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Exit: 2015 Archive

The month of November

Monday, November 30th, 2015 by Holy at

Exit: Daedalus Attack!

I know it’s been quiet here all month, so I want to explain something of what I’ve been up to. But first I was hoping to be writing about new art files going up to fix the cracks in the 3D map tiles caused by the recent addition of an anti-aliasing-like extension (this is mentioned time and time again in past months blog posts) and the holes that are in the textures, left by From Software.

However I’ve not heard from the artist who’d pledged to do this work for weeks. Last I heard from them they were working on it, supposedly (I hate to say it so publicly but this is a pattern with this artist; so I say it parenthetically.) It’s because I actually tried to take this job on for myself that instead I’ve ventured off into completely different territory lately. The troubles I ran into trying to work with the tools left by From Software were too great, and their choice of the X format for 3D model input into the tools proved the greatest hurdle of them all. I don’t think it was a bad choice, but the years have not been kind to the X format.

(Yes, artists have told me this time and again, but I couldn’t believe them, it’s a very fine format and introduced by Microsoft for use with its Direct X libraries, so I do not understand how it could so fall out of fashion.)

There is practically no support for X one way or the other. So faced with an existential crisis of sorts, and also feeling it’s time to place a premium on the art development department; or that is to make it a priority; I’ve made plans in length to completely reinvent Sword of Moonlight’s art workflow! It is an all consuming undertaking. I’ve already been at it for long hours most of the month.

I will describe the future here now. And I should add that the cracks in the 3D tiles really are an interruption in the short term that can be addressed. The other models do not feature so many cracks, but to address them in any way will necessarily entail a complete sea change…

Continued: The month of November

Forum Discussion

And, pours and pours and pours.

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015 by Holy at

Exit: The Saga Continues

It’s half urgent micro-release, half follow-up to the previous release. Oh, did I mention? there’s a new release! Yes, already. I know; it’s been like two weeks. I also want to write about some of the activity that will be underway before work begins on the next release, if only to pad out this blog post.

First/foremost there’s a stupendous virtual memory leak that this release takes care of. It isn’t a legacy bug, and I don’t know how far back it goes. Likely either a long way back, or just a release or two back, since I’ve recently been wreaking havoc around the places where the bug lived.

It would not have been apparent until now anyway, because I had not until recently worked with a project ambitious enough to really take a toll on the system’s memory. Still I want to stress that it’s very important to update to this release immediately.

There are various extensions that I will touch on in the Forum Discussion, however the other main bit I want to write about is to do with the “pinning” system introduced in Windows 7. I’ve worked on this a few times in the past, and still it wasn’t until I recently began using Windows 10 with a new computer that I noticed problems; perhaps problems that are not apparent in 7.

Regardless I’m now confident that this release does pinning correctly. It doesn’t include the very limited task list of recent releases because Microsoft seems to have changed how it works. I have ambitious plans to return to the task list later, but beside being final, and correctly pinning standalone games, the pinned program now acts as a host for all open Sword of Moonlight programs, meaning that if everything is working correctly there will only ever be one copy of it on the task bar and system tray, paving the way for the “always on experience” I’ve long longed for.

Continued: And, pours and pours and pours.

Forum Discussion

When it rains, it pours, and pours and pours

Saturday, September 19th, 2015 by Holy at

Exit: Computer Graphics

Every time I have to pen this blog post I wish I could think of another new way to announce that there’s a new SomEx release, hot off the presses. It’s a kind of hell in miniature. Nevertheless I guess, without further ado, there is — once again — a new release. This round there’s a lot to cover, and it’s all about graphics. So get comfortable, but be sure that you keep one eye on the graphics at all times!!

So kidding aside, it all started out innocently enough. I’d wanted to at last do something for the little-halos-underfoot shadows the non-player characters ride around on. Visibly they are fine, just the way they are, only I need Sword of Moonlight to be a rugged implement, and these spot shadows that stick out into thin air and slice into uneven terrain just aren’t cutting it. Of course if there were always ample, level, standing room, then this wouldn’t be a problem. That is, as long as you don’t look closely, you won’t notice them hovering a millimeter off the ground in the same airspace as the soles of their characters’ feet!

So, I thought I was owed a break and these spotty, little shadows look like as good a distraction as any. That was more than a month-and-a-litany-of-graphics-extensions ago. Not the least among them is the freak accident of history that you can read about in last month’s blog post. For reasons I decided it would be a good idea and side project to first reform Sword of Moonlight’s relationship with the “z-buffer” with a mind to make it act like a regular computer game, or at least make it more maintainable and more predictable — frame rate wise. It was an open-and-shut-case except for little niggling details that kept coming up all throughout this release.

Continued: When it rains, it pours, and pours and pours

Forum Discussion

I hadn't eaten all day.

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 by Holy at

Exit: I have chills,

Today I invented a perfect anti-aliasing technique that I hadn’t envisioned. I don’t know that it’s ever been used or independently invented before. Often times I feel like my life is movie.

The technique, like the others I’ve pioneered for Sword of Moonlight during the recent months is unorthodox. It was born out of getting just right up to the finish line and wanting like mad to make it across. It’s completely “free”. Both in the sense that it doesn’t impact performance at all, literally, and is ready for all GPU based integrated graphics or whatever. And in the sense that I am certainly not interested in holding it to my chest. To the contrary I wonder how to get it out to the masses?

I’m shifting my focus with Sword of Moonlight to being all about this technique. The Moratheia project looks like a movie. Maybe I’m lovesick, but it looks like Pasolini’s Canterbury Tales. I’m not sure why, something about the author’s artwork to be certain, but it’s never looked fully real before like it does now. I caught that film recently on Netflix so it’s fresh in my mind.

There is really very little to this. Except it imposes some restrictions, and the map editor tool chain may require special attention. For the map geometry cracks are everywhere, it feels like a PlayStation game, like classic King’s Field, but that’s no excuse. To use this technique the vertices must be manipulated in “homogeneous space” so there has to be common vertices everywhere; I haven’t seen any non-map tile elements that don’t adhere to this.

There are also some trouble with decal like polygons. I will probably see about making everything that isn’t map geometry decal like, but I don’t know if that is universally supported by hardware, and I don’t know how to implement it in a shader. This has to do with manipulating the vertices again. It doesn’t change the depth at the vertex, but it does inside the polygon.

There is a lot to attend to. This movie like quality is so impressive, it feels like it could be a clean break from the history of video games into something fresh and exciting (sometimes my life doesn’t feel like a movie. Sometimes it feels like one of those games, where you are all alone, the center of the universe, but no one else your equal nor peer. That much is a damn shame.)

Forum Discussion

A light at the end of the tunnel...

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015 by Holy at

Exit: Behold!

I’m not sure where to begin. There’s a new mega-release up. With lots of surprises in store! It finalizes the jumping model, and adds a way to lower the point-of-view 1/3rd, letting you pass beneath things at about 22% below head level. It might not sound like much (these figures are adjustable) but even for the default height — that’s a bit on the short side — this comes out to about a full screen at nose length; which will seem like a lot.

The new feature complements jumping, since jumping now requires the release of the ground-based movement inputs. If you do not jump but instead move away, then you are able to squat/hunker down in this way. If running this is automatically done so that you do not have to stop to do so. If pressed up against a passageway or obstruction, beginning to run will pass beneath it at walking speed, at which point you can stop running if you only wish to enter the space. (If you do not jump while running you simply return to a walking gait. This should go without saying.)

There is the beginning of a way to run at full speed. There is no penalty for doing so at this time. It is not possible to run at full speed when there is not room to stand fully erect. Doing so requires that you hold down all three buttons. This release was supposed to add the ability to look behind while running, by holding down either button, so that when they cancel each other out you run at full speed instead. Run for your life as it were. However because a bigger priority was finalizing the jumping model, all efforts got directed at its complement in order to fill the hole opened up in the control scheme…

Continued: A light at the end of the tunnel…

Forum Discussion

I give you the future!

Friday, May 8th, 2015 by Holy at

Exit: Literary Machines

Fuh, fuh, fuh, finally, I’ve done it, after all…

Gosh, I don’t know where to begin. Unh-uh, I started last year like in October, or sometime around that time, working on what I thought then would be a two month project or so; or that’s what I was psychically prepared for anyway. What I set out to do was to make a text editor for Sword of Moonlight with the immediate objective of providing a graphical interface way to translate/customize the in-game text that is basically built into the game-player. I knew it would be more than that, and to call it a text-editor, while factual, is not exactly accurate, since those two words are more or less inextricably bound to being a compound word that doesn’t quite capture what I had in mind for Sword of Moonlight; not then nor now. The general nuts and bolts of it haven’t really changed from the offset, still it’s been six months all told, and only then to be able to release the bare minimum functionality of a complete system, and only so that I can give it a rest, before I’ve had more of one thing than I can physically bear.

The “text-editor” itself it turns out IS none other than SOM_MAIN in the flesh. As the title suggests, this is the first tool you encounter when taking Sword of Moonlight out for a spin. Until now it hadn’t actually been a tool, but instead three buttons, with three simple functions, and a fourth for quitting Sword of Moonlight; or the Exit, which is where the name of this blog is taken from in fact. MAIN is actually short for Main Menu, which is a little bit of a play on King’s Field, because that’s what its in-game menu is called. But this new editor side of SOM_MAIN completely changes the meaning. The new SOM_MAIN is a labyrinthine tool rivaled only by SOM_MAP in its outgrowth of screens. It is completely independent of the other tools, it represents the text of the game and that is all, unencumbered by the game project files. This way the projects themselves are able to be language-neutral, and the text removed from the projects can be freely edited, translated, annotated, and organized independently of the projects’ structure.

Continued: I give you the future!

Forum Discussion

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