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Thank You HN, Voxel Quest Is Funded
220 points by gavanwoolery on Nov 7, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 65 comments
The HN community was instrumental in getting my campaign funded, so I just wanted to say thank you. I also wanted to thank the investors who offered through HN, your offered support and praise has really meant a lot. This funding will allow me to keep the company private and hopefully one day fully open source everything permissively (full source is going public on Github in a few months regardless). I am streaming Voxel Quest all day with the new perspective camera being demoed on twitch.tv (link below), and I will answer any questions here as well. VQ is in its last day of Kickstarter if you still want to pitch in. Thanks again everybody, I am moved beyond words. :D

Edit: one side note - the perspective camera I am demoing was developed in the last week of running the KS campaign, so it is still quite buggy but nonetheless a good proof of concept. :)

Edit 2: also, it is amazing that we got there with zero coverage from gaming press! Thank you again HN for being the one site with enough "vision" to see something meaningful in my work. :)

  (Youtube demo of perspective):  
  (Live demo):  

  (KS Link):  

Dang! Are clickable links really too much to ask for on the web:

  (Youtube demo of perspective):  

  (Live demo):  

  (KS Link):  

Edit: even posting individual links in a comment doesn't work anymore, for real. That' such great UX /s.

Edit2: Ah, sorry, links don't linkify if indented. Still, submission links for highly upvoted stories would be great.

I've thought about this before, and I'm assuming this is because clickable links in a post would allow people to submit articles pre-attached with comments, and HN wants users to submit links and then comment with the others, not have a perma-comment attached to the article.

Sorry - I'm not all that good with formatting options, how do you do it on an HN post? I know the reddit method. Edit, looks like your links work now in my browser, but I can't edit my post anyway, its timed out.

He's telling the admin (username: dang), not you.

I knew of "dang" but totally mistook it in this context, haha.

I was trying to be clever, it was both an exclamation and a sideways "hey, admin". Trying.

Good luck! with your project!

I once worked on and off on a 3D engine in C++ for about 8 years and know how much effort and perseverance it takes. I was young and somehow lost track while hacking in memory pools, shader generators and a custom scripting language... Don't fall into this trap! Keep it simple, don't NIH too much and focus on gameplay!

One question I have: How do you generate those wonderful, non-repeating dirt textures displayed in one of your videos? Is it a procedural texture or is it based on marching cubes or...? They really look amazing!

Thanks, great advice - I have no choice but to focus on gameplay here out. Lack of gameplay really hurt my KS campaign and I don't have much time to do anything but get a functional game in there now, as early access will start within a few months (that said going to try and avoid all the bad things about early access).

Everything is based on math, so its easy to make things non-repeating. Voronoi Diagrams, "Lichtenberg" patterns (for the cracks, can't think of a better word), sin waves, random noise, simplex noise, etc.

If you want to divulge: what's the best algorithm for generating Lichtenberg patterns?

DLA (diffusion limited aggregation) or twists on that. Alternately, recursively subdivide a space randomly


I've seen this pop up in HN a couple of times and was really impressed. A couple of weeks ago I found it in kickstarter, learned you would share the code and was AMAZED by the "digging" feature. I contributed with some money, and some more yesterday after your appeal.

While I don't have big hopes for the game (sorry), I think the tech is really cool. I'm eagerly waiting for more news, and a build to play around with.

Thanks! Don't be sorry - I myself have relatively little hope for the game aspect of it - most of my hope is allocated to what modders might do with it. The reason I am putting in a game is to dogfood my product and make sure I focus on relevant features (in addition to driving some sales - I don't think I could survive off engine sales alone initially).

The game ideas were, and still are, quite vague, but I am taking community input and reshaping it dramatically around what they think is important and what is not (not giving away full control of the game, but carefully weighing all criticism). My KS campaign never got to the point of reflecting that because I've been so busy with everything else (coding, managing the forums, twitter, etc). :)

That said, I do one day hope to have an interesting game in there, even if it is not up to par with what modders have created.

I think it would be awesome if some well known game designers that have worked on similar games can donate some time to advise on the gameplay aspects of it. I know that if I were such a person, I would definitely find some time to help out on such an ambitious project.

There's no reason why, with as much time as you're putting into the coding, that the game play aspects couldn't be just as interesting.

Well, one member of my community is possibly building a Dwarf Fortress visualizer with it. Also, another very well known designer who I can't name was interested in a licensing deal, but I pointed him towards the Voxel Farm and Atomontage engines because I did not have perspective at that time (and also, for a AAA game, my engine is not nearly polished enough).

I'm not even sure anyone noticed this over the gorgeous visuals, but I think your decision to make it fully moddable—and even license out the engine ala Source—is what will make this thing a work of genius.

I think so to. I can create very little as one man, but I think I can provide a good foundation for others to work off of.


Adding that perspective camera in one week, while running the kickstarter was impressive.

Hopefully you'll get some sleep next week.

Sleep sounds pretty good :)

This image[1] reminded me of Spirited Away. Beautiful color tone and rendering.


Thanks, I tweaked the heck out of the lighting, and it is largely based on many physically incorrect equations. Don't be afraid to stray from reality, that's the point of art. :)

> "...it is amazing that we got there with zero coverage from gaming press..."

You would need to add IAP, facebook and achievements to get it.

Haha, apparently. Or I need to be EA. Interestingly, Rock Paper Shotgun covered me in March, but apparently refused to during the KS campaign, despite the fact that they covered many other KS campaigns. I'm pretty sure they got one of the many tweets or emails that me or the fans sent their way.

That's awful, especially for such a promising project.

Any idea as to why they ignored it?

Probably because they thought it was too ambitious to post about - they usually only cover things they think are "sure bets" - which I can respect I suppose, but they have also posted some KS campaigns I think will likely fail (given my educated guess).

Probably just didn't catch their attention. I assume most gaming sites get flooded with these sort of things.

You might even have many fans left to reach yet. I've been interested in your progress every time it's come up but I didn't know there was a Kickstarter going till just now :-)

Yeah so many people were in the dark, even some of my closest followers. :) Still only 32,000 video plays overall! I have not reached many people apparently, although I wonder if KS counts embedded player views.

Glad to see you made your goal! Really impressive what you cant do with your engine and your RPG sounds fun as well. I went ahead and backed you hoping that you do indeed port to Linux =D

Initially avoiding ports but its pretty trivial - all cross platform libraries at the moment and this was originally built on a mac and ported to windows. Once I get game semi functional, I will integrate porting (if someone else has not already done the job).

I would imagine that getting it running on *nix will get you access to a lot of the gamers that like to do serious mods (however I might be wrong about that).

Well worst case scenario, if you never port to *nix, I have two licenses I can give to my brothers to play.

And thank you, This is an amazing project! The real appeal to me is of course the modding and open-sourcing. I've now backed the project financially but I'm certainly hoping to become a mod/code contributor at some point, VQ may be the answer to this crazy project of mine, who knows, time will tell :)

Hope so, thanks for backing :) Looking forward to what you do with it.

Wow, incredibly ambitious project, but what you've got so far is beautiful and amazing. I'm glad you are open sourcing this so that it doesn't disappear from the world. Keep up the great work. I'm definitely going to back this.

Thank you! I should also note that even if the project fails completely, it will be open sourced. So, either it does really well and gets opened sourced, or fails and gets open sourced - win-win. :)

That's awesome, and I think it's very brave of you.

So glad, I upped my pledge. Can't wait to see what people tinker with for the release!

:) Thanks. Looking forward to see what people do.

Congratulations on getting funded! And thanks for the reminder -- I've been meaning to back the project since it's from a fellow San Diegan (as well as being an awesome project). Looking forward to that launch party.

Launch party will be just you and me :) Thanks for backing!

Somehow missed this until I saw it pop up in the San Diego VR group feed this AM - just backed - looks awesome and would love to hear more about your plans for VR @ the next meetup.

Awesome, yeah I was intending to go to one of the VR meetups, the last one actually, because they were demoing the Voxie Box. I will try and make the next one, say hi if you are there. :)

This looks great, I'd not have known about it were it not for this post on HN! Grabbed the $50 level as I'm an SD native so a launch party sounds like a lot of fun.

Awesome - quite a few HN people in SD. :) Thanks for backing!

congratulation on getting the project founded. I have pledge myself $30. I couldn't see any incentive to go higher ($20-$60 is usually the range I am comfortable dealing with) than that as most of the added value within the range seems to be mainly related to the launch event that I absolutely cannot afford to attend. Sorry about that.

Thanks for backing! Yeah it was a common complain that I can sympathize with - I could not think of any good rewards outside of physical products. I refused to do physical products because I don't believe its ethical in a KS campaign, unless your campaign involves the product in question. I see too many campaigns that spend all their time and money shipping out t-shirts, where those pledges should be used to fund the game, not swag. :) I will try to come up with some good retroactive rewards for my high backers as well -- really, its not so much about the rewards as supporting something though, riiiight? ;)

Congratulations! I've been following your progress since I first heard about it here and am glad to be a backer.

Late reply, but thanks for backing - I recognize the user name :)

Great stuff.

Congratulations, Gavan. Very promising projects are failing to get funded now, it got really hard for games in KS.

Yeah I know, many of my friends, who had good looking games, better than mine actually, could not pull together a few thousand dollars and canceled their projects. :(

This is so exciting, I wish you all the best. And kudos for live streaming your development progress!

Thanks! :)

Just joined the campaign, looks like a great game so far. Keep up the work man. Thanks.

Thank you :)

Amazing stuff. It reminds me of Limit Theory which is also awesome. Keep up great work!

Thanks! Interestingly, the Limit Theory crowd has been some of my strongest backers outside of HN. Josh, the creator, helped promote VQ a little bit and I won some fans by addressing some questions in the Limit Theory forums.

Backed! I'm excited to see the end result.

Thanks! :)

Congrats! Keep up the great work.

Thank you :)

Congratulations! Excellent work and very impressive that you came up with all of that by yourself.

I'd like to ask you a little about how you implemented the engine. What technology is behind it? How many voxels per sec. it is able to render? Things like that...

roughly one billion voxels per second on a single GTX 780 (seems crazy, but that is the count, you can see in some screenshots its usually generating around 10s to hundreds of billions of voxels within the first minutes of running) - [EDIT] also I should note that in many cases it super samples voxels up to 4 times or more, or 64 base voxels per result voxel (4x4x4). These voxels are stored in 2D projections of the chunks as rendertargets/bitmaps in iso mode, and their surface area is meshed on the CPU in perspective mode.

Stats are for isometric mode. Have not measured it in the new perspective mode that I am demoing now. Right now with perspective, I am using polygons but could implement raytracing. Not sure what the limit on polys will be but right now it easily does over 60 FPS and performance can be greatly improved with volumetric mipmapping of the chunks (i.e. less detail as chunks are further away).

Truly impressive! What language are you using to code everything? C/C++? And for rendering? OpenGL or bare metal?

OpenGL, C++. No bare metal yet, but could improve perf as there are many drawcalls.

Thanks man. Respect :D

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