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The Kingdom Of Soul
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Pixel Perfect Offline
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Post: #241
RE: The Kingdom Of Soul
Thanks for the response Zervox and Esenthel smile

Regarding the 2013 suggestion whilst I hate shutting off possible solutions I agree it would probably take a lot of work with no guarantee of success in the end. I'm not even sure the EKI lib would be any more compatible with 2013 as it was built to work with 2008 but that at least would be easily tested.

It was indeed a shame that EKI One was bought out, but Artificial Technology could no longer survive once the venture capitalists pulled their financial support. Masa at least rescued some of the technology although, in my opinion, threw away some of the more useful functionality such as the ambient system which made EKI One so powerful.

Having more time in front of me I may re-evaluate what's available in the current marketplace to see if there are other solutions, including possibly taking a look at Masa Life in more detail. As you mentioned Zervox the product doesn't look to have been actively marketed or developed in recent years.
11-30-2016 11:08 AM
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Zervox Offline
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Post: #242
RE: The Kingdom Of Soul
I'd suggest atleast trying to contact them and ask for an evaluation kit, for all we know they support everything Eki One did(afterall it is supposed to be collective of functionalities), I am not sure what the ambient system you speak of is so this is an uncertain factor.

but do hope you find somekind of alternative or solution so you can benefit from upgrades in more than just the engine. smile
11-30-2016 03:30 PM
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Pixel Perfect Offline
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Post: #243
RE: The Kingdom Of Soul
(11-30-2016 03:30 PM)Zervox Wrote:  ... for all we know they support everything Eki One did(afterall it is supposed to be collective of functionalities), I am not sure what the ambient system you speak of is so this is an uncertain factor...

Unfortunately I do know first hand that not all the functionality from EKI One was transferred to Masa life as I had a fairly close working relationship with Artificial Technology's CEO and their Lead Developer whilst integrating EKI One into Leadwerks, both of whom went on to manage the fusion of EKI One technology and Masa technology to produce Masa Life. Presumably because not all elements of EKI One fitted the more focused/specific application Masa were aiming at.

However, Masa Life did benefit from the use of Behaviour Trees, as opposed to Hierarchical FSMs as was the case with EKI One, and does contain a lot of the core functionality of EKI One. So, as you rightly point out, is definitely worth evaluating and not simply dismissing!

The Ambience system in EKI One is a way of scripting islands of ambient behaviour for NPCs for representing everyday type behaviours which become active (as a whole) as the player gets within a certain configurable range. The system runs along side their more standard FSM system for building behaviours but is instead based on a series of scene, scenario and plot mechanisms in which roles and behaviours are defined for Actors based around configurable actions and NPC types assigned to these roles. No specific NPC is assigned to a particular role, instead NPCs with types that match the roles requirements will simply fill vacancies available to them at run time.

You can break NPCs out of their ambient roles at any time and have them switch to FSM scripted behaviour, say when under attack, and then drop back into the ambient system once the danger was over.

The system allows for quite sophisticated emulation of mass background behaviour and also using the Plot system allows great support for cut scene management.

Other interesting functionality includes configurable senses and reactions to sensory perception. So hungry NPCs for example can home in on the smell of food. Or Guards react to a nearby noise or disturbance.

EKI One of course supports its own pathfinding and steering system with configurable elements on an individual actor basis.

It is sad that the product development ended as the underlying design is so well implemented. But it's a hard industry for small companies to survive in!
11-30-2016 09:42 PM
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Zervox Offline
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Post: #244
RE: The Kingdom Of Soul
Ambience system sounds like a skill/profession to select what it needs to do and what it can do? so it is a global behavior tree which works as a AI scheduler to fill certain AIs to their tasks(I am guessing this was rather specfic in itself so maybe this is why this was excluded)

So EKI One actually included a need-want-greed behavior, this is something you would be able to do even if it was not a specific part of the library with behavior trees.
http://www.lifeai.com/download.html
I assume this would atleast work partially to that or give you the idea how to set up your own global behavior tree for such functionality(even if MASA doesn-t support it natively, however it would be weird if it didn-t as it is supposed to be able to get people back to patrolling(in military behaviors) after an engagement, or get medical treatment), organizing attack groups/squads.

This is just tearing it down to a minimal set of what it sounds like they represents though as I have no experience with either EKI One or Masa.

Also considering that Masa is geared toward military simulation to my knowledge I am quite certain it would include some form of sensory system.

Yes, it is very sad to see middlewares to be usurped and then forgotten/get lots of its features removed, in some cases they are just bought and never actually made into a new product also.
(This post was last modified: 12-01-2016 01:18 AM by Zervox.)
12-01-2016 01:16 AM
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Pixel Perfect Offline
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Post: #245
RE: The Kingdom Of Soul
I agree completely, it's not so much that these behaviours can't be replicated elsewhere it's more down to the quality of the toolsets to aid the design. I guess I just found EKI One's implementation of the tools particularly nice.

Regarding the sensory system, I don't know if the EKI system was transferred or not but like you I'm sure Masa Life will have something in place as that seems fairly fundamental requirement.

All will become clearer following a proper evaluation smile

Thanks for the link to LifeAI, that looks interesting too. I've never looked at any AI systems that including learning capability / neural nets etc.
12-01-2016 11:08 AM
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Zervox Offline
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Post: #246
RE: The Kingdom Of Soul
it is machine learning in the simplest way possible(if you can call it simplepfft), it basically finds out by using the different actions and traits you have given it through weighted distribution.

so you give two traits, happiness with a 0.6(60%) and hunger with 1(100%).
you make it so happiness decreases over time.
you give it two actions, eat and work.
work increases happiness and increases hunger.
hunger decreases hunger, the learning part is that it does a correlation to what increases what.

the correlation would be eat until hunger is satisfied.
during which time happiness has a weight of 60%(so a little above average need to be happy) when it goes beneath that he will do some work until hunger which is 100% important to satisfy for him giving him more actions which might decrease hunger and increase happiness or decrease both but of some other necessity it will start balancing these.
(This post was last modified: 12-01-2016 12:57 PM by Zervox.)
12-01-2016 12:23 PM
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Pixel Perfect Offline
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Post: #247
RE: The Kingdom Of Soul
Nicely explained ... thanks smile
12-01-2016 01:08 PM
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Pixel Perfect Offline
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Post: #248
RE: The Kingdom Of Soul
After a long gap I'm back. Bringing up a family and devoting a lot of time to game development was just not sustainable, so reluctantly I had to give it up for a while. However, the kids have reached an age where I find I have more time again which is an opportunity to get back into game design.

Whilst I have started on a VR project based around iClone and Unreal Engine 4 my deep affection for the Esenthel engine and a desire to finish what I started has brought me back to my Kingdom Of Soul project. I am currently doing a detailed review of where I left it. If I am to continue it, it will be with my existing Esenthel version 2 engine to ensure continued use of the AI engine I integrated into it (unfortunately not possible with later versions of Esenthel due to the AI engine having outdated dependencies).

I am unfortunately hampered by the Esenthel Editor which has now reverted to Demo Mode due to the server checks no longer being supported and unable to acknowledge my license. So there will be limits as to how much further I can expand the game, but I believe there is still a lot that can be done with what I currently have.

It could be a while before I post anything again, as I have an entire mission manager to write and get fully operational as well as all the ambient NPC behaviour I'd like to see in the game. I'd prefer to not update this thread again until I have something of substance to demo.

I also have some catching up to do on what people are currently doing with Esenthel, although I see that Crossroads Inn appears to be selling well on Steam and getting mostly positive reviews ... so congrats to both Greg and the Developers, that's a great achievement!

Feels good to be back and good luck with all your developments. Until next time ...
11-14-2019 03:45 PM
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Tottel Offline
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Post: #249
RE: The Kingdom Of Soul
You're back! Welcome back!

Oh my, I haven't used the original editor in years.. The current one has the check disabled, but of course, then you'd have to redo a bunch of your work.

In any case, it's great to see you back here! I was also out for a while (because of kids too grin), but I am tinkering with a project in EE, which is starting to slowly become something. I hope to give more details at some point!
11-14-2019 04:55 PM
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Esenthel Offline
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Post: #250
RE: The Kingdom Of Soul
Welcome and good to have you back Pixel Perfect smile
Although I do recommend switching to latest version of the engine as most likely sooner or later you will hit some obstacles due to outdated software or just the demo mode. If your project is early in development I think it's better to replace the AI engine with some manually written codes or perhaps find another AI library.
Also PBR is coming in just few days so the graphics are going to get a nice boost in quality, see https://esenthel.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=9700
https://www.facebook.com/EsenthelEngine/...=3&theater
Not to mention a thousand of other updates that happened along the way already.
11-15-2019 01:51 AM
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Pixel Perfect Offline
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Post: #251
RE: The Kingdom Of Soul
Good to see you're back too Tottel, and thanks for the welcome. Yeah, kids have to come first! Definitely looking forward to future details on what you're currently working on!

Thanks for the welcome too Greg and yes, I know you are offering good advice. If I were starting a new project I would most certainly do that.

However, it would take a lot of work to update my code to the new engine and I have not been able to find good replacement AI middleware that offered anything like the capability of what I already have that doesn't cost thousands of dollars. I could write my own AI routines, I started off down that path originally with Leadwerks and with some success but soon realised that I needed high level tools to really create and manage anything more substantial effectively. It took a small team nearly three years to design and perfect EkiOne so I'm reluctant to let that go in some attempt to code a replacement that would realistically fail to achieve anything like their functionality within a practical timescale ... if in fact ever! I am aware of my own limitations as a programmer.

I have a lot of underlying game functionality already coded into my project and, although there are still some areas outstanding, it's really not that far off being usable in terms of producing a functional game. EkiOne is already deeply integrated into the functionality I've developed.

I still have time to change my mind, but my current assessment is I'd rather invest the time I have in finishing what I have rather than throwing a lot of it away and starting afresh, although I acknowledge there are potential pitfalls in that!

Regarding the latest changes to Esenthel, PBR is a great addition and will, as you say, greatly improve the graphical capability of the engine. I'm not aware of a lot of the changes that have undoubtedly taken place within the engine over the last few years but, as you suggest, I'm sure they are many. You have never been one to rest on your laurels which is one of the reasons I hold your engine and yourself in such high regard. I wish you continued success and trust you and your family are keeping well.
11-15-2019 07:32 PM
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carlbrunning Offline
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Post: #252
RE: The Kingdom Of Soul
great to see you back Pixel hope you do finish your game as it was looking great
am sure you could get EkiOne working under the new engine as i bet with access to the source code of the engine it would be a lot easy to do anyway great to see you back
11-16-2019 08:54 PM
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Pixel Perfect Offline
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Post: #253
RE: The Kingdom Of Soul
Hi Carl, good to see you are still around too. It's been a long time smile

Regarding the EkiOne interfacing, Esenthel has never been the issue, it's simply that I have outdated libraries from the EkiOne developers (Artificial Technology) that are no longer compatible with the versions of Visual Studio etc required by Esenthel. I would actually need the source code for EkiOne in order to rebuild them to ensure their compatibility, and that's never going to happen.

I note that Masa, the German company that bought the technology to use in their Masa Life AI Middleware when the Venture Capitalists pulled the funding of Artificial Technology, have seemingly abandoned their product now too! I can find no reference to it on their company web site and the product site no longer exists.

Hence my conundrum:

  • Continue with EkiOne which provides sophisticated AI support and given it's deeply embedded in my existing game code and framework, but with an old version of Esenthel or
  • Abandon EkiOne completely, move to the latest version of Esenthel and effectively start again, which is a path I'm currently reluctant to go down.

Either way, the moral of this story is don’t build your projects with critical third party dependencies that require reissues following each update of your IDE unless you also have the source code. As companies, especially small ones, have a habit of going out of business. Hindsight is a wonderful thing as they say lol.

The older version of Esenthel tbh is not a problem, as it does have all the functionality I needed for the game as originally envisaged. But it's not ideal, and is somewhat frustrating when the Esenthel Editor reminds me every 20 minutes or so that it's reverted to demo mode with limited functionality and would I like to buy a license ... when I'm a fully paid up license holder!

I wonder if Greg still has the source code for the Esenthel 2.0 Editor in his version control, that might at least allow me to remove the checks and rebuild a working version. Just a thought!
11-17-2019 03:11 PM
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Esenthel Offline
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Post: #254
RE: The Kingdom Of Soul
How old are your kids Pixel Perfect?
I just greeted my newborn daughter 1.5 months ago into this world, and indeed she is time consuming, juggling between diapers, milk bottle and mouse and keyboard wink

Quote:It took a small team nearly three years to design and perfect EkiOne so I'm reluctant to let that go in some attempt to code a replacement that would realistically fail to achieve anything like their functionality within a practical timescale ...
Oh, I understand the complexity, however perhaps you don't need to rewrite the entire functionality? And just need to implement the basic requirements for your game.
I don't know much about EkiOne but if you're serious about making a game, then I think it's very likely sooner or later you would encounter some limitation within the software and would need to add some changes, and without the source code you will be out of luck. And like you said the companies behind it abandoned it completely, there can be other issues up ahead, for example bugs, or some other compatibility problems.
Not only EkiOne could bring problems, but Esenthel as well, even though I take great care to write bug-free software, bugs sometimes happen, and there were plenty fixed along the way from EE 2.0 until now.
To make a game, that's an investment of years of hard work. I wouldn't want you to get disappointed in the future if you'd encounter more problems with the outdated software. Better solve that problem at the start before you're too far ahead into it. My few cents smile

Sorry that I don't offer EE 2.0 anymore, I keep working on EE as a one continuous never ending improvement.
11-17-2019 04:02 PM
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Pixel Perfect Offline
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Post: #255
RE: The Kingdom Of Soul
First and foremost, congratulations on the arrival of your daughter. The experience of watching a child grow and develop is an amazing one which I'm sure will enrich both of your lives.

My son is now 14 and my daughter 8, so both are now a lot more independent and somewhat less demanding than previously. To be fair my son has been fairly independent for a while whereas my daughter generally demanded a lot more attention and interaction up until recently.

Back to the topic at hand, I appreciate your advice and the rational behind it. It's hard to argue against any of your points as they are evidently true.

Certainly using EkiOne has already proved challenging as it is not free of bugs and some essential functionality namely serialization/deserialization was incomplete and resulted in me having to find ways of working round that and some quite tricky solutions.

If I was intending to commercialise my game then there would be no question, I would need to be on the latest version of your engine and the unsupported AI middleware would be instantly dropped.

However, I have treated the development as more of a hobby and, as previously stated in this thread, my intention has been to complete the essential game mechanics and a playable level then re-evaluate the project, which given the one man status and time I could devote to the project is hopefully a realistic goal. The journey and the learning curve has been the real value to me as it's always been driven by my curiosity of what goes into making games as opposed to a commercial venture with a finished product as the end goal.

Unfortunately, choosing to develop a game as a single developer whilst maximising your individual exposure to the myriad of elements involved in game design, which is a good thing, can also result in such a slow rate of progress that there is a tendency for the technology to have moved on considerably before you actually manage to finish anything. This is especially true if you are unable to devote large amounts of your time to the endeavour and or experience periods of time where you are unable to devote any time to the project.

To be honest I find the challenge of having to rewrite large areas of the games functionality that are now closely tied into EkiOne daunting, given all the other aspects of the game that still require my attention and time. Especially given that I have been there before, having developed some basic AI based around FSMs and come to the conclusion that I needed more advanced tools to manage it than I had time or even the talent to write. It would undoubtedly result in a lowering of the AI capability/design expectations of the game. I see this as being somewhat akin to deciding to write the games renderer rather than use an existing one.

It's a hard decision to make, but I am grateful for your honest opinion and there has been no intended criticism of you or your engine. You provide an extremely capable, stable, constantly updated game engine free of charge and deserve nothing less than absolute respect for doing so. It has always been a pleasure working with your engine. But I suspect as a programmer, clearly many times more capable than myself, you see such challenges as far less daunting than myself and would also complete such challenges in a fraction of the time it would take me.

I clearly have some difficult decisions to make following my current review of the project. I will now carry out a detailed review of exactly what would be required to be written to replace the embedded AI middleware in an attempt to maintain the current functionality I have, so I can make a final informed decision.

Thanks again for your input Greg and enjoy your children whilst they still are children, they grow up so quickly!
11-17-2019 07:55 PM
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