Platform Masters Title
Platform Masters - Will you be the world's next platform master?

Final Ronnisa Plains design - tree simulation

Date: May 18, 2011
Screenshot #151: All of the known enhancements to Ronnisa Plains are otherwise finished, minus the trees. This screenshot shows you what I mean. I know, it looks very strange. When it comes to testing things, I do strange things.

The most obvious part that sticks out are the horrible-looking trees. They're stand-ins for the real thing, once I ever get to that point. They're included in this simulation screenshot for one main reason. Ronnisa Plains will have trees present, but I don't yet have any images for trees. I don't have any images because I don't have any algorithms for making them. I also don't seem to have the motivation either. Thus, I made these kids-style drawings of trees to serve as temporary stand-ins for the real thing that will eventually be made. I needed them so I could determine the kind of spacing I'd like.

Unlike Keveran Forest where the trees are at a very high density, they are somewhat widespread in Ronnisa Plains, averaging not 25 feet or so apart, but around 150 to 300. This simulation has 125 for the average spacing, too close, but it was just for testing purposes. The trees also appear out of place and/or heavily oversized. This is because they're based on the camera being at a height of 768 CU instead of 3072 CU like the rest of the scenery behind them is. I didn't want to extend the image to 1920 pixels tall to get game-engine-accurate positioning (everything appearing below 768 (image position 767) will not be visible). Still, at least they serve the purpose.

I'm leaning toward having about 8 to 12 trees over a span of 16,384 CU, depending on how much memory I'll need for them. Given the trees are up to 180 pixels wide, I could certainly get even 12 trees positioned without too much concern. To counter the 64 MB memory that a 16,384x256 image will need (32-bit color since I'll definitely need transparency), I use a special drawing algorithm to work around the 64 MB memory issue that would cause, of which I've already been using in other cases. Trees at a scaling of 1 would be far too big - 512 pixels tall for one (this is where that 512 minimum comes from). I start them at 2 and have them extend all the way to the road, getting no further than 7.5 (50 feet short of the road, 25 feet short of the powerlines. Instead of the 6 layers that this image is showing, I'm leaning toward only 3. This would have the trees at 2, 4, and 6 or maybe 2, 4.5, and 7. I don't have any plans for this yet, but this spacing test helps answer it. This makes each layer 200 or 250 feet apart.

Aside from the trees (and lack of traffic, of which I've had for nearly a year), you can see how different the hills are. They are different in 2 ways. The first is obvious - there's a lot more of them. Instead of 7 layers, it's now 18. The huge jump in the quantity comes from the fact I made the hills extend otherwise to where the road is. Ronnisa Plains is intended to be a rather hilly place that has a river cutting out the valley. The far hills come up closer to the river as well. What's with the black line? It's the horizon indicator, a temporary layer used to accelerate the positioning of objects in the scene.

There are 3 other changes I made to this world. The visibility was reduced from 32,000 feet to 28,800 feet, one that isn't very obvious. The second change is something that's blocked by the hills in front and also the bad-looking trees - a campground-like area. The third change is the addition of utility poles just in front of the road. Ronnis, a gigantic city, has numerous power plants around (hydroelectric power anyone?) and thus, to "feed" the energy needs to the surrounding land, that's where the powerlines come in. They are placed 25 feet away from the road closer to the scene. The poles stand 32*7.75 or 248 CU (about 36.4 feet or 11.1 meters) tall and are spaced 256*7.75 or 1984 CU (about 291 feet or 88.7 meters) apart. I couldn't find any information as to what the diameter of the wires were, so I assumed half inch. A half inch from 775 feet away is very hard to make out.

The next stage in the process is to import these roughly 46 total layers into the game engine.

Final Ronnisa Plains design - grass effect

Date: May 19, 2011
Screenshot #152: Remember screenshot 150? This is the grass effect as seen in the game engine, after fixing the bugs. On the side of the slope facing the bright sun, it's light, very light. On the side in the shade, the grass is dark. Unlike before, the grass is 25% shorter.

Final Ronnisa Plains design - ground level

Date: May 19, 2011
Screenshot #153: On the ground, it's easy to see the wires on the power lines just in front of the road. The character is ducking in the grass making him hard to find.

Final Ronnisa Plains design - medium height

Date: May 19, 2011
Screenshot #154: From 428.39 feet (130.57 meters) above the ground, it's easy to see the road and the closest hills. This is about how high the jumbo levels will get at their highest.

Final Ronnisa Plains design - high height

Date: May 19, 2011
Screenshot #155: The campground is easily visible against the rain-swollen Keveran River from 1099.12 feet (335.01 meters) above the ground, the kind of heights small airplanes are at. The hills and small mountains on the other side of the river are also easy to see.

Final Ronnisa Plains design - cloud level

Date: May 19, 2011
Screenshot #156: If you can get high enough to jump up into the clouds, here is one neat effect you'll encounter. Notice how the rain at the top seems to decrease in density? This is because the clouds themselves are blocking the rain drops. It's hard to spot it in normal play though as keeping near 6640.87 feet (2024.14 meters) above the ground is only possible with leviburst. The fall-glide will give you the chance, but you won't be able to maintain your vertical speed and this effect gets lost in too short of a time period. Here, however, it's also easy to see the hills and small mountains on the other side of the Keveran River. The part above the clouds is unchanged though. The short mountains are not high enough to poke above the clouds, barely only half as high as the cloud bottoms.

Signs - a medium-length sign

Date: May 22, 2011
Screenshot #157: Signs - they're only used in tutorial levels. To test their functionality, I've included them into the test level and they describe the test level kind of like what a tutorial level would. How do you read a sign? Easy: stand in front of one and press the key associated with casting. Notice the relationship between the size of the sign as you see it in the scene and what you see at the top. The sign in the scene is unreadable outside a few brief bits. The part at the top, however, is clearly readable as it's magnified 11 times. This magnification may not match what you see on the small sign, but at least the apparent design is otherwise close. The black border enhances readability, in case you're in a world like Nodera Ice Shelf where everything is very bright.

A brief start was made on the Sentus Mountains which is why they look different, especially the closest set of mountains. I was stunned when I realized just how big they really were. They're only 12 1/2% taller, but still, having not experienced real mountains, this really puts things in perspective.

Signs - a tall sign

Date: May 22, 2011
Screenshot #158: What's more is that signs come in varying heights, depending on how many lines there are. Up to 8 lines are present on any single sign, such as this case.

Signs - a short sign

Date: May 22, 2011
Screenshot #159: There are some very short ones too, though about 5 lines is a rough average for what you might expect to see.

Sentus Mountains - terrain editing

Date: May 29, 2011
Screenshot #160: Previously, I intended on having a few areas being available to land on for actual mountains and only 3 in the 58 1/4-mile span (something as low as 8 mountains would be pushing it - they'd have to be quite gentle all the way through, instead of rugged just to get 8). The rest was a bottomless pit. This was actually thought of that way back when Carnivalesta was world 8 (about that point - the time when the menus were first added is about the late point) and not known to the public, a very long time ago. I intended on having the bottomless pit present because, should you fall while in a high point of a level (a platform level that takes place high up), of which I originally had multiple fallout points, it would be a long way down.

Today, it's changed considerably. I figured, since I had the menus all planned out (including the pause menu instead of just 40+ configuration settings), I could have it so that the Sentus Mountains didn't have any fallout point. In addition, it would be a lot of fun running around at extreme speeds on the 11 mountains present. There may even be a few treasure chests on the mountain slopes that you could be missing out on. Oh, and what about gliding between peaks like I often do in my mind game or that one event in scene 7 in my book? You'll be able to do that and more (minus pitched gliding).

So, if there is no fallout point, you might be thinking that, if you're playing a jumbo level at difficulty 0 (where you could be given a massive 20 minutes to complete the level), you'd have to run out of time or deliberately stand in spikes or something to die and return to the start platform. Yes these are options, but who wants to wait 19 minutes (or, in the supersize level, potentially even 30 minutes) for the clock to run out. There's something far better and far faster. As I went about planning the menus (not just configuration, but also the pause menu), I've included a "replay" or "retry" option. What this does is it causes the character to instantly return to the start platform (after the usual fades). If this option is chosen during actual play, it costs 1 life. Other games with a similar functionality make it impossible to pause the game (from what I've experienced), a very annoying design aspect. In Platform Masters, however, it costs a life. However, you will be warned about this with a simple yes/no confirmation question (the default is "no"). However, if this option is chosen before a level starts (that is, before "start" is shown and movement begins), or after a level is declared "completed" (the results don't have to show), there is no confirmation but you won't lose a life. Thus, use this option if you feel you have no chance to return to the main level after a big fall, you get stuck (likely due to an unforseen glitch), or something like that.

Ground decals are also visible in the form of lakes and rivers. The lake on the far right of the screenshot is the big one - all rivers eventually lead into it. When I added this, I found a few bugs with the ground decal system that I otherwise couldn't see or make out (one test case is not wise - this uses 3 in a sense (there's actually a fourth, but you can't see it as the closest mountains are blocking it). The high cloud density makes it rather difficult to see the closest part of these rivers and lakes.