Monday, April 13, 2015

Touring Fort Masen with SW Chris and Syntax

While we're on the topic of not completing builds...

SW Chris visited ActiveWorlds last month to tour sites in SW City as part of a video series called "Before There Was Minecraft." This video series celebrates Chris hitting 1,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel by revisiting his roots in ActiveWorlds. Syntax and I joined him for a couple of hours to explore various sites in the city, including one that I spent a lot of time working on: Fort Masen and an incomplete dungeon underneath that was designed for SW City Interactive.

Some background:  Fort Masen was initially built by SW Comit and is built in the style of a historical fort, complete with an old wooden ship and cannons.  Some time after I became involved with SW City Interactive, I set my attention on Fort Masen as a potential site for a series of archaeology quests and digsites.  Over the years, I've added a number of quests there and began an undertaking to build a cave/dungeon adventure under the fort.  It is partially completed: there is a lengthy quest chain available to SWI players that actually gives you access to the dungeon, but after another sidequest it abruptly ends and doesn't let you progress further.

That would be the end of the story... except for SW Chris' video series.  Chris, Syn, and I explored on past the end of the current game, and we did a complete video commentary on incomplete areas (including a partially-complete interactive boss!) and some puzzles further in the dungeon.

The commentary is split over two videos, #6 and #7 in the series. Fair warning for SWI players, there are tons and tons of spoilers in these videos:

So there you have it, some insight into one of my many unfinished projects!  I might actually finish this one day, I'm a sucker for coming back to work on SWI stuff. :)

If you're interested in more video commentary, visit SW Chris's Youtube Channel! He's done a couple of series now on ActiveWorlds that you guys might find interesting.

Capping Off Content in Elkins Beach

Since I've come back, I've been slowly working to cap off old builds that I left incomplete.  It is really jarring just how much I left unfinished. This weekend, I've been working on the oceanside area of Elkins Beach, a medium-density town area in the Southern Highlands.

The bridge in the image above was fun to slap together. It is reminiscent of another project (that I actually completed!), Legacy Bridge in Cypress Hollow, AWTeen.  That bridge was quite a lot better, this is just a small bridge over an outlet.  

This entire bridge is sheared by z2 = -0.5 because the road in this area is sheared to connect two areas of the town that are offset by a few coordinates. Since I've gotten comfortable with the shear command, I much prefer it to manually rotating long-pathing object groups like roads because there is a lot of power in being able to maintain the length along one axis while manipulating another.  This can especially be seen in the beach-side road in the images below, where shear helped me to cleanly extend this weird, windy road down the length of my beach.

My priority has been on getting the roads and landwork capped off first, and I've started to set placeholders for the geometries in the area.  There's an area set aside for a cathedral I had planned... but will probably scrap because the landwork around it would make it pretty stumpy in length.

Another embarrassing build that is unfinished in this area is where my Cy Award for the ActiveWiki rests:

I intended for this to be a skyscraper that featured ActiveWiki content, but never got around to completing or even really starting it.  Whoops!

Hopefully I'll get some of this capped off before I leave again.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Extreme Builder Talent Show 6 Entry - "Razorspine Bluff"

I participated in the EBTS 6 throughout February and March, and would like to share my work with the blog.  The build is called "Razorspine Bluff", and features jagged terrain with spikes protruding from walls and exaggerated flora.  My goal was to fill the space with large and unique scenes while keeping detailing pretty minimal. This led to large objects in the scene, such as large trees and roots. This also had an unexpected benefit of keeping the framerate very acceptable, compared to other nature scenes I've completed in the past.

I may do another entry on a technique I used for detailing here, if there is interest.  This involved "layering" on the landscaping details.  Very roughly, I:

  • Placed flat wall panels around the cliffside
  • Added complex geometries with rock objects of a separate texture
  • Added vegetation
  • Added depth to nearby ground and flat surfaces by using different textures on slightly offset objects.
Maybe more on that later.

For now, some details on the actual build:

Important Locations:

"aw" 7619.03S 450.13E 0.60a 270

"aw" 7627.76S 470.77E 0.53a 61

Base of Main Tree 
"aw" 7621.04S 462.83E 4.70a 4


At the base of the tree that towers over the bluff.

Waterfall on the backside of the bluff.

A shot of the waterfall on the backside of the bluff.

A shot of the large tree that towers over the bluff.

A view inside the cave.  I used water and steam effects
here, and also used some of the same tricks for the
 terrain spikes to create thin roots protruding into the

A view of the many terrain spikes in this build.

An experiment with creating a mudpit with particle,
lighting, and sound effects.

I experimented with large roots using scale and
shear/skew in this build.  I think they turned out well.  I
 made a rule to only connect them to different spots of
 grass/terrain, which led to interesting connections
 between different terrain levels.

An experimental area in the caves, with various lighting
 and flora effects.

Some equipment in the mines.

Closer to the main entrance into the mines.

Overview from the front of the build.
 I enjoyed building this, and hope to maybe work on some similar concepts back in the Southern Highlands sometime in the future!  I especially like the spiky terrain and giant roots.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Keybindings - Using WASD in ActiveWorlds

I've been gaming quite a bit in my time away from ActiveWorlds, and on my return I found movement with the directional arrows rather unsatisfying.  Thanks to some help from GC and The Alphaworldian, I've got a new setup that I would like to share in case anyone has a similar problem.

You can access the "Keyboard Controls" window from the top menu bar.  Select Options > Configure Controls.  Here's mine, with WASD movement setup in the rightmost column:

Some notes:
  • "Move left/right" and "Sidestep" seem to do the same thing.
  • "Look up/down" are bound to middle mouse scroll up/down.  Toggle move mode is bound to middle mouse click.
  • You can bind two keys to the same action, so I've got old arrow movement and WASD movement both in place. My WASD movement is defined in the right column in the image above. 
  • With WASD movement, the "Quick chat message" button becomes more useful. I believe tab is the default binding for this -- you can use it to quickly set "focus" to the chat window after you've bound letters to other actions. 
  • I haven't had any luck binding the "Escape" key.  The Keyboard Controls dialog uses it to cancel actions, so it doesn't seem that it can be defined from here.
The only thing I'm really missing still is free camera movement with the right mouse click, reminiscent of World of Warcraft.  Using the middle mouse to look up/down has been the closest approximation I've found so far.