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Creation Date: 2004-03-02
I actually had a day off today so I was able to work on Hack Mars for most of the day. I got a few important bugs fixed (texture reload disappearance) so I get to show you some beautiful screenshots I did today. All of these are for Demo 2. Demo 2 involves Mission 2 where the player runs from home to school. It may seem simple, but the idea is extremely ambitious. The idea is to use a simple portal rendering system to render N levels deep with a maximum of 10 characters each with 1000 triangles. Of course, it's impossible to render 10k triangles + 5k triangles (colony) + 5k triangles (terrain) at 30 fps on a GeForce2. The solution is Level of Detail (LOD). I wrote a very simple LOD that throws away the shortest N edges of a mesh. So I plan to do LOD depending on distance so I will have more detailed characters closer and less detailed characters further away. That reduces the triangles to ~10k and allows 30 fps on a GeForce2. Think of a scene where you walk through the tunnels shown above with 700 people. Walking from home to school, you will see ~100 of them, 10 at a time. It should be pretty cool.

Anyone without a GeForce or equivalent 64 MB video card will not be able to see it in its full glory. Of course, everyone has a 64 MB video card these days. The lowest one you will find in a 2002 multimedia computer is GeForce2mx. The Radeon 9200 with 128 MB of RAM goes for $41 shipped. Gamers have no excuse. ^_^

I have theorized a diversity engine to create 700 characters, each with different hair, height, color, shirt and pants. Using just 40 faces, 10 hair, 10 shirts, 10 pants, and 40 colors, I can have millions of combinations. For example:

 Name: Jim Bean
 Face: Child Male 14
 Hair: Child Male Short 14
Shirt: Child Male T-Shirt 14
Pants: Child Male Pants 14

 Skin Color: Dark Peach
 Hair Color: Brown
Shirt Color: Blue
Pants Color: Navy Blue

Easy and fun. Cool, huh? The idea is that I can randomly create these, store them, and edit them to make them realistic. So Jim Bean's mother, Molly will have long brown hair and will be tall wearing an apron over her tech clothes. Jim's father, Jeff will be a tall scientist with black hair wearing glasses and lab coat. Brilliant, eh? Of course, a cool part of the diversity engine is that it will allow for players to customize their characters how they want to look. Of course, they might even be able to skin their own clothes.

The lesson for today is that wasting the right amount of time will waste no time. The art of doing things besides your goal (usually called slacking) involves intense calculation of the correct amount of work on a goal to get the best result. For example, I have a problem with my biorhythm where I work hard for two weeks and then I am in a slump for two weeks. If I were a good slacker, I would use those two weeks of slump to do other things. Perhaps I could even find a way to work hard all the time, but slack off certain short times where nothing else can be done. I don't mean to say that slacking is required, but that I have not found a way to work 16 hours per day for more than two weeks and no more than two weeks per month. Should I work 8 hours per day 5 days per week, 49 weeks per year? Hah, as if I could. And anyway, it wouldn't be as efficient as my 16*6*2=192 hours per month vs 8*5*4=160 hours per month. Would you rather work half the month at over double full time or full time? I would rather have 2 weeks vacation every 4 weeks. It affords me focus.
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