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Mythaka Development

This blog is dedicated to reporting the ongoing developments of the Mythaka indie MMO project. Comments are encouraged, and will help shape the evolution of the project!

Author: lynnara

Terraforming a Moon, Part 3

Posted by lynnara Saturday November 19 2011 at 12:13AM
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Once again I got myself totally wrapped around 3D modeling, particle effects, and world building... and somehow neglected my blog. There is so much to do that I often find myself unable to justify taking time to write. Most of the time, I am enjoying the work so much that blogging seems like a chore. Even when I feel like writing, I have no idea what to write about, especially when a lot of time has been spent on a very few features. It is times like these when I must remind myself that the reason I'm blogging in the first place is to keep a diary of the development of this game. Maybe I should not be expecting myself to produce epic [ wall of text ] posts every time... perhaps shorter updates posted more often might suit me better. Maybe I will try that in the future to see how it goes.

Anyway, lets continue the terraforming story from last time...

Generating the Materials of Tomorrow...

As mentioned previously, metamaterial is the key component of virtually all constructions. Metamaterial is always in short supply due to high demand and resource intensive production. A generous supply is standard cargo on a terraforming expedition, but even with very high recycling efficiency the colony will use up its initial supply well before the terraforming project is complete. It is therefore necessary to establish metamaterial factories.

These factories extract certain chemically inert elements from the atmosphere. Once collected, the elements are mixed in a high energy soup, while varying polaron fields cause the atoms to resonate at specific frequencies. The combination of resonance, high energy states, and low speed collisions causes quantum strings to form between groups of atoms. Once these quantum molecules are saturated and all forces within them are at equilibrium, the metamaterial molecule is complete, and is diverted into a high energy storage tank.

This process is not a quick one, nor an exact or efficient one. The quantum molecules must evolve and grow, and often molecules are malformed and are ejected from the reactor. It is estimated that only 1/5 of the input materials become the final product. Yet even with the low efficiency, this system has many features that make it the most attractive. First, the material is highly recyclable. In decay, it breaks down into its original component atoms. There are no byproducts of the reaction, even the material ejected from the reactor decays back to its original component atoms. The factory itself is made of the same material, making the entire system completely pollution free. This is very important, since we cannot afford to taint a terraforming project with pollutants.   

Researching the Future...

The colonists possess a wide range of technology, yet they continually engage in research activities. The bulk of the technology that terraformers have is not in tangible form, nor does it follow any rigid rules or laws, outside of certain fundamentals. The great power in their technology lies in its adaptability. General concepts are routinely researched, adapted, and evolved into specific solutions for the problems at hand. So while there will typically be a standard method of constructing low level equipment, all upgrades, accessories, and transformations from the standard are researched in the field. Such research typically involves environmental factors, available materials, accessible power, and any special requirements.

The majority of research is performed by Hybrid Intelligence (HI) systems. These supercomputers are composed of a bank of pure processing power, controlled by a set of AIs that act as both operating system and user. Basic HI systems typically have four independent sets of 3 AIs, which operate on quantum interference neural networks. The interference from external sources gives the AI two key features: the ability to make "accidental" discoveries, and the ability to be indirectly influenced by neighboring AIs. Using multiple AIs working on the same problem has many benefits, as the individual AIs can compete with each other and validate each other's work. In most cases, the physical distance between the neural nets is tuned to provide a certain balance. The closer the neural nets are, the more artificial peer pressure takes place, which works well for systems requiring high precision output. Spread out more, the AIs become more independent, often resulting in widely varying solutions to the same problem.

The Hybrid Intelligence systems by themselves cannot do much research beyond theoretical pursuits. While theory building is important, tangible applied research requires specific facilities. These research facilities, such as particle physics labs and organics labs, are connected to the HI systems through the wireless network nodes. The HI systems can completely control all aspects of such research facilities, and can perform multiple experiments at the same time, all while recording, cataloging, mining and interpreting the resulting data. Generally, the only requirement of the colonists is to set the direction or goal, and to provide raw materials.

The Science of Everything Begins With a Particle...

The particle physics lab is a combination of many experimental apparatus, including a low speed particle energizer with multiple detector targets, and a shielded test dome housing various energy test systems. Typical experiments begin by the introduction of input materials to test. Depending on the experiment, the input material will be either a pure sample of a single molecular material type, or multiple ingredients for an experimental recipe. The input materials are internally stored, separated, and then energized and shot into the particle energizer track. As the test particles revolve around the track, they take on ever higher energy states, until they are redirected into one of the detector targets or into the shielded test dome.

Much of the research performed in the particle physics lab is aimed at finding useful ways to exploit the locally available resources. Discovering energy states, charge capacities, and discharge efficiencies are important for creating larger more efficient power sources. Finding metamaterial compatible resonances, quantum bonds, polaron frequencies, and high energy field effects are required for creating various specialized materials and advanced physical effects. Controlled by an HI system, a particle physics lab can conduct multitudes of automated experiments on a vast number of molecule / energy combinations. At the end of a successful research trial, the results are compiled, interpreted, and transformed into technical theory or plans for upgraded equipment.

Resources are the New Frontier

The moon being terraformed is not a hemogonous rock. There are a multitude of geological deposits and veins, and as in most situations there are abundances and rarities. As luck would go, the most useful resouces are also the most rare. Prospecting for materials is a treasure hunt. Those who find the best materials can sell them for high prices on the market, upgrade their tech and machines to the highest levels, or attempt to corner the market on specific technologies and machines.

Many useful resources are near or on the surface, and personally gathering them is not very difficult. More interesting deposits tend to be deeper and require machines to extract them. The deeper the deposit, the higher the level of mining equipment and technology is required to extract it safely.  Care must be taken to not destroy the more delicate of materials in the extraction process. Also, colonists must not over-mine any specific area, which would create geological instability that might disrupt other terraforming operations.

Filling In the Blanks...

I spent way too much time upgrading the designs, models, and lighting for all of the prototypes I have built so far, so I never got around to updating the Mythaka Encyclopedia. Now that I have a lot more models done and a starting city constructed, I really should take the time to document what I have before building yet more prototypes. Actually, there are only a few left that I need to build for the near future, soon it is going to be time to work on gameplay mechanics to tie all of these things together. That is, of course, when the real fun begins.

Anyway, next time I will try to finish up the Terraforming a Moon miniseries, which will mostly consist of organics research, food production, and housing. After the last few prototypes are built, I need to make some gameplay videos for my youtube channel. Lots to do, not enough of me to go around....

[Update]  I posted some recent screenshots on the Mythaka forums:

Look forward to more goodies (hopefully sooner rather than later), next time...


the Undead Dev