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Sometimes the Underdark is Hard To Reach

After considering some setbacks, it may be in my best interest to not use the automatic wall and roof builder I made. While it looks good, I seem to have failed to to account for what the area around walkable pathways would look like, and converting my math and fitting it to already constructed walkmeshes is not being pleasant.

I may keep working on the script, but for now, I'm working on roof-less cave tiles and will work up from there. Instead, i'm putting my time into more variety of placeable and construction shapes. For every part I have so far, I'm making 10 more of each, so that I can manually place diversity, rather than relying on my script to make this diversity out of noise. This will also let me define the height for any celing-wall cuttoff point where I devide the roof portion. I can then go back and grab onto this region with a script and add the roof later with a script. But right now, those walls and walk areas are more important.

So here's the plan. I just ran out of money for the next two weeks, and im living on credit for the next one until school starts and my next paycheck floats in. During this time I'll be working more hours to try to make up the difference, but still have mornings to work on caves. I still need another new mouse, as I keep breaking them (extreme overuse), so it's going to be slow now. Real life seems to step on people sometimes... and mice.

But, I'm not going to let it get me down. I'm rewatching videos of caves, and focusing on wall-less scenes like the top-down caves from manufactura. Where we'd usually have rigid walls, I'll add visual blocking poly sections which may or may not be walls between tiles. When they ARE walls, my future script will see the top face and extrude it up to a celing element which I define later. When they are not walls, the tiles will be part of a larger room. This lets me go back to the thing I was trying with the "surround" terrain in my forests. Torchlight II caves had tilegroup edges, but they also had a map edge, which could ride the edges of tile groups. That surround terrain goes up out of user view, while basic tilegroup walls do not. Dungeon Siege had something similar where some tilegroups had walls that were twice as tall so they could show you some feature, while most walls were shorter. I think that's what I want for now. I'll tinker with ceilings later. For now, I want something visually exciting, but mostly functional.

 

Edit Friday 7/28 --

Just as a teaser, here are some screen shots of higher poly speleothems in fairly blank scenes.

The column above is not smoothed, but has been optimized to bring down the poly count.

The second column has been smoothed, but has the same number of faces. See how the shader reacts quite differently to the light. Parts of it can look more real, but also at times more plastic fake.

This third image shows how light affects the smoothed shape at a distance. The unsmoothed shape is affected similarly.

 

I've found that the maximum number of polygons you can have per tile appears to be about 10000. Anything over that number and the toolset and engine are both only using the walkmesh. Everything else is dumped. What I've done is put parts of this on one tile, and a few pieces of the top are on another tile. This is useful to know, but overall damaging to the visuals I was going for. However, it just means I need to be more strict with what I put on a tile, being stingy with polygon count over the entire landscape so that high-poly use is only directly where people will walk. Everything at more distance MUST be lower poly and higher texture use. But again, knowing that exact number is very handy because I can count a scene or selection using GMAX to maximize the tiles.

First Release: 
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Tarot Redhand

For a new mouse try the gigabyte m6800 (not the old motorola 8 bit cpu of the same designation) second generation. I replaced my old laser mouse with one these and don't think you can get a better mouse for the price. In the UK it is around the £10 mark. So even if you manage to wear it out, it won't break the bank.

TR

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DrA

Wow! Sounds like incredible amount of work.. Impressive. Thanks for not giving up smiley I wish I could have half the persistence....

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merricksdad

Well, I took my computer to work. Got a bunch of work stuff done twice as fast on it, got my network stuff all shared with work, and then started working on the caves again. Amazingly, there is less distraction at work at night than at home all day.

I started poking around with the tiles I had already made and given some lighting adjustment and smoothing, I think they'll work fine if I finish diversifying the placeables and prefabs. I tried out the room I planned to release as a concept work, and it walks ok, runs fine, lights good, just needs some shadow work, and to clip some walls for the camera. I'll be working on the speleothems and how they work with the group next.

This little proof of concept release will show how many polygons I can put in a 3x3 tilegroup without affecting much of anything, as long as I have separate shadow-casting elements to mimic the high poly prefabs.

One thing I am finding is that my prefabs are going to end up going off the outermost tiles, meaning I may want to think about group size a little more. If I leave them as is, builders will have to just make sure certain tile groups are not placed directly adjacent to each other. Other groups will be fine in close proximity, and their edges may create good visuals.

I will then think about where I want to place tile-lights, if any.

After that it's full steam ahead, and diversity diversity diversity, after releasing blank tiles first and a pack of placeables for builders. With that much, builders can pretend it's the unity engine and go to work making their own versions of caves. If you share pics with me, I may just add something similar as a standard tile in an expansion.

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Tarot Redhand

Dang! This is looking too good. I have a very major thing to finish and a complicated thing ditto when RL permits. How am supposed to do that if I'm playing around with this even if its just to stop me from drooling? Then you add the carrot that you may add something I do in the toolset... Mea Culpa, Maxima Mea Culpa wink. BTW Hows that light at the end of the tunnel looking? Can you see it yet?

Keep up the good work.

TR

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rjshae

It looks like a sandstone texture. I wonder how it would appear with a basalt or even a dark granite?

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merricksdad

I've tried a wide variety of textures, but since I'm a geologist, this is the only one that looks right to me. Anything from white to rust red, and in between. But you guys do what you want with it. SCL just used a dark gray texture set, and even darker in their middledark set, as if it was made out of lava.

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rjshae

Aye, well the underdark probably shouldn't even exist anyway, so perhaps there's a magical element to its construction and sections can be made out of lava? smiley

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Tarot Redhand

There is a dormant volcano (called Thrihnukagigur (no I won't try to pronounce it)) in Iceland that the lava drained out of leaving it hollow. You can actually take a tour of it and the colours are amazing. As I understand it, this volcano was the inspiration (at least in part) for Jules Verne's novel "Journey to the Centre of theEarth".

TR

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