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Escape from Sword of Moonlight

September 29th, 2017 by Holy at

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

September 2nd, 2017 by Holy at

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

July 30th, 2017 by Holy at

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

ColladaDOM 3 Reference Viewer

June 29th, 2017 by Holy at

The software demonstration from last month now has a location bar and downloads a graphic from this website if opened to a blank document.

The new graphic demonstrates an experimental sRGB mode and also in this file I devised a way to extend COLLADA’s Common Profile to be able to represent Sword of Moonlight’s material values. This was a major stumbling block when I first approach Sword of Moonlight via COLLADA.

The location bar uses a UI code base that I settled on earlier in June called GLUI. I’ve added “copy & paste” to it. I did so for Unix like environments also, but am still working on a full non-Windows version as I speak. I’ve had good relations with Nigel who develops GLUI. I would like to develop it alongside the Daedalus project to complement Sword of Moonlight with art creation tools. I’m uncertain what the future holds. I know that this is destiny, but the way Nigel works is too counterproductive, so unless I can insinuate my values into the GLUI effort it will have to be reconstituted into a sister project that can develop at a brisker pace. I’ve enjoyed myself, but I must live at the speed of mere mortals.

Forum Discussion

ColladaDOM 3 Reference Viewer

May 31st, 2017 by Holy at

It’s deadline time again. All I can manage, again, is a follow-up to April’s post.

Here is a link from some time ago in the forums that leads to a new graphical application that visualizes COLLADA’s XML resources. It works much as a web browser displays a web page.

I am keeping it up-to-date with new capabilities as they come online. There are sample files and keyboard and mouse usage instructions to be had in the following link.

In May I could hardly recall where I spent my time, except that in the previous week I’ve worked extensively on the “FX” part of the application in preparation for taking it beyond the confines of Nvidia’s Cg API that was part of an initiative for the PlayStation 3 but is now gathering cobwebs; Only in the last weeks while I was working on it Nvidia took down its online documentation.

In the week prior I decided to apply myself to nooks and crannies: working on nonlinear curve design and its application to 3-D animation.

Finally I was able to recall the earlier part of the month. In that time I believe I hit upon a practical way to incorporate the newer of COLLADA’s two XML schemas (1.5.0) into the software; Which was a first.

Continued: ColladaDOM 3 Reference Viewer

Forum Discussion

Something old and something new

April 29th, 2017 by Holy at

Something borrowed, and something blue.

Forum Discussion

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