Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tharsis Estates Updated to Version 17 - 30 Sep 2010

The latest version of Tharsis Estates just went online.  Here's what's new:

* Tiki torches on the waterfront bar are now working.  I will gradually add more decor to the bar.

* I removed the  "prim yard" and texture demo items, since Sandbox City will be the building tutorial area in the future.

* I imported the red brick model home via Block_1.  It had been set up as a prefab in Sandbox city, so I wanted to learn how to move things from one city to another.  Block 1 I use for myself to test things.  Importing as an AR_Prefab does not allow the doors to function, but extracting the parts allowed them to work.

In general I plan to upgrade all the model homes, since I know a lot more about building than when I first did them, and the modular design (kits) works better for custom homes.

* Added clickable signs at Tirion Designs main store and model home linking to new website.  The website will hold building tutorials and info about my clothing and house items.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sandbox City updated to Version 4 - 27 Sept 2010

The next version of Sandbox City went online last night.  Here are the detailed changes:

* Added modular house kit components to common data, and built a demo house from the components.  The demo house has been converted to an AR_Prefab, and features working doors using flowgraph.  See the previous post for more details.

* Added prim kit display to sandbox area, and changed ground texture to sand (obviously :-) )

* Added signs to house and sandbox linking to information web pages.  I now have a website for Tirion Designs, so I am starting to put information/tutorials on there.

* Added 3 terrain transition textures and applied them to a few roads to cover the seams where terrain textures meet.  The main terrain textures are defined per grid point, which has a two meter spacing in Sandbox City.  At the seam where two textures meet, it leaves an aliased (jagged) transition.  Roads lay flat to the terrain, and by blending the two textures on either side in Photoshop, I can apply the blended transition to the road, and use that to cover the unsightly seams.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Prefab House Kit v1.0

For the past few weeks I have been working on a "Prefab House Kit" for Blue Mars. It is a set of parts which can be used like fancy prims to build your own custom houses, without having to dive into a 3D program. Once you have a layout done, you can convert the parts into a "prefab", which then acts as a single object.

The City and Block Editors have a "snap to grid" setting which can be anywhere from 1/8 to 64 meters. I designed these parts to fit with 0.5 and 1.0 meter snap settings to make it easier to line things up.  The doors open and close with a click thanks to a flowgraph supplied by Simpsoid.

For this first version, I made enough parts to build one fairly ordinary brick house. I plan to add lots more parts and add alternate textures/materials to the kit, and people using the kit can replace the textures or adjust the colors and other material settings beyond what I supply.

Some statistics on the pictured house:

14x17m main dimensions (248 sq m / 2670 sq ft)
3.2m ceiling height + 30cm floor thickness = 3.5m/floor height

44 different parts (3d models) with 50 material files. Some parts have alternate textures or tiling settings which are defined by which .mtl file is assigned to the model. The models + material files use up 35kb of my 1 GB total data allowance. Blue Mars uses total size of the city files instead of prim count as a limit on what you can build. Textures are in addition to this, but my textures can be used on different objects, so it's not clear cut what data use to charge to the house kit. The ten new textures I added for this house build take 1158 kb ie a lot more than the models. So roughly to total cost of the kit is 1.2 MB.

419 pieces as built, which use up 50kb of data in the object list which tracks what is rezzed within the city. Therefore each additional house with a different floor plan but the same total parts count would add another 50kb. The City Editor can track a maximum of 64K total objects, so if you make a lot of houses, then its best to convert them to prefabs, which only count as one object to track. The "parts list" for a prefab is saved as a separate xml file.

The reasons I am taking this kit approach rather than doing complete house models is that inevitably people will want to customize them. This lets them do it easily. It also saves total data to the extent parts are re-used in multiple builds vs having complete house models.

More photos are here: Blue Mars Houses And Buildings Album

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sandbox City Updated to Version 3 - 01 Sep 2010

I uploaded the latest version of  Sandbox City yesterday.  The big new thing was my first attempts at using scripts and flowgraphs.  In more detail I made the following additions:

* Clickable welcome and sandbox signs that open a web page when you click on them.  These use the ARItem entity with a link to a web page via flowgraph.  The welcome sign comes here to this blog, and the sandbox sign goes to a tutorial list on the Blue Mars wiki.  Flowgraphs are a graphical way to program actions within Blue Mars:

* A teleport network and sky platform with map.  Since Sandbox City is 4096m x 4096m with a bunch of islands, visitors need a way to get around faster than jogging or swimming.  Clicking any sign takes you up to the sky platform, then clicking any pin on the map takes you to that location.  The map is simply a screenshot of the city from above, so hopefully it will be clear what to do without instructions.

* Tiki huts to the right of the spawn point.  I am working on a series of modular Tiki style hut parts as a kit.  There are several sizes so far (8x8, 8x12, and 12x12m), and three wall styles.  The wall/door/window sections can be used in any combination to make different layouts, and then the finished hut can be turned into a "prefab" and placed as a unit or copied as needed.

* A scripted boat near the spawn point as a test item.  This uses a script made by Davy and Corey, and adapted for my city and the boat model.  It works, but it is a little unstable.  This is a first step to having vehicles, and I hope we get much better working ones in the future. Controls are: click to get on,  WASD to steer, and space bar to get off.  If you fall off, then use spacebar and click the boat again to get back on.