Following on our previous post, we have been busy doing viability tests on various 3D engines, looking at what others are trying or have tried, and noting the good and bad points of each.
Leon’s been burning the midnight oil, locked away in a secret government location, held at gunpoint. ;-p
But seriously, we want something that looks the part, has a good workflow and is future proof (as much as is possible, anyway) with the ability to be customized and tweaked for our purposes.
We have thus far narrowed our search down to three candidates, and created various landscapes and models. We’ve looked at what actually can be altered with the code as well as what the licences offer and the associated costs.
We don’t want to give away our game just yet, no pun intended, as we have not finalized our choice of engine, but things look very promising. While it will involve a shed load of work, as you can see from the screenshot we can easily get the look we want for our landscape and we are delighted that scale isn’t a problem with the engines in question – 25 to 50 square kilometres seems like a good starting size of a world to explore.
The downside of all this is that nearly everything we made for Second Life and OpenSim isn’t usable; it is just too ‘basic’. There are some textures, however, that we can still use if we go back to our original high resolution sizes, and some of the later meshes that we made may also be of some use.
Of course, this is just the start. There are other details to consider: the network issues, coding and interaction, and avatars. It’s not just the content creation, but from Leon’s point of view it is good to be getting back to 3D (using Cinema4D and the like), creating models and landscapes that look as good in world as when in the 3D package. We can get beyond just the ‘bump map’ that is available in SL/OS; we can use more map options like environment, displacement, normals, specular, etc. that we’d almost forgotten.
The ability to have rocks, floors and roofs that look wet when it rains, trees with seasonal changes, dynamic weather, global or localized weather and lighting, better physics, the ability to climb up mountains and wander without lag or mushy textures – it all makes us smile.
As time goes on we will follow up occasionally, whenever we reach any significant landmarks in our project, and we hope to have an alpha version sometime next year (if Leon can keep out of Skyrim long enough!).
Meanwhile, we have no current intention of leaving Second Life. Our products are on display at our Metaverse Headquarters, =IcaruS= House, and also the SL Marketplace, with new products added as they become available. We’re still passionate about the things that matter to us here – our communities, like our home base in Avalon Town; our friends, colleagues and causes; our builds and the things of wonder and beauty that continue to rez across the grid, conceived in the minds of kindred creatives and given a virtual form through prim, sculpt, texture and mesh.
Come to fence on the rooftop of =IcaruS= House, dance to the music stream, ponder the horizon from our gazebo or pier, even try your luck in the game room of the Rose Pub. It’s all there for you and your friends to spend a few moments of virtual pleasure with us in our little corner of the (virtual) world. If you’ve a pioneering spirit, =IcaruS= RealmS is in the Metaverse, our continuing exploration in OpenSim, you’re welcome to visit there as well.