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






Musan Taiga - the traffic


Date: April 8, 2014
Screenshot #531: Musan Taiga, besides the mountains, has new finished details. The tracks for trains (the trains have yet to be added in), power lines, and cars have been included though the road is only a placeholder as it's intended to be mixed in with the ground decals for the lake/river just a bit beyond it. Being pretty much out in the middle of nowhere with no major cities around (this is far north from Musianna), the traffic is the lightest in the entire game. Sure it may be 4 lanes, for a freeway of sorts, but you can often go for several seconds without seeing a single car. It's very rare to get more than 4 cars visible at once and 0, 1, or 2 are quite common. Even Keveran Desert has more traffic than this due to being fairly close to Kevinsville.




Lake Keveran - the new traffic


Date: April 9, 2014
Screenshot #532: Lake Keveran now sees traffic for the first time. Remember how I said that it was going to be difficult to see, to the point that it wouldn't really be noticed? Well, it is noticeable, but it requires a careful eye to see it. Even the biggest vehicles, the semis, are barely 11 pixels long and only 3 pixels high. The motorcycles reduce to being just 2 pixels wide and 1 pixel tall. The compacts are 3 pixels wide and 1 pixel tall. It's no wonder that the traffic is difficult to make out and why I rejected it before. There is another update though - there are powerlines added in. Thanks to roughly 3- to 4-year-old code that I had no idea that I still had, I spent about 2 hours figuring out what was going on but the issue was resolved. There are no trains intended here as this is more of a county road than a highway.




Carnivalesta - updated traffic


Date: April 12, 2014
Screenshot #533: Carnivalesta is a major tourist destination so it has a very high traffic density. With the traffic being updated, the animated cop car with the flashing lights tending to a broken down sedan with its hazards on needed updating as well. It takes an extreme closeup to see it but the cop car's lights are blue, and the hazards are on. The odd orange streaks on the road are from the semis which are very well lit.

Aside from a mistake I had, a spelling error (having "linolium" instead of the correct "linoleum" on the Hardwaremart semi), the road traffic is fully finished at this point. For vehicles, only the trains remain to be finished/updated.




Processing trains - the setup


Date: April 13, 2014
Screenshot #534: With all the cars done, only the trains remain then all common vehicles for all worlds can be declared done. Processing the trains is a very repetitive process. There are basically 2 modes. For trains at 6 SU and closer or when expected to exceed 4096 pixels for the image width, the multi X offsets system is used, the same system that all cars and air taxis use. If farther than 6 SU and the full image is expected to be less than 4096 pixels, the full image is used.

The spreadsheet shown (I had to use Virtual Dub to capture the screenshot I wanted due to a major bug in Excel - hit print screen and what's captured is not what I saw) has 4 sections. The leftmost section, columns A through D, are what I reference when making the trains when the high distance routine is used, especially columns C and D. The second section, columns H through K, is used for generating the randomization. The third section, columns M through T, is what I reference when I use the multi X offsets system, for a quick copy paste. The fourth section, on the far right, columns V through AB, is the number of train cars needed for each given layer, how many I've done, and other important notes. The "scaling" is the SU distance. Note the 128 used with Sentus Mountains. Even at that distance, the trains are far more noticeable than the motorcycles at even 8 SU distance.

Note the 256 count for Musan Swamp's closest layer. Being a very easy way into the Sentus Mountains and farther north along the eastern side of the mountains, trains can easily be very big. They can change and adjust in Musianna which is at the junction point toward the Ryanara Passage into the mountains or following the coast straight north from Musianna. The fourth section is just descriptions and notes on how to use the spreadsheet.




Processing trains - processing the graphics


Date: April 13, 2014
Screenshot #535: Using the spreadsheet involves columns C and D to determine which layers I duplicate. The first item in the train is always the left antidrag car. The rest after this vary. The first 4 cars from the antidrag car cannot be tank cars but they can be anything else. The middle cars can be anything. Basically, a train with 10 or fewer cars cannot have tank cars. The basic process is as follows:

1. Take the ID number of the first listed car. 12 means the tank car. So, I duplicate the original tank car and move it up to the top. Simple enough, right?
2. Take the ID number of the second listed car. 8 means the green box car which goes under both 3 and 8. 3 is for a single stack, is for a double. The second car is rerandomized to add more variety. I use 6 digits to let me quickly identify the number from 1 to 5 so it's separate from the 0 so I don't process a 0. 3 means green. I duplicate the original car, then I duplicate the lone box car at the top, moving both to the top (the extra box at the top).
3. Take the ID number of the third listed car. This gets processed in the same way except that 1 is the extra box, 1 for red (2 is yellow, 4 is blue, and 5 is gray).
4. The fourth listed car's ID is processed, a quick duplication of the single green.
5. The fifth listed car's ID, which is what I'm working on processing in this screenshot, is duplicating the 2 (yellow).

This seems like a long-winded process, but it's actually quite fast, taking about 2 1/2 minutes for 20 cars or about 10 minutes for the entire train. Of course, every car is in the same spot from this. The fix for that is easy: simply move all layers, spacing them out, resize the image so I can get an exact scale down ratio, then scale it down. Index 11 is the empty car, with no boxes in it. Index 0 is the left antidrag car and index 13 is the right antidrag car, in case you're wondering what the others are.




Keveran Forest - the trains


Date: April 14, 2014
Screenshot #536: Until world 11, Maglev Train, this will be the closest you'll get to see of the trains, provided you can see them through a large enough gap in the trees. Given that the trains are quite high off the ground, and the trees end at 2 1/2 SU with the trains at 3, you should be able to see them without too much effort but I can't confirm or deny anything until I get the trees added in.




Lighting the trains - adding in lights


Date: April 14, 2014
Screenshot #537: If we didn't have those photon detectors (aka eyes) on the front of our faces, there wouldn't be any need for lights (or, for that matter, video games would be much more boring and stale). Since we do have eyes, we need light to see. When it's dark out, like from it being night, there isn't light so we make light. Unlike the vehicles that use the light for their cameras, trains have lights mainly for decoration and safety for the rare human workers that do maintenance on the tracks (usually, robots take up this role, but even robots need to know if a train is coming in more ways than just getting a database of train arrivals and stuff, just as a backup).

This screenshot shows 2 of the more well lit cars. The antidrag cars have the bright white light and the 2 blue lights to mark the ends of the trains. The red orange ones are for decoration only. For tank cars, the red lights on the top indicates a hazardous car that must be treated with extra caution. The lower lights are only for decoration. All other cars have just the 6 lower lights that the tank cars have. Just remember though: these cars are being scaled down quite significantly, to a 39:1 and 40:1 ratio.




Carnivalesta - the updated trains


Date: April 14, 2014
Screenshot #538: The newly updated trains in Carnivalesta aren't quite as bright as the previous designs, but they still stand out. This is also more realistic, given the roughly 4000 feet (1200 meters) of distance they have. With these trains done, that marks yet another moderate milestone in PM's development - all main scenery traffic is done (only story scenes might be different, needing new adjustments). So far, that's all hills and all traffic done. After the 5-year anniversary video coming up, the ground decals (and battling GIMP's instability) are next.














Jeremy's House - the first trees


Date: June 16, 2014
Screenshot #539: Thanks to Arbaro, I now have a dependable way to generate trees, finally. This screenshot is not the real thing though. It's the actual output rendered in the actual game engine, yes, but these are just test subjects to see how the trees (well, one type) fit in. From what I can tell, in this case, they do fit in quite well. I chose Jeremy's House as it's intended to only have a few trees. The tallest one (on the left) is the expected maximum height for most of PM's trees. The shortest one (in the middle) is about the expected minimum height. Heights will actually vary. The leaf and stem/trunk colors vary some as well, though it's a bit tricky to see that.




Jeremy's House - mapping trees


Date: June 16, 2014
Screenshot #540: Unlike worlds like Keveran Forest, Maglev Train, Musan Taiga, and Musan Swamp, Jeremy's House has a rather complex setup for the trees. Despite the intended low density, the only way to ensure that trees won't end up in the middle of the road or right in someone's living room is to make a map of the layout and plot the positions of every tree. Thus, I made a scale map of the entire area. This screenshot shows what I mean. The dark green is the grass, the dark gray is the roads, the very light gray are the concrete sidewalks and pathways, and the black is where the houses are. The light green circles mark where the trees are intended to be. There are 256 in total. To keep the layer count reasonably low, I have the trees spaced 1/4 SU apart. Due to the houses and roads, not all Z positions areas have trees. Making a map like this for distribution is one of my many techniques for doing something. The scale of this map is where 3 pixels is 1 block, a 3:32 scale relative to the foreground area.






Footnotes:
None.