House of Time v03

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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