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Exit: Sword of Moonlight Archive

Escape from Sword of Moonlight

Friday, September 29th, 2017 by Holy at

Exit: Something Else!

Seems I just can’t quit Sword of Moonlight! Earlier in September I made up my mind to work on the MHM files that are counterpart to the MSM files from last month. No one really knows what these acronyms mean. I hazard to guess Map Hull Model, and who knows for the S in MSM. Sculpture? Possibly its Japanese.

I thought it’d be a small project, because there is — or ought to be — far fewer MHM to MSM files. I added value to the exteriors set by fitting it together vertically, forming terraces, that look like a strip mine. This is something users like to do with the odd set that is experimental compared to the interiors. It’s the only one that isn’t a level of From Software’s remake of King’s Field included with SOM, an enticement doubling as a demonstration.

I would refine a few 3D sculptures (models) and that would be that. But what I found sent me for a loop; because the hills of the exteriors set were — it turned out — a Frankenstein’s monster of mismatched parts. It was as if SOM’s artists had deliberately applied their craft to solve problems of software; as if the set (set of tiles used to make levels in video games) had been pulled together long after SOM’s software engineer staff would be reassigned to new projects.

I may have discovered this after or before I discovered that my terracing idea wasn’t going to work (without reprogramming) because it wasn’t possible to walk the character along a sloping path that ended at the edge with a shear cliff. This was a kind of geometry that From Software’s developers hadn’t anticipated.

Around this time I was interested in learning more about the MHM and MPX file formats. I think one day I took a look at the MHM files just to have something different to do for an afternoon. I had looked at them before on one or more occasions and what I saw in them never really clicked for me. MPX files are much larger. They are a “map” or a level in the video game. They contain the MHM and MSM files arranged on a grid work, and the scenario for their part of the video game. I am interested in them now because I am certain that they are going to be the main subjects of recent developments going into 2018, aside from the ongoing COLLADA work, that I’ll now be returning to, my job done here, and not to mention, overstayed.

Thanks to work I did a while back, but not so long ago in the timeline of releases, the puzzling parts of the MHM files immediately clicked. Before I knew it I was returning to round 2 of that work on a part of the player that I call a “clipper.” I soon became preoccupied with this, and this would last for the rest of September, until today. This release is possibly the most consequential single contribution that I’ve yet made to SOM. It’s a very important part of the player.

Ostensibly I wanted to make my terraces work, and get to the bottom of the scrap metal like MHM models of the hill set. I began by rebuilding those models. And I thought I understood why they were the way they are — or were. But I turned to be wrong. I happened to introduce a doubled-up 3D data point that caused the issues I was experiencing. But in order to figure that out, I had already opened up the hood of “clipper” and climbed deeper down its rabbit hole than in years past.

Amidst this process I began to make unrelated refinements to the clipper and also the motions and movements of the player. Many spectacular in their own right. Too numerous to recount. I kept pursuing the main problem, which basically amounted to bringing sloped features closer to being first-class polygons in the eye of the clipper. But at each turn I would be thwarted, and also find more side projects. So that I just kept taking on more and more until I realized this was going to be a mega release.

Early on I found time to work on the map editor a little more. I added color pickers in classic SOM style to it. The clipper makes the video game a solid world. As a result of this release it is truly solid now, and made perfectly smooth — free of glitches — with complete support for climbable slopes. I event went as far as to try to extend the angle of the slopes that could be surmounted, but those experiments didn’t pan out. My chief concern is that artists should be able to use steeper slopes to construct small, easily trod features. I’m sure I will return to the clipper for another round. I want to wait however until better visualization facilities come online. Presently the MHM information is completely hidden from users. While an interesting act of faith, working with things invisible, it does seem like SOM is really missing something. I try not to carry on with unsound facilities.

It’s not so difficult to see how important a “clipper” is to a body game such as King’s Field. I would say that it is now at a nearly professional level of presentation. And that ambition wise it far outstrips even its most renowned commercial peers. I will include a complete list of developments in the Forum Discussion accompanying this blog post.

Forum Discussion

Return to Sword of Moonlight

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017 by Holy at

Exit: Something Blue!

As a result of my endeavoring to do good by Sword of Moonlight in the back half of 2017 two remarkable things came about:

The first came out of left field. Something I’d thought about doing for years: it applies a meager form of classical antialiasing to the shapes cutout by black parts of texture-mapped images. This counters pixelation. I ended up doing this now because of a secondary interest in “cross-platform” text rendering; that is a challenging problem. I was considering an approach that made me curious about what this would look like, and I thought I should try to do this first, since it was simpler.

There is virtually nothing on the WWW about classical antialiasing, much less examples in software. I found some resources for implementing a relatively modern approximation called MLAA. It is not really suitable for this application, but the results were a marked improvement, so I’ve made it the default technology going forward.

The next development would be a major undertaking to finally seal the cracks I opened up in 2015 when I developed the modern replacement technology for the earlier antialiasing extension. Note that these kinds of “antialiasing” are unrelated. The new development smooths precise, purely black and white edges; whereas the “antialiasing extension” produces straight geometric lines in 3D images, and does so by preventing aliasing in the first place, akin to how MSAA works or worked, but leverages time and our eyes, so that our silicon computers can be used for more interesting things.

Continued: Return to Sword of Moonlight

Forum Discussion

Return to Sword of Moonlight

Sunday, July 30th, 2017 by Holy at

Exit: Something Borrowed

Lately I’ve felt I’m burning out on COLLADA-DOM and so I’ve at least temporarily turned my attention back to Sword of Moonlight. My return so far proceeds on two fronts — or three if you count the slew of issues seemingly brought about by the Windows 10 Creator Update:

Front 1 is the King’s Field II port. I’m beginning by surveying Melanat, made with SOM_MAP, accurate to the King’s Field in-game maps. This is something I’d want to do myself even if there was an easier way. I’ve done some tests and will soon add an image overlay feature to SOM_MAP.

Front 2 is to make technical changes to From Software’s artwork, so it is compatible with extensions I developed in 2015 that enable Sword of Moonlight to conjure perfectly straight lines without “anti-aliasing” perfect for the stark geometric shapes of the original PlayStation games. This was the first practical objective I had in mind for Daedalus. It still is.

I’ve web searched the landscape in vain. I’ve concluded developing a new editing software is unavoidable. It’s not the only way, but it’s the only way that doesn’t make me uncomfortable.

I’ve settled on borrowing from a modest open source project called Misfit Model 3D. In order to carry out software, programmers methodically pore over problem domains, and this is the molten core value of a baseline competent code base. By carrying this effort over into Daedalus I sidestep having to do that myself (up to a point) and am liberated to be more creative and less necessitous. While I feel like I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel this time, I’m also feeling positive about this arrangement, even if it is just an instinct.

In July I inadvertently preoccupied myself porting COLLADA-DOM (2.5) to POSIX environments: Cygwin; and then Linux on Windows 10. I used CMake to do this. I’d never used CMake. It doesn’t have a precompiled-header framework. COLLADA-DOM requires one. So I developed one.

Forum Discussion

I'm trying for escape velocity

Sunday, September 11th, 2016 by Holy at

Exit: Time to Go

This site/I have been very quiet. I think — or want to predict — that this is a calm before a storm. I am in the process of redirecting my energies in order to pursue a higher profile status for myself and Sword of Moonlight. It doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily succeed; but I don’t know why not. It’s always difficult to say, because my life experience has been one that: if you attempt to do anything worthwhile where software is concerned, you basically must be prepared to go it completely alone, and to greet a completely unsympathetic wall, every day, as if it’s an outpouring of supportive, eternally grateful, fellow people, that are totally there — not a figment of your psyche willed to be so to spur your work at all; just like everything else you must will into being, tirelessly, day in, day out, for an imagined audience, that apparently could care less if you exist or not! but will paradoxically manifest one day, as if you’d always done so. It’s frankly mad, but it gives me a purpose, where otherwise my life would — I believe — be dull and unmeaningful.

And not for want of alternatives. My life is actually charmed. Which just makes it all the more difficult to willfully break its mold. Anyway, I feel like the time is right to go for broke. I don’t know how, but I will exhaust my options. The most difficult part is considering changing my lifestyle, or traveling again, or even moving if it comes to that. I am very isolated. It’s ideal for software development, and there’s no change I could make that would be more ideal for software development, but like I hope I communicated, raising the profile of this project I think must entail more than mere software work. I’ve done plenty of that for years. And it’s definitely reached a head. But I think to go on like this risks never parting the curtain on the world-stage.

Continued: I'm trying for escape velocity

Forum Discussion

Before heading back to work

Sunday, February 14th, 2016 by Holy at

Exit: A brief respite

2016 is all about getting 3D artwork in-and-out-of Sword of Moonlight. In fact this work began at least two months prior to the new year. And so by February a malaise had set in. I needed a vacation from this work. Just for two or three weeks. Not recreation-no of course not. Just a new kind of work.

So after two weeks, we have a new micro-release that adds footstep sound effects to the player-protagonists among other things. Footsteps have been curiously absent for a while. A long time frankly. I endeavored to figure it out a while back. It would be my next odd job and the next step in the process of making the PCs seem analogous to NPCs — Non-Player Characters.

There is a single, simple footstep sound, which most of the people-like NPCs already use; although it turned out that From Software fumbled, and assigned different sound effects to either foot, left-or-right, the other sound evocative of a peg-leg. A possibility is the non-peg sound, deemed superior, was added by an employee who neglected-or-did-not-realize that each foot had its own point-of-attachment. As a result the NPCs walk with an aural limp, or an asymmetric sound. It’s unsurprising it went unnoticed, as From Software published Sword of Moonlight absent quality assurance authorities — for example, Sony or Sega — and so this is not-uncommon outside of the King’s Field remake-kit: wherein NPCs do not walk.

These NPCs’ artwork is not part of this release, although it is part of this year’s initiative to ease development and management of 3D art regarding Sword of Moonlight. Their footsteps are not the only concern.

Continued: Before heading back to work

Forum Discussion

Not a bad year at all...

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015 by Holy at

Exit: Not a bad year,

I’ve written a year-in-review in Sword of Moonlight’s board on GameFAQs:

In addition, there’s a new patch available for the previous release that is easy to miss. This patch addresses the reservations I had about the new high fidelity analog controls extension that snuck in at the last moment. It’s definitely worth trying. The controls have never been as refined as this. If only because before recently they never had to be!

Forum Discussion

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