May 13, 2008

The Countdown Continues

With only 19 days left before the beta release of Andromeda Media Universe, things here are speeding up in development.

The server structure is completed, world server is finalized, and we've been working on the front end for the past few weeks. Over the past few days we've been obsessing over how to make the sun look as realistic as possible from the ground and we've learned a lot along the way.

One thing we've learned is that the color of the sky is altered by the atmosphere itself. We realized this about two days into working on the sun while trying to match the look and feel from a photograph. We were aware that the atmosphere played a part, but weren't entirely aware of how much of a part it would play until we began having issues matching the RGB for the sky gradient.

We were taking direct RGB samples from the photograph itself, and yet the same RGB colors weren't matching in the environment settings. So after a looking into things, we realized that the atmospheric scattering in the browser was actually working and doing it's job as coded, thusly altering the color of the sky based on intensity of the haze.

It's refreshing to find out that something isn't working simply because something else happens to be working as planned, versus something just being broken. So that brought a breath of fresh air as we realized this to be the case. The atmospheric scattering of light actually works and we are happy about that.

As for the sun itself, we've been working out multiple layers in order for them to properly adjust depending on the angle you are looking at them. This, as we realized later, may have been a waste of time as we realized that if you look at the sun itself you are more than likely blinded. So assuming that the bloom effect will kick in and create that sort of effect of the sun being brighter and possibly blinding you (within reason), the layered effects of the sun itself may or may not play a part pertaining to the average user. That's not to say, though, that the sun doesn't look really good as a result of this effort.

Next in line for our attention is adding in the moon itself (which is a modified version of the sun routine and shouldn't take long), and then we're off to the spherical planet itself - which should be happening in about a day or two from this posting.

A lot of what we're doing now is simply adding the routines that we had made prior to the servers themselves. The reasoning for this was that at this stage, we would be able to simply drop the routines that were pre-made into the system and link them up.

Considering we've added the dynamic shadow system (which is also capable of casting shadows for semi-transparent and colored objects), I think we're making a lot of progress and should be able to do the beta release on June 1st without any major issues.

We'll keep everyone posted on the progress through the beta section, and also take a look at the programs section occasionally to see what systems tests we are putting forward for you to evaluate.

Until next time -

William Burns
Project Leader
Andromeda Media Universe


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