The One Man MMO Project
I'm writing this up because of the unbelievable pain I went through to get it working. It seems like something that shouldn't be that difficult: getting a model to follow terrain by adjusting its up vector to match the up vector of the terrain mesh under it and to face in a given direction, but try and try again, I could not get it to work. Rotation matrices are my bane. Nothing else I do is so unbelievably frustrating. If they worked or didn't work that would be fine, but as I went along I found a lot of variations that would almost work and it wasn't always easy to tell what was wrong. My favourite variation worked perfect when going north or south, but squashed the model into a diagonally tilted pancake as it rotated through east and west.
I found a lot of information on the topic on the internet, but all the detailed examples were for DirectX, the OpenGL ones were all brief, too brief evidently.
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My game's environment is 300km by 300km. In real world terms, that isn't all that big, but for a game world, it is sizeable. Once a rendered scene becomes larger than a couple of kilometres in size, you start running into severe problems with floating point accuracy. Even with my test terrain which is only 20km by 20km, I had very noticeable problems with props on the terrain appearing and disappearing as the camera moved. The graphics card thought the terrain was alternatingly in front of, or behind, the prop.
Luckily there is a fairly simple to implement workaround for this issue.
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Today I got the last major rendering feature running. I also fixed a bug that has been bothering me for weeks. I didn't expect today, or the last two weeks for that matter, to turn out like they did.
I wanted there to be some vivid color in my world. Much of the scenery is monochromatic, so I wanted flowers. Fields of them.
Normally I write about things that go well. Like this week I wrote a bitset template class, nothing super complex, but a few hundred lines of code. To my amazement it compiled without warning and passed its also-brand-new unit-test the first time. That doesn't happen very often. Occasionally I'll write about things that went pretty badly. Then there are the things that go spectacularly off the rails.
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I was designing a faction select screen today. I want there to be approximately equal populations in each faction. While doing the layout, an old bias I noticed came to mind.
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Last year I looked back at 2011 and made some predictions. I thought it would be good to take a look back at this year and see how I did on those predictions.
2012 was definitely the year of rendering. I had a vision for the look of my game and my biggest accomplishment this year was taking the first screenshot that actually looks like that vision.
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Getting my Christmas list ready this year was sort of disappointing. In years past, I would ask for all the hottest new PC games and I had a lot to look forward to on Christmas morning. This year there were few big releases, and I already had Mass Effect 3. The only 2012 game on my list this year? Guild Wars 2.
I like big, complicated, 100 hour story driven games. I love Command and Conquer (haven't played a good one of those in years), Mass Effect (although I can't get into the final chapter) Bioware or Bethesda RPG's. I love to explore the worlds of MMO's. I really miss the space shooter genre - Freespace was so much fun, and getting Wing Commander 4 for Christmas so many years ago was the highlight of the day.
I think the fragmentation of the games market is getting me down. I don't have an iPad, or a Android phone, or an iPhone (I often feel like I'm the only one) I don't use Facebook, so all the effort that has gone into development of games for those platforms is wasted on me. And frankly, one session of Angry Birds was really enough.
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I'm not a great artist. I did some drawing classes a few years ago which I quite enjoyed, but I didn't produce too many masterpieces -- although I liked this one:
I am decent with a camera -- I was working the macro lens a couple weekends ago shooting some kitchen items to try as textures. Sugar looks like diamonds, and icing sugar looks like weird rock formations. Shortly afterwards I found cgtextures.com which is an amazing resource for textures.
You may be able to tell, I've been having a whole lot of fun the last few weeks. As a programmer I was surprised at how wonderful and satisfying it is to put art into a game engine. It's not something I really got to do working on game engines at EA. With the new art in place, a couple weeks ago I took the first screenshot where I excitedly thought "I could show this to people and they wouldn't laugh!"
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If you haven't already, check out Part I.
Things have been quiet on the blog the last couple of weeks but there has been lots of exciting progress behind the scenes. I purchased World Machine and modified my terrain import tool to read the beautiful World Machine height maps as well as its flow, deposition and wear maps.
I've increased the terrain heightmap resolution from 10 metres to 2.5 metres, and the improvement is startling. There is now lots of fine detail on the heightmap which makes it much more realistic and interesting. The rolling hills are officially retired.
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I'm working on optimizing my terrain processing program a bit. I figure with the current process it goes through it will take a whopping 9 days full-tilt to process my terrain data. So I got out AMD CodeAnalyst to see what was taking the time. I was shocked that CodeAnalyst reported that my app was spending 91% of its time waiting on spinlocks.
I didn't believe it. But that didn't mean I wasn't going to check.
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I was debugging a texture settings bug when I got this cool looking result:
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The Miranda Conquest Map - 2014-10-04 11:31:12 (2 comments)
Me too! Tell your friends.
The Miranda Conquest Map - 2014-10-03 23:59:22 (2 comments)
Such map, much control, wow. That aside, I really like where this is going, and I think the 'Qux' style capturing will help to prevent boredom from having to capture empty zones. Of course I imagine that that is the whole point behind it :D
Designing a Secure MMO Login System - 2014-08-30 12:19:14 (6 comments)
Its just a random number appended to the data you are hashing so that if you hash the same password for two different users, they don't have the same hash. That way it is harder for someone with a list of common passwords to hash and compare them ...
Designing a Secure MMO Login System - 2014-08-30 12:11:57 (6 comments)
hi, im new to all this ... what is "salt" ?
Thanks for the suggestion, I hadn't considered that. I'll try to figure a way to let players do that.
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