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Week of December 1, 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ah, good to be home :D Figures that the first night I get back, I should crash accidentally without writing my log :roll: Well, between the early awakening yesterday and the pot-o-coffee-induced coding spree last night, I think I deserved that :lol:

First of all, it's nice to see that LT is still beautiful ;) I always forget how great it looks on the big screen at 60 FPS when I'm away from it for a while. A happy reunion :)

Second of all, I'm dominating that interface. Yeah, I may have let graphics Josh out of the bag for a few hours yesterday. But come on, the kid deserves a little out-of-the-cage time, especially since I just got back to my favorite coding keyboard ;) :monkey: I've got a main menu and universe map looking really good, and well-integrated into the game now such that playing with a gamepad feels excellent.

Third of all, I may or may not have improved some visuals last night, which may or may not be related to the nebula generator. Hard to say. I wasn't watching graphics Josh the whole time :monkey:

Now. Today is all about AI. What I'd like to do is get something happening here with the AI to show. Can I do that in a day? To be determined :geek: Obviously I'd better get to that and stop writing :D

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of December 1, 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013

No. No, you know what, I didn't get AI to do anything cool. Other than mine (which is fairly cool when you think about what's going on). But you know what, I'm much happier with what did happen :smug: (Yeah, I know we don't have a smug smiley, use your imagination :roll: ).

So I was working on the interface. Implementing cool stuff, naturally. And I was thinking, man, it sure would be cool if I could have a nodal overlay like in the last video that would let me pull up information on objects using a projection from the main view. Problem is, I need a generic way to project the node positions through the primary view, which is contrary to the default projection that object nodes use in the map (which projects them onto the XZ plane). I certainly don't want to use two different types of object nodes...but do I really want to give the nodes some notion of a projection function? Not really...

Wait. Think clearly Josh. Use the force. The nodes have the same position in 3D space.

The proceeding thought changed my life forever. Well, not really, but kind of :roll: And if you can guess it, then you know what I'll be showing in the video with respect to interfaces ;) No, I didn't ever end up getting that nodal overlay ready in time. I'm in good shape to do so, but I need more time. It took a great deal of time to explore all the ramifications of (read: play with) the major improvement that I made to the UI :D

Well folks, I don't have much volume for this video. But the quality of what I do have is...pretty great :cool: With the AI and the UI alone...I'm prepared to declare November a success. Now then. Let's see if I can't cook up a video :)

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of December 1, 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Wowww...sorry for the late devlog, I just woke up from a 14 hour sleep :D Very nice ;)

Now. As for the update video. It sucked, but I'm glad people liked it :think: I mean, it was incoherent, lacking in content, and not even that pretty thanks to color quantization. The last one wasn't really my fault, but the first two are. We can do better than that.

December is going to be the month of the beast. I've got some ideas for boosting productivity, and I'm going to try all of them. There's no time for slacking anymore. I say it every month, and I'll say it again, except this time, when I look back on the month, I want to feel nothing but a burning gratitude to whatever strange forces allowed me to do so much in so little time. That's how December's going to be, I'm just telling it like it is ;)

But for now. I will take the rest of this so-called day off. I need it. The calm before the storm. Brace yourselves :D
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of December 1, 2013

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Look. If they gave awards for slacking, I would have won it. All. Day. Long ;)

As far as days off go, I really nailed this one. You might call it overachieving. Skyrim? Yes. Star Trek: TNG? Yes. Nature walk in the park? Of course. Pizza? Far too much. Romance movie? Absolutely. Dangerous levels of Diet Coke? You bet. Winning the lottery and spotting grazing herds of one-legged unicorns ridden by large pots of gold? Maybe next time :( But honestly, what more could you want from a day off? Well...ok, that's might want some X Rebirth action. But it's a minor oversight. Everything else was ship-shape :geek:

Now then. We have December to attend to, don't we? I'm excited. It's going to be crazy. It needs to be crazy :twisted:

Let's go. Let's. Go.

:squirrel: :monkey: :ghost:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of December 1, 2013

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Very auspicious start to the month of the beast :geek: If we can keep this pace up, I think we'll make good time to Alderaan.

In the early hours I worked on "splitting" functionality for the nodal interface. That is, being able to split to have multiple panes open at once. This will be a cornerstone of allowing more advanced interactions such as transferring cargo, equipping things to hardpoints, etc. Anyway, I've got basic splitting now! It took a bit longer than I anticipated, because I ended up doing a pretty extensive code-ripping of some of the old UI. I didn't realize it, but the old UI is in rough shape. The nodal UI is built on it, so I need to kick it back into line :ghost:

In the afternoon and night, I finally let that poor monkey out of the cage!! :monkey: As you may remember, graphics Josh has been dying to try a few things inspired by X Rebirth. Today, he tried to improve the small-scale dust to give a more rich and dynamic feeling to dusty areas. And he did a darn good job, if I do say so myself :geek: The idea that I had while playing XR turned out to work very well! The feeling of motion through gaseous clouds is so much more vivid. Really feels like Freelancer 2 in those asteroid fields ;) Unfortunately, it's also a bit expensive on the GPU at the moment...but that's ok, plenty of time to optimize as I refine the technique. I'm just happy it worked - you know how important that dust is to me :oops:

Those were the only two tasks I had slated for the day, so looks like the month is, thus far, a success :D Tomorrow I will turn my attention back to AI, where things will no doubt get hairier. But nothing that an endless supply of coffee can't solve, I'm sure of it :) I'm not vying for any magic productivity solutions this month - the focus will be on one thing and one thing alone: long, long hours. Hours, hours, and more hours. That's all it takes, right? :geek:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of December 1, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

Hours. Just. Hours.

Yes, this AI is taking longer than expected. That's ok. Children make many mistakes. This AI is no different. Hundreds of little issues, begging to be resolved. I have no choice but to patiently spend hours and hours and hours teaching it how to operate effectively.

So far? Well good lord, I've spent an eternity trying to get it to mine effectively. I thought I had succeeded once, but then I spotted a few gratuitous escapades towards far-away rocks for no apparent reason, and traced the cause back to some severe issues in the core reasoning algorithm. Did I fix them? Of course. But how many such issues remain? Hard to tell.

Debugging AI is truly one of the hardest tasks I've ever undertaken. Not just because it's near-impossible to tell when something is working correctly vs. slightly-broken, but also because understanding the source of a slightly-broken behavior can take hours.

But I will power through. It will be worth it. To have an AI in which I am fully have an AI whose decision I trust with all of my mind. It will be worth it. All I can do is tell myself that...until everything is hammered out.

Until then, I sit here with my 16 miners, patiently informing them of where they're losing efficiency. Hours and hours and hours.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of December 1, 2013

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Just a whole day of slacking, honestly. I implemented HDR environment map generation (+ loading / saving), made big changes and improvements to the nebula algorithm, improved dust & bloom to work well with new HDR envmaps, improved metal, implemented subtle 3D-grid effect on the nodal interface to give perspective (much like the command interface), rewrote a moderate portion of the AI algorithm for more smartness, slashed about 50% of the code in the AI creativity algorithm (no change in effect), ...and thousands of other things :P

Yep, if I keep slacking this hard every day in December, I'm certain LT will never be finished :roll: :cool:

No but seriously. It was a huge day - and almost an even split between graphics and AI work. On the graphics side, I was completely startled by how big of a difference HDR makes for the environment maps. Why was I startled? Because I'm an idiot. Honestly...they should have been HDR from the beginning. Makes all the difference in the world, seeing light from the background nebulae bleed through the fog. Truly, all the difference in the world. Between that and the thousand other graphical improvements (including major improvements to the nebula generator), the record for "most beautiful system" was broken several times today. Nearly every system in the region that I'm currently exploring is superior to all previous systems that I've seen before today. Awesome!!! :geek:

On the AI side...yes, I'm still grinding away. Stop asking :( It's hard. We've established that. But I had a nice idea for simplifying & improving the core reasoning today, and just implemented it an hour ago. So far it's noticeably boosting the accuracy of reasoning. NPCs are now virtually always picking very nearby asteroids to mine, and will even typically keep going back to the same one (something they didn't do before). This is thanks to the "coherence" of thought being improved a lot by the modifications :thumbup:

I'm still working on getting the contract system up and running so that NPCs can post contract offers at the station. With an overhaul to the creativity mechanisms today, it will be easy to enable NPCs to dream up hypothetical contracts. Sadly, I'm still slightly confused about what a contract represents - a condition, an action, a metric differential...gah. Really singed my neurons on the thought of it today. But I'll push through sooner than later :)

Hoping for another big day of slacking tomorrow... ;) So far December is turning out to be exactly what I wanted it to be!! :ghost: :monkey:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of December 1, 2013

Week Summary

(Written 1 week later...)

A fairly successful week I would say - between the 3D interface, improved backgrounds, and dust...well, I say it all the time, but the game just looks better and better every day (spoiler alert: this holds true for next week as well :D ).

I continued to struggle with AI this week, but hopefully no one will fault me for having a hard time with what is indisputably a hard subject. The struggle makes the payoff that much more rewarding, though, and the day when this universe takes on a life of its own will be a grand, grand day, no matter how much blood it takes to get there :)

  • Implemented 3D for the node-based interface
  • Implemented HDR environment maps (+loading / saving)
  • Significantly improved "the dusty look" with the use of nearby dust clouds
  • Significantly improved the nebula generator
  • Continued work on AI :crazy: :crazy:
  • Had an extraordinary amount of fun on my day off :D
  • Successful 11th update!
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

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