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H-Hour Community News - 05 December 2016

Posted on Dec 05 2016 01:16 PM in General

Hello H-Hour Community!

Patch News:

Our community development team have released a hotfix and two patches since we last talked. These patches included a full reworking of the input systems for kbm and controllers and included the addition of the PS4 Dual Shock drivers in the game. This allows us to confidently say we are both kbm and controller friendly for players. Other features added include a new MVP award process and screens, additions to our stat tracking, more server configurable options such as a defined ban time, more graphical updates to menus, many bug fixes, and the complex undertaking to correct our animation frameworks so more can be added. To spice things up, they also took the time to implement dive to prone into H-Hour which I see everyone is enjoying. There is lots more in the notes and to get these details visit the relevant patch notes for Oct 26th, Nov 28th and Dec 4th.

Around the Studio:

We have come to a stage in development where though the team can work on individual pieces of the game, they need to spend more and more time working together to complete their tasks. Much of the game content is now integrated or inter-related. With more members joining, the team introduced new internal processes for planning and communications and saw great benefit from these over the past month. The professionalism and dedication that is the core of this group is amazing for me to watch in action. I am thankful every day for all they do.

Since the work Self is doing is longer term, you do not get to see much of his efforts when it comes to the patches so a bit of news on that front for everyone. Self is moving along nicely with Map 5. Studio development needs to address file size, game optimization and original content in level design. It also requires a high standard for the content delivered which can only be achieved by using industry methods. Self has shown his enormous capacity for learning in how well he has adapted to these new processes and practices. We are seeing great results in his level design, very impressive stuff. I am confident his map will become one of the favorites once complete and I am really looking forward to seeing the communities reaction as it is so different from our previous maps. I will continue to periodically share pictures of elements of this map for you on twitter so keep an eye out for these drops.

I am putting more time into our social media outlets these days so we can reach new, potentially interested community members. I appreciate all the content the community sends my way on twitter so please, share your best images, game play shots or videos as well as new custom map creations with the studio twitter account and I will send them along for you.

Brian was unable to start with us as planned due to unexpected work commitments but we are hopeful he will be able to join the team in 2017 when audio/video deliverables start becoming a priority.

The holiday season will be on us soon. The development team has informed me they plan one more patch before Christmas. Then, as we have done in the past, there will be a period of down time for the studio and the volunteers where we pull back all but minimal support. This rest period is needed to help people recharge their batteries and spend time with their families. Volunteers work long hours as what they do for H-Hour is a second job so I hope the community will extend them well wishes for the holidays and patiently wait for their return to development after the New Year.

Since animations are one of the top topics for the community these days, I am going to leave you with an article written by Fred. I enjoyed it and I hope you do too.


Developers Topic: Animations – The Beginnings

Hello all,

Let me first start by introducing myself. My name is Fred and over the past 2 years I have been going to school for game development. Games have always been a passion of mine, dating back to the NES system, however my passion for games picked up quite dramatically with the launch of SOCOM 1. About 2 years ago, I decided that it was time for me to pursue my passion so I started taking game development classes. Throughout this process, I became extremely interested in human skeletons and human IK. That passion has lead me to recently volunteering whatever free time I can find with SOF Studios as their animations guru. I do have a full-time job, which in fact has nothing to do with games, however, SOCOM has been a passion of mine for some time so I am excited to help this project along.

Okay, enough about me and on to what really matters, the H-Hour animations. Well, I will start from the beginning. When I began reviewing all the animation related content for the game, I found that many of the issues reported by the community in game were the result of our dear friend Lucky, whom in my household is now called Un-Lucky. Lucky was imported as the first character into the game. Unfortunately, at some point during that process things in his skeleton were manipulated. When more characters were added into the game these manipulations magnified into severe issues with the other characters. This can be seen by comparing the old Lucky mesh with any of the other old character meshes as shown below.

Figure 1. Lucky hands before skeleton fix

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Figure 2. Terrorist hands before skeleton fix

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Figure 3. Lucky legs before skeleton fix

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Figure 4. Terrorist legs before skeleton fix

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Now these types of issues may not seem like that big of a deal. However this indicated a much more serious and DEEP rooted problem that was affecting the ability for any new animations to be added. To fix this issue we had to go back to square one. This involved some emergency repairs to Lucky ant then completely reworking the character skeleton and using that skeleton for all the characters in game. Once the skeleton was reworked we could then begin the process of retargeting all the old animations to the new skeleton. With almost 400 animations involved, this was a LONG and tedious process. Im sure when people go ahead and look at the models in game the changes are clear, but I’ll throw in a few pictures of the hands to show the changes up close. Notice that although there are still some issues with the Lucky character that require work, we were able to synch to at least an improved state where the hands of Lucky and the Terrorist (and all other meshes for that matter) are much more similar to each other. Also, keep in mind that these changes are still a work in progess and more improvements will come over time.

Figure 5. Lucky hands after skeleton fix.

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Figure 6. Terrorist hands after skeleton fix.

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Now that we have all characters on a corrected skeleton, work can begin to fix and add more animations. In the last patch we released dive to prone. Dive to prone is still a work in progress as the team continues to tweak the transitions between stances but we wanted to get something new and tangible into your hands (assume all animation work is a work in progress at this point.)

I am sure this new animation is increasing everyone’s appetite for more and you would like to know what we will be getting in the future and when. There is no doubt that there are a lot of animations that need to be added and I am well aware of the list; ladder climb, grenade/shotgun knockbacks, and jump to climb to name a few. In addition many, many animations need to be re-worked and improved. So as far as what we are getting next, now that I have had the experience of working within a development team I can understand why as much as they would love to commit in advance to specific features or dates, it is risky to do so. I witnessed from the dive to prone experience that my work affects the entire development team in one fashion or another. I am the front end guy and the rest of the team takes what I do, puts it into the engine, adds to it, adjusts other content, tests results, troubleshoot and tweaks till it is running smoothly. The addition of dive to prone to the last patch pushed the team’s hours to the limits. Going forward, my piece of the development window will be shorter and until the rest of the team does their part, it is unknown if everything I work on and submit will get in or if some or all of it will come back to me for further work.

One thing I can tell you for sure is that the addition of things such as jump to climb will take a lot of work just for the initial animation creation, let alone the coding and map changes the new animations will require from the rest of the team. So these larger feature animations will come less frequently than smaller ones or fixes as we will need to allow for more time to be set aside for their implementation.

All of these new additions are further complicated by the fact much of the core animation foundation needed for the game is still not fully developed. A lot of this core work will revolve around the introduction of human IK processes. When this work is done it will also benefit other animations by default, so expect big things to come. One thing that this foundation will provide is for the hands to be placed correctly for each gun in the game. That means no more shooting through your hand while using an Uzi or P90 (the affectionately known “give me your wallet” pose).

I want to end by thanking everyone for being supportive of the community development team, the game and myself. With a full time job, finishing up my schooling and family commitments, this is a lot to take on. I ask for your patience in the pace of the work as a result. Despite this, I can promise you that I will be “giving it all she’s got” throughout this process. I look forward to hearing back from all of you as you see new things coming out. Feel free to let us know what you like and what you don’t like. I also want to thank the rest of the community development team for all their support and good cheer since I arrived. I am really looking forward to continuing to get to know everyone better.

Until next time,