I had been keeping a pretty good pace while working on pipeline issues. The list of processes was finite, and when one was done, the next was waiting for me to immediately dive into. I did not have to think too much about what to do next. But after all of those things got fixed up, I was once again left wondering what exactly I should work on next... and there is a lot to choose from.
I had previously added a lot of creatures, objects, and items into the game files, but just getting them into the database is only the beginning of making them useful. So much work needs to be done, especially on the creatures, to get them in the game and doing something useful. I spent a few days just poking around and trying to come up with at least a short term plan on what to do. With everything needing attention I had a lot of trouble focusing, even though in the back of my mind I really wanted to work on getting building construction working.
Gathering construction materials...
Even after deciding to go ahead and work on the building construction system, I pretty much found myself right back where I was before making that decision. I need buildings to construct. I need models and particle systems. I have some assets that might be useful at least for testing purposes, and I have been kind of itching to get into creating particle effects anyway. The assets I have available are barely sorted, and I needed to go through a rather tedious process of spawning individual assets in the game world to see which models worked and which might be useful as is or might be easily modified.
Since the original 3D models were made using a rather old version of 3D Studio Max, getting them imported into a (kind of) modern version of 3DS was an extremely tedious task, and unfortunately the processes were not always 100% successful. That import process was completed many moons ago, and I am just now getting around to testing individual models.
A few of the models were a bit broken, but for the most part, I am finding these assets are pretty darn ugly. Almost all of the buildings are in a style that I cannot find a kind word to describe. I could not conceive a way to salvage most of them even with modifications.
Then, a sparkle of inspiration...
At some point in the drudgery, I came across some objects called "spires". They have simple bases, a twisting DNA like construction that spins over the base, and in the middle of this spiral, a mesmerizing combination of particle effects. Actually, the whole object is a collection of particle effects. Even the base was part of the particle system, and the whole thing could be spawned as an effect. This interested me. Of course I am a sucker for blinking lights and sparkles and stuff...
Some of the buildings I want to allow players to build include power generation stations and terraforming facilities like atmosphere generators, precipitation generators, and organic molecule seeders. When I looked at the various combinations of effects these spires were using, I was very much inspired on ways to modify these things to use as some of these generator stations. So now I had a very easy excuse to really get into the particle effects system.
Warps, waves, and glowing goodness...
I am just getting into modifying the particle systems, so I am not any kind of expert on such things. This next week is going to be a lot of fun though. I so far have succeeded in replacing the base of the spire with another model that looks much more techy, and I have modified the spinning DNA-like spiral, but more modifications are yet to come. Seeing how all of the layers of effects in these spires are stacked was educational by itself, but looking into any single particle effect in there was an eye-opener to say the least. Its amazing how complex particle effects can be.
Modifying these systems is of course just the beginning. I found in testing that other characters don't see the effects that I spawn using console commands, and I haven't yet figured out how to spawn these things on the fly in-game any other way. So as soon as I get my fill of tinkering with the glowing and sparkles, I will need to face the source code again and figure out how to get the server to spawn these objects on command, and make them permanent residents of the landscape once spawned.
At least I have direction again!
Hopefully I will get enough done soon to justify posting some screenshots on my forums. My poor forums have gone a bit neglected in the past few weeks.... *sigh*
More news, and hopefully sparkly pictures, next time...
The Undead Dev