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

Sentus Caverns - intensifying the mist 1

Date: November 19, 2012
Screenshot #411: I've had the idea of intensifying and thickening the fog in the Sentus Caverns in my mind for a few months now. Earlier, it was noticeable, but rather weak and confined to the very lowest parts. I wanted to increase the intensity. So, I quadrupled the height (based on the foreground area as the far area is 64 CU lower giving a greater vertical span) and octupled the intensity (again, based on the foreground area). The simulation was promising as there was little difference. However, the actual results tell a different story and they were disappointing. That's because I overlooked the darkening of the texture from the mud. The screenshot shows this well. In the far part, you practically can't see the seams. In the foreground area, you can see the obvious bands. Thus, I'd have to use double the intensity, maybe triple at the most, but definitely not octuple. The height doesn't really matter that much, but doubling what I had is my new target. That would make the thickness 8 blocks instead of just 4.

Sentus Caverns - the banding problem

Date: November 21, 2012
Screenshot #412: With the oversight of the darkening of the mud, the octupling of the intensity was much too great, resulting in far too much contrast between the zones. A tripling is marginally acceptable, giving a contrast of about 4. The height being 16 blocks thick was too great and 8 blocks was too thin. Thus, I'm focusing on something around 2.5x to 3x for the intensity compared to what I had and 12 blocks for the thickness.

However, one lingering issue still remains to be solved and this screenshot shows it perfectly. See the pinkish and orangish bands or that strange "gap" halfway into the center? It's so obvious. Yet, it stands out well in many areas, especially when you're near the ground, of which is going to happen (miss a jump and a splat into the mud at the bottom may be inevitable). What causes this? The limits of the human eye and the 8-bits-per-channel color depth together with rounding errors. The human eye can detect a few million colors. 8-bit color channels means 16,777,216 total colors, pretty close to the limits of human vision. Because there are 61 (!) layers of this fog to get the volumetric fog (of which Keveran Forest will also be using), and that the alpha channel has very low values, like 4s, 1s, and other such things (as opposed to 255 like that of the walls), rounding errors accumulate. The resulting RGB values can be different by up to 30.5 from what it's supposed to be. That's such a big difference that it's very obvious. Compare ###### to ###### or ######. You can tell that there's a very obvious difference between these, but that's all well within the limits of rounding errors.

I do, however, have a possible solution that might solve the issue. The solution will be explained in the next screenshot.

Sentus Caverns - banding problem fixed

Date: November 21, 2012
Screenshot #413: My idea worked very well, but it's not perfect, of which I was expecting. I'd have to use 16 bits per channel color in order to completely solve the problem, but that is not going to happen as I don't have access to software that can output in such a format and AlphaBlend may only work with 8 bits per channel at the most anyway. The banding is still present, but it's nowhere near as noticeable as it was before.

What was the solution? Before I state the solution, I want to explain the clues I had. When I was level with the mist where the alpha was at 1, there wasn't much of an effect. With 2, I got orangish yellow colors. 3 had pink, 4 was orangish yellow, 5 seemed fine, 6 had slighly pink, and so forth. Or, at least, that is the general idea. From my animated GIF days where I had a very limited color palette, I used color dithering. The best way for the fusion of 2 colors without adding more colors to the palette, of which is like my case with the banding though in a different way, was to checkerboard the 2 colors. If you have single pixels that alternate between red and yellow, for example, the image looks like orange. Thus, if I could checkerboard the alpha zones of 0 and 1 for the uppermost part of the mist, 1 and 2 for the next lower part, 2 and 3 lower yet, and so on, I could blend the oranges and pinks to get a new color, the gray I'm after. The end result actually came out a lot better than I expected. It's still not perfect, but it's the best I can do.

Now that I think about it, I just saved myself a good few hours for the Keveran Forest redo as Keveran Forest is also going to have this. Like I've done with the Sentus Caverns' mist, I'll be checkerboarding the ground fog. Unlike the Sentus Caverns, the fog in Keveran Forest will be much more intense. Try sexdecupling (16x) the intensity I started the Sentus Caverns with (and even that may not be enough, but I'll have to run the numbers to know with any sufficient certainty).

Nodera Highlands - weird distortions

Date: November 25, 2012
Screenshot #414: Um, okay, so, then, what's this a picture of? It looks like... a random mess that's distorted. This was caused from me failing to update array index references while loading the scenery - the info and stuff was pointing to the wrong layer, causing these weird effects. I find them quite funny though. Load a different world then return and the effects are different. Sometimes they're weirder, other times they are barely noticed.

Nodera Highlands - air taxis in the snow

Date: November 25, 2012
Screenshot #415: Back when I finished Nodera Highlands, I didn't think of the idea for air taxis and thus none were present. Adding them in resulted in some weird effects (a minor mistake on my side) but once fixed, along with another hidden bug (and a big one (class 4) fixed 2 days earlier that resulted in excessive draws), the results are shown in this screenshot. The closer air taxis are obvious and easy to spot but the far ones are extremely difficult to spot (like the one directly above the red-orange part of the HP bar) or the 2 next to the 2 obvious ones. However, rise above the clouds and the far ones stand out fairly well, best against a very light-colored background.

Jeremy's House - new hills near ground level

Date: January 7, 2013
Screenshot #416: With the original hills spaced way too far apart, creating a very unrealistic effect, I needed to redo them. The updated hills are now much closer together and they are also 20% taller. From ground level, there doesn't seem to be much of a difference, outside the height being a bit higher. Do note that there are a few bugs that I'm not going to bother to fix until I add in the trees where I'll then focus on correcting everything that I know of. The hills are just a quick import only, with little focus on the finer details.

Jeremy's House - new hills from great heights

Date: January 7, 2013
Screenshot #417: From a much higher vantage point, the difference is obvious, very obvious. At even half this height, you could quite clearly see the gap between the hills. Here, you practically can't see the gap. While I do expect some gap to be present, what I had before was excessive, big time. Plus, what better way to show off PM's capabilities than to make the tutorial level rise to such great heights of which exceed what pretty much any other 2D game would do. After all, the view is amazing - can you see the ocean from here? If you look very closely, you can see the sand on the beaches at the coach.

Jeremy's House - tutorial level sim

Date: January 7, 2013
Screenshot #418: So, then, what's this about the tutorial level? Every world in PM has a tutorial level, explaining any new elements within that world. World 1, Jeremy's House, being the very first world, should explain the absolute most basic elements of Platform Masters. This includes what extra lives are, what the info on the screen is, how to move and jump, how to look around, how to deal with the game's 2 most common types of enemies, and so forth. This also includes what the springs are used for. This screenshot shows the tutorial level, a simulation of it anyway. This is how I intend on having the tutorial level for world 1 - it'll constantly rise upwards and upwards a lot. Originally, about 6 months earlier, I intended on having the springs all be in a sequence with a small 4x1 floor platform to take in the view from such great height. I thought, why limit the height there? Why not have the height really rise and show players how extreme the limits in PM really are, while also getting a truly scenic view. Even the view from this height is quite nice, about 160 feet above the ground.

Jeremy's House - highest solid point

Date: January 7, 2013
Screenshot #419: The tutorial level has this point as approximate the highest point, or so it seems. This is the highest point you can stand on, at least until the Sentus Mountains, half the game later. You can still actually get higher yet, but this is a very nice view. The farm fields beyond the hills are quite easy to see. The exact height isn't exactly certain yet, but this is the general idea, maybe a few blocks off (which has hardly any effect).

Jeremy's House - white spring to great height

Date: January 7, 2013
Screenshot #420: With this white spring on the backtracking route (so you can go back in the tutorial level if you want to rereview something), you'll reach the highest point possible for a long time to come. To get any higher in this world, you'll need to seriously upgrade jumping to a significantly higher point, over 260 mph if from ground level.