file [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement

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26 May 2015 04:25 - 26 May 2015 04:27 #1 by whirligig
[NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement was created by whirligig


The future is here.

So, Marble Blast Powered Up is basically finished. Version 1.5 is out, the Power Patch and three Power Packs have been released, and I'm done (for now) with improving the game any more beyond its current state. So logically, it's time for me to move on. It's time to give up on Marble Blast, take a break from the community, and actually get a life.

WRONG!

Ha, fooled you! (I probably didn't, but whatever.) It's time for something completely new!

I'm really excited (and, to be honest, more than a bit nervous) to tell you all about this idea, because it's been brewing in my head for quite some time. Quaternion is a Marble Blast mod that takes a different approach. It's not just another version of the same game; it's a new game. It's a new experience. As far as what exactly Quaternion is and isn't, allow me to present the following FAQ.

So, what is Quaternion? Like, is there still a marble?

Okay. Yes, Quaternion is still a game where you roll a marble around the level and collect items with the goal of getting through the obstacles and advancing through the game to unlock more levels. However, it's going to be different from MBG in several ways. The main gameplay difference is that levels will be fewer and larger; I'm estimating only ~20-30 levels in the final product (very rough guess), but each level will be much larger, and every new level will likely introduce its own gameplay elements. Also, levels won't be unlocked in a linear fashion; instead, imagine something like a graph structure, where each level is only unlocked after the prerequisites have been completed. I'm also toying with the idea of having an overworld/hub level from which the other levels will be accessed.

Wasn't this the point of Project Dragon?

Yes and no. First of all, I think I ought to mention that Project Dragon is going to have the incomplete release I promised, and hopefully soon; there are just a couple of things I need to get around to cleaning up in it. Anyway, the gameplay is overall similar to Project Dragon in this sense, but it's not quite the same in several respects. For one thing, the aesthetic style will be completely different. Think of something almost akin to TRON: Legacy, but for a marble game: neon lights, dark backgrounds, blue and orange. Also, there will be more puzzle-like elements and physics-based components to the gameplay. So if you can picture something like a cross between Marble Blast, Spyro, Portal, and Myst, you're on the right track. (If you can't, I don't really blame you.)

You mention cool graphics and physics--how will this be accomplished?

I'm glad you asked! My original idea was to use external plugins like in MBPU. But as it turns out, the Extender (not Graphics Extender; the Extender is an engine enhancement tool created by Derpking) is much easier to work with and more reliable. I'll be using the Extender for three main purposes. The first will be the use of a physics engine (I'm currently planning to use Bullet Physics) to replace the MBG physics. While it will be impossible to redo the physics of the original game perfectly, that's not the point; the point is to make something new, and I don't really care if it feels slightly different from the original game. The second way I'll use the Extender is to replace the sound system, to allow the use of advanced effects (like pitch-shifting) and have a more reliable sound experience (no more sound glitches!). I'm currently planning to use FMOD for this, which unfortunately isn't open-source, but it's convenient and easy to work with. The third application of the Extender is to make the graphics look prettier, using a modified version of the shader engine used for PQ (if, that is, I can get my hands on it!).

Will all of this be compatible with my OS?

Currently the goal is to support the same systems that the Platinum team currently supports, including all three major operating systems. However, all I'm going to promise right now is Windows support, as the other systems can use WINE.

That's great and all, but how do I know you can follow through with this? How will this not become another Project Dragon?

So, by now I've made both successful (MBPU) and unsuccessful (PD) mod projects. Thus, I think I have a decent idea of which kinds of strategies work and which ones don't. Given all this, here's what I'm going to do for Quaternion:

  • Mostly solo work. Certainly I'll want others' help at some point during this project, but I'm not going to rely on others. This is what killed Project Dragon--I was hoping that other team members could step in to do work that I didn't have the energy for, but I was putting huge standards on their work, and when they couldn't deliver, I was out of luck. So other people are welcome to pitch in for this project, but especially considering how many of them are busy on the Platinum Team, I'm going to expect to do the whole thing myself. It's ambitious, yes, which brings me to ...
  • Setting clear goals. The idea is that every week, I'll give myself a list of tasks that I believe can be accomplished in that week. I don't care when the game comes out as long as it eventually does, so even one or two things a week will still mean progress to me. The hope is that this ensures that some progress happens on a weekly basis. Of course, I also have a plan in place should the mod die ...
  • Documenting the journey. I didn't reveal very much about Project Dragon while it was going on. This was basically a defensive strategy, so that if the mod died, nobody would have much to miss. However, I don't need to be cowardly like that. I'm thinking the opposite approach will work a lot better: showing the community everything. This does three things: firstly, there will hopefully be more interest in the mod, since I'll have more things to show. Secondly, I'll be able to get a constant stream of feedback from the community on what you all want to see. Lastly, if work ever trails off, and someone wants to pick up where I left off, they'll have the resources to do so.

With these strategies, I'm hoping to be guaranteed that Quaternion will be a finished product and that it will be everything the community is hoping for. There is still a chance that this will die, and it would be foolish not to acknowledge this. But I'm taking precautions.

So when can I expect a release?

Ha, that's a good one. As I explained above, it's done when it's done. This might be in a few months or a few years. It's hard to tell how much time I'll have this summer, mainly because I have an actual summer job programming code for a company, so I'm not entirely sure how much I'll be wanting to code in the "off hours." But I'm optimistic, and if nothing else, "there's always next break."

Hey, can I make levels / audio / textures / models?

If you have an idea, I'll be glad to hear it, but I'm not making any promises. Generally, if I think someone could do a better job than me at designing or building something, I'll seek out the person. But if you think you can contribute (and there will be standards to meet), let me know, and I'll see what we can do.

Can I test? Please please please???

Maybe eventually. Once Quaternion gets to the testing phase, which could be years from now, I'll ask for testers. Also, it's important to mention that testing doesn't mean "I get to play the game early! Yay!" but rather "I get to randomly try stuff that nobody else will think of in order to find bugs!" Keep this in mind.

Is there a short name for Quaternion? Like MBP for Marble Blast Platinum?

Whirligig Studios officially endorses the abbreviation Qu for Quaternion.

When does this get started?

I'm planning to start work in a couple of weeks. The first official "weekly goals" post will be Sunday, June 7.

And that's it! If you have any other questions, by all means post them in this thread. I'll try to answer any questions you have regarding this project. I'm excited to see how it turns out!
Last edit: 26 May 2015 04:27 by whirligig.
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  • HiGuy
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26 May 2015 04:32 #2 by HiGuy
Replied by HiGuy on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement
Well, I guess I speak for us all when I say, good luck.

Also, QUHERe

PQ in a nutshell
function clientcmd12dothepq() {
    commandToClient(LocalClientConnection, '34onthedancefloor');
}
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26 May 2015 10:11 #3 by ProMarbler
Replied by ProMarbler on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement
Totally expected this. Good luck!

... MBPQUHERe.

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26 May 2015 12:11 #4 by MatthieuParizeau
Replied by MatthieuParizeau on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement
This sounds fun =)

Is this what you were using "My Code Snippet" for? :P

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26 May 2015 13:46 #5 by Jkk39
Replied by Jkk39 on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement
Good luck whirligig, I'm excited to see more about this mod in the upcoming months/years.

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26 May 2015 16:12 #6 by Regislian
Replied by Regislian on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement

Rozi the Brazilian wrote:
(MBSuper is still better though).


Why you feel the need to post that here, is beyond me.

Good luck with your project Whirli, I'm looking forward to it!
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26 May 2015 17:55 #7 by Jeff
Replied by Jeff on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement
Looking forward to your creations with Quaternion. Hopefully this board serves you well!

I am a programmer. Most here know me for being one of the major contributors to Marble Blast Platinum and PlatinumQuest.

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26 May 2015 18:37 #8 by Joey
Replied by Joey on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement
I really like the name.

I love you, but your attitude is like that of a shrew. Your options? Take a pill or be my kill. Might I suggest that you wear a vest. Perish in class or be banished to the land of bluegrass, where dreams don't exist as you'll be eternally pissed.

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26 May 2015 19:41 #9 by RDs.The-dts-guy
Replied by RDs.The-dts-guy on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement
I'm really hyped about this actually, seeing as this gonna have devlog will keep you motivated for sometime. Looking forward to seeing some updates.

Some guy that does DTS shapes and levels.

AWESOME time HINT : When making PQ level place your custom interiors and textures in platinum/data/interiors_pq/custom
makes life easier for you and everyone else :)

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26 May 2015 23:38 #10 by ProMarbler
Replied by ProMarbler on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement
Also, see that this "mod" already has it's custom board dedicated just for it! Beats about every other mod except MBP/PQ. That's what you get for being a credible and trusted member! :)
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27 May 2015 00:33 #11 by Battlecube314
Replied by Battlecube314 on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement
Sounds like a very interesting project! I can't wait to see your accomplishments on this game!

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27 May 2015 01:38 #12 by Kalle29
Replied by Kalle29 on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement
This sounds very interesting. I like the idea of fewer but longer levels, just don't make them like MBP expert levels pls.

Already looking forward to the updates.

༼ ͡◕ ͜ ʖ ͡◕༽ You have been visited by the Nivea™ Donger of moisture. Soft skin and good fortune will come to you, but only if you post "thank you Mr. Skeltal" in this thread ༼ ͡◕ ͜ ʖ ͡◕༽

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27 May 2015 10:01 #13 by ProMarbler
Replied by ProMarbler on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement
Question: How public will the mod be? Will it all be publicly available? Will features be gratuitously described? Or will you keep some of the inner workings and mechanics to yourself?

Does that make sense?

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28 May 2015 20:19 #14 by Technostar
Replied by Technostar on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement
My question is: Will Quaternion have a level editor for making custom levels?

System.out.println("Hello");

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30 May 2015 17:35 #15 by MatthieuParizeau
Replied by MatthieuParizeau on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement
I don't know why it wouldn't :P

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31 May 2015 00:40 #16 by whirligig
Replied by whirligig on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement
  • My goal for Quaternion is for everything that I can release to the public to be released to the public. At release, this means you get all of the .cs and .gui files, as well as the .cpp files for any engine plugins. During development, I'll be describing features as I code them; I'm not sure whether I'm going to release any partial builds, because releasing the game to everyone takes effort and time (you have to compile builds for OS's, etc.). So if I do release partial builds, they'll probably be Windows-only (but with the source, so you could try to port them over right away if you're ambitious).
  • Quaternion will have the standard MB level editor, though I might make improvements to it. Thanks for mentioning this, by the way, because I hadn't even considered the idea of custom levels, but of course it's a great idea, so I'll make sure to include a place for them in the interface. One thing to consider is that Quaternion's custom levels most likely won't use .dif in favor of .dts and .dae for "interior" files, so you'll need Blender experience to make complex levels.
  • Also, the reason I haven't been on a lot lately: I've been busy over the last couple of days, and my laptop has been having some issues, culminating in having to re-image the hard drive and reinstall my programs. This is precisely why I won't be developing Quaternion for another week -- I want to make sure I'm in a position where the other components of my life are relatively stable. But I'm still fully planning on making an awesome game, so stay tuned!

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31 May 2015 10:04 #17 by SourSpitballs
Replied by SourSpitballs on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement
Looks very interesting.

Marble Blast Boyo

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31 May 2015 14:02 - 31 May 2015 14:03 #18 by ProMarbler
Replied by ProMarbler on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement
So... I'm thought about this a little bit.

What exactly remains of the MBG engine? You plan to have...
-- A new audio system
-- A new physics system
-- A new renderer (presumably) (with the shader engine extension?)
-- A new standard interior format (DTS are really old, though... right?)
-- A new GUI, new scripts... new level formats?
The only thing that seems to remain is the scripting engine, and the various interfacing with the filesystem. I'm not sure what else then...
Maybe you could, like, replace the engine entirely? It depends too much on outdated APIs, like Carbon and who know what else for Windows and Linux. Probably some Linux 2.6 syscalls and whatever was the Win2000 toolkit. :P Better yet, the newer Torque engine are open source, so you can freely edit it!
Last edit: 31 May 2015 14:03 by ProMarbler. Reason: Tamed smileys.

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31 May 2015 17:36 - 31 May 2015 17:42 #19 by RDs.The-dts-guy
Replied by RDs.The-dts-guy on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement

Pro Marbler wrote:
So... I'm thought about this a little bit.

What exactly remains of the MBG engine? You plan to have...
-- A new audio system
-- A new physics system
-- A new renderer (presumably) (with the shader engine extension?)
-- A new standard interior format (DTS are really old, though... right?)
-- A new GUI, new scripts... new level formats?
The only thing that seems to remain is the scripting engine, and the various interfacing with the filesystem. I'm not sure what else then...
Maybe you could, like, replace the engine entirely? It depends too much on outdated APIs, like Carbon and who know what else for Windows and Linux. Probably some Linux 2.6 syscalls and whatever was the Win2000 toolkit. :P Better yet, the newer Torque engine are open source, so you can freely edit it!


@ 4th point: Nope DTS is pretty efficient and great format actually and for MB contains way more features than needed (from latest thing's that it's ''missing'' I could prob mention the new animation system that doesn't use bones but instead uses ''points'', and that is mostly used for facial animations), It's the dif that's pretty old (though it's easier to sustain because it's a static mesh while dts contains animation code which is really fragile). But with rest I could pretty much agree, I beleive whirligig would have enough skill to tackle any physics and math related issues on any other engine as long as he can tackle the issue of replicating physics which is stupidly hard because MB physics are no way realistic so he would have to actually re-implement bugs into existing physics engine. I guess the reason for him sticking with MB engine is 1. It's challengingly fun seeing how much is possible to be pushed out of this engine. 2. Even though we have managed to change rendering code it doesn't mean we can do everything and we are still limited to what we can do due to way this system works so i doubt it's possible to just change everything in engine. Higuy and Jeff could explain this way better why it's hard to really implement something.

EDIT: Just read that he want's to add collada to MB engine.. Interesting, I'm not personally seeing much point except for some custom rendering things so I'm looking forward to seeing what he ends up doing with it. o.o

Some guy that does DTS shapes and levels.

AWESOME time HINT : When making PQ level place your custom interiors and textures in platinum/data/interiors_pq/custom
makes life easier for you and everyone else :)
Last edit: 31 May 2015 17:42 by RDs.The-dts-guy.

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31 May 2015 21:27 - 31 May 2015 21:27 #20 by whirligig
Replied by whirligig on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement
"What exactly remains of the MBG engine?"

  • The mechanics of triggers and items.
  • Camera code.
  • Easy GUI support.
  • A scripting language that I'm familiar with. I mean, I'm just more familiar with the engine in general.
  • The general order of level-loading with loading objects, spawning, etc.
  • Configurable keyboard controls.

In general, there's just a lot more stuff that I would have to re-code if I switched engines. So much of the basic gameplay is already there in TGE. Also, RD is right in that part of the point of Quaternion is to push the limits of the MBG engine as much as possible.

"Just read that he want's to add collada to MB engine.. Interesting, I'm not personally seeing much point except for some custom rendering things so I'm looking forward to seeing what he ends up doing with it."

The reason I'm planning on using COLLADA models is that there's already support in Bullet Physics to load COLLADA (it might be an extension; I'm not sure). So the current plan is for collision/physics to use COLLADA while the actual visible shapes are DTS. This might be subject to change in the future, though, depending on how it goes.
Last edit: 31 May 2015 21:27 by whirligig.
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31 May 2015 23:32 #21 by LegoCreator768
Replied by LegoCreator768 on topic [NEWS] Quaternion Initial Announcement
I can't wait to see the MBG engine in it's true form! Good luck with the mod!

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