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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
A Busy Week of Tweaks
By Robert Basler on 2017-01-10 02:20:00
Homepage: email:one at onemanmmo dot com

It has been a busy week of tweaks. I'm working on the trailer, so I'm having to fix a bunch of little things to get Miranda looking her best for recording.

The ATV is the star of the first shot of the trailer, and it needed a bit of work. Previously it had exhaust, but I was never really happy with the look of it. I added wheel dust which looks pretty great, but that made the exhaust look even worse, so in the end I removed it.

[New ATV tire dust.]

To record the trailer, I have a special camera I call the CineCamera. One of the things it can do is rotate around units which immediately showed a little problem with the shroud. Normally players can only see the shroud from the south so Miranda only renders 4 sides of each shroud cube (it's actually more complicated than that, but I'll save that for another time.) The CineCamera however can see the shroud cube from the north which looks a bit unattractive. Adding the fifth side (temporarily) was easy, and now the shroud looks its best for the trailer.

As the ATV was driving I noticed that at the end of every segment in the path it was following that the ATV would pause briefly. This is even more noticeable when the CineCamera is following the unit, the whole scene just freezes for a moment. I could have simply edited that out with Sony Vegas, but it was ugly and needed to be fixed. I use flowfields to steer the vehicles in the game and those are calculated for each path segment. I discovered that the system that prevents the flowfields from eating all available CPU was causing the delay. Instead of calculating the flowfield immediately, it would wait for a moment before calculating it. Once I fixed the flowfield to calculate right away, I was disappointed to see that there was still a short delay. That turned out to be the game's update loop. I modified the game to schedule an update immediately at the end of the current path segment which got rid of the last little delay. Units are now driving smoooooth.

Next I needed a way to clear and restore the shroud at any time on the client. (Sorry, that only works for Admin accounts.) As soon as I added that, I discovered that the code that updates the map and shroud renderables as the shroud changes was super, super slow. It dawned on me that the shroud could be the cause of the mysterious seconds-long pause that sometimes occurred after login. I spent most of a day optimizing the shroud update and by the end it was fast enough (at least for the current size map.) I also discovered that if the player logged out and then in again that the shroud was not being reloaded properly. I fixed that, which I think should also fix most of the general shroud weirdness I had noticed while playing the test weekends. If you played Miranda on the test weekends you may have noticed the shroud getting blocky or re-shrouding areas you had already explored. This is caused by the server being limited by the amount of memory it can use to store the shroud data. Since I was working on the shroud anyway, I also modified the memory limiter so that it will never re-shroud blocks.

The last thing I worked on this week was explosions. I had some spiffy particle animations I bought recently so I wanted to add sprays of smoke and fire to some of the explosion effects. To support that, Miranda needed the ability to orient particles based on their velocity vector. I couldn't find a good example on the net (all the examples I found turned out to be wrong.) I worked out what I needed to do, but actually getting it to work was a tedious exercise in trying every possible permutation of the mathematical operations until I found the one that worked the way I wanted. Once I had that working I spent a full day trying to get the smoke sprays working, but in the end I couldn't make one I liked. I did make a nice screenshot of Dememtors though. After that I added some nice new elements to the existing distant explosions as well as a nice looking new distant plasma explosion. Something I've discovered working on the art for explosions is that some explosion effects look good close up, and some really only look good far away.

[Sometimes when effects don't work out, they look like Dementors.]

[New nearby explosion.]

[Tweaked distant explosion.]

[Distant plasma explosion.]

By Kurt Ingleson on 2017-01-10 05:12:47
Homepage: email:kurt at pacomms dot co dot uk
I had the good fortune to play on one of the test weekends, cant wait for this to be available to get my teeth into properly, any ideas on a time line for a release or is it sit and wait, which is kinda fun too ;-)

Keep up the awesome work !!
By Robert Basler on 2017-01-10 10:44:39
Homepage: email:one at onemanmmo dot com
Thanks! I don't have a specific date in mind (I think by now I have thoroughly proven that I am terrible at dates) however the TODO list is down to: trailer, test weekend, press, store, early access.
By Sutekh on 2017-01-11 04:59:40
Homepage: email:
That "Dementors" screenshot looks like it would actually be an awesome animation for something equally sinister. Any ideas for a chemical or biological warfare superweapon, maybe? Or maybe some really nasty volcanic vents?

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