Straight to the bad news: we are pushing back the release of Xen. We are truly sorry for getting everyone's hopes up and then delaying... again. We worked very hard to make December, but we are not yet ready. As a team, we take FULL responsibility for that. We have an internal deadline we are confident in, and we will be getting everyone more details as we get closer to that date.
Thank you again to our community and Early Access supporters. The funding from Early Access has allowed us to hire many new talented developers, and has allowed older developers to put more time in the project. Simply put, Xen has proven to be an enormous undertaking, and while we are managing it to the best of our ability, it is proving to take longer than we estimated.
The good news is that we will be releasing a large update in December to test all of the new features that have been developed for Xen. We have changed a number of things within the Source Engine, and we want to make sure they all work on the myriad of PCs out there. By enabling the new tech on the Earthbound section of the game, we can get the engine/code fully stabilized on Steam before we drop the final chapters.
In December we will also have an update on where our Xen chapters stand, show some additional media, and deploy the engine update.
Here are some features that will be in the update:
We've created a custom lens flare entity, and have added lens flares to important light sources in the game. Don’t worry, we will spare your eyes and not go overboard with our new lens flare tech. We think it adds a nice layer of polish to the Earthbound lighting and we hope to use it to really sell the alien feel of Xen... and add endless frustration to the debate about whether or not Gordon wears a helmet.
We’ve shown some dynamic lights in the last update. Here are a few other sections that got the dynamic light treatment. Lights can simply cast light, cast shadows, and even cast volumetric godrays.
Security Joop with Dynamic Lights and Lens Flares
OAR Rocket Launch with Dynamic Shadows, Light Rays, and a Lens Flare
4 Way Texture Blends
We incorporated a 4 way texture blending system like the one seen in Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and improved upon it. Our level designers have 4 texture layers to blend, each with its own bump map and environment map (SSBM OR Normal Bump). Like other versions of the shader, level designers and artists can blend between the 4 layers procedurally using light and dark values of the diffuse textures.
Image Based Ambient Lighting
Lighting can now be generated from the image of the skybox texture. This gives level designers a very quick and accurate base lighting for outdoor maps. The example below has just a light_env in the scene, with no colors. All colored lighting is created automatically from the skybox image.
CSM and Godray Performance
We’ve improved the performance on Cascade Shadow Maps and Godrays and made them both more straightforward to implement on the Hammer side. Godrays are now placed with our newLight_Dir entity and automatically get ray angles from the light_env. Rays not only run better, but look smoother as well.
Environment Light Godrays
Rays From New Dynamic Lights
Xen Concept Art
Concepts as seen in PCGamer. In addition to the Xen screenshots we have released, these Interloper concepts highlight the difference in environment types we have.
Black Mesa 60% Off
We are also on sale until November 28th for the Steam Thanksgiving sale!
We will have a bunch more information next month!