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Update #79

Nearing the end of pre-production

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During pre-production, which we are in the middle of wrapping up, we get to have a lot of deep discussions about everything from power sets to something so common as walking. In the course of building a game, you have to pick and choose your battles. Some systems are included with Unreal, while others need to be built. There even are ones where you want to do things differently, but in the fight for expedience, you chose the included system as your foundation. 

This week during discussions we actually hit upon one of these common elements. Included with the Unreal Engine is a system for respawning. While we had many ideas for how to create a novel new system for respawning, such as checkpoints within missions or in-place timed downtime, we had to take a hard look at the amount of work compared to the payoff and made the decision to not deviate much from the included system.

And development is full of these kinds of choices. Is the novelty worth the time needed to include at launch. We may come back to them later on, but until the core system is in place and running, we will be relying upon an existing system, or a tweaked version of the existing system.

This sadly means some of the more fun ideas, like alternate rezzing options, will likely not wind up in the game at launch. I know the classic MMO model of the hearthstone, wakie or graveyard/hospital is well established, so it will not be anything different for us, but we wanted to be a little more interesting. A slight disappointment to us. 

But, since we are hitting the end of pre-production, it is time to start giving a glimpse at our work, or rather, a comparison. For those of you who remember, we were building a demonstration zone called Learner's Cove. We even shared a few screenshots of this early work last year.

Yesterday I had the idea pop into my head to reimport Learner's Cove into Unreal Engine 4. Two hours later, here we are.

This is just a straight import, but already the improved level of detail handling and shaders are clear as day. 

Named after noted pirate Captain James Edward Learner, Learner's Cove sheltered him after his growing body count had his commission as a privateer stripped and all friendly ports, including the bustling new shipping hub of Clarkstown closed to him. There persist rumors of buried treasure hidden away in the network of caves on the island, but most chalk those up to tall tales and ghost stories.

Expect more of Learner's Cove over the next few months as we build it out into our full test zone once more.


Update #78

Law and the Superhero

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From Know Your Powers, Know Your Rights: Legal Issues for Superpowered Beings

A Publication of the Titan City Department of Public Safety

From Page 5, Legal Status of Superhuman Beings

    Question 3: Are there any laws against being super or any requirement of registration just for existing as a superhuman being?

    A: No.  Superpowered status is a constitutionally protected classification, along the lines of race or religion.  You are not required to register simply because you are not a baseline human being.

In New York v. Tygron (1970) and United States v. Spess (1970), the Supreme Court held that “superpowered status” is constitutionally protected “suspect classification” under the Fourteenth Amendment.  The Court struck down the New York City and Washington, D.C. requirements that all superhuman beings register with local governments, regardless of their powers, as unconstitutional.  States and municipalities cannot impose special requirements on superhuman beings absent a compelling state interest. Titan City, of course, follows these laws and does not require universal registration.

Tygron is better known, however, for establishing that species is also a protected classification.  Tygron, a tiger-like humanoid created by strange scientific experiments, had been required to undergo additional layers of registration.  The Supreme Court struck these down as well, holding that all sentient species are entitled to equal protection under the law.  Notably, California v. Prototype 8-A-1 (1979) extended the term “species” to cover sentient robots and AI’s.  Other cases created extensive tests to determine legal “sentience.”  In general, if a creature is self-aware, can reason, and can communicate with humans, it is entitled to the same legal rights as a human.

If you are unsure of your sentient or nonsentient status, consult an attorney specializing in superhuman law.

From Page 15, Regulation of Use of Superpowers: Registration

Question 21: When does a superpowered being need to register powers, if ever?

A: Any dangerous or intrusive power must be registered before public use for a nonemergency purpose or within thirty days of first use for an emergency purpose (including initial manifestation).  This includes weapons and gadgets, magical abilities, and even special skills, as well as inherent powers.

Titan City law requires registration with the Department of Public Safety before using dangerous or intrusive powers in public for a non-emergency purpose and thirty days to register after using them in public for the first time for an emergency purpose. Initial manifestation counts as an “emergency purpose.” The Department of Public Safety handles the registration process.

Registration does not involve any background checks or psychological assessments; it is a recordkeeping operation.  Additionally, registration carries no other obligations.  However, many registrants choose to engage in crimefighting because of the extensive legal protections registration confers, such as arrest powers and limited immunity from civil suits.  Refer to Page 35, Questions 60-68, for more details.

You do not need to disclose your real name upon registering, but if you choose not to, you must select an appropriate alias.  See Page 25, Question 40, for details on choosing an alias.

Question 22: What powers must I register?

A: Any dangerous or intrusive power.

Registration applies to dangerous or intrusive powers of all types, whether derived from a device (magical or technological), a ritual or operation, or the wielder’s inherent abilities.  

“Dangerous” powers are anything that could be used as a deadly or dangerous weapon.  This is broadly construed and includes items that are part of your body or training, such as the fists of martial artists.

“Intrusive” powers are those likely to interfere with the privacy or peace of ordinary, reasonable people.  These include special senses, including extrasensory powers and telepathy, and powers whose use would constitute a noise or light complaint if used after 11 p.m.

If you are registering a power that provides flight by means of a device, you should also consult the Department of Public Safety/FAA Joint Publication, “Aeronautics and Aviation with Human-Portable Aircraft” (available on our website).

If you are unsure if your powers must be registered, consult an attorney specializing in superhuman law, or refer to Appendix 4, “List of Dangerous and Intrusive Powers” (pages 60-135).

From Page 23, Confidentiality of Registration Records and Secret Identities

Question 31: If a registrant testifies in court, does he have to disclose his identity or remove his mask?

A: No.  The Supreme Court has ruled that testimony in a costumed identity, even in a costume that conceals the witness’s face, is permissible, so long as “independent guarantees of identity,” such as a powers registration record, are present.

The Confrontation Clause of the Constitution (“the accused shall have the right to … be confronted with witnesses against him”) provides a further concern for registrants with secret identities.  The courts have generally interpreted this rule strictly, requiring that all witnesses’ faces be visible to criminal defendants.  However, from the days of the first boom in superpowered heroism in the 1930’s, the courts have held that this rule does not require a hero to unmask in court so long as “independent guarantees of the witness’s identity and truthfulness” are available to the judge.  After much litigation throughout the twentieth century, the Supreme Court settled in Moebius v. Massachusetts (1996) that status as a powers registrant furnishes such guarantees.  Moreover, the courts have also held, citing privacy and safety concerns, that registrants need not answer questions about their identities on the stand.

From Page 29, Arrests, Searches, and Other Police-like Operations by Registrants

Question 43: How do freelance crimefighters arrest criminals?

A: A person is “under arrest” whenever he’s in a situation where a reasonable person would not feel free to leave.  This can happen when a superpowered being says, “You’re under arrest” and flexes his super-muscles, when the superbeing has knocked the person unconscious, or any one of a huge range of situations.  This rule, by the way, is the same for police and non-police.

Question 44: When can a registrant legally arrest someone?

A: Whenever he has probable cause to believe the person has committed any felony or has committed a misdemeanor in his presence.  “Probable cause” means more than mere suspicion but much less than certainty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Question 45: When can a registrant use deadly force, such as a “dangerous power,” against a foe?

A: Whenever the registrant reasonably believes that his life or the life of another is in danger (notably, when the foe is using deadly force, too), or when the foe is a fleeing, violent felon.  These criteria have historically been interpreted in favor of the registrant.

Registration is not just a way for governments to track powers.  It also confers major legal benefits on registrants.  This section discusses benefits for registrants who choose to investigate crime and apprehend criminals: in other words, superpowered crimefighters.

In general, if a hero captures a foe, whether by grabbing him, beating him senseless, or just telling him, “don’t go anywhere,” that counts as an arrest.  Heroes can make such arrests whenever they have “probable cause” to believe a person has committed a crime.  (Whether the person actually committed a crime is irrelevant.)   Probable cause is more than mere suspicion but far less than the formal “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard applied in trials.

If you have further questions related to arrest, an attorney for the arrestee specializing in superhuman law is likely to contact you.

(Comment on our update here: http://cityoftitans.com/forum/discuss-law-and-superhero )


Update #77

Epic Demonstration of Map Construction

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To bring our available demonstrations back in-line to what we had under Unreal Engine 3, this week is a simple demonstration of how map construction works in the art pipeline. The stages shown apply no matter the map, be it a single underground lair, or the world at large.

This is an example map made by Epic, showing not only how the process works, but how far you can push it. While we are not aiming for the final level of realism, it is good to first understand how far we can go.

We are making this world together, and I want you all to see how the process works.

- Doctor Tyche 


Update #76

The Real Technical Update

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In the opening for our little April 1st video you may have noticed a sewer-type map. This was not a video clip provided by Epic, but one we made using assets provided by Epic. The map itself began as something Epic produced, called simply “The Theater.” 
Over time have been tweaking, modifying, and adjusting to give us a small, playable area to test things out in. Now, we are preparing a large video presentation to show off some of the systems which UE4 brings to the table. But, you guys deserve a bit of a peak behind the curtain, so today we’re bringing you a quick look into the particles system. 

The UE4 particles system is… you know, let’s let the video speak for itself.

We still need to implement the blueprint control system for particles, but the foundation is in place. This is just a glimpse into what UE4 brings to the table.

Nate “Doctor Tyche” Downix, Company President, Technical Director


Update #75

April 1st Technical Update

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Well, we promised you a tech demo, and it’s time!


We’ve been really lucky, we found someone who was intimately involved with the old game. He even wrote his own task force. So, we gave him our money, and title credit, and he’s about to show us what he’s done.

Today’s demo is going to be about twitch play, gravity physics, and time of day systems. We’ve got high hopes here, and I can’t wait to see what he’s done with our design notes. 

We’re doing it live, folks! Let’s warm it up!

Okay. Technically, that matched all of our specifications. I think. Uhm. I’m just going to call the guy, and see what he has to say for himself.”

“Man, I love my phone. It gets signal everywhere.” 

 “Hello, Saul?” 

 “Yeah, it’s Warcabbit from Titans.” 

 “Saul, okay. Look. I’m not going to lie, I have some pretty big issues here. I’m really… I can’t process this. Let’s go for the simplest part.” 

 “WHERE DID THE MONEY GO, SAUL?” 

 “Okay, I’ve got the contract here. Page three, paragraph eleven B. Missing Worlds Media agrees to clear up trailing issues involving a breakfast cereal promotion. Yes, right, you needed to clean out a storage closet to work in.” 

 “Biohazard and EPA decontamination costs? It’s breakfast cereal, right? Why… oh. That’s dangerous stuff, Saul. What was it doing in cereal? You didn’t get it from china… no, it’s only made in the USA. It’s patriotically toxic. And radioactive.” 

 “Okay. So. Fine. Okay. Our bad, we signed the contract. Fine. And you got your nephew to code it. I didn’t know he could code. Oh, your other nephew. And that cost the remaining twenty dollars and fifty six cents. Well, we got our money’s worth, I guess.” 

 “No, I’m not upset you renamed the game. I’m actually very glad you did.” 

 “I’m not even mad that you made up your own hero. I’m very pleased it’s not Particle or American Star or Celerity or any of our guys there.” 

 “But why does the hero poop out an egg when he dies?” 

 “It’s not an egg.” 

 “It looks like an egg, Saul.” 

 “It’s a Hammy egg. The guy you licensed has a million of them. He keeps them in his base. Right. Okay.” 

 “So why is he pooping them out, Saul?” 

 “Because of the Leprechaun. You know, the only reason I’m repeating you is that I’m having some real problems conceptualizing the words coming out of your mouth. I have to say them again in order to translate them into english.” 

 “Explain this Leprechaun issue.” 

 “Wait. Okay. He shrunk the base. And so the hero carries it about.” 

 “So… you’re going to say it. Don’t say it. Don’t say that the eggs are popping out of the A-...” 

“I feel like less of a person now, Saul. My faith in humanity has somehow, inexplicably been lowered by this phone call. I don’t know why.” 

“... At least it’s kind of fun to play.” 

 “Look. I’mma gonna go have a conversation with some people I know. Serious people. And if you wake up with a horse’s head in your bed… oh, you do on a regular basis. Well, when it comes from me, it’s going to be STILL ALIVE, do you hear me, Saul?” 

“NO THIS WASN’T A TRIUMPH.” 

“You’re fired, Saul. I’m going to find a cannon and FIRE YOU OUT OF IT."  

“Fine, another twenty bucks till next Tuesday, but this is the LAST TIME.” 

Okay, folks, serious time. First, of course, the basis for tonight’s update comes from our friends at Epic. But the inspiration for it comes from a friend of mine, who I miss. (Yes, we have permission from the family to use the character.) For those of us who didn’t happen to know who Saul Rubenstein was, a brief overview. 

http://www.virtueverse.net/wiki/Ascendant

For those of you who wonder why we chose to bring him up now?

http://www.virtueverse.net/wiki/Ascendant/The_Game/ 

As for the game itself, everything we do serves a dual purpose - making a product _and_ making the main game better. In this case, ‘Clicky Cape’ is our compiler test dummy product. It’s based on Tappy Chicken, a demo an Epic artist made in about two hours. We’re using it to make sure UE4 compiles smoothly on multiple systems and OSes. Sure fits a Saul Rubenstein product, though! 

 Happy April. 

 Warcabbit, Doctor Tyche, Kelp Plankton, Kitsune9Tails and the rest of the City of Titans family.


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