067 – Development Box Arrives Work Commences

For folks that have been around this project since the beginning, they know we operate under the philosophy of “Open Development”. I only practice it in full during production periods (of which the last was 2005-2007). Since we are beginning that again, we are starting the engines up again.

The development box arrived yesterday. I can heartily advise using pcusa.com if you need to get a system at the lowest price possible. Be advised, however, that they will replace parts based on inventory (always managing to balance out the price of the items in your favor). Make sure you stay on top of your order every day until it ships to make sure they have the parts you want in stock (or the repalacement is one you want) and you’ll get the best bang for your buck.

Here is my story: Our investor decided to purchase this year’s hardware and gave me the okay for a budget of $1000 USD (including shipping). I decided to make do with that instead of asking for more. After MUCH research (some of it in many of the previous posts) he was ready to purchase right before Christmas 2009.

Supply shortages hit, the many days and nights of agony trying to convince myself to support a single brand (NVIDIA: in essence treating the PC sort of like a console in my mind) and vendors started running out of the parts I wanted.

The first casualty was the video card. The Geforce GTX 260 that was planned to be the primary GPU (and by the time March rolls around, the dedicated PPU, it’s graphics chores being handled by a 300 series Nvidia DirectX 11 card).

I was forced to accept a GTS 250 (which does have higher clock speeds than the GTX 260, but less cores.. and is the default PPU choice according to Nvidia anyways). I had no choice of manufacturer either.

So a couple days ago the system showed up. They had done a great job of installing everything, the cables were all set up and in the case. All the various DVDs and manuals (including for the wireless card I got with the difference in price between the GTS 250 and GTX 260)

I opened the case and found that the motherboard had been swapped out. Apparently they ran out of stock on the MSI X58 Pro-E I had ordered and instead put in an Asus P6T SE. The Asus has not as nice of an Audio Codec on board as the MSI as well as being Crossfire only (no SLI).

I quickly pulled up dozens of reviews and benchmarks and found out that it had really great benchmarks in a lot of areas. better in fact than almost all the more expensive boards tested, while also lacking some features (that I wouldn’t use anyways)

I decided it will make an excellent render box or server in the future. I can simply have one GPU (by then a Quadro) one PPU and one CUDA card, all dedicated (for folding@home). For now, I won’t have the budget to run SLI configuration, so instead I save longer to get the higher end 300 series card as the primary GPU and run the GTS 250 as PPU (a solution not requiring SLI anyways) to serve me out during the full year of development and production on this playable Alpha (single player and multiplayer online but not massive)

All in all I was happy to get what many consider a superior platform (the P6T) while not missing anything i would even require on this box, freeing me up to get a better devbox later (and preventing me from getting an expensive first server).

The max memory on the motherboard is 24GB and it has all the features I need. It didn’t hurt that it had impressive benchmarks and overclocking capabilities built in.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the video card they chose to replace the out of stock GTX 260. It was a Palit GTS 250 1GB. I have no idea if PhysX can somehow benefit from more RAM, but I knew that it would give it a few more FPS in the time between now and March, and possibly even be of help in other areas of development (To be honest I am not sure how well DCC programs take advantage of non Quadro Nvidia adapters and there a softmod option is neither viable nor ideal on a box that also must serve as the playtesting box)

For those that don’t know what I am talking about, there are two classes of videocards. the consumer and the professional. The consumer cards have optimized drivers and accessory chips for Gaming and the Professional cards (in Nvidia they are called Quadro cards) are optimized to Digital Content Creation tools like Autocad, Maya, 3D Studio Max, etc.

I liked the case, it will do fine for in house use and as a testbed for future PC sales (starting a hardware company at the same time as the game). I suppose we will only offer three models, a budget one using the M59, a standard using the Hades, and a deluxe using the Thermaltake Level 10 case.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

The next thing I liked was that they used pretty decent memory on the lowest priced custom PC I was able to find online. The little heat sinks on the memory were cool.

All the Windows 7 devices were installed, but there was no wifi antenna included. I had one lying around, fortunately.

I installed Warcraft, which worked fine, but not any better or worse than how it looked on the 9600 I was just using in the other laptop. It was nice to see what it looked like with all the options cranked up, but I was sad to not have a copy of Unreal Tournament 3 lying around (with PhysX addon/mod).

I will have to rectify that since there are a lot of things I want to learn that will require diving into mods made primarily for that game. I then downloaded and installed the Office 2010 Beta, followed by a download of UDK and Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2.

There was as conflict somewhere that involved an error during install .. something about VC runtime (x86). I will most likely uninstall everything related to VC (including UDK) and then try to reinstall the VS 2010 first, followed by the rest later.

After that I will get cranking on some basic UDK code in order to test the various IDE options. (NFringe with VS2010, ConText, and other UnrealScript capable text editors).

NOTE: nFringe is only free for non-commercial use

After taking a small break to tweak the machine and actually play some hours of UT3 (and mods) and going through a few UDK tutorials, it will be time to switch gears again and start the slow annoying process of moving the models from DAZ over to the engine.

The last time I did all this was on the Source Engine I can only imagine it will be a lot easier and smoother with more refined tools, hardware, software, updates, patches, fixes, and evolutions of the tools themselves (including formats such as Collada and FBX)

I will, of course, keep you updated with how things are going. That may take the form of comments under various posts (such as this one) instead of actual POSTS. But I am unsure of that still.

Our PLAN is to have some screenshots out to you within 45 days of today. Not much, just some screenshots to go along with the articles about various game elements I will be storing here during the same time. We operate in true guerilla fashion, only doing what is necessary.

SO the screenshots will be the result of the daily efforts we are doign simply to test and develop a process for getting the models into UDK, testing various effects, scripts, and other things during the first month with it.

Much like a script or storyboards, I will make this smaller game just to flesh out the idea in ways that words alone can’t do. As an independent developer, it is only slightly more work to do that than to do a Demo (at least if youre like ME.. similar to how a trailer that is movie quality is just as much work as a movie for a single filmmaker)

I will be honest, I will put in as much gameplay as I have the time to do. I have no clue what is even going to be POSSIBLE with the UDK, but more importantly i have no idea what I will have the time to PUT into a game in one year.

I have toyed with the idea of episodic content. But to be honest, this project is solely a means to the end of getting a true MMORPG made using the same world, characters, etc.

Think of this as a film, an interactive introduction to the world we are creating in UMMO. Depending on how successful this is, there may a possibility that we won’t generate enough money to use the Unreal Engine right away, but the higher quality this project is (first game still nameless)

I could call the first game R’lyeh ?

It has to be abstract in a way, to serve the two goals of introducing a whole MMORPG worth of content in a smaller package.. but also to demonstrate the gameplay and design that make our company/product different.

The goal is for it to hit the market like a bullet.. not the freight train I expect UMMO to become. Just enough to generate the attention and/or money needed to move forward on the larger project.

I could also release a book introducing the game world.. which is another idea.. But marketing even a book would be much easier with tons of video clips of the world to go along with them (and easy to get once you have a full game, even a small one)

A small single and multiplayer game that functions as a retail “teaser” for a future MMORPG.

It’s not the Star Wars or Matrix 1 that I was hoping would pay for a few decades of creation, but it will have to be the start we employ, as it’s the only chance we have been given in the five years this project has been given.

–Jan 07
Reinstall of Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 and UDK was successful. If anyone needs to install both of those, install the VS2010 FIRST followed by UDK (or else you might get some error messages when VS2010 tries to install VS 9.0 runtime (due to the VS 2008 version being installed by UDK)

If anyone needs to install Windows 7 or Vista and CANNOT GET Aero working on the Geforce 6150, this link will fix that problem

http://forums.nvidia.com/index.php?showtopic=19871&hl=net+stop+uxsms

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