Hollow Earth

2014.09.29 Update

Just a quick heads up, progress has been slow. Lots of other work taking up my time. I did get a chance to look into Tosholek and Fens yesterday, though. Fens is essentially ready as far as I see. I need to write the “Overview” book and fix the Credits book in the new format. The overview book will have descriptions and analyses of all the flora an fauna in the Age. Currently, I’m waiting on sketches to include in this book. Minor bugs remain, but once that’s done, Fens will be PotS complete. As for Tosholek, the bugs persist and there are some elements that I’m not comfortable with that I want to change before I consider it PotS complete. The caustics look too bright and the pedestals need changing, in my opinion.

As it stands, I’m probably going to release these Ages to PotS once they are ready. I wanted to do a synchronized release on both offline and online Uru, but because of formatting changes for journals, the PotS versions will be ready first and it makes little sense to hold them back when the online version still has transfusion problems.

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Filed under: Ages, Development, , , ,

Progression

This past month has been pretty productive for me. I’m always surprised at how quickly I pick this stuff back up. I imagined it would be very hard to get back into Age-making but I remember the hotkeys. Like riding a bicycle. Currently, I have several Age concepts moving along.

Tosholek is in the last phase of getting stuff together. It’s ready for release for Uru:CC, but I’m waiting for now on having a version converted to go up on the Gehn shard before releasing. I’ve fixed a lot of the issues in the previous version. Most importantly, everything is converted into lightmaps or vertex painting, meaning that I have a lot more control over the Age’s lighting now than I did before. Basically, Uru can only handle 8 lights on an object. In the past, I would use a maximum of 8 lights to light an area using the engine’s dynamic lighting. All my Ages do this. Any more than this, and one of the lights stops working. Usually, it’s a big one like the Sun or something. The new system I have uses three sets of lights. The first is a set of lights in a lightgroup that can effect everything. If I have something that’s animated, like the birds in Fens or the kickable in Tosholek, it is told to use JUST that lightgroup to light itself. The second set of lights is my other lights. Things that won’t light other objects in the Age, but can still be used to light the avatar. Finally, the third set of lights are the lightmap lights. I need this because the lights I use to light the avatar or kickables are often too strong to use in making lightmaps– the light it just too bright. So I have a set of lights I use only for lightmapping. I may have more sets of these lightmap lights as I need them. Often, this is used for interiors where I need to have light inside without the object being affected by lights outside.

In other areas, I’ve found an old notebook with a lot of my Age concepts. Its helped me get Tharel’s concept nailed down better as well as given me a number of texts to release as well. I’m planning on reworking the texts at some point as well. A lot of my old stories are like my old Ages: nice, but kind of cringe-worthy. I tried to base them on the King stories, and they sometimes got a little too out there. New stories are going to focus primarily on philosophical texts and historical documents rather than dramatic stories.

In addition, I’ve gotten more historical work done on Ages like Vasrahn as well as preliminary maps. Eder Jonim is the farthest along, ready for more detailed maps. If anyone reading this is able to help, I’d be very interested in hearing from you. I’ve also done… other things. More on that “soon”.

Filed under: Ages, Development, Uru Community, , , , ,

Story Update

So when I started doing stories and Ages for Uru, I set up a tiddlywiki, an offline personal wiki with all my lore information. Since then, tiddlywiki seems to no longer work on any browser, so I spent these last few days working on porting my lore to Zim to manage it. In doing so, I came up with some interesting statistics:

  • Over 25 Age concepts.
  • 50 Character profiles
  • 2 D’ni Areas
  • 1 Major historical event
  • 2 Groups
  • Over 20 Stories

While I’d love to release all that stuff, it’s clear to me that a lot of this needs pruning. Most of the Ages and characters particularly were one-off characters used in one short story with nothing else really planned for them. Others vaguely tied into a story arc, but just in kind of a wink-wink reference that people might get. So, to keep myself sane and focus my stories on the still-massive amount of content I would like to produce, I’ve established four main story arcs that I’ll be focusing on:

  • The Ishveer War Arc
  • The Tharel Arc
  • The Shomat Arc
  • The Devil Arc

Of those, the Devil Arc is the one I’m most excited about. It feels to me like a lot of good modern stories where every little thing is connected. That arc currently spans 11 Ages and 15 characters, although that is liable to change in time.

Next would be the Sholek Arc. I considered ret-conning and merging this into the Devil Arc, given that hey both touch on similar concepts, but Sholek is such an interesting character that he needs to stay in his own timeline.

Ishveer and Tharel are less “Arcs” and more centered around their respective Ages, but require more story work than other one-off Ages like Eder Jonim.

The rest of the stories and Ages and Characters etc. not in those arcs are sadly going to either go away or be repurposed. A lot of the Ages were, if I’m honest with myself, just an excuse to use a D’ni-sounding name.

The hard part, and my future work, will be on building and strengthening the Age concepts I already have. Chiefly, I want to define things to *do* in each Age. I love making scenic Ages like Fens and Bimevi, but I also want to get into working with more technical Writers to make minigames for my Ages. Uru needs more Ages where there are things to do, not things to see, and that’s what I plan on providing.

Filed under: Ages, Development, Uru Community, , , , , , ,

Fens Redesign: Part 1

I figured that, while I was redesigning Fens, I should make some posts about the process and why I’m changing things. Basically, going into old Fens makes me cringe in many places. One area is textures. There are two problems with the old textures in Fens. First, they are often low-resolution. Second, they are almost all washed out. Take the grass texture, used at the link-in point and on the tops of the basin walls:

Is so ugly!

Old Fens Grass

The size is alright, but the texture is very flat. It’s made from a picture of relatively sparse grass and weeds and really had little done to it other than making it seamless. Nothing pops in this image and it doesn’t contribute to the Age’s aesthetic. It’s just another green texture in a world of mostly green. Now compare that to the revised moss texture used in the same places:

Is so pretty!

New Fens Moss

The texture retains a mostly greenish hue, but the texture is much more dynamic. Higher saturation and contrast means the texture feels deeper and gives the mesh more depth. The texture is also more friendly to things like normal mapping should I choose to go down that route.

The remaining issues in Fens’ textures come primarily from size. As part of this overhaul/quality pass, almost all textures have been increased. The blue sacks have gone from a 256×256 texture to 512×512. New flora have gotten textures usually in the same range. For other textures, I would like to use mipmaps to make textures fade in as you get closer, like they do in Kadish.

Finally, another issue with textures is simply that they’re bad. In particular, the fantail/sailback plants have a poorly-made texture that should never have been released. This is why I am doing the redesign rather than working on a new Age, because revising this Age will help me better understand the issues that I have and correct them. In the future, I will hopefully keep my textures high quality and high resolution rather than trying to use the smallest texture possible.

Filed under: Ages, Development, ,

Coming Back

It’s strange, being dragged back into the Uru community after such a long time. I had heard that friends like Tweek and Kae were back, but I never thought I would get swept back up into the community. I was ready to move on. I am still kind of on edge, worried about whether this is the right step.

Still, the strength with which I have come back is shocking to me. Only a few days back and I already have my exporting setup humming again. Blender hotkeys and modeling tricks come back to me while I feel like my skills have improved. My IC chops are back up to speed and Cavern Link is back up and running.

At the moment, Fens is going through a drastic reshaping and upgrade. Packing more and better content in the space I made is the goal. I’m starting fairly small, my projects have been collapsed both because I don’t feel they are very interesting and they are too expansive for my capabilities. Until I know better what I will be dealing with, I can’t spend the time on a 7-tier mental hospital Age that ties into 4 other expansive Ages all part of a coherent plot. I went down that path before, didn’t make much progress, and ended up burning out. So, the dream of a personal Uru expansion pack is going to wait.

Filed under: Ages, Uru Community, , , ,

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All posts are my opinion only and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of others.