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Escape from Sword of Moonlight

September 29th, 2017 by Holy at www.swordofmoonlight.net

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.

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