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

Lake Keveran - new water texture lower

Date: November 4, 2013
Screenshot #451: When I redid my book's cover for use in a poster, I needed a water texture. Before this, I thought of a way to enhance the detail of the texture to make it look much more realistic. After some previews, I was quite impressed... aside from one limitation. That limitation has to do with the way the water itself is drawn. The water, here, uses the standard ground layers. For something like pavement, the system is fine. However, with the way the water is, this system leaves sudden and abrupt cuts in the texture. For something like pavement, dirt, or grass, this works well and it's great for keeping the draw count low. For something like this water texture, the abrupt cuts are obvious and don't really show the true glory of the texture.

There is a way around that though and I've been using it for a long time now: ground decals. Ground decals are how I'm able to get the rich details like the roads, sidewalks, cities, farm fields, lakes, ponds, etc. that you see in the backgrounds of many worlds. The lake bottom of Lake Keveran is another example and this screenshot shows it very well. Here's a brief comparison between the various kinds of drawing routines for the ground:

As you can tell, each method has its pros and cons. The textured ground method is by far the best of them all. It only takes about 3 MB of memory for textured ground to go from 1 to 256 SU using only 192 total draws in the worst possible case (optimizations reduce this to half for the worst case) but ground decals need almost 18 MB and need potentially 600 draws (with the best possible optimization) to accomplish the same thing.

Because of the restriction of the image being cut off abruptly, the full texture cannot be appreciated and it cannot tile. The only way around this is to use ground decals as they have no restrictions on their design (other than being confined to the X and Z axes only). This means, in a later update, I plan on updating the closer water to the use of ground decals. This will allow for the full texture to be used. This, however, is only needed for the closest parts where the texture cutting occurs. This is the area from 1 to 6 SU which is where the water's opacity range pretty much ends.

Lake Keveran - new water texture upper

Date: November 4, 2013
Screenshot #452: When high above Lake Keveran, the turquoise-to-blue fade still makes Lake Keveran look very pretty. The only way to get that gradient was to, well, use ground decals. The possibilities with ground decals are almost endless (consider the ice shelf in Nodera Ice Shelf), aside from the inability to work on the Y axis (I can have Y positions be set but that's not the same as having hills being possible).

Earth Space Base - directional guide

Date: November 15, 2013
Screenshot #453: Let's see, now where was that space elevator at again? With the newly designed Earth Space Base, you can now find out - it's 80 blocks left and behind from the center of this sign on the floor. I started the finishing of Earth Space Base way back in February of this year, and lost TV service just before I could finish. After an assortment of enhancements, I've resumed work on Earth Space Base and finished it.

Dominating the foreground are buildings that are anywhere from 4 to 8 stories tall (the heights are randomized). The buildings use the texturing that the floor itself uses only fully opaque.

In areas where gaps in the buildings are present, text is there. Instead of 2 pieces of text, there are now 4. One of them is a guide showing where everything is. This is located right next to where the space elevator is. That's right: space elevator. Although the space elevator will be added into the scene, it's actually a story object. The commercial district is 672 blocks to the left, the farming sector is 1 kiloblock behind the scene and to the right, the laboratory is 1 1/4 Kbl directly behind, the observatory is 960 blocks straight ahead (this is that odd gray area near the horizon), and the residential section is 384 blocks to the right.

Earth Space Base - PM ad banner

Date: November 15, 2013
Screenshot #454: Much like the "The Platform Master" sailboat, this floor text is pretty much the same. This was one of the original designs - I just made an assortment of enhancements to it. The part on the right is a bit hard to read but it states "champ begins July 20" (the same as the sailboat) and "see it live for 2000 EG" at the bottom.

Earth Space Base - ground location banner

Date: November 15, 2013
Screenshot #455: The third banner, another unique one compared to before, has the ground location indicated. The left side shows the name of the location. The right side shows the latitude and longitude. You might be wondering why the location has "Johannesburg, South Africa" when the Earth itself is showing a completely different area. The reason is simple - if the camera could "tilt" down, you'd be seeing the southern part of Africa right directly where Johannesburg, South Africa is (or very near it anyway).

Earth Space Base - space base brand and identifier

Date: November 15, 2013
Screenshot #456: The other banner is exactly the same as the previous only smaller. The brand name is on the top, the planet (represented by a solid circle) is on the bottom left, and the star and space base ID number (represented by a dome) is in the bottom right.

Earth Space Base - the observatory

Date: November 15, 2013
Screenshot #457: The reason behind the Hubble Space Telescope being in space is to get out of the light-blocking and light-scattering atmosphere of Earth providing for the sharpest possible pictures. Much like the Hubble, Earth Space Base has an observatory for the same reason... except this one is 50% bigger than the Keck Observatory in Hawaii. If you look closely, you can see that there is an odd extension on the floor for just this. The telescope is in the vacuum of space but the part before it (and the extension) is fully enclosed.

Like before, the Earth in the background actually moves unlike pretty much any other game. You can't really see this movement very well because of the huge amount of distance needed to get Earth to move just one pixel. With Earth itself being 131,072 SU away, the farthest object in all of Platform Masters, it's no wonder why it hardly moves. That's, in case you're wondering, 2485.5135 miles or 4000.0462 kilometers away. In the 64 Kbl span the terrain repeats, Earth only moves 16 pixels, that's it. It still moves though which sets Platform Masters apart from other games.

Barugan Reef - the sailboats

Date: November 19, 2013
Screenshot #458: For consistency reasons, since Barugan Islands (world 19) has them, I needed to add in the sailboats to Air Taxi and Barugan Reef since they didn't have any. Beforehand, this would have been a long-winded effort in the programming part but with the new system for the scenery, that is no longer an issue. Because the old sailboats didn't follow my standards (some were even left out), Barguan Islands now takes place at night instead of day, and the water color has changed, I needed to update the images.

While I have 4 new sail designs thought of to get a complete set of 16 sails, I'm, at the moment, rejecting the addition of these. What are the 4 new additions? The first is "Arctic Freezer" which is themed around Nodera Ice Shelf. The second is "Tropical Escapee" where a tropical scene much like Barugan Reef is present, including the sunset. Another one involves an old design I rejected earlier: "Time Traveller" with all the clocks on the sail. The other one is kind of questioned but it's either a forest scene or a city scene. There is a good chance I'll add these in, but it won't be any time soon. Unless I think of another 8 more on top of this, or even 16, then I'll certainly not be adding in any more.

Maglev Train - old train design middle

Date: November 22, 2013
Screenshot #459: With the scenery now much easier to add in, change around, or delete, I wanted to see what the train itself in world 11 would actually look like. Well, here it is... but not really. But not really? The train doesn't follow my standards (mainly the power of 2 standard) and the huge spacing between the cars doesn't make sense for a high-speed maglev train.

The huge spacing and the connector that connects the cars originated way back when I first did this world. I was originally planning on having a regular trail with the tracks and ties. For a story that takes place in 2073, 60 years from now, a regular train just doesn't make sense. A maglev train does. So, I made that change which also made it much easier and faster to make the cars.

So then, what's the problem? First, I need to get rid of this gap between the cars almost completely. Second, I need to make each car's widths a power of 2 for the height. Whether I use 256 CU (8 blocks) or 512 CU (16 blocks), that I haven't decided on yet. Because of the complexity and the amount of the scenery, I'll probably stick to 256 CU as I'll need the memory. Currently, the cars are 352 CU, halfway in between (logarithmically speaking). That's 384 CU with the connectors included.

You're probably thinking that this is an old screenshot as the mountains still use the 2-tone lighting. This is actually a screenshot taken on this day. Those mountains need to be redone so that they are spaced farther apart. There wasn't any point in applying the jaggedness until I redid them. The trees will also be replaced. In fact, there are a lot of changes that are needed. World 11 has never been completed before.

Maglev Train - old train design start

Date: November 22, 2013
Screenshot #460: In the front and rear of the train, a special vehicle is present. I used to call this the engine car but maglevs get their power through the track. Now, the sole purpose of this part of the train is to cut back on drag and provide operators a way to monitor things as needed. Tourists also go here, after how mining in the region works.