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May 2015 Wrap-up

May has flown by and we’ve been doing a lot of work that is all coming together nicely.

Here I am going to go through our tracker and summarize the work we’ve been doing.

Over at I added a bit of “two-factor authentication”. When you login to your account there we’ll send you an e-mail if we don’t recognize the device you used. We take your account security seriously, and this is just one of several new safeguards we’ve added to our systems recently.

In the game UI, status bars went on a diet, they’re now about half the size they were. And to give a “hud-less HUD” effect, if any of your status bars are full, they’ll fade out after 5 seconds. With the action bar, it fade outs after you’ve changed the selection of your active item as well, but we still show your items and slots as minimally as possible. I’ll be adding a game option soon to disable this new feature if you’re so inclined.

We bring everything into full view when your inventory is open. You can also see that the equipment slot graphics have been updated with outlines to enhance use-ability.

Completely new is the in-game radar, which shows you nearby objects like npcs, plants, players, containers, corpses, items. You might be able to see a sheep off to my left in the darkness, but you can definitely see the blue dot on the radar for it…

You can customize the radar in the options menu. There’s a lot to configure here, so we now have a “Restore Defaults” button on the general options page.

The container UI has been expanded to support action slots and equipment slots. Here I am inspecting a sheep corpse:

The options UI now offers new video settings for Clouds, Antialiasing, and SSAO which makes the game really shine if your PC can handle it! We also vastly increased the range of the mouse sensitivity slider (by ten times!) for folks with all sorts of input needs.

The multiplayer browser UI has also been changed a bit from what I previewed in an earlier post. It also now remembers your preferences for passworded/full/empty/server sort order, and will let you know when those options are preventing any servers from showing up in the list. You’ll also be able to tab to your single player realms all from this one window.

The server Configuration UI has been revamped and has a whole new look. We also added a new “HTML Log” option which makes the log a lot more readable with pretty colors. Server admins can also disable radar or just specific blips on the radar, coordinates, and other settings:

The server Admin UI now has a “time slider” which allows you to quickly change the time by moving the range knob around. This is great for making videos or for us to see how light and darkness affects materials in game.

We also fixed a handful of bugs that cropped up along the way too. Most importantly we discovered a pretty serious and frequent crash that was occurring and after working with Coherent Labs we have an updated version of the software that displays the UI.

And according to Matt, Hostile NPCs are just a few days away… Dyox says we’ll see a completely overhauled terrain system within a month.

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Last week tonight with our host, Gabriel

Well it’s been a busy 10 days since my last post, tons of work is getting done. It’s all good :)

I updated the login process for the game, you’ll now be presented with the login screen when the main menu appears.

The login screen

Everything is now streamlined, the register, license activation, and forgot password functionality is all in the same view. The cleans up a lot of state transfer that we were doing before.

The register screen
The forgot password screen

If you don’t have an internet connection we of course give you the option to play offline up to 30 days after your last login.

The play offline screen

In regards to the login process itself, we were previously using a strong encryption to store and transmit your password, however, now I’ve beefed this up even more. The next version of the game will automatically forget your login information and all you need to do is re-enter your username and login and you’ll be all set.

Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be able to logout (or login, if you’re playing offline) with a button available at the sign post in the main menu.

The main menu scene showing the logout button

With this change, along with the new multiplayer browser, there’s no more login page at the billboard, no more multiplayer mode selection. This means as soon as you click the “Multiplayer” board, you’ll be taken straight to the multiplayer browser.

Another initiative that was part of this whole login re-work was to remove the reliance on a .NET networking technology we were using. This removal will benefit us in the future when it comes to porting to other platforms. We’ve moved to a more standard system that enables us to be a lot more flexible when it comes to how we handle requests coming from the client as well.

In game, we now have a new progress indicator for interacting with objects. Here you can see I have picked some cotton from this plant already and am now gathering more. In the lower right, we now have icons indicating the icon for the item you acquired. You can also see the compass I mentioned in my last post in action.

The new progress bar, compass, and item acquisition messages

Also, with no more sites to display in the community panel on the in-game esc menu, I’ve simplified the menu-ing there as well. We could display this blog but who actually reads this stuff?

The new esc menu screen

That’s all for now, see you around.

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Commit log review

Well, what the heck have I been up to…? Oh I know! Let’s check the commit log…

We were using WCF for calls to our login and other services, however these would only work on Windows game clients. WCF in Unity also led to some undesirable delays which might briefly freeze up the client which we seemed to be experiencing more of in recent builds. We’ve moved to a web API using HTTPS, I too the opportunity to also beef up and require security across our services.

The loading screen timeout for displaying the “Cancel” button has been changed to 20 seconds since the previous 90 seconds was very long given how fast we are able to load into the game now.

Added a compass to just above the action bar which now tells you what direction you are walking in. The compass can be disabled in the game options.

Improved the look of our buttons in the game, there is now a “mouse down/clicked” state for buttons which makes it obvious the button is being/will be clicked, instead of just the two normal/hover states we had previously. I also found a bunch of buttons weren’t making sounds when clicked so I updated them to do so.
If you find a button that isn’t making noise let me know!

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UI Progress

I wrapped up major enhancements to the multiplayer server browser this week, take a look for yourself:

Realm Explorer's New Server Browser

Improvements over the old browser:

* The direct connect interface and server browser interface are now all-in-one
* You can filter the list of servers by typing the name, minimum number of current or max players, or ping.
* You can filter the list to not include full, empty, or passworded servers
* You can view the server details when you click on it in the list
* You can double click on a server in the list to connect
* You can sort the list by name, current or max players or ping either by clicking the icon at the top of the server list, or by using the combo boxes in the server options.
* Room for expansion for future features such as Server Favorites, Recent Servers you’ve connected to, a Friend’s list, and LAN play (geez how long are we going to promise this for?)
* Removal of the “multiplayer mode” selection screen

But that’s not all… other recent updates include:

* Security enhancements to RealmSource.NET
* Improved Account Management page feedback
* Fixed audio settings checkboxes not working in the client
* Fixed a login issue
* New and Improved Dialog display system!
* Added setting for new Unity5 quality setting “Realtime Reflections Probes
* Removed Bloom and Vignetting from the Video options

Let us know what you want to see next in the comments!

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RealmExplorer moves to Unity5

As those who follow us on Facebook and Twitter are probably already aware, we are in the process of moving to Unity5. I will be taking charge of this migration as we need to upgrade our UI renderer (CoherentUI) to a new major revision (From 1.x => 2.0).

This will require the modification of various scripts and assets and waiting for packages we’ve purchased from the Asset Store to upgrade their own resources which according to recent posts by those developers, should be relatively soon.

That said, we’re not sure how long this could take due to the size of the project. When Unity tells us something will take a few minutes, it usually takes a few hours. If Matt and I were in the same office, this is when we would duel.

Right now though we are waiting for CoherentLabs to upgrade our license. Once that is complete we can move forward.

Unity5 is an important upgrade for us, as of late, working in the editor in Unity4 is very challenging, we can at best last a few minutes before the editor crashes for one reason or another due to memory restrictions (the editor takes up a lot more memory than the game). The Unity5 editor is fully 64-bit, so all our out-of-memory headaches will instantly disappear once we’re working with Unity5 fulltime.

On that note, Steam’s Hardware Survey for gamers shows that over 80% of PC users have 64-bit systems. With the last Intel 32-bit CPU having been released in the Intel Core line in 2006, its likely that most or all of the 11% of Windows 7 32-bit users have 64-bit CPUs, but just don’t have the 64-bit OS installed. That would bring us to ~95% of users with 64-bit processors. Lastly, anyone using 10 year old hardware probably wasn’t going to be able to play Realm Explorer in 32-bit anyway.

Armed with that information, we’ve made an important decision. We’re going to be upgrading the client to 64-bit in order to take advantage of today’s modern systems. We’re not making this decision lightly, nor are we using this as an opportunity to get sloppy, in fact, our new and improved terrain system will be more efficient in terms of RAM usage in the next version.

We’re very excited about the near term future of Realm Explorer and hope you are too.

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Last week tonight…

This last week has been pretty busy for me. I ran into some PC problems and took the opportunity to build a new one since my old rig was over 6 years old.

I also replaced the problem components in the old PC and setup a new server for us to utilize which should help spread out the responsibilities of all the things we do to another machine.

We moved to dynamic entity loading/unloading which I am sure Zeruel will get around to covering in his first blog post, and I implemented a backup mechanism which will help prevent corruption issues on the server side if something goes wrong while writing out realm data.

Next I fixed an issue we were having with status bars on NPCs. Oh, by the way, we have NPCs now! Anyway, when hovering over a sheep you can see its health but some JavaScript non-sense was causing the values to zero out which I removed/fixed.

I also found that all the Enter/Esc actions in the main menu were not working probably since we switched to TypeScript last year. Oh well, fixed!

Lastly, I’ve been doing content setup today. We recently developed art assets for Soft and Hard leather, as well as Chain armor sets for both male and female characters. Look for these armor sets in-game soon!

That’s all for now.

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Fixed an issue with the loading bar today. Once our “movement” component is loaded we accelerate the progress bar to get the player in-game faster. We do this 2% at a time. This means that if the value the terrain engine was at when this happened was odd, we’d overflow to 101%. I added a simple Math.Min constraint to what we send to the loading screen solving the issue.

Another issue was that un-equip was not simulating properly, the client would have to wait until the authoritative update came from the server to see what slot the unequipped item went into. I tracked this down to the simulation method, the item’s quantity was being set to 0 only on unequip… I think this was a remnant from before I had refactored the way things worked in the inventory system. Setting the quantity to 0 was supposed to make the item that was clicked disappear, not the target item. Removing this line of code resolved the issue.

Did some preliminary work on changing a landing page, and transforming into this dev blog.