Nowadays, my master slave is over-busy with developing something called “The Occult 2024”. Besides feeding and petting me twice a day, I’m afraid he has no spare time for writing new articles on this blog. So, I decided to take advantage of this situation by taking possession of his blog and reminding you something of great importance (!) on behalf of my brothers and sisters… Mark my words! Twice is NOT enough. Cats –especially me– should be fed, petted and tickled behind the ears at least thrice a day… I mean it!
“Innovation Engineering” is a great influence on the growth and survival of today’s world. As a method for solving technology and business problems to innovate, adapt, and enter new markets using the expertise in emerging technologies, it is an essential tool for creative minds.
Much like every other industry in the world, video game development industry is open to new ideas and products more than ever. Actually, it has never been more critical. New technologies emerge, as do new business models. Thanks to innovation culture, video game development process has become more than classic software engineering by evolving into modern innovation engineering.
The latest release of The Occult is a meticulous combination of software and innovation engineering. In order to maximize productivity and efficiency, outside the box thinking was vital. I had to come up with creative and unorthodox problem solving methods. So, rather than waiting for a-ha! moments, I relied on cross-disciplinary research and practices for creativity, and classic engineering methodology for productivity; simply harnessing the best of both worlds… And it worked, charmingly!
The Occult version 2022.2 is released!
The Occult, a virtual gameplay programming ecosystem for Unreal Engine, is now available for both Intel and ARM architectures by offering improved cross-platform compatibility, exciting new features, enhancements, and a few bug fixes. As usual, 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.
Multiprocessing System Architecture: User-defined number of virtual processors can perform sync/async operations at the same time. Multiprocessing read/write operations on shared code/memory are 100% thread-safe at both virtual and physical access level.
Multiple Stacks for Multiple Processors: A private stack is assigned for each vCPU, and a public stack is shared among all processors. The public stack is mainly used for level-scope variables, and can be accessed via Index/Data bus. Contrary to the public stack, private stacks do not use Occult’s bus architecture anymore. They are hardwired to parent vCPUs for exceptional low-latency access!
Virtual/Native Code Switching: Instant code switching at instruction-precision level of detail creates an opportunity to inject native C++ code into virtual Assembly code and vice versa, while creating endless possibilities for hardcore code optimization.
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.
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.
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.
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!
December 1, 2013 marks the beginning of my new video game project. The math is simple; I have been working on it for 2 years, precisely. Designing, developing and co-producing… A lot of work has been done, and many more still in progress. All tough tasks. Mostly game design related, such as 3-bit node graph architecture. Plus, a lot of coding…
It has been a busy year, indeed. – So, what’s new?
The most distinguishing element of this project –optimized game development workflow– has been upgraded to version 3. This is something that I’m really proud of. Simply because, it is;
more cost- and time-efficient,
more artwork/cinematography oriented,
100% compatible with bothold & next-gen workflows.
This year, I mostly concentrated on the last item. As we all know, global video game industry is having a hard time trying to make a quantum leap to next-gen video games, as well as keeping the cash flow pumping. Let’s face it, upgrading a business model while doing business is risky! You need to educate developers, reorganize teamwork and improve asset management, while keeping an eye on the ongoing projects and meeting the deadlines. A kind of “make something new, and keep the business running old-fashioned way” situation.
“…using both current and upcoming tools/assets.”
This is exactly where my upgraded workflow comes handy. In simple terms, it is a next-gen game development workflow offering an optimized way of making games for less money/time, using both current and upcoming tools/assets. Because it is backwards compatible, a veteran game development team/company can still use their old-fashioned workflow and make a smooth transition to next-gen video game development process using this workflow.
So far so good, but…
Why on earth is that backward compatibility thing so important? Simply because, when we say “workflow assets”, we are actually speaking about human beings! People with families, children, and responsibilities.
During the last 30 years, I have witnessed the highs and lows of the game development industry. It has always been very harsh on developers on critical occasions. When a “next-big thing” is in, managers start headhunting for next-gen guys. Current developers instantly turn into “old-fashioned guys”, and most of the time get fired. The turnover is so high that most experienced video game developers hate working inhouse for AAA companies. Instead, they prefer freelance business, just like me.
Frankly speaking, I upgraded my workflow to version 3 for a better human resource management. The first 2 versions favoured the management and income aspects of business. Now, the final version concentrates on developers. – Yep, something for my teammates!
We don’t work in a vacuum
Our environment feeds into the work we produce, particularly when that work is creative. Every piece of “thing” in our working environment affects us. What we see, listen, touch, and even smell, stimulates our creativity and in a way gets injected to our piece of work.
So, I made a radical decision. In order to increase my productivity, I decided to split my home office activities into two. Thanks to a painstaking and backaching performance, I moved all my coding/artwork related books, tools and computers from my mom’s house to home. Using some modular equipment from Ikea, I built a custom table wide enough for my desktop monitor and Wacom tablet, and spent a lot of time for cabling and ergonomics. Keeping things tidy, certainly served well. As I promised my beloved wife that I will use less than 2 m² of our living room, I have finally managed to create a wide open space using only 1.98 m². – Oh, that is optimization 😉
Within just a few days, I have realized a positive impact in my productivity. Now, my process is crystal clear. I do all my coding/artwork at home, and music related stuff in mom’s house. And the bonus is, I spend less time in traffic and more with my family.
“Creativity is a gift. It doesn’t come through if the air is cluttered.” – (John Lennon)
Actually, I have so many things to tell you. I really would like to tell more and give you under the hood –technical- details of my upcoming project… I am afraid, I can’t. Until the official announcement, there are things not meant to be known or seen by public. Well, you know, this is how video game business works!
So, I’ll keep you posted whenever I can…
Regarding the latest annual update and current status of my new video game project, I’m planning to open a bottle of wine and enjoy rest of the evening with my family. I think I deserved it.
The new video game project that I started working on a year ago, precisely, is going great! With respect to maintaining confidentiality, I still can’t share specific details with you, but I am more than happy to say that everything is going on “as planned”. – Something quite contrary to the nature of game development in general 😉
One for all, all for one
As the co-producer of the project, I have many responsibilities in addition to the usual things that I have to do. Game design, story development, programming, conceptual artwork design, 3d modeling, texturing, music production, etc. Although sounds like a one-man-army project, actually it is not.
“Only one artist takes all the responsibility…”
In order to preserve game’s artistic style, it is quite normal that only one artist takes all the responsibility of designing & planning everything, and making sure that things will be kept/done in that way. And, this is exactly what I am doing nowadays. – (At one point, we will have developers and artists contributing to the project, naturally. Until that moment, everything must be “well-defined”.)
Instead of creating detailed game design documents, some game development projects begin with “conceptual coding”. Same goes for this project. Contrary to traditional game development workflow that begins with documenting the game design, I decided to start with implementing a proof of concept.
Similar to LEGO building bricks, I have been coding fundamental elements of “gameplay”. As a result of these coding sessions, I have clearly envisioned a number of next-gen features that can possibly enrich our game.
We are currently evaluating the options. When the gameplay implementation is over, I’ll go back to game design document for sure. – (Yes, I know that it sounds a bit unorthodox, but I have my reasons. Sometimes it’s good to break old habits for the sake of creativity. In this game, I will let “gameplay” define and drive the game design!)
Spinners and Probability
Coding is all about making decisions. Getting your hands dirty in Mathematics has always been rewarding. Going back and forth between Calculus and Geometry is more than a stellar experience. Not because it makes you a better programmer, but simply because it turns you into a “wise decision maker”.
In terms of design and implementation, this game development project is full of complex decisions. Thankfully, “coding” is the glue between questions and answers. When used wisely, coding offers new ways of dealing with decisions that you derive from Mathematics, and this is exactly what I’m trying to achieve throughout this project.
Content is King!
I spent a lot of time creating a narrative hook, which I believe is the most underestimated element in today’s game design trends! With references from 16-bit retro gaming era, I am quite sure that a well-defined hook creates a huge impact on gameplay.
“Admittedly, I had to make 7 revisions for a ‘great’ hook…”
It was a tough job. In order to fine-tune the hook, I had to rewrite it again and again for many times. After each rewrite, I left it on my bookshelf at least for a few weeks, so that I can completely concentrate on other things as well. When I picked it up weeks later, I was objective enough to assess the tension and come up with fresh ideas. Each iteration added more flavour to the previous version. Admittedly, I had to make 7 revisions for a great hook, which later turned out to be “Level One”. – Worth every minute spent!
Hidden Treasure: “Workflow 2.0”
The most distinguishing element of this project is the optimized workflow that I have been working on as a side project for many years. Thanks to this workflow, our project will have the luxury of really dramatic cost savings, a more “talent oriented” development process, and the competence of keeping game design/style integrity throughout the development process.
So far, so good…
Still thousands of things to do, so I’m going back to work now.
I’ll keep you posted.
The Blog of Mert Börü: Selected Works, Ongoing Projects, and Memories