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Merry Christmas

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Since I have been so out of it, I still have my Christmas avatar with the hat from last year. Yay!

I have been quite out of the game programming groove for awhile now, what with all sorts of real life stuff going on and just a general lack of interest. Getting back into it now...

To start with, I've done a lot of work on the latest Accidental Engine. Am thinking of changing the name; 'Engine' sort of implies that it is a functional engine which others can use, and while it is, indeed, such, I really didn't start it to be a codebase upon which others could build. Rather, I wanted it merely as a demonstration platform for my windy holding forth on random level generation. I've dithered about source code release vs. just a binary, and so far have only released binaries. (Which are currently dead links, due to all sorts of free hosts going belly up.) At any rate, Accidental the New is 3D, though it supports either fully 3D or an orthographic, fixed-camera isometric-ish projection. Creatures and entities are 3D, and can be either skeletally animated or vertex animated. None of this is really new, however, as it's all stuff I started months and months ago and haven't done anything with until recently. The last couple of weeks have seen a massive cleanup and tightening of the code, and I am just about ready to release a binary and some demonstration scripts.

You can pretty much forget all the old scripts already existing for articles previously written. While the concepts, of course, are still valid, the engine script interface has changed so drastically that they are not remotely functional. I probably won't update the existing articles for the new engine version.

Second, I have started the next article series. I'm taking a different tack with these articles. Rather than taking an abstract subject (fractal maps, maze generation, etc...) and elaborating on it, I am taking the slant instead of a practical, real-world level generation example, and working through the steps I perform to achieve it. I start with an overview of what I want the level/map to be 'about', and progress through the entire process, from terrain graphic selection and/or creation, to placement of features. I'm developing the article series concurrently with finalizing some engine features, so it's still in a pretty rough state, but all in all it's coming along nicely.

And third, I have done a bit of work on the heightmap editor I mentioned so long ago, one of my poor neglected projects that comes in so danged handy. Since I am as lazy with tools and GUI programming as I am with finishing games, I have pretty much scrapped the FOX toolkit GUI version of it, and have just implemented the terrain editing tools on top of the existing 3D Accidental Engine. The editor supports most of the same script interface features as the Engine, minus the object/entity/creature stuff, since I viewed that as unnecessary and eliminated it for clarity. This tool is strictly for heightmap and terrain map creation, and not object placement. That might come later, though I kind of doubt it.

At any rate, the new heightmap editor has been stripped down to a viewport on the Engine, a script console, and a few buttons for brush selection, editing state (blur, terrain, elevation), and some generic buttons for binding and quickly executing scripts. I have one more thing to do, and that is rebuild the blur code to perform better, then I will release a version of it for tryout, along with some documentation. Since most actions are performed via script (exporting to file, sizing the map, etc...) the documentation will be pretty vital.

Here's a screen of the new editor. As you can see, it's pretty rough, but already far more functional than the old FOX based GUI, once you figure out the script interface.

Anyway, I'll try to get that editor binary out there for public consumption tomorrow. Seeing as it's Christmas Day tomorrow and I am 1000 mi away from the family I care to spend it with, I will probably have time... [grin]

And hopefully I'm back for awhile. I've missed all this stuff.
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