The Occult 2022.1

In terms of productivity, efficiency, and profitability, coding via versatile range of “cross-platform” tools is a must for 21st century video game developer.

However, regarding Unreal Engine’s cross-platform features, debugging, fine-tuning and optimizing game code simultaneously on multiple platforms can sometimes be a real headache even for veteran developers. It is a complex, time-consuming and error-prone task by its very nature. And, this is where The Occult’s latest release comes into play…

The Occult version 2022.1 is released!

I am truly excited to announce the latest release of The Occult. It is now available for both Intel and ARM architectures by offering improved platform compatibility, exciting new features, various enhancements, and a few bug fixes. As of today, all commercial and personal video game development projects that I am currently involved in will benefit from the new/enhanced features available in this release.

Enhancements

      • New native ARM architecture support for Apple Silicon Macs and Nintendo Switch.
      • Enhanced native Intel architecture support for PC.
      • New speed/size optimized bytecode generation using inline Intel and ARM Assembly routines.
      • Enhanced 64-bit cross-platform visual debugger/logger for VM, Stack, and Database.
      • Enhanced cross-platform 4-way Unreal Engine logger.
      • Increased Trigger coprocessor performance.
      • New speed/size optimized C++ data structures for Trigger coprocessor: Definition, Action, and Component.
      • New level manager architecture design & implementation.
      • New VM firmware routines for asynchronous Actor/Component management.
      • Enhanced OOR driven ALU instruction set implementation.

Improved Game Executable Compatibility

      • Windows 10
      • Windows 11
      • macOS Big Sur – (Intel/Apple Silicon)
      • macOS Monterey – (Apple Silicon only)
      • iOS 14
      • iOS 15
      • Nintendo Switch

Improved C++ Code Compatibility

      • Unreal Engine 4 – (4.26.2, 4.27.2)
      • Unreal Engine 5 – (EA2)

Improved C++ Development Environment Compatibility

      • Microsoft Visual Studio 2019 version 16.11.9
      • Microsoft Visual Studio 2022 version 17.0.5
      • Apple Xcode version 13.2.1
      • JetBrains Rider for Unreal Engine 2021.3.1
      • JetBrains Rider 2022.1 – (will be released in Q1 2022)

Bug Fixes

      • Level World offset implementation.
      • Stack driven smart VM pointer architecture for object type detection.
      • Stack driven object pointer validation.

 

Availability: The Occult is not available for public use. It is a proprietary software.
Copyright Notice: The Occult VM architecture and all related tools are conceived, designed, implemented and owned by Mert Börü. The Occult logo is designed and crafted by Tuncay Talayman.

Vivre libre ou mourir!

The Occult

The Occult

A Synchronous/Asynchronous Virtual Machine Architecture
for Unreal Engine

Mert Börü
Video Game Developer
mertboru@gmail.com

Abstract

The “Occult” virtual machine architecture is a cross-platform C++ middleware designed and implemented for Unreal Engine. The primary feature of the Occult is to deliver super-optimized AAA grade games. By adding a very thin-layer on top of Unreal Engine C++ API, the Occult provides a virtual microcomputer architecture with a synchronous/asynchronous 64-bit CPU, various task specific 32-bit coprocessors, and a modern assembly language gameplay programming ecosystem for handling real-time memory/asset management and in-game abstract object/data streaming. It can be used as a standalone solution or as a supplementary tool for existing Blueprint/C++ projects.

Continue reading The Occult

Dante Illustrated

(Cover Illustration: “Inferno”, Canti XXVI-XXVIII
by Federico Zuccari – © Uffizi collection)

For the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante, Uffizi Gallery (Florence, Italy) curates a virtual exhibition with 88 rarely displayed drawings of “The Divine Comedy”, as a part of the nationwide celebrations.

The mediaeval poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), known as the Father of the Italian language, is credited with making literature accessible to the public for using common Tuscan dialect, instead of Latin, as well as paving the way for important Italian writers such as Petrarch and Boccaccio.

“The path to Paradise begins in Hell.” – Dante

Dante’s masterpiece, “The Divine Comedy”, is an epic poem in three parts recounting a pilgrim’s travels through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. As an allegory, the poem represents the journey of the soul toward God, with the Inferno describing the recognition and rejection of sin. The message in Dante’s Inferno is that human beings are subject to temptation and commit sins, leaving no escape from the eternal punishments of Hell. However, human beings have free will, and they can make choices to avoid temptation and sin, ultimately earning the eternal rewards of Heaven.

“To rebehold the stars”

To mark the 700th anniversary of the Italian poet’s death in 2021, Uffizi Gallery is providing Dante-centric artworks online “for free, any hour of the day, for everyone” says Uffizi director Eike Schmidt. He states that these drawings are a “great resource” for Dante scholars and students, as well as “anyone who likes to be inspired by Dante’s pursuit of knowledge and virtue.”

The virtual exhibition consists of 88 high-resolution images of works by the 16th-Century Renaissance artist Federico Zuccari. The pencil-and-ink drawings are in contrasting shades of black and red, which were originally bound in a volume with each illustration opposite the corresponding verse in Dante’s epic poem. They were completed during Zuccari’s stay in Spain from 1586 to 1588, and became part of the Uffizi collection in 1738.

Dante Illustrated links:

This event is part of the nationwide celebrations for the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, but also aims to symbolize the rebirth of Italy and the art world.

Captured Moments 2018

(Cover Photo:  © www.yukokusamurai.com)

When I appreciate ‘the moment’, happiness follows. Happiness is often in the little things, and year 2018 has offered me a bunch of them. Sincerely thankful and grateful for all the little things I have been given this year… Now is the time to cherish the ‘moments of joy’ by sharing a few snapshots, in no particular order.

Unreal Fest Europe 2018

A three day event designed exclusively for game creators using Unreal Engine, with speakers drawn from Epic, platform owners and some of the leading development studios in Europe took place in Berlin, April 24-27. Such a great opportunity for meeting old friends,  and making new ones. – Thank you Epic!

© 2018 – All event photos by Saskia Uppenkamp

A Visit to NERD

It is no secret that Nintendo is using Unreal Engine 4 for their current and upcoming line of Switch games. As an Unreal Engine developer, I had the privilege of visiting Nintendo European Research & Development (NERD) in Paris for a 1-on-1 meeting. Due to usual Nintendo regulations, I’m not allowed to share any kind of information about the top-notch engineering stuff that I had witnessed, but that can’t prevent me from telling you how much I was impressed. All I can say is “WOW!” 😉

I have great admiration and respect for Japanese business culture, which is genuinely represented in Paris. Thank you very much for your kind hospitality!

IndieCade Europe 2018

IndieCade continues to support the development of independent games by organizing a series of international events to promote the future of indie games. This year, we had the 3rd installment of European organization, and it is getting better and bigger each year. I love the indie spirit. No matter how experienced you are, we always have new things to learn from each other.

From my perspective, the most iconic moment of the event was meeting and chatting with Japanese game developer Hidetaka Suehiro (aka “Swery65”), the designer of The Last Blade (1997) and The Last Blade 2 (1998). Both games were released by SNK for Neo Geo MVSmy all time favourite 2D console.

So, guess what we talked about… Fighting games? No… Neo Geo? No… Game design? No… Believe it or not, our main topic was “best hookah (water pipe) cafés in Istanbul”. I’m simply amazed to discover that he knows Istanbul better than me. Swery65 is full of surprises!

mini-RAAT Meetings @ MakerEvi

Try to imagine an unscheduled last-minute “members only” meeting, hosting crème de la crème IT professionals ranging from ex-Microsoft engineers to gifted video game artists, acclaimed musicians, network specialists, and many other out of this world talents, in addition to a bunch of academicians with hell of titles and degrees! So, what on earth is the common denominator that brings these gentlemen together, at least once or twice a year? Retrocomputing, for sure… Bundled with fun, laughter and joy! 🙂

© 2018 – All event photos by Alcofribas

Special thanks to our host, MakerEvi – a professional ‘Maker Movement Lab’ dedicated to contemporary DIY culture, fueled by the artisan spirit and kind hospitality of The Gürevins. An exceptional blend of local perspective and global presence.

Dila’s Graduation

This year, my dear daughter has graduated from Collège Sainte Pulchérie YN2000 with DELF B1 level French diploma, a compulsory certificate to follow studies in the French higher education system. Being a hardworking student, she has passed national high school entrance exam, and is currently attending Lycée Français Saint-Michel. – “I am proud of you… Bonne chance, ma chérie!”

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood,
but of respect and joy in each other’s life.”
– Richard Bach

Family is a ‘sanctuary’ for the individual. If we are blessed enough to have a loving, happy, and peaceful family, we should be grateful every day for it. It is where we learn to feel the value of being part of something greater than ourselves. Love is a powerful thing; we just have to be open to it.

Life is a Celebration

For all the moments I have enjoyed and to all my dear friends & members of my family who made those meaningful moments possible, I would like to propose a toast. Would you like to join me for a glass of absinthe, so that we keep on chasing our ‘green fairies’ together and forever? 😉

A Warm Autumn Breeze at IndieCade Europe 2017

On the 30th of October at 08:15, the courtyard of Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM) was softly lit by a heart-warming morning sun, occluded by grey Parisien clouds. Just like a cool Morrissey tune; no rain, no cold, no rush. Pure tranquility… At the womb of Art and Science, I somehow felt at home.

As I was wandering around the registration tent and looking at the statues of worldwide known scientists, I bumped into an elderly British gentleman, who was also wandering around alone. We looked at each other for a moment. With a gentle smile, I said “Good morning Mr. Livingstone. Such a great pleasure meeting you, again, Sir!”. As I reminded him who I was, we instantly started talking about the good-old days at Core Design (Derby), and the heydays of 8/16-bit video game development in UK for sure. – What a privilege! For a moment, I thought time stood still.

As the chit-chat and laughter started to peak, I have noticed that we were surrounded by a bunch of young game developers, carefully listening to Mr. Ian Livingstone… Well, it’s quite normal. One does not simply bump into ‘a living legend’ everyday!

Révérence!

Sir Ian Livingstoneyes, he has been knighted once or twice!– is one of the founding fathers of the UK games industry. He is the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons RPG franchise, author of Fighting Fantasy RPG books, game designer and board member of Domark, co-founder and chairman of Eidos (the company that acquired Core Design and started the Lara Croft:Tomb Raider franchise), and winner of a BAFTA Special Award! In the Wired 100 list for 2012, he was ranked the 16th most influential person in the UK’s digital economy… Now, you know what I mean by ‘a living legend’.

When he asked what I had been doing nowadays, I replied with a witty smile: “Nothing new. Same video game development thing for the last 32 years, Sir!”. We all laughed. He pointed at me and said “Look, we have a newcomer here!”. We all laughed, again… As he kindly looked into my eyes, I knew he was going to switch to something serious: “You know what, after all those years it’s time to start your own company, Mert!”. I gently bowed, and replied “One day I certainly will. Thank you, Sir! For now, I would like to keep on freelancing as much as I can”. He kindly nodded and smiled, as no one in the video game business knows the meaning of ‘freedom’ better than him. I thanked him again for his kind advice and understanding.

When the conversion was over, I felt like I was blessed by the God of video game business. I was relieved to see everything I have done in 3 decades was approved with a gentle nod. That means a lot to me. Relieved, by all means. – (Now, what would you call that; coincidence or destiny?)

The funny thing is, right after the conversation, I realized how young developers were strangely looking at me while whispering to each other: “Well then, who the hell is this long-haired mortal punk chit-chatting with the almighty Sir Livingstone?!” 🙂

Keynotes and Performances

Featuring two days of talks around creative industries, community support, and tools & technologies, there was something for everyone, from experienced designers and veteran artists to folks just getting started.

For me, the highlights of the meetings were;

  “Life is a Game” – Ian Livingstone
  “How Not To Kill Your Art Director” – Vincent Gault
  “How Not to Go Bankrupt” – Cliff Harris
  “The Late Game” – Brie Code

All meetings were held at the authentic Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM) amphitheatres, the largest of which can accomodate an audience of 750. These amphitheatres are still heavily used today, as CNAM offers a doctoral degree-granting higher education establishment and Grande école in engineering, operated by the French government, dedicated to providing education and conducting research for the promotion of science and industry. It is a continuing education school for adults seeking engineering (multidisciplinary scientific program) and business degrees, proposing evening classes in a variety of topics.

Show & Tell Demo Area

It was certainly worth visiting each and every indie game developer at the demo area. Bringing young talents and industry veterans together is a step forward for developing better games. We learn from each other. No matter how experienced you are in the global game development industry, there is (and will always be) more to learn. It is in the nature of video game development business.

On the Way Home…

After 2 days full of playing games, meeting game developers and attending various game related events, it was time to go home – yep, for game development! The thing is, I wasn’t aware of the surprise waiting for me at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Even more games!!! 🙂

In case you wonder, here is the full list of locations you can play Sony PlayStation 4 games -free of charge- at Paris CDG Airport.

  Terminal 1: Satellites 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7
  Terminal 2: Gates A39, C85, D40 and D66
  Terminal 2E: Hall K Gates K36, K43 and K49
  Terminal 2E: Hall L Gates L22, L25 and L45
  Terminal 2E: Hall M Gates M25 and M45
  Terminal 2F: Gates F22 and F46
  Terminal 3: International boarding lounge

Blood, Sweat, and Pixels

Nowadays, I’m reading a tiny HarperCollins book called “Blood, Sweat, and Pixels”, written by Jason Schreier.

It is a journey through ‘development hell’ – a media industry jargon for a project that remains in development (often moving between different crews, scripts, or studios) without progressing to completion. In other words, ‘a never-ending project’.

So, if you have ever wondered what it takes to be a video game developer, don’t read this book! It must be the very last introductory document you should be referring to. – Just kidding! 😉

“If I ascend up into heaven, you are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there.” – (Psalm 139:8)

Jason Schreier takes readers on a fascinating odyssey behind the scenes of video game development. Ultimately, a tribute to the dedicated diehards and unsung heroes who scale mountains of obstacles in their quests to create the best games imaginable.

Life is hard for video game developers. Very hard, indeed… Thanks to nice small touches and heavenly surprises, life is more bearable. This book is certainly one of them. Thank you Jason!

Back to coding… 😉

The Blog of Mert Börü: Selected Works, Ongoing Projects, and Memories