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Author Topic: Delays and delays...  (Read 39671 times)
pspeed
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« on: February 10, 2013, 10:42:47 PM »

So, last night (Saturday) I made the decision that I would not be able to release on the 18th.  There were many factors that led to this decision, not the least of which was just a really aggressive to-do list not shrinking fast enough.  I was plugging away last night, sitting down to try to hack yet another thing in to get started integrating physics, my throat was sore, and I'd had a bit of a chest cough for the last three days or so.  At 11:00 PM I resigned to pushing the release off, took some nyquil and went to bed... and ended up sleeping 8 hours straight. (that's pretty  unusual for me when I'm not sick.)

I woke up this morning feeling much better and made some good progress but without the release next week hanging over me, I went back to finely crafting pieces.

See, the whole point of this rebuild was to keep what was good and throw out the junk.  Many of the systems that I wrote later would make the earlier systems easier to write if I'd had them way back when.  Plus, as with anything, I'm smarter about where I'm going now.  So far I've felt really good about the code I've kept and the new glue to put it together.

This past week I was pushing really hard to get the engine ready to move the physics engine over.  In many cases, I was taking short cuts to get systems in just enough to support what I needed to do.  Each time I did it, it chipped away at my motivation for this process.  There is something they call "design deficit" when you get too far down paths like that and experienced developers are very sensitive to this.  I was getting tired of adding code with little notes "fix this later".

As an example of what kind of trap this is, I added world loading just enough so that I could walk around an existing world.  I did not yet port over the terrain generation because I knew there was still some design work to do and I didn't really need it to get physics working.  So I thought.

This decision and others like it have extensive ramifications... not the least of which is that I could never put up a build for anyone to test because it's too much to expect them to have an existing world sufficiently built to try it.  But there were technically issues also.

The dependency chain in this case goes backwards like this, in order to do physics, I need to turn the world into one big local collision mesh.  Objects have to collide with terrain, right?  Well, from experience, that part is the easy part.  The tricky part is regenerating this stuff when the world changes.  There is a whole event notification scheme that has to happen and you try to make it efficient for client-server ops, etc..  None of that had been done... I didn't even have a tool to modify the world either.

I looked into creating the tool and started to port some of the "game mode" code over from the other engine, redesigned with some newer ideas.  I started to just hack a "click to place dirt" "click to remove a block" tool as a "short cut"... but the world change stuff reverberates all the way down to the db code... including some of the book-keeping I use to generate the world.

So there I was, just on this path, looking at stubbing out like 9 different things with "mock ups" just to work on one thing to keep some arbitrary schedule.  When I looked at it in that light, the work to fix all of that was going to be more than doing it right in the first place.

When I started this process a few months ago, each new thing I added was carefully designed and coded.  I built the engine up in stages from the menu system, to the world creator/selector, to the plug-in framework, world plug-in services, etc..  All stuff that I could feel pretty proud of.  Clean design, clean code.  Some of it's left untapped but I still felt good about it.

Somewhere this past week, I started to rush and lost that well-crafted feeling.  So last night, illness and the burden of my own design deficit broke me.  I went to bed hoping for fresher eyes.

The good news is that this morning, after a good night's sleep, I felt much better.  My cough is virtually gone, no runny nose, just a small sore throat.  I went back to where I left off a week ago or so and started implementing the world generation.  I'm getting to clean up a lot of slapdash hackery in the process and it feels great.  I've been more productive today than I have all week.  Terrain and trees are back and caves are soon to follow... all using the new plug-in model, etc..  More over, the layers will be ready to inject towns, roads, etc. when I have time to finish those parts.

The bad news, of course, is that the release will be delayed.  I really wanted to hit the two year anniversary but it's in the best interest of the game overall if I don't.  This also means I'm somewhat reluctant to hang another arbitrary date on this release.  I want to continue doing the best work I can without direct time pressure until that stops being motivating.

In return for your patience, I will post more status updates here.  I will try to sum up the week's progress in posts like this until this big release is out the door.

Also, I've been reluctant to show screen shots because they would have spilled the surprise feature that was getting added this release.  Even though this particular feature isn't done, I love it enough that I'm keeping it for sure... and I'll stop hiding it and starting posting screens and videos soon.

Even though I won't be releasing on the 18th, I will probably post a test release for the "Friends of Mythruna" first and then sometime after for the "Donators".  I'll either start that leading into this next weekend or on the 18th.  I haven't decided and it kind of depends on where I am.

Sorry the news isn't better... but thanks for hanging in there.
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pspeed
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« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2013, 11:05:31 PM »

As promised... here are some pics that include the new surprise feature. 

Basically, about a year ago I started playing with using the raw elevation data to render a farther skyline.  I had some good results but nothing I really felt happy with.

Since I was rebuilding these portions of the engine from the ground up, it was a good time to put it in and play with it.  It also gave me nice reference points as I moved around worlds that were only partially generated.

I'm just putting the links so that you have to click through.

This is the view from the normal default spawn of world seed 0.  Please ignore the red+white bad type blocks and the ugly shadows.  Note: this picture as at 128 meter clip.  The default.  You can see where the normal view would cut off... and really any experienced players will already know that the view would have been pretty short from here.
http://i.imgur.com/tnD108d.jpg

In fact, before, in the version you guys play, the higher up in the air you go, the worse the clipping effect is.  This next pic is from the top of the mountain behind normal spawn... looking in the same direction as the previous pic.  It's pretty clear to see where the normal 128 m clip would have been as I'm purposely not blending the edges yet.
http://i.imgur.com/5gbDO1Z.jpg

Here is the back side of that same mountain:
http://i.imgur.com/UdF5tbY.jpg

Normally you wouldn't even be able to see your nearby coastline.

Flying air ships with that kind of postage stamp beneath you was going to be pretty lame.

It is not without its issues.  Here is a view of my test world.  We're standing on the beach looking back at the bay where spawn town is.  The posts were from testing something else so just ignore them.
http://i.imgur.com/O3O4Qx8.jpg

Note: we cannot see any spawn town buildings.  This may or may not always be the case... I hope to improve it in the future.  Also note that the water kind of rises up the sides of the terrain... but I can fix that with better LOD filtering.

The thing is, despite it's limitations, it is often beautiful.  Here we see just the edge of spawn castle on the right with the world expanding beyond.
http://i.imgur.com/uvZXpMF.jpg

This will open up a lot of possibilities.  My hope is that this lets people run with shorter clips on limited hardware.  The background terrain costs almost nothing to render.  You can see in this pictures that my frame rates are pretty high.  On average the same as the normal engine... but I could have reduced clip and still had pretty stunning views at the loss of local detail.

One of the things that's been holding me back from making larger continents and stuff is that once the land sizes increase the clip becomes really obvious and you don't get the nice stunning views anymore.  At the current clip limitations, the world features are very nicely sized to have a great view over every hill.  When I can blow out the clip through this approach, I can have huge deserts, tundras, oceans, etc. and they will actually mean something.

Anyway... that was my surprise.  I hope it's not too disappointing that I spilled the beans but at least now I can take screen shots without worrying about what's in the background. Wink
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Michael
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« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2013, 11:16:29 PM »

Paul, take your time. You do your work we will appreciate how much you dedicate to it. It is never a good idea to rush, of course you know. I am glad that you are feeling better and that you are getting your coding style back. There are so many features that you are adding that we have to have the patience for, and we will be glad to have patience for.

Have a great time coding.

Your Image Post:
Wow, sorry you spilled the beans, and thanks for the images. That was a stunning view. Have fun playing with your game Smiley
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FutureB
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« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2013, 11:22:32 PM »

Wow Paul that's all good :p One thing i have noticed is that when ever there is a deadline you seem to be sick and fighting to code, just a random thing i sort of noticed, hope you don't get sick for a long time.
This clip and how that's changed... wow its perfect it is actually amazing haha it looks so much better just doing that has made the whole game seem so much more "complete" good work Paul and im sure nobody will be annoyed that your taking slightly longer to make your game because when it is completed i know it will all be worth it [:
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pspeed
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2013, 12:01:13 AM »

Thanks guys.
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2013, 01:49:40 AM »

Just another one... I was playing around with 64 meter clip.
http://i.imgur.com/vV3qsSd.jpg

You can see from the coordinates that if I even walk 3 meters north it would load in another set of tiles... so this is about as short a range as you can see with 64 meter clip.

To me, I think the additional terrain backdrop makes this clip level entirely playable.  At 64 meter clip, there are like 25 tiles loaded at any given time.  At 96 meters, that nearly doubles by adding another 24 tiles to the outside.  At 128 meters, another 32 tiles to make 81 tiles total.  Roughly just over 1/4 of which are displayed at any given angle.

So there is a reason 64 meter clip is running double the FPS on my box.  I know right now it doesn't make that big a difference on the struggling cards but someday it will.  The optimizations that come post-alpha will move the performance issue into the amount of geometry instead of number of textures like it is now.
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2013, 05:12:23 AM »

We trust you to make the best game possible, Paul. Future's right, no one cares about another push if the end product can be closer to your (and our) dream game  Smiley and that surprise is beautiful for when i would want to play on my laptop !

Also, i too noticed the sickness trend here.
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2013, 06:51:50 AM »

 Sad
I love reading your updates even if they are of mixed news. The new feature looks great. Ive been thinking of donating again just need a good justification for myself. Keep up the good work.
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« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2013, 09:44:40 AM »

This feature will be much appreciated by such as I.
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« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2013, 03:59:47 PM »

Make a 0 clip so I can see the entire terrain as rounded hills to see how it would look like if it were like Google Earth in Mythruna. Hehehe
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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2013, 02:34:22 PM »

Also, i too noticed the sickness trend here.

I get sick other times, too.  I just don't mention it unless it happens to mess up a deliverable. Smiley

Case in point: early afternoon yesterday I came down with some stomach bug that kept me cocooned in bed with a bowl all day.  I had a high fever and the shakes until about 7 PM.  It was awful.  I haven't felt that sick in at least 7 years.

I think that general life stress has lowered my immune system... and having two elementary school aged kids means a constant stream of new things to catch.  This is the time of year where someone in our house is always getting, having, or getting over something.
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« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2013, 04:34:46 PM »

OMG, so awesome! Took me awhile to notice, then my eyes fell onto my keyboard! First thing I noticed after that was.... where are the trees? I hope you're planning on having tree's in that 'background' you've made. And hopefully later for houses and stuff :3...

Oh yes, and having 0 clip would be hard to move around in xD... What about something like 5? xD
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pspeed
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« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2013, 05:44:25 PM »

OMG, so awesome! Took me awhile to notice, then my eyes fell onto my keyboard! First thing I noticed after that was.... where are the trees? I hope you're planning on having tree's in that 'background' you've made. And hopefully later for houses and stuff :3...

Oh yes, and having 0 clip would be hard to move around in xD... What about something like 5? xD

I want to try to include some kind of trees and I'm working on getting the generator to spit that information out for me... but the current terrain background is almost free.  Trees will definitely be more expensive so will be optional.  I'm hoping I can keep them basically as fast as the stars, though... if the stars were bigger and tree-sized.

Buildings will be trickier still.  Even with these limitations, I think it's a good addition.
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« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2013, 06:59:16 PM »

Yeah, options is always good Paul :3... But yeah, that was a HUUUUGE Spoiler alert when you threw it at us xD... I was pretty awesome to see and doesn't REALLY need anything else... I was just thought of it as 'the point beyond the fog'. But it could get annoying if somehow my PC saw like 1,000 blocks far but had that covering most of the ground.... when let's say I'm actually looking for trees. But yeah, even if I could turn it on for a second to see them would be awesome!

Then, when things come out like 'Optifine' for Minecraft, but on Mythruna so I could see far and it would be super optimized. Anyway, yeah, the tree's are no hurry, just something to jot down on a notepad for release during the BETA (not Alpha) or something like that. :3... Anyway, glad to hear about the work and how you've gotten over your sickness :3... (I'm still confused whether or no you were ever sick, or if it was just a metaphor)
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pspeed
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« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2013, 07:14:08 PM »

Yeah, options is always good Paul :3... But yeah, that was a HUUUUGE Spoiler alert when you threw it at us xD... I was pretty awesome to see and doesn't REALLY need anything else... I was just thought of it as 'the point beyond the fog'. But it could get annoying if somehow my PC saw like 1,000 blocks far but had that covering most of the ground.... when let's say I'm actually looking for trees. But yeah, even if I could turn it on for a second to see them would be awesome!

Then, when things come out like 'Optifine' for Minecraft, but on Mythruna so I could see far and it would be super optimized. Anyway, yeah, the tree's are no hurry, just something to jot down on a notepad for release during the BETA (not Alpha) or something like that. :3... Anyway, glad to hear about the work and how you've gotten over your sickness :3... (I'm still confused whether or no you were ever sick, or if it was just a metaphor)

I was really sick... twice now.  I'm already looking at ways to do the trees.
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