As you have noticed, yesterday the website has been moved to a new server with a VPS ( virtual private server ). This will allow me to monitor resource usage ( cpu usage, memory usage, etc.. ) and should hopefully give a slight performance boost ( website should be more responsive ). Time will tell if it makes a real difference.
On the SDD:
The new Ships Design Doc ( which should really be renamed to something else, as it's no longer specific to ships ) is still in the works. It takes a lot of time, but i usually write 1 or 2 pages every day. With a bit of luck, it should be done "soon".
A few days ago I released a new version of the ASEToBin tool, to visualize models in the I-Novae engine. The GUI has been changed for a new panel interface; it is now possible to put the viewport in full screen, and it now works with wide fonts.
I noticed something strange when playing with Betelgeuze's planetary textures and the new Istari textures. There was a lot of "blocky" artifacts similar to jpeg artifacts, especially with specular lighting shaders, but the original textures were perfect. I spent a few hours to track the "problem", only to realize that the artifacts were coming from normal maps automatic compression, that was left enabled in the shaders. Changing a value from "true" to "false" fixed the quality problem. See this thread to compare screenshots before/after.
Betelgeuze is working on improving his textures for the planetary terrain engine. With the "fixed" bump mapping, it's looking pretty nice.. here are some examples:
From top to bottom:
Hephaestian1 (note: there's already a new version of this texture, but i lost it)
Just keep in mind that those are the "base" textures, that later get combined with procedural noise by the terrain engine. A single pixel of the terrain can be a combination of 6 of those "base" textures.