Aquariums & Skyboxes

Our engine is arriving at a point where there is enough in place for us to have confidence we can achieve our goals with the overall design direction.

The engine can simulate and visualize water, earth, sand movement and rock erosion on tiles of 2048 square, up to 32k square depending on the power of the PC being used. Along with a biosphere of over 1million trees and plants growing on it. The baseline resolution of a world is 2048×2048.

Our initial technology goals are achieved and we know we can do what we want to do on a PC. Over time we can work to push these out further.

We will now work toward polishing up some of these features to get them out into a first engine release.



As the engine is coming together, we are at an important point on the game design cycle. Which way we decide to go will determine the back story that the game world fits into.

Earthsim TGM 1.0 worlds are square 10x10km tiles. We need to decide what we are going to do at the end of the world, the edges of the tile. There are two options outlined below:

Skybox

This option does not let the camera come outside of the main tile, and uses a skybox to surround the world with an image to create the feeling of being inside a greater reality.

This is very common in games as it can look fantastic when done well. It is sort of cheating like the Truman show. Limits on camera motion and position impact on the type of gameplay you can access on the world.

The current demo is using a skybox, all the three images are taken out of the latest demo build of Earthsim TGM using a standard skybox for the background and clouds. This does look really nice and feels very convincing as an immersive world. But if you move the camera high up or to beyond the edge of the tile, that illusion quickly breaks.

Aquarium

The simulation world is limited, this is the reality of any game other than infinitely procedurally generated worlds. Instead of trying to hide this limit, show the world tile as some sort of ‘aquarium’. This requires us to create a cross section rendering system so ‘cutaways’ can been seen at the sides of the aquarium, to show layer cross section of the land surface and water. The images below from 3d map generator are good examples of this style.

TGM is more a god mode game than an immersive world game, so we are beginning to lean toward the aquarium style. We will be adding rendering features to create the cutaway cross section and and will be looking to create the game story around this style.

Other News: bgfx

We are working on moving our rendering back end over to the bgfx cross platform rendering library. This gives us a quick path to running many 3D hardware configurations and API’s. Progress so far is good and if all continues to go well, the next demo release in May will be running on it.

You can follow us on twitter. Or If you have feedback or ideas on these directions, feel free to jump into our discord server and let us know: https://discord.gg/h8aDJthTk5.

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