Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Blue Mars New Member Promotion: 1000 Blu$ & Software Update

Blue Mars is offering 1000 BLU$ to new members! From August 23 to August 30, if you are not already a member of Blue Mars, create a new Blue Mars account and log in to win 1000 BLU$.  Full details are on the 20 August: Blue Mars Blog

In addition to the promotion, the software and website will be updated about Thursday.  New features include an Animation Editor (to upload custom animations), a new Welcome Area, and other changes which I don't know about until we get the release notes and the actual update.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

City Updates for Both Tharsis and Sandbox Go Online

Both cities had updates within the past few days.  Since they share the "SAND_Common.pak" file, that will tend happen in the future.  Otherwise changes like the ones I did to the terrain materials will leave them out of step. Currently the common data is 40.6MB, and the city data are 13.9MB for Sandbox and 12.8MB for Tharsis.  We are allowed a total of 2048MB between the two cities, so we are only 3.3% full on data allowance overall.

Specific changes and my comments are as follows:

=== SANDBOX CITY v.2 (17 Aug 2010) ===

* Added 35 islands around the perimeter of the terrain map.  These are intended for future leased private island blocks. They have the terrain textures and trees done.  A teleport network to visit them will be added next.

* Made slight changes to the terrain textures so they blend better.  The main terrain layers will always have visible seams where they change from one to the next.  They are defined per point on the terrain grid, ie each point records the height at that point, and which terrain texture layer is assigned at that point.  Between points they are blended by the graphics engine, but the human eye is very good at picking out edges where something changes.

The way to smooth over the edges is to use "roads" and "decals" to cover them.  These lie flat to the terrain and can have custom materials.  So besides using the Road object for actual brick and asphalt roads, I have used a sand to grass blend material on the edge of the beaches in both cities to hide the blocky seams in the main terrain layers.

* Added a welcome sign and tutorial signs near the spawn point (the boat dock)

* Added the "Sandbox" area for which Sandbox City is named.  This is intended as a new developer tutorial area. Currently it only has a demo of Rigid object physics (if you touch the cylinders they will explode).

=== THARSIS ESTATES v.15 (19 Aug 2010) ===

* Since the terrain materials are shared between both cities, the changes I made are also applied to Tharsis.

* Updated the Modern House (the one with the blue car parked in front) walls with normal maps.  I plan to update the other houses now that I have more experience with 3d modeling and BM materials.

* Updated the basic Tiki Hut model & textures.  Added a deck and bar to the one on the water.  Created a prefab out of a second tiki hut using new wall, door, window, and stair components, and placed a copy near the other boat dock.  Like the shop buildings, I am using modular parts on the tiki huts, so they can be used in different in different layouts.  I plan to add more parts, and make it available for tenants to use on their lots.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Private Islands Available in Sandbox City

I am adding islands around the large central "Mainland" of Sandbox City for people who want a large, semi- or fully private location, but for much less than a full Blue Mars city goes for.  Islands have four times the mainland allowance in area, but otherwise have the same data and object allowance.  Although I have provided default terrain textures, elevation map, and trees, they are fully customizable.  Lease details can be downloaded from the links to the right, and you can contact me with any questions you have.

Monday, August 9, 2010


The big news, of course, is the opening of my second city in Blue Mars, "Sandbox City".  The reason was we simply ran out of shop space in Tharsis.  You are allowed 500 shop shelves in an Outpost, and 250 were taken for my own use, and the rest by  other shop owners.  There isn't much there yet, mainly one street of shops, but more will be added over time, as well as to Tharsis.

Sandbox City (SBC for short) is intended to provide rental private islands.  This is due to the closing of the "Outpost" price plan in Blue Mars.  Since the minimum entry price is now $275 a month for a full city, I expect some people will want less expensive options.  I made SBC's map fairly large, to allow making islands with a good amount of land, but with a fairly low cost.  SBC went online Friday.  In addition, I submitted an update to Tharsis Estates.  Here are the changes for the latest versions:

=== SANDBOX CITY v.1 (06 Aug 2010) ===

* Terrain map set to 4096x4096m and water depth to 50m.  Main island is approx 900x900m, with future private islands to be added later.
* Basic terrain textures set up and first cut at layer painting
* Basic vegetation set up
* Clouds set up
* Dock and a few roads set up
* One block set up, containing 22 shop entities/250 shelves and one large mall building.

=== THARSIS ESTATES v.14 (09 Aug 2010) ===

* Updated textures and interiors at #5 & #6 Main Street.  Asytra and Ahmed are opening shops in those buildings, so welcome!
* Replaced beach sand terrain layer with better version, and did some minor layer painting.
* Updated boat docks with new models & tweaked boat material.
* Added beach furniture, surfboards, and towels to left of spawn point.  I hope to get a copy of Davy's boat script from Misty Hollow
  and get the boat and surfboards to do something besides look nice.
* Added Tiki Hut on the waterfront far to left of spawn point.  This is the start of a tiki house and furniture line to be used on the Sandbox City private islands.  Those islands will be pulled up from the ocean bottom as needed when people tell me what they want.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Newest Store Items

Here are some of the latest items released and in the Tirion Designs main store.  I have about 60 items total there now (counting different colors), and all my items are listed in my photo album linked on the right.

Bettie Page Bangs Black

Fishnet Stockings and Garter Black

Fashion Vest - Beige and Gold