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Reputation: 687 My posts turn threads into gold
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User is offline Jun 12 2019 11:13 AM
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Topics I've Started

  1. Rigel Engine - Duke Nukem II engine recreation project

    12 June 2019 - 10:17 AM

    Here's what I just found posted by a user in an old gaming forum a couple days ago:

    Yup, that's a project similar to ReDuke but for Duke Nukem II. The GitHub project page has some downloadable beta builds and source code. Currently, the shareware episode is supported (registered levels might work too but not for granted).

    Also here's an article about the project:
    https://hackaday.com...gineering-duke/
  2. Powerslave / Exhumed version differences

    17 April 2019 - 02:35 AM

    BTW, what about the Powerslave official beta? Does it have any interesting differences regarding the map format/content or actor behaviour?
  3. I think I broke the Alt key on my laptop

    24 March 2019 - 06:36 AM

    I have an Acer Aspire laptop which has been in use for quite some time, and some keys have become less responsive recently because I never really bothered to clean the keyboard besides just wiping it with cloth externally. So I quickly checked this video on how to remove individual keys, and successfully cleaned some (without that detergent, simply removing the dust and whatever stuff got in there), which improved their responsiveness. I did not go through the entire keyboard and only cleaned those keys which were not working well. I had a little trouble with an F key because it was not easy to remove the way it is shown in the video, and the supportive white plastic fixture on the inside (no idea what it's called) fell apart and I had to fit these two parts back together which wasn't easy, but everything worked out fine at the end of the day (whew).

    That was a few months ago, but this week I noticed some other keys that could use cleaning because they were working badly, including the left Alt, so I set about applying the same procedure to them as before. I had some trouble dislodging the left Alt key from its socket, unlike any other key I've cleaned so far even though it's the same size as the other regular keys. However after I finished the job and turned the PC on the system started acting up, which I first attributed to a system update I had installed the same evening, just prior to cleaning the keys.

    The keyboard language switching by pressing LAlt+LShift stopped working, which made me suspect I broke the Alt key, of which I am now certain because I can press Ctrl+Del at startup and the PC will reboot. Apparently the key is stuck in pressed or semi-pressed mode. I completely dismantled the key and the rubber thing beneath the cap, and there is a small but visible dent right on the circuit where the rubber part makes contact. I must have accidentally damaged it with the blade when attempting to remove the cap the first time.

    I disabled the LAlt key within my Linux system following these steps, but the PC has dual boot, and it appears that with the damaged Alt key active, I cannot pick any options in the GRUB boot menu (i.e. cannot boot to Windows), as whichever key I now press the system locks up until I press Ctrl+Del to reboot.

    Is there anything I can do (save for physically messing with the keyboard, replacing the laptop keyboard and/or disabling it and using an external keyboard) to completely disable the damaged key so that it doesn't interfere with the system at all? Googling so far only brought up some Windows-specific solutions which I gather won't affect the PC at startup. Any ideas? (something like disabling the key from BIOS I suppose?)

    UPD: I was able to boot into Windows using the boot USB stick. Unlike the GRUB menu it seems to simply ignore the left Alt: pressing Ctrl+Del does not bring up the Windows Security screen while pressing Ctrl+RAlt+Del does. I was also able to freely use the arrow keys to navigate the boot USB stick menus. I am starting to doubt whether the system instability indeed results from the broken Alt and not the Linux update.
  4. Modern "retro" FPS corner

    14 November 2018 - 06:08 AM

    Considering the trend appears to be on the rise, I believe that a centralised topic for keeping track of the "retro" FPS titles that appear on the radar would be in order.

    First off let's try to define the term. I would assume that a modern "retro" FPS game explicitly aims to capture the look & feel and/or the design aesthetic of popular FPS titles from the 90s (Wolfenstein 3-D, Doom, Duke Nukem 3D etc.). The resulting projects seem to vary widely due to different developers' perceptions of what constituted core elements of the 90s FPS formula, nostalgia glasses and this "indie BIG PIXELS" trend that has been observed lately. For simplicity's sake, and not to diminish the scope, let's consider a modern "retro" FPS game any title that has any of the following features (the list is not exhaustive I guess):
    • is a self-proclaimed retro game as stated by developers
    • explicitly mimics features of a known 90s FPS title
    • runs on an authentic engine from the era (Doom, Duke3D, Quake etc.)
    • uses an art style similar to what was common in the 90s (sprites, low-poly models, voxels etc.)
    • avoids modern FPS tropes like regenerating health, limited weapon arsenal the player can carry etc.
    • tries to imitate level design peculiarities like 90 degree walls of the Wolf3D era for example
    • uses any of various techniques to imitate "pixelly", "low-res" look


    Now let's move on to the games themselves, this is not an exhaustive list but what I am aware of are (in no particular order):

    Project Warlock (released 2018) - discussed in a separate thread here.

    Prodeus (WIP) - discussed in a separate thread here.

    Ken's Labyrinth II (WIP) - discussed in a separate thread here.

    RetroBlazer (on hold) - discussed in a separate thread here. A demo was available from the now-offline official site (Wayback Machine link).

    STRAFE (released 2015) - discussed in a separate thread here.

    Wrack (released 2014) - discussed in a separate thread here.

    Dusk (released 2018) - discussed in a separate thread here.

    Wrath: Aeon of Ruin (WIP) - this was apparently announced (sort of) in a thread at Doomworld in 2017, a very early footage is available here. It uses sprites (or at least, used at some point in development) in a very distinct style and aims for a Heretic/Hexen vibe as it seems, but with some firearms too. Some of the WIP stuff shown earlier in the Doomworld thread has been removed though, no info on the developer's website either at this moment. It seems that the project went dark as of now, I wish it stuck with the design of the first video shown.

    In The Kingdom (demo released 2014) - I discovered this project a while ago (not sure when exactly) and it was hard to track down back then. A video discussing it an showing gameplay is available here.

    LAB (v3.0 released 2018) - discovered this just now, Wolf3D/Blake Stone style design, but there are many more like it and often not good quality apparently (as discussed here).

    Membrane (WIP) - a GZDoom engine game.

    The Adventures of Square (Episode 1 released 2014) - a Doom engine game but has a lot of Duke3D vibes going on.

    Harmony (released 2009) - ZDoom engine game.

    Gunload (WIP) - discussed in detail in the development thread.

    Rise of the Wool Ball (released 2017) - excellent game that pays homage to Rise of the Triad, with a distinct art style, uses ZDoom engine.

    Intrude (released 2016) - a Wolf3D knockoff, haven't played it.

    Caesar's Revenge (WIP) - might be worth checking out, there's a dev blog with some interesting visuals.

    Gun Godz (released 2012) - Wolf3D-esque game with low res graphics and Doom-like gameplay and weapons.

    Shaw's Nightmare (released 2013) - runs on the Build engine, aims to play like Doom.

    Gloomy Dungeons 2 (released 2013) - probably even more like those Amiga games along the lines of Alien Breed 3-D or Gloom than Wolf3D.

    Shootrage (WIP)

    This list is obviously incomplete, I found a few titles just now by Googling the subject matter, so any feedback on more games of this type is pretty welcome. I haven't included games that aspire to recreate the 90s style gameplay without sticking to the "retro" visual design aesthetic like Hellbound, Amid Evil or Apocryph, but perhaps we should discuss them as well seeing as how the developers claim to follow the classic 90s gameplay formula.
  5. Scaling sprites by combining waifu2x and xBRZ output

    13 June 2018 - 05:52 AM

    So I was toying around with various ways to scale up video game sprites and managed to produce these results for Duke3D enemies:
    Posted Image
    (this is converted to the Duke3D palette, original image scaled twice using nearest neighbour for comparison).

    Basically, I noticed that waifu2x does a decent job scaling up pre-rendered images, which would make it good for Duke3D sprites if only sprite edges weren't handled so badly. On the other hand, xBRZ can produce very smooth edges but does nothing to enhance image detail.

    The obvious solution was to combine both approaches, keeping xBRZ's smooth edges and the detail that waifu2x can produce.

    So the steps I took to produce the above image:

    1. Assembled the sprites into a single image (obviously). I also created from it a set of solid colour shapes with the colour replacement tool found in GrafX2.

    2. Scaled the sprite sheet to 4x its original size using both waifu2x and the xBRZ Scaler Test. Also scaled up the shape sheet with xBRZ and neutralised all transition colours in the resulting image (again, using GrafX to only keep one colour for shapes and another for the background).

    3. Used the scaled up shape sheet to produce shapes that are 3 pixels thinner (note: if you see a blue outline it's an optical illusion). I did this by treating the shape colour as the background colour (using KolourPaint) and placing four copies of the background around the original image -- this thins the shapes by one line of pixels, and repeating this thrice gives a three-pixel thinning result.

    4. Pasted the thinned shapes over the xBRZ-scaled sprites, getting a thin outline. I also completely removed the outer one pixel thin outline.

    5. Pasted the resulting outline over the waifu2x-scaled sprites, covering the rough edges (resulting image).

    6. I did not like how the 4x sprites came out so I loaded them in GIMP and first converted them to the Duke3D palette and then scaled down to 2x the original size using nearest neighbour method. The result is shown above.

    I'd say the results are pretty interesting, perhaps such sprites could serve as the base for some true high-resolution sprites after touch-up by an artist?

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