I've been busy working on the floor system in an attempt to fully finish it. Texture wise I am at a crossroad: I have implemented a texture atlas system that would allow me to use a tile system similar to a topdown 2D game, only higher resolution. Creating a texture atlas that has zero texture bleeding is nigh impossible but I think I found a good and adaptable formula. I can't really design textures and see if my system does not destroy the smooth transition between tiles at the same time, so I need to borrow and existing tileset for testing purposes only. I'll google it, but if you are aware of something I could use feel free to send me a link.
Meanwhile I am stuck with my ugly tileset.
When selecting floors I color coded the selection: red is soil, blue is stone. Sand and water will get their own color.
I enabled floor switching and I found that selections are particularly hard to do in the air because you don't have anything to select. So I created dummy selection markers that only appear when you are trying to select a non-existing surface (i.e. you want a selection where you will create something). I color coded these dummy floors with yellow.
I also found it very hard to navigate and tell on what level you actually are. I extended the yellow dummy surface for the entire level and made it transparent. It is very ugly and I'm not sure it helps. I need to try again dimming the non-current levels. If I can't manage to discover an easy to navigate and interact with solution, I might have to redesign the game as a single deformable surface: you play only on top of a smooth surface and you can dig and deform it by other actions, but you are never on two separate heights at the same coordinates, except in some building. I hope it does not come to this.
Ignoring the above mention problems, I gave it a go and tasted my solution with color coding, stone and soil floors, building and destruction. And I did not like it! I never liked the floor/wall duality and still think in 3D it makes little sense. It always seemed convoluted and archaic. So I did a major and maybe controversial change: floors are gone!
Now the world geometry is formed out of blocks. A cell has a single block rather than a high black called a wall on top of a thin block called a floor. This might seem at first like a dumbing down, but there are exactly two consequences for this decision. You can still build; dig; smooth and engrave; have different engravings on different sides; fortify, build structures upon; have pressure plates/levers; canal; paintings; etc.
The first negative side effect is that you can't have a floor of one material bellow a wall of another material. This is a minor inconvenience.
The second consequence is that if you dig out two identical zones at the same position, but on different levels, you won't have two livable/walkable rooms. You'll have instead a higher cave-like hole. This means that your tactic for digging out rooms at the start of the game will be different and you'll want to skip some levels. But I can compensate with a few interesting things, like "sky-bridges" and brick multifloor structures. In the first stage you might want to live in a hole with a bed, but latter maybe you'll want to dig out huge areas, reinforce them and build huge cities. Buildings will have "thin" walls so a building wall will not occupy an entire cell.
Selection mechanism has been updated: if you select blocks that are on top of the same surface as your feet (the former walls) all visible sides will be highlighted. If you select block under your feet (the former floors) only their surface is highlighted. I found this to be very intuitive when dealing with interface and a mixed selection.
So what do you think about these changes? Give your honest opinion. As previously said, the depth of the interaction with the world should be maintained with this change and in the future I hope I can even add the possibility to adjust the height of a block.
I've been working on this since snapshot 4 and as soon as I got a half decent version working I posted and created a video. The video is very rough around the edges, more and experiment than anything else, but I hope I can get the systems in a better shape and have fully featured walls for snapshot 5: