Forest: Beta 7

Forest: Beta 7

Introducing beta 7 of Forest, with better graphics, a more dynamic game world, and many behind the scenes tweaks. This project is released under an MIT License.

Click Here to Play Forest

Updates

Forest Gods. Nearly all aspects of the board can now be influenced by randomly-generated, free-floating roamers. Some are dramatic (like lightning gods) others practically invisible (like soil porosity gods). They’re intended to make the forest more varied, and perhaps even less lonely and more mysterious.

Improved Fire. Fire has been an aspect of the game world for several versions, but is completely rewritten in beta 7 to be much more graphical, dramatic, realistic in its effect on the forest, and unpredictable.

Better Graphics. The band of the sun now moves throughout the year more accurately, and the stars now properly blur into rings as well. Fog is a custom shader, the minimum of height fog and linear distance fog. Lighting for the ground and water now comes from an array of lights aligned with the sun ring. (Trees are still sprites, however, and don’t yet respond to lighting.) The randomly generated forest’s average temperature is used as a stand-in for latitude.

Smaller Board. Moved from a 200×200 tile grid down to 128×128. This seems to tax the CPU a little less without noticeably changing the scale of the game.

Erosion. Soil is now washed along by water. Stream system formation is still rare, but it does happen.

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Forest: Beta 6

Introducing beta 6 of Forest. This release should bring a much higher framerate in all browsers, and a number of small fixes.

Click Here to Play Forest

Architecture – A Quick Outline

I’ve tried to organize Forest into a series of big JavaScript Objects that group related activities, and Classes to cleanly manage everything I need more than one of. Please take a look at the game loop and WebWorker code if you’re interested in how any of it works. This project is released under an MIT License.

  • Control Objects
    • World: Manages weather, climate cycles & fps
    • Ground: Manages ground conditions, GridTiles, RenderGroups
    • Roamers: Everything that needs to be updated each frame, including the camera, the camera’s (invisible) target, lightning bolts, etc.
    • Mats: Materials and texture maps, including the ground’s dynamic texture
    • Sprites: Lifecycle and behavior management of trees, energy balls, etc.
    • PostProcessing: Manages GPU special effects for the scene, like bloom
    • Shaders: Overwrites some of Babylon.js‘s shaders with custom versions
    • Actors: Container for the Actor classes
  • Classes
    • GridTile: Manages one point on the map grid, and holds the Actors currently active on it
    • TileAlias: GridTiles in the first row and column use these to keep track of the geometry they must also update to smoothly wrap the map
    • RenderGroup: A block of GridTiles, which can be prioritized for drawing depending on the camera’s current position
    • Fire: An Actor which consumes other actors, then temporarily blackens the GridTile
    • Tree: A large, slow-growing Actor
    • FallenTree: An Actor which slowly loses mass, producing new soil
    • Grass: A small, fast-growing Actor, which greens the GridTile
    • DeadGrass: An Actor which slowly loses mass, producing new soil, while it browns the GridTile
    • ProtoRoamer: Class containing data fields and actions for things that roam around on the board
    • Camera: Subclass of ProtoRoamer, which moves the camera
    • Target: Subclass of ProtoRoamer, at which the camera is aimed
    • Energy: Subclass of ProtoRoamer, short-lived, produced where you click, which feeds energy to the Actors there
    • LightningBolt: Subclass of ProtoRoamer, very short-lived, obliterates all Actors on its GridTile and starts Fires on surrounding tiles

Updates

Better performance in all browsers. Beta 6 moves the process of updating water flow and ground conditions into a WebWorker, a second processor thread. Beta 5 was a major rewrite to accomodate this, moving most of the data of each GridTile object into a single, large Float32Array, and adding Getters/Setters to the GridTile class to make the array data behave like normal properties. Parts of the array can then be rapidly copied, to update the vertex data or to be sent to the worker thread, via the .subarray() function. Data returned from the worker thread can then be copied back into the main array via a .set() operation. Currently, any changes made to the board by Actors or Roamers during thread execution will be overwritten

Better performance in Firefox and Chrome. The GridTile prototype uses Getters/Setters to manipulate the data in the master Float32Array. This was originally done in Beta 5 to allow moving some updating to a WebWorker, but for whatever reason the major speedup of moving the data into the Float32Array alone ended up being worth the change. The index lookups in the Getters/Setters (e.g. ground.data[ground.indices.watertable+this.index]) bring virtually no overhead in Safari, but Chrome and Firefox struggled with them. Beta 6 caches the lookup indices in each object, which speeds up Firefox and Chrome considerably even absent the WebWorker thread.

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Forest: Beta 5

Screenshot from Safari 13.1 Mac

“Forest” is a peaceful, meditative god game. It is free, runs in any modern browser, and is played with one button (or finger). Each time the page is loaded, a forest with a random climate is created. You may interact, observe, or any combination of the two. There is no objective.

Click Here to Play Forest

The game is written in JavaScript, using WebGL via the Babylon.js framework. Beta 5 is a preview release for which I’m grateful for feedback– a major rewrite, much faster and more memory-efficient than previous betas, with most of the major systems in place for the game as I’d originally conceived it. If you’re interested, please take a look at the source code.

MIT License

Copyright (c) 2020 Matt Rasmussen

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED “AS IS”, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

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House of Time v03

The House of Time, a scale model of earth history, public beta v0.3 is now live. While it’s still pretty empty, this is the first release where I feel the important pieces are all in place (if only as stubs).

Dreadnaughtus schematic for modeling
(Be kind, I’m no Mark Witton!)

New This Release:

  • ADDED: Your Friend & Mine, DREADNAUGHTUS!
  • ADDED: Stars
  • ADDED: Pro/Arch Bridge
  • ADDED: All Remaining Location Plates
  • IMPROVED: Bloom & SSAO
  • IMPROVED: River
  • MOVED: Custom Shaders, Shared Materials & Client-side Textures (currently unused) into larger, cleaner scenicEffects Object

To Do:

  • ADD: Membership/Info Card
  • ADD: Titanosaur & Other Models
  • ADD: The Moon
  • IMPROVE: Stonier Beach
  • ADD: Stars
  • IMPROVE: Framerate-Independant Movement Speed
  • ADD: Lazy Shader Compiler
  • ADD: “Crawler” Mesh
  • ADD: Touch Controls
  • IMPROVE: Frame Rate
  • FIX: Ocean Vertex Displacement Not Following Waves
  • FIX: Ripples Only Visible When Looking East
  • IMPROVE: Safari Support
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House of Time 0.2 Updates

The House of Time, a scale model of earth history, is now in public beta v0.2.

New This Release:

  • IMPROVED: Terrain
  • ADDED: Proterozoic-Archean River
  • ADDED: Cambrian Trilobites
  • IMPROVED: Tree Ferns
  • ADDED: Hadean Fill Lighting
  • ADDED: Low-res Ionic Columns
  • IMPROVED: More Natural Colors Overall
  • FIXED: Better Distribution of Sprites
  • ADDED: Camera Follower Tag
  • IMPROVED: Better Terrain LOD
  • FIXED: Sprites Not Working Correctly
  • FIXED: Shadow Dupes
  • FIXED: Sun Angle, Sky Consistency & Sunset

To Do:

  • ADD: Membership/Info Card
  • ADD: Titanosaur & Other Models
  • ADD: The Moon
  • IMPROVE: Stonier Beach
  • ADD: Stars
  • IMPROVE: Framerate-Independant Movement Speed
  • ADD: Lazy Shader Compiler
  • ADD: “Crawler” Mesh
  • ADD: Touch Controls
  • IMPROVE: Frame Rate
  • FIX: Ocean Vertex Displacement Not Following Waves
  • FIX: Ripples Only Visible When Looking East
  • IMPROVE: Safari Support
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The House of Time: Public Beta

The House of Time, a scale model of earth history, is now in public beta. Introducing v0.1.

New This Release:

Assets

Holocene Gate – Pleistocene Drain – Pliocene Verge – Miocene Planters – Oligocene Drive – Eocene Circle – Paleocene Stairs – Hall of the Cretaceous – Hall of the Jurassic – Hall of the Triassic – Permian Veranda – Carboniferous Grove – Devonian Stand – Silurian Deck – Ordovician Walk – Cambrian Path – Proterozoic Acreage – Archean Waste – Hadean Shore

Engine

Babylon.js-Based Engine – Zero-Texture-Map Detailing (world space and model space GPU noise functions, SVG importer, client-side extrusion) – Positional Asset Loading/Unloading – Sound Manager – Environment Manager – Async Terrain Updater

Bug Fixes

Not enough


To Do:

Assets

Membership/Info Card – Titanosaur & Other Models – Low-res Ionic Column – Moon – Stony Beach – Stars – Sunset – Much Much More

Engine

Framerate-Independant Movement Speed – Lazy Shader Compiler – “Crawler” Mesh – Fill Lighting for Darkness – Touch Controls – Frame Rate Optimization

Bugs

Unpredictable Sprites – Ocean Vertex Displacement Not Following Waves – Hadean Cliff Artifacts – Ripples Only Visible When Looking East – Safari Support

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Closer to a HoT Beta

In a short while, the link to the venerable Bestiary of Geekdom up top will move to the sidebar, and be replaced with the House of Time.

This is a project I’ve been tapping away at for six months or so, on and off, and in an effort to play a little less of my usual gin rummy, I’m working toward soft-launching a public beta. It will be missing a lot of features and content, but should be a good start.

The 3d engine is built in Javascript on the Babylon.js WebGL framework. My goal is for it to run in all modern browsers–including mobile–with low-to-modest hardware requirements. There will be no loading screens, HUD or narration, no accounts or other tracking, no objectives or “gamification,” and certainly no ads. The House of Time will be free and available to all. If you’re old enough to remember the experience of Myst when it first came out, you’ll understand the quiet, contemplative, even lonely atmosphere I wish to create. Art as science as art. This is in furtherance of my personal philosophy that education should be free.

I’ve been designing a system that uses as little bandwidth as possible. Most interactive 3d is built around the expectations of PCs and consoles: That transfer is fast, storage is large, and the GPU is the bottleneck. Here that’s reversed. There will be zero texture maps. Shaders will supply most of the visual detail procedurally, generating it on the fly in your graphics card. SVGs will be rendered to bitmap in a hidden canvas element to supply more specific 2d imagery. Most of the shaders will rely on world space coordinates, so that two instanced models sitting side by side may look radically different. Instanced geometry will be used as much as possible. Complex extruded shapes will be generated in the browser from a path and cross-section. Chunks of geometry will load only when needed, and free their memory when no longer in use.

The overall scene (more than a mile long) is being built in Blender, as it plays well with Babylon.js and glTF export. Even with the UI improvements in the Bforartists fork, this has been a major pain point, and creation of complex 3d assets (dinos!) lags badly. (My preferred 3d package, Hash Animation:Master, has sadly become a paid zombie, with no meaningful updates this decade. The quest for a replacement continues…) I split the large scene into chunks manually and export them for browser loading with Babylon.js’s Blender export plugin. Tags in the names of models and lights are digested by the engine on load, to do things like assigning noise shaders, creating extruded shapes, or replacing a mesh with sprites.

This week, I’ve built a new stageManager object to move scenery on- and offstage and in and out of memory, as well as written a new pine foliage shader I’m reasonably happy with. Before going public, I still need to create and fix a few more things:

Assets

Membership/Info Card – Footstep sounds – Titanosaur – Low-res Ionic Pediment – Evergreens – Brick Walkways – Tree Ferns – Cambrian Marker – Beach – Stars

Engine

StageManagerNew evergreen shader – Sound manager

Bugs

Crash on deleting assetContainerFalling sprites not finding ground – Sprite systems not reusing correctly – Too much fog at start – Left-hand side of gate not animating – Miocene grass too short – Cretaceous Hall light wonkiness – No Carboniferous shadows

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