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DarkBASIC Professional Discussion / Environmental Plugin - Who'd be interested?

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The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 11th Apr 2008 13:53 Edited at: 22nd Jun 2008 18:33


I am starting work on an environmental engine, and I was just wondering if anyone would actually be interested in this and find it helpful towards their projects.

Feature list:
Terrain
Loading
Splitting (for Newton physics)
Manipulation
Import/Export Advanced Terrain and .DBO

Water
Multiple shaders for different water (eg. tropical, lake, river etc.)
Waves/tide
Underwater effects
Waterfalls

Wildlife

Birds, fish, land mammals etc.
Interactive (eg. run away from player if they stray too close)
Variable characteristics (eg. some will let player get closer than others)

Weather

Random and controlled weather
Full range of conditions such as rain, snow etc.
Dynamic lighting
Full day/night cycle

World
Entity placement
Vegetation system
Sound placement
Lighting placement
Lightmapping
Lens Flare

Definite -
Maybe -
Scrapped (might include later) -


This is not a team request, but if anybody would be interested in helping out then I have no obligations


And if anyone has any other ideas/features then feel free to say


I should be able to get some screenshots of the terrain/water system either sometime today or tomorrow.

bjadams
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Posted: 11th Apr 2008 14:08
this sounds very interesting.

what will the system offer? plgin in the form of a dll and maybe an editor tool to build the enviornment?

is there any possibility to have this system working with darkgdk?
ShaunRW
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Posted: 11th Apr 2008 14:08 Edited at: 11th Apr 2008 14:08
this sounds cool

maybe for hot days there could be heatwaves in the distance



shaun

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The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 11th Apr 2008 14:24 Edited at: 11th Apr 2008 14:36
Quote: "maybe for hot days there could be heatwaves in the distance"

Nice idea Shaun, i'm sure this would be easy to implement with a shader of some sort.

Quote: "what will the system offer? plgin in the form of a dll and maybe an editor tool to build the enviornment?"

For the initial development, it will be a function library, ie. you have to include the .dba file in your project and then you are able to use the functions inside the environmental engine.
Then maybe later when it is ready for release it can be made into a DLL so you don't have to worry about including and updating each .dba file.

An editor tool would also be included, although it is very hard (for me at least) to code the terrain editor. But everything else like object placement, water etc. should be fairly straight forward.
Everything that is featured in the plugin you should be able to edit straight from the toolset.

Quote: "is there any possibility to have this system working with darkgdk?"

Possibly, but I use that term very lightly. I don't have a clue how to get a DBPro plugin working in Dark GDK, perhaps that is something that I could look into in the future. But for now, I intend for this to be for DBpro only.


I have also added a few extra features such as foliage etc.

The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 11th Apr 2008 15:04 Edited at: 11th Apr 2008 15:05
Some early screens form the terrain system...


Pixel Perfect
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Posted: 11th Apr 2008 15:10
Who wouldn't be interested in this if you can manage to pull it off!!! Good luck with the project.

Just one thing I noticed ... in your list you have full day night cycling ticked but dynamic lighting, light placement and lightmapping are both unticked. How are you then planning to implement full day night cycling? Are you just intending cycling the ambient light?

Also, I wouldn't bother writing your own terrain editor as there are plenty of good editors out there and its non trivial. I'd just make your editor capable of importing height maps and or existing terrain object files (DBO, X etc).

No matter how good your code is, someone will improve on it
The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 11th Apr 2008 15:15
Quote: "Are you just intending cycling the ambient light?"

Haven't really thought that much about it. The problem with lightmapping and a realtime time cycle system is that the shadows are obviousley going to move because of the position of the sun, the problem is that lightmaps are fixed.

Quote: "Also, I wouldn't bother writing your own terrain editor as there are plenty of good editors out there and its non trivial. I'd just make your editor capable of importing height maps and or existing terrain object files (DBO, X etc)."

If I do decide to include a terrain editor then I will probably modify Tersculpt, but I'm still not sure I want to go down that road :S .
But it will definatly support importing/exporting heightmaps and .dbo files.

Pixel Perfect
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Posted: 11th Apr 2008 15:26
Quote: "Haven't really thought that much about it."

The reason I asked is beacuse I'm currently trying to do exactly that, get a realistic day night cycle thing going in DGDK with dynamic lighting but it's proving to be problematical to say the least!

Quote: "If I do decide to include a terrain editor then I will probably modify Tersculpt"

That would be a good solution, however if you have the full import/export facility I'm not sure it's really needed.

Good luck though with whatever you decide to do.

No matter how good your code is, someone will improve on it
The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 11th Apr 2008 15:31
Quote: "That would be a good solution, however if you have the full import/export facility I'm not sure it's really needed."

I can see now why the export feature wouldn't be needed, because if you can't manipulate the terrain, then it isn't going to be any different to what you imported, unless you wanted to change a heightmap to a DBO and vice versa.

But the import feature is crucial as it allows the user to be able to place their objects, lights etc. exactly where they want them in their world, not just taking random guesses.
Quote: "
Good luck though with whatever you decide to do."

And thanks

Pixel Perfect
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Posted: 11th Apr 2008 15:57
Quote: "But the import feature is crucial "

Exactly ... thats really all you need. Leave the terrain generation to the tools which specialise in that.

No matter how good your code is, someone will improve on it
The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 11th Apr 2008 17:35
Any feedback on the screenshots?

Sasuke
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Posted: 11th Apr 2008 18:10
The screenies are looking good, though I have a question about some of those camera positions. Looking at some of those positions it looks like the terrain object is hugh, which would I guessing causse a drop in performance. My maps are usually in the range of 1024x1024 to 4096x4096 units, the advantages is everything is tiny even distance caculations which speeds everything up(though I don't know by how much). Have you looked at the performance side of thing since your project include alot and performance is key?

Other than that this looks good.
The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 11th Apr 2008 18:26
Thanks for the reply.

The reason for the terrain being so big is because of the scaling done after the heightmap has been loaded. It's hard to believe, but the actual heightmap is only 512x512, yet when it is scaled up it retains its smoothness. The terrain just by itself (without skybox and water etc.) I managed to maintain a framerate of 360 FPS, which is pretty decent considering the visual size of the terrain.

Roxas
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Posted: 11th Apr 2008 18:28
Wow awesome! These kind of projects are always helpful! Will help users games boost in perfomance!

Also make sure it supports older machines

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The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 11th Apr 2008 18:39
Quote: "Also make sure it supports older machines"

I'll try my best

I've got an oldish Win 2000 machine somewhere, I guess i'll be able to test it out on there as well.

The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 11th Apr 2008 19:31
Some early screenshots of the editor GUI...


mr Handy
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Posted: 12th Apr 2008 09:51
Nah, better make weather effects because terrain editors already exists!!! like inventing bicycle. no, really! your idea wery, wery
good and usefull, but you should start from inventing NOT existing
stuff like weather or fire, and only at the end terrain.

IMHO of course!
Nice screens btw

A door is a door is a door. Even a swinging one. =0
Krisper
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Posted: 12th Apr 2008 10:19
Quote: "I was just wondering if anyone would actually be interested in this and find it helpful towards their projects."
I would find this extremely helpful for my project. I am planning on including all of the features you mentioned in my project. I know others have requested that it suit older PC's, I am looking more for high quality textures and effects. I am only starting to learn coding, otherwise I would offer to help. Please keep us updated on your progress.
The admiral
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Posted: 12th Apr 2008 11:07
This looks really good.

The admiral
jeffhuys
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Posted: 12th Apr 2008 11:51
Awesome... Simply awesome! The GUI:
Really really neat!


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The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 12th Apr 2008 14:09
Quote: "I would find this extremely helpful for my project. I am planning on including all of the features you mentioned in my project. I know others have requested that it suit older PC's, I am looking more for high quality textures and effects. I am only starting to learn coding, otherwise I would offer to help. Please keep us updated on your progress."

I'll try and satisfy both high and low-end PCs. There's only so much optimization one can do for stuff like vegetation etc. so i'll add some features that allow the user to change the rendering distance so that only close up vegetation is shown if it starts running too slow.

I don't have anything planned for the rest of this week so I should have a primitive vegetation system in place by the end.

draknir_
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Posted: 12th Apr 2008 17:33
sounds and looks good, keep us updated
culmor30
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Posted: 12th Apr 2008 20:12
I'd use it/buy it if you were planning on charging. Looks really cool, keep us updated.
The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 12th Apr 2008 20:58
Quote: "I'd use it/buy it if you were planning on charging. Looks really cool, keep us updated."

I'm definitely planning on releasing a free version, and if there's a commercial version as well then it'll be no more than £20, more like £10 or £15. But as they say, the best things in life are free

TheZag
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Posted: 12th Apr 2008 21:14
Very usefull project!

I would like to have it one day: but please, not for free!
People gives value to things just for their cost!
If you have a valid project or product, don't give it away for nothing!

Ambients are always nature environment.
Should be possible to add something like a town, buildings, instead of mountains ?
The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 12th Apr 2008 21:36
Quote: "Should be possible to add something like a town, buildings, instead of mountains ?"

That is what is meant by object placement, I think i'll rename it to entity placement. But yes, it will be possible to place buildings etc.

The reason I want to offer a free version is because there are so many tools that are needed to make a game, and each one goes for about £25, and if you are buying several of these just sop you can finish your game, then that's a lot of money we are talking about here. And that is why I offer a free version.

Obviously the free version won't have any of the advanced features that the commercial version has to offer, but it still gives the user the ability to create a simple yet effective world. Then if they like it, they can buy the full version to unlock lots of features and make their world even better.


But let's not get too hasty, I haven't even released an alpha version yet.

Krisper
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Posted: 13th Apr 2008 00:20
Well a limited free version would be good to get people interested, but what you are planning here is a complete package. I have already bought a bundle of add-ons for DBPro and I'd trade them all in for this one, especially if you can turn the 's into .
The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 13th Apr 2008 12:59
Quote: "I'd trade them all in for this one, especially if you can turn the 's into ."

Glad to hear it

Should have a couple of videos and some more eye-candy ready by the end of his week, the vegetation system should also be done by then as well.

The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 14th Apr 2008 12:27
Ok, some more screenshots...


And... a video


Comments apreciated

Roxas
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Posted: 14th Apr 2008 13:57
Really nice ^^

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dan958
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Posted: 14th Apr 2008 18:55
looks good, kudos to you
The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 14th Apr 2008 20:23
Thanks you two

draknir_
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Posted: 14th Apr 2008 20:24
looks great, can it do really dense foliage as well?
The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 14th Apr 2008 20:27
Certainly, one thing that you have to watch out for though is the draw distance and wait steps. Because say you have 1000 objects (grass) every loop it has to check each object, rotate it, alpha map it etc. and that really slows the program down.

So using Dark Environment you can set it so that it only does an update say once every 10 loops, it makes a huge impact on saving the framerate, but the difference in the time it takes to rotate and alpha map etc. is hardly noticeable at all.

draknir_
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Posted: 14th Apr 2008 21:04
about the wait stepping, I assume its still calculating all the foliage in a single frame, wouldnt it be more efficient to split the foliage into chunks of say 100 objects and update one chunk every frame? Otherwise you might have frame 'hitches' when it updates a lot of objects in a single frame.
The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 14th Apr 2008 21:25
Quote: "wouldnt it be more efficient to split the foliage into chunks of say 100 objects and update one chunk every frame?"

Hmm, so like splitting the load evenly. That might be one way to do it, i'll take a look into doing that.

Although then you'd have to keep track of what had already been rendered etc. But good idea anyway, I shall try and work something out...

draknir_
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Posted: 14th Apr 2008 22:10
I would guess youre already storing the object numbers in an array? Just have a second array of booleans the same size, true is rendered and false is not yet rendered.
dan958
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Posted: 14th Apr 2008 22:33
cant wait until this is finished


Krisper
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Posted: 15th Apr 2008 07:15
very nice, can't wait to see more.
The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 15th Apr 2008 13:41
Quote: "I would guess youre already storing the object numbers in an array? Just have a second array of booleans the same size, true is rendered and false is not yet rendered."

Yes, arrays as a Type. So I guess I'd just add another field for rendered.

Duffer
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Posted: 16th Apr 2008 00:27
This looks absolutely top. How easy would it be to integrate this into DBPro code for a game? Will there be a dll? Commands and Help? Extent of commands? A seperate landscape creator/editor for it?

a long time dabbler with DBC and DBPro with no actual talent but lots of enthusiasm...
The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 16th Apr 2008 11:15
I am hoping that the final version will be in the form of DLL that can just be dropped into the plugins folder, but I'll have to check up on how to make a DLL. At the moment, it is just another .dba which you include.

The code is simple, here are all of the commands that you will need to get it up and running:
+ Code Snippet
And that's all the code you need to learn to get your environment loaded.

I am also intending that it will be fully documented, with each command being fully explained.

While it only takes a few commands to load the environment, there will be loads more that give you complete control over all aspects such as changing the weather, the time etc and even the nitty-gritty details such as how far away the trees are drawn, whether to include alpha blending etc.


No landscape editor is planned for it as there are plenty of free alternatives out there. But this may be something I include in a later version

Duffer
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Posted: 16th Apr 2008 21:25
@ The Wilderbeast,

Thanks for the update. What is the eta for first release? Pricing?

a long time dabbler with DBC and DBPro with no actual talent but lots of enthusiasm...
Anonymous User
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Posted: 16th Apr 2008 22:57
the video is very nice, I would like to see some denser grass and trees, are you using a grass map or just placing the objects by hand or at random?

???
CuCuMBeR
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Posted: 17th Apr 2008 19:27
Dont misunderstand now, but what i have seen in the video is not worth for money.

Still would be a good helper aplication though.

I suggest an addition if you werent planning it;

Those trees in your vegetation stuff should have collision data for trunks only.

There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.
Anonymous User
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Posted: 17th Apr 2008 19:48
Or you could just create a collision box around the trunk, would speed the engine up a lot.

???
Duffer
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Posted: 17th Apr 2008 20:22
@ The Wilderbeast,

Depending on functionality and speed this would definitely be worth something....

Isnt this now for the WIP forum board?

a long time dabbler with DBC and DBPro with no actual talent but lots of enthusiasm...
The Wilderbeast
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Posted: 17th Apr 2008 22:47
Quote: "Thanks for the update. What is the eta for first release? Pricing?"

Whenever it's ready Honestly though, I don't know. But if it sells, about £15 sounds reasonable.

Quote: "the video is very nice, I would like to see some denser grass and trees, are you using a grass map or just placing the objects by hand or at random?"

Well all of the data for it is stored in a map file. Simply it just contains a sort of "brush", so like you say what type of vegetation (eg. grass), the XZ co-ordinates, radius and density and it does all the rest. And all of this can be edited withing the editor.

Quote: "but what i have seen in the video is not worth for money."

I wouldn't dream of even trying to release it for free in its current state. That was an extremely early video just to show that I've actually done something rather than talking about it.
Quote: "
Those trees in your vegetation stuff should have collision data for trunks only."

Hmm, may be worth doing, but what if the user is using something else like Newton or something?

Quote: "Isnt this now for the WIP forum board?"

Noo, I'd rather like to get some more work done on it, so like get most of the features listed started off, then post a WIP and improve them.


And once again guys, thanks for all the comments A lot of interesting points have been raised here.

Doz
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Posted: 17th Apr 2008 23:16
Looks great, keep us up to date cause I'd bet many of us would be more than willing to try out an alpha
Duffer
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Posted: 30th Apr 2008 22:12
@ The Wilderbeast - how goes it?

a long time dabbler with DBC and DBPro with no actual talent but lots of enthusiasm...

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