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Riga, Latvia trip 2014 - Day 2

My day started with me waking up to the warm weather and peaceful ambience of outside. I got in the shower and got ready to leave for the city centre. I went to the bus stop and waited with Alex for our bus, which soon arrived and we then began our short journey into the city centre.

Upon arrival we headed out from the bus and into the old town and made our way to the square where McDonalds, SEB and such were situated just opposite the freedom monument. There we met with a few of the new people from RSD and I was tasked with filming them handing out fliers for the first of september event. After ending up in Origo we said goodbye to them.

Alex notified me that now we would meet Thomas; a friend of my friends who volunteered with them in Sochi. He was waiting for us at Costa Coffee so we made our way there. It was nice to meet another new and friendly face, and after a brief chat we headed to a place I found called Fontaine where another friend of mine works. We arrived there and took a menu and began the long decision making process of what we wanted to eat…

After around twenty minutes of eyeballing the menu, I finally settled on a beef burrito, whilst Alex chose to have the same but with chicken. Thomas decided to get a burger with small cheesy fries, Alex and I decided we would split for a large portion of cheesy fries to share. Once everything was finalised we made our order. Shortly after we had placed our orders I saw my friend Una was working and said hello as she brought us our drinks. We also saw Marianna as she was having a break from work and decided to drop by and see us.

After what was probably the nicest burrito I could have asked for we went with Marianna to the small Lido in the city centre so she could eat as she didn’t fancy what we were having. After around twenty minutes it was time to drop our stuff at Thomas’ rented apartment. One of the great things about Riga is that you can go and rent an apartment for three days without too much of a problem.

Once we had finished admiring what was probably one of the classiest apartments I’ve ever seen first hand it was time for us to go for the bus to Arena Riga. We were going to watch the hockey game between Dinamo Riga and a Russian hockey team AK Bars. The game is split into three 20-minute segments with a fifteen minute break in between.

Upon leaving the bus we met Kate. As it turns out, Kate was on our bus the whole time. We made our way towards the arena and stood in line to buy our tickets. After a couple of minutes standing and talking it was our turn to move to the little window and purchase tickets. The ticket price was surprisingly low, only 4.50 euros per person, which is cheap considering Dinamo Riga is one of the best hockey teams in Europe.

We made our way into the arena and up the stairs to where we could enter the seating area. Upon first glance from the outside Arena Riga looks pretty average in size, but upon entry you realise that it’s actually quite huge. After some stairs we finally found where our tickets said we were to sit, but there were already people sitting there so we opted to sit one level higher instead of disturbing them as they were only children.

The game itself was a tricky one to describe, many chances for Dinamo Riga to score, but those chances were unfortunately missed… The game went on with the score reaching 4 - 0 to AK Bars, until finally the Russian defense was broken and Dinamo Riga scored their first and only point. The game ended up being 5 - 1, and as the team we were supporting lost, we decided to go out for a drink. Well, the three of us anyway; Alex had to leave for work.

We made our way to one the smaller places which had a happy hour, meaning you pay for one drink and the other is free. I decided that I would take a Long Island Iced Tea, a cocktail I had only heard of previously in television shows like How I Met Your Mother. Thomas decided he would take the same so we split the price and went to one of the back rooms and took a seat. We noticed that it was pretty empty, but before too long it began to fill up.

After finishing our drinks we decided to go to Lido as we didn’t want to drink on an empty stomach. Thomas and I got shashlik with rice, salmon for me and beef for him. Kate decided she would just take some black bread and told us she doesn’t drink beer as Thomas and myself had decided we would have some Lido beer with our food. Once we had finished eating we made our way back into the old town where we met with Marianna.

Now is probably a good time to mention that I had forgotten to bring my passport, so getting in places might be a little difficult depending on where we were going. Thankfully for the most part no one really questioned it and we got into several places without me having any ID. Well, that was until we decided to go to Just, a somewhat high profile night club. Turns out, they don’t like foreigners which meant, Kate and Marianna’s persuasion aside, that we couldn’t enter. Ah well, it’s their loss, I said as we brushed it off and headed somewhere else.

Before too long it was time for Marianna and I to say goodbye to Thomas and Kate and make our way to the night transport. The minibus arrived and we boarded and made our way back home. I was absolutely exhausted and ended up sleeping as soon as I got home.

| #hockey | #ak-bars | #dinamo-riga | #beach | #summer | #blissful | #latvia | #riga | #holiday | #sports |

Riga, Latvia trip 2014 - Day 1

My day started with me getting up early, getting dressed and making sure I had everything packed in my suitcase before I locked it and prepared to leave for my train to Doncaster. At around 11 I walked to town with my mum, grandad and brother and we talked for a while until they had to go and do whatever it was they were in town for. I made my way to the platform after texting Aidan to let him know where to meet me before I left. After arriving I said goodbye and he left as I got on the 12:35 train to Doncaster.

The journey from Hull to Doncaster was rather uneventful, I mainly spent it listen to music and watching the scenery outside. As we were approaching Doncaster I saw some industrial buildings and a quarry. We stopped and I left the train and tried to find my way to somewhere I could eat in Doncaster train station. After a few minutes of walking from the platform to the general area I found a small Subway and stood in the queue. While waiting I met a middle aged couple who were in a rush to get a flight from Manchester to London and asked them which bus I should take to get to Doncaster Sheffield Airport. As they were helpful, I offered the husband my spot in the queue for Subway and he thanked me before leaving with his wife to catch the train to Manchester airport.

I made my way downstairs to the exit and proceeded to the bus station which is only across the road from where I had arrived. After asking about the bay I needed for the airport bus I found myself sitting and waiting for it to arrive. I decided that now would be a good time to have half of the sandwich I got, so I unwrapped the foot long sub, a chicken bacon and cheese with my usual combination of sweetcorn, onion, cucumber and lettuce toppings with barbecue sauce and ate it while I waited.

Once the bus arrived I boarded with my suitcase and asked for the airport. Much to my surprise the airport was only £3. I took my seat and listened to Savant’s new album, Protos, while the bus made its route. Upon arrival at the airport I was shocked to see that it was empty. Sure I arrived at around 2:30 but surely an airport in such a centralised location as Doncaster-Sheffield would be packed full of people at every waking hour? I guess not.

The hardest part of the day was waiting until the security and passport check was opened, which was around 17:00 most likely… So I sat and waited downstairs until it opened. At around 17:30 I decided it was time to go and pass the security check and sit in the gate for another hour until it was time to start queueing. But not before I had to go downstairs again to get a stamp on my boarding pass as the scanner wouldn’t work on the barcode printed on the page. After being questioned about the intent of my visit to Latvia by a senior South Yorkshire police officer and having a close shave at the baggage scanner (they almost wanted me to open my suitcase, meaning my careful packing would have been ruined) I made my way to the terminal and waited patiently until we could board.

The terminal was quite small, but soon began to fill up with people. I was most certainly the only British person waiting for the 17:10 Wizz Air flight to Riga, but that’s probably because most British holidaymakers would spend excessively on their flights and not go with a budget airline. To be honest it’s probably a good thing, as I would rather sit amongst Latvian people than fellow Brits on a plane. I did speak briefly to a British gentleman who was on his way to Bucharest to stay with family members for a month; so I guess I’m not alone in preferring to fly with a no frills airline.

Before too long it was time to board the plane, something which I told myself was the only guarantee that I would make it to Latvia; the moment I took my seat on the plane. One thing I like about Wizz Air is their use of Airbus A320 aircraft instead of the clunkier Boeing 737 class which Ryan Air use. It really makes for a quieter and more comfortable flight when the aircraft is lighter and has only two engines and not four. The flight itself was pretty uneventful, other than the comedic announcements from the cabin crew; where the guy speaking English wasn’t as fluent as the one who translated it to Latvian, which to me was hilarious as they could’ve just used the Latvian translator to announce in both languages.

Upon arrival at Riga International Airport I got through the passport check and was greeted by Alex. He informed me that we wouldn’t be taking the bus; but instead we would get a lift from him and Marianna’s friend, Kate. A girl I hadn’t met yet, only known of via Marianna’s Facebook updates during her volunteering in Kazan for Universiade and Sochi 2014 volunteering. After a brief introduction we drove from the airport to Marianna’s place and said goodbye until the following day where we were going to meet up with Kate and another Sochi volunteer who once again I had only heard of through Alex and Marianna’s updates during the winter olympic games. As soon as we got to Marianna’s place and got inside I noticed one thing… It was exactly as I remembered from the previous year. I talked briefly with Marianna before going to pass out on my bed.

| #latvia | #holiday | #riga | #travel |

What I'm actually doing for INFRA right now...

Short answer? Not very much, other than flowmaps for some levels. But that’ll change soon, hopefully.

Long answer? Well, currently I’m waiting until I am given a nice big fat NDA to sign before I’m able to be given source code access for INFRA… Aaand after that it becomes a massive game of “guess what you broke because you tried to do something expected but our crappy tools didn’t like it so fuck you” because whoever wrote Source 1’s toolchain is an imbecile. After all of that crap is sorted, the fun will actually begin…

First up on the list of features which REALLY need to be implemented, parallax corrected cubemaps. Yep, they’re a doddle to get set up and cost a couple of extra instructions for a huge visual quality increase. To show just how much of an increase of visual quality you can gain from such a simple implementation, here’s a similar thing done with Source 2013 by a fellow Facepunch user by the name of Firegod522.

image

As you can see, the quality improvement is huge for such a simple trick. This technique has been used in quite a few games as of late, and as the cubemap textures are static it’s really fast to render them, even with the additional code for parallax correction. Hopefully as we’re using a later version of Source the implementation will be a smoother process than it was for him (mostly with shadercompiler, as it’s an old, broken piece of shit.) But I don’t have much hope that it will be.

How about giving us a free upgrade to Source 2, Valve? Pwetty pwease? 

| #infra | #cubemaps | #features | #coming-soon |

Decals in Source 2

Decals in Source 2 are handled in a rather peculiar way; instead of lazy-lazy deferred decals, Source 2 employs a hybrid style of decal, using both projected geometry and deferred GBuffers (as far as I can tell…) to render decals allows for more control over the geometry which receives decals on a per-decal basis instead of globally via GBuffer masking. This definitely is an improvement over more simpler techniques, such as the ones used in Unreal Engine 4 which are surprisingly limited. 

image

Oh and as you may notice, I’m using arbitrary geometry on this decal, which looks like this without debugging enabled.

image

Really looking forward to seeing more of Source 2 in the near future. Hopefully Valve will announce a new game running on it.

| #source-2 | #rendering | #shaders | #decals | #valve | #gamedev | #deferred-decals | #dynamic-mesh |



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About Me

I am a 20 year old currently involved in graphics programming for INFRA. In my free time I enjoy taking photographs. I am also interested in game engines and often spend time experimenting with various ones including Unreal and Source. I also enjoy watching TV series including Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, How I Met Your Mother and more. I have formal qualifications in both ICT and Media and am highly experienced working with cameras and have a passion for film making.

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