Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Per-Face Selection

So after a single nights worth of work, I now have the ability to select individual faces from objects. I haven't implemented it in anything other than the 'BoxTrigger' but the way that it works now is fairly ideal. Each object itself can determine how it will report faces back during intersections. I just have it printing out which faces were hit but I will build a 'Face Shower Object' thingy tomorrow that will have wireframes around all of the faces. The great thing is, I have factored out a bit of the SelectionManager into the concept of a SelectionSet which holds all the information about the objects/faces/vertices that are currently selected which should be fairly reusable for selection groups if I ever decide to go down that route.

I should have the implementation finished up in the next sitting or two which will hopefully be soon. I am going to be using this to finish up the 6th step from my list in the previous posting [June 21, 2008] towards my goal of a simple test room. I will allow you to select a face and then a material can be applied to it. Internally, this will most likely break the object up by adding another child sub mesh on the fly to it (I will combine them when they share the same material) and then you can use the material browser to select a material to apply. This will actually go a long way towards creating the room. The face removal should be fairly straight forward once I get face selection finished. I also plan to add support for vertex selection as well which should also be fairly straight forward since I will provide a 'helper' interface that has things like 'checkVertexForClick' which will take a matrix, a vertex, and a 'vertex size' which will check to see if a box that gets projected into screen space where the vertex is would be hit by a particular mouse coordinate. Then it should simply be a matter of looping over the vertices and feeding them in to this helper class.

Once these two steps are done, the rest of it should be straight forward implementation things which just require me to have my butt in a chair for a while. All in all, things are going well. The editor is actually shaping up to be something useful. I might just get my work to review it [part of my contract with them] before I make an official release sometime. I will probably also end up taking suggestions and contributions from the community and integrating them into the editor when I get a chance. I still want control over this since I am using this for my own personal project but I will definitely integrate items when it makes sense to do so and release that back.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


So it turns out that I actually code a lot more effectively if I have a specific set of tasks to complete. I created a step by step guide to have the basic features required to build a simple test map. The test map is nothing spectacular. It's basically got a box that's been scaled out and had a face cut out of it for a 'connection' to another room. The other room is the same thing of another box with a face cutout that is going to be snapped to the first one. Each box starts with it's normals facing out but I am going to need to invert those so that the walls face in. I am also going to have to be able to assign a texture to each wall. So that's pretty much it. I have a lot of that functionality in there but none of it is really completed. There are a few bugs with each thing but now that I've tasked out everything, I am going through 1 by 1 and making sure everything works as expected before moving on. It's really nice to have a goal to work towards and having something tangible come of it.

Here are the tasks that I've prepared in order to be able to do the test room. This is the order that I have been tackling them since yesterday so hopefully when I am finished, there won't be much else to do.

1. Clear the scene
2. Translate tool
3. Scale tool
4. Box placement
5. Simple normal manipulation [just reverse them for now]
6. Texture assignment [per face or per object]
7. Face removal from a box
8. Vertex snapping
9. Object snapping
10. Light placement [point light]
11. Sprite icons for lights
12. Color adjustment for lights
13. Player start placement
14. 'Trigger' volumes
15. Rotate tool

So I think that should more or less add the required functionality to be able to create the room I want. I think I am going to always sit down, plan out the creation of something, and break it down similarly in the future. It lets me know how long I'll be towards a target, keeps me focused on getting something useful accomplished, not just something cool, and it also gives me a specific feature to drive towards completing at any given time.

That being said, I sat down today and did some actual work. I managed to fix/implement the first 4 features of that today. Granted, almost all of the framework was there but I at least fixed some bugs and made the scale and translate tool function as they are supposed to.

As it stands now, I've given myself the weekends and 2 'work days' throughout the week to be spending on this. I also gave rough estimates for how long things will take. Based on that [which may be horribly inaccurate], it appears that I should have all of this done by mid August some time. As far as that is, I think I can pull it back into late July which will be nice.

As far as the editor is concerned, I won't be recreating Maya/Max at all but I will be allowing for simple face manipulation that will allow you to create a basic room, block off some sections with walls, and place ramps and things so you can have multiple levels. Anything more complicated than that and I'll have to allow you to import it as a mesh from your favorite modeling package. I will have to create a suite of tools to allow you to place objects easily and line things up nicely so that will probably be coming soon as one of the next few use cases.


In my attempt to take a much more professional approach to the creation of my editor, I am actually using some scheduling software. It is called Hansoft and I am using the free license that they give to attempt to manage myself. I find that I am always wandering off the path towards actually getting something usable so in an effort to control that, I will become my own manager.

I just installed it and have been playing around with it for about an hour or so. It seems to support everything I will need: bugs, tasks, and scheduling. Hopefully I will be better at estimating how long features will take so I can be more committed to my release dates when I set them. Currently, I have too much of a 'when it is done' attitude and would like to correct that.

As an addition to this, I am also trying to come up with 'use cases' for the editor. I want to be able to build a test room as my first real milestone for the editor. In order to accomplish that, I am going to strip away all of the unfinished features, tuck them somewhere in a directory on my computer for later, and start fresh and actually finish a feature and flesh it out before I move on. That being said, the goals I have laid out for myself will mean that I can make a basic test map of 2 rooms [just simple cubes] that are snapped together with 2 lights inside as well as having 2 'volumes' inside that will be read in as triggers for the game engine whenever that gets completed. I have given a really rough schedule for this [I will go back and re-evaluate my estimates soon when I'm more rested] and it appears that I should be able to finish all of this by the end of August if I just work on the weekends and 2 days through out the work week. That being said, I am going away for vacation for 1 weekend in July so that will have to be taken into account. At least now I have a more realistic estimate as to how long it will take me which is always a good thing. It's humbling to know that what I want will take me 6 years but what I need will only take me 1 [as a metaphor, not in reality].

I'll probably post a schedule from time to time to show what I am working on, what's currently finished, and so that people can have more of an insight into my own work habits. I will post some more technical details about the tools I am using in an upcoming post.