Flavien here, reporting. It's been a while since I've posted a new development update, as a lot has been going on behind the scenes. But today, I have a small present for you, which will hopefully satisfy your hunger.. at least for a little while. A new video ! We have been planning to post a new one for a couple months now, but between the website redesign, the forums, the Kickstarter preparations and the daily coding, everything has been crazy. Fortunately, it is now done and I'm proud to present you with our latest video demonstrating tech and features that we've integrated into the I-Novae engine in the past months.
It's still a work-in-progress and some things need adjustments and polishing ( and yeah, we know: vegetation on ground, volumetric clouds and all the good stuff - will come at some point in the future ).
In the past 6 months, I have reimplemented our real time shadowing ( and added support for point lights and spot lights ) and integrated it into the planetary engine. Sunsets in mountaneous areas really look gorgeous now. I've also done a lot of work related to performance and smoothing the shadows, using up to 25 smoothed samples per pixel. This requires a pretty beefy video card ( the scenes in the video were recorded on a Radeon 7870 and usually run at 100-150 fps ) but later on we will offer various quality levels so that older GPUs do not suffer as much.
Gas giants are finally back ! You may remember how I had experimented with them a few years ago, but it was a standalone test. They're now fully integrated into the engine. Unfortunately they're still not volumetric so you cannot fly too deep into the atmosphere, but after the Kickstarter we might revisit them and make them fully volumetric. Each gas giant is composed to multiple layers of clouds, all colorized and animated with different parameters, so they don't just appear as a static background but as a fully living, almost "breathing" entity in the game universe.
The procedural texturing algorithms have been revisited and much improved thanks to Kristian. The quality of the texturing at ground level is now as good, or even better, than what you can find in a typical first-person shooter or RPG ! We still have to do some work on the aspect of planets as seen from space, though.
Shorelines and Ocean rendering
If you follow me on twitter, you probably already saw the ocean pictures. Last month I also added foam to the shorelines. There are still some repetition patterns to fix, but I'm pretty happy with the result so far; the waves are entirely animated and properly reflect the sky color. No transparency or refraction yet, but it's on our TODO list.
Rocky Formations and Crater structures
In this article I wanted to show how our procedural algorithms can generate different Earth-like planets that look at the same time both similar and different ( more "alien" ) than our own Earth. They're slightly unrealistic, but who can say what an actual Earth-like planet might look like in reality ? There are these new rock formations, as well as craters of various shapes / sizes. Sometimes they result in "crazy" mountain formations, with large canyons and rifts. It's pretty fun to fly between those cliffs at high speed..
You may even see some natural lakes formed inside some craters if you're a bit lucky:
As you may already be aware, we've decided to delay our Kickstarter until early 2014. We are aware that this will disappoint some of our fans that were anxiously waiting for it, but ultimately we decided that we were not ready to launch it earlier this year and that we were better off polishing what we have and trying to make a campaign that looks as good and as professional as possible, all while avoiding the critical timing of Christmas - a really bad period for people's savings..