Saturday, January 21, 2012

70 – Things just got serious

I don't know what a proper intro for this post could be, so I'll just dive into it and see where it gets me, starting with the changelog:
  • Creation mode has a new interface. You may have seen it in my last post. Since I don't have the icons yet, I added text description to the tools. I also updated the terminology a little to be less confusing: a tool has a standard action and a mass action which repeats the standard action for the entire selection. No more immediate what not mass mode. Pressing shift plus a keyboard shortcut simply activates the mass action for that given tool without switching you current tool. I also created the concept of the "grid" and the quick slot, another worthwhile addition to the GUI that I am not going to speak about until it passes the concept phase. Here is a screen shot of the new cleaned-up GUI for creation mode:

  • Tasks for creation mode phase one are slowly starting to dry out, so this is a phase 3 (the final) change: grass grows again! It still does not wither during winter, but I should save something for next week too. The map starts with random grass density to illustrate this point but it will quickly grow. I experimented a little with some color blending to make the map look less checkerboard-ish and I have some ideas to improve upon this, but for now it will have to do. Grass growth is also a little bit jerky. Floor and wall were something I done in the first phases of the project. Item creation has been written and rewritten a thousand times since and quite frankly floors and walls are way behind technologically speaking. As the snapshots come and go, floors will slowly catch up to items. I already did a few first steps. I am not at all happy with the new grass texture. The old one had tons of more personality. But the grass texture is going to probably change every snapshot until I find one that I love. But at least the texture looks fairly good in first person mode:

  • A new tool! Or more precisely one of the tools from the 2D version is back. The clear grass tool. Pretty self explanatory. It has '0' as a shortcut and has standard and mass actions. It will set the grass coverage for a floor to zero. I am thinking about changing the way grass grows based on the proximity to other grass. So that if you clear a large are of grass, the border between grassy areas and non grassy areas is the first to be affected and grass slowly and radially starts to eat up the uncovered area.
  • This one you already saw: skybox support. Need to find a better skybox though. Actually I would like to have several skyboxes per biome and some day and night cycles in the future.
  • And speaking about cycles, the ability to pause the game is back. Because nature simulation is back, but with reduced scope. It will slowly come back to 100%, grass growth being the first step. The game will start paused, but if you unpause it it will run an breakneck speed, making months run by in second so you can experience grass growth. The rate of grass growth is not final yet.
  • BONUS: the editor! Taking advantage of the snapshot system, I like to put things out sometimes a few snapshots beforehand. The editor should not be out for at least 2 more snapshots because it is both untested and has never been updated to support meshes. It still thinks things have 2D tiles. Yet here it is! Play around a little with it. It is accessible from the editor. Because it is untested yet, I made it read only. You can change stuff but it won't save to disk. Once the editor passes though QA you will be able to make changes and test them out immediately in game.
  • W/A/S/D support. Finally! Have you ever noticed some awkward pauses in my videos after I do something. This is because I am pressing WASD to navigate the map like and idiot. Trying to get the video right takes some concentration and I always forget that only directional keys used to work. But not anymore.
  • Dynamic scroll speed. The speed with which you scroll the map depends on how close you are to it. So when really zoomed in, you will have precision. When zoomed out it is fast so you can get to where you want to be. The scroll speed is not final yet and you will be able to adjust it in game though options.
  • Bugfix: problems with the Shift key are gone. It turns out that I am the one who wrote the keyboard hook for the Irrlicht/U++ bridge (who else) and forgot to add special case for shift handling.
  • Bugfix: floors failing to update on selection. Some items will still fail to update, but I have uncovered the cause. I'll fix it until next time.
  • Bugfix: plates on top of tables failing to update their selection status.

And a few more of the small things that I am probably forgetting. Like a slight reorganization of the directory structure to make development easier for me and to accommodate for Linux version. Linux version will be officially supported if possible. And some optimization for animation and stuff.

So snapshot 3 is certainly a huge step up from 2 in both quality, features and stability. I have experienced a single crash while testing. And I'm hopping that one will be fixed soon too :). I estimated that things are going to start getting interesting around snapshot 5 and it turns out that I'm right on schedule.

The list of changes is so big that I don't think I should wait until Monday with snapshot 3. Until then I have time to add another set of features and the change would be too much. So I really want to uplaod it today. But I can't. You may have heard about the MegaUpload incident. Anyway, it is down. I could find another such service, but since MegaUpload was just a temporary solution, any replacement would remain as such.

So I made all necessary steps to give Dwarves & Holes a more permanent home. Regular readers may know exactly what I am talking about. For the rest it will come as a surprise.

There is an approval process involved and I'm hopping everything will go though just fine. As soon as things are approved I'll post again with the link for snapshot 3 and all the information about our new home!

PS: The people doing the approval don't know or care about my Monday based release schedule. And neither should they. Approval takes a few days to complete, so snapshot 3 might not come up on Monday. If it takes more that a few days I'll post about it.

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