E3, RTT, RWS. A host of excessively used acronyms (which is rather apt given the MoD's - one more - love of them) forms the basis of this week's update, digesting what we've learned from the Electronic Entertainment Expo, what Render To Texture means for us, and its application on things such as Remote Weapon Stations
So, E3's been and gone, and whilst Jay and Ivan have done a stirling job of moistening the larger gaming population's loins in anticipation of Armed Assault 3 and the progress its making, suffice to say that we probably didn't learn that much from the various press presentations or new screenshots. All in all thats not that unsurprising, as most of us in the community have already trawled up far more information about ArmA 3 [oops, there's one more] than your average gamer would ever know, so any hopes of exciting new information or trouser tenting additions were certain to be dashed. With that being said, we got to see the game in a working state, the various features, lighting and environments and an early implementation of PhysX 3.XX. All very exciting, and pleasing to see the progress so far.
So out of E3, what excited me the most? Well besides the engine improvements, especially lighting and physics, a small and easily overlooked feature stood out the most, the addition of Render To Texture. Now, RTT is nothing ground breaking, games have been using it for years to simulate mirrors, reflections, TV [and another] monitors and other immersive scenary, but in terms of the ArmAverse it adds an array of useful and interactive additions to the game and the way in which it simulates the battlefield and the objects within. Primarily, of course, it will see it's greatest use in vehicle wing and rear view mirrors, in TV screens and monitors, rear view cameras and situational awareness cameras (as deployed on a host of the latest British Vehicles).
Render to Texture from 1:49 onwards
Beyond that, it's ability to also render night vision and thermal scenes independant of the visual mode the player is in, and (with scripting) the ability to switch between these, also adds depth to vehicles with driver aids such as thermal and night vision driving cameras (again, a common addition to current British Kit), it allows battlefield communication and information sharing to progress even further, being able to observe what your gunner is viewing as a Tank Commander, feeds from UAVs [they're bloody everywhere] and live maps, and useful and interactive Remote Weapon Station feeds (The applications are certainly more far reaching that my brief run through, and I'm excited to see what greater minds such as UNN can come up with)
This last application, the RWS, is the final topic of this update. From an RTT front, it can be applied on the lens to provide some rather splendid reflections, but more so on the gunner's station itself, as well as any other screens slaved from it. Whilst the gunner within ArmA 3 is going to spend the majority of his or her time using the RWS through it's main camera, and therefore not using RTT, other passengers within the vehicle, specifically any commanders, will be able to view what the gunner is aiming at, through RTT on any screens attached to the Enforcer RWS. This allows them to use the weapon station both tactically as well as offensively, and I can see this being of great benefit to the varios Co-Op squads, and increasing the depth and scope of individual addons.
From the more serious applications, this also allows me to show off the new enforcer model I've been working on. Since my last update I had been lucky enough to land a short 4 week job (although I'm unemployed once more, what a wondeful industry I work in), which meant I was unable to spend much if any time working on the Foxhound. That, couple with the MoD's recent changes and additions to the vehicle, and at the time of writing this, a lack of viable references (the Foxhound has since been deployed to Afghanistan, and a selection of new reference has been made available), I've had to put that project on hold while I scour the internet and various trade shows for the (hopefully) final version (if such a thing could ever exist in defence procurement). Never-the-less I always intended to create a Foxhound with an enforcer mounted (even though one might not be planned as yet) and with several other projects at RKSL and the wider British Addon Community in need of one, it seems to be the ideal time waster.
New enforcer on the left, old enforcer on the right
The model has come a long way since it's first ArmA 2 / VBS2 incarnation, with a far more accurate mesh, additional details and objects and a somewhat hefty face count. That being said, I hope you agree the extra love and attention has been well worth it, and with the right textures and rvmats, this should be a lovely little addition to any vehicle. (as ever, all screens are from O2, and the model is 100% O2 built)
(Ta Ta For Now)