You can get Voxel Farm now. For more information click here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

TUG too

Here is another group who licensed the Voxel Farm engine. This actually was the very first license to go out, back in October 2012.

They are Nerd Kingdom and the game is called TUG, which stands for The Unknown Game. This may strike you as the most unimaginative name ever, but once you understand where this project comes from and what are their goals, it actually makes perfect sense.


I am not sure at this point how much of the original source code engine remains in this project. It is quickly getting into shape and looking good.

This project is coming from a different angle. This baby is spawn by behavioral scientists. By collecting data on how people play, they believe they can reshape the game as it unfolds.

One example they give is: Imagine they have an algorithm that detects when a player is griefing other players. Eventually they would know who are the trolls in the community and maybe they could do something about it, like placing all trolls together in an island and see what happens. In the future this may give ideas to other game designers on how to deal with griefing and trolling in games.

A game that watches you play all the time may seem a bit big-brotherish. They do come from a science background. Behavioral scientists have been creating these mad experiments for a long time now, I'm not sure this ever came at the expense of someone's privacy.

These experiments in the past were small scale compared to what you can achieve in this era of big data. I  hope NK will remain transparent on what data is collected about you and how it is linked to your real identity, or simply make it so you are out of the experiment by default and you have to actually opt-in.

You may invoke a nightmarish scenario where a government denies you boarding a plane due to your psychotic behavior in a game. If you worry about this kind of thing and still want to play TUG you should probably take it with Nerd Kingdom.




47 comments:

  1. Really love the idea of the story. This is why minecraft is so popular. And your engine seems to fit perfectly for that kind of thing. Congrats to you :)

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  2. Any plans when you have licensing open again?
    -Alex

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  3. It's cool how recognizable your engine is, a few people pointed out the similarity during the kick starter, thinking TUG was somehow ripping you off. ;-D

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  4. This game is not much better than minecraft...

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    1. It is different, its very purpose is not to directly compete with Minecraft I believe. Besides, should that matter? =P.

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  5. You know, to be honest, learning about this game makes me more excited than StarForge does, maybe its the use for science, and its experimental parts, or maybe its the fact that youll be able to discover stuff by just exploring the world, rather than being told stuff =P. I dont know, but it really appeals to me.
    Have you talked to them about your other procedural stuff? Such as ruins and city structures etc.? Maybe they could use more of your help in creating procedural environmental stories (Even if they are simple) =P.
    (Also, they should have totally mentioned they were using your engine, the video made it sound like they did everything about the game, (We built the engine from the ground up) =/).

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    1. Well comparison with Starforge is not fair. TUG is much more ambitious.

      The flipside of this do/be-whatever-you-want Molyneux type of game is they rarely come through as originally pitched. Soon development gets very expensive and you have to compromise.

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    2. Just my personal opinion =P.

      And yea, unfortunately you are right =/.

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  6. it actually stands for "The Untitled Game", not "The Unknown Game". Just wanted to point that out

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  7. It kind of sounds like THEY designed Voxel Farm, from the way they say it :( No love to Voxel Farm, huh?

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    1. It may seem like that. I actually asked them not to link to me while doing their kickstarter, so it is all cool.

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    2. You confuse me at times =P.
      Just make sure Voxelfarm is atleast in the credits, we as your fans won't forgive you otherwise XD.

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    3. Like I said I am not sure how much of the original engine will be in their game. They did license the full source code and got all the IP. It was never required for them to give any credit so no harm done.

      About Kickstarters, I have yet to figure out how I feel about them. I have no problem with people selling a working alpha of a game that has already the ability to entertain. A kickstarter is something else, you are selling the promise of delivering something.

      My experience as a software developer is that projects rarely are completed on time, or as intended. I think we should pay for software "as is" not as it "will be". Otherwise you are just running a lottery. There is a built-in unfairness to the contributors in the system. I know this is something contributors enjoy doing, but so does the old lady playing slots in the casino. I have nothing against gambling, but I think the rules change once luck is a significant part of your business model. In Canada for instance all casinos are owned by the Government.

      At the same time I now crowdsourcing made possible some interesting projects that would not exist otherwise. So I am really on the fence here, observing with great curiosity how this will play in the long run.

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    4. Several people think that initially, people will make poor decisions in contributing, but after a while the majority will be able to pick out what will work and what won't, besides, this is a lot of people contributing relatively small amounts, so the damage isn't that great if the projects fail, ofcourse, it is horrible that people just throw their money at it in good hope and then lose it without a product to show for it, but yea... It is still a great way for indie developers to create unconventional, relatively big projects. I think it's a good thing, people can decide for themselves whether it is worth the risk =P.

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    5. Yes, it is for sure better than the old system where everything produced is centralized and controlled by some old money.

      I was very excited when Kickstarter was out. I felt I was living in a new world. Then I started seeing some disconnection between what people were expecting and what they were actually getting. I'm not sure from where this comes from, but it probably means something.

      My observation is that in the long run it is a system that rewards campaign-making, not product-making. It is like the US politics. You get to President by doing great campaigns, not great policy. Once the campaign is over, the job is done. You actually start thinking about the next campaign.

      At its roots it is another form of advertisement. Most ads lie to you, or at best trick you and manipulate your mind. That is not cool.

      Like you say it is a system we will learn how to use. Now, whoever is out there to exploit (even unintentionally) this system will learn too. We'll see who wins.

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    6. Yea, the problem with such systems is often: You can find the flaw, but you can't find how to improve it XD.

      Ah well, in the meantime, I am rooting for the contributors!

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    7. Here is to add to your theory.. :( Read some of the comments below, very on point. http://www.develop-online.net/news/44702/Double-Fine-breaks-Broken-Age-in-two?m=posted#comments

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    8. Wow, did not know about this. Looks pretty bad. If the first half of the game does not sell enough, there won't be a release for the second half. Those who backed hoping to get a full game will be very disappointed.

      For those who did not read the full story here is the summary;

      1. Asked 300K for funding a complete game
      2. Raised 10x that: 3 million
      3. Game went over budget, now they can release only half of it.

      There is no law protecting backers here. Why be serious about your planning if there are no consequences to your acts anyway? And these are the "good guys".

      Here is a kickstarter idea for you:

      "I am a Nigerian Prince who develops games. My source code has been locked by a military coup in my country. I need to raise $50,000 to rewrite it or fund mercenaries to take my country back. Money please!"



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    9. Here is another one, this is one is an interesting sandbox:

      http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/901026204/lords-of-uberdark-3d-voxel-based-mining-building-g/comments

      It seemed very promising when I saw it. Not sure what is really going on with the project, but backers are getting restless. For instance:

      "Give me my money back. What was the contributed money for if not to buy your time? You weren't supposed to work on this project just whenever you felt like it. Now it's been 2 years and you just released a build that's a near restart with tech demo functionality? Are you serious? You should feel bad for not taking this seriously. If you want to do the right thing and contact me to arrange a refund.. then feel free"

      It is sad.

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    10. I think if kickstarter could some how tighten up it's rules to give the creator and backer a better timeline, it could be a good thing still. The problem right now is that the people creating these projects have no deadlines to adhere to. With publishers, you have someone on your back all the time waiting for updates and release dates because they want their money out of the project.

      2 yrs is a crazy amount of time to still be in alpha. The $23k is long gone from this project by now and there is little hope the backers will ever see a game out of this.

      Something like milestones could be a good option for kickstarter. You post the work in progress as a milestone and a portion of the money gets released for a future update.. there is obviously a lot of work that would go behind that, but it would be better than what they currently have for projects like this.

      It really is sad, but it's kind of like gambling.

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    11. Another interesting case here:
      http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2013/09/clang-kickstarter/

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  8. in there teck blog they say that voxelfarm was only used for there kick starter and after created a new engen. but i bet they used core eliments from vexelfarm as no other teck demos can create and modify terain like they do.

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  9. Great job! It must feel really good knowing that your product is being used.

    I hope you won't mind me asking a technical question (forgive me if you've talked about this before): how do you store your QEF data/normal vectors (or do you just generate them based on the grid)? Is the QEF-generated position directly modified when the player modifies the terrain, or is the density at the grid point modified, and the QEF/normal vectors regenerated?

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    1. I do not keep voxel densities, nor QEF data or normals at voxels. I only use QEF for mesh simplification and voxelization.

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    2. That's interesting; the implementations of dual contouring that I've seen store density in grid points. So do you have some sort of density function that you evaluate each time you construct the mesh?

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    3. For some layers of the world yes, there is a density function. Dual contouring does not require you to use densities or QEF. It is just a way to traverse your spatial index looking for surface crossings and outputting surface patches.

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    4. So when the world gets modified, you modify the density function to return a different density value at the modified position? That's definitely an interesting way to go about it.

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  10. I would just like to thank you for your time and effort with this, people like me will thank you for the rest of time. I have a lot of stuff in my head I wish to make into reality but at the moment you have the closest reality to my dreams, I am wanting a living world simulator, sort like Outerra, but with loads of simulations inside the world, mining, war, car racing, farming, most of the simulators I have found on youtube ha ha ha ha I want to create sort of like a simulator holiday resort on earth where you can just do what ever you want, but anywho mate, keep up the wonderful work I look forward future updates.

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  11. I am was wondering why you would tell nerd kingdom not to mention or link to you or any of your work during their campaign yet here you are talking about them?

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    1. I did not want to be linked to their kickstarter. It is simpler for me to stay out of all kickstarters as a general rule.

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    2. Thank you for your answer. :)

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  12. Actually, they only used Voxelfarm it for the prototype, just to show, how it can look like.
    No single codeline is used in their "Eternus Engine", which actually really fits their needs.
    Of course, Voxel Farm surely is a great engine, but doesn't fit for what they've planned at all.
    I kinda don't like, how Kamica talked about it, so I just wanted to mention it.

    I hope, the Voxel Farm Engine gets use in some future projects =)

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    1. Thanks for the clarification =D.

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  13. Miguel, you're amazing! Ok, so I hate to be the Nth enthusiast suggesting to you what to do with all your hard work/favorite hobby-- but I just had the realization that you Wolfire Games should get together and make babies... It would incredible to see their climbing, stealth and robust combat system from Overgrowth (still in development) thrive in this environment! And the cultural variety in their lore would be even more compelling juxtaposed onto your L-system / smart city-generation work without changing a thing! Do it. Do it! Ok fine. Chances are, you've now begun brewing some ideas for a gameplay to fit your tech that you've become quite fond it. And they're probably content with Overgrowth's decent looking static terrain as they are. And its the technical part that probably makes this impossible. I know :( You've got to agree though: the re-playability of each of these beautiful core systems would just sing together as far as gameplay goes!

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  14. Hi, maybe you would hate me for this question, but i need.. For what i have seen voxel farm is the graphic engine, right?, and what is exactly "procedural world"...? ( I'm shure i know the answer, but still).

    And here is the most important question... (plase don't hate me :P) there is anyway to get a demo or something to use it...? Between friends we have a non-comercial proyect, and we need to make a detailed 3d world.

    Anticipated thanks, and an apologize for my spelling.

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    1. Procedural World is the name of the blog. Voxel Farm is the name of a specific engine I built, which is the one used to produce most of the screenshots and videos you see here.

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  15. Incredible work as always Miguel, good to see that you're finally getting some serious interest in voxel farm.

    I would like to know how you generate such high poly counts.
    In my engine I have managed to get terrain data up to about 1 million poly's and it's starting to slow down a bit (it's still accetpable) but your wireframes seem to show a lot more detail than I have ever used and seems to still perform ok.

    Do you have some sort of mechanism for generating low resolution mesh data on the CPU and then higher detail on that mesh on the GPU or do you purely do all the work on the GPU?

    If so, how do you determine bounding boxes / collider information?

    I'm using unity but my terrain is not quite the norm, I have mentioned this on here before but essentially my terrain can move / be moved by events in the world so I'm taking smaller generated chunks and defining them as a single "island" entity that I can move about?

    This in itself presents a problem.

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    1. High poly counts come straight from the original voxel density in the world. In the demo I used for most videos and screenshots I use a 0.3 meter voxel size. That is a lot of voxels. A typical scene involves computing 200 million voxels for the different world layers. If the polygon output from that was to be rendered, it would be too much for most GPUs to handle.

      So, during the contouring process some sort of simplification occurs. This uses an octree. Voxels that do not introduce much surface information are collapsed into parent nodes, and so on. You end up contouring a much smaller voxel dataset which produces from 500,000 to one million polys for the entire scene. Once you add frustum culling (and maybe occlusion culling) to that you end up with poly counts that are manageable.

      In general the trick is to have high voxel density, but only mesh what matters.

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  16. Near the beginning of TUG’s public unveiling, we posted a blog on our website about an engine that we used in the early prototype phase of the project. At the request of the creator of that engine, we were asked not to mention or link to him or his work during the campaign, so in respect to those wishes, we did not. We are bringing this up now because, much to our surprise, TUG was mentioned on that individual’s blog as a licensee of his technology. While this is not untrue, there are some misrepresentations and misunderstandings about our current technology that we've encountered floating around the internet, and we felt it was important to clarify at length the goings on with his technology and our own.


    Early in the development cycle of TUG, it was our intention to utilize the VoxelFarm engine in order to accomplish our goals more rapidly and apply elements to that technology to make it function more as a fully fleshed-out game, rather than just a beautiful terrain generator or world design tool. After much back and forth and experimentation with what that technology could and could not do, we eventually figured out that it was not a correct fit for this project.


    Now, this is meant as no discreditation to VoxelFarm, or its creator -- he is a brilliant experimental engineer, and his technology creates beautiful worlds. That having been said, we did reach several bottlenecks while utilizing VoxelFarm -- things that were, quite literally, game breaking. There were many systems that simply could not exist in VoxelFarm and allow for the level of acceptable performance needed to make TUG the game we wanted it to be, and the game you all want it to be. We were left with little choice but to shelve VoxelFarm as a whole and begin work on our own technology.

    The engine as you have seen it now -- as it appears in all videos marked as "Pre-Alpha" or further into development -- was created from totally unique code. That is to say, not a single line of the VoxelFarm engine exists in our current engine, either in hard code form, or methodology. When we say we have built our current engine in-house from the ground up, that is 100% true.


    We are making this post now, of all times, because we have seen comments and discussions on various forums and social media outlets calling attention to the similarity between the Eternus Engine (which now powers TUG) and the VoxelFarm engine. And with the recent post on the creator’s blog, we felt it appropriate to clear up any potential confusion that our fans and supporters may have. We fully intend to share and expose as much of our technology as we can with the industry/community, in hopes that it will encourage more rapid advancement in the world of games and technology.


    As always, it is in our best interests to be open, clear, and transparent with all of you, our community. We hope that we did not make any of you feel that we were being secretive about this information, as our not fully disclosing the prototype usage of the VoxelFarm engine was at the behest of its creator. All claims we made of our making our own engine from scratch for TUG are entirely accurate and true, and we are happy to share with all of you every step of progress we make with the Eternus Engine’s development -- what we are doing, how we are doing it, and when we are doing it -- through many, many blogs and updates. Of course, with the Alpha launch quickly approaching, development rarely leaves much time for blogging... our first big milestone is only a week away!


    this was the exact post from nerd kingdom on the subject

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    1. I get it now. This means is we have seen very little from the Eternus Engine. A few bouncing lights and a fairly close up scene where the user builds a house similar to Minecraft. It seems the shots in the kickstarter campaing that got us excited were coming from the Voxel Farm prototype.

      I have not seen what the Voxel Farm software can do. I have gone through Miguel's blog and it seems to be based on these core ideas:

      - Use LOD to achieve several kilometers of scenery towards the horizon

      - Dual contouring (or some improved marching cubes) to get polygons out of voxel data

      - Trees appear to be instanced, but also voxel-based

      - You can dig into the terrain, but the digging/building data is kept as a layer on top of the procedural generation. When you network, only this data layer is sent, the procedural data is generated in-sync.

      - Buildings are synthesized using LSystems and voxelized in real time.

      If Eternus is not using any of his code, or ideas, I wonder how they achieved the same goals, and if they did it at all.

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    2. I find it strange TUG will run on a different voxel engine than the one used in their KS video. According to their post here they knew this long before their campaign started. Why not use their own engine to raise funds then? I get it was not ready, but why use VF and make it sound they had invented all we saw on screen from scratch? Am I the only one here who finds this a bit weird? I mean, do you get to have Freudian slips in your KS videos? Here is some homework: Remove all the Voxel Farm shots from their KS video and ask yourself if TUG really had a chance to complete funding. (DISCLAIMER: TUG is probably a great game and none of this will matter. Time will tell.)

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    3. Thanks for the clarification =D.

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  17. "I am not sure at this point how much of the original source code engine remains in this project. It is quickly getting into shape and looking good. "

    NONE of your source code remains, infact they re-writen all of it....

    which btw looks horrible

    are you still getting paid for this licence?

    an external source couldnt really say but do you feel that have taken parts of your code miguel?

    at any rate licencing and then not using your code has put me off from the game..

    so i hope youll release an alpha for us voxel farm fans to play some sometime!

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    1. Well it is an early alpha. Give them some time to get it right.

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  18. I have/had relay high hopes that this game would generate worlds looking somewhat as awesome as what you have shown if only a bit more cartony (what they are going fore. and i still have hope....but what they have now cant even compare.

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