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Creation Date: 2002-11-11
Hi there. This is one of my infrequent Making Of JF pages. I'm not making JF per se, but really anything I do can be classified as Making JF. I mean, here is EG1 in Linux. That's Making JF, isn't it? Well, you want me to make Page 6 of Scene 1, don't you? I'll probably do a bit of that this week. Why? Because AS3D version 4 is going well enough so that I'm getting to the hard parts. Let me clue you in on the process of any AltSci project. This will be the lesson for tonight. The first part of any AltSci project is the "flash in the pan" stage. I think of something that has absolutely no practical value. I then give it some very important status in my mind which makes everything else go down the drain. I draw some curves on a sheet of yellow paper and call it a design spec. Then I write a bunch of buzz-words in the margins (CLOD, MMORPG, Linux, alternative). I call that the technology specs. Then I write down the specs of a terrible computer that can't run Windows 98 reliably and call that the system requirements. I then write the specs of my monster computer and call that the recommended system. I write down newton's laws and call it technical specs. I then write a glorified hello world program from other people's source code and take 50 screenshots of it. I say that the final project will be 100x better than this and ask for input and help (I need art, AI, engine programmers, writers, testers, and investors; e-mail me if you are any of these). Then I look at the buggy source code and decide that without professional help, I can't do anything. So I scrap it because I have already found the next new project. At that point, the process repeats. Repeat 600 times and you have an accurate autobiography of me from age 13-21 (no, really!). The funny part is that it is about 70% true. JF is the longest that I've worked on any project, hobby or what have you. Humanoid robotics was about seven months. The Completely Mental Misadventures of Joel R. Voss was about four months. Robat was about four months of my life. Alternative Scientific took about three months. JF has lasted two years only because JF has encapsulated Javantea's Fate Book, Half-Life, Milkshape3D, AS3D v1 DX8 VB, v2 DX8 CPP, v3 DX8 CPP, and v4 OpenGL CPP Linux. Never underestimate reinventing the wheel. If someone made the wheel proprietary, limited in functionality, and expensive, you would reinvent it, too. But anyway, all of these experiences have increased my love with computers and my knowledge in programming. AS3D v1 made two wonderful final projects for Physics 207: Physics of Music and Humanities 200: In Vivo. You can see the actual use of it on those pages, so check it out. And JF is actually coming together. It may take a few years, but it will happen.

So, Hack Mars, eh? Yes, this is from AS3D v4 which is on Linux and will become Hack Mars as well as Manga Director 4, etc. So what you see is the normal Milkshape model animated. Then you have a GUI interface with text. If you're looking at the hi-res version, you can see "Frames Per Second: 116.303". That is correct. However, there seems to be some type of frustrum culling or something happening because it goes down to 38 FPS or so when I view LAcity model right below this model. If I could make a movie of this (a feat at very least), you could easily see that the camera is hooked up to an Accelerated Particle Path. That's right, I got it to work. It's a bit buggy, but the bugs should dissolve in a few days. It feels like you're walking through crisco or something, not that I've walked through crisco. The cool thing is that you can tap a key and it moves in very small increments. And if you hold down the key, it goes really fast. That's acceleration for you. But it's not just acceleration. I hooked into it a max velocity also so that it would behave. It took some brilliant thinking, but it happened. Next up is the Lighting. You can't see it here, but with the press of the "L" key, I can put some gradients on this character. There's some stuff to work out, but it works. The font was a big thing for me. First off, it is a bitmapped font. It uses PNG with alpha transparency. It uses glColor3f() for different colors. An added "feature" was that it auto-shadowed. Look very closely and you'll see that the colors are not solid which they should be if they were working correctly. That has something to do with alpha transparency and my null transform matrix not being exactly null. The font has one other small problem ("8" maps to "c" or "k" or "+") but that is it. My next steps are: fix bugs as I go, scale models, move models on paths, mouse control, and interactive user interface. Each of those are very straightforward, so we should see another productive week.

Last friday I checked out Microsoft's MSDN. There's nothing in Open Source that says you cannot use non-open-source programming. I mean... In order for a person to port an Open Source thing to Windows, duh... Anyhoo, I'm a fan of Microsoft simply because I've spent nine years of my life working with their tools. Well, Microsoft was nice enough to put on their OpenGL page how to convert common GLX functions into Windows GL functions. It's actually really easy. I'm not sure if a person can open a window without use of a DOS window, but I'll find a way. But that means that a port to Win32 is almost assured for Hack Mars. Good news for people who are stuck on MSFT. Many people say that programming under windows and using SDL for an easy port to Linux is good. But I disagree. I haven't used SDL enough to get specific, but I can say that SDL is an unneccesary layer between the programmer and OpenGL/OS. Programming an OS programming is a manditory step for anyone making a game. Getting raw keyboard and mouse input and using it correctly is important for any user-friendly application. Similarly, programming Video/Audio/OpenGL directly is necessary for getting the most out of any system. Using SDL will limit what styles of programming you will use. Using SDL will conform the programmer to use certain formats that are not correct for the application. I can just imagine a person copying source code from a NeHe tutorial with an SDL base. They'll end up manually blitting the GUI, with PCX textures, MD2 or MDL models, BSP levels, PAK archives, MPEG video cutscenes, and CD Audio. They'll put some pre-fab content into it and call it a game. I mean, why not just duct tape your eyes shut? I hate to look down on the type of person that does this stuff with Visual Basic 6 because I successfully did very light projects with it. But one cannot be satisfied being the sole author of a product that is entirely not their own. What am I talking about? I'm talking about using proprietary formats that are substandard that you can copy and paste. Using MD2 and BSP formats just because you can steal 5000 models from PolyCount and the levels from Quake2 is bad form. Even if you decide to use MilkShape3d to create your own model and export it to MD2, it's a terrible format for anything besides First Person Shooter. The same goes for BSP levels. Worldcraft is junk for all intensive purposes. Using it automatically makes your levels inferior. Sure a professional level designer can make good levels with it, but it is not a good format, nor is it a good way to make levels. Of course, reinventing the modeller from scratch will probably take you longer than learning to model. There are tools out there. I just use MS3D and it works pretty well, even for levels. But is Milkshape proprietary? Well, the creator is a forum post or e-mail away and is a really nice guy. That doesn't change the fact that you cannot name animations. But you can use seperate files for different animations. Then you do programming to make this happen and viola. I just have a certain way of doing things. Not that you have to listen to me, but my programming method is very strict on what I can use. Open Source, user-friendly, programmer-friendly, and very deep control are my value criteria.

But now I gotta go to sleep. Come back in a week for JF Scene 1, Page 6.
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