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Antraxx is a massively multiplayer mech shooter with a heavy emphasis on teamwork and replayability with completely customizable mechs and zones. Boasting multiple game modes and in-depth faction politics and economy systems, allowing you to play the game how you wish. The goal is to create a next-generation isometric game with a completely 3D engine rendering hand-drawn pixel art with dynamic lighting, shadows, positional audio and a refined control scheme. You are also able to create your own zones to share and battle in, providing near limitless sandbox gameplay. While still keeping true to games that inspired us to become game developers it aims to be an immersive, limitless, fun and a creative multiplayer game and is currently in development for web and tablet devices.

Post news Report RSS Voxels to pixel art programmatically

Quick update on the status of the project, what we've been doing since we discontinued our crowdfund campaign and lots of info on very special tech that we have been developing!

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Hello everyone!

Its been a long time since we last posted a article here on indieDB. Infact we've been on a hiatus for quite some time. After our unsuccesfull crowdfunding campaign we realised certain things. Our game was focused on multiplayer only while the chances of creating a succesfull long lasting game like that are very limited. Especially in the indie game scene. We decided it was time to focus on a singleplayer campaign with multiplayer add-ons.

Something else we ran into - by being browser based with webGL - was many limitations. We couldn't create anything to scale because of how limited we where in the amount of artwork that the engine was able to support. Things like actual buildings and/or creating a city was pretty much impossible. An arena shooter was all we could possibly do. Depth perception was also a huge problem because of the way our engine was constructed. Although the tech demo was in 3D with our 2D art we couldnt really create a shadow layer below it. Things like Screen space ambient occlusion where also impossble to achieve. Being a fake perspective (Isometric) this caused huge readability problems.

All in all, up until our kickstarter we've faced many problems in terms of artwork. Our tileset had to be adjusted in a limited amount of time, because the blocks all had lines surrounding them making the scene even harder to read and making it all look incredibly bad. The mech sprites had only 8 angles and in combat this caused major - uncomfortable - bad combat. We quickly added another 8 angles to total up to 16 directions per mech. 528 parts for each separate mech design. They still had to be modular so every individual part had to connect to every individual mech designs alternative part.

isometric pixelart city
- A cityscene sketch idea (pixelart only)


Beside all that Leendert (lead artist) got hit by a huge burnout. Not nessesairily from running the project but from his dayjob and various other things that where going on in his life.

So what we've been working on in the time between our crowdfunding campaing and now is a super secret project for over a year that we thought would be nice to share to see who is interested, if anyone.

We wanted an engine that could render pixel art from any perspective using voxel data, this has a few benefits including:

  • Dynamic Lighting
  • Dynamic Shadow Mapping
  • Dynamic Normal Mapping
  • Runtime camera rotation
  • Uses standard 4x4 matrices and 3d vectors
  • Raytraced Lighting
  • Fast and easy physics/collisions
  • Fully Destructible Environments
  • 1 pixel = 1 voxel in orthographic perspective
  • Infinite World Streaming
  • SSAO
  • Isometric, diametric, oblique, who the fuck cares - its supported

Please note: the images / video's below are in no way a representation of finished are work.
They are creations to test our new tech its abilities and are in no way polished to be fancy artwork.

Take the following isometric scene:

voxels to pixelart 1

Usually it'd be comprised of flat layers, or a tileset collection like this:

voxels to pixelart 2

But then the artist has to draw every angle that your camera can possibly rotate to, usually isometric games allow some form of camera rotation but usually its a hacky way of rotating map data and using 4 different sprites. Then you are still working with 2D information, so you have to hack and fake alot of calculations to fake 3D effects.

What if you could just supply a different camera angle and it'd just "work"?

voxels to pixelart 3

This provides alot of gameplay benefits, and you could even develop mechanics around it (think Fez). Of course, it can be completely side view or even top down.

voxels to pixelart 4

And here is a wall with some guttering, one of the "tiles" in the above images:

voxels to pixelart 5

For a typical isometric viewpoint, the cache would look a bit like this. Each chunk (64x64x64 voxels) is rendered to a 128x128 image. This image can then be manipulated by pixeling over the rendered shape. Eventually you it can be loaded back into the engine on top of the voxel file. The engine we developed will load the color data and makes the tile or sprite no longer needed after:

voxels to pixelart 6


Here's some of the fancy effects that was listed above:

voxels to pixelart 7

voxels to pixelart 8

Let us know if any questions, we can provide some more technical info if you are interested. Here's some misc videos of experiments that we did in the engine:


Really early prototype stuff:

We really hope to be able to make more progress on our project as this engine solves many problems we've ran into with our old tech demo. For the people out there still following the project and hitting us up trough socialmedia from time to time: ya'll are awesome!

Thanks for reading!
Sam & Leendert

Comments
Anthony817
Anthony817

Really interesting engine!

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Antraxxed Author
Antraxxed

Thanks!

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SenisterDenister
SenisterDenister

Looks good. Shame about the Kickstarter falling through, but I hope it all works out for you guys.

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Antraxxed Author
Antraxxed

Thank you! No worries about the crowdfund. It was a good thing we didnt get funded with the multiplayer only idea.

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booman
booman

Don't give up, single player is a great idea for longevity!
I love the art style and doing a 3D enging and keeping pixel art is a GREAT idea.
Keep up the hard work and don't burn out.

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Antraxxed Author
Antraxxed

Thanks Booman!

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briancullen
briancullen

Hi. you should use Qubicle to make your voxel art and export it as an FBX then import it straight into Unity. It's very fast and easy to edit voxel designs with it and should save your artist suffering burnout. I just started using it for 3D objects in my game to retain a pixel art aesthetic and I'm loving it. Hope this helps - Brian

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Antraxxed Author
Antraxxed

We don't use any 3D models, and we don't want to. We have too many voxels on screeen at once for this to even be worth the performance. We raycast everything. You will also run into issues doing it your way, 3D models will distort the pixel art texture depending on alot of factors. You also take away any possibility of world destruction or using voxels for collision this way. In our old WebGL engine we mapped pixel art onto 3D models of cubes, and that did not work out so well for us. Another issue is that we dont want the typical cube voxel look. 1 pixel on screen should be 1 voxel so you arent limited in the type of art you can create. Alot of projects using 3D model exports suffer from the cube issue. We use MagicaVoxel to create the voxel models (.vox) format and then import them into the engine with a few clicks.

Also: We dont, and never will use Unity.

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Guest
Guest

qubicle has .vox extension, it's a voxel program and it's got a lot easier workflow than magicavoxel. i only used magicavoxel for like a day, but i've used qubicle for a couple years now. i didn't like the interface of magicavoxel very much, but i did like that it was free and has a decent render engine, though if you're just using it for workflow, qubicle is probably better, but it costs money and the rendering sucks. you say you don't use 3d models, but combinations of voxels are 3d models, no?

what you guys are doing looks awesome, but if you're not using just a voxel look and are actually using just voxels, wont that really hammer down on your cpu?

i believe thats the problem with that company euclideon that had this idea of using voxels instead of polygons. could you explain this a little better for me so I could understand how you guys are getting over that hurdle?

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Antraxxed Author
Antraxxed

we dont use 3d models aside from quads to render shaders/textures. a combination of voxels (chunk) in our engine is raycasted and cached, not meshed. we've had to do alot of tricky things to get it to perform at 60fps and theres still some problems to solve. we have a custom format to store and stream regions, layers, chunks and voxels to minimize on data storage and loading overhead. all of the voxel display magic is done on the GPU, we only use the CPU to load a chunk, send to the GPU, save the result and discard the rest. as for euclideon, they are doing some very interesting stuff but in the demos ive seen its been almost nothing more than progressive point cloud streaming with some algorithm to fill in missing details. polygons and pixel art dont always mix well together, so we chose voxels.

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briancullen
briancullen

Thanks for the info, I look forward to seeing how it all tuns out. - b

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Antraxxed Author
Antraxxed

Very welcome. Hope to be able to show the true power of this tech in the near future! :)

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k1ngc0br1
k1ngc0br1

I'm not sure what tech you are using now but wouldn't something like Unity3d work well for your project? It's free for personal use and not too expensive if you decide you need it for commercial use. It might solve some of your limitation issues. Take a look into it. New artwork looks good. Keep at it. :)

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Antraxxed Author
Antraxxed

We've developed our own engines since we first started the project.
We dont, and never will use Unity.

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