|Last update: June 17th, 2013||
I have been making lots of progress within the last months. I have
been switchting a lot between multiple construction sites within the
NL2 code which is over 400,000 lines so far. That's already more than
the lines of all NL1.x modules counted together. Not every feature I
started working on is completely finished at this point, so I cannot
present anything brand new. Instead I decided to create a small video
showing some features I have already talked about earlier. The video is
encoded using Ogg Theora. If you use Firefox 3.5 or newer you can
directly watch the video, otherwise you may need VLC or any other video
player that can play Theora files..
Walkmode Video (Ogg Theora)
The video basically shows the built-in walkmode. Unfortunately the
coaster you can see in this video is a 3ds scene object. The coaster
designing code is almost finished, but the object creation is not, so
the 3ds file is still used as a place holder at this point. The final
coasters in NL2 will look much better than this simple 3ds. I do not
know if I talked about the walkmode yet. It was one of the first things
I implemented in NL2, so I am considering it as an old new feature. It
works quite nicely, you can walk on all kinds of objects that are meant
for walking on, including scene objects. The video also shows some
auto-plants, if you look carefully you can see that the plants are
moving slightly. New ambient sounds and the dynamic shadows give a much
higher immersion effect than NL1.
I am right now working on a built-in Force Vector Design Tool, that will allow you to create tracks specified by g-force values. I already implemented a built-in Elementary that allows to create elements based on formulas. The syntax is quite identical to Tia's original Elementary tool, so the existing collection of formulas can be reused with small modifications. [ol]
Long time no updates on this site. The last weeks were quite
stressfull and I have been busy doing various things here and there.
Every so often I got distracted from my work on NL2, by either contract
jobs for coaster companies or hardware problems with my PC. For the
last three months I was not able to finish anything I started working
on, so I decided to interrupt the monthly NL2 news because of lack of
news to report. Now things are getting more clearly and I do actually
have something to report by now.
First of all there is a new update for the Mac version called 1.72.
This is a minor update which fixes a bug with the static shadows on
Intel Macs, I therefore recommend this update to all users with Intel
Macs. Users with PowerPC equipped Macs do not need this update. Also
the full and demo releases for Macs are now based on 1.72. Please go to
Update 1.72 for MacOS X to download the update.
I am almost done with the hand-building track designing code in NL2.
My progress on NL2 development is not far enough yet, to be able to
fully judge within NL2 how good the quality of my hand-built tracks in
terms of smoothness are. In order to be able to improve the track
building features at this point, I quickly tossed together some sort of
track export, which allows me to test ride my NL2 tracks within NL1. I
am quite satisfied with the results, The NL2 hand-built tracks indeed
turned out to be much smoother compared to hand-built tracks in NL1
within the same amount of time. Though there is still room left for
improvement, but everything turned out how I expected it. I am
experimenting with some advanced auto-smoother algorithms right now
that will further improve the quality of the hand-built tracks.
On a different construction site, I managed to get tunnels through terrain working. This is a feature requested very frequently and I can now confirm that this feature will definitely be available in NL2. Right now my solution does not work in real-time, I am still trying to get my algorithm working faster, but hey at least it works. Cutting out the portions that do intersect with the tunnels turned out to be not trivial, at least for me, which is why I never added that feature to NL1. I will keep you informed about more progress I make on this topic and will hopefully be able to update this site more frequently in the future. [ol]
The Dev-Team wishes all customers of NoLimits a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Another year passed by and I was again not able to finish what I was planning to. Especially the last two months were quite unproductive, which is why there was no news in November. Since the graphics engine is almost complete now, I continued working on the coaster editing for the last weeks. The coaster editing is almost done but I decided to not hurry at this point and instead spend more time on verifying the design. The coaster editing design process is very different in NL2 compared to NL1. Some fundamental differences were required to make it easier to create smooth tracks. I have to admit that smoothing out tracks is a time consuming and boring task in NL1, unless you use additional tools like Elementary or AHG you need to be a highly skilled track builder to be able to create something decent. Elementary and AHG are quite powerfull, but I am more into hand-building. The NL2 way of track building will allow to hand-build a smoother coaster in less time. For heartlined coasters, there is also an option to build a coaster specifying the heart-line spline directly instead of the center of track, which will also make things more professional and straight forward. Except for the new spline-editing, there will be a couple of other new features like multiple coasters in a park and transfer tracks. The downside is that all the new features ask for a new track format which will not have much in common with the current NL1 track format. At this point, it is unsure how compatible NL1 tracks will be with the new format, all I can say at this point is that there will be a NL1 track import feature, but haven't coded that yet and I do not know how well NL1 tracks might be represented in the new engine. [ol]
This news post comes with a couple of brand new screenshots focusing on the recently finished sky engine. I needed a couple of more days for cleaning everything up so that screenshots could be made. I am proud to present some great new engine features, which NoLimits2 will make use of. I have been working hard on them for the last 3 years and now I thought it is time to show some screenshots. The greatest feature in my eyes are high quality dynamic shadows (can be seen on the left most picture). The dynamic shadows are completely realtime and will be on every object, including the coaster track, the cars and so on. The quality of the shadows can easily compete with realtime shadows found in the latest games. They look better than most of the games I played so far without loosing too much extra speed. The dynamic shadows will truly come to live with the second greatest feature which is a dynamic day-night-cycle. The sun will rotate around the scene in a very real manner depending on time and earth location. The shadows will instantly adapt to the current sun's position. No more need for using skybox textures or switching between environments. Let me get into more detail about the following screenshots. The left most screenshot shows a good weather sky with some trees and auto-plant grass. The shadows of the trees are casted on the terrain and grass. In the middle screenshot, the clouds are becoming more denser. The clouds are computed in realtime and are not a fixed texture. The weather seems to change from good to rain. On the right screenshot, the weather completely turned into a rainy day. The sky is completely overcasted and rain particles are falling down. Even though the trees are not looking that great yet, the screenshots clearly show how much work was spent into a couple of great additions I have been working on. There is still a lot to do and I do not think NL2 will be ready to come out next year. I am now targetting for Spring 2010. Thanks for the patience, but things like that simply need a lot of time. It will be definetely worth waiting for. [ol]
This month I fixed up again a couple of things here and there that
used to be half way done. Most things were related to the user
interface and to the file management. My goal for September was to
increase the useability of the software so that my dev-team will have
an easier life playing with the new features which are not documented
yet and are probably not very intuitive unless you are an experienced
programmer. Writing documentations takes a long time which I do not
have at this point. It is also not for sure that people will actually
read long documentations, so it is always better to keep the
application simple and intuitive. Unfortunately a couple of new
features are so advanced that I am afraid only a minorty of users will
actually use them in the future. I will take charge in creating good
demo parks and tracks that will make use of the new features to revive
the interest in the new features because a lot of time was spent in
making them possible.
Finally I am able to say that the whole project is now around 55% done which makes me feel much better now that I realized that over the half is done. Before, no end was in sight and the list of things left to be done was just too long. A lot of more interesting things are on the ToDo-List for the following months, so stay tuned for my monthly NL2 news. [ol]
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