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Part 86: Worlds You Can Walk On

August 16, 2013

I've been playing with a new version of the SeaOfMemes demo. The various objects are now covered with subdividing landscape cells as in Part 28. I'm not actually drawing any landscape yet, but each cell is textured with a 128 by 128 patch which should give you an idea of how much detail can be seen at various distances. When you get close enough to an object, the texture will change to a 1-meter grid.

We have the Planet, which now has rings. I intend this to be dry, with very small oceans, some ice caps and perhaps volcanos.

Then there's the Moon, with its Ringworld. This should be wet, with foggy islands covered with mangrove-style thick forest. Perhaps floating islands in the sky? I haven't decided on a style for the Ringworld.

The ring around the planet is actually an asteroid belt. I know, that's impossible! I may still rearrange all of this. In any case, the Belt contains asteroids:

It also has cylindrical stations, called "Habitats" in the demo:

And still smaller pin-wheel stations:

The Demo

For those of you who don't download, here's a video.

The Windows version is here.

The Linux version is here.

This would run under WebGL, but it's the last demo that will. I want to include a real landscape in the next demo, and it will be pretty large. I also really need to use multiple threads (there are little lags even in this demo.) So I'm not planning on messing with WebGL again for awhile. Perhaps when I have a server returning the landscape data, I can do another WebGL version.

Because the GUI is broken at the moment, I dropped the help page. The controls are simple enough. On the left hand, you have WASD for movement, plus blank moves vertically up, and "X" moves down. On the right hand, the cursor keys work, and PageUp/PageDown control vertical movement.

When in space, you can roll left or right. Those controls are on "Q" and "E" for the left hand, and "Home" and "End" for the right. Roll has no effect when landed.

To toggle between miles and kilometers, hit "K".

Unlike the old SeaOfMemes demo, I've automated approaches and landings. Just fly up to something and you'll slow down. Get close enough and you will "land", which means you'll adopt the coordinate system of the object. "Down" will point in the natural direction, and you'll rotate with the object.

Gain enough altitude and you will "launch" back into space. Currently, you keep the orientation you had when landed. That's disconcerting, but not as bad as rotating you around again to "space" orientation. If you don't like your orientation, use the roll keys to level out.

One thing to remember - you are always moving in the direction of the eye. That means that unless you keep your eye level, you will always be drifting up or down in altitude. Watch the indicator at top-right if you want to see the view from a normal height (1.5 meters or so.)

There are some sorting errors, some glitches, and some crashes I haven't found. For some reason, the landing rotations can be really odd. I'm just doing a linear interpolation of two quaternions, so I have no idea why it's so weird sometimes.

I also want to redo the look of the space station and habitat, and add hollow asteroids. Still, the demo gives a feel for what it's like to walk on the various objects. Play around with this and let me know what you think.

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