ThinkBoxly is the personal developer blog of Lucas Chasteen, author, programmer, artist, and always learning. Read more

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Edge Engine, 6 Months Later

2015 has been a highly transformative year for ThinkBoxly. That's true both in a literal sense—with the year starting off with a change of web host and CMS—and a figurative one. As ThinkBoxly evolves into a brand, much of the work that goes on around here is now somewhat behind-the-scenes. The first ThinkBoxly-branded product, Edge Engine, has become a heavy focus for the site and many, many hours have been poured into making it as great as it can be. While Edge Engine's roots lie as far back as the second half of 2014, it wasn't until February of this year that it truly came to life with its first published module: Edge Display Scaler. It's hard to believe six months have already come and gone since that time, but here we are, and today Edge Engine stands on a rock-solid foundation that will be the basis for great things to come. Here are the highlights of Edge Engine's first half-birthday.

Edge Display Scaler is now version 1.2.8

While not the first module to be programmed, in a sense Edge Display Scaler is where it all began for Edge Engine. It was the first published, formerly under the name Simple Display Scaler before being rebranded into the Edge Engine family. It began with a simple concept: give game developers a drag-and-drop solution to automatic display scaling—the process of resizing an application to use all the available pixels and fit a variety of screen shapes and resolutions. With the latest version this original vision is still in-tact, but augmented by a number of additional featured to make this the most comprehensive display scaling solution on the GameMaker Studio Marketplace. Scaling can now be preserved on a single axis for easier 'safe zone'-style use, support has been added for virtually every platform under the sun, and it even supports super high-resolution displays on Android devices that GameMaker itself doesn't! Another recent, somewhat experimental feature is DPI scaling, which aims to display elements at roughly the same physical size regardless of screen resolution. Despite stiff competition from Edge VN, Edge Display Scaler remains the best-selling Edge Engine module to date and is set to be a mainstay for both the engine and its users in the months and years to come.

Edge Splash Screen is now version 1.5.0

How hard can it be to program a splash screen? If doing it right isn't important, easy. But that's not the route Edge Splash Screen takes. Version 1.5 was a total rewrite, re-evaluating every aspect of version 1.0 and taking development of other modules in mind as well. And now not only does the new version offer great syntactical parity with the rest of Edge Engine, it's equally as rock-solid, too.

Edge Splash Screen 1.5 features sophisticated code that is human readable and easy to use whether you yourself are a programmer or not. Appearances matter, and starting off your projects with an elegant splash logo or two plus any necessary legal information can add a real sense of polish and professionalism. And there's more to Edge Splash Screen than simple fades—there's an entire extensible animation system too, packed with a few preset animations to serve as templates for programmers and great alternative animations for non-programmers!

Edge VN is now version 1.2.0

Without a doubt the most exciting Edge Engine module available so far, Edge VN is a complete visual novel solution for GameMaker Studio. It was featured on the front page of the YoYo Games marketplace for the month of July and has already been adopted by numerous developers, such as Woodsy Studio. With the new version Edge VN has attained 'feature-complete' status, meaning that while new features are still on the way (and always will be) 1.2.0 encompasses the entirety of the original vision for the project and it is now truly production-ready with almost no need for additional programming to be used. It's highly efficient and runs well on a wide variety of hardware, easy to use, and packed with features. Version 1.1 brought a significant rewrite to the table optimizing and improving code and now 1.2 has built on that foundation with features like branching dialog paths and vertex-animated characters for real-time custom animations that breathe life into visual novel characters that is usually only seen in high-budget productions. And Edge VN isn't just for visual novels! As a fast and powerful text and character engine it can easily be combined with any genre as a means of handling cutscenes or RPG dialog. It's the biggest and best Edge Engine module yet, and a milestone for more to come.

Edge UI to enter full production

July was a busy month for Edge Engine updating and rebranding existing modules, and with that out of the way production can finally begin in earnest on the next main Edge Engine module: Edge UI. Edge UI aims to be a comprehensive and yet simple user interface system in the same spirit as the rest of Edge Engine. It currently exists in an early alpha state and some of its code was even ported over to Edge VN to add in the branching dialog feature of 1.2.0, but much still remains to be done. Just creating a user interface is challenging in its own right; creating a user interface system that is straightforward to use and made up of human-readable code is layer upon layer of additional difficulty. In other words, Edge UI is a module that will require exclusive attention to develop properly, and so the month of August will focus on just that.

More already here, more yet to come...

And that's not even all! There's much more to do with Edge Engine that is still under wraps, and also more that is already released and just couldn't fit a mention in this post! Stay tuned, and as always, a big thank you to all who have supported Edge Engine and ThinkBoxly thus far. It's been an incredible six months, and here's to even better times to come!

Be sure to check out Edge Engine on the YoYo Games marketplace or at the official Edge Engine website for more information!