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The One Man MMO Project
The story of a lone developer's quest to build an online world :: MMO programming, design, and industry commentary
By Robert Basler on 2019-02-22 11:35:48
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com

Scalable Ambient Obscurance (SAO) is one of the many new art and rendering improvements in Bold New World, the latest update to The Imperial Realm::Miranda my seamless open-world real time strategy game.

SAO is a well-regarded algorithm for rendering ambient occlusion (the dark area in concave corners where ambient light has trouble reaching) and is a significant rendering upgrade for Miranda. The original paper by Morgan McGuire, Michael Mara and David Luebke does a good job of describing a the algorithm and there is a reference HLSL implementation. I needed something in GLSL for my OpenGL engine, and at first blush, SAO has a lot of moving parts.

You can see the difference SAO makes in the image above. The effect on the lighting of the rocks is remarkable. With the procedural rocks I was building at the same time, I really needed something that would bring them to life beyond normal maps and texturing effects. You might notice a slight straight line of darkening on the ground between the rock formations. I spent quite a bit of time tweaking the parameters of the SAO shader to get rid of unwanted occlusion and I talk in detail about that below. The real bonus of SAO is that it also improves the lighting on all the building and vehicle models that were not specifically having any work done on them for Bold New World.


[Miranda's Bold New World trailer shows SAO in action.]


By Robert Basler on 2019-02-19 18:27:55
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
The trailer for Bold New World is out! See the all-new environments, weather effects and render upgrades in motion.

Watch it at theimperialrealm.com.
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By Robert Basler on 2019-02-14 17:59:12
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com


The Bold New World trailer is finally starting to come together. Two things you won't see in it are the game's UI, and the new shroud, so here they are in a special Bold New World micro-trailer.
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By Robert Basler on 2019-02-08 22:10:28
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
I am proud to announce that Bold New World, the third major update to The Imperial Realm::Miranda is live for players! Bold New World is a major overhaul of the art and renderer and has been 13 months in the making. I hope players enjoy the many, many new features.

How to Get Bold New World

  1. If there is a desktop icon for Miranda, you should delete that. The old icon will not work properly with Bold New World and miranda_setup will create a new one which could be confusing.
  2. Players need to download and run miranda_setup.exe to install Bold New World. If Windows says "Windows protected your PC" click on "More Info" and you will see the publisher is "Secret Lair Games, Inc" and you will get a "Run Anyway" button you can click to start the setup.

If you don't already have an account for The Imperial Realm::Miranda, you can purchase one at https://secretlairgames.itch.io/.

For those of you who don't already have the game, a new trailer will be coming shortly. To hold you over, here are a bunch of new screenshots. Some of the new things you will notice include:
  • Four all new biomes: The Perilous Precipices, Vermillion Hardship, The Badlands and Extinction Salt Flats.
  • Procedural rock formations now make it obvious where terrain features like paths and chokepoints are, in addition to being a visual upgrade.
  • Miranda now has several weather effects including the Ion Storm and a more traditional dust storm shown below which come and go throughout the day.
  • There are now thousands of tiny rocks, skeletons, grass and other plants covering the ground in addition to larger rocks and plants.
  • The renderer's many new features such as Ambient Occlusion, Anisotropic Filtering and the Ubershader as well as upgrades to shadows and lighting improve the look of everything in the game.


The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20The%20Badlands%20-%201_Lo.jpg
[Independent base in The Badlands.]


The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20The%20Badlands%20-%202_Lo.jpg
[Scenic view of The Badlands.]


The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20Vermillion%20Hardship%20-%201_Lo.jpg
[Empire Base in Vermillion Hardship.]


The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20Vermillion%20Hardship%20-%202_Lo.jpg
[My personal favourite and my current desktop background - a formation of tanks in Vermillion Hardship.]


The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20Perilous%20Precipices%20-%201_Lo.jpg
[A base in the Perilous Precipices.]


The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20Perilous%20Precipices%20-%202_Lo.jpg
[A Crashed Spaceship in Perilous Precipices.]


The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20Extinction%20Salt%20Flats%20-%201_Lo.jpg
[Scenic view of Extinction Salt Flats on a cloudy day.]


The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20Extinction%20Salt%20Flats%20-%202_Lo.jpg
[A Dust storm right before The Fallen attack in Extinction Salt Flats.]


The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20Extinction%20Salt%20Flats%20-%203%20-%20Plasma%20Storm%20Base_Lo.jpg
[Plasma Storm in Extinction Salt Flats.]


The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20Extinction%20Salt%20Flats%20-%204_Lo.jpg
[Scenic view of a Plasma Storm in Extinction Salt Flats.]


Known Issue


On a small minority of test computers there is a bug that causes the game's UI to render back to front rather than front to back some of the time. This results in the minimap being invisible, and the HUD rendering over top of everything. If this happens, a workaround is to restart the game. Quite often this will eliminate the problem. A patch for this issue is being worked on.

The Fallen have temporarily retreated as a result of the massive changes to Miranda, but they will return shortly with a vengeance.
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By Robert Basler on 2019-02-01 18:46:09
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com


Just one week until my unique RTS Miranda's Bold New World update is out. Here is a little of the ambience in The Perilous Precipices.

Get 30% off now at theimperialrealm.com.
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By Robert Basler on 2019-01-25 15:36:50
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com

Bold New World is the upcoming third update to The Imperial Realm::Miranda and a major upgrade to the art and rendering engine. It has been over a year in the making. Bold New World will be released February 8!



The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20Plasma%20Storm%20Base_Lo.jpg
[Extinction Salt Flats amid an ion storm, one of the new weather effects in Bold New World.]


Bold New World's features include:

  • New Environments - Four completely new biomes: Vermillion Hardship, Extinction Salt Flats, Perilous Precipices and The Badlands.
  • Spectacular Sky - It's gorgeous, what more can we say.
  • Dynamic Weather - Cloud cover, heat waves, wind, dust and ion storms come and go throughout the day.
  • Improved Terrain - Terrain textures are higher resolution with reduced tiling.
  • Rock Formations - Dramatic procedurally generated rock formations dot the landscape, creating paths and bottlenecks for your fighting forces.
  • Detail Props - Thousands of steam vents, spires, rocks, sticks, crystals, plants and other tiny details add life to the surface of Miranda.
  • Atmospherics - Dust, ash, embers and plant material float in the air, especially after battles.
  • New POI - Visit Deathwish Rock - hard hat recommended.
  • Map Legend - Locations now have names with coordinates.
  • New Launcher - Perfect upgrades, email preferences, password reset and wow, GDPR support.
  • Renderer Upgrades
    • Ambient Occlusion - Scalable Ambient Obscurance makes more beautiful lighting.
    • Ubershader - Miranda's ubershader provides consistent lighting and features for all of Miranda's inhabitants.
    • Shroud - The shroud now has a soft edge.
    • Particles - More particles, more effects, more beautiful.
    • Shadows - Increased resolution and draw distance.
    • Terrain - Increased draw distance.
    • Texture Filtering - Bilinear, Trilinear and 16X Anisotropic texture filtering options.
    • DXT Compression - Textures use about 25% of the memory and offer better performance.
    • Color Correction & Vignette - The last 5%.

Get 30% off by pre-purchasing now at theimperialrealm.com
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By Robert Basler on 2019-01-17 15:09:12
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
TLDR; Bold New World could be live today, but I'm finishing up the promo stuff and some last little art tweaks.

I realized it's been a while since I've posted anything about what's going on with Bold New World, so here's the good news: All the code is done. All the new environment art is done. The new launcher is working.

I tested Bold New World against everyone's game data this week, so when it comes out, all your forces will be intact and your shroud progress preserved. The world conquest map is getting reset. Players will have to reinstall with miranda_setup - I can't figure a way to patch it.

I did a couple of what I thought would be small tweaks to rendering of distant things last week but I'm kind of thrilled with how that worked out. Draw distance is impressive. Miranda is looking the best it ever has.

So what's left?

New screenshots and a short trailer for the website. Everything that exists now is no longer representative. That will be hard.

The launcher needs new art and I want to update the background image during login. That should all be pretty easy once I have new screenshots. I've also been noodling around with a new startup splash screen in the evening.

I have some writing to do: press release, update the website, itch store, misc gaming websites, various blog posts I've been saving. And I have one fixed bug left to verify.
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By Robert Basler on 2019-01-06 19:38:46
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
I've been kind of dragging my butt writing a 2018 retrospective. I looked at the 2017 one and it turns out I'm still working on #1 of my goals for 2018 and those goals have not changed for 2019. My unofficial goal was to have all my PC's desktops be screenshots of Miranda, and although it took some time, Miranda did finally take over a few months back.
By Robert Basler on 2018-12-23 15:34:20
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
I watched "Every Upcoming MMO & MMORPG 2019 And Beyond!" yesterday, and it was a little disheartening. I've been playing Guild Wars 2 for years, I've racked up hundreds of hours, it is spectacularly awesome and beautiful, but I'm sort of running out of things to do in it. I'm looking for something new to play and the current PC MMO market isn't looking very promising.

You're probably going to smirk at this comment from someone who's making a "games as a service" game, but GAAS isn't really working out for me as a player. Games are living far longer than they should. I'd be excited by a new Star Wars MMO, but there's already a Star Wars MMO, it came out in 2011 and shows no signs of being replaced. The Old Republic was good, I quite liked it, I played it for a few months, but at some point you're done as a player and want a new game. Publishers on the other hand, don't want to compete with themselves. "You want to play Star Wars? Here's the Star Wars game. It was really expensive to make." Similarly, The Lord of the Rings MMO was fun back in 2007 but it's still going! Yes, there is apparently a new LOTR game in the works at last.

I think part of the problem is that in the past, AAA MMO developers have just aimed too big. Every game doesn't need to be on the scale of World of Warcraft. I'd be quite happy with an experience that topped out at a hundred hours or so. That's still a big game for most people. Given that making content is a huge part of the cost of developing an MMO, maybe if developers didn't make so much of it, the games might not be so overwhelmingly expensive to make. Sure, if you have a massive hit then build an add-on, but maybe don't start with 12,000 hours of content. Amortize the tech cost over multiple titles.

Since I'm making a wish list, I'd also like some more options that aren't set in the middle ages. I loved The Secret World with its twisted take on the modern age. I was so disappointed when after I watched the amazing Cyberpunk 2077 Gameplay Reveal, I found out it was a single player game. I'm sure it will still be great, but I really like MMOs.

For a while I had been thinking that a Fallout style game would be really interesting as an MMO. It would have a futuristic open world, vaults to explore, loot to pore over, mutant beasts to flee or hunt. So I was quite excited when I heard Bethesda was making Fallout 76 because their production values are generally pretty good, and it sounded like the scope was a little smaller, but apparently it's just broken.

The original plan for Secret Lair Games was to make more, smaller MMOs. Maybe it'll get there.
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By Robert Basler on 2018-12-15 00:55:51
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
I'm making a blog post of this in case anyone else ever runs into this problem so that the web won't let them down.

I was having a problem where wrong, or maybe old vertex data was being rendered after the program had been running for a while. I checked everything, and as it turns out everything was in fact working exactly as designed. To try and narrow down the problem, I spent a day building a frame debugger so I could isolate the vertex/index data that was rendering incorrectly. Once I had this working I noticed that the VBO ID's of the meshes that were rendering incorrectly were ones that had been recycled by OpenGL.

The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20Glitch_Lo.jpg
[It does make pretty glitches.]

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Looking for a Fast Square Root - 2012-03-29 11:19:56 (4 comments)
Bold New World Trailer - 2019-02-19 18:27:55 (0 comments)
Wait What Now? - 2018-11-27 02:17:34 (0 comments)
Retrospectivish - 2019-01-06 19:38:46 (0 comments)
Are You Ready For Open-World RTS Warfare? - 2019-01-25 15:36:50 (1 comments)
So Close - 2019-01-17 15:09:12 (2 comments)

Recent Comments

Off Topic: CanonImport - 2019-06-07 23:45:27 (1 comments)
Uploading videos to PC from HF-S100.

1) If you want thumbnails:
Connect camera power.
Connect camera to PC via USB cable.
Turn camera on
Open Screen
Press Camera/Play button below screen.
Generate Thumbnails.
2) Run canonimport for directions.
Bold New World - Release Notes - 2019-04-18 16:27:59 (5 comments)
Please ignore this test comment.
Bold New World - Release Notes - 2019-02-11 22:01:11 (5 comments)
One more issue: If you've forgotten your password you'll have to let me know so I can set your email preferences so that you will receive forgotten password emails. Once you've reset your password, you can go into settings to set your email ...
Bold New World - Release Notes - 2019-02-10 22:59:49 (5 comments)
Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it.
Bold New World - Release Notes - 2019-02-10 16:02:07 (5 comments)
Looks really cool! Good job! Even though I haven't bought any of the packages, I am still following your progress and I have to say this looks really good!
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