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nice article! i love seeing the breakdowns.
Skyline offers a fully comprehensive WYSIWYG drag and drop development environment together with a modern design using a dark themed editor interface to reduce glare on your eyes and to make the imagery you are creating stand out more.
It has an easy to grasp interface, allowing you the developer to move your project further on in development quicker and get your game out on the market. Coupled with the concept of not reinventing the wheel, skyline has made it possible to reuse anything you have created in any other game.
We say this because every time you have to make a specific model, game mechanic, particle (and many more) slows down the development of a game, so in skyline once you have made it once, you never have to remake that Asset again, whether it is a script, action, preset or any of the other things skyline allows you to create.
Skyline features the following tool sets:
Using Skylines WYSIWYG Editor, you know exactly what your game is going to look like. This a true “What You See Is What You Get”. Using the Asset manager, most file types can be dragged and dropped straight onto your scene for fast and efficient workflow.
We also can drop directly from windows explorer to the scene for those who like to work in there own way. With this in mind; the interface is fully customisable and allows you to reorganize all panels to suit your working habits.
Instant Play the Game and In Editor Animation
Without any building or exe generation, you can play your game inside the editor or animate the scene so Scene Entity animations or particles play inside the editor, all from one Mouse Click.
If you are happy with your game and you want to see it full screen, then you can instantly load your level in the Skyline Player that is a seperate exe from the editor. But it is started by clicking the gamepad button located next to the play the game or animate button for fast instant access. While open you can force it to reload your level to show the new changes in the scene.
Its great to feel what your game will run like on the end users machine.
Skyline End Game
Finished your game or want to pass your level to your friends. Then package your game up in a few simple steps with a 95% accuracy of grabbing all resources required to run your game. There are 2 types of deployment.
Stand-alone: This is a complete package including dependencies that will run in the future aswell. Can create large folders for small games though. Player Download: Exporting with this method allows you to create a small game packages that use a downloadable player that is automatically downloaded for the required version on the games first run.
We have tried to make it as simple as possible to go from game creation, to testing and then to final export.
Using the material editor, you can customize the fully integrated “Image based Lighting”(Global Illumination) you can control the materials and shaders to create realisitic surfaces to make your next gen level or game. Each material also has full light interaction and soft shadows. Also supported is a simple base material system that any other materials can inherit. This makes it fast to work with and change one setting to affect all materials.
Supported with diffuse maps, normal maps, specular maps, reflection maps and IBL maps, you have the control over any surface. With skylines industry standard shader languages such as HLSL, CG, GLSL, you can create or extend current materials to create any visual effect you want.
The property panel is your main working area, this is where you change properties based on each Scene Entity in the scene, they could be a model, light, particle, Water Plane, Camera type, and all types have different sets of properties. For example Lights allow you to change what type of light it is, brightness’s, specular amounts, spot light parameters etc.. whereas a model type allows you to change the mesh, material, setup animations etc… All types can have actions attached to enhance their usability in the scene.
The Translation Panel is there to help you get fine control over your scenes assets in an unobtrusive window that sits on top of the editor.
It also has a built in randomizer for scale and rotations; these make every entity duplicate different from the last to create a natural look to your scene without it all turning into a uniform mess.
Along with the powerful editor, we provide a full asset manager that displays all skyline file types with high quality thumbnails. Meshes and Materials have their thumbnails generated automatically, whereas presets and scenes can be taken manually to give your asset manager the ultimate artist edge.
There are many tools built into the manager such as
- folder reorganizing
- scene upgrading
- preset upgrading
- batch FBX conversions to skyline supported formats
- resource management
Many files that are external to skyline are also useable. If you have photoshop installed, then you can open any image straight away, open url links, text documents. There are so many more features for you to play with.
Scene Entity List
The Scene Entity List displays all entities in the scene. You can create folders for organizational structures right inside the editor.
The Terrain Editor allows you to create huge open worlds with ease, using a bitmap brush you can easily raise mountains out of the ground, then using the auto paint system to can paint the whole terrain using 5 layers without touching the terrain with a brush. Once autopainted, you can then apply special paint details manually by using the same bitmap brush style the height editing uses.
The terrain has ful depth mapping and soft shadows that fade over distance.
Along with a strong terrain editing feature set, skyline also offers you dense landscapes of vegetation and grass to bring life to your game. The vegetation system is built using a Batching geometry system with impostors to keep performance in your game up. The vegetation also offers smooth transitions between geometry and impostors giving you complete control over distances and page sizes. Have thousands of trees all running in realtime.
To increase the quality of your terrain, is a road editor, that allows you to create realistic and believable scenes, use the terrain deformation feature to carve through your terrain and allow your road to sit naturally in your scene. The road editor allows you to use Displacement mapping or Alpha smooth to blend your road onto the terrain.
We have a full mesh editor designed to stop you having to leave the software to go tweak in the modelling application. It features:
- Full position editing for the center pivot
- Rotate the mesh data in any direction and save over the original mesh
- Unlimited lod levels which can load any other mesh and materials.
- Auto Lod Coming soon…
- Full Mesh Scaling that will overwrite the original mesh.
- Full character skeleton scaling that overwrites original data. This is a powerful feature that many modelling applications cannot do.
- Animation Timeline which can edit tracks, add from other files and remove tracks, plus more.
- Drag and drop conversion
Create any number of GUI’s for your games in a simple format. We have integrated the use of libRocket which utilizes a HTML and CSS style editing to easily build the ui. It features a full coding and editing environment and also a seperate render surface that displays the GUI only. To add your gui’s to the scene, add a couple of lines of lua to your scene and you can load and control any aspect dynamically.
Built into Skyline is a full script editor that can read and write to several formats such as .lua, .txt, .car and more.
Primarily it is designed for skylines instant access to creating dynamic content in the scene from vehicles to characters to all other things. We use a lua language which has been specifically designed to call through to c++ functions to create a scripting language that is powerful and fast, but easy to learn and teach others. It features a simple syntax that most coders, scripters and artists will be able to use.
In the editor is a full snippets library that you can simply double click on elements to create a script for you, or simply double click an entire lua snippet to stop you writing the same things over and over for each scene.
Need to get an entity to follow a path, then use the spline path editor built directly into the interface to create a closed or line path which has controllable resolution, addition, removal and insertion. Paths can be scene in editor while playing and not. It is fully usable in lua as well. Great for characters and vehicles to move around your scene.
Using Skylines Particle Editor, you can bring dynamics into your game, create magic attacks, smoke, explosions etc.. and really bring the power out. Make all you characters in your game feel ultimately powerful and they diminish their enemies with awesome special FX attacks.
Also supported is the use of a third party application “Particle Universe” which is a free MIT Particle editor that can create some amazing effects and all can be loaded into skyline for use in your game.
The environment editor has many smaller editors built into it that can really change the atmosphere of a scene.
Ocean Editor: Quickly enhance the look and feel of your outdoor game by adding the ocean, this uses a perlin noise or FFT algorithm to create realistic water directly in your game, control the depth and caustics to add those extra visuals required, or change the mesh complexity to increase performance in your game.
Dynamic Sky Editor: Using the Dynamic Sky, you have a full 24hr sun and moon cycle to allow your game to feel the passage of time, watch as the shadows around you shift as the day passes. The Sky has fully controllable wavelength and HDR / LDR rendering. Turn on the Lightrays post FX for some truly stunning visuals. Also features volumtric clouds and lighting.
Skybox Editor: If you aren’t wanting a full time of day, then skyline has a Skybox editor where you can change the Images of each side of the skybox to create a believable sky without the loss in performance.
Height Fog and atmospheric scattering: Haven’t got enough already, then add height fog to your scene and create depth and atmosphere. Add the atmospheric scattering and blend the sky into the ground to simulate real world. This all works great on those large environments with lots of trees.
The Scene Settings Panel is where you can tweak scene related properties such as background colors, basic fog, camera controls, physics timesteps and debugging. Lock the framerate to suit your games needs, or change from forward rendering to deferred(still a WIP).
This panel allows you to control all the lighting levels in your scene. This means ambient levels and colours can be changed, the scene IBL(Image Based Lighting) textures can be changed and then controlled using the blend and exposure properties. Change between multiple modes that accept IBL ambient, Hemispherical ambient or basic flat ambient. Using IBL ambient will give you great popping normals regardless of rotation or direction of light.
The Skyline Console gives you feedback when scripting in lua, or by using the editor features in skyline. At the bottom of the console is a line edit, where you can call any lua command inside the editor without playing the game first.
On Screen Information
Skyline has a complete on screen information that displays metrics, gizmo controls and fast access to camera modes, utilities and Grid Snapping. The Metrics displays full FPS, mouse coordinates and more.
Skyline has a complete set of Post processing designed for artists to quickly tweak the scene and get the look and feel they are after. Use Post Effects such as Lightrays, motion blur, DOF, SSAO, Tonemaps to take your scenes to the next level. Or if you are simply looking to create abstract or surreal images; then try your hand to the VJ effects to create visual scenes seen in no other engine.