2.0 Maps

General talk about the map making process.
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Re: And...

Post by sid6.7 » Sun Jan 23, 2005 6:41 am

Gerbil wrote:Darn it--I'm still a STAFF SEARGEANT after all these posts!? Let me talk to the Officer Of the Day!!

I need a promotion...or a Stealth/Cloak/Guided Missile/Wings combo flag...that would be ok instead. I think I should be the only one to have it too in order to preserve play balance. I swear to use it only for good.

ANCIENT!!?? I'm ancient now!!? Sid, you young whelp, I was thawing out fire in the winter before you were watching VH-1! I had to walk all the way across the living room to change the channel on the tv when I was a kid and I remember when calculaters first came out for retail sale! (only the rich kids had them becasue they were $400 apeice).

This isn't helping me defend not being ancient, is it? I need a promotion :(
good thing rodents can't run for president....LOL"
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Post by JeffM » Sun Jan 23, 2005 7:57 am

sid6.7 yes your right, it was probably around the "e" line. maybe e2 or e4.

Very nice list gerbil. Would it just be object based? how would it handle meshes? and other arbitrary items like inside and outside points? How would "batch" items be applied to such arbitrary things? Since meshes don't have things like height?

oh and Time maters not in rank, it's just post count. Stay around for a bit of time, and it'll go up :).
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The perfect editor

Post by SilverFox » Sun Jan 23, 2005 8:10 am

The perfect editor (IMHO) would be based on the actual bzflag code. When you start it, you would be able to toggle between all of the normal observer modes, and also a "editing" mode where you are the tank. Your tank can move as normal, but in addition you have some sort of altitude control (say, holding ALT while pressing up/down, or the normal set of keys for ROAMING as observer), you can highlight objects by clicking on them with the mouse and/or shooting them with your tank. Holding shift while doing this would select the group the object is a member of.

Once highlighted, hotkeys would allow you to do any number of things. Label the object, add it to a group, move it, resize it, etc.

A command line option that would allow you to edit code in the editor would be nice to. So when you make changes, you can see their effect immediately. Eventually some "math" helpers of sorts might be useful to do certain iterations (ie, place group X every N along line A to Z)

I find myself using a script that starts bzfs with my map file, starting a client, checking it out in obs mode, killing the client, killing the server, and editing the map file again. Quite tedious. Of course, bzmapper functions MUST be tied into this editor. ;)

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Post by toaster » Sun Jan 23, 2005 3:17 pm

That's part of the reason I could see building the editor on the client code base. You need the general capabilities of bzedit, some of which have minor bugs but probably easily fixed. (Such as flipz z problem, deleted objects in the object list, and retention of some attributes.)

Using the common rendering code in the client would resolve flipz and alleviate any need to build in recognition of other components. The roaming feature is there for viewing, and ready to use, though it could be a better interface. The bzedit movement interface is part better and part worse for the work.

(For instance, one thing that plagued me is that you can't shift perspective to look at different objects. To do this, you have to pick another object to view. Where this becomes very problematic: suppose you have 2 large objects - deck plates on a carrier for instance. You want them to join seamlessly at a particular point, with no overlap, yet the plates have slightly different rotations about z. You try to see the point they overlap by zooming on one of the objects and trying to rotate around it, but the other object is transparent. And you can't quite get zoomed to that point with a perspective from the side, only a perspective that faces you toward the center of the plate you've selected. Same problem if you select the other plate. You have to save/exit bzedit, fire up a server with the new map, fire up the client, go to observer mode, and then keyboard around till you get the perspective you want so you can examine the intersection in closeup. And you have to exit, be sure to kill the server, and go back to bzedit to make changes, at which time you're not sure just how many units you have to shift that plate. That's why I did so much by hand calculations for Nimitz, and good old vi. I did use bzedit for some of the work, too.)

(Here this all appropriate devs: the keyboard controls in the client for observe/roam are slow and difficult to use for quick accurate viewing. I understand why they don't get much attention, after all, they are not useful for regular gameplay, but they are very useful for admin monitoring on a busy server. They would be very useful if the mouse/joystick could control roaming mode, too. Don't know if that's possible with the client as it is. It doesn't appear you can remap the joystick within the keyboard mappings, without breaking gameplay. Almost need a few extra settings for mappings within observe/roam mode - context switch of controls in that mode?)

Object grouping and manipulation: Need the ability to define and move groups of objects. Group/ungroup features similar to those in most graphics tools would help. This is the reason I started using bzmapper, although I did go back and convert almost everything I have to it because it is a great tool.

Autosave off: One problem that caused me some grief is that bzedit saves automatically on exit. Once, I accidentally deleted a bunch of items I didn't want to delete. I quit, it autosaved, I lost them all. That was before I realized it autosaved. I had been saving and then quitting every time I was done editing. Minor problem, and backup copies took care of that in the future. But that should be changed if future work is undertaken.
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Post by JeffM » Sun Jan 23, 2005 4:10 pm

what about platforms?

what OSs would you need this to run on?
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Post by BIYA » Sun Jan 23, 2005 4:37 pm

well since windows is the most widely used then I would start with the windows version of bzedit and go from there...

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Post by JeffM » Sun Jan 23, 2005 5:02 pm

windows and linux bzflag are used in about equal parts. You sure that your not just saying what version YOU use? :)
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Post by BIYA » Sun Jan 23, 2005 6:16 pm

No...im not saying that becuase I use it.. Im just saying that the windows version could be a start and plus MOST mappers use windows to do there mappings....... :wink:

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Post by sid6.7 » Sun Jan 23, 2005 7:40 pm

JeffM2501 wrote:windows and linux bzflag are used in about equal parts. You sure that your not just saying what version YOU use? :)

it has always seemed to me that there are more linux players
then windows players, but i think there are more windows map
makers then linux...

should we make a poll of all the systems to get a raw # idea
what map makers are using?

windows? linux? BSD? mac? other?
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Post by JeffM » Sun Jan 23, 2005 7:59 pm

The list server keeps logs of what OSs everyone is on, Windows is highest by a small amount, allmost tied with *nix. OSX brings in the 3rd place, with the rest of them fighting out in the low numbers.

Game servers are mostly *nix this is true. As for map makers, Of late I see mostly requests for OSX versions of an editor. Or maybe they are just the loudest.

If you do an editor in game, in at least BZFlag's case, your going to spend a lot of time just making the interface for it, bzflag dosn't have any general menus or dialog boxes, or things like that, that are nomraly used in an editor. And since it's a 3d game, you cant just use the normal OS specific GUI, you have to draw it yourself in open GL. This is why I'm not a big fan of in game editors, you end up with a very crapy editor interface. Sure it's easy, but it's not the only easy way. Making your engine modular enough to be used in a real editor application is also a good way. Sadly bzflag is not modular.

Gerbil I like the layer Idea, that would probably help out a lot. Grouping was going to go into bzedit but then it became aperant that it's core structures for holding the maps were not suited for it, and were in fact unstable.
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Other stuff

Post by Gerbil » Mon Jan 24, 2005 9:19 am

Not necessarily basing editor on client code--couldn't you just build a feature in where it automatically creates ur config and server files and when you want to preview autostarts it for ya? That would be a fine compromise and a feature I would want. Basically your editor could do the world set up and server start as well--a handy thing it would be.

I dunno about the meshes--they show off the cellulite in my legs too much--oh, in the GAME. Hmmm.

I dunno--you would have to tell me what exactly a mesh does for me to answer that.

If its like a texture map why couldn't you just select the objects in the editor you wanted it applied to?

For example, I use your editor and notepad. I do some of the math based stuff in the editor and the rest in notepad. A lot of stuff I do in notepad is after I create an object, change the coordinates to place multiple copies and positions of it around the map.

It would be great if I could say, name an object "Fred... 01, 02, etc." and then tell editor, "Make altitudes of all Fred # objects 300 units" or "apply Mesh_01 to Fred objects # 1-6". Kinda like CSS attributes.

So these would be things for the perfect editor. I think Linux and Windows are the two OSs most used in game plus a lot of linux bzers just got into it for bz and aren't spiffy at it yet. I use windows as a necessity though I am going to play with a linux machine here if real life will quit bugging me all day.
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Post by trepan » Mon Jan 24, 2005 11:34 am

This first part of this post is intended to help those who wish to
discuss future map making tools. It would to everyone's benefit
if those involved knew some of the basic terminology that surrounds
3D modelling.


What is a mesh?

Here is a link with some pictures. Please note that I'm not
implying that you RTFM, I only hope that you look at the
pictures:

http://www.blender3d.org/_media/educati ... astle.html

This may help to give you an idea as to what a mesh is. A mesh
is any arbitrary 3D geometric shape composed of polygonal
surfaces (faces). They have vertices (points), which are
connected by edges. The edges define the outsides of the faces.

Although the castle is mostly made up of boxes, cones, and
cylinders (all of which have been supplied as objects for the
less daring), none of these primitives are invoked during its
creation.


Here are some more pictures that show one process for texture
mapping a mesh model.

http://www.blender3d.org/_media/educati ... astle.html

Note that decent texture mapping will not be possible if you are
solely using bzflag primitives. They do not (and never shall),
provide the required controls.


Finally, here are pictures that show a mesh that you could not
possibly build efficiently out of the given primitives.

http://www.enricovalenza.com/modall.html

Even my "lousy rock model" couldn't be built efficiently with
any combination of the bzflag primitives, and it only has 14 faces.


Here's the long winded second part

<rant session>

In case you hadn't guessed, modern 3D modellers do not
use boxes, pyramids, arcs, etc... to build their worlds. They
may start with those primitives, but they will deform them into
objects that more closely meet their artistic vision.

If you guys want an editor that is limited to primitive shapes,
that's great. I can see how the steep learning curve involved
in learning to do real 3D modelling may be a deterent. But do
not expect your maps to look nearly as good, it really is that
simple.

3D modelling tools are complex beasts. They have all kinds of
fancy options for fancy terms like "extrusion" and "boolean ops"
(that you would inevitably come to see as indispensable tools.)
They are not trivial programs to write. It is highly unlikely that
you will find anybody willing to put in the man-years of effort
that would be required to write a custom editor for bzflag (with
only minimal functionality at that). That's probably why it was first
suggested that any wishing to learn how to utilize the 2.0 features
learn blender. It already exists, it's free, and it works on at least
Win, Linux, Mac, Solaris, Irix, and FreeBSD. There are also
converters which have already been written (or are in the process
of bineg written), to transform data from blender into the bzflag
format.

A final ranting, did anyone notice what the biggest complaint was
when BZFlag's 1000000 downloads notice was posted on /. ? The
graphics suck. The visual apparence of the environment that you
are playing in does seem to have an impact on a large percent of
the gaming population. It's true that a great looking game without
game play sucks, but more then a few gamers see the inverse as
being an equally bad situation. First impressions do count. I don't
expect to see hoards of great modellers popping out of the woodwork,
but it would be nice to see at least a few who would take the time to
make some decent maps.

</rant session>


Welcome to 3D modelling.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_modeling

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Post by toaster » Mon Jan 24, 2005 12:39 pm

Well spoken, Trepan.

Nice brainstorm, too. I like that tutorial. I think it would help a lot of people. And perhaps help some to become good modelers. Perhaps a sticky under "map making" with a list of such tutorials would be helpful. As more are discovered, they can be added to the sticky.

I found blender yesterday. It's not bad, seems easy to use. I don't see a need to create an editor if there is a good way to use blender to create maps. Some of the file conversions don't seem to work too well, though. At least not with my first experiments. Definitely, the AutoCAD DXF imports didn't come through as expected. There are a lot of predefined objects available in DXF format.

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Post by JeffM » Mon Jan 24, 2005 5:09 pm

Some more links for those who are totaly lost.

An Artist's Real-Time 3D Glossary
http://www.planetquake.com/polycount/re ... ndex.shtml

General tools for real time games
http://www.planetquake.com/polycount/re ... ools.shtml

Tutorials on modeling for various systems and games.
http://www.planetquake.com/polycount/re ... ndex.shtml

Blender has many scripts, IIRC there are extra import/export scritps for most formats known to man :)
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bzeer VS bzerker

Post by sid6.7 » Mon Jan 24, 2005 7:10 pm

ah the picture becomes clearer....

what we have here is a trekkie VS the trekker situation
a group thats wanting to move away from tradtional
bzflag graphics and replace it with new nifty graphics
for the sake of realism cause if it aint real looking its
not good enough.

this is not the core value of true bzflag that we all love
and know. i do believe now that a portion of the dev's
have a different design in mind for bzflags future. my only
thought on that is if you want to play open combat or
project 2501 then go play that, leave bzflag to the rest
of us.

i've beta tested a number of products now over the last
3 years and 1 of 2 things have happened, a game seeks
new nifty graphics over game use/play then
crashes and burns...or..a game adds a few simple things
like internet playablity maybe 2-3 new unit/items and
satisfies both the trekkies and the trekkers. well
im a bzeer not a bzerker.....

blender looks like it can handle making 3D images well it
reminds me of autocad which is fairly easy to learn
with extrusions etc... i used autocad alot at Boeing plus
i tutored folks in it while in college. i dont think thats the
way we should have gone, yes some said the graphics
sucked but i dont remeber it being the majority of opinion
it appears a majority of dev's did though...yes?

well as with all things in life ya can't go back now....
upwords and onwards...
hideho good neighbor...

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Post by JeffM » Mon Jan 24, 2005 7:22 pm

sid6.7.

The ability to have more object types is one of the most requested features ever. And you can still have your normal boxes and stuff so you can run round your simple old maps if you wish. BZflag gameplay is NOT changing, it's just getting the ability to draw more types of objects. You are not going to start seeing terrain, or tilting tanks, or anything more "realistic". Just something other then a box or a pyramid. On a gameplay standpoint, all these new objects, interact with the players and shots just like pyramids did. It's just now that you can have more then one angle of sloped face per object. So I don't see it going in a new "direction" I just see it as a small update for a very requested feature.

The game could have gotten other requested featurs such as terrain, aiming, and all that, but it did not. Tim wishes to keep the gameplay simple. It just got some new objects to make the worlds a little more interesting. Its still just a bunch of stuff on a flat plane. It just dosn't have to be a green plane, with boxes. It can have other suff and be a blue plane , raining frogs :)
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Post by toaster » Tue Jan 25, 2005 1:04 am

Well said. Still a great game.

On a supportive side note, I have been looking at the posts since 2.0 was released. I didn't bother to try to actually count these, but I would guess that perhaps as much as 30% of the forum posts are bugs/issues with servers and clients as people try to sift through the new version. That's to be expected, some of the changes are rather extensive. It appears that perhaps 40% of all posts are on maps and graphics.

This is just a swag as I read, not an accurate accounting.

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Ok--interesting

Post by Gerbil » Tue Jan 25, 2005 5:55 am

I agree that the graphics are nice but as a player who used a 2xAGP 32MB nvidia dog for the first five years of play and only recently graduated to and 8xAGP 128MB ATI I never knew what it was like playing with 100+ frame rates.

Shoot--no wonder some players always had that litle edge I could never get past (that and my mouse scroll is less than the tank turn rate due to my graphics editing setting). I feel a lot less guilty about camping (Haha, like I ever felt guilty) after seeing the handicap I played with. (usually between 15fps and 42 fps with an average around 27-32)

If I wanted a graphics oriented game, there are a lot of them out there (though I do appreciate graphics) and BZ will always be behind their curve.

I am already seeing sluggish graphics on some of the high tech worlds now and wonder about the guys who are still using my old nvidia.

All that windily said, I am not the "fastest" or "best" player out there. What gets me through in the upper scores most of the time is strategy. I LOVE the strategy in BZ. I can take on better players and win with superior tactics--though darn it there are a lot more tacticians with good shooting out there now who are kickin my can. So in this regard, graphics are a lesser asset--just nice.

So having the POTENTIAL of mind-boggingly rendered 3D worlds, the practicality is much of the game is graphics independent and to many a graphics heavy game is a liability--which MAY be why some of them are playing BZ and not Halo or some other poofter, BZ wannabe game.

So in this regards, the ideal editor is an "either/or" editor--not a "take it or leave it" one.

Simple shapes are great for many things. Fact is, I am intrigued by 3D modeling but am maxed out on new learning areas without assistance. A basic editor with whatever "pre-defined" values can be incorporated is great for the majority of players and designers the majority of the time I think. Let the 3D modellers out there wow us with what they have but I bet you the best worlds are the ones that are the most playable.

It would be great to have the ability to put personal messages in the worlds we make (like billboards), maybe one day custom paint our tanks and set our background images like our desktops but it is the simple fun of BZ that makes this whole thing so popular.

My whole start here about the world design was based on "simple, fast and fun". When the game gets so complex that it divides into branches of interest and expertise, it loses some of the commaraderie and esprit de corps that are the other big part of it's fun.

The current build is great. I think much effort now ought to be into making it more and more user friendly and accesible. This should be a continuing effort.

It would be sad if the only people playing were those who write code and can build Linux boxes blindfolded and the only map makers were professionals in the design industry. It would be like making a movie that only the crew who made it could see.

Great help above--thanks. Also, thanks to devs for much clearer bzflag.org help in this version. I got to read through some for the first time in a while and it seems much more "friendly" to us dumb people.
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Post by ping » Tue Jan 25, 2005 8:51 am

While creating a mapping tool is much less exciting than adding some new whiz bang game feature, frankly, it would probably add more to the game than anything else.
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An Opportunity

Post by Gerbil » Tue Jan 25, 2005 8:57 am

I think you would be surprised at the appreciation and recognition a readily available and usable world editor would get.

Many new players would be hooked for life if they found out that there was an easy to use tool to let players with little or no programming experince make their own worlds for the public to see.

It's an opportunity for someone out there if they make one.
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Post by SilverFox » Tue Jan 25, 2005 5:41 pm

Wow, I disagree about expecting bz to be "less graphical" than other games. I think it has (and will) make leaps forward, and for purists or lowend clients, they can always turn down the quality.

Regarding the editor, JeffM2501, I wouldn't bother with making a menuing (point and click anyhow) system for the editor, but would use hotkeys for most functions, and the chat box for the rest. A sort of CLI would be more useful (IMHO), where when you enter in the object info, it is created graphically right there, and then you can make changes to it with hotkeys and arrow keys. (ie, R to resize width/depth, and then up/down keys to change size of y and right right/left keys to resize X, and other hot keys to move, change height, rotation, etc)

Click would be used to select objects. A hotkey to "tab" through objects would be available too. Grouping/layering would be a must for this to work too.

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Post by JeffM » Tue Jan 25, 2005 6:08 pm

ohh don't wory silverfox, I won't bother. :)

But I don't think you understand how most users use bzedit. They don't like to type, if they did they would use text. BZmaper is command line right now, how much is that used? Tabing thru worlds with thousands of objects is not reasonable. Also with out a mouse, how do you expect to define mesh objects.

What I don't see anyone realising here, is that i's not just boxes anymore. It's any arbitrary geometry, with any arbitrary texture. So you can't just 'define the info for an object". If it was that easy, then text would be fine.

To fully use all of the features of bzflag, you need to have a full mesh editor. If your not going to do mehses, then why not just update bzedit to have some more properies and a couple more prims. But then don't complain when someone comes over with a mesh map and it blows a prim map away. Or all you all telling us that mesh objects is a feature that you all will never use? Was that a waste of time because it's too complex for a bzflag maper to handle?
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What I am saying is..

Post by Gerbil » Tue Jan 25, 2005 7:53 pm

That it's not that I will "never" use meshes but that I don't want to stop playing with BZ while I have to learn them.

Make an editor that does simple things but has the extended capability to do other things or make two editors, an object editor and then a mesh editor or graphics design plug-in for some already existing mesh editor.

Yes, text based design is tedious and most of us have better things to do than pour 200 hours into a project so we can have the satisfaction of saying,"I coded that!".

Most of us don't want to CODE anything and we AREN'T getting our satisfaction from that. We want to PLAY the game which is where we get our satisfaction.

As for the simple shapes--take bzedit as an example and add the ability to add arcs and even simple "library" objects that the basic editor couldn't make but can import and export. That's what most of us would need.

Again, there is no conflict with "mesh worlds being better". Heck, I have a simple 3D program but I'm not going to be doing CGI for the nest Star Wars movie. They do what they do and I do what I do.

Flash is a good example. A lot of it is simplistic, tawdry graphics yet it has a quirky style all it's own that can be very engaging. It doesn't have to "be" film which has immensly more detailed graphics.

We want to make PLAYABLE worlds that are FUN--not design 3D models that happen to be viewable in BZFlag.

This is essentially the old attempt to explain to programmers that "What's fun for them ain't necesssarily fun for all of us."

I love to cook--so everybody should work in my kitchen? I'm sure it's what they want to do, they just don't know it yet--maybe I can make them and then they'll appreciate it ;)
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Post by SilverFox » Tue Jan 25, 2005 8:25 pm

JeffM2501, you're right, I'm still stuck with box's and pyr's, but...

I use bzmapper more than any other editing tool available, and I spend about as much time uploading the map to a server (because the windows server acted "funny" with certain things) and launching a client, and moving around in obs mode. It would be cool if I could see the changes I make in text form immediately. So much of it is trial and error.

So, looking forward, bzflag is certainly not the first game to use mesh's. How do other games create worlds? Do they have tools (granted proprietary to their game) that have been created? Wouldn't it be nice if there was an open source standard created for gaming worlds, and a suite of tools available for creating these worlds? You may say that games are so different, how could that work? Or, why would I want all games to look similar?

But you look at how blender is used for so many things, it could be extended to a world format I'd think.

ahh... nevermind me, I'm talking about things I don't understand again...

/me wanders off to pillbox.

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JeffM
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Post by JeffM » Tue Jan 25, 2005 9:34 pm

sounds like you all just need to get bzedit updated for a subset of the new stuff. I would think that some inrpepid coder could edit the existing bzedit code for that stuff.

Yes there has been talk of making blender files the world format, and geting rid of the current prim based world format.
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