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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
Bugs are Demoralizing
By Robert Basler on 2018-07-09 12:03:57
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com

I wish I could get out and do more shows, it's really fun showing Miranda to people. It is a little stressful though. Without fail, Miranda's AI would launch an all-out assault against my base as soon as someone came by and I'd have to try to introduce myself and tell my story while madly clicking to prevent my base from being wiped out. Doing shows is also reassuring. There is a market for this game if I can just get it in front of people.

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[What people saw at Full Indie Demo Night]


Other than that, mostly I've been fixing bugs the last few weeks. When you're building new things it's easy to stay enthusiastic and engaged in what you're doing because you're constantly seeing new things and it feels like progress. When you have a bunch of new things that are working except for this weird black blob rendering in the middle of the screen in a few specific spots, it's the opposite.

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[Everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here, now, thank you. How are you?]


I built three types of procedural rocks, but for the longest time only one worked bug-free. My least-favourite one. I spent about a week tracking down a bug that caused black arrows to draw towards the centre of the screen in a few places. That was truly an ordeal, trying to solve a problem with one lone triangle out of several million. Even once I had it narrowed down to one draw call, and then one single triangle it was still an utter mystery as to what was going wrong.

The third type of rock had problems with texturing that I had struggled with finding a viable solution to on-and-off for weeks. I finally fixed that with tri-planar texture mapping which looks great! Those rocks also had a problem with the geometry of fissures (fixed that) as well as problems with random triangles sticking out - but only when rocks are really tall (still working on that.)

For a while, Miranda had a problem with running out of memory. In the past, Miranda would set up renderables for any terrain block that had units on it, or that was visible from the camera. This worked fine until I added the rocks. Rocks just use too much memory, so now Miranda only loads rocks for visible or nearly-visible terrain blocks. Rocks were also hitting my framerate pretty hard for a while, but I got culling working for them which fixed that right up. They were also slamming the CPU during generation, I fixed that too. There is still some pop-in, I'm working on that.

Miranda's shroud now has a soft edge which I think looks a lot nicer, but that had a problem where buildings rendered in front of the shroud when they should have been behind it, so I spent a couple days tracking down that weirdness (It turns out glClear on the depth buffer doesn't actually clear the depth buffer if glDepthMask is disabled.)

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[Exciting new Email Preferences Screen - thanks GDPR.]


I've also been working on terrain texturing which is a huge part of the new look of Miranda. I think I've finally worked out an art pipeline for the new terrain textures. I really wish there was a store with a huge selection of 40x40m seamless terrain tiles of at least 4K resolution I could just buy. Sadly such things are like unicorns, so I've been using a fancy lighting setup to photograph 12 image mosaics that I then import into GIMP, blend out the seams, then even out the lighting so they aren't streaky. I still have the materials I used to make the original terrain textures so I've been able to reshoot most of them. A few of the new textures are done, but there are still quite a few to do. In addition to redoing the existing biomes, I'm working on two entirely new ones.

I noticed that sometimes it was hard to see the red/green building positioning indicators so I changed how they are rendered so that the color of the ground doesn't affect the color of the indicators anymore.

Sun shadows are broken. I broke them at some point in the last six months, but the version control system I use says that the code that renders shadows hasn't been touched since 2015, so that's a bit of a mystery.

Ambient occlusion and cloud shadows also aren't working quite right. I know what the problems are there. I've been toying with the idea of moving to an ubershader implementation because the number of shaders I have to maintain now has gotten a little out of hand. That's potentially a lot of new bugs.

So art stuff to do, more bugs to fix, looking prettier every day. Happy Summer Everyone!

By on 2018-07-10 11:49:52
Homepage: email:
Hey man I've been following your blog for a while and I really admire your work.

Regarding the "unicorn" textures you should definitely check out texturehaven.com and freepbr.com. Of course the scale is wrong (as in not 40x40m) but maybe with some low frequency noise pattern you could hide the tiling?

Can't wait to see the visual upgrades. At least the Dropbox-esque menus could use some work. Anyway, good stuff!
By Robert Basler on 2018-07-10 19:26:18
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
I'm not a Dropbox user, but I'm guessing you mean "browser style" menus? Miranda's user interface is actually the Chrome browser. Sometimes that was a great decision, other days not so much. At some point I want to hire a graphic designer to do some work on the UI.

I've been getting some textures from cgtextures.com, but I'll check those sites out, thanks!

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