Coolcoder360's Devlog/updates thread
some art stuff/side project
I decided I wanted to test out Godot 4.0 Alpha 2 for a little bit to see what was new. So I also spend some time in blender making a few things.
I will say that I don’t think I’m ready to work in Godot 4.0 yet, there were some issues I had importing models to where I’d drag in/add the model to a scene, but the mesh would not show up all of the time. That difficulty made it difficult for me to continue doing just because it was not reliable and I think I found a workaround, but the workaround was too much work for it to be worth it for me to continue.
I did however do some stuff in blender and made this candle model with fully procedural textures (that I plan to bake out and export for my engine, my engine can’t do procedural textures and I think that’s not in scope. for now.)
Not much progress on the engine from last week sadly, partially from being distracted with the Godot 4.0 Alpha 2 build testing I was doing. Some small amount of progress on the lua bindings for the UI stuff though.
Lots of other things going on, trying to buy a house, and it has a bundle of things wrong with it that we need or want to fix/repair before or shortly after moving in.
Water heater isn’t to code and is unable to be replaced without cutting whole in the drywall, failed radon test, dishwasher doesn’t work, garbage disposal doesn’t work, whole house fan vents don’t open properly, tree needs branches removed, yadda yadda yada.
But hey! it’s a house and it has lots of storage. like fit our 3 crock pots and the instapot under the counter and have room for like 6+ months worth of pantry items for us kinds of storage space.
I’ve also realized just how expensive furniture can be… we have a big enough space, and I’ve always wanted to have a bar in the house we would get. Issue is, bar counters and bar cabinets all run well into the $3k range each for the nice ones with reasonable size, and we’re going to want one that locks because I have a 13 (almost 14) yo brother-in-law who we like to have visit, and we don’t need him experimenting with that stuff without our supervision. I told my wife we’d have to get just the best farthest bottom shelf cheapest tequila for him to try if he ever asks about trying alcohol, can’t let him go come across the good stuff while we’re not there otherwise he might end up liking it.
So because of all that expense, cost, and that we want something that locks, I’m considering making a bar cabinet (and probably bar too) myself. I did a little bit of wood working growing up, mostly with my dad since he was the one super into it. I’m not sure I’d be into it enough to get like a tablesaw or anything fancy, but if I could do it with a few hand tools maybe, then I could probably slowly come up with a bar cabinet.
I’ll probably start with looking around for plans or coming up with plans for the bar cabinet in freecad. Maybe I can 3d print some of the hardware myself and then assemble the rest of it out of plywood or MDF. Be on the lookout for some CAD stuff in the future I guess instead of just game dev.
Not much to speak of this time, still slogging through the lua bindings for the UI stuff. I now have it so I can do all the same things before you saw for showing a window, but in lua scripts now.
Still no widgets or anything like that but at least now I have somewhat parity between the C++ and the Lua bindings.
Next I think is implementing lua bindings to do the Rows, which are basically to hold each row of ui elements in the window, and then I’ll need to add the C++ and lua to handle any actual input widgets or labels or progress bars and other such things.
Don’t remember if I’ve explain it before so I’ll explain it again, basically the way Nuklear seems to work, based on my possibly limited understanding, is you essentially have a “window” which is essentially a bucket that is a separate window in the UI, you can configure it to be closable, movable, minimizable, resizable, etc.
Then in that Window you have the widgets, but they’re laid out or organized in rows. how exactly they are laid in rows can be changed based on how you want to layout the gui, but basically what I’m planning to do is to have a Window object that just holds Rows, then have the Rows actually hold the UI components themselves. that way I can programmatically generate the full window and specify layout in lua, and all that happens is my UI Manager calls draw on the window, the window calls the nuklear methods to set up the window, then calls draw on its rows, and then each row does the call to set up the layout, and then calls draw on its widgets, which then just does the nuklear calls to set up the actual widgets (and will then get the input results from Nuklear and then ping back into the configured lua script/method with the input from the widget)
I was reading a factorio blog post recently and they mentioned doing automated end to end testing, so I thought it would be good to think about how that could be done, perhaps there are some other frameworks or something that could be used.
I do think that basically having a way to provide fake input to the engine would be easy enough by just adding some stuff to the input manager, to allow triggering input actions outside of needing glfw to actually register the events. I haven’t fully fleshed out the details of what kind of scripts the tests would be written as, but I think it would be helpful to start at least figuring out what engine modifications might be helpful to doing automated tests.
Things like being able to run in a headless mode, that way you can avoid needing to use GPU and still be able to run multiple tests in parallel on the machine.
Maybe having some sort of “on demand” rendering to allow taking screenshots when needed but otherwise just don’t render anything? I’m trying to figure out how useful automated tests would be for testing actual gameplay vs testing just general engine features to ensure there are no regressions, and I suspect taking screenshots may not be the most useful, because I could imagine that the graphic quality would vary a lot at least while a game is being worked on, but maybe if there was a consistent test case for the engine to verify that the graphics rendering seemed to match at least somewhat closely between different renderers?
Additionally, It might be worth being able to capture state/save the entity/component state to compare, then comparisons of state could be done possibly between specific entities that are having functionality tested on, and it would work regardless of the graphics changing.
So those are some thoughts I had about potential features that might need to be added to facilitate writing automated tests, so hopefully then during development of a game, I could set up some automated tests for that game to test some functionality, maybe to verify that the main menu, pause menu, options menu all work and don’t crash, and then I could maybe add them to all run in Jenkins to be automated like once a week or month.
Moving next week to a new place. lots of stuff going on for that, and not so much game engine progress expected. But once we get the place set up I’ll probably be right back at it trying to get my UI stuff figured out so I can get the editor on track. Once the editor is on track I’m hopeful I could start making some real games perhaps, even without fully workable physics or audio.
Took a bit longer to complete the move and get my desktop set up than expected, but had an unexpected funeral and road closure keeping me in a different state, so the one week I expected to not have any progress turned into 3 weeks.
Still trying to set up my office, need to set up the 3d printer and better route the ethernet cable from the kitchen on the first floor to my office in the basement. I got a 500ft spool of bulk ethernet cable to be able to route that around everything along the walls, and was going to 3d print brackets to hold it in place.
In order to better route the ethernet cable I’m designing some brackets to use to mount it to the wall so I can 3d print them off, figure since I’ve got a house now I may as well make use of the 3d printer to make things.
The bracket is basically just a half circle with a little hole for a nail to go through:
but I made it parametric in FreeCAD so I can change the size of the hole to fit different nails or screws, and the size of the arc to fit different size cables, or the thickness or overlap of the parts to make it more sturdy if needed. Learning FreeCAD has been good, and I think it might help if I wanted to make furniture or other things that may not be 3d printed, but require good design/planning ahead to make sure everything fits together. Blender is nice for 3d but not sure it’s really parametric in the ways I need to make physical objects.
The status on the game engine is pretty same-y same-y, still doing UI Lua bindings and stuff to try to get it to where I can at least add a single widget to a row and add that to a window.
Once I’m that far implementing other widgets shouldn’t be too bad since Nuklear pretty much pre-cans all the hard parts, so I’m hoping it should be smoother at that point, then once I’ve got a few widgets in I should be able to get some sort of editor UI going and then hopefully from there it’s a simple verifying the model loading stuff was ported properly, maybe dress it up a bit to make it easier to fit into the current framework of how meshes work, and then I should be set for the basics of things.
Then I’ll tackle animation, physics, audio, etc in some future milestone, but I could feasibly start making levels/logic/something once the UI/model loading stuff is in. UI styling might need to be done at some point to make it not look awful, but that’s a longer distance worry for now I think.
Been in a little bit of a rut with the engine where I just have a slog of things left to write, make bindings for, etc for the UI stuff.
So I haven’t been super excited to work on the engine between that and all the other crap going on, so I figured it may make sense to start a side project to do something to still do coding/crap but make it so I can come back to the engine with a fresh mind, like how I worked on that dungeon crawler ages ago for a few months.
Effectively nothing has been finished since last time other than making a Label class and lua bindings for it, and filling out the implementation using nuklear, but not testing it. Now I’m trying to do a button but not really excited about it.
New Side Project
So the new side project I decided to do literally 1 minute prior to writing this, basically I was just on my computer clicking around the browser windows as one does when supposed to be doing real work instead, and saw a GOG window that I had left open on the main store page, with a sliver of a screenshot of a game called Hero’s Hour on it. (not sure why that link looks like xn–<name>-nw6e to me but maybe that’s a preview only bug?
Opened it up and I saw the graphics and I thought to myself “making a little top down world map view RPG might be neat, maybe jrpg, maybe not, not sure. let’s open Godot” and so a game idea was born. that is currently only maybe 5 minutes old and will probably die about 5 hours from now.
Anyway figured I’d stop losing for that update, will try to write again next week on how long that new game idea survived.
Side project progress
Going to jump right to the side project, nothing to report for the engine
I’ve got a tileset I’ve been working on, forgot how fun it is to make a pixel art tileset:
The tileset has grass, dirt, sand, dirt/sand path, and paved path, trees, various buildings, and some mountains. It’s meant to have some tiles be on a layer over the top of the base ground layer, which may make the mapping a little bit complicated, but shouldn’t be too horrid.
I think I’m going for more of a jrpg type thing, or maybe sort of like a roguelike, I’m definitely leaning towards using some proc gen (discussed below) for creating maps/overworld, etc, and I’m thinking turn based will be best.
I’m also not aiming to have different heights/levels in the map, that’s just too complicated art wise and mapping wise, but I’m sure it can be faked with setting up tiles in a certain way.
So I’m planning on using proc gen to generate the map, instead of manually placing tiles, that’s nice because then I can use it to create:
- Replayability, you can play the same game multiple times with different layout, different world, and different experiences
- Larger worlds than I care to make manually, which is great because making large world maps, or lots of small interiors sounds like it could get very tedious, so this way I can make a larger world with more crap to do, without spending too much time on all the individual crap, I just make a tool that makes each type of crap and then another tool to tell the crap where to be crapped out at.
I plan to do at least some of this proc gen, for the world map at least, using Wave Function Collapse. You can see one sample implementation and what it does here but I’m planning to make my own implementation in GDScript (for now, maybe I’ll figure out GDNative later if that’s too slow) so that I can understand it, and potentially tweak it if needed.
The gist of wave function collapse (WFC) as was described in one of the several videos I watched on it, is that basically it’s like solving a Sudoku puzzle, you start with a few pre-chosen tiles, either randomly chosen or given to you, and then you go through all the other slots and you can narrow down the options remaining of what value/tile can go there, until either you get to only one possible tile, or as few as can be, then you just randomly choose on from the options that can be there at that tile, and then you update the rest of the slots with the options remaining.
The way you know what tiles can go next to each other is by defining the possible adjacent tiles to each tile, which if you look at the above github repo, can be done by providing a sample or “training” tilemap/texture, which let’s the algorithm know how/where to put different tiles in relation to each other.
One thing to note about WFC is that it is all based on local connectivity, how each individual tile connects to its neighbors, there is not really any stored/saved data about bigger picture things, which means you can very easily end up trying to make a generator to give you square rooms, but wind up getting non-square rooms, or other similar issues, simply because the WFC algorithm doesn’t really have any data on the inside vs outside of the room. This kind of difficulty can be solved though, by including a sample tilemap that uses a different tile for the interiors of each room, compared to the exteriors, that will keep the room interiors internal to the room and prevent the room from sprawling on.
How is WFC different from Wang Tiles?
Wang tiles are something I’ve done in the past and I think mentioned somewhere upwards on this chain, and I wanted to kind of mention how they seem similar at least in theory to WFC. WFC you define the possible adjacent tiles and try to pick a tile that can go in a spot that is adjacent to the others, based on edge connectivity.
In theory, you could probably combine WFC with Wang tiles and be totally fine, so what’s the difference between what I’m trying to do now and what I did before?
Previously, I did Wang tiles, which the ones I used were basically large blocks that were made up of many smaller tiles/pieces, in this case I’m trying to do WFC on those smaller pieces instead of having to make the tiles, and then manually create rooms/chunks with those tiles, I can just focus on making the little tiles, then piece them all together in an example map, and then let WFC do its thing from there.
Another difference between what I did earlier and what I"m doing now, is that previously I did not propagate any possible options through the map when generating a map, instead I defined the edges of my confined/finite map as being closed off, then randomly chose tiles to fit with that, and make sure that the connectivity of any other already placed tiles fit in with the connectivity of the tile chosen. Is there a reason you need to keep track of and propagate the possible tiles instead of just picking from pre-computed connectivity lists where you group all tiles with specific connectivities together? Not as far as I can tell, in fact I think having to propagate your options through would be slower computation wise, however, this lets you go through and find the tile with the lowest number of possible choices, and fill that in and propagate from there, so hopefully (and this is hopefully, I suspect it’s still possible) there will be fewer instances of the algorithm running itself into a corner where no tile exists that can fill a spot, which happened multiple times when doing Wang tiles, but meant in order to get more generation to work, I had to spend a ton of time manually creating new wang tiles to fill the connectivity combinations that I didn’t create yet, or deal with having a 4 way intersection wedged in there to not block off any paths.
I will say that doing the wang tiles I did before did mean I could just do random walk to make sure you could get from point A to point B by pre-defining the necessary connectivity without defining tiles for those slots yet, which let me create a traversable level from start to finish, but here for an overworld I think it should be possible to not run into too many cases where something would be untraversable, or if anything I can pre-define some parts of the overworld to make sure that things are traversable, but then just proc gen the rest.
Also in theory, with WFC I could make an infinitely generated overworld, and then generate each individual place on the fly. Which, that would be great and all but if I want like a classic story, and maybe some sort of sane leveling system, it may make sense to limit things a little bit to prevent things from getting too insane, although I’m not going to rule out quest and story proc gen just yet, but I think for a better experience for a jrpg type game, some intentional design is important instead of just letting proc gen go completely rampant.
Side quests though, that’s probably where I’ll let proc gen go because if the system generates towns/buildings/whatever, then the system can fill those with stuff, I’m not going to hand make everything that is like that. Proc gen for weapons, tools, items etc will probably also be useful.
Next steps on this project, I think getting the WFC actually working. I’ve rambled on about this, but so far I have a file in Godot that doesn’t do much, it stores out the adjacent tiles from a pre-canned 2d array so it knows how to connect things, but it hasn’t figured out how to use that to create anything just yet, and the propagation of options/narrowing down the options is going to be a little bit intense.
So far I’ve been enjoying making the tileset so that’s good, may make some sort of at least placeholder character for now, or maybe go through and make some items or ui features for later.
After the WFC generates the array of possibilities I think it’ll be a matter of getting it to create the TileMap and then putting that for someone to see, then making it so you can walk around in there, have collision, etc.
Side Project progress
I decided to spend more time making art instead of getting the proc gen all figured out, so I also made some item art:
Basically went a little bit overboard making random items, trying to have a variety of variants for each item. I do get that I could just do palette swapping or other shader tactics to get different colors, but I decided not to do that for now, this way all color variants are strictly using the dawnbringer 32 palette.
I also did some additional outdoor tileset art, but not much new since last post.
Not much progress to report on the proc gen front this time, trying to wrap my head around how to actually do the logic, it seems like it will be much slowly to generate than the wang tiles just because there are a lot of arbitrary things like “find the cell in the tilemap with the least amount of possible tiles” and stuff like that, which look like it’ll be a mess of looping through things, which is just making the generation time look insane.
I may mitigate some of that by trying to store a list of all the cells that haven’t had a tile put in yet, at least to prevent having to loop through all XxY cells in the tilemap for every iteration through, and instead just pick from the ones remaining. I’m trying not to think of the big o of whatever the result I end up with will be.
I’ve tossed the idea around a little bit too of trying to learn Rust in some way, but not really wanting to add yet another side project, so I’ve been putting that off for now, but I may wind up pausing this side project for that side project, or similar, not really trying to write two engines, one in C++ and one in Rust, but maybe if I used the Rust engine to target DOS or something else like that? Who knows.
That’s all for now.
And back to the Engine!
Got back to doing UI work on my engine, labels and buttons are now possible to be put into windows. They do overlap in the screenshot here, but I’m not sure I care for now, it’s working!
And the button even works (just logging stuff for now when pressed, but still, that’s progress!)
However there are cases now where I’ve noticed some odd/unreliable segfaulting, some involving EnTT type assertions and such, so I’m a little bit concerned about the reliability/stability. Again. But progress has been made. And good progress at that, I mean what more do you need for an editor than buttons and labels? Okay Text Input is a good next thing, and then checkboxes and radio buttons are probably also going to be on the list, maybe sliders too. But baby steps for now.
Other side projects
In other news I’ve started a little Rust project with SDL2 just for like, learning Rust and such.
I’ve also started making a Pixel Font.
And I’m still doing pixel art for my Godot jrpg procedural map generation side project.
I think next steps are going to be
- Add text input boxes
- Add checkboxes
- add radio buttons
- try to fix up the reliability a little bit to make it more reliable
That’s all for now!
So I had my brother-in-law visiting for the past couple weeks, and he’s young and excited about game making, so I did what everyone does. started a new project with him to work on.
Just a godot project, don’t really have much on it to be honest, but maybe it’ll get there, that or it’ll just sit as another unfinished project.
Him being over distracted me from most of my other projects.
Engine progress has been pretty quiet.
I do however have quite the development at work, so I’m going to need to step up my note taking and organizing game. I prefer to handwrite my notes on paper, since that helps me both to remember what I wrote, and let’s me take notes off to the side while I’m presenting, sharing, or typing something else on my computer.
This does mean a couple things though:
- My notes aren’t easy to search or sort
- my handwriting is horrendous, so being able to read my own writing is sometimes difficult, or nigh impossible
- if I want to convert it to text, then most standard out of box OCR things I would expect to not work very well.
I did look into something I’d heard of a bit called Rocketbook, as this looks to be the least expensive type of “smart notebook” starting at only about $34, and you get a notebook with sheets that can be erased with water as long as you use the special pens.
The issue, is their app’s OCR involves sending the scans to their servers, which in my mind is kind of a no-go. I want something that I know doesn’t create any type of security/privacy issue with what I’m working on, and will let me potentially use the solution for both work and for non-work things.
So basically I started a new project to train some ML models to do OCR on my handwriting. I took a intro to machine learning/AI class a long long time ago, and I’ve dabbled about with tensorflow in a past so it’s not all super new to me, but OCR is a somewhat complex topic and has multiple moving parts, so I’m following along with a couple of tutorials.
The gist of it is that you have to do two things (typically with two different models)
- Detect where the text is
- this usually spits out a bounding rectangle of each chunk of text in the image so that it can send a cropped image of just the text to the second model
- recognize what each chunk of text actually is
- this is what does the actual handwriting
There are actually pre-trained models you can find to do both steps, in fact there’s already a project using said models on Android to do the recognition completely on a phone, however those models are trained on computer printed/generated text, not handwriting, so I doubt they will be very accurate.
So my plan is to basically find models to do those things, and then create some sample writing data myself, so that I can train the models on my own writing instead of someone else’s. This is good because sometimes my words turn into squiggles when going quickly, so if I can write crap out, and then type it out so I know what it says, then feed it to the model, in theory I should be able to get some semblance of a working OCR model off my own handwriting.
I would need to likely find and train a detection model, and a recognition model. I plan to do that on desktop using python + jupyter lab (an in browser python editor/tool which is fairly nifty for data processing and can display matplotlib graphs and charts inline with the code blocks)
After that I need to convert each model to a tensorflow lite model that can be loaded by an Android app to run the models on a phone, so I could basically make an app to take a picture of a piece of paper or notebook page, and then turn it all into text.
I also haven’t decided what should happen for the images, I do sometimes have diagrams, and formatting is also a fun challenge, so I may have the app take the images and save them separate from the text, and/or I might have the images get put into a PDF along with the OCRed text data.
For now I’m following along with this tutorial. it seems fairly in depth on how to do things with explaining the code as you go, and is an easy format to just copy/paste into a jupyter notebook. This is just the handwriting recognition portion, and not the detection portion though, so I will likely need to figure out how to locate the text in the picture/page with a different model.
I’ve been eyeing a model called EAST for that, it seems more aimed at detecting text in the world and not on a page, but really I think that will just improve the robustness of the model for what I want.
So I guess it’s off to collecting a few thousand word/writing samples from myself to train this puppy on, tune in next time to see how long this project lasted!
More non-engine stuff
Okay I get it, I get distracted a lot. but this time I installed a new distro, and started another project(s).
New distro installed
I got bored with Debian, and remembered I left like 1500GB on one of my hard drives to install other distros, so i installed the Garuda with i3wm. I think it looks pretty slick:
It’s supposed to be good for gaming, and debian wasn’t bad at gaming it worked quit well, but this is supposed to be more up to date than stable debian, so I figured I’d give it a shot.
It’s arch based so I’ll need to test it for some time before I recommend it, I didn’t have too many issues with Arch, I ran it for probably 5-6 years before I needed to do a reinstall. Compared to Arch, Garuda’s first time setup is super smooth, came with everything I needed to set up my bluetooth headset already installed out of the box, all I had to do was turn bluetooth on and pair. Which is better than debian or Archlinux, Arch is notorious for needing lots of configuration, which is justified. Debian I only needed to install bluez and the other bluetooth tools and then it worked plug+play after that, this simply came with it pre-installed right out of the installer.
New project again 1
I decided while playing with a new linux distro I should play with learning something new and practicing something old. I hadn’t done a straight C program in a while, so I’m working on learning ncurses and plan to make some sort of (potentially simple) text based game/thing with that.
new project again 2
Aaand I’m also back into Godot, looking at making some sort of VR project or something. not sure yet but figured I may as well now that I have my VR headset set up again.
Eventually I expect to get back to my game engine, but just playing with new projects for now.
I’m just gonna breeze in here this time and post that I made progress on adding a checkbox to my UI stuff for my game engine:
So that’s good, I can now have checkboxes! and each checkbox can have a label, can have the value be set/retrieved, etc.
The docs for Nuklear aren’t super precise on what specific ui widgets there are, and how to use them all, but i did find out that I think its also possible to get an “onClick” type action from it, so I’ll need to still set up bindings for that then I’ll be done with the checkbox.
So for now I have:
- “rows” which are basically a way to have a row of inputs in a window
I think for a functional editor GUI I’ll still want/need at minimum:
- drop down menus
- textbox input
- radio buttons, possible I could just implement this with some horrible combination of logic and checkboxes
- scroll bars
And I think for a wishlist I would want but not require:
- file browser/picker/chooser
- To let picking assets or script files
- color picker
- to allow picking colors for things, this is mostly useless for now since I think my shaders don’t even support vertex colors or a blending/mixing color at all
- gotta have these for anything that involves sliding, not sure I can think of an application in my MVP editor use case
- progress bars
- some sort of scene tree type deal
Progress is going slowly, but its progress on my main project nonetheless!
One thing I think I should probably do at some point is mock up what I want the editor to look like, since otherwise I could probably get stuck in GUI widget implementation hell, so having a MVP type thing would probably be good enough to get the workflow figured out to know when I can basically put a stop to implementing GUI items and get the editor GUI and functionality together
Really all that’s holding me back I think for now from having a “working” game is:
- No editor
- No ability to zip/package up data yet or “bake/package” it out
I think in theory it should be possible to have scripts that implement a basic game at this point but I just want to have an editor going first then do a game.
In all likelihood I could probably write up a basic breakout clone already that would mostly work.