B :



... ':D

Anyway, I did the new scoreboard, matchboard & replay bar, which took me nearly 2 weeks as I couldn't focus 100% on it :
2020-04 - TE4 - New Scoreboard.jpg


The female customization is done at about 70% on my side. The 3D artist has trouble finishing her at 100%, so I have to wait he's done 1st before I can do the last bit. It'll be mostly boring grunt work, and should take a couple of days.

Since 1 month, I did also a bit of debugging, added a couple of small features for the TEM2 World Tour (eg: can change starting age & rank), improved the tool to prepare the 3D player (mainly it removes the invisible polygons depending on the selected clothes), and that's all.

So It's not nothing, but it doesn't feel enough, that's why I didn't have the mood to write this post earlier... :P

Lately, I kinda accept to advance slowly, but I still don't like to stare at this progress speed.

So according to this speed, I changed my next task : I'm going to update the player bases with the 2019 ranking, and an extra week of grass tournaments between the French & UK slams, and add a lower rank of tournaments for the Junior Tour, and the Junior players to play them (these ones will never make it to Pro :blackeye: ). The biggest challenge here is that I'm going to need to change the saved game format, and thus I should look for a solution for the current saved games to still work, else some Steam users might get upset to lose their career, because unfortunately, Steam doesn't have a function to warn a user before the automatic update... :sweat:

Cu next time (likely not too soon :aureola: ) for more news !
Meanwhile, stay safe..! :yes:

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