Today was trying to work around Leadwerks 2.5 / Newton bugs. Mostly commands that you think should do one thing but don't. It's the little things that really annoy as you can't fix them. This is the danger of using off the shelf engines.
Case in point; the problem of LE:SetJointStiffness, failure of the ability to set this results in the undercarriage being dragged like elastic at high speed behind the aircraft. Using joints also totally breaks interactions of the computed flight dynamics on the aircraft body. To be fair the docs do say this command is NOT supported. If you need it you're left having to re-factor your ground dynamics implementation along with how to build the art assets. Fortunately when we looked at this last time Dave did some work on separating parts of the Apache gear and I think I have a solution this time.
Using a raycast suspension will solve the problem. If it doesn't I'll be sure to let you know.
This development cycle is likely to last through the end of the year, getting "Gunnery" released will be a big milestone for us (if only to prove that this project is real). It has much more potential which we've talked about at some length in this blog. I had to scale-down the planned features as it isn't possible to realistically implement the campaign and some avionic components. Gunnery will be a firing-range sandbox showcasing the AH-64D Block II(ish) but we will patch in some method where users can hack in missions. I will continue to add more features to the cockpit, multi-player will come as a patch after release (or we can delay release while we test and refine MP). No firm decision yet.
The FutureThe questions comes; what do we do after Gunnery? Given that LE2.5 is limiting what we wanted to deliver, the next iteration of the engine Leadwerks 3+ was something of a step backwards in terms of capability (except on a superficial level). It looked promising but there's nothing in it for projects like ours at a time where we need to up our game. As a professional software engineer and tester I find myself looking at quality and bang per buck more objectively and find a lot of engines wanting. There's some good stuff coming out of Unity development if Unity was actually usable for non-trivial games. It needs more efficient large world handling that doesn't suffer from large heap fragmentation.
Unity has some really great plugins for terrain these days. Check out this plug-in called Mega Terrain from MegaFiers (who also make a really nice Max Terrain plug-in):
If only it was so easy to pull in this data into applications like GROME or World Machine. I do like the virtual table-top presentation in this video.
Parting shotsI had no idea we had such a following on Facebook, I'm not a big Facebook fan so I've never paid it much attention. It's hard to check around all the time, generally I'll post the odd snippet on Google+.
One of the things the team talked about this week was how to switch to a more modular design and how to collaborate more efficiently over the internet. I'm a fan of Google+ Hangouts so we'll arrange something in the near future.
Finally a couple of random screen-shots without which this post would look really bland.