ArcNebula - iPhone Space Sim

Discussion in 'Feedback Requests' started by 3peakaudio, Aug 3, 2009.

  1. 3peakaudio

    3peakaudio New Member

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    ArcNebula is an Open Sandbox Space exploration, strategic combat, trading, mining / empire building simulation being developed for OS X and the iPhone eco-system. ArcNebula is set in a totally open Universe spanning an infinite number of procedurally generated star systems, with both solo and online game modes, and draws on the same genre which brought us Elite, and the X Game series. ArcNebula uses Ginetix Games in-house Virush Graphics Engine and It will feature original soundtrack and adaptive sound system developed by 3 Peak Audio.

    It is slated for release for the iPhone and iPod Touch Christmas 2009.
    Here are some early screenshots. Game play video will follow up soon.

    [​IMG]

    We would like to hear your taughts. Thanks :)
     
  2. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    "God, I'm bored. I really hope I can get this collision map shit working on the PC build before I go home. I know, I'll go to indiegamer for a bit"

    If you meant thoughts about your game, I think you're a bit early. It looks ok, I guess, but it's just a couple of screenshots that probably won't even still look like that if you get to finish it.
     
  3. scratt

    scratt New Member

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    Hi Applewood,

    Thanks for your comments. And yes you're absolutely right it's early days for the iPhone version. But we've been working on the desktop code and a lot of the assets / story-line for ArcNebula for a couple of years.

    The shots above are actually from the GLES1.x version which Gremedy used at SIGGRAPH last week to demonstrate their GLES debugger. A few weeks prior to that I decided to see how easy it would be to get our OpenGL3.x engine onto the iPhone.. for a bet!

    24 hours later we committed to ArcNebula on the iPhone / iPod Touch!

    A couple of weeks after that initial "bet" our dreams came true when Apple shipped the 3GS, and in the 3GS version we have atmospheric scattering and lots of other cool features. We're still figuring out how to "Cheat" on the 1st Gen iPhones to get some nice atmospheres on the planets..

    What you're seeing above is the culmination of a few weeks on and off porting, and some serious GPU twiddling to make procedural planets possible on the iPhone at very playable frame rates! The rewarding thing about this is instead of developing a lot of the code from scratch we have a mature code base which means we can port features to the iPhone quite quickly. It's very rewarding, and means the last two years of R&D on our Space Sim has really paid off for us.

    At this stage we've basically completed the Virush Engine, our in house engine, which does both GLES1.x and GLES2.0 versions of anything we produce, and for convenience spliced that into some of the nicer features of Oolong for iPhone specific stuff (Neon, VFP, POD model format support etc.).

    At the moment we're working like demons towards a Christmas launch, and squeezing as many assets as we can into 24MB on the v1 iPhone! So I am glad we'll be streaming 3PeakAudio's excellent music.. Not sure how SFX are going to work yet though!

    Of course we'd rather get it right than rush it, so don't be surprised if it slips to Q1 next year.
    It will be on all iPhones and all iPod Touches. :)
     
  4. nino_rajacic

    nino_rajacic New Member

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    Hi Applewood,

    Thanks for your feedback. No matter what I try I cannot get an account to validate on Indiegamer, nor can I get any reply from the admins!! So Nino has kindly offered to post this for me.. I am the lead programer on ArcNebula, by the way.

    Sure it's early days in terms of content, we just wanted to get some feedback on what people might want in this Sim. As far as we can tell no-one has actually brought a really good Elite / X Series style game to the iPhone, and we're trying to break the mold a little on this platform by bringing a game with long lasting appeal, and deep deep gameplay. We also plan to support it with upgrade packs (through in game purchase) and hope to open the sim up to the modding community once it hits it's second or third point release.. At the moment the entire ArcNebula engine is controlled by our own internal scripts and mod files - so the modding community were always going to be well served in any version of this sim that came to fruition. It also helps us quickly incorporate new content and prototype ideas, and in turn has sped up iPhone development too.

    ArcNebula has actually been in development internally at Ginetix Games for about 3 years as a desktop sim. About a month ago, for a bet, I decided to see how much of the OpenGL3.x engine I could squeeze into the iPhone 2G. 24 hours later, and with three procedural planets running at reasonable frame rates on a 2G iPhone we committed to the project, with (it has to be said) huge grins on our faces.. :) I actually take the prototype version to bed each night for a quick spin around each new planet system we put in.. and I have not tired of simply doing that yet.. Am I sad?
    It brings back memories for me of "modding" the inside of supermarket cardboard boxes to make my own spaceship in my bedroom. Something my wife will not let me do now for some reason... She says it's weird for a man of my age!

    So far we have ported all the shaders for atmospheric scattering etc. to the 3GS, and have internal versions running on both 2G and 3G(S) hardware. Frame rates are 15fps(minimum) and above in all situations (in debug builds) apart from actual planet fall, which we are unlikely to allow in this version, except in "cut scenes". To put that in perspective we're running a system in those shots above which has around 100,000 unique stars (which can all be visited - as well as their surrounding planets), three fully procedural planets, a "Sun", 50 or 60 other spaceships (all running roaming logic), a space-station, and a Sol system style asteroid belt with about 20,000 asteroids. Not too shabby in our opinion. It has to be said we've put a lot of work into batching maths in VFP and Neon (based on the SSE optimizations in the desktop version), and pushing our GLES engine (Virush) to the limit (with the help of Gremedy and their excellent gDEBugger).

    The majority of our focus now is on content and optimising the systems which run the logic for the larger Universe.
    So once we've developed some of the more iPhone specific modules and models and added 3PeakAudio's excellent soundtrack we think we have a winner. All we need to do on top of that is try to figure out how to cram this all into the earlier iPhones! RAM is our one big bugbear, but even that's fun.. It's like programming for consoles from the 80's again, but with a kick-ass GPU - and a nice OS for networking and social gaming... of which there will be plenty in ArcNebula.

    One of the beauties of us having a code base which is fairly mature (and had recently been moved to OpenGL3.x) is that we can fairly quickly optimize and port modules to the iPhone for OpenGLES and adjust them accordingly.. So in that sense the development path is quite quick for us as a lot of the ArcNebula framework is already mature, and we are getting to refine code as we port it - rather than have to develop algorithms from scratch. Oh that every project could be approached this way!

    We plan a Christmas launch for v1.0 this year on *all* iPhones and iPod Touches (AppStore approval process allowing!).. with updates throughout the following year, and beyond..

    If we can pull it off we will also be putting out a "Combat Trainer" prior to Christmas (possibly for free), and a limited private Beta pre-launch.
    If we slip slightly - which happens - we'll do so to make sure the product is right, rather than rush it for an arbitrary deadline: One of the few advantages of being an Indie Dev. Team.

    One day we'd like to get Sony's attention and bring it to the PSP, or even the PS3.

    Ultimately we want to make ArcNebula an MMORPG, and are in talks with some of the social gaming networks which have sprung up around the iPhone to see how we can first bring player to player challenges, rewards, currency, and limited online combat. Ultimately all this leading to a persistent ArcNebula universe on our servers somewhere... But for all that to happen we want to get the word out early, build our community and respond to people's wish lists... Hence this thread in the Feedback Requests section. :)

    As we work through the project over the coming months I am going to be "Tweeting" stuff about ArcNebula @thescratt.
    We'd really love to hear from people who are interested in what we are doing, and have any requests / ideas for the final product.

    By the way I used to live in Niton and Cowes on the Island when I was younger. So I guess you could say I used to be a "Cork-Head", rather than a "Grockle". :)
    Stephen.
     
  5. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Heh, sounds good. I'll probably be buying it at least. I agree there's not been a good game like this for a while.

    I'm strictly an ov'ner or however you spell it - moved down here about 14 years ago now. Still not regretting it (as far as it still being in the UK allows of course).
     
  6. zoombapup

    Moderator Original Member

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    Stephen,

    You need to make 3 posts and get them approved. Thats all. It might take a few days for us to spot the posts, but It will happen. If you dont get any job, PM me and we'll try and sort something out.
     
  7. scratt

    scratt New Member

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    Great almost one copy sold already! ;)
    Would you like your copy monogrammed, sir?

    Thanks zoombapup. Noted.
    I'll stick to this account and keep my fingers crossed. :)
     

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