I've been working in Java for a little while now (after learning some Python and C++) and I'm feeling more comfortable with Java syntax more than the other languages so far.
I'm looking for a resource that will help me to better understand (in-depth) how to actually render terrain and models, and at some point help me understand the process of doing this with a client/server connection. I find some decent articles and reading out there, but these things still confuse me.
I realize that it's a bit advanced, but it is something I could work towards as a hobby. I'd love to create a multiplayer game similar to Ultima Online. But if I could figure out how to render a map like that (isometric and terrain/tiles?) and have it work as a multiplayer game I'd be extremely happy. Did UO use a heightmap, large bitmap, or just render a huge map of small tiles right next to each other?
Also, would you guys suggest trying the jmonkeyengine?
Lastly, this might be a dumb question but how is gear rendered both on a player, and in a paperdoll with the ability to die a section of armor? Graphics programming seems extremely difficult.
What would you guys suggest as a decent resource for transitioning from basic Java to understanding some graphics and server/client programming?