Give me land, lots of land…

Posted February 28th, 2010 by wonko

…so our UniServer is finally up, and there are four pristine worlds awaiting purposing. Scientia Prime (SciPrime or Sci’) is the first cab off the rank – our “Off-World” base camp and a “Science Outpost” will be located on this barren red planet.

The Current Caretaker - apologies to Scott Adams

The Current Caretaker - apologies to Scott Adams

So the current “Caretaker” (me) got my Avatar on (something perverse in me likes the notion of “Dilbert” making this world – apart from being a consummate geek, he is wearing a “Terrace” hooniform – lol.

Anyways, a plan is a necessity when you have 2km x 2km to play with. SciPrime (Sci’) is pockmarked with craters under an angry red sky, has a magnesium salt layer just under the surface and is generally hostile.

I thought it should be REALLY obvious we were not in Kansas anymore, hence the deliberate “mars” look and feel. The other worlds can be more earth-like but I want our cybernaughts to feel like they are otherworld bound. The abstraction and dislocation important in the roleplay and subsequent experiential learning activities.

On the northern section of Sci’ a cluster of 3 craters will house the main buildings (including meet and greet, comms centres, teleportery and the like.

Map section - elevation planning

Map section - elevation planning

By planning the elevations, and attending to scale, the middle-sized crater can house a single dome, the largest crater a cluster, connected by covered walkways, world entry point in the smallest crater and so on. The above map has it’s NORTH to the right, on the northern boundary of Sci’ there is a mountain range and a “hidden valley”, to provide some perspective eye candy.

Pegging structure to scale

Pegging structure to scale - looking NNW

Laying out the scenic elements was actually fairly challenging – the scale is huge – you may be able to see a red selection square bottom left – it is 10m square, making the larger of the craters (here seen merely as a cross hair marker) over 1/4 km wide.

Ideally, flying above the scenery is the easiest for “raising lumps and bumps” but Active Worlds seem to have this annoying habit of grounding you randomly in build mode … an observer would have been perplexed about the yo-yo-ing Dilbert, which in itself amuses me (not enough to make up for the frustration of the constant up and downing, but you get that).  The lack of ability to position camera without actually travelling to where you are looking is actually annoying, particularly on this scale. More particularly, I must locate ways to select objects that are inside another object, without having to go inside that object myself – again, an annoyance but every world has its peculiarities I guess.

The “modularity” of the scenic chunks is both a blessing and a curse – getting reasonably organic terrain is actually fairly time consuming, but the texture tiling should make for some reasonably convincing effects. I have yet to gain access to the public object path, and it seems that this build is fairly incomplete so far – lots of objects and textures I had taken for granted are simply not there (yet) – this too shall pass when I get FTP access.

Light and environment testing

Light and environment testing - looking N, beginnings of Northern Ranges visible

With geography roughed out, the process of texturing and tweaking begins, edges, boundaries and other transitions will take time to look nice but I want to get this right before plonking buildings on the ground – moving them when a terrain glitch is discovered is problematic so best to get that right.

Detailing, carving paths and walk-ways are the beginning of the process that will eventually see an alien but interesting landscape emerge.

Texture, sunlight, fog ... quick, hand me the oxygen

the view South, texture, sunlight, fog ... quick, hand me the oxygen

All in all I am happy with my progress and feel I have made a good start – it is an interesting way to eat a weekend … the real world calls however, so I must be off for now, but have lots to do, all very interesting and some fascinating challenges ahead.

Looking forward to messing with textures, objects and the like as the devil is in the details (and by the looks I am cooking up an interesting version of hell 😛 )

One Response to “Give me land, lots of land…”

  1. wonko

    In world settings, I set the “initial connect point” to the middle of my small crater, looking North across the vista towards the northern ranges. Works a charm.

    Final terrain tweaking in the main building zones before bases go down and structures arise from them, new pooter beast gets harnessed today which should make some things a little faster.