Back around February I started working on a website update that included the following:
- Responsive design everywhere.
- SSL everywhere.
- Visual improvement of website.
- Updated documentation system.
- Tutorials for C++ programming basics.
- Update forum software to new major version.
- Forum moved to new URL.
All of that is now pretty much done. These changes improve the online Leadwerks experience and are independent from the software itself, so it was a good idea to get them done now.
Since September I've had more time to think about Leadwerks Game Engine 5, and although I am not completely sold on Vulkan, I think it's a good plan.
Leadwerks 5 is all about performance and user experience with VR as a prime target.
Separate threads for navmesh updating, physics, game logic, culling, and rendering. The rendering thread loops at a constant 60 or 90 (for VR) frames per second regardless of what your game is doing. This gives your game logic four times more time to run, while independently maintaining a constant framerate. The design I have in mind will make Leadwerks 5 the fastest game engine, ever, and choosing Leadwerks for VR will be a no-brainer.
Leadwerks Editor 5
A new editor will be written in C++ using Leadwerks GUI, which will give us the same appearance on Windows, Linux, and Mac. Functionality will be pretty close to the existing editor, but with more room to grow and a few improvements. Because it's written in C++ parts of the editor can be exposed to Lua, and an editor API will be provided for making Lua mods and plugins. By default, it will use a dark theme to be easy on the eyes. A standalone script editor may be provided as well.
PBR Material System with Substance Support
The lighting model will use a more advanced lighting equation and substance PBR materials (metalness and roughness) will be loaded natively.
The reference counting system in the Object class will be replaced with C++11 shared pointers. This gives you the performance of C++ with ease of use like a garbage-collected language.
The engine and editor will be released as a 64-bit build only.
More game templates will be provided. Fortunately we can add these now and updates for Leadwerks 5 will be minimal.
Source code to some parts of the engine and editor may be provided on the Leadwerks GitHub account. For example, I may make a standalone open-source script editor or publish some of the engine classes for the community to play with.
Leadwerks 5 will launch on Windows, Linux, and Mac. The improved compatibility of Leadwerks 5 means we could do crazy things like run the editor on an iPad, but I'm going to stick with what I know sells.
A standalone version that does not use Steam will be sold in bundles to companies that require this.
A monthly plan may be introduced at around $5-20 per month. Pricing for a perpetual license for the standard and pro editions would most likely be the same as now ($99-199), with a discount for early adopters / upgrades. The enterprise version would probably be about $1000 per seat with a discount for schools.
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