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






Mount Sentusia - standing in the lava lake


Date: September 9, 2012
Screenshot #381: Unlike beautiful Lake Keveran, this isn't a lake to be going for a swim in. Touch that lava and you'll be fried to a crisp before you know it. The deeper you're in it, the faster HP is taken away, to up to 120 HP per second. At the expected range of HP you'll have by the time you reach this point, you'd be cooked to a crisp in just 1 1/2 to 2 seconds. Getting out, should you fall in, is sometimes not easy as getting out of deep lava is next to impossible. This sure makes world 13 quite scary, in a way. One wrong step or missed jump and it's off to the lava to get fried to a crisp! That unlucky 13... if you're superstitious. Fortunately (lucky 13 now?), deep lava is fairly rare so you should, if a platform or something is nearby, be able to get out without too much trouble. Yes, some areas will be rather deep, but it's not very common. What's more (uh oh), there are even a few areas where solid ground rises out of the lava (whew - must be lucky) that are safe to land on.




Mount Sentusia - the close lava islands


Date: September 9, 2012
Screenshot #382: The odd areas that rise out of the lava lake are what I call lava islands. These, such as the one near the bottom of this screenshot (of which is the closest visible), rise out of the lava. The foreground landscape as has some of this as well, but it's rarely seen. Up close, lava islands are small and widely spaced, just as mentioned in earlier screenshots (on the previous page).




Mount Sentusia - the far lava islands


Date: September 9, 2012
Screenshot #383: This shows a better view of the far-away lava islands. Note the large one that stand out. The lava islands that are far into the distance are closer together and larger.




Mount Sentusia - the rim of the volcano


Date: September 9, 2012
Screenshot #384: Get high enough and you'll be able to see the rim of the volcano. It starts becoming visible once the glow of the lava is entirely off screen. While regular levels won't get this high (except maybe 1), the supersize level easily will. If you look closely enough, you can see an air taxi.




Mount Sentusia - the air taxis


Date: September 9, 2012
Screenshot #385: Air taxis are nothing new. These are seen in pretty much every world (worlds 12, 19, and 20 being the exceptions). From the height these are at, well clear of the deadly lava, you can clearly see the mountains. They are almost identical to that of the Sentus Mountains. The only difference is that the snow caps have been shifted downward to being both higher in elevation and at a higher latitude.




Mount Sentusia - the ground decals


Date: September 9, 2012
Screenshot #386: From just a bit over the height of the tallest peak here, the closest of the far ground decals (those between the mountains) are visible. I put a lot of effort into these, throwing in all sorts of details. There are several rivers, lakes, forests (including a large forest), cities (a large one included), farm fields, and even a freeway complete with exit and entrance ramps and even a rest area!




Mount Sentusia - the far ground decals


Date: September 9, 2012
Screenshot #387: With even more height, you can see the ground decals between the far mountains. Here, they're visible between 2 sets of mountains. Although the same texture is used, it's been shifted and the high repeat width makes for plenty of variety to be possible.




Ronnis - layered air taxis


Date: September 9, 2012
Screenshot #388: Questioning on whether or not I want to have multiple layers of air taxis, I decided to provide a sample on this. It does help make Ronnis look more active and futuristic, in a way. The lower the air taxi, the slower the speeds and the more closely spaced they are. The super high air taxis, 16 Kbl above the ground, even get to supersonic speeds. From this screenshot, you can easily tell how densely packed the air taxis actually are. Look at the area near the horizon, especially on the left, and you can easily see a good 20 air taxis, if not more. To the right of the character, below where the clouds are at, and above the islands in the ocean, I see a good 28 air taxis total. Probably close to 60 or 70 are visible in this scene. Before this, you may have only seen as many as 15. In remote areas, like Nodera Ice Shelf, you can find areas where you don't even see a single air taxi, even if optimized vertically to maximize the chances - there are still times where you won't see a single air taxi.














Resource usage - light usage but just 1 thread


Date: September 9, 2012
Screenshot #389: Ever wonder what the resource usage is for Platform Masters? It's quite light. Compared to almost every game nowadays, outside Flash games, the resources that Platform Masters requires is surprisingly light. You might be wondering why the memory limit is past the 96 MB limit I've set as well, even though no enemies, bosses, etc. are available yet. This is because, for simplicity in development, scenery layers have much more memory allocated to them than they really need. Most of the scenery layers are not even 100 KB and yet I've allocated 1 MB to them for simplicity. Once I near finalizing, that will be addressed so that less than 96 MB will be used in the end. The low resource usage makes it possible to run PM on computers from 2005 just fine at 60 fps, practically maxed even. Got an old Pentium 4 processor of at least 2.5 GHz? You'll be able to run PM at 60 fps fairly well (Ronnisa Plains and Nodera Highlands may not get 60 fps but can get close if you adjust configuration settings to reduce the impact that precipitation has)

However, the primary reason for this screenshot is the "threads" column. What's so important about that? A thread, basically, is a separate processing routine, processed independently of other tasks within the same program. It's like both listening to music and drawing. The process of listening to music is one thread and drawing is another thread, both processed independently. At the moment, if the frame rate drops, controls become unresponsive. Get 5 fps and, even if you do press the key for jumping and you're on solid ground, the jump won't happen unless you time it right or hold the key down. This makes control extremely frustrating. Drops in frame rate can be caused from an inferior CPU (like a Pentium 3), GPU (like a GeForce 7300), or background tasks (like your anti-virus program updating itself) using up your CPU leaving an insufficient amount left for PM. The latter case can result in massive frame rate drops. This is one of the reasons why I have 2000 draws as the limit.

I can probably eliminate the weak controls issue if I have more than 1 thread. Notice how every process, except 2 system processes and Notepad, uses just 1 thread? By putting controls on one thread, movement of objects on another, and especially having all drawing on another, I could eliminate a good chunk of the issues caused by poor frame rates. Movements don't take much CPU to deal with so I could still have them on the same thread as the controls. The drawing, however, must be separate as it's the most demanding of all. Plus, as a bonus, I could probably make use of "WaitForVerticalBlank" later on (a DirectX function) to get vsync working and get rid of the annoying jittering that I have. Once the flag is set to allow for a draw, the draws are made into the back buffer then the wait can begin and once vertical blank is encountered, the buffers are swapped. At least, that's my plan anyway.




Sentus Mountains - planning close ground decals


Date: September 10, 2012
Screenshot #390: With multithreading much less likely (due to too many dependencies - buffer swapping requires that the drawing is done of which requires that the draw-to positions are known of which requires the camera position is known of which requires the character's position to be known of which requires the keyboard inputs from the player to be known. It's one dependency after another and if skipping occurs, weird results will follow. This defeats the purpose of having multiple threads. There's also conflicts present too. As a consequence, multithreading is almost completely ruled out. There could be something that comes along that provides a solution, but at the moment, solutions remain elusive.

So, I went off and began work on something else until a solution comes. That something else is standardizing the ground decals used in the Sentus Mountains. The foreground decals are all that remain to be standardized thanks to redoing the far decals from doing Mount Sentusia. Because I've already completed the terrain for the Sentus Mountains, the layout of the terrain will determine what the layout of the ground decals will be. This screenshot shows how I utilized this detail to figure out where to put both Ryanara and Emerist along with the rest area. Too high of a low point and these can't seen in their full glory. Thus, I had to find where the lowest of the low points were and their heights so I can figure out the best way to lay out the map.






Footnotes:
None.