Tuesday, 18 December 2018

A Note On Logo Creation

Hi everyone. So I have some good news and I have some less than good news.
Last week we released a content update for both Sony and Microsoft that corrected a memory leak inside the Team Uniform Editor. That issue seems to be completely fixed and we’ve had no other reports of problems with that. Some have even commented that it’s faster to work with now – which is a good thing.

Unfortunately, the ‘fix’ for the logo save issue didn’t quite work 100%.

Logos save correctly but, for the time being, it is not possible to save logos into all 50 logo slots.

The reason for this turns out to be a “single file size limitation” that I simply didn’t realize was there. Each logo in Maximum Football is roughly 1MB in size when saved. For the sake of efficiency, all the logos were kept in 1 large file (roughly 50MB if all slots were filled). During testing here, that seemed to be working – I could save 50 logos in 50 slots.

Then I received a couple of reports of “The 12th logo doesn’t save” and did some further digging. After being pointed towards some rather obscure documentation, I found that believe it or not, there are file size write limits on consoles. Limits that you don’t get with desktop systems. 

For example;  

What that means is that logo saves were failing because the file was growing too large to save in one large file. Other titles work around this issue by saving many smaller files – sometimes hundreds of them.

Why wasn’t this found during testing? That’s a good question, the answer boils down to ~how~ it was tested.

We tested that we could save 50 logos by creating 1 logo, then via code, saving that same data in all 50 slots. What we didn’t realize was that during the saving process, all that duplicate data was removed and replaced with references to just the one logo we created. This meant that we could get 50 logos in a 2MB file. It looked good but was actually a false positive.

The solution short term is to simply not save more than 10 logos. We’ll be posting a content update in the next few days for both platforms that enforces that limit.

Yes, I do understand that a drop from 50 slots down to 10 is rather drastic, annoying, and not what was advertised, but for the time being it’s the best solution we can provide that doesn’t erase all your existing work.

Going forward with future iterations of the game, we’ll be using the “1 logo – 1 file” method so we shouldn’t run into this problem in the future.

Thanks for your understanding.


Friday, 14 September 2018

Maximum Football 2018 - September Update News

Hi everyone.

The reception to the Maximum Football 2018 August update was amazing. People seem to really enjoy the direction we're taking the game and that's what keeps us going. 

We have some really, really exciting business agreements being put into place and we'll be announcing those in the coming months.

Via the game's dedicated twitter account, we are conducting a poll to see what your preference is for a future 'Franchise Mode'. Do you want to see a Professional Franchise Mode style or something more along the lines of a College Dynasty Mode? You can cast your vote here: https://twitter.com/MaxFootballGame/status/1039937265236156421 

The game's announced Logo Editor is still in progress. This is a very large feature addition to the the title and so takes a while. As of today, the goal is to have that in place for the November title update.

But today I wanted to share a bit of information about the September update. Below is a select list of items that are currently either fixed or improved. This is a living document and will be updated over time as new items are added to the list.

General (As of September 14, 2018)

  1. Corrected an issue with the CPU calling consecutive time out's.
  2. Corrected an issue of one PS4 achievement being triggered in practice mode. There should be no achievements awarded while in that game mode.
  3. Corrected an issue that would cause a defensive back to do a 360 spin in place as the receiver he was lined up on began his pre-snap movement.
  4. Corrected the Play Marker position for the XBox that could allow the game to be launched before it had reached 100% download.
  5. Corrected the Head Tracking of players on kick cover teams.
  6. Adjusted aspects of the defensive side of the ball so they are more aggressive based on the game's difficulty level. This is a very subjective thing to adjust so it will be continued to be refined over time.
  7. Corrected an issue of weather not being properly reflected on the field for Seasonal Play games.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Maximum Football 2018 - First Update News

Hi everyone.

With the successful launch of Maximum Football 2018, we're already hard at work on the first major update to the title - look for it to go live towards the end of August.

Below is a select list of items that are currently either fixed or improved.

(Updated 14-08-18)

Certification Requirement
  1. There is a change in the way game game handles controller disconnects in practice mode.
  1. The game no longer hangs while accessing Season Mode.
  2. It is now possible to select closest defender to the ball while the ball is in the air.
  3. Pressing the Dive button now properly processes the dive animation.
  4. The game no longer automatically selects the kickoff options if the visiting team won the coin toss and was also human controlled.
  5. Viewing a replay after a failed two point convert will no longer reset the downs.
  6. Players no longer become frozen if pausing the game while setting up for a field goal (or 1 point PAT)
  7. Simulation of a season game will no longer hang if you switch rule sets during the season.
  8. Controlling colour sliders with the left thumb stick now works correctly on the PS4.
  9. The QB will no longer attempt to throw the ball after being sacked.
  10. It is now possible to view the on-field play art after calling an audible.
  11. A human controlled QB now faces the correct direction while throwing (A QB may also need to stop and turn if making a throw to the other side of the field).
  12. Receivers in 'scramble mode' now look in the correct location.
  13. A human controlled defender will now properly get into a ready stance when not being moved.
  14. You can now skip past the opposing team's TD celebration.
  15. Pre-snap help window is no longer shown during replays.
  16. When on defense, it is no longer possible to cycle through the offensive team's players prior to the center taking possession of the ball after there has been a change of possession.
  17. The game camera no longer starts at the center of the field if loading a saved game that was last saved during a PAT attempt.
  18. The center can no longer backpedal into the QB if the formation has the QB under center (not shotgun).
 Rules & Stats
  1. Players running out of bounds now properly stop the clock under US rules settings.
  2. Statistics for a QB sack are now properly recorded based on the rule settings. These stats are recorded based on the rule set in place for that game.
  3. Corrected the US rules Delay of Game penalty to be 5 yards.
  4. PAT Attempts now always properly spot the ball when using US Rules. It was previously using the Canadian rule for setting the ball on the closest hash mark.
  5. A human controlled QB back pedaling out of the end zone will now properly trigger a safety.
  6. Ball placement after an incomplete pass under US rules has been corrected. It was previously using the Canadian rule for setting the ball on the closest hash mark.

General Improvements
  1. Significant physics improvements now generate better tackles, eliminates 'phantom tackles', and smooths out animations.
  2. Improvements to the fumble recovery animation should reduce the amount of 'missed' ball recoveries.
  3. General performance improvements.
  4. Added a new method for editing depth charts. It's now possible to edit and manage depth charts on a global level, not just on a formation level.
  5. Minor visual changes to UI elements.

We are aware of some reports of the game crashing on the PS4 while making edits on the customization screen. We have not been able to reproduce that issue on any of our Dev kits, Test kits, or even our retail kits (using the retail version of the game). However we continue to look into the problem.

Thank you to everyone that brought many of these items to our attention. It is with your help that we can make a better game.

We will be updating this list as we continue to make corrections and adjustments.

thank you

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Maximum Football 2018 General Control Layout

Hi Everyone.

Today I'd like to speak a little about the control schemes in Maximum Football.

For the most part, players playing last year's Canadian Football 2017 picked up the control settings in game pretty quickly. But we did get multiple requests to make a few changes along the way. For example, in July, when Canadian Football 2017 was launched, the (Y) button was used to call a Time Out. We were asked to move that functionality to the Pause Screen and get it out of the way, so in October, we made a significant change to how the Time Out process worked and moved the button to the pause screen.

When compared to football games of the past, Maximum Football has two major considerations to account for when it comes to the control scheme;
  1. Different Rules: Unlike every other football game ever released on consoles, we have to account for a very different rule set. Being able to accommodate a full 6 receiver set (rather than just 5) means that some buttons for QB control needed to change.

    The ball snapping process is different to accommodate different motion rules.

    Kick return controls are different to accommodate different kick rules.

  2. Common Control Layout. We need a common control layout that is works on all platforms.
But even with that said, for Maximum Football 2018 we're making a few changes to the control scheme, not only to accommodate this years new features, but also work with the lower button count.

Maximum Football does not have a 1:1 feature match to previously released titles so some functionality will never match, but from a high level, where features are the same (or close to it) and it can be made to work within the rule differences, controls are generally similar to previously released titles. 

For example; In 2K8 All Pro Football, the 'Tackle' button was (X), in Maximum Football 2018, the Dive Tackle button is (X). In Maximum Football it's not required to push a button to tackle, you can simply collide your controlled defender into the ball carrier. Also in 2K8 All Pro Football there were separate buttons for Defend Pass, Block Pass and Attempt Interception ((Y), L1, R1 respectively). In Maximum Football 2018, pressing the (Y) button will cause the defender to try and knock down the ball and if possible try to intercept it.

Below are the controls for various areas of the game for 2018. For the sake of this post, the face buttons are indicated as XBox One / PC controllers, the PS4 uses the button in the matching position;
(X) = Square, (A) = Cross, (B) = Circle, (Y) = Triangle, (Start) = Options 

Maximum Football 2018 General Control Layout 

General UI
Navigate Options: Left Stick or D-Pad.

Select Option: (A) Button.

Team Selection
Select Team: Left Stick (Left / Right).
Change Side: Right Stick (Left / Right).

Ready Team: (A) Button.
Advance To Kickoff: (B) Button - Both teams must be ready.
Previous Screen: (Y) Button.

Game Settings: (X) Button.

Note 1: To make a team CPU controlled, move any assigned controller to the screen centre.
Note 2: You can only change teams in Play Now and Practice modes.
Note 3: Changes to Game Settings only apply to Play Now games.

During Game
Pause Game: Start Button.
Enter Replay Mode - After Play: (Y) Button.
Skip Post Play - After Play: (X) Button.
Time Out: PS4 (Press down on Touchpad) / XBoxOne & PC (Profile Button).

Aim Kick: Right Stick.
Kick Ball: Left Stick pull back and push forward Quickly (The faster the movement, the more power behind the kick)

Take Knee: (B) Button (While in end zone - punting plays only)

Return Kick
Move Player: Left Stick.
Speed Burst: (A) Button.
Quick Step (Left / Right): Triggers.
Spin Move (Left / Right): Bumpers.
Take Knee: (B) Button (While in end zone).
(Canadian Rules) Kick Back: (Y) Button (While in end zone - punt returns only).
(US Rules) Fair Catch: (Y) Button.

Play Selection
Formation and Type Select: Left Stick or D-Pad.

Change Play Page: Left and Right Triggers.
Select Play: Indicated Face Button.
Flip Plays: Right Bumper.
Player Substitution: Right Stick Button (Select By Formation Only).

Offensive Play - Run or Pass Before Snap
View Play Art: Left Stick Pull Back.
Set Hot Route: Indicated Face Button while Showing Play Art.
Audible Menu: (Y) Button.
Start Motion: (B) Button - If Snap on Waggle is enabled ball will automatically be snapped.
Snap Ball: (A) Button.
Hard Count: Left Bumper.

Offensive Play - Pass After Snap
Move QB: Left Stick.
Pass: Indicated Button - Single Tap = Touch Pass, Double Tap = Lob Pass, Press And Hold = Bullet Pass.
Scramble: Left Bumper.
Take Knee: Left Trigger.

Offensive Play - Ball Carrier After Snap
Move Player: Left Stick.
Speed Burst: (A) Button.
Quick Step (Left / Right): Triggers.
Spin Move (Left / Right): Bumpers.
Dive Forward: (X) Button.

Defensive Control - Before Snap
Move Selected Defender: Left Stick. 

Adjust Defensive Line: D-Pad.
Cycle Selected Defender: Bumpers.

Defensive Control - After Snap
Move Selected Defender: Left Stick.
Speed Burst: (A) Button.
Cycle Selected Defender: Bumpers.
Snap To Closest Defender To Ball:  (B) Button.
Attempt Pass Knockdown / Interception: (Y) Button.
Attempt Diving Tackle: (X) Button.
Attempt Tackle: Crash selected defender into ball carrier.
Shed Blocking: Right Stick.

Thanks for checking out the blog.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Progressing Towards 2018 - Part 5 : Stadium Refresh and Final Development.

Hi everyone.

As we move into April it's time to start the process of adding into the game the platform specific features that are mandatory for shipping on the XBox One and PS4. These are the Achievement and Trophy collection features, as well as ensuring that the various platform store information is in place and the zillion other items required to start the certification process - which should begin in May.

Over the past couple of weeks Canuck Play as been posting to Twitter and Facebook various images of the refreshed stadiums for Maximum Football 2018, this includes a brand new addition - Halifax Mariner Stadium.

As part of the stadium refresh, in most cases the amount of detail in the stadium building itself has been increased more than 10 times. Spectator seating sections in 2017 were flat panels, in 2018 each row is its own stepped layer. As well, in 2018, each seat is its own mesh. There are between 25,000 and 55,000 individual seats (and the fan sitting in that seat) depending on the stadium.

In 2017 the spectators themselves were flat, camera facing billboards displaying an animation strip. In 2018 spectators are individual animated 3D meshes.

A new lighting system as well as improved shaders put in place for 2018 also enhances the play environments.

Below is a side by side (or rather a top by bottom) comparison of the stadiums environments from 2017 to 2018, with a few extra images thrown in.

Halifax Mariner Stadium - New for 2018

Edmonton Stadium - Canadian Football 2017

Edmonton Stadium - Maximum Football 2018

Hamilton Stadium - Canadian Football 2017 (No Spectators Rendered)

Hamilton Stadium - Maximum Football 2018 (No Spectators Rendered)

Montreal Stadium - Canadian Football 2017 (No Spectators Rendered)

Montreal Stadium - Maximum Football 2018 (US Rules Config.)

Ottawa Stadium - Canadian Football 2017

Ottawa Stadium - Maximum Football 2018 (US Rules Config.)

Regina Stadium - Canadian Football 2017 (No Spectators Rendered)
Regina Stadium - Maximum Football 2018 (No Spectators Rendered)

Regina Stadium - Maximum Football 2018

Toronto Stadium - Canadian Football 2017 (No Spectators Rendered)
Toronto Stadium - From 3D Modelling Software

Toronto Stadium - Maximum Football 2018 (No Spectators Rendered)

Toronto Stadium - Maximum Football 2018

Vancouver Stadium - Canadian Football 2017 (No Spectators Rendered)

Vancouver Stadium - Maximum Football 2018 (No Spectators Rendered)

Winnipeg Stadium - Canadian Football 2017 (No Spectators Rendered)

Winnipeg Stadium - Maximum Football 2018 (US Rules Config.)

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Progressing Towards 2018 - Part 4 : Debunking the 'PS2' Ridiculousness.

Hi everyone.

Earlier this week, Canuck Play unveiled Maximum Football 2018. If you haven't watched the announcement video already, you can check out the full 8 minutes here; 

The announcement was hosted on our YouTube channel and Facebook page, as well as reposted in other channels. Combined, we had roughly 15,000 views in about 36 hours. Not really the numbers of a new Star Wars movie trailer, but for a small indie project, it tells us that we've caught people's attention. So thanks to everyone that took a look at it.
Along with many aspects of the core game play, Maximum Football 2018 had a complete visual revamp. The difference in visuals from 2017 to 2018 is staggering.

Yet even with the massive improvements, there are still some out there that make the comment - 'looks like a PS2 game'. I shake my head at this because I just don't get it. Maximum Football 2018 looks nothing like a title of that era. But, lets examine that comment for a moment.

From a purely technical standpoint, the PS2 would be simply incapable of rendering even a single frame of last year's title, much less Maximum Football 2018

Not only would it choke to death of the amount of polygons being pushed per second, but it would have no clue how to even process the lighting system. Even something as mundane as Maximum Football's 3D field grass would be impossible on PS2 hardware.

Maximum Football 2018 uses every modern graphics technique available for current hardware;
  • Linear Lighting? Check. - PS2? Gama based lighting only.
  • Vertix Shaders? Check. - PS2? No pixel shader support. Used custom Vector Units to transform vertices's by hand-written micro-code assembly. Extremely hard to write those shaders, they ran extremely slowly and they were almost never used.
  • PBR Texturing? Check. - PS2? No such thing.
  • Ambient Occlusion? Check. - PS2? No such thing.
  • Depth of Field Camera Processing? Check. - PS2? Faked it.
  • 4096 Texture Maps? Check. - PS2? Typical texture size was 512*512 with 1024 max.
  • Reflection Probes? Check. - PS2? Existed, sort of. Very slow and limited to 64*64 textures.
  • Light Probes? Check. - PS2? No such thing.
  • Full HD (1920*1080)? Check. - PS2? No such thing.
  • Hardware Physics System? Check. - PS2? No such thing.
  • Indirect Mesh Instancing? Check. - PS2? No such thing.
  • GPU Based Skinned Meshes? Check. - PS2? No such thing.
  • Real Time Light Based Soft Shadows? Check - PS2? No such thing.
  • 1.6 Billion Polygon's per second? Check. PS2? only 66 million / second.
  • 60 Frames a Second? Check.- PS2? Yes it was possible, but rarely achieved.
The list of technical abilities that Maximum Football uses is longer than what is above, but that's a short list of things that were not even invented at the time of the PS2.

Player Models
There's also a little bit of cheating going on when it comes to things like Player Models. One that takes the form of something called Level Of Detail (LOD). It's a technique that has been used for a great many years in the game industry, but something that the vast majority of casual observers, and even many hard core gamers, do not understand. The technique allows for switching visual components during certain portions of play given the current situation. When you play other football titles, the player models on the field during regular plays from scrimmage are no more detailed than what Maximum Football 2018 uses. 

However, when the camera zooms in close for replays or cut scenes, or when the studio needs a glamour shot for advertising, the games LOD system automatically swaps out the game play mesh to a much high resolution mesh. This usually happens when frame rate isn't as important. You want 60 frames a second running play from scrimmage, any other time that frame rate can drop to 30, you use high resolution meshes. These are technically 'in game' player models, but they're not the same ones you actually execute a play with.

Maximum Football 2018 does something along the same lines. During plays from scrimmage we use a lower resolution (lower detail) mesh to keep a steady 60 frames a second. Post play events we switch out to the higher resolution version. You can see the differences below;

Along with a higher level of detail on the mesh, Maximum Football 2018 uses PBR textures. PBR stands for Physically Based Rendering (again, nothing like it ever existed on the PS2). PBR textures are made up of multiple layered images. The basic diffuse (colour), along with normal maps for details such as the jersey material, specular maps allow for for each part of the uniform to reflect light differently, occlusion maps provide more depth, detail maps highlight items such as belt buckles and shoe laces. Each of the 6 layers of each uniform is made from a texture that is 4 times larger than the largest texture a PS2 could hold in memory. So there's that.

Lighting in Maximum Football 2018 is also completely different from Canadian Football 2017 (and one that never existed on the PS2). This year's title uses Linear lighting. The technique gives a much broader range of light to dark. (image from Unity documentation).

Along with the improved lighting system, this year's title also uses a better system for casting real time shadows - again, not a system that would have worked on PS2 hardware.

Stadiums and Environments
Maximum Football 2018 increased the the polygon count of our game environments by upwards of 11 times. For example, the Vancouver stadiums level of detail rose from around 2,100 polygons to over 23,000 - for just the building. The typical stadium polygon level for a (then) AAA PS2 title was about 1,500. You can see more on the specifics of the stadiums further down this blog.

We even went so far as to more than quadruple the level of detail for the player bench area.

During the PS2 era, sports stadium spectators were generally created using seating row length billboard textures. So you would have a texture that included the 25 to 30 people sitting in that one row, and that texture would be repeated countless times on the various 2D billboards that made up all the spectators. Late in the life of the system, these spectators eventually became animated by the use of a shader to swap the textures on the billboards. But they were still non-camera facing billboards, if the game camera found itself in a weird angle to the spectators, they would vanish.

Canadian Football 2017 used 2D billboards as well, but each spectator was a separate mesh with an animated texture. As well, each spectator faced the camera. Meaning it was impossible for the camera to get into a position where the spectator would not be rendered. So, while it used an older technique, it was still several steps up from the old PS2 method.

For Maximum Football 2018, we're now processing upwards of 45,000 (depending on the stadium) fully 3D and fully animated spectators - complete with their own individual 3D seat. And we're maintaining 60 Frames a Second on the PS4, PS4 Pro, XBox One X, and PC.

The Maximum Football 3D spectators took 1 person about 3 weeks to build and implement. This included designing the basic system on paper, developing simple prototypes to test methods and validate concepts, to creating the basic spectator mesh, creating animations, texturing, creating the seat, and finally working out the kinks. At that point the existing spectator system was ripped out of the game and this new one put in its place.

What was done in 3 weeks, other studios have had the luxury of months to build in the first place, and several game iterations to perfect over years

What does this all mean?
Okay then, so if Maximum Football 2018 has all the tools of 'those other guys' why do the graphics still look a bit behind? The answer to that is very simple - time.

Canuck Play is a very small team: 2 full time employees, 2 people working on an as-needed contract basis, and a student intern working 8 hours a week. Relative to other studios, we're beyond minuscule. And yet the scope of the project is the same as a team of 40.

Compare that to those other guys with about 40 people working on core game play. Another 30 or so working on the custom rendering engine used by the core game team. Another 20 working on customised tools. Another 20 building and managing the online feature set. They have a dedicated staff that does nothing but work on environmental effects such as rain and snow. They have a staff on the animation team that do nothing but fix foot placement in the game. Not to mention the massive marketing and licensing teams, and let's not forget the legion of QA testers.

Simply put, while large studios can spend 20 man hours working on a single stadium spectator t-shirt texture, we can only spend about 1 hour before we have to move on to the next thing. They have the luxury of spending 3 man weeks on a single stadium, we get 3 days.

At the end of the day it's not about the tech, it's about human resources. We are using the same technology (painting with broad strokes), but when you have the luxury of a multi-million dollar license from a mult-Billion dollar licensor and corporate sponsors falling over themselves to work with you, you can afford to have those sorts of resources.

Canuck Play is producing a non-licensed title with no corporate sponsorship, and so with that, I would put our visuals up against anyones.

So how do we fix that?
Well, the answer is provided by the problem. Canuck Play is always on the hunt for corporate sponsors and business partners. We would love to speak to individuals or companies that are as passionate about what we're trying to achieve as we are and can help us with the resources we need to accomplish it.

Thanks again for taking the time this rather lengthy edition of The Sidelines, and showing your interest in what we're doing with Maximum Football.