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WWII Online: Battleground Europe News

News from the front line. WWII MMO FPS, Play For Free. www.wwiionline.com

Author: XOOM-CRS

Ragdoll Comes to WWIIOL:BE with V1.31

Posted by BEMotormouth Tuesday September 29 2009 at 10:30AM
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MOTORMOUTHIn the ongoing drive to upgrade Battleground Europe, Cornered Rat Software will be implementing Ragdoll physics with the live release of v1.31. Using a third party physics library called "Open Dynamics Engine" (ODE) players will now have the option of seeing an infinite variety of infantry death animations. Ragdoll is yet one more method the artists and coders at CRS are using to increase the immersion of WWIIOL.


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How Does It Work?

The current version of the game uses a pre-determined library of infantry death animations that are played when your client receives a “kill” message from the host. Creating these animations was time-consuming which is why the library was limited. But ODE has changed that; now when the client receives that "kill" message, a physics loop takes over. The infantry model reacts to gravity and to the force of the impact to direct where and how the lifeless body will fall. Arms and legs work independently and the character drops its weapon as the body crumples to the ground. For concussive effects from grenades and other explosives, infantry models react to the force of the explosion: bodies are thrown up and away from the source, weapons flying away. Characters will also be effected when hit by vehicles. Early beta versions of ODE saw characters reacting in a very exaggerated manner with arms and legs windmilling and bodies flying 50+ feet after an explosion. This was toned down to more realistic parameters during testing. However these early tests did garner some extremely amusing blooper footage. Hysterical laughter became the norm the first week ragdoll went into testing, offices jammed with artists, coders and devs watching infantry slide, twitch, jump, and cartwheel around the game world.

Some have noticed in early video clips of the ragdoll testing that infantry weapons fall independently of the body. These weapons cannot currently be picked up and re-used. Server Tracked Objects (STO) could be used to allow dropped items to be picked up but that is a different system than ODE and the two do not work together at this time.

Wheeeeeee!
Click to embiggen!

Perception

Because ragdoll is calculated by the client, what you see on your screen won't be exactly what others see. When you shoot an enemy infantry, the resulting reaction is a random, physics-based sequence that is run by your client. Another player's computer will run its own loop, resulting in a somewhat different animation than your own. For non-concussive effects, (gunfire) your view of the body's reaction to the force of impact will appear very accurate. Other players won't see it quite as spot-on due to limitations on the information being relayed to his client. With concussive effects, however, the physics are more consistently displayed. These issues are limitations of network traffic and lag (delay).

There are several other reactions brought about by the "kill" message and ragdoll; when an infantry is shot near a solid object (wall, tank, tree) a resulting blood splatter may be thrown against it. Blood will also pool slowly from underneath a corpse. There is even a return of an abbreviated version of the "death cam". After your death, the camera pops to an external view that is close in to your body, slowly rotating out for a few seconds. It's a very tight view, pulling out only a foot, so there is no issue with the cam revealing a hidden enemy position. Corpses will also litter the battlefield in the same way they do now; there will just be more variations in the positions of the "hulks". Just as it is now, your client will only display the corpses that were generated in your visual limits. So the first time you spawn into a battle there will be no corpses. After your client detects the triggers of the "kill" on enemies in your visual limit, subsequent re-spawns will display the bodies.

Options

Like water reflections and some shadows, there will be an option to disable the ragdoll physics and resulting blood effects. It is currently an on/off toggle, but there is the possibility that a slider will also be available to choose levels of detail.

Adding the Open Dynamics Engine to WWIIOL:Battleground Europe is something we've all been looking forward to. It adds a whole new level of variety to the ground game. Combined with dynamic weather, new infantry smoothing as well as building and terrain updates, we're very excited to see how much deeper into this virtual war we can take you.


download the high quality .wmv (14Mb)

Ragdoll FAQ:

Q: How will paratroopers react with ragdoll physics? Will they bounce?
A: Paratroopers will react the same way to ragdoll after they've landed on the ground. Some of this needs way more testing and will require changes no doubt. Paratroops for one, falling into water for another. In the current build, the rag doll character hits the water and lands like it is concrete so we think that might need to change :)

Q: I don't expect each body will be the same as what everyone sees just wondering if the game will take into account if they were slumped against a wall?
A: The reaction of the ragdoll characters is determined by the individual's client so it may be slightly different for everyone.

Q: Can we pick up dropped weapons from ragdolls?
A: Not at this time.

Q: Will ragdoll characters fly and bounce away from vehicle impacts?
A: Yes rag doll effects are/can be applied to infantry as enemy vehicles strike them. What we do with the effect needs more testing tweaking. Ideally, the bodies would fly back from the strike and fall to the ground.

Q: Will there be additional sound effects for wounds and death?
A: We have added new sound effects for the ragdoll character as it impacts the ground and objects.

Q. Will there be any new effects to vehicles with this new feature?
A. Not at this time.

Q: Will ragdoll affect sheep?
A. We are sad to report that our flocks of sheep will not be affected by the ODE physics at this time. There is a vocal faction at CRS that are actively trying to get this slated as our next major update. Their doses have been increased by order of the in-house medical staff.

Leave a comment or join the discussion
 

WWIIOL:Battleground Europe v1.31 Production Update 09-22-09

Posted by BEMotormouth Tuesday September 22 2009 at 10:34AM
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Oh the sights my eyes have seen! Seriously, you guys should be chomping at the bit for 1.31 open test. It is truly breath taking to see how far the look and feel of the game have come. That said I can't wait to get it out and move on to some more game play centric features. So then what do we have to talk about this week...


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Weather

We had a poll out recently asking about some of the features and the weather came back with a lot of positive reviews. I know we've tried this before but we didn't really quite nail it the first time and that was largely because we didn't get it right for the air game. Rest assured pilots, you've been heard. As you all probably already know the rain has a ceiling and a cloud deck that you can climb over. Once there it is blue sky turn and burn time. In addition you guys gave us a lot of feedback on the rain sprites for planes (and other vehicles) travelling at speed and how it looked... well... not right. We know and hey, it's hard. We went back to the drawing board a few times but the effects we really want just aren't going to be possible this pass so we knocked around a few ideas and settled on a more modest but still workable change.

We thought about turning rain off at speed or altitude but it really didn't feel right and it didn't provide the same affect on gameplay that it was giving to all other combatants. Instead Martini added a speed component to the rain that angles it toward the faster moving objects. It's a pretty good sell all in all and one we think you'll be happy with until the time comes we can figure out how to make realistic droplet streaking on the many facets of the He-111 nose glass. Ouch.

Trooper Death

The ragdoll animations continue to improve this week. Watching Troy "Ramp" Lowe set 50 guys on top of the barracks along the edge and slowly mow them down to watch how they slide off of the roof and on to the ground is something that never gets old. He's also added new crawling that actually sticks the players to the ground instead of the old feet floaty thing. Long overdue. I really got some time this week to enjoy the new infantry smoothing and transition animations an the new falling should be working, that's nice. Oh, did any of you notice the new combat idle stances in the video? For me that may be one of the best. So much better than the old at rest animations though those are still there when you have your weapon lowered.

Beta Status

In general a lot of things are coming to a close. Sure we still have a lot of work to do but it is increasingly minor. We've got to rework settings and add abunch of new stuff but the buildings are almost all complete and it looks like we'll have completely redone all of the original set. I've got about 200 tickets in test that need to be reviewed and hopefully closed and we have a bit more performance tuning on our new building instance system (allows us to save a lot of memory off of the new objects) before we are ready to let you guys at it but the light is now visible at tunnel's end.

It's been a while since you guys heard from me on these production updates and I have to say I miss them. Next time you hear from me I'll be having new recommended system specs for you and I'll be following that up with some sytem builds to help those of you who are in need of an upgrade for the new game. We're doing everything we can to both bring the game to a modern graphics standard and still provide performance for mainstream machines. Until then...

See you on the Meuse,
Dana "Gophur" Baldwin
 

Senior Producer

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Dynamic Weather Coming to WWIIOL:Battleground Europe

Posted by BEMotormouth Tuesday September 15 2009 at 2:35PM
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One feature that CRS devs have long wanted to add to Battleground Europe is changing weather conditions. After a lot of testing and tweaking, v1.31 will see the addition of cloudy and rainy weather to the game. Our goal is to provide more variety to game play while increasing the "fun" factor.


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How it will work


At midnight of each game day cycle, the host will run a process to decide if the upcoming game day is going to be a "bad weather" day. On "bad weather" days, lighting is reduced, and a layer of dark clouds is added to the sky. Limits have been included to ensure that consecutive "bad weather" day selection are minimized. Every game hour of a "bad weather" day, the host runs a secondary process to determine if rain will fall anytime during that hour. If the result is positive, a random selection is made to determine how many minutes rain will fall. This will range from 5 to 60 game minutes. This step is done to avoid having a state of rainy weather for an extended period of play and to create variety. When rain is active, a rain texture within a certain radius of the player is displayed. The rain drop texture is actually composed of dozens of drops applied to a tile or "sprite", giving the appearance of volume. There is an additional sprite that displays splashes of rain hitting the ground. To complete the entire rainy day experience, random claps of thunder will echo throughout the game world. All weather settings and effects are global for the game world.

At midnight, the next cycle begins and if the system determines the next 24 hour game cycle is to be a clear weather day, then the "bad weather" cloud layer will be removed and it will clear skies ahead- at least until the next cycle is set.

Rain

Aircraft and weather


One important issue that has been addressed is ensuring that weather didn't negatively affect the air game. When a "bad weather" day is active, there are lighting changes and a layer of storm clouds are added at approximately 800 meters. This elevation has been set by the production team for play testing through Beta and may be adjusted. This layer does have breaks through which bombers can still see the ground below. Above the new cloud layer, the sky lightens and the rain vanishes leaving clear, blue skies for pilots. All changes created by the "bad weather" day are erased once a pilot climbs above new cloud layer. The fog settings do not change on "bad weather" days. Above the "bad weather" cloud layer, pilots will see no differences in air-to-air combat.

"The original implementation of weather, which consisted of fog and cloud changes created severe challenges for air combat that we weren't able to find an effective solution for back then", says Al "RAFTER" Corey. "But with the recent update to game engine, it was decided this would be the best time to try again. Once we figured out a way to have the weather effects capped at the new cloud layer, the new weather system started to take shape".

Other Challenges


While Chris "MARTINI" Fennell was busy coding the new effects and systems, Jeremy "DEKARD" Lindstrom was designing new cloud textures and Rick "GRANIK" Ashby was determining new settings for lighting. Several other factors had to be taken into consideration in making sure the new weather days flow smoothly; collision with vehicles and buildings to avoid anomolies like rain inside, the density of the rain sprites as well their path of travel, cloud density and frequency of thunder. Fog was another difficult challenge. Our current fog system limits what we can do and in order to avoid additional problems, we chose to stick with current fog settings on both clear and "bad weather" days.

"Weather 2.0"


Future developments on this system may include things like flashes of lightning, effects to vehicle speeds to mimic mud/traction changes and localized weather. We would also like to deliver a weather forecast- initially for the global weather effects and later, forecasts for localized weather events.

Closed and, subsequently, open Beta testing will see some of the weather settings and features altered and tweaked to provide the best performance and game play possible before release.

Dynamic weather is an example of a long time feature on our wish list. Implementing it adds another aspect to realism, gives more variety to the game, sets up new challenges for air-to-ground attacks and adds a new options for air combat. The rain and diminished lighting gives tanks and infantry a natural concealment from each other and the new cloud layer provides more cover from enemies in the sky. Pilots will now be able to duck below the cloud ceiling during air combat to try to outmaneuver pursuers. We are excited to add this new feature to increase the excitement and ever-changing experiences available to our players.

 


download the high quality .wmv (14Mb)

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Weather FAQ

Q. How often will it rain and will it rain at night?
A. At midnight of each game day, the server will randomly choose if the next 24 hour game cycle will have "bad weather" settings with a new cloud layer and diminished lighting below that cloud layer. Each hour of that 24 hour cycle, there is a chance it will rain for some amount of that hour. These random choices will happen every game day and every game hour. Variety is our goal with the weather feature.

Q. What will pilots see above the "bad weather" clouds?
A. Pilots will experience the same conditions above the clouds as on a clear day. Breaks in the cloud layer will provide some visibility of ground targets but fighter pilots should prepare for new wrinkles in air-to-air combat at low altitudes and in air-to-ground attacks.

Q. Does the weather and rain effect cover the entire map?
A. In this first version of our new weather feature, the effects will be map-wide. Later versions may see localized weather events.

Q. Will vehicles have reduced traction? Will infantry slog through mud?
A. No changes to the terrain or effects related to rain are being made to this first version of new weather. We hope to extend the feature in future releases.

Q. Will the altitude of the "bad weather" clouds vary from day to day?
A. Not at this time. Variable altitude could be added in a future version.

Read discussions about this feature in our forums
 

WWIIOL:Battleground Europe Preview of Huge 1.31 Update

Posted by BEMotormouth Tuesday September 1 2009 at 9:20AM
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We are excited to finally reveal the details of our latest upgrade to WWII Online: Battleground Europe which will leverage version 1.5 of our proprietary UNITY 3D game engine. Currently in closed Beta testing and expected to be available for public testing this fall, v1.31 will include many visual upgrades, hundreds of new objects and major new features such as variable weather, rag doll physics and a new capture mechanic.

Some of the features, upgrades and new content planned for v1.31 include;


• Game engine performance improvements with upgraded shaders, normals and specular mapping

• SpeedTree Upgrade
- 1,000,000+ trees updated with new models and colliders
- Normal mapping and self-shadowing

• New Capture Mechanics
- Removal of tables and radios with new timers and capture start/stop feature

• Upgraded infantry movement, animation & rag doll physics
- Updated animation blending for smoother third-person movement
- Rag doll physics applied to infantry death animations including force push from explosions
- New idle animations including combat-ready pose

• Upgraded special effects including variable weather
- Updated character and vehicle shadows
- New tree and object shadows
- Updated fire and explosions
- Updated muzzle flashes and effects such as blood splatter
- Updated hit effects on materials
- Dynamic clouds/fog/lighting settings
- Rain effects

• New clutter system
- New clutter system including persistent grass fields
- New radial clutter system with grass/scrub clutter

• New and updated objects
- Ground and object textures
- AA, AT, AP emplacements
- Buildings including urbans, barns, bunkers, docks, railroad stations, windmills and many more
- Tree/bush clumps/berms
- Updated vehicles; Char, Bf109 E4, Spitfire 1a and Spitfire Vb


Along with these features and updates, we are moving to Shader 3.0 support which will require some players to upgrade their video card/processor in order to run the game. We will also be publishing new recommended system requirements in order to give anyone with an older system time to plan an upgrade. Watch for a special article on our website which will feature a PC "budget build" for v1.31.


During the closed Beta process we will be posting new screenshots and publishing several articles on the many new features. These will contain more details and provide an opportunity for player review and feedback. Keep your eyes on the website or subscribe to our news feed.

 

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Visit this link for a gallery of screenshot and movies on some of the new features:

http://www.battlegroundeurope.com/media131

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Early feedback from past and present players is overwhelmingly positive. We're very excited and looking forward to getting 1.31 released.

"It looks like a brand new game! Amazing job guys.
Any chance of a Welcome back soldier event when you release this beauty?" - Bongo12

"That is so not the game I played almost 2 years ago now!!!
Holy mother of all that's holy this makes me triple my efforts to get a new computer than can run this!" - Figgy

"CRS, you have simply outdone yourselves. This is amazing, the effects, the new terrain, the sky, everything. This is a new game this is the WWIIONLINE we have all been dreaming of a waiting for." Kenney

"i will be resubing ONLY because of this update...i will also get my 10 friends who previously played to resub..thanks rats" - Ratklr

"O MY GOD RATS YOUR ARE AWESOME...

Thats what i dream for ww2 online, you made it, thanks cant wait !!!!!" - Tokkers

"In my opinion this is probably THE SINGLE MOST JAW-DROPPING, EYE-POPPING UPDATE TO THIS GAME'S VISUALS I have seen. Beautiful. I can confidently say after seven years that the quality of this game's visuals finally matches the depth of its gameplay." - Xanthus