Posted by Data in Cortex Command - June 17th, 2010

Mechanics outlineSo after six months of development, it’s about time we pull the covers off the next big project Data Realms is working on! Before I say anything else, let me assure you all that Cortex Command is still alive and well. It’s what I personally focus my development time on until it is considered “done”.

For a couple of years now, I have been dreaming about making something out of these incredibly inspiring sketches that Arne made for his Metafight redesign page. The new project wouldn’t be set in the Metafight world (for licensing reasons, etc), but many of the game mechanics outlined in that sketch just looked too fun to not make a game out of!

A vehicular exploration/combat game where you can jump in and out of your ride, then run it into the ground until you find another one to replace it.. now that’s what the Cave Vehicle Engine is going to support! When on foot, you will have a little jetpack with which you can skim down slopes and do cool jumping and grappling tricks to get away from danger.

While Cortex Command and its Retro Terrain Engine was all about the dynamically destructible pixel terrain, the Cave Vehicle Engine is going to be about the dynamically deformable/destructible movable objects (as opposed to the mostly static terrain). The graphics and physics are now all polygon-based and fully hardware accelerated.

The person who has been working full-time on getting the CVE and its custom physics system going, is the very talented Miroslav Adamus, a Slovakian hero who is a much better (and faster!) programmer than myself. Among other things, he has so far managed to implement a powerful particle system, soft-body dynamics with volume (area) preservation, procedural fracturing of objects, and run-time generation of physical objects based on transparency data in their source images/textures. We are applying the lessons learnt while making CC, so this new technology should reach new heights of power and modability!

Early sketchesCover mechanicsTerrain engine

Oh, by the way, in addition to much other rambling, the maestro musician DannyB and I talk about the project about 25 minutes into this podcast by the 1UP Oddcast crew: PODCAST DOWNLOAD

In the spirit of transparent indie development, here is a very early test build of the engine in action! Have fun smashing objects around and driving the test vehicle. 100% of the art in here is placeholder test stuff, so don’t judge how it looks, only what it can do. In fact, everything (including the physics) is in early test stages. There’s definitely weirdness in many situations, but we think it’s already quite fun to noodle around with! See the included readme for the controls, and ENJOY!

Crush and awe
Download CVE Test Build 24!

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102 Responses to “Announcing the Cave Vehicle Engine”

  1. Killowatt - # June 17th, 2010 at 4:29 pm


  2. Flyboy - # June 17th, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Great work! Downloading now. :D

  3. lafe - # June 17th, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    holy shit do want

  4. Petethegoat - # June 17th, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Looks interesting. Do you know who’ll be producing art for it?

    Glad to hear that CC is indeed still kicking.

  5. Mr. Cake - # June 17th, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Holy crap! This is very fun to mess around with! I just kinda hate how easily the wheels dent, I hit the master gravity button thing and a boulder crushed one of the wheels into a lopsided “L”, rendering the vehicle inoperable. Also when the rover spawns the drop dents the wheels making them oval shaped… still I would buy this game once it comes out!

  6. lafe - # June 17th, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    this is really neat.
    only qaulms are that you flip over way 2 easy, and that the gun needs work.
    i think exploding rounds or like a laser or an mg or something would be better.
    also, will this be multiplayer, and will you be able to customize your vehicle, cause indepth customization could make this a best seller.

  7. Xamllew - # June 17th, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Sweet jayzus, I am so testing this right now.

  8. lafe - # June 17th, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    btw, will this have ini modding

  9. nige - # June 17th, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    I dunno, I’m kinda sceptical. After messing around with it for a while I’m not seeing the kind of potential I saw when I first tried Cortex Command. Will reserve judgement for now, though.

  10. rydash - # June 17th, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Fun! A little wobbly at parts, but, a nice experience. I look forward to future progress on this.

  11. bearded bobsled - # June 17th, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    This looks really awesome.

  12. lafe - # June 17th, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    i just made the first ever mod

  13. YHTFLKC - # June 17th, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    This is good to know that you are active. Also, the game of vehicles, in it I have made my wheel a shoe, using gravity and jumps. This is fun. Continue.

  14. Oobagoo - # June 17th, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    I would like to see you guys see this stuff through. It is very fun. How much will it cost when completed? Are you going to make it so that we can get out of the car, in the next build? Please, make it like the drawings, they’re awesome.

  15. lafe - # June 17th, 2010 at 5:53 pm

  16. FishyBoy - # June 17th, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Oh my god, I remember wishing so hard that Arne’s concept would become reality, and now… :O

    DataRealms is awesome.

  17. Contrary - # June 17th, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    So for both CC and this, Arne is doing the art and some other guy is doing the programming…? What does Data do?

  18. Nugz - # June 17th, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Will you please hurry up and finish CC?


  19. Spitfire19 - # June 17th, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Big like. But I’d like to see more about CC. I’m really looking forward for the next build. :)

  20. Duh102 - # June 17th, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    He /chills/

  21. lafe - # June 17th, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    with weasel.

  22. a10050 - # June 17th, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    I’ll be honest. For a moment I went through a series of emotions. First I was overjoyed at a new post, then I was amazed at what looked like new content, then I was saddened learning this was not true. Then slight anger that it was a new game. But then I read the post, and I’m hopeful. I have faith that you’ll finish what you started with CC, and this new project looks very interesting. Hell, maybe some of the concepts you’ll learn while deving this will benefit CC as well.

  23. Foogooman - # June 17th, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    At first I thought “Oh cool, blog update”

    And then I saw the download button. My god.

  24. Lizard - # June 17th, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Damn, this is fun.

    Can’t wait for soemthing demolike of the actual game :F

  25. Azukki - # June 17th, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    Contrary, I’m thinking Data’s still the main programmer of CC, but has someone helping with the incorporation of Lua.

    Anyways this new game looks like it could be great. The conceptual foundation of the gameplay sounds rock solid. I’m sure it’ll be a blast. But it’s not gonna have the same replay value and community interest of CC unless it’s got some of the same modding accessibility. That’s some food for thought.


  26. Smithno13 - # June 17th, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Woo! I broke it already!
    Those large stones make good grinding devices.

  27. Lizard - # June 17th, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Multiplayer of that would be just as interesting as modding imo.

  28. Data - # June 18th, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Yes, I am working full time on producing and programming Cortex Command, and will continue to do so until it is finished.

    This test build of CVE is not very moddable (although you can have fun editing the image files and their silhouettes), it is purely a testbed for the physics simulation.

  29. Lizard - # June 18th, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Dan, you should totally put your brain in a jar connected with a USBrain 3.0 and just code stuff with your mind.

    Or maybe that’d be too much of a hassle, considering unicycling isn’t really possible in that state.

  30. Asmageddon - # June 18th, 2010 at 1:23 am

    I try to with all my force avoid using bad language, but HOLY SHIT. I love pixel terrain, but this just sounds so awesome that it’s hard to belive it…. (Just hope it works well under Wine, I’ll post about that)

  31. Asmageddon - # June 18th, 2010 at 1:35 am

    On Ubuntu 9.10 it works perfectly(at least considering how old piece of crap my PC is…), even under compiz with all the 3d and 2d desktop effects enabled!
    Also… if it’s under sdl… why can’t you just compile a version for Mac and Linux? If you’re rewriting the stuff and already using sdl it should be a piece of cake for skilled programmer. Probably less than a week to get it fully compiling and working….

  32. Geti - # June 18th, 2010 at 2:59 am

    Very happy with this.

  33. lafe - # June 18th, 2010 at 5:38 am

    bro, just wait for the game.
    rage posts wont hurry him up, i would know, im a developer for different games. its because of rage posts like the above he wont go on the forums. trust me on this, as a developer, when you get a good reception on a game you feel like god, but bad ones really suck.
    think about it, you just pumped days of your time into whatever game you made or are making, and some ungrateful prick gets pissed because one or two things isent perfect,or because they cant do something, or think that because you gave them 20 bucks you as an individual can rule their life, and tell them what project to work on.
    this is especially true when your fans are requesting imposable or incredibly side tracking things.
    we already discussed that online/networked multiplayer would require lan [zalo already did it], or internet so fast not even 1/10 the fanbase could use it.
    if data was to process thread the cc engine, it would take a year or more, and potentially make it run slightly faster.
    if it weren’t for all the hate we give data, he would probably be involved the community.

  34. lafe - # June 18th, 2010 at 5:50 am

    also, are those dots i see when i press V sph, or is the simulation grid based.

  35. Matty406 - # June 18th, 2010 at 5:52 am

    Perhaps some aspects of this might be implemented in CC?
    A modular vehicle creator would be awesome.

  36. AttackOfFlamingPigs - # June 18th, 2010 at 6:28 am


  37. Lizard - # June 18th, 2010 at 6:31 am

    If you are unhappy with datarealms itself it’s your fault for thinking you hired their services for your miniscule fee.

  38. lafe - # June 18th, 2010 at 6:32 am


  39. AttackOfFlamingPigs - # June 18th, 2010 at 6:35 am


  40. MaximDude - # June 18th, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Give us build 24 godfuckingdammit! D:<

  41. Airburst - # June 18th, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Looks good to me, Data.
    Thanks for the update.

  42. badog001 - # June 18th, 2010 at 9:24 am

    This may be for a totally different game, but seeing a couple of the stuff i’ve seen and heard from this (eg. not sticking to floors, vehicles you can enter/exit) could be quite awesome in CC. also, it’s very good to know that the dev team is not actually trapped in a well somewhere without laptops.

  43. Mooseral - # June 18th, 2010 at 9:29 am


    Good job guys! Good to know Data Realms is still alive and kicking.

  44. Azukki - # June 18th, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Bleh, soft body physics on the player’s car itself is kind of a bad idea in my opinion. I keep getting the hull and wheels squished, from fumbling around to get upright again after flipping over, which happens a lot from jumping. It looks kinda dumb, in comparison to more standard visual ways of showing that the car is worn down, and it’s more frustrating than other ways of the car physically breaking down and working less and less as it’s smashed.

    It’s cool, the way the soft body physics work as of this demo, but the player’s car seem like a bad place to implement it.

  45. Airburst - # June 18th, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Just wondering… will this new game have free crabs?

  46. Duh102 - # June 18th, 2010 at 10:46 am

    @Azukki: Car’s tires need to be tougher imo. They’re too much like pudding at the moment.` Other than that though it’s perfectly fine if you ask me. The car just needs to feel like metal instead of modeling clay.

  47. Noah - # June 18th, 2010 at 11:05 am

    :D it’s a new blaster master :) seriously did no one make that connection?

  48. Lizard - # June 18th, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Dude, we don’t have to say that it’s blaster master when it clearly says in the post that it’s based on the japanese blaster master :P

  49. raintail99 - # June 18th, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    I approve of expanding data realms, one game normally isn’t enough. Sometimes working on two things can give you ideas to spin of onto the other. It’s all looking good in my opinion, keep it up. Have no regrets buying it! :D

  50. Data - # June 18th, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Play nice, folks. Constructive criticism is welcome – “constructive” being the key word here :)

  51. cipher - # June 18th, 2010 at 8:35 pm



    (I haven’t finished downloading yet, but does this support splitscreen multiplayer? If it doesn’t, it so should. CC is one of the main games me and a buddy play when he comes over and gives it a ton of replay value).

  52. Cighton - # June 18th, 2010 at 9:49 pm


  53. AttackOfFlamingPigs - # June 18th, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    Well okay. It looks very interesting too interesting I would say. I hope all the interesting things will help the game feel whole not just a bunch of cool ideas stitched together.


  54. Asmageddon - # June 19th, 2010 at 1:14 am

    Hey, if you will make your game on the new engine and decide to abandon the old one – what about open sourcing it? It’s an amazing piece of software, many people could learn from it and many games could be created….

  55. Lizard - # June 19th, 2010 at 6:56 am

    He’s proabaly already thinking of doing that after he doesn’t get any more money from it.

    Oh and Dan, any chance we’ll see a puppyrollmobile in the CVE game?

  56. tons0phun - # June 19th, 2010 at 8:33 am

    So is it safe to assume that this will be the last build of CC?

  57. Asmageddon - # June 19th, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Well, we’ve got great community. They could make a new game and give a free copy to each person who bought cc and opensource the engine, optionally without the content. I’m sure that by compiling mods from forum, fine-tuning them to work well together and adding more things could produce a great game. Or they could make both CC and the CVE-based game….. hope they will port CVE to linux(ok, and mac) since it is already using sdl and working well under wine

  58. Domtech - # June 19th, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Sweeeet i saw some art for that car along time ago and made a Driving and shooting version in cc.
    glad to see there will be a real version

  59. Darksinner - # June 19th, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    so cc is not generating any income anymore i see :P .
    I don’t see why people are thinking this is the end of cc,
    it’s said that someone else than data is working on CVE. and why are people whining so much for build 24, if it takes longer to make theres gonna be more new juicy and finished content available then like 1 new thing when updates are made at every end of the month or something. just like like a pig/cow/animal if you let it grow it its gonna have more meat… or something like that. and when B24 is gonna come out people are whine for build 25 anyway so…

  60. Asmageddon - # June 19th, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    I can say why people don’t buy CC too much – they want complete game, and currently there are not much things, that are available only to paid customers, and nobody really thinks it’s worth buying. Relasing builds more often, but only for paid customers(there would be free version being build earlier by 4-5) could help, but wouldn’t have to.

  61. Geti - # June 19th, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Uh, Dan’s supported by CC. I don’t see where you’re getting the idea it’s not selling.
    Regardless, he’s expressed interest in _selling_ the source to RTE, like what happens with unrealengine, cryengine etc. So, uh, I think open source is very unlikely.

  62. Asmageddon - # June 20th, 2010 at 4:30 am

    I like the idea of selling source. I would probably buy CC’s source if it wouldn’t be expensive and would cost reasonable money to a hobbyst.
    Also please – you’re developing a new engine, even based on SDL, porting to linux shouldn’t be a big deal, and would probably greatly popularize your game(afaik linux users tend to brag about games for linux a lot, not only to linux users) and make many people very gratefull….

  63. cipher - # June 20th, 2010 at 4:44 am

    I agree, selling source to fellow Indies for a reasonable price sounds like a good idea.

  64. bluedrake42 - # June 20th, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    … build… 24… now…

  65. Lizard - # June 21st, 2010 at 8:24 am

    We’ll get it when data actually finishes build 24 I believe.

  66. KnightD - # June 21st, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Hmm. There is no mac version? bummer. Can someone post a youtube of this in action, preez?

  67. Asmageddon - # June 22nd, 2010 at 2:09 am

    @KNIGHTD – Wine, I know Mac OS X is way worse than Linux and less supported than Windows, but wine should still work. Under my Ubuntu 9.10 it works perfectly, but still Mac and Linux versions of CVE would be nice….

  68. Crav3r - # June 22nd, 2010 at 5:20 am

    Hope you dont remove the particle engine. I LOVE how you can dig into the sand and shoot the figures head of! I do want to break stuff!

  69. CaveCricket48 - # June 22nd, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Hey, this pretty much has working MO-to-MO collisions! Any chance it’s going to make it in cortex command too?

  70. Mooseral - # June 26th, 2010 at 12:25 am

    Hey dudeguys, pretty sure that since this is a completely different physics implementation, there will probably be absolutely no cross-pollination between the CVE and CC engine.

    I doubt whether Data will be crazy enough to go for a full particle physics implementation again in CVE, and it seems unlikely CC will have other collision tech tacked on top of whatever we already have. It’s unfortunate, but the development of a more game-play-friendly engine like CVE seems more like the proper response to fixing current CC issues, as CC’s engine simply isn’t that friendly to concerns of traditional game design.

  71. MaximDude - # June 26th, 2010 at 3:27 am

    Naw. I doubt CVE is a ‘proper response to fixing current CC issues’.
    Dan has picked up lots of experience over the years, you can’t argue with that, he could probably take CC’s engine right now and start re-writing the base to fix pretty much all the issues it currently has. And add cool awesome features like, I dunno, proper water (Not that I care of it, just sayin’).

    Problem is, that would take alot of time (Dan has a life you know), plus it means throwing away all the engine work he did for the past many years.

    I don’t see a good reason for him not to do a major engine overhaul (Not cool awesome features, but effectiveness and optimization) except the ‘throwing away’ of years work and regret of not doing an overhaul earlier…

    In a perfect world, Dan would overhaul CC’s engine and make it the best goddamn game on the planet instead of hiding his failures behind a brand new game.

  72. CakeDaemon - # June 28th, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Perhaps CC will be done, then CVE, then perhaps a remake of CC?

  73. Lizard - # June 28th, 2010 at 9:32 am

    No, the CVE game will be “arne’s game” as it is commonly known as.
    Just look at his galleries and be amazed.

  74. tons0phun - # June 29th, 2010 at 11:22 am

    I agree with you, Maximdude.

  75. Mooseral - # July 1st, 2010 at 11:26 pm


    Pretty sure we just basically said the same thing.

    Overhauling CC would be silly at this point, and even as it is it is certainly good enough to stand on it’s own with some basic gameplay polish.

    Taking gained experience and making a new and awesome thing for the future is what is more likely going to happen.

    The idea of continuing CC into the future seems silly; it has certainly been elongated enough as projects go, and only the most ludicrous fanboy should expect a company to only ever produce one product. This particularly stands true for the production of physics-y tech games. I’m sure that the implementation of a newer engine with better overall planning and support for things such as more than one CPU core will ultimately result in far more awesomeness than any amount of revision to classic CC ever will. Product iteration is a natural thing.

  76. Asmageddon - # July 2nd, 2010 at 2:50 am

    These days games sometimes take years to get finished. Look at number of CC devs. Think again, imho there is quite high chance they’re gonna finish it.

  77. MaximDude - # July 2nd, 2010 at 3:26 am

    The number of CC ‘devs’ stands at one.
    The number of CC ‘content devs’ is something completely different.

  78. Asmageddon - # July 2nd, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Sorry, I was kinda sleepy, my point was that with such small amount of devs it’s gonna take long time, but it will be finished. Forgive me please :>

  79. CaveCricket48 - # July 3rd, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    my point was that with such small amount of devs it’s gonna take long time

    Maybe I could be a content dev. hinthint

  80. Lizard - # July 3rd, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    OH YEAH!
    That would be pretty swell, considering you’re one of the few ACTIVE people that should even be considered to be a content dev.

  81. MaximDude - # July 3rd, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Indeed it would.
    You could put in some tasty lua to spice up things.

  82. Asmageddon - # July 4th, 2010 at 7:46 am

    I’m all for allowing other people to help out with making the content(even with the engine…)…
    The only reason why I didn’t buy CC yet is the fact that they release updates so rarely…

  83. MaximDude - # July 4th, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Buy it to support DR, your 18 dollars might just buy Dan a couple of beers and the motivation to continue work.

  84. MaximDude - # July 4th, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Or he’ll just take your cash and buy some ammo for his 47 is he still has it. That bastard.

  85. Lizard - # July 4th, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Hey, some rounds with his AK might be just the motivation Dan needs.

  86. Mooseral - # July 5th, 2010 at 11:50 am



    Different system from CC of course, though that’s probably a good thing. I didn’t think they’d try a fully dynamic environment again, but hey.

  87. Lizard - # July 5th, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Plasma cutter cuts a chunk out of the dirt.
    Said chunk falls ontop of someone’s head making it go all SPLAT!!

  88. Endahs - # July 13th, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Sooo…how we all doin’?

    Cave Vehicle Engine for Mac?

  89. Asmageddon - # July 14th, 2010 at 11:07 am

    What abount linux? Why everyone only cares about their own OS? >.>

  90. MaximDude - # July 16th, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    How bout an update on B24 Danny? Any progress?

  91. Lizard - # July 16th, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling

  92. cavecricket48 - # July 17th, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    I just realized, I haven’t commented on the actual CVE program/engine/demo. It’s pretty great so far, I like how objects can be deformed and destroyed after numerous impacts.

    Is there going to be “ini” based modding? Like creating your own objects with different/changable material properties?

    I was also thinking, what if the “terrain” had the same destructibility as objects? It would break at certain points under stress, so you could have some-what realistic destruction with buildings and bridges and such.

  93. ToonyMan - # July 18th, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Keep up the work Data.

  94. Lil Ill - # December 7th, 2010 at 10:52 am

    This game looks good. But do you have enough time to carry on the work on Cortex Command if you work on a new “great project”? In my opinion it would be better if you finish the work on the first game (campaign etc.) before you start the work on a second one. People who bought Cortex Command probably like to have a full version for their money. Especially if they payed 30 bucks.

  95. Data Realms – Dev Log » Blog Archive » Follow our development on Twitter! - # February 3rd, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    [...] CVESource: Source code of Cave Vehicle Engine [...]

  96. anon - # February 17th, 2012 at 2:18 pm


    Do Want!
    You must do this!!!!
    The internet commands thee!

  97. Battleofcommand - # August 15th, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    The “CVE” is out in version 27?

  98. botox warszawa - # October 5th, 2012 at 5:03 am

    Yet, much is unclear. Could you describe in more details!…

  99. Data Realms – Dev Log » Blog Archive » Cave Vehicle Engine – Robot Builder News - # October 13th, 2012 at 6:34 am

    [...] guys, here’s a really significant update on the Cave Vehicle Engine project we are working on, in addition to polishing up Cortex Command 1.0! There is now a fully functional, [...]

  100. ALF - # October 16th, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    BLASTER MASTER on the nes was BOSS and this looks like some of that same awesome sauce! Can’t wait!

  101. Data Realms – Dev Log » Blog Archive » Behold FLIPBOT and Build a Tank in CVE Test Build 24! - # November 29th, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    [...] new test build of the Cave Vehicle Engine appears! So much great stuff: external editor windows for separate monitors, huge improvements to [...]

  102. Data Realms – Dev Log » Blog Archive » Cave Vehicle Engine PARTICLES - # February 25th, 2013 at 10:24 am

    [...] I’m here to present yet another meaty update to our next project, the Cave Vehicle Engine; this time Miro takes us though our engine’s powerful particle systems and their new [...]