December report from Reticon Entertainment:
I have excellent news!
We have finished the Ionicon Engine! As of December 15th, 2011, the Ionicon Engine 1.0 is completed, the engine includes:
* A 3D model loader with texture interpreter
* Sound and music loader that uses SDL
- Although the music loader uses the same construct as the sound loader. At the moment it is interpreting WAV files which I do not prefer due to the large overhead.
* A simple and rudimentary physics engine that at the moment checks for collision detection.
- In the future, the engine will implement higher order physics, such as velocity and momentum on objects, as well as spring resistance.
* A controller interrupt class which abstracts the input of the Dreamcast controller and wraps it with SDL as well, making the character controls easy to manipulate and debug.
Although the engine is 'complete', it still not complete to my standards. The engine was able to successfully play a demo as we presented it, but the engine is a huge memory hog. Specifically in the model loading. It consumes large amounts of memory each time a model is loaded, so for the next 5 weeks, I'll be optimizing the engine with creating a better, more memory efficient model loader as well as creating a class that will swap memory in and out of the 16MB of the Dreamcast so we do not run into memory faults (which DID happen).
We ran into some problems with the memory cap of the Dreamcast at 16MB, the models, textures and data (once compiled) maxed out the Dreamcast's RAM and would eventually overflow and cause the Dreamcast to go into a kernel panic and shut down. This has been addressed and so I will be spending the next few weeks to ensure that whatever data we do not use, we swap out of the RAM.
We presented the engine and received huge acclaim from the faculty of the California State University Long Beach Department as well as our peers. We created a very lightweight, yet powerful engine that can be implemented onto the Dreamcast. We produced this engine with no debugging tools, little documentation and yet still produced well over 4,000 lines of code in just a matter of months. This is NOT including the research and implementation from the past 3 years of working with the hardware and the other classes it implemented, so there are easily more than 4,000 lines of code in technicality; well over double by my assumption.
We are VERY excited over what was produced with this engine. We were able to display around 7,500 polygons at a steady 30 frames a second! which means, our models for TAHI worked PERFECTLY.
Once the engine is complete to my standards, I will be creating a video to demonstrate it as well as present it! I can reserve a presentation room and present the engine as it is during game play as well as its functionality to all of you and everyone else who is interested in attending the presentation at that time.
Included (below) is a photo of the team which helped me make the engine possible. They're known as the Dream(cast) Team, the man on the far right is our professor who watched over this research project. All four of us spent around 10 hours a day for a good four weeks, testing, applying, recoding and retesting this engine until it was fine tuned enough to function correctly.
On the TAHI side, now that we almost have an entire engine to use, we will begin implementing pieces of the game into our engine to stress test it and hopefully start piecing it together! On the artist side, we've finalized Gangaro's character (the main playable character), which is also included (below), and has begun being modeled.
Hopefully by the end of the five weeks or so, once the Ionicon Engine has been optimized, we will be able to produce a higher output of polygons, that means an even more finely detailed game! stay tuned, we will have more to show, and yes, we will be updating the blog.
The reason why the blog has not been updated in some time, is because we've been spending countless hours on the engine and had no time for anything else.
P.S. Also during these months of putting the Ionicon Engine together, we've developed a process (through trial and failure) of developing on the Dreamcast that is quick, nearly painless and stream-lined, so that anybody who is a hobbyist may be able to program on the Dreamcast without even needing a coder's cable, or interfacing with linux or cygwin! We'll have more on that as the time comes.
I'll possibly be making a nice tutorial regarding that process on the RETICON website after we've made our 'major updates'
Thank you all for the support all of these years, and through your support, a successful engine has been created which gives us the gateway to produce many high quality in-depth games for the Dreamcast! This is just the beginning. We've created a new way to code for the Dreamcast and an easier way to make 3D games for it! So to all of you in the Dreamcast-Talk forums, thank you to the bottom of our hearts. The entire RETICON team thanks you ALL! For your support and for everything that you do.