Rebirth: Behind the scenes

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Rebirth: Behind the scenes

Post by IGBC on Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:55 am

Nakamura wrote:The team now has started to work on the new Rebirth mod, leaving the development of Complex Enhanced behind for good.
So Complex Enhanced is no more; we are now "Homeworld 2: Rebirth".
This has probably left a lot of you asking "Why? What was wrong with Complex Enhanced?"
I hope in the following wall of text will explain that and some of the design decisions we've made getting to this point.


All this started properly about 6 months ago. We were trying to remove the juggernauts from CE. They were very difficult to remove without causing instability in the mod. I suggested that if making changes to remove stuff was so complicated and delicate, then when we came around to adding new content we could have a disaster on our hands. Everyone agreed this was a serious problem.

The solution agreed upon was called NC, which would be a new internal structure inside the mod, on which features could easily be added and removed. It was initially planned to be a drop in replacement for the older "Homeworld 2 Complex 8.2" code that we were working with, however at the earliest stages of development it became apparent that, that would be unfeasible. However there was an advantage to having to start afresh: we could ditch the "Complex" co branding, and become a mod in our own right rather than a sub mod of "Homeworld 2 Complex".

About 3 months ago we picked the name "Rebirth" for our new mod, and started to discuss what features would, wouldn't and couldn't be included. One of our main focuses was to gain performance in game, which would hopefully contribute to a more enjoyable experience for the players. The tradeoff for this was that some of the more resource wasteful features of CE had to be dropped. Crew Cells are a strong example of this.

Crew Cells are widely agreed on that they add little to the game, however they are an exceedingly complex feature that requires a lot of resources to run. We agreed a while ago that we would not support them in Rebirth; so we removed them from the following CE release. For the last few months the new feature set for Rebirth has been shaping the development path of not just the Rebirth prototype (NC) but also Complex Enhanced. These preemptive changes have been to smooth the transition between CE8.8 and the first release of Rebirth.

Another focus of NC was flexibility. CE's core code was inherited from the "Homeworld 2 Complex 8.2" mod. CE 8.8 still uses it, and it was a mess. Everything was interlinked in a manor such that attempting to remove a component or even a ship could cause serious instability in the mod. From past experience working in Complex I know that adding stuff is no easier. To addressing this, and making NC adaptable for the future, we structured NC so that it's components could be added or removed from a central function. This would minimize dependencies between components in the mod. [Further technical details can be made available if people want it. PM me, and I'll consider making a post] The ability to easily add and remove ships from NC was addressed by moving all scripted data for ships (such as crew costs) into a single data file. There all the data for a ship would be neatly held as a record, whereas in CE it is scattered amongst the code, where it is difficult to find. You can add or remove records at will, and the code will deal with the change without any further modifications from the modder.

Our approach to redesigning the mod will hopefully result in a better game experience for all players. However the performance benefits will probably be felt by mid-end(by HW2 standards) systems. We haven't however just hacked away at the mod in the blind pursuit of speed. Every change has been discussed at length amongst the senior team, and in places even drawn out serious differences in opinion. But I think we got it right and have created a well balanced feature set that adds depth without over complicating gameplay.

For now there is no release date. We are still in alpha. The very first build of Rebirth was only finished last week.

Watch this space.   -IGBC

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IGBC

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