Written by Al "RAFTER" Corey
Executive Producer, Cornered Rat Software
It's time for another sneak peek at what's in the Battleground Europe development pipeline. Our last update provided a look at "Player Placed Objects" & "Bailout for Aircraft". Since those features have been slated for 1.32, its time to unveil a huge update coming to the 3rd person infantry.
During the past few months a ton of ground work has been completed to update the entire 3rd person infantry portion of the game. Many of our current models and animations date back to before 2005. Our current animations and some of the systems that make the 3rd person part of the game work have been holding back new features and even future additions of weapons. That's going to change with the work underway today.
We are replacing every third person infantry avatar in the game with new, higher polygon models. On average, the new models have more than 60% more polygons in LOD1 (level of detail) than existing models. You will definitely notice the difference in both body and head models which will be more detailed. This higher polygon count also means smoother looking movement as the mesh that makes up the model will deform better in concert with new animations.
While we are sticking with an industry-standard "biped" model, the new skeleton has more bones than the current one and adds a five-fingered hand to allow more flexibility in animations.
Every kit objects for every character is being created from scratch with higher polygon models and higher resolution textures. These include items like packs, ammo pouches, helmets, gas mask canisters and the list goes on and on. Our production team, with a lot of help from members of our closed beta team, have gone back to the books for uniform and kit object references to update the already comprehensive material. The result will be historically accurate characters with more variety based on weapon load out (Rifleman, LMG, etc).
This update will double the resolution of textures used on the 3rd person infantry characters and include specular and normal maps. Combined with higher polygon base models and kit objects, the improvement to the overall look and amount of detail in the characters is a big improvement to what's in game right now.
We are in the process of replacing almost every significant animation in the game's library. This will include new "loops" for idle, crawl, walk, sprint and many more. Also being replaced are the many states like stand, fire, kneel and prone. In addition, all new animation "blends" are being created for smoother transitions between states. The results from our testing shows significant improvement in movement and feedback for a better infantry experience. Finally, this paves the way for functionality for firing new weapon types as we will have updated all the systems related to the 3rd person animations.
Attach System & Damage Model
Alongside all this new material is a re-write of how objects (kit & weapons) are attached to characters in game. Currently most of these objects are modeled as part of each infantry unit (Rifleman, Sniper etc). This makes it difficult and time consuming to create various "load outs" for specific infantry units. It also limits our ability to provide variations like different helmets. This new system attaches these objects to the character in a different way. In the short-term it means more variety to infantry units. In the longer term it opens the door to feature development like personalized load outs.
More deeply in the code of the game lives the damage and collider model for the infantry. Although already simulation-grade, we are working to improve the fidelity of these models to extend the features and functionality of infantry. The result of this work is expected to provide more accurate results to non-critical components of the infantry model and better feedback to both parties (the shooter and the target). We are currently evaluating these results and examining how to use this improved fidelity to better represent the best combat experience. Expect improvements to the Stamina and Blood Meter functions and expanded features like realistic wounds and a first implementation of medic functionality (don't worry killshots to the head and torso aren't going away). Watch for updates on this segment of the plan in the near future.
This items included in the development preview are being worked on primarily by members of our art and client code team and as you can see from the preview video and screen shots, we are making good progress. As we previously wrote, we have an aggressive schedule for the rest of 2010. As soon as we have a release version assigned to this work we will be able to give everyone a better idea of a target date.
We hope you are excited as we are about the 3rd person update and some new features that go along with it.