Sorry guys, this next update is mostly visual improvements. Lets chat a bit about planets.
I have to wear a lot of hats other than programmer, so when I am wearing the programmer hat I try to be as efficient as I can. Usually that means my programming work is loosely scheduled and tends to be a bit chaotic because I switch into programmer mode to accomplish something that interests me. Afterwards I stay in programmer mode long enough to do the thing I was really supposed to do, but it takes me a bit of time to get there.
This patch started as bug fixes for last patch, except one of the bugs was very elusive and I spent a bit longer chasing it. Then I had a bunch of real life stuff that switched me out of programmer mode for a few days. When I came back, Jan had some fun new things to put in, and that’s what had my interest until recently. In other words, I tried to fix some bugs and accidentally spent multiple weeks putting in cool new stuff. Oops.
One of the huge overhauls to existing systems introduced in the next patch will be…
If you were the type that likes eye candy, and maybe if you remember what our system was like before we changed the layout of the world map, then you probably recall the planets that used to be all over space. Of course if you had travelled outside the bounds of what we consider to be the singleplayer game map then you certainly would have found some of our old planets, but for a while now they have been decidedly absent from the core game systems. That’s because we have been cooking up a plan to put nicer looking planets in and honestly we just didn’t bother with placeholder planets while proper planets were being built.
Those planets are built now.
The system is possibly Jan’s masterpiece, so in the end this patch really became his patch. I’ve mostly spent all this time getting his code working inside our framework and fixing bugs while he mutters curse words about normal maps for hours in his own world of debugging hell.
The result looks like this:
That’s almost entirely done on the GPU. Here’s some of the highlights:
I graduated from a public highschool in the United States so I fully believe every good article needs to end with a conclusion paragraph, and maybe a crayon drawing. So in conclusion, we now have an entire universe full of infinite eye candy. After the patch hits I encourage you all to open a singleplayer game with debug mode on (hold shift when starting the game) and fly around checking out all the procedural planets that litter the infinite galaxy of Zero Falls. Also expect that we will improve this algorithm over time, because the system’s power and capability is much greater than our current content for it. As we add new texture maps, parameter sets, and generation techniques the universe will slowly evolve more and more diversity of planet types.
Next time I’ll be talking about the other big system overhaul that went into this patch: GPU particles.