Daggerfall Unity Update

I’ve completed the first pass at porting code over to Unity. I now have textured models, city blocks, dungeon blocks, and flat objects working. I could lay out complete cities and dungeons at this stage, but want to do some code tidy-up first. Overall, I’m very happy with progress considering I only started work on this a few days ago.

There is a lot of Unity-specific work to go. I need to flesh out editor scripts and add options controlling how scene data is spawned. In case you’re wondering, everything is created procedurally from game files directly within the editor with a single click. After that it just works like a normal scene. The same could be done directly from code as well. Check out the new screens below.

dfunity-rdb dfunity-rdb2 dfunity-rmb dfunity-rmb2

 

In the last screenshot, you can see realtime shadows acting on the scene. Even the flats are casting and receiving shadows. This is using a standard cutout shader, which works in both forward & deferred.

Right now the scenes are built very atomically (from very small pieces). This is perfect for seeing how everything is put together and mucking about with the individual pieces. However it won’t be optimal for real-time uses. One of the options I’m planning will combine meshes and textures sensibly to minimise draw calls and state changes.

Check back in a few days for another update. The next update will include the first release for you to play with.

Daggerfall Tools For Unity

Since leaving the Workshop, I’ve been using Unity a good bit for other projects. It occurred to me the other day it should be trivial to drop my Daggerfall library (Daggerfall Connect) into Unity as everything was written in very portable C#. A few hours later, I had Daggerfall models firing up in Unity.

Scourg Barrow exterior in Unity

Scourg Barrow exterior in Unity.

It’s only a small step from here to spawning entire game-ready cities and dungeons in Unity. For the most part, this can be done using layout code I’ve already written for Daggerfall Modelling. I’d just need to refactor for Unity and build some editor scripts to hold it all together.

Based on this, I’ve decided to repackage the useful parts of Daggerfall Connect and Daggerfall Modelling into a small suite of scripts for Unity developers. As usual, this will be free and open source for everyone.

This doesn’t mean I’m returning to the Workshop full-time. I’ll only be allocating a few months of spare time for this project. I just think it would be great to see all the code I’ve written over the years being put to use by someone, and what better way to wrap up my years with Daggerfall than making one final tool available for a game engine anyone can use?

Let me know what you think! Is there something particular you’d like to see in Daggerfall Unity? If you’re a Unity developer and want to contribute, I would be more than happy to share access to the SVN (will be setting this up soon) to people with the right skillset.

The Future

I had an awakening recently. My wife commented that she enjoys more of my company when I’m busy in real-life because I put my hobbies on hold. We ended up discussing just how much time I pour into my hobby projects, especially those relating to Daggerfall.

On a normal night, I will come home from work and spend an hour or two with my family, then spend the rest of my night coding. On weekends, I start coding after breakfast and continue right into the small hours of the next morning.

During intense periods of real-life work (such as now after end of financial year), things are different. There’s just too much going on to spend time with my hobbies. The result is that I spend more free time with my family and less time stressing over self-imposed goals and deadlines. It goes without saying that my family loves me. To discover that any respite from my hobby projects is time they look forward to was a devastating realisation.

Some of my hobbies, including Daggerfall, have been in my life since I was a single man in my early 20s. I’ve carried these extra work habits forward into my adult life and not paid enough attention to how it might be affecting those around me.

So here’s the problem. I’m spending all of this time doing something I enjoy without much regard for my loved ones. They let me get away with it because I’m a motivated person and they know how important it is for me to keep busy. But this isn’t crunch time on a commercial project with others counting on me. These hobbies aren’t part of my income. None of this extra work contributes to our future, or pays the mortgage, or puts food on the table. It’s just extra work (substantial extra work) I take on because I like to extend myself, learn, and push against my limits. Up to a point these are desirable qualities, but I have taken things past that point by a wide margin. The only word I can properly give to my behaviour now is ‘selfishness’.

And the sad part is not many people really care about what I’m doing. Probably a few hundred are casually interested, and a much smaller number are actively excited by my work. There’s a genuine imbalance between the time I’ve taken away from my family and how much value that time has to the world at large. I’m spending valuable emotional coin in exchange for a currency of much lower value.

So now that you understand my reasoning, I want to let you all know that I’ve reached the decision to permanently step away from my Daggerfall projects. It’s time to do something different. From today, I will cease all work relating to Daggerfall Workshop and Ruins of Hill Deep. This is something I need to do as part of growing up and nurturing the things in life that will be most valuable to me as I grow older.

I apologise to anyone disappointed by this decision, and I hope you understand. I also want to thank everyone who has supported me over the years with encouragement and kind words. This is the greatest online community I’ve been a part of, filled with genuinely intelligent and passionate people. I’m going to miss you all.

Gavin.

Incoming!

I push against the Workshop’s iron-banded door. It sticks for a moment then creaks open as if welcoming me home. Dry air blows past my cheeks. With a final look to the outside world, I descend a thousand steps into darkness, stopping only to light torches along the way. Far above the heavy door slams closed, sealing me in the depths. I look around, satisfied everything is how I left it, and sit down to work. It’s great to be back.

As you can probably guess, I’ve had to step away from the Workshop for real life reasons and other projects. I’m deeply sorry for not posting at all during this time. Thankfully, Lucius has continued working his usual magic with DaggerXL. If you’ve been living under a rock like me for the last several months, make sure you go check it out. It’s way more interesting than anything going on around here (not counting that escaped Imp I can hear scratching around inside the walls).

The good news for anyone following Daggerfall Connect is that I’m going to be active again for a while. First order of business is to get my subversion repository at Google Code populated. This has been done now, with the main trunk currently versioned at 0.4.9.

The main changes in 0.4.9 are:

  • Several bugfixes and other minor improvements to the core DaggerfallConnect library and DaggerfallImaging2.
  • Map support for outdoor locations and dungeons. This is nearly complete, but needs a bit of work to finish up and get some bugs under control. If you want to play with this, please don’t be disheartened that not all maps load properly (or just throw exceptions). I’m working on fixing this now and updates will be committed to the 0.5.0 branch before long.
  • XNA support. There is now an XNALibrary project demonstrating the basics of using DaggerfallConnect to load Daggerfall’s textures, 3D objects, blocks, and maps into XNA. There are also a few XNA tutorials underway that call this library.  Disclaimer: This is exactly how I left it when I had to walk away from the Workshop last year. The XNA stuff is very rough and unfinished. I’ll be fixing all this up and posting to the 0.5.0 branch over the next week or two. All XNA code is currently based on XNA Framework 3.1.

The next full release will be 0.5.0. I also need to get all the written tutorials and other stuff moved over to my Google Code project wiki.

That’s it for now. If you’ve been interested in Daggerfall Connect in the past, but lost interest due to my infrequent updates, now is a good time to have another look. Things are finally coming together enough to be interesting.

Man, It’s Dusty In Here

Time to pick up a broom and get back to work. I hope everyone has been keeping well while I’ve been away.

I will be getting back into regular updates soon. After breaking from Daggerfall for a while, I’m keen to get back into the swing again. I have an updated version of DFConnect to post and more news on those mini tools I spoke about a few posts back.

Thanks to everyone that has written to me over the last few months. I’m still very much alive and haven’t abandoned the Workshop by a long shot. More to come soon.